A Trip to NOLA

The following is an account of my crazy adventure to New Orleans.

I stayed with my very bestest and most wonderful host of a friend, Marie at her apartment on the corner of Freret and Napoleon. I loved how the city streets are labeled with tiles along the sidewalks!

Day 1, Thursday

10:00 AM–I am getting pretty nervous. I haven’t been on an airplane in over ten years, and I have never gone by myself. I think I’m all packed? I don’t know. The little guy is so hyped up that I am home from work today that I can’t think straight.

I’m currently laying on the bed, surrounded by bags and packing lists, trying to deal with it all. This is not going well so far. Today is also my hubby’s birthday. He says it’s fine, but I still feel bad that he isn’t getting a cake today.

1:30 PM–We’re headed to the airport! At this point, I’m a nervous wreck. I might puke before we even get there…

04:26 PM–I have made it through security (very nerve wracking trying to be as swift as possible), and am now sitting at my gate 2 hours before take off. Good thing I brought my favorite book The Hobbit to read!

03:08 PM–My plane has arrived at the gate. I forgot how big planes are.

08:09 PM–Landed in Charlotte. Had mental breakdown and huddled in a corner and cried. It was not pretty. An airport angel went to a nearby store and bought me tissues and a chocolate chip cookie. To whoever you are, thank you so so much. I hope wonderful things happen in your life. You deserve them!

10:00 PM–The next flights are boarding. I have taken Dramamine. My stomach is in knots. But I am going to do this.

11:30 PM (NOLA time:)–I slept most of the plane ride, and I made it!! Now I just have to Uber to my friend’s apartment. This is a day of firsts for me all around!

Day 2, Friday

12:17 AM–Arrived at my final destination!

6:35 AM–It is morning time! After yesterday’s events and a good night’s sleep, I feel very groggy and stiff.

9:12 AM–I was just introduced to Café Du Monde’s beignets and café au lait. I think I found the taste of heaven. I have had beignets before. But you have not had beignets until you have had them in New Orleans.

Beignets are life.

11:44 AM–Lots and lots of walking later, we have stopped at a really cool place called Red Dog Diner. It has a really neat atmosphere, delicious food, and drinks for all occasions. I ended up having a cheddar and ham Humpty Dumpty (basically an omelet on steroids). Their Bloody Mary, while not to my taste, was really fancy looking!

A Bloody Mary, one way to get your veggie serving in!

2:45 PM–After lunch/brunch, we walked around the different shops on Magazine Street, and then headed to Hansen’s Sno-Bliz for a New Orlean’s famous Snowball. One thing I am seeing around New Orleans that I love is how there are so many little shops and cafes are tucked in alongside homes! It makes a really nice neighborhood feel, I think!

5:00 PM–Woke up from a very wonderful nap. Neither of us intended to nap, but walking nearly 6 miles in a day will do that to you! I think I could sleep the rest of the night.

7:05 PM–I just had Crawfish Boil at a local brewery. Pulled their little heads off and everything. Weird, but really good. Tasted a lot like shrimp!

Yes, I actually ate those!

9:00 PM–We ended the night by stopping at The Bakery Bar some delicious rainbow doberge cake and a cup of possibly the best coffee I have ever had. A roast by a local company called French Truck.

Day 3, Saturday

6:18 AM–Today’s goals are to hit up the French Quarter Festival before it rains and to find out if French Truck sells whole bean coffee for me to take home.

10:25 AM–We’ve had quite a morning for adventuring so far! I’ve been able to see a lot of the French Quarter, which is very interesting. We walked down Bourbon Street (very tame at 9 in the morning), and cut through Pirate Alley.

I got the chance to explore the St. Louis Cathedral. It was built in 1727, making it one of oldest active Catholic Cathedral in the US. Inside, you can find gorgeous architectural work, beautiful paintings, and a bible that belonged to King Louis of France. This particular book was copied sometime in the early 1220s-1230s.

We also explored the French Market, an open air market where I found a ton of souvenirs for the family (at affordable prices!). I got to see all the artists with their wares lined up around Jackson Square. We strolled across the Washington Artillary Park while a man played his bagpipes. We sat on a bench by the mighty Mississippi River and watched the boats go by. We even got to witness a steam calliope player entertain a crowd atop the river boat Natchez.

