Who’s That Girl? By Sara Humphreys

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I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t worried about my weight or self-conscious about the size of my body.  I can, however, remember when it all started. Those two statements may seem to contradict one another but they don’t and I’ll explain why.

Like many people, my struggles with the scale began as a child. The summer before fourth grade, my family moved and I started at a new school. I’d never had trouble making friends or fitting in before but for whatever reason, I became a target with my new peers. Going to school quickly became a daily exercise in misery.

So what did I do to ease the pain? I ate. I ate a lot.

Thus began years of emotional eating.

Of course, doing that  was less than helpful because I only got bigger which gave my tormentors more fuel for their fire and being heavier made me feel badly about myself. It was a vicious cycle and I lived in it for years. It wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to break the pattern. I found the theater, some of my dearest friends, I met my husband there and ultimately I found myself.

I realized the other day that I don’t remember much about my life prior to that big move when I was ten. It dawned on me that I have no recollection of feeling free from the weight of weight.  I look at pictures of myself, even just a few months before that time, and I see a different girl.

She was happy, carefree and confident…she was weightless.

I wish I could remember how that felt because maybe if I could recall the feeling, then it would be easier to embrace it now.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m happy with my life and with myself and while there are days that I still struggle, overall I’m content.

Admittedly, there are moments when the “fat-attack” lurks and threatens to drag me back to a place of self-doubt. However, instead of reaching for the nearest cookie or another emotion numbing concoction, I head for my keyboard or out for a walk.  These coping skills are better for my mind and body but to be quite honest, I don’t always use them. There are days when the cookies win.

So, I keep walking, writing, laughing, and loving because no matter what size I am…my children love me. It’s in their eyes, smiles and hugs that I find the most strength and my four boys are the best reason to be healthy and take care of myself. They aren’t concerned about the size of my clothes or how many stretch marks run the length of my butt. They want to know when dinner will be ready, if there are any clean socks and if there’s room in the bed for a quick morning snuggle. There’s no food on earth that can compete with that.

So, how about you? What do you do to keep the cookies from winning?

Sara is married to her college sweetheart, Will. They live in Bronxville, New York with their 4 boys and 2 insanely loud dogs. Life is busy but never dull. her latest release is UNDONE. Check out all her books on her website.

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Loving Myself: Part II

Last week I wrote about my lifelong (it seems) food addiction and how a plant-based lifestyle completely changed my perspective; I also wrote about my recent struggle with self-doubt and emotional overeating.

Today I want to give a little history to what I think may have influenced my food addiction at the beginning (note: I am taking full responsibility for my actions as an adult, but I DO think there is a family root to this). The main reason I’m writing this second part is because I believe that MY choices regarding food can influence my children’s lives for the better or worse.

My parents divorced when I was 5 years old. While I don’t think this traumatized me or affected my attitude toward food directly, it did split my family into two categories: my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s side of the family, whereas before I considered them all my family.

Growing up, my mom’s side of the family was consistently skinny, many were always on diets, and well, there was a lot of family bickering, talking behind each other’s backs, and just good ol’ infighting. I guess the typical dysfunctional American family.

On my dad’s side, in contrast, all of the adults were overweight, many obese, and some morbidly so. They ate food with pleasure, laughed all the time and enjoyed one another’s company, and because of this, I think I grew to associate food with love.

At home, my mom was obsessed about her weight. In my memory, I never knew her to be fat, but apparently she’d been overweight as a teenager before she went on a soup-and-tea diet that got rid of the excess weight.  There was no love lost between my mom and dad, and she and my stepdad didn’t censor themselves from talking about my dad and his family’s weight in front of me. I had a cousin on my mom’s side who was larger than everyone else (mostly because she was very curvy), and my mom and stepdad would talk about her after they would see her, always about how she needed to lose weight.

One of the clearest memories from my childhood was one day when my mom was sitting on our kitchen barstool in a t-shirt and shorts. She always had lovely tan legs (to my way of thinking), but seemingly out of nowhere she looked down at her legs, pinched the inside of one of her thighs, and complained about how fat they were. Another consistent memory–something she did over and over–was talk about the stretch marks on her stomach from being pregnant with my brother and I and wish she could afford plastic surgery.

So from early on there were a few constants. When I was with my mother’s side of the family (the fighting, bickering side), I felt like I needed to watch what I ate and felt bad for eating too much. When I was with my dad’s side of the family (the laughing, loving side), I could eat whatever I wanted and however much I wanted. And when I was home just with my immediate family, I continually heard from my mom and stepdad about how bad it was to be fat and how my mom was always unhappy with her body.

When I grew up? Well, I got married at 19 and gained about 50 pounds in the first few months of marriage. I guess those lessons of associating love with food continued. On the other hand, I loathed myself for getting fat and hated the way I felt and looked.

About a year after my marriage, I was able to return to Texas on a short trip. I desperately wanted to see my mom (we’d become best friends once I moved out of the house), but I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I seriously considered not telling her I was going to be home. Finally, when it was close to the time we would be traveling, I did tell her, and that I had considered not telling her, and she couldn’t believe that I would be afraid to see them because of my weight. She assured me of her love no matter how much I weighed and I never heard her mention my weight in a negative way again.

