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12.11.2017

Why I Decided To Take A Blogging Break

I love my little blog. When it started a few years ago, it became such an outlet for me as a new mom (for round two) and as a NEW stay-at-home mom. The words gave me a release - they lifted weights off my shoulders. And, they still do. But at this time, I don't feel too many words coming.


Maybe it's grief or anxiety - maybe a mixture of both. I feel like I'm currently in a time of research - what's next for me in terms of my career, my well being, and my little blog. A favorite blogger recently posted she was letting it all go, and while her reach is far greater than mine, her words connected to my current anxiety with all things. And like her, I think a blogging break - and maybe an entire social media break - is necessary. 

I won't leave this space alone for long, but I definitely feel the pull to stop for a bit. To enjoy this holiday season. To feel all the feels that come with the chaos and ultimate JOY of this season. I don't want to spend it scheduling posts or writing gift guides or holiday survival tips just because everyone else is doing it - I want to write when I feel the urge to share. The good, the grief, the joy, and the anxiety. After all, that's why I started this space in the first place. 

Some days, I don't feel anyone is reading, and I have often felt like I am stuck in this social media game - followers, likes, collaborations. Others are rocking it, and I am over here praying my words connect. I don't like how it's added to my anxiety, so when saying no is my new motto, I feel the pull to say no to that silly game I just can't seem to get on top of most days. 

Always A New Day was formed because I needed my space - I needed to feel like a person behind the mom title. I wanted to write because my dad liked reading. I wanted to write about how anxiety is a daily struggle. And then I had to write about grief after losing my brother. When I chose the words, I then was choosing the right time to post them or the right photo that would increase engagement. I just don't want to anymore. 

I think on my break, I will spend time writing. Just writing. The old-fashioned way. I will look into exciting career opportunities that have come my way. I will get healthier - mainly on the inside than the out. 

And when I come back, if you're still here, I hope you find words that resonate with you. 

Thank you for blessing me with your support. Have the best holiday season - spend it loving one another, being kind, and taking care of yourself, too. 

See you in 2018!

11.28.2017

5 Reasons Why We Are Delaying Kindergarten

The topic of "will we?" or "won't we?" start our daughter early in kindergarten comes up often - and when I say often, it even came up right when she was born. Not if we would, but more of how we would make that decision. I've had many mom friends make the choice - for reasons that were best for the child, no doubt. Coming to our choice took patience and teamwork - and since many parents are faced with this choice, I wanted to share why we decided to wait.


Last year when deciding about my daughter's pre-school, we needed to make some big choices in regards to her school years. My little bit was born mid-August meaning she will turn five right smack in the middle of the summer's final month. Should we send this sassy, social butterfly? Could she hang among her peers who were quite a bit older? Am I making this choice too much about me? So many questions. Fears. Anxieties.

As a parent, it would be FANTASTIC if we could see the future - if our decisions now about our kids will have major impacts on their lives. I would love to know if putting her in kindergarten right when she turns 5 is exactly what is meant for her, but the truth is I have no idea.

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My husband and I have talked at great length about what would be "best" for her. We have also talked to SO many parents - on both sides of the debate. Those who sent kids early, so to speak, and those who waited. We also have talked to her teachers and her pediatrician. None of these conversations happened overnight nor did they come and go. We have spent great care in our choice, and I feel so comfortable in our decision. 

We are choosing to send her when she turns 6 - yes, making her the oldest in the class. We are choosing this based on the mentioned conversations, the research, and the input of moms who have done both AND with their unbiased opinions. We have watched our daughter from all standpoints - socially, academically, emotionally, etc. The WHOLE picture of who she is - not one over the other. 

I think my daughter would excel in kindergarten - she is extremely social, loves other kids, and loves to play. She has some strong academic skills and weaknesses, too. But, we are also thinking beyond kindergarten. We are thinking of the tween and teen years. We are thinking of her going to college. A close friend sent her daughter "early" and didn't notice the frustrations until middle school. So while she would love and learn from kindergarten, we want to think about what happens after. When I discussed options and perspectives with teachers, they mentioned that academics didn't falter when they started kindergarten early, but they did notice maturity and some social skills were not the same as their peers. 

Beyond kindergarten is tough - I know, I see my son in third grade already struggling a bit to keep up with new concepts and to understand exactly what grades mean for him now and forever. We are thinking of her academically in sixth grade, ninth grade, and even college.

