name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day


11.21.2018

Simple Tips to De-Stress Your Holiday Season

This post is sponsored by Isotoner but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Halloween is done, Thanksgiving is coming, and then it's all things Christmas! For me, Christmas is hands-down my favorite holiday - from the social gatherings, to the lights, and to the true reason for the season.




But, for anxious mamas like me, the holidays can be overwhelming. In the last two years, I've tried to dial it down a bit. For my easily-stressed self and for my kids to see what this season is really all about. So, if you're getting nervous about all the festive headed your way, here are some simple tips to de-stress your holiday season.


Let the memories happen spontaneously.


There can be pressure to make Christmas BIG and BRIGHT every single day of the holiday season. Perfectly decorated trees. Perfectly iced sugar cookies. Reality? The kids put the ornaments on the tree in ways to make your OCD spin, and you fight more than you bake.


Instead, put on your pajamas and these Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers and drive to see the neighborhood lights. You will love the foam technology - no other slippers offer this comfort. They are perfect for cold nights and Christmas lights. If you like the pair I have, they are called the Marisol Closed Back slipper!

















Go easy on the gift giving.


See my post last year on how my sister and I make gift-giving fun. Make lists. Keep a budget. For the kids, adopt the practice of giving them something they want, something they need, something they wear, and something they read. Easy, peasy.


Give the gift of comfort this holiday season with 360 degrees of cozy memory foam. Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers are the perfect gift for everyone on your list!


Keep the gatherings simple.


I love all the parties and festive gatherings, but driving all over town throughout the holidays can be too much. If you have to say no, say NO. If you are throwing a party, make it BYOB or potluck. You don't need place cards or to break out your fine china. Do you. And if it means keeping it simple, go for it.


Then, when the party is done, prop up those tired feet and reward yourself with comfort! Your slippers are waiting.


Take time for YOU.


The Christmas season IS jolly. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to make your holidays Pinterest-perfect. Before you know it, it's all over and you may not feel like you had time to sit back and enjoy the JOY. Binge some Hallmark movies (my favorite). Cuddle up with hot cocoa (or wine) to watch your favorite Christmas special.


And while you're doing all that chillin' - grab yourself those cozy slippers again. These Isotoner Surround Comfort™ slippers are perfect for snuggles on a movie night - it's like having
a memory foam pillow in shoe!






____________________________________

So, off we go, friends. Even though Thanksgiving is coming first, we still need to prepare ourselves. Take it easy, make it fun, and slip into your Isotoner Surround Comfort™. The holidays are meant for memories - for joy, for comfort, and for peace. Enjoy the moments with your kids, family, and friends.

And sit back - in these slippers, of course - and reflect on what could be the most memorable holiday season ever.



To grab your own pair of cozy slippers or gift someone on your list, 
click HERE!

11.15.2018

4 Steps To Finding the Right Family Photographer

I am so excited to share more of our family pictures! As always, my friend, Jennifer, snaps the best pictures of my crazy crew. Have you taken your fall photos yet? There's still time! If you're in Houston, you need to use Jennifer Spencer Photography. And if not? Here are steps to finding the right photographer for you and YOUR crew.

Ask your friends for recommendations

Sure, Google reviews are great, but trust your friends' expertise and experience. I've known Jennifer for a while, and she has taken such fun shots of my kids and my family (like these in 2016 and 2017). If you also look through her portfolio, I bet those clients will say the same.

Chat with them before your session

To make sure the photographer is the right fit, give them a call to discuss ideas. Do you both have the same vision? Are there certain poses, outfits, or locations you had in mind? Taking family pictures is a collaboration so it's nice to be on the same page before picture day.

Choose someone who is laid-back

As you know, I'm not the best at laid-back. I can't imagine a photographer who is the same as me - crazed too quickly. Jennifer is calm which is FABULOUS when your kids are driving you nuts during photos. She is fantastic with kids of all sizes and sass. You want someone who can move the session efficiently and without stressing the mama who just wants a good shot of her peeps.

Find someone is creative

From pose ideas to location options, the best photographer is one who has seen what works and what doesn't. Someone who has worked with families of all sizes and can design a picture that captures your family perfectly. Silly shots or other ideas definitely make fun pictures so ask about their creative ideas. Locations are key, too. A creative photographer knows the best spots - from the best light to the ideal scenery. Let them guide you - I bet you'll find places you never thought could make such a wonderful backdrop.










I just ADORE our pictures this year. She captured the kids' personalities and made the session so fun. Now, local friends - we have a deal for you! Mention ALWAYS A NEW DAY to Jennifer when inquiring about photos, and she will give you $25 off a session!

I can't wait to see all of your pictures! And don't forget to follow Jennifer Spencer Photography!

