Word of the Year

It’s about to be the start of 2022! For many of us that means once again setting New Year’s resolutions.

I can honestly say I’ve never been one to do New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like New Year’s Resolutions are either so attainable that it doesn’t push us forward, or they are so far out of reach that we can never achieve them.

I don’t believe I need a date on the calendar to make a change in my life. 2020 was a year unlike any other, and most of us were glad when it ended. Some would agree that 2021 has been just as difficult. I felt like I wanted to do something to encapsulate the growth and positivity that I need for this new year.

That means for the first time ever I will be doing a word of the year.

What is a word of the year?

It’s a term I heard last year listening to Coffee Convos Podcast. I feel like it is a much more attainable version of a New Years Resolution. You choose a word that deeply resonates with you and will guide your actions, goals, and objectives for the year.

Rather than being stuck with specific goals that you set at the beginning of the year, that may not matter as much to you half way into the year, a word of the year leaves room for change and growth. It provides an anchor and encourages you to consciously and subconsciously consider this word when making decisions — what you want more of and what you want less of in your life.

How do you choose a word of the year?

Sometimes we know exactly what we need in our lives, and sometimes we need to think a bit.

Here are some simple questions to get you thinking..

  • How has this past year been? What is something you could improve on, do differently, or keep working on?
  • What is something that isn’t going so well in your life right now? What is a word that is the opposite or more positive alternative?
  • What do you want more of in your life?

My word of the year is Mindful.

When picking my word of the year, I wanted something that would remind me to focus my attention on the present moment, and do things differently than I’ve been doing them. I want the reminder to manage my thoughts and feelings. I want it to work on my goals with my family and in my personal growth.

If you still can’t think of anything, I have a list of my top 10 that I thought of when coming up with my word. There are also so many examples and articles online that list hundreds of words.

  • Discipline
  • Heal (𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦)
  • Aware
  • Connect
  • Transform
  • Consistency
  • Focus
  • Patience
  • Simplify
  • Connect

Are you doing a word of the year for 2022? If so what is your word of the year? If not, feel free to share your goals or New Year’s resolutions in the comment section below!

Christmas Time In Chicago

The Christmas season in Chicago is magical.

Last week, my boyfriend and I took a train to Chicago to spend the entire day together, no kids. It’s not too often that we are able to spend time together, just the two of us.

We departed from the train station in Princeton, Illinois around 8:30A and arrived in Chicago a little after 10A. It was such any easy ride!

South State Street & East Washington Street

After getting to Chicago we decided to walk to Macy’s, which is about a 15 minute walk from Union Station. I had to buy a winter coat, because it was too cold outside!

This may have been the biggest store I’ve ever been in. There are 7 floors! I could have spent all day shopping in there.

Outside of Macy’s was the Chicago Fire Department, singing Christmas Carols!

After leaving Macy’s we walked down the street to a Dunkin’ Donuts for hot chocolate and coffee.

Millennium Park isn’t too far from Macy’s and Dunkin’. That’s where we walked to next.

Christmas Tree at Millennium Park

They have the park decorated with Christmas trees and lights. I’m sure it looks better at night. There’s also an ice skating rink, which we both knew we wouldn’t be able to do. I’ve tried once before, and it’s not at all easy.

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

We did go to ‘The Bean’ at Millennium Park. It was my first time seeing it.

It was definitely the most over crowded place in the park, so I can only imagine how it is on a weekend. Regardless of all the people, we were able to get some really nice pictures.

After we left Millennium Park we wanted to do something different that neither of us have done. The Museum of Illusions is not too far from the park.

Infinity Room at the Museum of Illusions

It was so fun! Honestly, it was nice to just laugh at all of the optical illusions. There were so many more than I would have expected. I really like the Ames Room. That is where two people stand at opposite sides of the room and one person looks like they have shrunk while the other twice their size.

There’s also so many opportunities for some really cool pictures.

Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza

One place I really wanted visit while in Chicago was the Chriskindlmarket. It’s an authentic German Christmas Market.