5:27 PM–Back to the apartment after a full day of festivities and walking (so much walking!). After having lots of very good food at French quarter festival, we headed to Frenchmen Street, the art district of the area. There was so much unique artwork to see! On our route back, we walked down Bourbon Street again (much more crowded this time). I also forgot to mention that we took the street car this morning! It is very picturesque, but riding it felt as if I were riding a PRT from the 1920s. Now I am sunburnt and exhausted. We attempted to make crawfish étouffée for dinner. For a first time attempt (and never having tasted it before) I thought it was pretty tasty!

Day 4, Sunday

7:03 AM–My last full day in NOLA!

8:09 AM–To the Bearcat Cafe for breakfast, where I had the prettiest café au lait I’ve had all weekend! Also had a quite yummy bison sausage biscuit!

12:52 PM–We went to church at St. George’s Episcopalian, an absolutely gorgeous building. I am sad that I didn’t take the time to get photos inside the building, but I know that no pictures would have done it justice. The service itself was also wonderful, as well as the church staff, who were all very welcoming. We strolled through the neighborhood to a wonderful deli/cafe to split a sandwich and chips. St James’ Cheese Company was host to many very delicious looking cheeses, but I stuck with a simple grilled cheese for lunch. The sandwich may have been simple, but the taste was amazing!

1:52 PM–We visited the Milton H. Latter public library, which is a historical mansion turned library. It is absolutely gorgeous inside! And the staff was really friendly and gave me a little pamphlet on the history of the building. After that, it was an indirect route to the apartment, with a quick stop by French Truck coffee to grab a bag to take home with me!

6:50 PM–We had dinner at the High Hat Cafe where I sampled some classic gumbo (yum!) and then to a little family run ice cream shop called 504 ice cream. He made us fresh waffle cones and I think he came from heaven to deliver them to me. I want morrreeee.

Day 5, Monday

8:07 AM–I woke up and saw my friend off to work. I walked down the block to Mojo Coffee and attempted a coffee and croissant, but my nerves are getting to me. I caught a Lyft to the airport, made it through security, and am now hanging out at my departing gate trying to talk myself into being able to do this again.

1:31 PM–Landed in Charlotte. Landing was really terrible this time and felt like it lasted forever. Then we had to sit on the runway for nearly 20 minutes. I almost puked on my neighbor despite having taken Dramamine. My flight to Pittsburgh has been delayed until after 4. I haven’t cried (yet), but I have seriously considered just renting a car and driving the rest of the way home.

4:30 PM–My hubby talked me out of renting a car and into giving the last leg of my journey a shot. Still waiting to board the flight. Took more Dramamine only to realize I was only supposed to take it once a day…oops. Oh well.

6:30 PM–I have survived the airplane! I was met at the airport entrance with hugs from my wonderful husband and stepdaughter. Now, on the hour and a half drive to Morgantown, I am ruefully aware of the fact that I could be home by now if I had driven from Charlotte.

Altogether, I had a really great trip!! I definitely would do it again. However, I would want to plan a scenic route via car next time!!

I’ll leave you with my favorite picture from my trip. As we walked along, I swear the intro from Steel Magnolias was playing somewhere.

The Travelin’ Bug

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a bit of an outdoor enthusiast. Born and raised in a time when cell phones and other electronics weren’t in the hands of every young person, I spent a lot of my childhood outside. My family camped every summer, and biking and hiking trips were a common occurrence. School field trips to the ranger station instilled a love of the science of nature in me.

Many people still enjoy taking their families on camping trips. And, especially in Morgantown so close to the state borders, there are a lot of campers who travel across state lines to enjoy nature. Often, campsite goers are tempted to either take bundles of wood with them when they camp, or to bring home leftover wood for future use.

BUT BEWARE! Did you know that transporting firewood from one area to another can cause infestations of all sorts?!?!

Invasive species of insects and fungi love to catch rides on bundles of firewood. The Emerald Ash Borer is a shiny, green beetle that has invaded West Viriginia and is responsible for the death of a great number of our ash trees. Another unwelcome hitchhiker to our land is the Gypsy Moth. In caterpillar form, it munches on the leaves of many types of trees, including oak.