11.13.2018

Why We Believe the Research - Decorating Early for Christmas Does Make You Happier

Thanksgiving is next week; Christmas will soon follow. I started my shopping and planning the Christmas decor. I'm hearing carols and the channel is stuck on Hallmark, so all of this means it's time for lights, parties, and the like. But, I know many wish that Christmas didn't bypass Thanksgiving or that shopping would start on Black Friday. And while I love turkey and family feasts, there's just something about Christmas for me. 

And to fuel the debate, research has come out saying that those who decorate earlier are just happier folks. I say, what is wrong with that? In a crazy world of worry and sorrow, I see nothing wrong with connecting - at anytime - to something that gives you joy. Something that brings you back to childhood memories. Something that creates even bigger memories for your kids. That's why my family believes the research - decorating early makes you happy. 


My Christmas memories from when I was younger are so vivid still. One of my favorite things was being in charge of turning on the outside lights - from plugging in the porch lights or turning on each lighted candle in our windows. I took my job seriously. 

I remember watching Christmas specials (The Brady Bunch one was my favorite), shopping at the Galleria, and the cardboard fireplace my Grandmother set up each year. The cousins would do a gift swap after we sang the 12 Days of Christmas to our large family. I could barely sleep on Christmas Eve knowing what was to come.

Now that I have children, Christmas excites me even more. Now that I have lost loved ones, Christmas brings me JOY when so many days are filled with sadness that those memories are no more.

So, when I decorate before Thanksgiving, think of me. Think of the excitement my kids have knowing the holidays are coming. Think of them taking the light boss job seriously. Think of my mom who decided to decorate, too, because in glimpses of sadness, this season brings peace. 

We do long for Christmases past and miss those no longer with us. I wish we could all gather in my Maw Maw's living room and watch my uncle dress as Santa. I wish my brother was here to give my mom a cat again this year (she doesn't, trust me). I wish my dad was here to bundle up and go for a ride on his new mountain bike. 

And, if we decide that season starts in November, let us. If we decide to put up a tree because the lights make the cold nights brighter, let us. If we decide that Christmas carols and holiday movies are starting before Thanksgiving, let us. 

You do not need to understand why others do things differently. You don't know their reasons why because sometimes we don't either. What we do know is when we find small spots of joy, we hold on so tight hoping they last. We want the Christmas season to be long because the joy can overshadow the moments of grief and anxiety. 



Of course, we will grieve. We will stress. We will deal with festive, holiday anxiety. But, when we are together, and the kids are giggling, we get a reprieve from loss and worry. We remember the reason for the season when we see the little ones filled with joy. 

Happy Holidays, friends. Do what makes you happy. Find joy today, on Thanksgiving, and during the entire holiday season. 

10.19.2018

A Letter To My Son - On His 10th Birthday


My first-born, my baby boy, turns 10 this weekend. I'm having a hard time with the double digits - it feels as though time is just slipping away. Have I done enough? Does he know how loved he is? At this age, I love that he can read this letter on his own and KNOW how special he is. Happy birthday, Griffin. God sure did bless us with you. 


To my son – on your 10th birthday,

I’ll be honest, Griffin. Turning ten is hard for me. While you want to be double digits and get more into your big kid status, my heart sinks just a bit. Ten years ago, you stubbornly came into this world a week later than planned. And from that moment, my world flipped. The first night at home, we put you to sleep on a large Boppy pillow. While your dad snored away, I stared at you all night long. Out of fear, probably. But, mostly out of sheer amazement that you were ours.

I’ll spare you the details of my extreme love for you (I’m learning that age 10 comes with “Mom, no more kisses, please!) and share more of what your dad and I see every time we are with you.

One of my most favorite things about you is that you are FUN. You wake up fun. You go to school for the fun. You try and make sure your sister has fun. When you’re graciously around kids smaller than you, your goal is to make sure they have fun. If anything, I wish that you keep on with the fun times – especially when times get harder as you get bigger.



Currently, you love sports – from the Texans to the Falcons and of course, our Astros. You love American Ninja Warrior, too. We love watching you love all these things. Why? Because you have big dreams to be in their shoes one day. And, we have no doubt you will be there changing lives just like they do. Remember to be like the good ones though – the ones who are heroes off the field and off the warp wall. Remember to be kind like that while using your talents to reach those goals.

And to that big brother status – you’re a good one, G. From the moment you just knew I was having a girl to current day when you’re talking that little sister out of her latest antic. You’ve been one she can look up to every single day. I want you to know how much I appreciate your taking care of ME when that little girl pushes my buttons. I don’t think I ever told you that I love when you reach for my hand when you sense my nerves are on edge. You reach over and tell me you love me. Just when I needed the reassurance the most. I appreciate that love you give me, and I’m sorry for when those rough moments are rough on you.