I am not worried about her being bored when she starts school - anyone who knows her says she isn't quite sure what boredom is as she ALWAYS on the go. I don't worry that she is missing out on anything as I do not see any rush to make her grow faster than she needs to. I cannot wait to watch her confidence soar - and while it could in kindergarten, I want to watch it grow naturally as that's just who she is. 

The gift of time. Sure, I want her little forever, but as we know, the years are fleeting. I am still confused as to how the baby I couldn't believe was mine is now the one who is able to start her school years. That gift of time will give her so much - her confidence, leadership, and self-efficacy will flourish. I cannot wait for that time to watch her grow even more. When I mentioned our story and plan on Instagram, I received so many positive messages from other moms - one said her daughter did great in kindergarten when she started young, but it was hard for her to head off into the "real world" at 17. Another said she looks at it as "18 Summers" - that's more for family trips, weekend outings, or just about anything to make more memories. Gah, I just love that  perspective, too. 

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We decided to delay kindergarten because it's OUR decision as her parents. We've shared our stories with those who see her and know her best as that whole person. We talked at length with professionals and parents who tell both sides of the debate. And because of all of this, we have made OUR choice. 

If you are on the fence about delaying school, I'd love to chat more. I also encourage you to talk, share, and ask questions. One sweet friend mentioned that her son - who started later - does tend to gravitate towards older kids which makes her worry if they did the right thing. I love that she shared that with me, and for others who gave me reasons for going ahead and getting her in.  Bottom line is - find those you know will give you unbiased and KIND advice. You will come to the conclusion with ease once you've thought about it in all directions.

You are your child's advocate, their cheerleader, and their greatest fan. These are our choices. And with time, you will know yours, too. 

11.14.2017

Our Favorite Holiday Tradition

**This post contains affiliate links via Amazon**

Hear me out, I know we haven't hit Thanksgiving yet, but I am thinking of Christmas already. When you have anxiety, you seek out the things that just make you happy. Decorating, Christmas movies, the joy on my kids' faces, and my family being together - those things just bring peace and happiness. Of course, above all, it's the reason for the season, too - it's a time of great thanks and grace.


My family has been through the wringer, but nothing makes us stronger than being together. For years, we have always gathered for Christmas - church service, family gift giving on Christmas Eve, tons of delicious appetizers, and waiting for Santa to arrive. My sister and I LOVE it - so much so that we created a tradition many years ago. It's our most favorite tradition and one I love shopping for each year. My hope is you can start this tradition with someone you love!

I honestly can't say where the idea came from, but I do know with how close we are, we knew one gift wasn't enough. We also didn't want to break the bank with gifts. My favorite part of this tradition is that it uses our creativity. Here's what we do:

We buy 5 gifts for each other.
The total of all gifts is no more than $50
One gift has to be made.

The DIY gift - including the materials needed to make it - are included in that $50. Some of our favorite non-made gifts are TJ Maxx gift cards, coffee mugs (she's already requested this one - ha), jewelry, scarves, journals, wine glasses, candles, books, etc... Basically, anything we know the other will love and use!

The made gifts have included jewelry holders, home decor, earrings (she's way craftier than me), holiday decorations, and the list goes on. Thankfully, I have a crafty husband who always helps my lack of creativity.

Take our favorite tradition and do it with a friend, spouse, parent, or sibling, too! Change it up to fit your relationship. I can't wait to get my shopping on - I already have the DIY gift on my mind. Stay tuned!

My sister painted this church on tin - so talented
I made this DIY necklace holder!
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I love hearing new ideas and getting the absolute most out of this holiday season!

11.09.2017

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes



We all need a little sweetness in our lives - good thing you can get that love in these cheesecake cupcakes. Yep, you read that right - mini cheesecakes so small, it can't hurt to have just one. Or maybe two.
Cheesecake goes fast in our house. The hubs loves anything cream cheese - in fact, his groom's cake was one giant cheesecake. So, of course we love us some Cheesecake Factory, but we are loving that you can now get their beloved cheesecake to make on your own. The Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mixes are easy and the perfect decadent treat. And it can become the easiest, cutest, and yummiest cupcake ever.


