name='p:domain_verify'/> Always A New Day : August 2016


7 Questions to Ask your Kids After School

We are a week into the school year, and by the time my son gets home, I seriously could scoop him up and squeeze him. Being that he is almost 8, he isn't so sure about those crazy mom displays of affection. I also could drill him with questions about his day, but I quickly learned he needs a few minutes to decompress.

Since we are three years into "big" school, I know how to approach him about his day. Though I am anxious for a play-by-play, he clearly is not. He has talked, shared, read, counted, etc... all the live long day so I no longer expect a deep conversation when he walks in the door. Also, the routine question of "what did you do today?" goes nowhere. Usually, as he snacks, unwinds, and even before bed that night, we go through some of these questions - 7 good ones to ask your kids about their school day.

I don't grill him one by one until I get answers, and I definitely don't ask them all. It's just a list of favorites that always seem to spark his interest and clue me into what his day is like. At this point, he knows what may be asked so sometimes the convo just happens. See if these 7 could be used with your school peeps!

What made you happy today?

Did anything make you sad today?

What did you and your friends talk about at lunch?

Name a new friend you met today. Tell me one thing about him/her.

What good choice did you make today?

Tell me one thing you learned today that you thought was cool.

What are you excited to learn next?

You could take your questions a step further and create these awesome question cards. I love this idea - making it more of a game peeks their interest as well.

Another idea is to grab a spiral and have them write their answers. Not a bad idea to practice some handwriting while you're at it.

Or, let them ask YOU the questions  - you can share what made you happy or sad. Hearing what good choices mom made today allows them to see you have responsibility in your day, too. When mom shares, it's a great model for the youngsters.

I'd love to hear your ideas - what are some ways you learn about your child's day at school? Best wishes for a great school year and great conversation!

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Friday Finds {Vol. 31} - Finding Humor

This week has been emotional - I hesitated to start posting about mental health. In fact, right before I was to publish my first post, I froze. I was anxious (what's new) and excited all in one - my hope is these posts will encourage just ONE person to reach out to anyone for the first step or the next step in their healing. Blessed by all of you who read, commented, and shared. Big thanks.

And now we've hit Friday, and I don't want this week to end with the heavy - I want to go out with some humor. Heaven knows I need laughs more than ever. What better way to find the comedy than from the mouth of babes.

When you are a mom and life around you spins, these little people jolt you back into reality. Here's a few snippets of our week - I give kids.

Big brother had his first day of school. When I was a student - and a teacher - the first day use to make me nervous. I never slept the night before and was a bundle of nerves walking into the school. I am so glad this one does not have my anxiety! He barely blinked, hopped on the bus, and was increasingly annoyed with my photos.

Little sis and I counted down the minutes until he got home. They embraced, and it was the cutest. Then, he runs to me and says, "Mom! I am still hungry. I need TWO sandwiches in my lunch next time." If that's his biggest complaint of the day, AND he is ready to go back the next, I am all good in the hood.

Speaking of little sister, you know how they say a quiet toddler is never a good thing? They would be 100% correct. Always suspicious of this one when all goes silent. Like when she decide this week was a good one to remove the couch stuffing from our pillows. It was like little tufts of clouds exploded in my living room, and it wasn't heavenly. I swear my brother whispers these ideas into her head.

She is also REALLY GOOD at schmoozing, too. When driving to gymnastics this week, she's being super cute (sneaky little thing) so I say, "do you know how much I love you?" This girl screams, "YOU BET I DO!" Heart melts and couch stuffing chaos is forgotten.

We also had her Meet the Teacher on Thursday. She was SO excited to go back to her school from last year. On the way there, I again took advantage of her good mood and said, "I love you, my big, big girl." Her response? "I love you, my big, big mommy." Not sure if I need to hit the gym more or what, but I will take it. Made my heart giggle for sure.

What about you? Tell me more - what crazy, cute thing has your child said this week?

Oh how they make us so tired yet fill our hearts with love and remind us that even when the days are long and we may be down, they love us no matter what. That keeps me going.

I hope you all have the best weekend - full of laughs. Love to all of you!


Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health

Two weeks ago, we had to deal with an issue stemming from my brother's death this past January. If you have followed or read my posts since his loss, you know depression stole him from us. Some days are great; some days I am so mad. Some days, I just miss him being on this Earth.

Many factors contributed to his death, and we know for a fact he was not in control of his thoughts or feelings. This is what depression does - it steals. It lies. It's all consuming. In the years that I have lost people very close to me - and all sudden and tragic - my anxiety and even that damn depression sneak in and take hold. Now that I am a mom, I knew I had to get help to loosen the grip of these feelings.

Asking for help is NOT easy; it can be downright scary and make you feel as though you are alone. It makes you feel as though you have failed. Writing this piece of my life is never easy, but when a certain issue came up two weeks ago, I seriously had enough. When we are physically sick, we see a doctor. When our hearts hurt or our brain will not turn off sad thoughts, why do we not ask for help?