The problem with these invasive species, as compared to native insects, is that they have no natural predators. If they are left uncontrolled, their numbers spiral out of control and can lead to massive destruction of our forests.

Most recently, there is concern for the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly. It is a small insect that can cause a lot of agricultural damage, if given the opportunity. It is an insect native to Asia that has traveled it’s way to the US. At this time, it has been found in 13 counties in Pennsylvania and 1 county of Delaware.

According to the reports, it causes stunted tree growth and an increased risk of mold and fungus growth, particularly on fruit, oak, and pine trees, as well as grapevine.

See the full articles here from Charleston Gazette Mail and The Journal. For more information on invasive species and how they affect our state, click here.

A fully grown Spotted Latternfly. Photo Cred: https://images.app.goo.gl/e9dcSYvff9DWdehV8

This has the potential to cause some damage to West Virginia’s agriculture. We are very proud of our apple orchards, and boast several exceptional wineries throughout the state. If the Spotted Lanternfly travels unchecked through our area, we could possibly see negative economical and ecological effects in coming years.

The takeaway from this post?

Buy local, burn local.

Don’t Have Time For Dinner?

Baseball season has officially descended upon the Murray house. I love baseball season so much. But with two boys on three different teams, dinner is definitely a challenge during baseball season. We have practice over half of the evenings during the week. Last year we ate out way more than I wanted, and I am determined to change that this year.

Photo by Steshka Willems from Pexels

Freeze ahead meals are always a nice way to cope with limited evening time, as is my awesome QuickPot. Heck, on particularly rough days, I am not even opposed to snacking for dinner, as long as I can make it somewhat healthy. But even with all those tricks, some nights it’s still just nice to cook a good meal for the family.

The secret weapon for such nights at our house? Peanut Sauce Chicken and Rice.

It’s such an easy meal to make. And easy makes me happy. The Knorr rice packets are also almost ALWAYS on sale. That also makes me happy.

Peanut Sauce Chicken and Rice

  • 2-3 Chicken breasts
  • 2 packages Knorr Chicken Flavored Rice Sides
  • 4 Tbsp House of Tsang Bangkok Peanut Sauce
  • 4 cups water

First off, cook your chicken. You can cook it on the stove top in bitesize chunks or you can throw them in the QuickPot and shred them (obviously, we all know my favorite). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic.

In a medium sauce pan, mix water and peanut sauce together. Stir in the rice packets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes.

Add in your bite-size or shredded chicken to the rice and stir it all together, and TA-DA!! You have dinner. I usually keep the bottle of peanut sauce out on the table because the boys like a little more bite to theirs.

There, that’s it. That’s all I have to say this week. Good luck and God speed to all my fellow baseball families this season.

Women’s History Month: Women Who Inspire Me

March, if you were not aware, is Women’s History Month. In honor of that, here is a list of women who inspire me to be the woman I am today. This list is a mixture of personal and historical figures who are listed in no particular order.

My Grandma

There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about and miss this woman. My grandma taught me some of the most important lessons about life. She was my #1 supporter throughout my life, right up until the end of hers. I truly don’t have the words to express how much she meant to me.

Born at the start of the Great Depression, my grandma was strong and courageous and had the ability to look on the bright side of any situation. She often taught me that life always needed to have a little fun and a lot of love. She showed me how hard work could almost always get you what you wanted, and if it couldn’t? Just laugh and move on with your life.

Clara Barton

I’m sure everyone expects a nurse to have Florence Nightingale on their list of inspirations. Nothing against good ole Flo’, but Clara Barton has always piqued my interest more.

Despite having no formal nursing training, her efforts during the Civil War earned her great recognition. She tended to wounded soldiers, helped find missing soldiers, and marked countless graves. After the war, she led the efforts to establish the American Red Cross. Even later in her life, she established the organization that is responsible for modern day emergency preparedness and the first aid kit.

Pocahontas (The Disney Version)

Ok guys, hear me out on this one. I know what you are thinking, and I can sense the eye rolling from here! But you have to admit, Disney princesses have come a long way since Cinderella and Snow White when it comes to role models.

As a kid, I was enamored by Pocahontas. She was strong and beautiful and followed her heart, even though it put her at odds with her own father. I would spend hours upon hours in the woods, pretending to be her.

