Unfiltered Mommy

An honest view of parenting in today's world

An “Oink, Oink” here and an “Oink, oink” there


Growing up in the Mid-west, our meat of choice was beef. My mother also cooked chicken but very rarely made anything with pork. When I moved to Spain in 2001, I had to get used to eating more pork than I was used to. I also had to learn to like seafood, and a variety of other things that I had not acquired a palate for such as sardines and tomatoes. I learned to like some things I never thought I would and still detest other things, Murcia anyone? I never developed a taste for “the other white meat” but I learned to tolerate it.

Here is Germany they eat more pork than anywhere on Earth (this is just my opinion). Seriously, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am totally porked out after 10 months! As a child, I refused to eat Bologna and choked down pork chops when I had to. I never liked anything pork, other than ham. Honey Ham was pretty good, especially as a family holiday tradition.

I can honestly say that I had no idea that so many things could be made out of a pig until i moved here. The deli counter is quite impressive so see but about 80% of it looks totally inedible to me. When I see other customers ordering things like gelatin round filled with pork tongue pieces, I want to hurl. How can they like that shit? I mean seriously, just my imagination of what the texture of something like that, is enough to make me lose my lunch. And it is a Bologna lover’s paradise here. There must be 10-15 varieties in every grocery store. From pistachios, to mushrooms, broccoli, and peppers, you can literally have Bologna with pretty much anything the heart desires mixed in.

I have joked with friends and family about how I will probably become a vegetarian by the time our contract ends, purely because I am in meat overload here. We have instituted meatless meals every week and I do not eat anything pork when we go out to restaurants. I dream of veggie wraps and burritos and long for the day when I can have traditional Mexican food again. Smoothie and juice bars are also things I lust after. I never knew how lucky we were to be in a place with so many healthy food options. I truly do miss the convenience and variety of American Life, black beans, salsa and 5 for $1 Avocados! Yummy!!!

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You know you’re a mother when…

This is a phrase I utter to myself almost on a daily basis. It is hard to imagine all the little things that a mother does day in and day out and it is almost impossible to imagine all of the things that mothers see or hear during the day. These are the things that may fade from our memories but they are things that make motherhood what it is… the most amazing and difficult journey of a lifetime.

1. When you get “free time”, the top priority is either showering or going through a week’s worth of mail that’s been collecting on the counter.

2.  Knowing that the “To-Do List” that used to take you 3 days to complete, now takes 3 weeks. And that’s okay.

3. The only channels you have stored to memory are Nick Jr and Disney Jr.

4. You’re ok with your kid eating just plain white rice for dinner.

5. Not a day goes by without having a full on discussion about poop, pee or vomit.

6. You spend more on your kids shoes or clothing that they will wear for 2 months than you do on your own clothing that you will have for the next 10 years

7. You can’t remember the last time you showered, shaved your legs or had a Girl’s Night Out. I mean, seriously, I saw GNO on FB the other day and had to really think about what it meant. Sad, so sad.

My friends and I often talk about the difference a decade makes. So much has happened in all of our lives since our mid-twenties but we rarely take the time to look and see just how much we have grown. It is important to slow down and reflect. To take time to learn from the past. I think it helps us appreciate the present and plan for the future.

I would never change anything about where I am right now in life but it is funny to think how much goes on in just 10 years. When I was 26, I was in my Master’s Program, working full-time and going to school 3 nights a week. On Saturdays, I studied and wrote papers. On Sundays I did my internship for 10 hours in an Emergency Room. We had just purchased our first home and gotten a puppy. Somewhere in there I still found the time to do my Krav Maga two or three times a week and sneak in a happy our with friends every now and again.  At the time I could not understand where I found all the energy. Reflecting back on it now I realize that it was one the best times of my life. I learned and grew so much during that time. Meeting the woman who became my mentor for the internship changed my life and set me on a totally unexpected career path as a medical social worker. I am so grateful to have met her and for all the wisdom she imparted on me. It truly was a life changing year.