I have found so many beautiful mamas in this blogging world - not to mention close friends - who have in some form experienced anxiety and/or depression. Maybe it has been an issue all their lives or maybe it came full speed ahead when they became moms. No matter what, I have a passion that has exponentially increased as of late to speak about mental health. Could talking more have saved my brother? Maybe. If he had found a mental health care professional that actually cared for the patients who saw him, would he still be a phone call away? Perhaps. We HAVE to start talking more about mental health and remove the stigma and fear that comes with all of it. We HAVE to do our research on what options we have. We HAVE to improve the options.

I don't want to be quiet about it all anymore.

With the help of some beautiful, knowledgeable professionals, I am trying to start another conversation. I have some posts/ideas in mind that I hope will help just one person feel more at ease and feel more understood. If you or anyone you know suffers with severe worry/anxiety/depression, I hope you will direct them here or just simply be there for them. With these posts, I pray connections are made and the conversation continues louder and louder.

In the coming weeks, I plan to share the following topics:

How to choose the right mental health professional
Healthy, everyday tips to improving your mental health
How to help a friend who is struggling with anxiety/depression
Helping a friend who has lost a loved one to depression

If there is anything you would like to see, please feel free to email me or comment. I am not a mental health professional (though it's a dream of mine to be one someday), but I have some great collaborators who are and will guide me. One thing I am is a mom who worries. I am a sister who lost a brother. I am in the trenches most days, and I have been fighting to be better every single day.
Thank you for letting me share. I believe every conversation counts, and I am ready to get one started.

Special thanks to Kate at Mommyhood and Mental Health
and Dr. Jody Lorimer for your support and ideas.


Back to School Must-Haves

Here we go! Just a few more days, and school is back in session. We are physically ready - we have our goodies, but it's the emotional part that has me all choked up. I just like the noise in this house - even when they bicker, it feels like our normal. Little sister and I are going to miss big brother like crazy.

Our Back to School - Must-Haves - from the first day picture props to spirit items and lunch necessities - are right here and ready to be part of your back-to-school fun. Here's hoping for a successful school year for you and your kiddos!

Dekal Spirit Items - My sweet friend, Yessenia,  has started a decal business that offers the cutest spirit items for your little one/teachers/friends. We love this spirit shirt! Check out her goodies and see what she can create for you. She made my little's birthday shirt, too!

EasyLunchbox Containers - We used these containers last year for both my grade school son and toddler daughter. Goodbye, Ziploc bags! You can fit sandwiches, fruits, fold up your yogurt tubes - the possibilities are endless. Ours are washed and ready to go for this year!

Thirty-One Chill-licious Thermal - My son loved this thermal we used as his lunchbox last year. We included his name and favorite sports monogram. He never had issues with leaking, and clean-up was a breeze. The lunchbox containers fit perfectly, too. See my friend's Yessenia's Thirty-One page for more examples and patterns.

Thermos Stainless King Food Jar - When the kids want to spice up their lunch, this Thermos container is perfect - including an attached spoon. My son is a HUGE fan of buttered pasta with Parmesan cheese, so this Thermos will keep his lunch warm.

First Day of School Photo Signs - How cute are these personalized signs for your child to hold during first day pictures? The signs are colorful and easily visible in your social media photos. Or for your framed mementos, too! Contact my talented friend Jennifer if you want to learn more or purchase one for your kiddo! Hurry - time is running out. I can't wait to see my kids proudly displaying theirs in the next couple of weeks.

Papers Pretty Studio - My sweet friend Ashley has just opened an Etsy shop and has the cutest teacher tags. Click on the link to see what her shop offers.

(Amazon affiliate links used)

And don't forget - if you are ready for a back-to-school fitness challenge, join us for the #100MileChallenge! I am hoping once the school year starts and the preparation craze ends, I can focus on my health. More to come...

What's on your back-to-school list?


How She Saved Me {A Letter to My Daughter}

Today is my baby girl's third birthday. Exactly three years ago today, a girl completed our family. She entered a world of boys - made my mom a grandmother of her first granddaughter. She entered a world of protection - her brother and cousins awaiting her arrival. She entered my heart in the most awesome and surreal way possible. She was our dream come true.

We were told that we may only have one baby. We were told I was perhaps "too old" to have another. We were in a waiting period to see what was next for us when God gave us His answer. Two pink lines began a pregnancy that gave us our pink and pretty princess.

As she turns 3 and enters her threenage years, it's clear to see just how she saves me. How she is saving my entire family. She is a wild, fearless, and stubborn child, but I know her characteristics were created for a bigger purpose. She brings us overpowering joy and makes us laugh (and go a bit crazy) every single day. How she saved me is how I want to honor her on her special day.

My Emmy girl,

One day, I will describe how perfectly you completed our family. How your brother told us from the very beginning that you would be a girl. When we learned he was correct, we began buying all things pink. We dreamt of bows and tea parties.

