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


A Letter To The Mom Battling Anxiety

This last week has been  full of sickness for my family. Just the typical bug that got me last. I knew it was coming; I wasn't going to get away unscathed. Unfortunately, this sickness hit me the hardest and resulted in a quick hospital stay and a few stitches. After a follow-up visit with my regular doctor, I was given a clean bill of health. But, it doesn't end there for me. This incident sparked my nemesis, anxiety, into overdrive. Why did this happen? Why me? Why another hiccup in this already anxious life?

I know, I know. I'm okay. People have more terrible sickness than this. Relax. Rest, Oh, how I wish my brain understood that, but it doesn't. I will tell you one thing it has done - forced me to slow down and take a minute.. Theses stiches are definitely driving my anxiety, but they are doing a little bit more.

I wanted to put this week into words, but all I could think of sounded just like this Huffington Post piece I wrote not long ago - this letter to the anxious mama. Maybe you will understand why our minds go from small to catastrophic in no time flat. Maybe you will understand why I need a little break.

To the precious, worried mama,

I know what it's like to wake up some mornings and think of the first worry you have to confront. Or, maybe it's a list of worries - simple tasks like housework or making sure your child is on time for school. Or maybe it's much bigger - your health, your kids' health, money, the loss of a loved one, the unknown. Or, this one can be the hardest - you have NO idea what your worry is, you just FEEL off.

I know these feelings too well.

You feel terrible because you are really okay - you are physically fine. But, there's something that just doesn't feel right. Most of the time, you can't put your finger on it; you just have this heavy burden pressing on your shoulders and sometimes your chest. You can't lift it off for some reason. There's nothing to grab so you just fall a bit deeper into the worry.

I know this feeling too. I've been there.

Maybe life has been tough - there's been death or maybe sickness. You struggle with relationships. You can't make ends meet. So, you know the reason why you worry. Or, maybe life has been pretty good, but the world around you seems scary for you and for your kids, so you worry about any of you going into the thick of it all.

It's scary. I know it.

You see other moms with the cutest clothes, the perfectly coifed hair, or maybe even that chiseled physique you can't imagine having in your postpartum life. You wonder why you can't do all of these things - be all of these things.

The feeling wears you down. I know it does.

I know the triggers to my anxious moments. Writing this post threw me into a panic that I hadn't had in a while, so I needed to get the words out here. Suddenly, these memories and the thought of an impending appointment left me in a puddle of tears right after hitting publish. Then these tears made me think of my brother. Worry came crushing down - thinking of all of us he left behind and would we make it to the other side of grief. One thing after another then another.

It's a fast-moving train; a fear with a crazy ripple effect. I know it and feel it.

When that anxiety or worry comes, we have to talk about it. Just as you would talk about fixing any physical illness, we need to talk about these feelings too. Not just with friends and family, but with a counselor or trusted doctor. We must not add to our worry by worrying over what others will think. Seek your help - know whom you can trust and do not be afraid to get the words out into the open.

I love my people - those who love me and guide me no matter my fear. Share with yours.

Take your time in finding what makes you most anxious. Take your time understanding your triggers. Write your thoughts down - in a letter or just brainstorm. Use these words to start a conversation with someone who can really help. And know this is not going to go away overnight or maybe ever. But, you have the ability to find your ways to monitor and keep the worried thoughts away.

I am in a daily struggle, but I fight it still. With prayer, with exercise, with support.

Take a walk. Move moreFind a counselor. Love one another. Trust yourself. Forgive yourself.

Please know you are not alone. You will never be alone. You do not need to be ashamed because you are passionate and strong.

I am with you.

So with that being said, I think a blogging break is in order. This corner has become MINE to share and create; suddenly, it feels like it's losing the effect it usually has for me. I am not letting anxiety win. I am letting these stitches remind me to take a break. Refocus. Relax, And simply enjoy.

This week, I will focus on health - mental and physical - and remember why this place was created in the first place.

See you all very soon, friends. Take care of you and yours this weekend. xoxoxo


Football Party Ideas

How was your weekend? We spent ours getting  playoff ready and recuperating from sickness that struck last week. I love weekends where there are no plans and just the right amount of lazy. Since we had our son's birthday party at our house last weekend, we needed a hot minute to chill.