The smells were amazing! Probably my favorite part. They had hot chocolate, pretzels, spiced wine and beer, and so many Christmas ornaments.

I didn’t try any food or drinks, but I wish I would have. The pretzels looked delicious! We did buy a Christmas ornament that has stockings with all our names on it.

After leaving the market we finally decided to get something to eat. We stopped at Giordano’s for a pizza and some drinks. It was worth the extra wait for that deep dish pizza!

Our train was to depart Chicago at 5:50, and after we ate our late lunch we weren’t sure how much time we would have to do anything else.

We stopped at Willis Tower, just to check it out, before heading back to Union Station. It was starting to get dark at this time, and it was nice to just see all the streets lit up and all the Christmas decorations around.

We arrive at Union Station around 5:20P and were on the train shortly after.

It was such a good day!

I’m really glad that my boyfriend and I decided to do an experience together like this instead of buying each other Christmas gifts. It’s definitely a day I won’t forget.

What I’m Thankful for This Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, it’s a good time to press that pause button. The perfect time to stop and reflect on what we have to be grateful for.

This year has been a wild ride!

I have so much to be thankful for.

Below I’m sharing some of these with you… in no particular order. (expect number 1)

  1. I am thankful for my family. This will always be at the top of my gratitude list! I am blessed with a family who loves and supports me. I can’t imagine going through life without them. They are the core of everything that keeps me going.
  2. I am thankful for my home. My family is blessed with a beautiful home. It is not the biggest home. It might even be the smallest, but right now it’s perfect for us.
  3. I am grateful for my health. I often take my health for granted. As long as my body does what it was created to do, I don’t think about it. Do I get sick sometimes? Yes, I even have a serious health issue, but I am doing well. I try to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy and exercise most of the time. I am lucky to have a healthy mind and body that allows me to enjoy life.
  4. I am thankful for my job. I recently started a new job that I love! I’m not only thankful to have a job I love, but one that helps me earn a living and provide for my family. Just having a paycheck is such a blessing.
  5. I am grateful for the mistakes I have made. If I had never made any mistakes in my life, I would have missed out on a lot of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from them. It is our most difficult situations that teach us the most.
  6. I am thankful for technology. I am able to connect with people despite the distance thanks to technology. I can share pictures with my family that I don’t see often. I also take for granted all the things I can buy online and have the next day. And let’s be real, as a parent, technology can be extremely helpful in more than one way when you have kids.
  7. I am thankful for my church. I have been fortunate to be part of an amazing church with people who love God and are committed to the ministry. Church has become very important to me, especially over the past year. Everyone I have meet has not only been amazing towards me, but also my kids.

What are you thankful for this year?

Let me know in the comments.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Protecting Your Child from Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

Bullying is a significant problem. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics about 25% of youth report they have been victims to bullying.

Bullying lies everywhere. Learn the warning signs and how to protect your child.

Identify Different Types of Bullying

Bullying can occur in lots of different forms.

  • Physical Bullying – This is the most obvious form of bully whereby a victim is kicked, punched, hit, spat on, or pushed around.
  • Verbal Bullying – This includes cruel teasing, name calling, derogatory remarks and being made fun of in a hurtful, negative way.
  • Emotional Bullying – This includes spreading rumours or lies and playing mind games that make the victim feel excluded and ostracized.
  • Exclusion – This includes being intentionally left out or not allowed to join a group.
Know the Warning Signs of Bullying

Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied may include:

  • Appears sad or depressed when they come home.
  • Has lost interest in school work.
  • Seems afraid to go to school.
  • Complains of frequent headaches or stomachaches.
  • Has few, if any, friends they spend time with.

Please understand that if your child is experiencing these signs, it does not necessarily mean they are being bullied. It is good to communicate with your child to find out if bullying is causing the above problems.

Communicate With Your Child

This is a very important step, because without open communication you may not know your child is experiencing bullying. Most children who are bullied do not tell an adult. If you focus of supportive communication, your child may feel more comfortable talking to you.