For now, I can’t wait to sneak you out of school and take you for a treat. You deserve all the good coming to you as you turn 10. My wish for you this year is to keep the fun in your heart and to keep dreaming big. No one can get in the way of your dreams because your determination and heart are so much bigger. And every step of the way, I will be there cheering you on. From scoring those touchdowns to being kind to those around you to shining that light on everyone you meet.




Thank you for making me a mom. Thank you for holding my hand. Thank you for being mine.

Happy 10th birthday, my lovey.

Thank you to my friend Maggie for the pictures of G in 2013. And to Jennifer Spencer Photography for the last photo. To see my other letter to him, click here

10.02.2018

My Favorite Way to Challenge The Mom Brain

This post is sponsored by Jigsaw Puzzle but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

All moms know the feeling - the kids are in bed, and you're ready for some quiet. Reading a book, catching up shows, and avoiding any tasks that involve your mom responsibilities are some of my favorite after-bed activities. I covet anything that turns off the mom brain and the anxiety.


When my brain is overwhelmed with all things, it's time to decompress. Currently, I love taking a break with a puzzle using the Jigsaw Puzzle app. Their vibrant, colorful puzzles challenge your brain AND give you a fun sense of accomplishment. Mom win!

Waiting in car line or at the bus stop? Long wait at the doctor's office? It's puzzle time - grab the Jigsaw puzzle app and challenge yourself. Playing on the app feels just like doing a puzzle on your kitchen table (bonus: no mess). The beautiful puzzle packs include patterns with nature, animals, food, artwork, and crafting. They also include work from famous artists who focused on European Landscapes, the Americana Summer, and Enchanted Gardens.

My favorite features are that you can also play up to 1024 puzzle pieces on tablets and 400 puzzles pieces on your phone - including daily puzzles to keep things interesting! Search for puzzles that align with your interests (crafts, travel, food, and more). And if you want to kick it up a notch, you can choose your music as well as an adjustable time clock to boost the challenge.






I preach quite a bit about making time FOR you and ABOUT you. A good game/app turns of my anxious brain, and this Jigsaw Puzzle app does just that! Are you ready for a brain break? The Jigsaw Puzzle is available in the App Store as well as Google Play and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

The mom brain is a real thing - our brains are full of schedules, plans, goals, and worries. I love opening my phone to an app that challenges me and turns off all the anxiety of that day. My kids also took hold of the app and love it, too!

 But, I always get it back because when it's my time, I am all about the puzzles!




What's your favorite way to challenge your brain?

Learn more about the Jigsaw Puzzle app HERE

9.19.2018

Self Care For Beginners: 5 Simple Tips For Taking Care Of Your Skin

Let's talk skincare, shall we? If you're a newbie like me, you have NO idea where to start. That's why I am loving my partnership with New Life Wellness and Medical Spa. It's because of them and my recent experiences that I can share 5 SIMPLE tips for taking care of your skin.

For starters, I've written before about my age, my skin cancer, and my anxiety. All of these affect my skin - what works, what's best, and what's best for the price. In the last two weeks, I've had the chance to put it all together.


Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional so please seek one when it comes to your skincare. Do your research and ask questions. Also make sure to schedule a consultation prior to your services. 

VISIT YOUR DERMATOLOGIST

With my skin cancer history, I go every six months for a skin check. But, if you haven't been in a while, go now! They will check you from head to toe for suspicious areas as well as guide you on sunscreen and other beneficial practices and products.

KNOW YOUR SKIN TYPE

Honestly, when they first asked me what my skin was like, I didn't have an answer. Think about the seasons and what they do to your skin. Are you oily? Dry? Knowing how your skin reacts will help guide you on the right product - and there are many!

ASK QUESTIONS/READ REVIEWS/RESEARCH

I follow quite a few bloggers who know the ends and outs of many skincare products. When one stands out to you, ask questions and even better - read the reviews. Take these product possibilities to your dermatologist or your first skin consultation. As you get older, what you use plays a huge factor in how your skin ages. 

GIRL, WASH YOUR FACE

We are tired, and once the kids go to sleep, it's so tempting to face plant right on your pillow. But, don't do it! Wash your face for the night - you don't need a long routine, just one that cleanses and moisturizes as you sleep. Since going to the med spa, I've discovered Yonka products, and this Phyto Contour for dark eyes and puffiness. GAME CHANGER. I've already noticing a difference!


TRUST A PROFESSIONAL/GET A CONSULTATION

I've been trying different products over the last few years - especially since turning 40. I just haven't found the right one. This reason alone is why I am so happy I've found New Life Wellness and Medical Spa. They will start with a consultation to get to know you and your skin. This consultation changed my course of services and what products I use. And their professionalism is outstanding!