Ingredients:

Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mix (any flavor!)
Cupcake liners
Additional toppings (fruit, chocolate chips, caramel, whipped cream, etc)
NOTE: You'll also need cream cheese, eggs, and if you follow the chef's tips on the package, you may need heavy cream too #yum

What to do:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 12-cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  3. Make crust as described on box and put a tablespoon of mixture at the bottom of each liner.
  4. Make the cheesecake as described as well - then fill each liner to the top with the mixture.
  5. Bake the mini cheesecake cupcakes for 20 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. When finished, let the mini cheesecake cupcakes rest at room temperature.
  7. When cool, place mini cheesecake cupcakes in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  8. Before serving, add your desired topping. (NOTE: the caramel and strawberry flavors come with toppings, but you can definitely add your own.)

Bring to your holiday gathering or add to your kids' lunch - they fit perfectly in our lunch containers. No matter how you serve them, The Cheesecake Factory's new At Home Cheesecake Mixes will impress your guests and your little dessert lovers at home.


The Cheesecake Factory is America’s favorite restaurant known for its delicious and LARGE menu of more than 250 items and more than 30 legendary cheesecakes. Sharing is highly recommended, but I dare you to share your mini cheesecake cupcakes. They are perfect for the busy mama to sneak when the kids aren't looking!

Enjoy your sweet treats and thank you Cheesecake Factory for making mamas happy all over the world! Cheesecake for everyone :)

Click HERE to learn more about Cheesecake Factory At Home Cheesecake Mixes

11.06.2017

The Truth About Anxiety

Ten things you need to know about anxious moms. Where I've been with anxiety lately. How it is to live with anxiety. Oh so many titles, blog post ideas, random thoughts, etc. I've erased and written again because I want others to know what it's like to live with anxiety. And I want even more to know they are not alone. I don't like being anxious, and in the last few weeks, it honestly has gotten pretty bad. This is my truth about anxiety.

Too much on my plate or relationships that have fallen apart - it has felt like I cannot get my mind to stop worrying. I replay conversations or I even make up scenarios that haven't happened yet - its never-ending. And it's so exhausting because it comes suddenly, without warning. You almost have to be on full alert even when life is good. You have to be prepared for that worry to spring up at any moment. And in the last month or so, I have been on edge about it all - parenting, friendships, obligations, grief, etc. See? Exhausting.

I've shared before how I seek help when it gets too hard. The help has lifted life-sized boulders off my shoulders. But, lately, I  thought I could fight it on my own. All on my own. Asking for help is not a weakness or a sign that something is desperately wrong. In the last two weeks, I realized I cannot do hard things without a community - a good doctor, understanding friends, and quite a bit of prayer.

I could sugarcoat my truth and give tips on combating anxiety or say I welcome every morning feeling refreshed to tackle a new day, but the truth is I have run out of tips. The triggers are obvious; the worries are the same. But, I am so tired of living in a Groundhog Day type of life. When that fatigue set in a few weeks ago, I knew what I needed to do.

We are tired, anxious mamas. We have so much on our plate, and we try to control every aspect of our day or at least I do. I think too much of the what ifs and the whys, and I've hit the wall. Two weeks ago, I buckled down and started a new journey.


If you are in the trenches of worry - whether it's a continuous struggle or a new thing that has come with motherhood, the other truth is you are not alone. The battles don't have to be big to give you worry. You should never feel ashamed. In fact, as my friend Lisa recently posted - "when you're troubled, throw out a lifeline to someone else. It will keep both of you afloat in ways you never imagined."

So let's say my new truth about anxiety is that lifeline. Recently, I have felt troubled. I have felt weak. I am now throwing this out to someone else - hoping we both remember we have strong tools in our arsenal to keep us afloat. Of course, there will be wounds that still come up as we get through the days. There will be times when my arsenal feels depleted. But, with a new plan in motion, and a tribe that beats all tribes, I am ready.

The real truth is I am more ready than ever.

10.18.2017

How To Style Your Family Photos - 6 Simple Tips

Thank you to Jennifer Spencer Photography for our photos and for assisting in this post. Amazon Affiliate link also used. As always, thanks for supporting Always A New Day.

We took our family pictures last week - we try to take them in October when it's just the right temp here in Texas. Nothing says "happy family" like sweaty, tired mamas and sweaty, cranky kids :)

Luckily, we had a sweet taste of fall and all went perfectly. It definitely pays off to have the BEST photographer in town. Jennifer Spencer Photography has been our go-to for all family photos including a little photo shoot she did for me.

And, thanks to her for some pro photog tips. Moms could spend hours putting together a coordinating scheme, but why? Here's what Jen and I think will make the perfect shoot for your little family.


