United States of Motherhood

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finding Confidence Again with Invisalign #InvisalignBeConfident

Invisalign® asked for my help to kick off Countdown to Confidence Instant Win Sweepstakes and  share this opportunity for a chance to win $100 instantly each day and boost your confidence with a new smile.


 It's a tough one for me.  Body image seems to have been something that has held me back for years.  No, not years...decades.

If you haven't noticed, I haven't blogged much about it lately.  I've been in a slump. With family and financial stresses, with grieving my dog, with so much on my plate? I more than slumped, my friends. I more than fell off my health journey. I ran away from it willingly. Hello emotional eating and couch potato self! And now?  I look in the mirror and I don't need a scale to tell me.

20 lbs is back with a vengeance.

Remember that 35 lbs weight loss...sigh!

However, what came first? The lack of confidence or the weight gain? They go hand in hand. It's hard to be self-confident and believe in yourself if you hate what's in the mirror.  Likewise it's hard to get moving and back out in the public to lose the weight, if you lack the self-confidence to believe in yourself and truly put yourself out there to be the slowest person at the gym...again!

Remember my first Rx-ed wod? Last time I went, I added 5 minutes...

The voice in my head scream that I ruined all my hard work.

I keep reminding myself I am a work in progress.  I stifle those voices in my head.  Tonight I resolve to take back that confidence that I felt when I first started my health journey.  I resolve to confidently shrug my shoulders, say I'm allowed to make mistakes, and yes, I declare a do-over.

So I fell down.  

So I am out of shape.  So I don't like what I see in the mirror.  So what if my clothes don't fit anymore.

Remember how I loved to update you on progress after a hard work out?

Do over. 

We all deserve one and I am taking mine. And my friends?  I am going to fake it until I make it. It's important for women to feel confident in their body. To be honest, daily life is pretty darn awful waking up without it.

So I encourage you all to join me.  

Don't like your thigh giggle? Belly flab?  Arm flaps? Get moving. Lift some weights. Go to my favorite, crossfit.  Walk your dog.  Don't worry about the judging eyes you imagine following you. Only you can make yourself feel less.  Move your butt. Not tomorrow.  Today. Fix it

I will get back my confidence to take full-body selfies in the mirror again!

Not overly enthused by the crooked teeth you have since naughty you didn't wear your retainer or headgear as a kid?  Save up and go get Invisalign®. Nothing is worse for someone's confidence that not being able to smile wide and belly laugh in public when you want to belly laugh. It's discreet and an alternative to braces allowing you to perfect your smile without sacrificing your busy life! Pledge to go get an Invisalign Smile Assessment.  Smiles exude self-confidence. When someone doesn't feel confident smiling, it affects you and how others see you.

Let's get the confidence to smile again.

Always wanted that degree and somehow motherhood, or focus, or finances got in the way and now you think it's too late?  It's not.  If going out and increasing your education will make you feel confident, then don't hesitate.  I find myself in my forties thinking about going back to school.  I will keep you posted if I do, but in the meantime, don't rule it out.  You are never too old to learn.

You are never too old to self-improve!

Somehow we internalize what we consider shortcoming whether it be less than perfect teeth, too tight of jeans, or not feeling smart enough and let these things chip away at our esteem rather than inspire us to change.

This girl last summer didn't doubt then and she needs that back!

Today I say I choose to confidently make some changes. Are  you in?  

In honor of Self Improvement month, I challenge you to do something that makes you feel more confident.  Better yet, share below something you've done to boost your self confidence so we all can be inspired!!

Pretty please, with kettlebells on top?


Don't forget to check out and enter the Countdown to Confidence with Invisalign Sweepstakes!

Invisalign is giving you a reason to smile with confidence everyday! Countdown to a more confident you by entering daily for a chance to win a $100 cash prize! There will be  one winner $100 each day for 60 days. 

Each daily entry counts toward the grand prize drawing of free Invisalign treatment and $1000 cash. 