You may need to directly ask your child about bullying. Some examples:

  • What are some good and bad things that happened at school today?
  • What was it like to ride the bus?
  • Have your feeling ever been hurt by other kids at school?
Monitor Your Child’s Screen Use

It’s 2021, and bullying has gone electric. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and so many more apps can be terrifying weapons for young children wanting to bully someone. When we were young the bully hid somewhere on the playground. Now they hide behind accounts on social media.

It’s okay, as a parent, to have access to your child’s passwords and know what apps they are using. Set boundaries and limits with screen use. Restrict how much screen time they have and limit where they can use their tablets or phones.

Respond Appropriately to Bullying

As awareness about bullying has increased, the recommendations for how to handle it have also changed. Parents may discover that suggestions we were given for dealing with bullies as children have been proven ineffective and can even cause more harm.

Telling a child to stand up to the bully (or fight back) implies that it’s the child’s responsibility to handle the problem alone and can lead other parents and adults to see your child as part of the problem. Advising your child that is being bullied to ignore the bully is unhelpful and likely something they’ve already tried. Along with that, trying to fix the problem by confronting the bully directly or contacting the bully’s parents usually doesn’t help either.

It is best to listen and be supportive if your child is a victim to bullying. Then help to develop strategies to deal with the bullying. It is important to:

  • Document the behaviors your child is experiencing.
  • Provide emotional support.
  • If the bullying is happening at school, contact the school.
  • Help your child learn how to respond the to bullying.
  • Work to build your child’s resiliency, confidence, and self esteem.
  • Get your child any additional help or support, such as counseling.

Bullying is not an activity confined solely to the teenage years. During my working career, I have encountered several coworkers who were bullies. While they never laid a finger on me, they have said and done things which I know interpret as bullying.

Since I never faced bullying head-on in my youth, I don’t know how to cope with bullying as an adult. I don’t want to do that to my children. I want to equip them with the skills to be aware of bullying in all its forms so that they won’t be traumatized as adults.

This will be one of the most important parts of parenting that we will undertake.

5 Tips for Stressed Out Working Moms

You’re a working mom who often feels stressed out. You’re exhausted. You feel like you’re not giving what you want to give to your kids and to your job. You may also feel like you’re constantly running around, but nothing really gets done. Maybe you don’t have enough energy. You certainly don’t have enough time.

Lack of time has been one of my top stressors as a mom.

I have often felt I don’t have enough time for work, my kids, chores, my partner, and myself.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Raising children can be stressful itself.

Working motherhood can be tricky and sometimes complicated.

Below you’ll find a variety of practical suggestions to help you minimize stress and enjoy the adventure.

Reserve Daily Time for Yourself

You’re probably asking yourself, “What time?”. Full time mothers don’t have a second to themselves let alone working moms. I’m sure your calendar is already overbooked, but this might be the most important tip on the list. Finding time for yourself can improve your overall stress levels immediately.

Engage in Relaxing Activities with Your Children

You can reduce your stress levels while also spending time with your children. Put a puzzle together, color a picture, or do a craft and encourage your children to share your interest.

Tune In

The longer I’ve been a mom, the more I’ve realized that being a parent is just one continuous evolution. Every new phase my children go though sparks new challenges and new opportunities to grow. For everyone. This can also make you feel disoriented. I have found it helpful to regularly check in with myself.

“How are you feeling?”

“What’s on your mind?”

“What’s stressing you out?”

“What triggers you?”

“What do you need?”

“What makes you happy?”

Set Boundaries

As a working mom you play many roles. You want to do your best in all of them. The roles of a mother, partner, and worker require nothing but the best. This can sometimes lead to a feeling of not saying no — ever.

To be the best mom, you don’t need to say yes to everyone’s requests. Saying no to responsibilities that aren’t vital will give you the opportunity to say yes to more fulfilling ones.

Ask for Help

Many times, as moms, we forget there are people around to help if we just ask. Family members often love to step in when needed. It’s helpful to form a support network.