In fact, when he told me he wanted all things football at his party, I was hesitant.  But enter the hubs who is clearly more Pinterest-y than me. He created the "games" and off we went. Though the games didn't go as planned, the kids had a blast. If you know a football fan who is having a birthday soon, check out these party ideas.

Football Treats

My sister is SO creative and made these football cupcakes - complete with perfect cupcake liners from Wal-Mart. She made chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting and added "grass" (green coconut) and a candy football.

Cupcakes are my love language (and biggest weakness), and I can easily say they were DELISH. Thanks, Jill, for adding your touch to the celebration.

Next up, my super talented friend Ivonne created this cake - inside was red velvet with cream cheese filling. All fondant and the letters/football/grass were created by this bakery genius. I keep telling her she needs to start a food blog - this girl has some talent. Thank you, Ivie!

Football Games

And here's the hit of the party - the mini football field my husband created for the backyard. He used PBC pipes for the goal posts, painted them yellow, and put them in a bucket to hold them still. While we had plans for other fun games, the kids stayed right here and played. One dad (Hi, Halley!) just took over and coached the boys in a game. THEY LOVED IT.

I made signs to have around the yard so the kids could move from station to station. When they entered the party, they got their "game face on" by putting the black tape (these stickers) under their eyes. They could hit up "concessions" for hot dogs, popcorn, and other snacks/drinks.

We also had tires hanging from our swing set so the kids could throw a football - this was another big hit! We also had an obstacle course full of football drills and intended to use the field for the 20-yard dash, but we had a game going on instead.

In my OCD party-planning mind, the kids would try each game and keep score/times of each event. I also made these certificates to pass out to each guest after tallying scores. This part didn't happen due to that intense football game. I'm not hurt though - we had some sweaty boys who loved getting their game on!
Party Favors

Thanks to  this pin and  this one,  I came up with a party favor that included a "time-out." Inside each goodie bag was a Gatorade, a Ring Pop, and a small medal. Attached to this bag was this note thanking each guest for coming to play!

Do you have a football fanatic in your family? Or maybe you throw a Super Bowl shindig each year. Pin these ideas for the perfect shindig for your crew.

My little fan had a great time and is still talking it all. Just another reason I love this kid - you can read more about him in  the letter I wrote. He's still my baby boy.

Have a great week, friends!


A Letter to My First Child

In honor of this big boy's birthday today, I wanted to pull out a letter from the archives. Happy birthday, G. You have made me rediscover love, and we are SO proud of the boy you've become. We love you like crazy.

I rarely get a quiet moment with my first born because his little sister is the Hot Mess Express and needs to be monitored all the live long day. Last week, our quality time was getting his cavity filled while little sister was at school. As I watched him in that chair, calm as can be, I had a minute to really think about how much he's grown. Our first visit to the dentist at 18 months was a crazy show; and here he is now chilling while he gets his tooth fixed. Where did this kid come from?

Then I read this article about the Big Kids, and I had a moment. A guilty one at that. So many times, when I am pulling his sister off kitchen cabinets or out of my make-up, I take for granted how cool he is. With 5 years separating the two of them, he can get lost in the shuffle of the toddler circus. My baby boy (yep, still call him that) made me a mama, so I wanted to write him a little something to let him know how awesome he is.

Dear G,

When your little sister got here, your world completely changed. You spent 5 years of your life right between your dad and me. You made our world go round - you were a great sleeper, you didn't fuss; you were a dream. You were an early talker so I loved our conversations, and I loved taking you on adventures. 

Enter your 5th year, and here comes our newest member. You adored her from the beginning; carefully loving on her and taking care of me too. Since she was not quite exactly like you in the sleeping and fussing department, you could tell I was tired. Sometimes, you took the fall; I'm so sorry. There were times you would ask if I remember life without her - I'm sure because she made us a wee bit crazy, and I know you felt a little lonely. Never in that time did I ever want you to feel that way; life just got nutty for a bit. Thank you for hanging on with us as we figured out our new normal. 