Enter daily to increase your chances of win!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Lalaloopsy: Girls Stitched Together...Friends Forever Baking Oven & Dolls for Future Foodies #SPON #TEAMLALALOOPSy

I sooo wish I was a girl again. I remember wanting with ALL my heart a little take and bake oven. Remember those?  Between 80's Saturday morning cartoons, commercials regaled us future foodies and passionate cooks with the promise of our first very own oven!

Sadly, I never did get one...until now!

Ha!  I was super excited when I was invited to check out the Lalaloopsy new line of dolls and along came this baby!!

Hello Cupcakes!!

I really cannot imagine any little girl -- or for that matter little boy -- who wouldn't want to get baking in her/his very own oven. All my kids would have charged this on Christmas morning.  Seriously, we've raised foodies for kids--all of them know how to bake!  Heck my teen son has been baking cinnamon rolls and muffins since he was 9.  They came in handy for his senior prom when he baked cupcakes to ask his date!  I am all for ANY product that gets kids in the kitchen...and I am sure his future wife will thank me for that!

And these dolls?? When my daughter was doll-age, her choices were pretty much Barbies or Brats. These give a non-sexy, fun and funky alternate that I love. Let's let girls be girls, not sexy and flirty, right? Believe me as the mom of a teenage girl, there is PLENTY of time for that later.

Mittens Fluff 'n StuffTM?  Yep. Made from an Eskimo's scarf, has a pet polar bear. This deluxe set includes Mittens Fluff 'N' Stuff fashion doll with color-changing braids, extra pajama outfit, adorable pet polar bear, 2 hair clips and comb for doll, and hair clip for girl. So stinking cute!

Then there is Spot Splatter SplashTM. Sewn from a painter's overalls- she's a natural born art-iste! She has a red-striped pet zebra and loves spaghetti and meatballs.  She's a girl I can't resist.  I love that she honors a little's girls creative side.

Now my teen daughter and I am a bit old for this gorgeous little oven  and these adorable dolls, but we know so many girls that would adore them. I am sure we will find them a good home. And if you have a future foodie of doll age, definitely join #TeamLalaloopsy and consider these awesome dolls and especially the oven for birthdays and holidays!

Curious about Lalaloopsy? Visit the Lalaloopsy website to find out more!

Already a Lalaloopsy fan? Join Lalaloopsy Insidersa fun social community where fans get special access to the world of Lalaloopsy and can share their love of these magical dolls.

#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between my blog and MGAE. This could include MGAE providing me w/ content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Be Protective of Childhood: This Mother's Lesson Learned #IamProtective #CollectiveBias #Shop

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

I became a mother a few months after I graduated from college.  It was a busy year since I had married, graduated from Berkeley, was commissioned in the Army, moved our family across the country to the Missouri and then a few months later, moved across country again--this time to Alaska--all in the space of 12 months!

Hello military family...and hurried military mentality!

Everything was a rush.  Trying to unpack. Trying to make the most of time between deployments with their daddy. He was in the field, deployed, or otherwise absent 18 months out of the first two years of my son's life. The pressure was on me to take up the slack. 

Somewhere along the line, I put that hurried, busy demeanor into my mothering.  I wanted my little guy to grow fast.  Hit his milestones faster. He didn't.  He had speech delays caused from grief attributed to his father's 6 month deployment  to the Middle East. Selective mutism at a crucial point in his development.

We got him help. I pushed to break through...He did only when his daddy returned.

Then he missed developmental guidelines again when he developed a stutter as a 4-year-old and his speech made it difficult to understand him.

My motherly mania to fix it created a scheduling iron curtain.  Speech lessons.  Constantly tutoring him. He knew his alphabet by 18 months.  He read fluently by 4. He was reading thick Harry Potter tomes by kindergarten.

Push. Push. Push.

During this time, two more babies came along and I pushed them too.  Early pre-school at age two. Potty training before age two. Hitting  kindergarten at four. Swim lessons, ballet lessons, dance lessons, chess team, karate, soccer...the list goes on and on.