There are also affordable ways to hire extra help with cleaning or cooking to make mom life a little easier.

Enlisting help is a smart way to make life less stressed and hectic.

Living With Trichotillomania

September is Trichotillomania Awareness Month. With today being September 1st, there’s no better time to write this.

When people bring up mental health and mental illness, more often than not we think of the major ones: depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.

Most people will never experience or develop trichotillomania. According to Mental Health America, only 1 to 2% of people will suffer from it.

bfrb.org defines trichotillomania (trich or TTM) as a hair pulling disorder that is characterized by the repetitive pulling out of ones hair. Trichotillomania is one of a group of behaviors known as a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) self grooming behaviors in which individuals pull, pick, scrape or bite their hair, skin, or nails, resulting in damage to the body.

For me, trich has manifested as hair pulling from my scalp.

My struggle with trichotillomania became apparent to me when I was 13 years old. I would always play with my hair, but I never thought much of it. As time progressed, it noticeably got worse.

I would feel a piece of hair that was coarse — a hair that didn’t belong. It felt satisfying to pull it out, and I would examined it in my hand afterwards, enthralled at the weird texture of it.

Slowly I would begin to notice more “weird” pieces of hair and continue to pull them out. When I got into high school my level of stress had increased and I found myself reaching up to my head, pulling out as much hair as I could to ease the anxiety.

I couldn’t stop.

I still can’t stop.

Since my hair is damaged from heat, I’ll use two hands to just pull off split ends to prevent myself from removing the entire piece of hair from the scalp.

Sometimes I’ll be mindlessly pulling while working, watching tv, or driving which leads me to fully pulling my hair.

When I’m bored, I pull.

When I’m stressed, I pull.

When I’m anxious, I pull.

When I’m working, I pull.

Trichotillomania has taught me so many things. I’ve learned that my worth is not based on superficial evaluations. My worth is in what I can offer.

Trichotillomania has taught me that it’s okay to be seen, to let myself and others see me in my most genuine form.

Trichotillomania taught me that I am strong, sensitive, empathetic, creative, kind, and above all flawed — which is OKAY!

I used to feel very embarrassed and somewhat ashamed talking about trich. No one knew what it was, and even after giving an explanation, many of them were still confused. I’d always get asked why I do it to myself. It’s hard to give an answer when you don’t know why yourself.

Trichotillomania is a complex and confusing disorder. Anyone that suffers from it can tell you they can’t even wrap their heads around it themselves. Asking things such as, ‘why don’t you just stop?’ or ‘why would you do that to yourself?’ is not only frustrating, but it’s belittling as well. Trust me, if I could ‘just stop,’ I would. No one wants to do this to themselves, but we can’t help it.

Be supportive, be understanding, and be kind. All we can do is stay positive and keep pushing.

Be Proud Of Youself

With all of the goals that you have accomplished in life, big or small, you should be proud of yourself for everything.

Even the most day-to-day accomplishments can lead you to extraordinary places in life.

Never underestimate yourself. Whether or not you’re as successful as you want to be, there are wonderful things about yourself that you should be proud of. Every accomplishment has led you to where you are today, and that’s more than enough to be proud of!

Each goal you accomplish is worthy of celebration, especially when it leads you closer to your dreams.

What does it mean to be proud of yourself?

When you’re proud of yourself, it means you’ve taken into consideration everything you’ve accomplished.

Everyone has different accomplishments worth celebrating in different aspects of their lives.

How can you be proud of yourself?

Everyone has different ideas on how to be proud of themselves. For some, it’s challenging to acknowledge how far they’ve come, because of how much easier it is to criticize ourselves.

No one will criticize us more than we do ourselves. That’s a fact! This is why as easy as it sounds, being proud of yourself can be challenging.

One way you can start being proud of yourself is by acknowledging everything you’ve done, and not pass any of it off as ordinary. Even if you’ve accomplished something minor, be proud. You may not think so, but there is someone else who is struggling to accomplish that specific thing.