Now that she's older (and did I mentioned a bit crazy?), you are the BEST big brother and role model for her. She follows your every move - which you honor with love not frustration - and you watch her if I need to do something quick. You make sure she doesn't climb on the table, and you keep her from most of her crazy antics. Thank you, Bubba, for helping me. 

You have grown into the coolest kid - your love of music and all sports makes us smile. Sharing your love of those things with your sister is even better. When she hears your favorite song, she always yells for you. And when her friends are over and you are overcome with toddlers? You jump right in and play, caring for each of them too.

Thank you for being the best big brother. Thank you for loving your busy little sister. Thank you for making me a mom.

I don't tell you that enough, and I'm grateful for that pesky cavity for reminding me of just that.  

<3 Mom

Now that my eyes are a bit misty, I am going to count the minutes until he gets home from school. He's got a big hug waiting.


3 Ways To Get Rid of Mommy Guilt

Today, I am so excited to have a guest blogger sharing her thoughts on motherhood. Reading her words fits perfectly with my two passions: our mental well-being and who we are behind the mom life. If you have been around Always A New Day, you've read my mental health posts as well as The Healthy Mama Series. Zara's words are a perfect mixture of both. My hope is that her message will resonate with all mamas who feel the pressure to do it all.

Becoming a mother brings tremendous joy and truly is a blessing, but it does turn your life upside down. Priorities change and the sudden high responsibility for a new fragile being that's completely helpless and dependent on others – can be overwhelming for new mommies. Disrupted mental well-being of moms is not a widely discussed topic, and it can be perceived as the dark side of the motherhood: sometimes, there's just too much to handle. Yet, society puts a lot of pressure on mothers attaching superlatives such as “superheroes“ to them. No doubt there - mothers are the clearest evidence there are heroes that don't wear capes, given the fact how they juggle tasks and seem to handle everything. However, we need to reframe the conversation about this: how do mothers feel about this? There are subtle implications that mothers need to be perfect and have it all together by default. This leads to piling up junk emotions and the unavoidable mommy guilt. Here's how you can handle it. 
Remember this: good is good enough
Almost every mother puts additional pressure on herself in the pursuit of becoming the perfect parent. Instinctively, one mother wants to raise her children better than her parents did, and she does so by trying to correct their mistakes. This is why women can be so harsh and unforgiving towards themselves, thinking good isn't good enough. It's hard to find balance when raising a child, but this might help: you're not alone and every mother goes through more or less the same emotional rollercoaster. It's ok to breakdown and to take some time off. Perfect parents do not exist: they are mythical creatures that pop into our heads as personifications of self-criticism and undeserved self-punishment. If you honestly love and care for your children, you are a successful mom and are doing your best. Your best is good enough!

Find your vent and make time for self-care

Being a mother  can be extremely stressful. This is why you need to occasionally put yourself first: no, this doesn't make you a neglectful mother, it's actually a good thing for your children, too. You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. Find time for solitude or focus on activities that will help you vent out. Exercise, sign up for an art class, or find some other way of purging your emotions. Different cultures take different approaches towards emotional decluttering: meditation and yoga have become extremely popular when it comes to balancing body and mind. Eastern tradition believes in the importance of the free flow of energy (chi) so many women choose to appoint a feng shui consultation, high-level intensity training is a great way to sweat out your frustrations, spa days are a nice way to relax. You are a mother, but this isn't your wholesome identity. You're also a woman, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a leading face in business perhaps? If you don't keep your different roles in balance, you'll start to resent yourself and people around you, and then you'll start feeling guilty about it. Stop right there and take a deep breath.    

Write it all down and talk about it

Women are often quieting themselves as they feel they need to endure without “bothering“ anyone with their problems. Break the silence and talk about it: if your children are old enough, try to explain how you feel. If not, talk with your spouse or with anyone else. It's good to  keep a daily emotional journal in which you will focus on mapping the sources of your negative emotions: figuring out a way to control them will come naturally. Ask for support; you deserve it.

Remember that being a parent is a whole new life role: nobody exactly knows what they're doing and that's ok. We just need to speak openly about it so that we prevent assumptions that the grass is greener somewhere else. You're a human being and you're allowed to make mistakes.