I realize the real life Pocahontas wasn’t as glamorous, thus my choosing the Disney version.

My Momma

(Mom, please don’t kill me for mentioning you!)

Another personal one for the list, my mom inspires me everyday. From teaching me how to do laundry to teaching me how to fish, I owe my mom everything. She is an incredible woman, and I think anyone who has met her would agree. Along with my grandma, mom is my top supporter. She has done everything in her power to help me accomplish every dream I have pursued. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I could say a lot more, but I’ll keep it short because she didn’t even want me to mention her.

Lynda Van Devanter

Last year, a coworker suggested I read Lynda Van Devanter’s book Home Before Morning. It is the story of her time in Vietnam as an army nurse, and of the challenges with PTSD she faced when she came home. She became a pioneer in the field of PTSD, particularly for women.

I have been inspired by her persistence and her work in the field of nursing. It has caused me to think about what I want to have accomplished at the end of my career. What accomplishments and changes can I bring to the world of school nursing?

Allison Richmond

I am very fortunate to be surrounded by strong women. And perhaps, one of the strongest of them all, is this amazing woman. She is Aunt Al to my kids, and more a sister than a friend to me. She is the Clairee to my Ouiser if you are familiar with Steel Magnolias.

I think she is Super Woman. She does everything. She supports all of her friends in any adventure they go on, no matter how crazy. She is kind to everyone. She ALWAYS has a positive outlook on situations. She never wants to think the worst of anyone, and she doesn’t hesitate to put me in my place when I do. We have known each other since kindergarten technically, and were roommates basically all through college. She has kept me sane in the most stressful times, and cheered me up through the darkest. She is my person.

I could go on to list a slew of other women who have inspired me over the years, like my Amelia Earhart, Malala Yousafzai, my beautiful stepdaughter, many of my former school teachers, my sister-friends, and more. But, this post must eventually come to an end.

My point is, however, that inspiration can be found in many places and in many people. I’d love to know what amazing women have inspired you and in what ways. Leave a comment and let me know!

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

With this week’s gorgeous weather flirting the hints of spring and summer to come, I have started planning out one of the family goals we set for this year: more hiking in West Virginia.

It’s a shame that I have lived here for my near 30 years of life, yet I have only hiked a small fraction of the beautiful trails my home state has to offer. As a family, we wanted to spend more time outdoors this year. More specifically, we wanted to see more hiking trails. Some of the ones on the list are ones we’ve been to before, but they are some of my favorites and worth seeing again.

So here it is: An excerpt from The Murray Family’s Hopeful Hiking List!

Cooper’s Rock State Forest-Location: Morgantown

Part of the view from Cooper’s Rock Overlook

Our goal is to hike EVERY trail in this beautiful state forest. We have seen many of them already, but there are still a handful I haven’t made it to. And, given that it is only 15 minutes away, should be an easy task to accomplish.

Cooper’s Rock offers many trails of varying difficulties and lengths. Just passing through and only have a few minutes? Then check out the overlook trail. It is easily accessible, and only takes a few minutes to walk. The forest also offers campsites, a playground, and a picnic area! Just keep in mind that the access road to the overlook is closed during the winter months.

Chimney Top-Location: Cabins

Keep in mind, this is only from an outcropping part of the way up!

This is a hike I have done once before. I was not prepared. I forgot to pack snacks. And I was out of shape. I am determined to do it again, and to be able to fully enjoy. At the top of the mountain, there is an opportunity to have a full 360 view of the area. I am terrified of heights and missed out last time. I don’t intend on letting my fear get in my way this time around.

This is a steep trail. The trail is only 2.7 miles to the top, but during that time, you gain almost 2,000 feet in elevation. Unless you have small children that listen and obey every word you speak, I would not consider this a kid friendly trail. Besides being tough on short legs, there are several places with extremely steep edges just off the path. I imagine my kid would take off running and go right over the edge, spiraling to his death.

Hills Creek Falls-Location: Pocahontas County

Lower Falls

I’ve traveled this one so many times, I could do it with my eyes closed. But I wouldn’t, because then I would miss one of the most beautiful and soul-calming places I’ve ever encountered. Hills Creek is right up there with my top favorite places on this planet. I visit it as often as I am able, summer or winter.