5 Reasons To Be Proud Of Yourself

1. You’ve survived a lot of things in your life.

Whether you believe it or not, you’ve survived so much in life that’s worth acknowledging. Not everyone comes out of their challenges stronger, and the fact that you didn’t let them defeat you is something to be proud of.

2. You’ve learned and grown from your mistakes.

You’re probably wondering why you should be proud of your mistakes if you’ve fail.

Your mistakes show a lot about your growth and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. The fact that you’ve tried your best to avoid repeating the same mistakes says a lot about your personal growth.

3. You have unique talents.

Each person is different and the talents and skills they have may not be the same as you. Be proud of the talents and skills you have and stay grounded in your uniqueness.

4. You strive towards your definition of success.

Success is defined differently by each person. No matter what that definition is, be proud that your constantly striving to get yourself closer to success. There’s something to be said about how persistent and resilient you are when it comes to your goals.

5. You are resilient.

No matter what life throws at you and no matter how difficult things are, you always choose to fight back. You always find a way to never be defeated.

Remember, all of your accomplishments are worth acknowledging as they are the reason you’ve gotten this far in life.

When you’re proud of yourself, this pushes you to do even better in life. In turn, it acts as the encouragement you need to achieve remarkable things in this world.

Tips For The First Day Of School

2021 marks a huge milestone in our household, with our oldest son attending preschool for the first time. For so many children and parents this is a big step. Whether your child is starting preschool, kindergarten, or a new school the first day always means a new environment, new friends and new routine.

It’s an exciting, but busy time!

No one really knows how to prepare your child for the first day of school, because anything can happen! With these tips and tricks, though, you can guarantee they’ll have the best start possible.

Start Adjusting Your Childs Bedtime

You don’t want your child to be exhausted on their first day of school.

If your child is used to going to bed late and waking up late, start adjusting their sleep schedule before the first day. Within the week before school starts move bedtime up by 15 minutes each day until your child is able to wake up at the necessary time in the morning.

Practice A New Morning Routine

Kids thrive on routines!

A morning routine will allow your child to learn how to take care of their own responsibilities (getting dressed, brushing teeth) without you needing to tell them. The last thing anyone needs is to get into a power struggle minutes before you need to leave.

Within the week before school starts, encourage your child to start practicing their new routine. Have them pretend each day is a school day by getting dressed as soon as they wake up.

Read Books About The First Day Of School

Reading books about the first day of school will help spark thought and conversations. Your child will be able to connect with the characters in the book and learn from the problems they face.

Below are some great books about the first day of school.

Meet The Teachers

What makes or breaks how much your child will enjoy school ultimately comes down to their teacher.

It’s helpful to have your child meet their teacher at their new school. Most schools have a back to school night or teacher conference that is set up for this.

At this time you can have your child see their future classroom and get to know their teacher. Even take a tour of the school, so they can get excited about everything they’ll be doing. If your child will be riding a bus ask the school if they have a bus available and show your child what it’s like on the bus.

You can also ask questions, because let’s face it, your nervous too! They will be able to give you some advice and tips to put your mind at ease.

Prepare The Night Before

Set out everything your child will need the night before, so the next morning goes smoothly. This is something you can do every night. Make sure to involve your child in this process.

Things to do the night before:

  • Pack their book bag with everything they need.
  • Lay out the clothes they will be wearing the next day.
  • Get as much of their lunch prepared as you can.

This all may seem difficult at first, but children adjust to their routines and environments.

I acknowledge that it’s not only difficult for your child, but for you as well. I just want to tell you that you can do this! Take a deep breath and knock this school year out of the park.

I’m rooting for you!

Mom Affirmations

As a mom it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Let’s be real, being a mom is the hardest job in the world. And the most rewarding. That endless list of things to do, our worries for our children, and the weight of others that we carry with us can become too much.

As moms we are also our own worst enemy.

The self doubt and mom guilt.

Negative thinking and self talk can consume the thoughts in our heads. We are what we think and speak, which is why repeating positive affirmations daily is a powerful skill for transforming our reality.