This year has also been a huge life change and I am certain that in 10 years I will be writing a reflection about it as well. But right now, it feels like I am just going through the motions of becoming acculturated. I have to remember that right now the most important thing is slowing down and enjoying my children’s youth. I rock them every chance I get. Hold their soft little hands and kiss their squishy little cheeks because I know that someday they won’t want me to do these things any more and I don’t want to regret not taking the time to share these sweet moments while they last.

Slow down and enjoy life's simple pleaseures

Slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleaseures

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A Stranger in a Foreign Land

One of the biggest adjustments I have had to make has been being a stranger in a foreign land. People tend to think that Germany is a lot like America, probably because it is an industrialized nation with a  high percentage of well-educated people. But I can tell you that despite the similarities, life here is quite different from in the States. Everything from the food to cultural norms are different. My husband has a hard time putting in to the words what he sees as different but today I am going to try to explain it, at least a little bit.

Personal Space: In the USA, we are very fond of our personal space. We like to have at least one foot of distance between us when we are standing in lines and when we go out to eat, we want our own table. Even if the table can seat 6 people and we are only 2, we are not fond of having “joiners”. In Germany, space is tight. The entire country is about as big as the State of Minnesota (according to my father). Many people live in flats and those who live in houses (like us) live in half of what is called a “Dopplehouse” or Duplex in the US. Other houses are 5 houses all in a row. This means that you have very little privacy and yes, the neighbors are listening! There is no 6 foot wall around your yard shielding you from curious eyes or 30 yards of space to buffer the everyday screams and shrills of toddlers struggling to get their way. Oh and they don’t care if you are standing in line patiently waiting your turn to pay, they will cut you off and when a new register opens, just because you are the next in line does not mean you will be served first. The people behind you will run over without giving any thought to the fact that you were actually in front of them.

The Food: The stereotypes of eating sausages and bread for every meal are true! When I first lived here in 2004, I had a hard time adjusting to eating coldcuts and cheese for breakfast. I have never been a big fan of breakfast, I don’t like cold cereal, didn’t eat eggs for about 10 years and from about age 8 until 18, I hated sandwiches as well. When I first went to my father-in-laws house and saw the amazing spread of conducts he had laid out for breakfast, I thought “huh?”. I pretty much just ate the delicious rolls with jelly and left the rest. I have adjusted somewhat now, although I still cannot even look at some of the meat that early in the morning. And yes, they can eat bratwurst here everyday for every meal. The amount of pork eaten on this country never ceases to amaze me. Growing up, I think my mom cooked pork once or twice a month. It was typically Shake-and-Bake Pork Chops which were very well done out of fear of undercooking. I grew up not liking pork but now that I have tried it cooked many ways and various cuts of meat, I am learning to like it. If you have never been to a German deli counter, it is pretty amazing. The amount of different cold-cuts or “wurst” they make here is incredible, and mostly, 90% pork! Crazy!

The other thing is the amount of sews and cake eaten here. Every where you go; a pizza place, a bank, all give your kids candy. They don;t ask, they just do it. Even the people cleaning the toilets at bars have candy for kids. Eating cake in the afternoon is also very common. “Kaffee und Kuchen” is typically around 3:30pm and you eat cake and drink coffee. It is nice but seriously, who needs all these sweets? I also my girls to have candy and sweets but sometimes I get really irritated when we go somewhere for dinner and suddenly my kids are screaming to eat a sucker instead of waiting of our dinner. Grrr!

Government Bureaucracy: This is probably one of the biggest differences I have found so far. The German government really is “Big Brother” watching over you. There are so many rules and endless amount of paperwork when immigrating here. First of all, every German resident has to be registered with the government. They have your current address on file. You must notify them every time you move, meaning you have to re-register in every city by going to the city office in person. We are fortunate enough to have a relocation expert working with us (provided by my husbands employer) to help us navigate all lot this. She has been amazing. Now that I am all registered and officially have my Visa to live here for 3 years, I am required to take an Integration Course which is 600 hours of German language courses as well as courses on the political parties and government structure and social programs available to me and my German children. At the first meeting with the government official, he explained all of this to me in German, very quickly and without making eye contact with me. He explained that I am required to take these classes because my immigrant status is linked to my children being German citizens and not because my husband is German. So in the event that our marriage does not last, our children and I are permitted to live in Germany so I need to know what my rights here are and what money etc… I am entitled too. Also, they have to make sure that I speak German. it is actually a pretty cool concept and I think that we should do this in the States. Imagine if all the people who immigrated to the US had to learn English and have some knowledge about how our government works… Oh yes, and these classes are paid for by the government!