When you arrived, you were quickly outspoken and determined - our firecracker. Sleeping was for the weak, you thought, so we had to design a way to get you to snooze. Once you were mobile, the world was amazing - the more dangerous for you, the better. You made me worry more but love like crazy. Soon, the bows were tossed aside hindering your on-the-move personality. You picked up brother's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle weapons and found delight. You climbed (and still climb) any surface possible. We have rearranged furniture more times than we can count.

You are social; you are loving. You know what you want and when you want it (NOW), but this outgoing side of you is exciting. Though you are fearless, I love that nothing scares you. See, I am not like that so I am pleased to see you are carefree. This year, we lost your uncle, and we are hurting. Yet, when our hearts want to cry, you know how to hug, say the cutest thing, or try your latest stunt that brings us back into the present.

Now that your uncle is in his Heavenly home, I am seeing more and more how this gregarious and giving nature is identical to him. Could it be that God knew we'd need a little one like you? I'd like to think so. Maybe our long wait for you came at the right time. Maybe you can feel Uncle Doug's spirit more than the rest. Who knows, but I do know you bring your grandma such joy. I know your busyness and constant movement puts me in the moment - I bet Uncle Doug is whispering in your ear or even giving you that lift you need to sit on the countertops.

And, I know your plan is going to be so great. You will not take life lightly; you will not let people push you around. You are feisty and you are funny.

You are my world. My buddy. My lifesaver. I wish nothing for you but continuous joy and laughter because that is what you give us.

May God bless you on your third birthday and for many birthdays to come. Thank you, sweet love, for saving me. I love you, little monkey.

Love, Mom


Tips to Make Personal Fitness Goals (Plus the #100MileChallenge)

Don't ask me how it's August. We are getting back-to-school ready and making some changes at home, too. Our lazy summer days will soon be replaced with our regularly scheduled program. While it can be hard to say goodbye, I thrive on structure and feel my kids do as well.

But, the changes aren't stopping with school and all it brings. The hubs and I have recently set new fitness goals - and they start fresh today. Ready to put some pep in your step? Check out these simple tips we are following to get refreshed and renewed.

I was recently listening to a Joel Osteen podcast which focused on taking care of yourself every single day. We need to nurture all aspects of our lives - the spiritual, the emotional, the mental, AND the physical. God wants us to nurture ourselves to be our best version. How does that happen when you are tired, busy, and unsure?

Set a SPECIFIC goal

Set how many days you want to work out. Run a 5K. Try Zumba. Walk 30 minutes everyday. No matter what, put your goal into words. My husband has been wanting to get back into working out, but his work schedule is crazy. This weekend, he committed to an early morning boot camp, and more than being excited, I am proud. Set that goal and put it into action.

And, I am tackling a "Before 40" bucket list item and signing up for a half marathon. I've run smaller races and though I'm fearful, there's a fire in me that says DO IT! Goal created and calendared.

Plan how you want to MEET that goal

Even if this half is the only one I ever do, I am passionate about it. The race day is set, and my running schedule planned. I'm scared as all get out, but I'm going to run (and perhaps walk) for my life.

Whatever your goal may be, get it on the calendar, set your "due date," and go. We are all crazy busy with littles and life so adjust schedules as needed. We deserve this time to kick butt. Bonus: the kids are watching. They are watching their hot mama crush some goals.

Gather your TRIBE

Gather them, love them, and cheer them on. I am no Olympic runner, and I may come in last, but I know that so many of my peeps will give me the boost I need. My nephew is running too - though his pace is WAY faster than mine - just knowing he is there along side me on the trail will make me want to cross that finish line even more.

Do not strive for PERFECTION

I will not have a awe-inspiring pace, and I may stop too much, but my goal is the finish line. You may skip a workout because you need that 30 minutes to chill instead of burpee. You may oversleep.  You may indulge too much. But, you get back up and keep going. You're changing - inside more than out, and you start to see the benefits of your dedication.


We made babies. We love them SO hard. They cling to us in good times and bad. So, show them just how amazing it is to set AND meet goals. Be strong for them. But most importantly, celebrate YOU. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of them.

Then, go get ya some champagne and toast to those shattered goals!


Now, for a fitness challenge. When I was coaching, I started an accountability group of strong women who support and encourage each other. Since January, we have continued to push each other. Now, we have a new goal.

Inspired by a friend who recently accomplished some fitness goals this summer (Hey, Kelly O!), we are committing to a #100MileChallenge.

Starting today - August 1st - we are tracking our mileage until November 1st. Walk. Run. Crawl if you have to. Or, put that Fitbit to use and track your steps into miles. Keep going and set that goal to reach 100 miles in just 3 months.

If you want to join us, post your progress on social media and use the hashtag #100MileChallenge. The goal is set. The tribe is waiting. Join us!

Let's get moving! You will be SO glad you did.
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