What are affirmations?

Affirmations are phrases that aim to affect the conscious and subconscious mind.

The words that create the affirmation bring up related mental images into the mind, which inspire and motivate us. Repeating affirmations affect the subconscious mind, which in turn, influences the behavior, habits, actions and reactions.

Do affirmations work?

Positive affirmations for moms work! They can be used to help us create the environment, self, and future that we really want. Even if they don’t seem to be working at first.

“Fake it until you make it” is a quote for a reason!

Consider this an experiment in self care.

What are the benefits of positive affirmations?

There are so many benefits to positive affirmations. Here are just a few of them:

  • HELPS YOU TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
  • BOOSTS SELF CONFIDENCE
  • CREATES POSITIVE BELIEFS
  • MOTIVATES YOU
25 Affirmations for Moms
  1. I will make the most out of today.
  2. I am doing an amazing job.
  3. I am exactly what my child needs.
  4. I have enough patience for my children today.
  5. I am giving my child the best possible future.
  6. I know what is good for my child.
  7. I am taking good care of my family.
  8. I make a difference in my family’s life.
  9. My family sees the best in me.
  10. Bad days don’t make bad moms.
  11. I am my child’s safe space.
  12. I am so grateful that my children are always listening to me.
  13. It is okay to take time for myself.
  14. I am becoming a better mom everyday.
  15. I don’t need to justify my parenting choices to others.
  16. I am doing the best I can.
  17. I am enough.
  18. I admire my body for creating a life.
  19. I can handle anything life throws at me.
  20. I am worthy.
  21. I love myself exactly as I am and will no longer expect perfection in order to love myself.
  22. I have the strength to remain calm.
  23. It is okay if I can’t do everything.
  24. I will let go of how I think today is suppose to go and accept it as it comes.
  25. I am a badass mom!

These affirmations may feel silly to say. The thing is to keep saying them to change your inner dialogue. Meditation along with saying a few of these sentences will start to help you feel better about yourself and the environment around you. Remember from my previous blog post, self care is the best gift you can give yourself and your kids. Then you will be parenting from a place of calm and love instead of stress and negativity.

Must Listen to Podcasts

Crime Junkie

This true crime podcast features a new episode every Monday with best friends, Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat. I’m a HUGE true crime fan, and have listened to almost every top true crime podcast there is. Crime Junkie is undoubtedly my favorite podcast. I’ve listened to every episode. Ashley is extremely organized, and great about sticking to the facts. They get right to the point! There’s no talking about unrelated topics for the first 20 minutes.

Anatomy of Murder

Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger, the hosts of Anatomy of Murder, both have professional backgrounds. Anna-Sigga served as a homicide prosecutor for over 20 years in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office of New York. Scott is an investigative journalist. Every Wednesday they examine homicide cases and paths to justice for the victims, while giving an insider’s perspective along the way.

Coffee Convos

Coffee Convos hosts Kail Lowry and Lindsie Chrisley are the friends you didn’t know you needed. That’s exactly what it feels like listening to this podcast, like you’re talking with friends. As moms themselves, Kail and Lindsie are totally relatable in some way! They talk about everything going on in their lives from buying a house, health issues, relationships, to parenting struggles.

Counter Clock

Investigative journalist, Delia D’Ambra re-examines old cases with hopes of getting a new perspective. Each season she tells a different story. In season one, Delia revisits her small hometown in North Carolina to investigate the 22 year old case murder of Denise Johnson. In season two Delia goes back to her hometown to try and answer a three decade question of who really killed Stacey Stanton. According to the local police the case is closed and a man has been sentenced for the crime. Everyone who knows Stacey considers this an open case with an innocent man behind bars. Finally, in season three, Delia investigates the infamous Pelley family massacre in Lakeville, Indiana.

Each season gets better and better! You have to keep listening once you start.

Hey Babe!

Hey Babe! is podcast where comedians Chris Distefano and Sal Vulcano just talk and have fun. I recently just started listening to this podcast, and it’s probably one of the funniest.