Oh yes, and I also have to retake the driver’s license exams here, both theoretical and practical. Apparently having a driver’s license from California holds no weight here. The process is ridiculously long and complex. It took us about 3 weeks just to figure out which driving school to register with. The programs are not tailored to the individual needs and it is super expensive if you have to pay for all the classroom hours (which I do not need! Yay!). Yesterday we got that squared away, and on Sunday I spent all day at a First Aid class (which was a huge joke) and getting my vision test and picture taken. The amount of red tape here is ridiculous! I really do not understand how a culture that is known for being efficient, can still have such archaic ways. Nothing is done on computer here, it is all pen and paper with official stamps. Totally 80’s if you ask me.

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Adjusting to Germany

Well, we have been here for about 4 months now. It has been much been an emotional roller coaster and a jammed packed adventure all rolled into one. We moved into our house in early April, approximately 6 weeks ago, and we are FINALLY getting settled. Finally, we save some sense of normalcy.

For the past three months we have been in transition. Living with rental furniture and sorting through the seemingly endless boxes of boxes containing the piece of our past lives. We have all been trying to find ourselves in our new roles in a new culture. For me it has been very emotional. I miss my family and friends back home, but I am also a stranger in a foreign land. Luckily for me, this is not my first experience with culture shock so I was aware of where I was headed. But although this is my third experience living abroad, it is my longest, and this time it involves helping two young children adjust.

For Hubby it is stressful in other ways. Germany is his home; moving here and raising our family is his dream. We are both thrilled that we are teaching our children German and that they are experiencing both of their cultures. But entering a workforce, in a country where you have never lived as an adult has it’s own challenges.

So now that I have built half of the IKEA catalogue and gotten a handle of our new digs; I am ready to write again. It has been a long time since I got any quiet time to think. I am hopeful that now that things have settled down, I can find more time to share more of what has been going here.

Stay tuned.

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Have tots. Will travel.

I have travelled with my daughters both on planes and on road trips. Each time I learn something new and each time, it also gets a little easier. 

I found traveling on a plane with a breastfed infant to be the easiest. My first time on a plane with a child was a solo mission from San Diego to Portland, OR to visit my sister and niece when my oldest daughter was 3 months old. I had my diaper bag fully stocked with diapers, wipes, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, extra baby clothes, plastic bags and snacks for myself. I was hungry every 2 hours while nursing. I nursed her on take off and things were going great. After a few minutes, I smelled something. I could not really put my finger on what it was, and the only thing I could think of was burnt popcorn. I figured that the flight attendants were making coffee for the beverage service. The smell grew stronger. I looked around and realized that the smell was a huge poop blowout all up my daughters back, and incidentally, all over the sleeve of my shirt. I could not wait for the fasten seatbelt sign to be turned off. I needed to get to the bathroom and clean up what I knew what the worst diaper I had yet to change. I waited. And waited. The seatbelt sign was taunting me and other passengers were beginning to take note of the stench and our situation. I couldn’t wait anymore. I stood up and started walking toward the bathroom. A flight attendant kindly told me to return to my seat stating that there was too much turbulence to turn off the seatbelt sign. I stared at him, moved my baby away from my drippy mustard yellow stained shirt and said “I need to change this diaper. I will be careful”. He motioned for me to go past him with a look of pity in his eye.

Lesson learned on this trip: Pack an extra change of clothes in the carry on for myself.