Mommy guilt is no joke - it's one thing that no one care prepare you for as you become a mom. Zara's words remind all moms to slow down, take time for yourself, and remember you ARE good enough. Always.
How do you work through your mommy guilt?
Zara Lewis is a mom, designer, and regular contributor to She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her family and friends. She is a romantic soul and tech geek in one, and seeks for beauty in everything that surrounds her. She enjoys hiking, cycling, yoga, and cooking. Find her on Twitter. Thank you, Zara, for sharing your words with us.


Family Style Guide - Fall Photos

Hooray for Friday! I love weekends full of football, family, and just good ol' fun. After sharing more of my heart this week, I am happy to share just HAPPY.

We had our family photos taken recently. Once again, my sweet friend Jennifer captured the perfect pictures of my crazy clan. And for the first time, I actually took some time to put coordinating outfits together. In the past, I scramble for whatever is on hand (and clean), but for this shoot, I went with neutral pieces that worked perfectly. Today, I am sharing my neutral family style guide to help your group get ready for fall photos.

Keeping it neutral also meant keeping it easy. Some of the pieces are already staples in our closets. After one quick online shopping sesh with Old Navy (and a sudden stop to the shoe store because mama always needs new shoes), we were all set.  My absolute favorite part of the neutral theme? The pieces are versatile - you can bet my fam will have these pieces on repeat this season.

But before I share some details on the styles, you HAVE to see a few of my favorites that Jennifer took. She is great at capturing kids' personalities, and she is full of ideas for the perfect family pose. Finding a photographer who knows how families work and is patient are KEYS to a stress-free photo shoot. Houston, friends - need family photos? Look no further. (You can see more of her work HERE).

And stay tuned until the end - there's a treat for those who book a session with Jennifer!

We are going to have a hard time selecting our favorites. I gasped, laughed, and cried every time I looked at a new photo. Want to see a few more? Check out Jennifer's BLOG!

Now for the details on our neutral clothing choices - click the links and build your family's picture wardrobe. Better yet, use these ideas to dig through your closets. I bet you've got a few similar pieces hanging around, too!

Pin this post if you are planning your family's fall pictures. And, remember those keys to a great photographer? If you  contact my friend Jennifer and book by this weekend, you will receive $50 off a family session! Mention ALWAYS A NEW DAY when you book. From the photo session to the quality of photos, you will be more than pleased with Jennifer's talent and professionalism.

I can't wait to hang some of our favorites very soon. These faces are going to smile from every room in our home. Have a blessed weekend, friends!


Why We Need To Talk About Mental Health - Messages For Those Who Have Lost a Loved One

My mom and I have decided we do not like the ‘S’ word. No, not the one you are thinking – I am referring to the one people use when referring to the loss of my brother. We also don’t like the ‘K’ verb used in explaining how he died. Maybe it’s unhealthy or a coping mechanism for us as we grieve, but for him and the adventurous life he led, we aren’t going there.

Monday was World Mental Health Day. A day to have conversations about our mental well-being. A day to spread the hashtag of #healthemind. For me, since my brother passed away in January, each day is that for me. If you have read my posts on mental health, you know talking about mental health has become my passion. I’ve shared the why, the ways to seek help, and tips to take care of ourselves. Today, I want to share messages to those who have lost loved ones to mental illness. And if you are a friend of someone who is grieving, these messages may help you, too.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. The information I am sharing is based on personal experience. Before seeking the best fit for your mental health care, please see your regular doctor for guidance

I changed my wording after watching this TED talk. I eliminated the ‘S’ word and now say the honest truth – depression stole my brother. Do not call the deceased selfish or question why they did this to one person or another. Understand it is an illness; it is not a choice.

Meet the grieving where they are – if they want to talk about their loved one, let them. Be open to yourself in knowing you don’t have to talk about it unless you want to. Maybe you aren't ready to talk openly about it. I believe that's your right, too. Friends should try to meet you where you are.

There is not a how-to with grief because if there was, that guide would be a best seller. And, there is no timeline or expiration date to grief. 

You do not ‘get over’ loss – you get through day by day. Be with your friend and be patient. And if you are grieving, be patient with yourself.