I cajoled, encouraged, and pushed often too hard. Way too often too hard.

In the middle of the pushing, we discovered two of our three kiddos had ADHD. I pushed more to make up for their disabilities. My kids laugh that I was a tiger mom when I said, " B's and C's were okay, but not for my kids." I told them it was because I knew their potential.  I told myself it was because I wanted the very best for their futures.

Fast forward eighteen years and everything seems like a blur.

My eldest graduated at 17 this summer. He attends the University of Washington. Did he make it because of my pushing or despite it? To be honest, I am not sure. He is not sure.  Was it academic or athletics that helped him get in? More importantly, he made it, but at what cost?

Most importantly, was it worth it? I am torn.

 My daughter is in 10th grade today while my youngest caboose is in 7th. Their childhoods also seem like a blur of sports events and homework. Summers were swim meet after swim meet, double practices, and football straight through August.  Add required readings, Khan academy, and chores and even summer fun doesn't seem all that fun. Sure we had fires, toasted marshmallows, but did we do more toasting and splashing in the lake or more drills?

I have realized with a heavy heart that we stopped digging up worms and gazing at stars years ago.  We didn't savor childhood. Everything was scheduled. Everything was a push to grow up faster. Achieve more. Play less. Be in the moment less.

I think part of this pushing started very early on when I reacted to life events, rather than planned.  My first and third pregnancies were unplanned.  Our wedding was a six weeks from planning to the event blur while packing madly. Financial planning for our family did not come until years later.  Planning more and reacting less might have made us more relaxed. 

I have regrets. 

So today? I am much more protective of my children. I want to preserve their childhood. 

We take competitive sports down a notch. We miss practices for social interaction with friends. In our house today? Baking muffins were more important than studying for the EIGHT tests/assessments my now sophomore daughter has this week alone. My friends, this is okay. 

Now I try to be protective of their childhood.

So as the voice of experience? Don't do what I did.  

Take the "play" pre-school over the academic one. Don't rush. 

Breathe deeply and don't yell when they can't find their cleats or homework. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Let them take their time. If they aren't in the top of the class, with the best poster, REALLY don't sweat it. No kid will remember the poster or the grade, but they will remember the stress and pressure from their mom.

We as a culture need to learn to slow down. Let children be children.  Less worksheets and more hopscotch. Less scheduled sports and more cartoon tag. Value relationships over grades. 

I am not saying don't push, but don't ALWAYS push.

And as parents, ignore email.  Walk away from Facebook. Join in the play. Spend 20 minutes after dinner still at the table chatting about the day's events rather than hurrying them off to do homework.

Slow everything down.  Take it a day at a time.  Live every day.  Play every day. Smile and hug everyday...and yes, play hooky from school and sports and just LIVE. Skip. Climb. Love.

Be protective of your children's childhood -- they only have one!

I wanted to thank Protective and #CollectiveBias for their #IAmProtective campaign for getting us all thinking. Making these goals to protect their childhood are great, but what if I am not here?  I worry.  I worry a lot. My youngest has two friends who have lost their mothers in the past few years and each time, my heart clenches. How much life insurance do I need to make sure my husband and kids are protected? To make sure they are taken care of? You can check out  tools like Protective's Learning Center to find out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rustic & Real Ketchup: Eat Real Food #Paleo #JERF

I planted tomatoes a tad late this year, but what I lost in timeliness, I made up for in quantity.  My friends?  I have juicy, organic tomatoes coming out my ears!  Perfect for my latest recipe.

This barely scratches the surface of my crop.  Time to get cooking!!

If you have kids, you know where I am going with this right?  HELLO Ketchup!!

Commercially bottles ones?  Chock full of corn syrups, high fructose syrups, preservative and artificial colorings. Even the so-called natural ones make me cringe.  Then looking around the internet, I saw quite a few (even paleo) recipes using canned tomatoes (ummm no!) or completely unsweetened (hello kids' rebellion).