The trip home from Portland was equally exciting. Now that I knew about my daughter’s system sesitivity to changing altitude, I was now ready with my extra clothes and other items. After take off, the seatbelt sign was turned off, so I went to change her diaper. I got to the bathroom and much to my surprise there was no changing table! I asked the flight attendant and he said “oh my, this is a brand new plane. I guess they didn’t have time to install it yet.” Whaaaat? So there I was, holding my 3 month old poop-laden baby wondering how I was going to change her in a tiny airplane  bathroom with no changing table. Luckily I had the skip hop changing wallet which has a huge changing pad. I sat on the toilet, spread out the changing pad on my lap, and gave her a good ol’ wipe bath on my lap. Disgusted? So was I, but what was I supposed to do? The thought of changing her in the empty airplane seats next to me crossed my mind, but since I was a first time mom. I wasn’t quite this bold yet. I had barely become accustomed to nursing in public with my nursing cover but after this trip, I felt like I could conquer anything that came my way. 

Lessons learned: I can change a diaper anywhere

Traveling from your home country to a foreign land on a transatlantic flight with toddlers brings a new set of challenges. There is the long flight, cramped spaces, and of course jet lag! Our first flight to Europe was when our oldest was 18 months old and I was about 10 weeks pregnant. Despite the fact that Tess was under 2 yrs old and didn’t need a seat, we bought her a seat. I could not see how it would work out with a wriggly toddler on our laps (mostly my lap since she is a momma’s girl) for 14 hours. A friend lent me a “sit-n-stroll” chair that was a stroller (sort of)and a car seat in one. It came in very handy for pushing her around the airport. We used it like a car seat on the airplane seat and also as a car seat in Germany. I highly recommend these to anyone who plans to travel a lot with a toddler. It was comfy and safe and we did not need a separate umbrella stroller at the airport. Once we figured out to use the seat in flight, we were off. Things had gone pretty smoothly until this point. My daughter was crying a bit on take off and was kicking the seat in front of her fo the first half hour or so. After apologizing to the not-so-understanding woman in the seat multiple times, I started to get annoyed with her glaring back between the seats. Yes, my daughter was kicking her seat a bit but I was doing everything in my power to make her stop and I was apologizing. Finally I had eqnough of her judging and said “I have said I’m sorry. There is nothing more I can do. She is one year old.” Shortly there after the Benadryl kicked in. Thank God! We all slept until the cabin lights came on an hour before the flight landed. Overall, the flight was a success. The hard part came that night around 1am when our daughter refused to go to sleep. We tried everything. Movies on the iPad, playing, reading. At about 4am she finally stopped screaming and we got a few hours of sleep.the. Ext night was worse instead of better. We tried the same tricks again. We tried Benadryl. Nothing worked. I was exhausted. Two days with out sleep, 24 hours of travel time, 10 weeks pregnant and a screaming toddler at 3am. What to do? We went for a walk around the neighborhood which worked! Yay! It took another 2 days before she got straightened out. I still refer to this as my “4 days in Hell”. The flight back home was better and the jetlag at home only lasted 3 nights. 

Lesson learned: Jet lag with young children in Hell. Be prepared and don’t fool yourself into thinking it won’t happen. 

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“It’s just stuff”

Well to say that things have been totally insane and upside down for the past 2 months would be an understatement. Since Christmas, we have managed to not only fit in enough study time so I could pass the second (and final) half of the Califonia LCSW exam…Yay!!! But we have also had 2 moving sales, returned 2 lease cars,  spent 2 days at Disneyland, prepared our 75 lb. Labrador, Zoe, for the big move and packed up an entire household.

After passing the exam, we were able to focus on the move. We had 2 weeks left to go through all of our belongings and decide what to keep, sell and donate. Not an easy feat for someone like me who likes to save things. I mostly save things that I plan to use again or thigs that have sentimental value, but after going through the multitude of Rubbermaid totes in the garage that contained my stuff, I realize that the last time we moved (which was only 5 years ago…ahem) that I also save a lot of crap. That being said, I am not a hoarder, and I am. It where near hoarder status. Almost half of the stuff in our garage was baby stuff that we had just finished using or were waiting to use again. Getting rid of baby things is easy. At our age, everyone we know is having babies. It was getting rid of everything else that was hard.