Encourage them to practice self-care. Take walks. Write. Get in quality time with friends. Seek help if the grief consumes you or you find yourself slipping into darker moments more often.

Laugh. And know it’s okay to do so. Make your friends laugh. My brother was always the jokester so I know he would want me to crack up more. For me, those moments come from my kids. I am pretty sure my brother pushes them to make me crazy right when a sad moment comes.

Connect with others who know what depression can do to loved ones. Read their stories. Write your own and share. That process for me has been overwhelmingly effective. Encourage a grieving friend to seek an outlet for her as well.  

Everyone’s journey is different. Everyone is on a roller coaster of questions that will never get answered. A good day suddenly turning gray. Or even a somber day ending in hysterical laughter. And there’s nothing wrong or strange about these crazy days.

And remind your friend that she will get stronger. Know yourself that you will get stronger even when you feel so tired. Surround yourself with love. With light. With faith.

This post is coming during a good week so if I sound like rainbows and butterflies today, I currently feel happy. But, that’s the tricky thing about grief. I could wake up tomorrow and see his picture or my son could ask about him. Then, that colorful day changes. That’s grief.

Talk about mental health. Don’t let World Mental Health Day be one day. Let’s keep talking about it – and let’s keep helping each other. Share these messages with someone who may need them.

Thank you for reading and sharing this ever important topic. Be blessed, my friends.


25 Blog Post Ideas - For Any Type of Blogger

If you have been around a while, you know writing is my jam. Especially when I am anxious and the thoughts are swirling in my anxious little mind, I remove them from that crowded space and put them into writing. My purpose here on the little blog is to reflect who I am and to connect with others who GET IT.

I LOVE reading relatable content on my favorite blogs - especially anything about mom life including the beauty, the dirty, and the simple joys. So what happens if the ideas stop or you feel blocked? Today, I am sharing 25 blog post ideas for ANY blogger. If you are a writer/blogger, you just might find your next blog topic here.

  1. Write about why you started blogging/writing.
  2. Share a behind-the-scenes glance at a typical day.
  3. Include guest posts that reflect your blog/writing.
  4. Share kids' routines that keep you sane.
  5. Write about holiday ideas - recipes, décor, etc.
  6. Share a favorite easy toddler activity.
  7. Tell about why your current passion is important to you.
  8. Spill your secrets to dealing with babies/toddler/kids/teens.
  9. Write from the heart - a story/lesson you feel compelled to share.
  10. Follow up on an older post - expand or update the post.
  11. Share your voice on current trending topics.
  12. Define what friendship means now that you're an adult.  
  13. Share what your faith means to you.
  14. Write about a current struggle you are facing .
  15. Write about your children's birth story.
  16. Gather a round-up of favorite recipes/bloggers/instagrammers.
  17. Complete a series that shows your passion.
  18. Share travel tips - traveling with kids/choosing locations/storing memories.
  19. Create a how-to tutorial that shows your skills.
  20. Describe self care tips that help you be a better mom.
  21. Share the latest product you love.
  22. List organizational hacks that keep your family "put together."
  23. Write a letter to someone.
  24. Share your favorite things/current "must-haves."
  25. Write about stepping out of your comfort zone (i.e. this post and this picture).

You don't have a blog? Start a journal. No one says your writing has to be perfect, but if you have those swirling thoughts like me, get them out of that busy head. Dump them. Store them away. I don't sit down and plan my content for weeks ahead because I simply do not know where my head is some days. This week, I shared this quote on Instagram because some small hiccups really increased my anxiety. Some days, you just need a high-five for getting up and facing the day.

When it's heavy, I write. When there's joy, I write. Maybe one of these 25 can spur something for you as well.

How do you come up with ideas for writing posts/journaling? I am always open for new ways to kick that worry to the curb and fill my mind with creativity and blessings instead.

Maybe writing could be cathartic for you. Maybe you're a blogger looking for a good topic to showcase your life. Pin this - I'd love to hear your stories!

Happy weekend, friends!


5 {More} Tips to Shopping Round Top

I am back from another trip to Texas Antiques Week, and just like I shared before here - my time visiting/shopping/antiquing did not disappoint. My sister is a PRO at everything antiques week (check out Jill Allison Designs on Instagram and Facebook); I learn so much from her each time I go. This time, I left with a car full of fall décor, graphic tees, tables, and more.