Part trail, a lot of steps, this walk grants you views to three serene waterfalls. The last fall is actually the second highest waterfall in the entire state. It’s a fun walk for the family. If you are fellow winter lover, trekking down after a good cold, snowy spell is always a treat, especially if the falls are frozen (nearly or completely) solid.

Beartown Boardwalk-Location: Renick

This short walk is filled with fascinating geological formations. It is cool and damp, and has an almost magical quality to its atmosphere. The trail winds between and around these formations, giving you an up close look at these crazy natural formations. And, while a bear siting is never out of the question in West Virginia, it is unlikely, despite the name.

This is a short, easy walk along a boardwalk trail less than one mile long. It could easily be paired with some other easy sites nearby. Droop Mountain Battlefield and the Cranberry Glades are both nearby. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. Or travel on to Lewisburg to visit one of the coolest small towns in our state!

Babcock State Park-Location: Clifftop

This is a trip specifically picked out by my husband. He has been wanting to go there for years. Part of me thinks he feels he is not a true West Virginian photographer until he has shot the iconic Glade Creek Grist Mill. While the state park offers a range of activities, I did some research and found the Skyline Trail and Narrow Gauge Trail Loop create a 7.8 mile hike that passes right by the grist mill.

According to Live and Let Hike, this is a moderate hike with only 550 foot overall elevation. If this hike is a little too lengthy for you, you can certainly check out the map and find a shorter route.

Endless Wall Trail-Location: Fayetteville

View of the New River Gorge. This is one of the oldest rivers ON EARTH.

This one was suggested to me by my mother. Less than an hour from my hometown, near the famed New River Gorge Bridge, I’m surprised we never hiked this one in my childhood. In fact, I am sure there are a lot of trails in that area that I haven’t seen yet.

The Endless Wall Trail offers beautiful views of the bridge, and of the gorge itself. The trail is 2.7 miles long, and follows above active train tracks, so the grade is very mild. There are steep edges along this trail, so, once again, this may not be the best choice for little ones. This trail also offers the opportunity to view rock climbers or white water rafters who may be out enjoying the day.

I plan on doing a follow-up post later in the year to see how many of these places we actually make it to!

Fellow West Virginians, do you have any favorite trails? Let us know! We’ll try to add them onto our ever-growing list!

Motherhood Is Not What I Dreamed It Would Be

Well. By the time this is posted, I will officially have a four year old. I can hardly believe it. Being a mother is something I have always wanted to be. But motherhood has turned out to be absolutely nothing like I expected. And I would never dream of changing a thing.

Here is my little nugget when he was just a wee thing.
Photo courtesy of my amazing husband!

Before I met my husband, I never dreamed that I would get married and start out with two kids. I quickly fell in love with them, and being their stepmom will be one of the greatest privileges of my life. Being 6 and 8, they gave me the crash course introduction to being a mom. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for my youngest.

My husband tried, bless his heart. He warned me that I didn’t know what I was asking for. But I am stubborn (unfortunately a trait I have passed down to my kiddo), and I was determined that I would be the mother I had always imagined I would be. Then my child was born and every expectation was turned upside down.

I used to always dream of being a stay at home mom. Two weeks into my maternity leave, I realized that lifestyle was definitely not for me. In fact, when I started back to work, I felt guilty for NOT feeling guilty about being away from him.

Luckily for our family, my amazing husband has rearranged his business and his life so he could work from home during the day. I seriously can’t express how grateful I am to him for his willingness to do so.

Every single stage of my child’s life has been quite different than what I imagined it would be. And just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, a new stage comes and throws a curveball my way. I’m not saying I thought it would be without challenges, in fact, I expected them. But sometimes it’s just so hard.

I was not prepared to deal with….well, me. He has my temper, my lack of patience, my ability to go from 0 to Hangry in less than 3 seconds–all the things that I probably should have figured out how to better handle in myself before throwing a kid into the mix.

I have to give the biggest shoutout to the single parents out there. I am amazed by any person who raises a child without a partner to help out. So, to any single parent who is reading this: You are AMAZING. Even if you don’t feel like it, I promise you are. If you are on your last strand of sanity, know that I am cheering you on.

Really though, I absolutely could not do any of this without my husband. He keeps me sane, steps in when I just can’t take anymore, and reminds me to be gentler when I lose my temper.