Going through the boxes was emotional. I found so many things from college and my young adult life and had a great stroll down memory lane. As I pitched the majority of them into the trash or sell pile, I felt good. I felt like I was releasing emotions attached to these earlier life stages as I said farewell to the “stuff” that represented those times.

When it got to the more serious items, like high ticket items we recently purchased as gifts for one another, or things we weren’t sure we could use in Germany it became more difficult to decided what to do. I spoke to some friends who said things like “it’s just stuff”, “purging is good” or “you can be a minimalist now” and I secretly wanted to strangle them. Did they not understand what I was saying? What I was going through? Yes, it is just stuff. But it is our stuff. Our stuff that we have spent our hard earned money on and the thought of potentially throwing it out or giving it away KILLED ME! For example,  hubs bought me a Blendtec for my birthday in July (a $300 crazy ass blender that makes ice cream, smoothies, soup and more) what was I going to do with that?  As far as I knew, I could not use it in Germany, and each day and night, my brain did cartwheels thinking about things like this. 

I had anxiety. Serious anxiety. I have never experienced anxiety attacks before but when I started having physical reactions to the stress, I sought help. My doctor prescribed me one month’s worth of medication, which I used sparingly, but I thank God I had it. There truly was no other way I was going to get through this move. 

We ended up getting rid of about half of our belongings. It was sad to see things go like our couches, TV, and other things we really weren’t done using yet, but we are doing our best to embrace the change. The other half of our “stuff” is in a storage container waiting for the LA port strike to be resolved so we can get our container shipped here. I wonder what we will think about the items we decided to keep once they arrive. It should be interesting to see them again after 3 months or more!

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Sometimes life just gets in the way… and that’s ok!

Since my last post so much has happened. I have wanted to sit down and document all the exciting things we are doing but life has just been so busy, that the thought of adding one more thing to my “To Do” list is too much. So I apologize to those of you who have been asking if I am still blogging. Yes, I am! But there are two major life events that have kept me from being able to post. The first is my preparation for the LCSW exam (my ultimate education/career goal) and the second is the daunting task of getting a family of four and a dog ready for an international move.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I was studying day in and day out for part of the California Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam. This was the biggest test I have ever taken and since I had not studied for anything in about 6 years, I was very worried about the fact that I could not retain any of the information I read. For many social workers, obtaining our LCSW is the highest professional degree/license we strive for. It is equivalent to a PhD in Psychology, and allows us to “hang our own shingle”. For me, it was one of the major reasons I decided to pursue an MSW rather than a Master’s in Counseling. As I studied and the time grew closer,  I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I have never had anxiety like this. In fact, I tend to handle pressure with a lot of grace which is why I am good at doing crisis social work. But after experiencing anxiety attacks which caused me to seek medication to help me manage it, I have a new found empathy for people with anxiety disorders. I honestly do not know how they hold it together from day to day. I am proud to report that I passed part one, and I am now preparing for part two, which will be the first week in February. I cannot wait to cross this off of my Bucket List!!

Shortly after taking my exam, out little family unit will be moving to Düsseldorf, Germany for 3 years. Neither my husband or I  have really ever been to Düsseldorf although we do think that it is a pretty awesome city. Right now it is scheduled for mid-February and as I am sure you can imagine, we are all freaking out a bit. There is so much to do, sometimes I really do not know where to start. I wake up in the morning and think “Oh good, I have the whole day to do X, Y, Z…” but the truth is, it is really hard to get any of that stuff done when you have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old. Obviously I don’t want to ignore my kids, but man oh man, what are they hungry ALL THE TIME? I feel like somedays I never get out of the kitchen!