Pick a color scheme - It's best to work with TWO colors that fit your style. For fall photos, go for oranges, browns, navy, or dark reds. For summer-y beach-y photos, think light colors. Coordinate your fam's clothing around those choices.

For us, we circled around the girls because Girls Rule! And, I also saw a cute idea of matching my mini in pink tutus. My Em already had one, and I got my skirt off Amazon for $17! That's what I call WINNING.

To get some color going and knowing the boys would nix the pink, we also chose navy. I love the contrast of the colors. Good thing is - navy is ALL around. Think denim, too.

Dress comfortably and for your personality - Sure, you want to be picture perfect, but choosing something stiff or too layered can put any kid in a bad mood then goes mom then goes the family happiness. Comfort over style says Jen!

If your family loves Western, strap on your boots! If your family likes being fancy, get fancy and dress up. If you're casual, then keep it that way. You don't want to try something new for a family shoot. Be real. Be YOU.

Shop your closet first - I started with my little bit's tutu and worked from there. I only ordered the skirt for me. No need to spend beaucoup money - check out the closets first then borrow if needed. Something tells me you've got all the goodies already!

Prepare ahead of time - Lay out all outfits together to see if they coordinate AND try them on (especially if you think your kid could have a growth spurt between now and photo time). Moms, I love this tip from Jennifer - use clothes that make you feel comfortable and that fit your body type. We are too critical of ourselves when we see the pictures so make sure you love your own outfit choice. Check it out in the mirror or have the hubs snap a photo to make sure it's perfect for you. If you are uncomfortable in your pictures, it will show.

Another big tip from Jennifer - preparing ahead of time also means IRONING THE CLOTHES, too. Photoshop can't iron them for you!

Wear your make-up a bit heavier than normal - Your face will pop in the pictures! Highlight the cheeks and definitely go bold on the lipstick. I wore Hazelnut Lipsense, but reds are good, too.

HAVE FUN - FUN happens when your photographer is awesome! Find someone who is laid back and allows your family to be themselves. Then, just be normal. The candid shots are my favorite!












I LOVE the pics she got of my kids - twirling princess and busy boy included. I know I will look back on these photos and smile - she captured us right where we are in our lives.

And if YOU book with Jennifer, she is offering $50 off a family session
when you mention Always A New Day.

Hurry and book now! Find the right temps, the right photog, and the right look JUST for you, and you will have some sweet memories, too.

10.13.2017

Healthy Halloween Snacks - Cheesy Ghosts




If you ever see anything crafty on the blog, you know it will be easy-peasy! And, even better? There will be NO MESS to clean up. There are so many fun Halloween crafts out there on Pinterest, but with a busy toddler and a lack of creativity, I need something quick and easy.

Enter our FAVORITE snack - Mini Babybel Cheese, a wholesome, nutrient-rich, all natural snacking option for their whole family. I cannot keep these in stock at our casa. The kids even love these for breakfast on-the-go, too. Pair it with a granola bar for those mornings when you're late or just can't get it together.

And now for that easy and no-mess crafty fun - check out these Cheesy Ghosts!



What you need:

Mini Babybel Cheese (regular or light)
White tissue paper
Black marker
Orange or black ribbon


What you do:

Grab your Mini Babybel (we are loving the fun Halloween ones - a fun bonus when you open up your ghosts) and wrap in tissue paper. I just took a full sheet of tissue paper, wrapped it around the rich and creamy cheese, and tied it with the festive ribbon.

Once they are all in place, take the black marker and draw on two large ghostly eyes! For the final step, cut the bottom of the tissue paper to your desired size. I fluffed (is that a word?) the bottoms to give a floating effect.

Pack up some of your cheesy ghosts for lunches or bring to your neighborhood Halloween party. Easy. Quick. Healthy. Fun. The kids love the fun of opening these mini treats; the moms will love how perfect they fit in a lunchbox.


There are deals on Mini Babybel all month long at your local Target. Only a big cheese like Mini Babybel can rescue your family from snack boredom. Snack time, lunch time or anytime, this 100% real cheese is always a hit! Enjoy all six varieties!



Are you getting creative this Halloween? I'd love to hear your ideas to spice up the lunchbox or to take to your kids' next school shindig!


And if it's easy for this crafty amateur - even better!

Click HERE to learn more about Mini Babybel Cheese - then hit Target to grab some for your Halloween fun!

Happy ALMOST Halloween, friends!
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