As for the little guy, I don’t want to paint him as a horrible child. He is a kid. I have been assured that he is perfectly normal. He has his bad days, but then he turns around and does something cute. (Nature’s way of keeping the species alive, maybe?)

For instance, yesterday was a full throttle-his way or no way-high gear until he crashed at night kind of day. We butted heads multiple times. It was not a pretty day. But then this afternoon, he helped me clean the house, he listened to (most) things I have asked him to do, and played quietly by himself for a good while. While he cleaned the table and I did the dishes, he looked up at me and sweetly said, “Teamwork makes the dream work Mommy”.

My husband often jokes that once the baby turns 6, I’ll have seen it all. However, we are just entering the teenage years with the oldest, and the next one is not far behind. I don’t know what challenges we, as parents, will face next, but I do know that I am very grateful to have my husband by my side.

Family Cooking

I love recipes that bring the family together for a fun time together in the kitchen. Some of my fondest memories come from my grandma’s kitchen, frequently bustling with family activity. It was so fun to spend time with my grandma and learn lessons on food and life. I hope someday, my kids will look back and feel that way about our kitchen.

Last year, I was given a family recipe for traditional gnocchi. The person who gave it to me told me it was a recipe her large Italian family always makes together for holidays. And because the recipe is meant to feed a large family, we have enough in the freezer to last us a good little while.

This is where the family fun comes in. Trust me when I say: this recipe makes A LOT. If I were to try to do this all by myself, I think I might be there for hours. So I bring in the family to help roll and cut out the gnocchi.

It gives us the opportunity to laugh and talk together. With the age of technology, those times are hard to come by. The kids also really like helping mix it all together because I let them use their (clean!) hands.

Cooked gnocchi

The beautiful thing about gnocchi is how many different ways you can fix it. One recipe I have found has quickly become my favorite. I actually found it on allrecipes.com. Our oldest will even eat it, despite frequently telling me that sage has a distinct “old person smell”. I also love the fact that it tastes just as great reheated for lunch the next day.

I love that this recipe gives my family the opportunity to spend time together. Between sports, social media, school, and work, sit down dinners aren’t as frequent as I’d love them to be. And if all I can get is 20 minutes of time with my kid before he runs off to his Xbox, I’ll take it.

What ways do you and your family spend time together? Comment below!

Going Home

Sometimes when I get stressed, I get homesick. So, as sort of a follow-up to last week, this week’s post is about something that helps me cure that: going home.

I am nearly 30, and sometimes (a lot of times), I miss my mommy. And I’m lucky enough to still have my parents around, so I have no qualms in taking full advantage of being able to go see them. This weekend my husband had to work, and the oldest had his own plans, so the little guy and I took the opportunity to go visit my parents in Richwood, WV.

As much as I enjoy a trip to my hometown, I think my kiddo enjoys it a hundred times more. He keeps my parents busy with anything and everything he can think of, and they are happy oblige him.

Saturday morning, my dad and I did something I’ve neglected for too long. We took a trip to the cemetery and cleaned up grandma’s headstone. It was always important to my grandma to have family headstones kept up, so I try to be sure hers is scrubbed up.

When we got home, I taught dad how to use his new Instant Pot. He didn’t want to do anything too fancy, so we just tossed half a cup water, half a cup vinegar, 2 tbsp Old Bay, and 1 lb of shrimp.

Before the first the batch was gone, he had already started a second. I think he was impressed.

We also took a short little walk in the woods. This is one of my kid’s favorite thing to do when he visits his Pap and Gackie. It’s one of mine too. I love being outdoors, but I never get out as often as I would like. Being outside (especially in Richwood) soothes my soul in a way few things can.

All in all, it has been a wonderful weekend home. I wish I could stay longer, but my soul has been revived for the week to come at least.

The Key to Less Stress

Listen guys. I will never pretend that I am one of those mythical full-time working moms who has their sh*t together. I’m not. And I never will be.

And that’s OK.

I have two jobs, a husband, three kids, three pets, and a household. I absolutely love my life, but I often feel very stressed out that I am always working in one way or another.

But life is work, isn’t it? Our bodies are always working, even while we are sleeping. Our cells never take a break. If they did, we’d be dead.