And, on September 20th, they are holding their 4th Anniversary Celebration. From 4 pm - 8 pm, you can enjoy (besides spirits and apps!):

Skin consultations
Botox and Fillers (that night!)
40% off Laser (services not delivered that night)
40% OFF Facials, PRP Treatments
$154 OFF HCG
$35 Spray Tans by GloGlow (normally $45)
FREE Skincare consults by Jan Marini and Yonka
Jewelry by Yolanda


You will meet the amazing community who has changed the way I take care of my skin and have opportunities to get your questions answered. If you want to know more about any treatment, this celebration is a great time to ask - plus that cocktail in your hand :)

Special thanks to Sybil and everyone at New Life Wellness and Medical Spa. I've loved my journey to taking better care of my skin. You will, too!

Thank you, New Life Wellness and Med Spa, for partnering on this post. All services were complimentary but thoughts/opinions are 100% my own. To see my post on my first trip to the med spa, click HERE

9.18.2018

Why We Need To Stop Comparing Hardship - In Our Relationships

Just recently, Carrie Underwood opened up about the miscarriages she has suffered in the last year. Seeing her vulnerable and upset made my heart once again break for her. In addition to this pain, she endured a fall in 2016 that left her face scarred – and left the singer out of the spotlight.

When she returned to perform on television, so many attacked her for making too much out of nothing – as if her story wasn’t “as bad” as others or wasn’t worth the publicity it had received. When hearing about how much she has gone through, all I could think was – this is HER hurt. This is HER pain - who are we to judge if it's really that bad or not. And while others may think she should just move on from something that could’ve been much worse, I began to think of how we compare our hardships.


I am guilty of comparing my loss to others' hardships. I've thought - that’s nothing, do you know what I went through? Or, if someone has a worry or anxiety, I sometimes think that’s it’s “not as big” as mine. I honestly hate that I do that, and stories like Carrie make me realize how cautious I need to be when others are struggling. 

As life goes on and we lose a part of ourselves, we can get knee-deep in our sorrow. We see others happy and wonder when we will get back to that spot. We see others succeed and wish we had the drive to do the same. When we get stuck, we can also get selfish. I'm here to confess that's me, too.

I’ve written before about how I feel we need to be stuck in our emotions as we see fit. When grief sneaks in or panic suddenly presents itself, I believe we should feel all the feelings without rush or anger at ourselves. Maybe it lasts a day or two (often, even longer) – that’s okay, but we have to remember to check on others who may be in just as deep. We have to remember hardships are not limited to us alone. 

Not long ago, I was at lunch with a friend who was telling me some of her recent struggles. We had a  wonderful time reconnecting, but I instantly felt awful because in the midst of my hurt, I forgot to check on her. It happened a few more times – another friend worried about a loved one who had been ill; a friend struggling with work. I see texts I send to friends when they are struggling, and my responses have been to compare my world with theirs. 

Another good friend once confided in me about her poor relationship with a family member. After doing so, she immediately apologized that she shouldn’t be complaining when I didn’t have that family member present on this earth anymore. We talked about that for a bit, and we decided that our hurt is relative. She didn't lose anyone, but her hurt still counts. In my multitude of grief-stricken, anxiety-filled days, my darkness was so deep, I forgot to check on others - the ones who kept checking on me.


What I am MOST thankful for are all my friends who let me apologize and taught me something so big. My hurt may not equal their hurt, but it’s hurt nonetheless. I’ll still have really hard days because that’s how grief works. I’ll still get anxious because I’m a huge work in progress. I’ll still overthink all things because I am champion over-thinker. But, what I have done better is listen. When a friend texts a worry, I don't want to respond with a stress of my own. When a friend goes quiet, I will reach out and remind them of their strength – the same strength they give me.

Carrie Underwood fell and was wounded. She then rejoiced and was heartbroken. My pain is not the same as her; hers is not the same as mine. In the already looming comparison game, let’s not compare our struggles because they are all so very different. Let’s remember when one person hurts, we need to be their punching bag or drinking buddy or soft comfort to land on.

Don’t try to take the spotlight off someone else’s hurt – I’m so guilty of blocking that light. I’m thankful for Carrie sharing her story and for those who let me share mine. Comparing any part of who we are is a constant struggle - we all lose.

And, when life gets hard - any kind of hard - we need one another through it all.  I'm not a perfect friend in the least, but I am learning to let others lean on me just as much as I've leaned on them. Through my hardship and through theirs - there's no measurement for when our hearts hurt.

It IS all relative, and it IS necessary to stop comparing who has it harder. No more comparing. Just more understanding. 
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