Round Top and the surrounding small towns are in between Austin and Houston, Texas. This gorgeous countryside becomes the setting twice a year for antiques, collector's items, decor and fashion. No matter if you are looking for a unique piece of furniture or some cute clothes - you will find it ALL. Even better? Once you park, you can load up a cooler of your favorite adult beverages and just walk and shop.

To be honest, it's tough to put the experience into words, so I collaborated with the best to give it a try. Thanks again to my sis for her collabs on five MORE tips you need to know for Round Top.

ONE - Make it a Girls' Trip

It's time to rally your troops. Grab those tired mamas and make your plans. You are in a gorgeous part of Texas with a great opportunity to shop until you drop. And when that dropping occurs, retire to your very own little cottage and/or farmhouse.

Check out Air BnB or VRBO for places to stay in Carmine, Round Top, or Fayetteville - all tiny, precious towns surrounding Round Top with easy access to the shopping. The Lone Star Gallery has these "glampers" as a possibility - how cute are these? Head over to see their availability and even more snapshots. I am OBSESSED.

TWO - Get Ideas to DIY

Raise your hand if your crafty side is lacking. Round Top is the perfect place for inspiration. Even if  you do not have a long shopping list, check out the beautiful things these vendors make and get some ideas for your crafty self. I found a few things that I loved and know that with patience, I just might get creative.

THREE - Preparation is Key

Pack light and comfortable. I made the mistake of wearing my favorite sandals this weekend, and they did not pair well with the dirt roads and gravel. Think baseball cap, shorts, tennis shoes/cowboy boots, or even workout gear. Get comfy - you've got shopping to do!

Make a list of things you are looking for because there is SO much to see.  My son loves all things football so I knew I needed something that would compliment his football room makeover. I also needed fall and/or Halloween décor because I do not have much. I found this sign from Pinky Promise that is perfect for this Texas girl.

Plan out where you want to go. You will first approach Round Top when driving in, but there are other locations for shopping. After RT, you will hit Warrenton - my favorite. Big tip - bring cash and park behind Warrenton grocery store/gas station. Once you are there, you are in a prime spot - including Zapp Hall where you will find shops, live music, and the beer garden. Everything is walkable from this spot including the fields, Bar W, Northgate, Tin Field, and Dillard's Field.

FOUR - Treat Yourself

My sister is a vendor and has met some fabulous antiques week friends who all say the same thing - if you see something you want, BUY IT right away.  You will either forget where you saw it or it will be sold by the time you return. Trust me on this one! I almost lost out on this sweet picnic table for my little. And look how happy she is!

Now to the FOOD - Round Top has the BEST food/drinks on every corner. From iced coffees to sangria to margaritas - they have you covered. Walk around with your favorite beverage as you shop. Or, want a juicy burger? A sweet treat? Barbecue? They have it all - no worries either because you will be walking so much, you'll work it off! Here are a few favorites.

Fredericksburg Mini-Donut Co.
Royer's Café at Zapp Hall
Lone Star BBQ in Warrenton

Royer's permanent location is in Round Top, but during the show, they are set up at Zapp Hall. Enjoy dinner under the stars while enjoying live music and dancing. Try the steak tenderloin or penne pasta. As for Lone Star, get their grilled chicken sandwich. Eat there or get it to go - and eat lunch early or they run out of chicken! You also can't go wrong with their burgers.

FIVE - Save the dates

The Spring 2017 dates are up so start making plans. I have already reached out to my buddies and booked our accommodations. We would love to see you there!

But, take note - the shows do begin on different dates based on location. For example, Warrenton Fields open early while Zapp Hall and Dillard's don't open until the second week. Check out this map so you can see the vastness of antiques week.

Even if you can't get away from the kids, wrap up your sweet babe or load the kids in the wagon - it is kid friendly. PIN THIS and start your planning. If you are not close, you can fly into Austin or Houston and get there just as fast. Trust me, it's worth the trip.

Be blessed, my friends, and happy shopping!
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