So I set out this morning to make my own REAL condiment of choice from REAL ingredients.

Feeling Saucy!!

What I ended up with is a zesty rustic dipping sauce with just the right tangy, sweet goodness and a little kick.  Perfect for our sweet potato fries and lettuce-wrapped turkey burgers tonight.

So GOT TOMATOES?  Check this recipe out.

Rustic & REAL Ketchup #Paleo #Glutenfree


2 lbs fresh organic tomatoes
2 stalks celery
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 rounded tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp old bay seasoning (optional)
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw, local, unfiltered honey

3/4 cup vinegar (I used 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar)

Rinse tomatoes, remove stems and puree tomatoes and celery in food processor or blender until in a rough cut sauce form. Pour into a heavy sauce pan and turn on medium high heat just until it comes to a simmer.  Turn down immediately to medium-low. Stir.

Add basil through honey into sauce and mix well.

Fast simmer, uncovered, for 40-50 min until 1/2 to 1/3 of original liquid is left, depending on how thick you want your ketchup. The last 10 minutes, turn to low and stir more frequently.  It will turn into a paste and burble.

Once it is a pretty thick sauce/paste stage, return to food processor/blender and blend 3-5 minutes until is smooth without flecks. Return to pot. Add vinegar. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until it's the consistency you desire.

Put in sterilized jar and chill in fridge. Flavors will continue to develop.

It should keep 2-4 weeks. 

Makes about 2 cups.

So I begin my campaign.  Paleo or not, please #JERF my friends!  Just Eat Real Food! It truly is easy to make this small, baby steps to eating whole, healthy, and unprocessed foods.  

Join me?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Need Unlimited Talk Text & Data/Web?? Walmart's Unlimited Cheapest Plans Are Just Smart #Phones4School #CollectiveBias #shop

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

How did my baby grow up so fast? College!!

 My friends?  The time has come.  My Eldest is off to college in a few weeks. With college comes crazy expensive text books, school supplies, and if you are moving out of the area? Possibly new cell phone plans. Luckily for this mother's heart? He's staying close as a soon-to-be freshman at the University of Washington.  Not so good for this mother's heart? Seeing the data overages bill in the mail for the past few years.  My jaw usually hits the floor and my blood pressure skyrockets-- even without tuition bills looming. Yes, this is where Walmart's  Lowest Priced Unlimited Plan comes in.

It was fun taking my Eldest phone shopping to find great smart phones under $100 and even cheaper mobile plans. Waaaaaay cheaper mobile plans. We found a sweet little Nokia Lumia 521 smart phone and paired it with Walmart's Unlimited Talk, Text, and Web.

It. Was. A. Bargain.

Seriously??  A brand new phone for under $70 ($69.98 smartphone on rollback from $99.98) with no contracts?  They had me there because ((hello)) my kids crack their phone in as little as three days after they get it  and then we have a 2 year contract with it. True story!!

Then Walmart sealed the deal with $34.88 (rollback from $39.98) monthly unlimited for the life of the account when paired with a smart phone..

Ahem! Yeah I am embarrassed to admit we spend over $200 monthly with our current carrier for our family of five...and no, we do NOT have unlimited.  Oh the tears and raised voices that could have been spared, right?  You people with teenagers know exactly what I am talking about, right? Heh.

Gift for the New College Kid: SmartPhones from Walmart are Smart!

Yep, with my first born going off to college to stuff new stuff in his brain, it's not too late for this mother to learn too.  Get Unlimited Talk, Test & Data from Walmart and over data limit squabbles are a thing of the past.  It's the perfect college gift!

It'll keep him organized for school and yeah, he may watch a few Youtube videos and spend a little too much time on Reddit, but the bill won't make me cry like his soon to be college tuition bills will.  

Even better, he might pass on his wisdom to his little brother on how not to make steam come out of mom's ears. Walmart makes it easy.

Big Bro Showing Li'l Bro How Easy It Is to Activate His New Walmart Phone

 #Phones4School #CollectiveBias

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