Thankfully we don’t have a house or cars to sell but just having to go through all of our belongings and deciding what we are going to do with each and every little thing is quite the task. We eventually have 3 weeks to pull this all off. At times it seems manageable, but for the most part, it just seems totally insane! For the past 3 weeks, we have spent every free moment working with our relocation expert to learn about the different areas of Düsseldorf that are suitable for families and looking at houses on-line. Thank goodness for google maps!

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Going off leash

When you are accustomed to taking two young children with you every where you go, you get used to taking time to prepare for all scenarios such as diaper changes with soiled clothing, on-the-go snack time, and a plethora of other things that “might” happen. After kids, an errand that would have taken you 10 minutes including drive time, can take an hour or more.

While the diaper bag is typically stocked with the necessary items, it does need to be checked and often restocked before heading out the door. Then there is the stroller/carrier issue that must be thought of as well. For many of us, it is a rare occasion when we get to leave the house without one or two kids in tow. A few months ago when I got to get out of the house sans kids, my husband told me to take his car, or as he referred to it “the single car”, as opposed to the minivan. As I pulled away from our house in his car with just a small purse, I felt so strange. I felt…FREE! I felt like a dog the moment they get let off leash. I was running free and a huge smile graced my face. Ahhhh! Ok ok, I was only running up to the grocery store to grab a few things but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This experience spurred a decision in me. I had to get back to a point where being alone didn’t feel so foreign. I spoke with my husband that night about scheduling more “me time”. Obviously when I was a working mom, I had my town hours of commute time to be with my thoughts. I didn’t realize how much I missed my “me time” until I didn’t have it any more. We agreed that for the sanity of all involved, I needed to have one night a week to do something by myself. So far it has been about a month and I have been attending a sewing group at a local quilt shop. I find creating things to be very therapeutic and rewarding so I am happy to be able to get back to this hobby. Once I finish the girls’ Halloween costumes, I will try my hand at quilting for the first time.

What do you do for yourself? How do you schedule your “me time” and what do you like to do?

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Why I didn’t donate to Locks of Love

Donating my hair has been on my Bucket List since I first learned about it in the early 90’s.  I have tried to grow it long enough a couple of times but I always got annoyed with it and chopped it off before it got long enough. This time was different, I was bound and determined to donate so I could finally cross it off my list! It has taken me about 3 years I would say (because I kept going on to get it cut!). After finally reaching the point where it was finally long enough, and where I was so annoyed enough to actually chop my long, luscious mass of golden locks, I made up my mind to get a pixie cut (another item on the Bucket List).

About 2 weeks ago, I found a text from April 2013 that I had sent to my neighbor, who has a pixie cut, asking for her hairdressers name. This was the moment I thought “Geez, have I really been talking about doing this for almost 2 years?” The next day I went for my consult with Wendy. Finding a stylist who is skilled at pixie cuts, and about cutting hair for donation is very important so I turned to Yelp and read a lot of reviews before settling on Wendy. I went in for a consultation and she made me feel very confident that I could pull off a pixie and also encouraged me to look into charities other than Locks of Love. I scheduled the hair cut appointment for later that week and went home to look into where I was going to send my hair.

After researching Locks of Love a bit further, I decided that since I was so emotionally attached to my locks and the reason I was donating was to be able to help a child who was in need of a hair piece. On the LOL website, it clearly states that they sell hair to offset the costs of manufacturing hair pieces and that they charge the recipients up to $3000 in some cases. WHAT?!?! Yup, that’s right! They do say they have a sliding fee scale and some children receive their wigs free of charge, but in my opinion, a child should not be denied the opportunity to improve their self-esteem at such a critical point in their lives due to their parents ability to pay. This division between the worthy and unworthy really struck a cord with me.

As I looked further I found other websites and news articles bringing the validity of the organization into question. Apparently in May 2013, there was an investigation into how many donations of hair were received and how may hair pieces were actually made and distributed. The discrepancy was horrifying. But one thing was clear, this was NOT the place where I would be sending my hair. I would be devastated if I found out that my hair was sold to line the pockets of some corrupt administrator rather than to help a child in need.