So maybe the key to less stress is changing my perspective on what I have going on in life. Maybe the key is hitting the lottery and running away to some Caribbean island. Maybe the key is some minute detail that is staring me in the face, plain as day.

I honestly don’t know what The Answer is. I do know that something in my life has to change before I get job burnout on life itself. The best way I know how is to chip away at it, a little at a time.

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

I have been working on minor ways to lessen the stress of everyday life . So, here are 3 things I have found thus far that make my life seem a little easier:

1.Stay Organized. Everyone organizes differently. For me, I like lists. I make lists for EVERYTHING. And I like things to have their own places. Train tracks in one box, hot wheels cars in another. Bills in the bill pile, junk mail in the trash, wallet and keys by the door.

No matter how you organize things, if you know what you need and when you need it, and where something is when you need it, you will find yourself just a smidgen less stressed.

2. Don’t avoid tasks. Do a little bit everyday.

I am the worst when it comes to laundry. I will avoid it and avoid it, until I am drowning in a mountain of clothes and the family is out of clean undies. I am finally figuring out that if I do one load a day (or every other day), I feel SO MUCH BETTER. I haven’t cried over a pile of smelly laundry in a couple weeks!

3. Take time for yourself. We all know it’s hard, but even if it locking yourself in the bathroom and plugging your ears for a minute, it’s important.

Close your eyes, take a few solid, deep breaths, and count to 10. Put your headphones on and watch something on Netflix. Take a whole day and go to the spa. Whatever you can make work in your life!

What ways do you stay sane in the big balance of work and life? Let me know in the comments section!

Valentine’s Fail

Guys. I am the epitome of a Pinterest fail. I had this awesome post all planned out. I found the most adorable valentine’s craft idea on Pinterest. It was going to be the cutsiest, most mom-tastic post ever. A beautiful tale of a mother and son creating beautiful artwork in a picturesque scene.

This is adorable, right?

Reality check: I have a rambunctious, paint loving, tornado style kid.

Man oh man, does the Big Guy upstairs ever love to give me a dose of reality every once in a while. The tender, movie-style scene I had imagined quickly turned into a life lesson on going with the flow and being able to laugh when things don’t go as planned.

So, here it is: My Pinterest Fail. The directions are below, in case you want to try it for yourself.

Please note my hand pun. I was really proud of it when I wrote the first draft.

Okay, first of all, we ended up using card stock paper because that’s what I had on hand. Looking back, canvas would have been the ideal option because the paper tore as I removed the tape.

I quickly found myself getting a little short tempered because my kid wanted to do everything but sit still while I traced and cut out the letters. He wanted me to get him a snack. He wanted me to build a Hot Wheels track. At one point I snapped at him, “I can’t do everything. Don’t you want me to get this project started for you or not?”

His response? He shrugged and said, “Not really”.

That’s when it hit me. I was getting short tempered and grumpy with my kid over a project that he never even asked me to do. It was my idea. MY project for MY blog. That cooled my temper pretty fast.

We took a short break to play Hot Wheels, and then I got back to the project. He helped place the letters on the paper, and picked out which colors of paint he wanted to use. I showed him how to dip his finger in the paint, and then make fingerprints on his paper. He did it a few times, and then started making stripes and other designs with his fingers. I reminded myself that this was now his project, and he was happy doing what he was doing. I couldn’t begrudge him that.

Why, yes, that is medical tape! It’s the only kind of tape we have in our house.
Here he is, happily painting away. Little did I know…

This is where I made a classic mistake: I turned my back for two minutes. He was so content. I thought, ‘I’ll just run upstairs and grab a load of laundry.”

Danny decided he wanted yellow paint too. And, being his independent, 3 year old self, he decided to get it himself. Now, I have to stop and brag on my kid for just a minute. He did an excellent job pouring out the paint. Not a drop went off the cardboard. but he did pour out about half the container…

When I came back downstairs and saw his creation, I had to laugh. It was a mess. A big, brown, blobby mess. But he was so incredibly proud of himself. And I’m proud of him, too.

The Masterpiece

Lesson Learned: Things aren’t always going to go as planned. But they will go along much smoother if you just roll with the punches. What started as a disaster (because of the expectations I had set), became a fond memory and a fun time I hope my son remembers for a long time to come.