I was able to find two other organizations that use the hair they receive and do not charge the children who receive wigs: Wigs for Kids and Children With Hair Loss. I chose to donate to the latter as they are a Detroit area charity (being from the Detroit area I liked this) and they were very appreciative and helpful when I called to ask a few questions. One thing I really likes about CWHL is that they do not sell any of their hair. Now these charities stricter guidelines as far as the types of donations they will accept (obviously because they are not selling the hair) but if you really want your hair to be used for the intended purpose, I would go with either of these. As an aside, I did not chose Wigs for Kids because I received conflicting answers on the phone when I asked whether or not my hair would be used since it was permed 10 months ago. One person said it would and the other said it needed to be 12 months since the perm and again, I didn’t want my hair to go to waste so CWHL was the best fit for me. I do believe that Wigs for Kids is a wonderful organization as well!

Although I have received a lot of positive feedback about my donation and my new look, I did not do this for any reason other than my hope to be able to improve the life of a child. If donating your locks has been on your Bucket List, do it! It will grow back! #TheLotusDen #CWHL #ItWillGrowBack

For details on making a hair or monetary donation to CWHL go to www.childrenwithhairloss.us/

To donate and get a rockin’ new cut see Wendy at The Lotus Den in Oceanside, CA and don’t forget to mention my blog!

You can check out their website at www.lotusdenhairstudio.com

This was me before I cut off 13" of my lovely locks to send to Children With Hair Loss

This was me before I cut off 13″ of my lovely locks to send to Children With Hair Loss



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My New Year’s Resolution

Rather than doing a resolution at the beginning of the year, I have always done one on my birthday. A birthday just seems like a good time to have an inventory of the past year and set some goals for the next year of life. Thirty-four was a great year. I was pregnant for half of it and had my second daughter. I was finally approved to sit for the LCSW exam here in California, a goal that I have been working towards for the past SIX years! 

With so many positive things to be thankful for, there really is nothing else that I “needed” for my birthday. When I started thinking about my goals for the next year, I found myself thinking a lot about health and wellness. After working in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital for the past seven years, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I have seen people on medication lists as long as my arm and I have seen patients coming back for their second or third open heart surgeries. To put it bluntly, these things scare the shit out of me. I do not want to be a passive participant in life. I don’t want to sit around waiting for death to come knocking at my door because I am too fat, lazy and tired to do anything about it. 

So how do I avoid becoming one of these sick people? Well, we all know what we are supposed to do. Eat right, exercise, don’t drink/smoke etc… But putting into practice is another thing. They say that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. That’s just 3 weeks. A seemingly short time in the scope of time we are on this Earth. 

My plan has been to exercise at the gym twice a week and walk my dog at twice a week. So far I have been doing pretty good. Now, mid you, I was not raised in a family where exercise was modeled or encouraged. My parents are not sports lovers and we were not the family who went on daily walks together after dinner or spent our vacations hiking. As a result, I do not enjoy exercise. In fact, I loathe it. Mostly because I suck at it. I tried a handful of things like basketball and volleyball but never stuck with anything long enough to actually like it. But this is something that I do not want to pass along to my children. I want to do the opposite with them. I want them to like physical activity and to discover their talents in this arena. Our oldest is very physically active. She loves gymnastics, swimming and running. Like her father, she uses exercise as an outlet for her energy and before she figures out that exercise is work, I want her to be so in love with it, that she makes it a part of her life. 

As a 35 year old, it is difficult to power through a workout or class when you don’t love it. I find myself watching the clock to see how much time is left. The only workout that I have every truly looked forward to do was Krav Maga. If you haven’t heard of it, you should check out this link to learn more http://www.kravmaga.com

Other than forcing myself to workout and trying to enjoy it, I have started making green smoothies everyday for the family. I got a Blendtec for my birthday and it has really been fantastic. You can learn more about this amazing tool here http://www.blendtec.com Even our two year old loves her smoothies “with lettuce” in it. 

I have a lot of faith that I will be able to maintain these two changes I have made because the end goal is really a gift to my family. The gift of my not becoming a burden on them is the best gift that I could ever give. 


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