As I write this, I’m actually kind of surprised by how my mind as a child interpreted all of this and how great of an affect it had on me, even until now.

You guys, my mom was one of the most loving, wonderful, generous people I’ve ever known. Yes, she had her faults and she wasn’t perfect; I think that’s a given. But it doesn’t negate any of the rest, either. However, like most women, she had insecurities. TONS of them. As a woman now, I can only love her more for those.

But as a child, I can’t help but think that even with the tug-and-pull of the two sides of my family, if I had experienced something different at home; if my mom had been careful not to express her insecurities in front of me and had instead just chosen to lead a healthy example, I think there’s a great chance my attitude toward food would be a lot different than it is today.

Moms of daughters (and even sons), I beg you not to discuss your body insecurities in front of your children or with your children. I beg you not to talk negatively to your children about how fat people are bad for being fat and for not being able to control themselves (not the same thing as talking about how being overweight is unhealthy). It’s perfectly normal to weigh yourself to keep track of your weight, but please don’t let your children see you doing it excessively, and please don’t talk about your weight incessantly.

I try not to do any of this (although the weight scale thing is hard), and I really need to work on some of the things I say in front of my children, too. I want to show them by my example that it’s possible to lead an active and healthy lifestyle and LOVE yourself, despite what other people and the media out there may say.

Because my biggest hope now is that if I can learn to love myself and show my children that I love myself, they’ll grow up loving themselves and one day, when social pressure gets to be too much and they need to re-learn to love themselves, they’ll be able to draw strength from everything I did right instead of wrong.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead: The Documentary

fatsicknearlydeadOn Netflix I just watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, the documentary about the Australian man, Joe Cross, who had chronic hives and was overweight and got better by going on a 60-day juicing fast. I’ve heard so much about this film, and I’ve always rolled my eyes because of the title. It’s so melodramatic (the movie poster doesn’t win me over, either). I decided not to watch it. Almost nothing annoys me more than quick fix fad diets, general food quackery, and the people who try to sell you on these outrageous “nutrition plans.” It’s personal–when you have someone in your family who’s gone through an eating disorder, you get protective. I don’t like the word “fast.” I don’t like anything involving food that is extreme.

So anyway, I only watched the movie because yesterday, our youngest son Dragon, a teen, was diagnosed with hives that may or may not be recurrent. The whole idea scares me…he already has a dangerous tree nut allergy and mild asthma, and now, it seems, when Dragon’s core body temperature heats up, his brain gets his histamine levels going and he responds with hives. This is my beloved athlete son. I hate that health issues could stand between him and his soccer dreams in any way. Already his other dream of going to the Naval Academy, where his dad and grandfather went, has pretty much bitten the dust. They don’t let anyone in with asthma or food allergies (we’re still hoping he can get a medical waiver, but chances are slim to none).

When I got home from the allergist, I started reading about other people with this recurrent hive problem that Dragon may have, and it wasn’t pretty. It got me more and more worried. I have to stay grounded and believe that Dragon’s case won’t go that far. You know how the internet can scare you. But one thing leaped out at me in my research: someone recommended the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

It was a sign. I had to watch it, even though when my own beloved sister asked me to watch it last month, I said no. I had no idea that Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead had anything to do with hives until yesterday’s perusal of the internet after the allergy doctor visit. I thought it was only about weight loss. I downloaded it immediately and watched it avidly because let me tell you–it’s fascinating. It’s also uplifting and inspiring.

It’s not just hives that may get better when you consume a lot of micronutrients through juicing vegetables and fruits: many illnesses can essentially be cured or alleviated. Think diabetes, heart disease, chronic migraines, and a host of other health problems.

The content of this documentary is grounded in good science, too. Dr. Joel Fuhrman was on it–he’s the guy who wrote the national bestseller Eat To Live, which Elise has talked about before. I read that book a year ago and decided that I couldn’t go as far as what Dr. Fuhrman recommends, which is an all-plant diet, basically. But he’s right, and everyone in the medical world agrees: a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet. It’s just that many of us don’t want to commit to that lifestyle.

So, back to the movie, it’s really given me hope that maybe if we incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet–in a major, semi-extreme way–that Dragon’s hive symptoms might be seriously alleviated. Plus, going from 5% of our diet being fruits and veggies to anything higher can only help. That statistic applies to almost every American: only 5% of what we consume is fruits and vegetables. Sixty percent of what we eat is processed foods.

I never realized it, but I am living an extreme life already–an unhealthy one. I want to flip flop those percentages. I want 60% of my diet to be fruits and vegetables and only 5% processed foods!

As I begin this journey, which will start with purchasing a juicer today–an inexpensive one under $100–I’m a little scared. It’s costly, juicing. But the farmers’ market opens this weekend. I should be able to buy huge bundles of kale and spinach at a reasonable price. And as the documentary points out, we spend much more money on prescription pills and getting better from horrible things like heart attacks than we would if we’d only try to prevent these diseases from happening. And I especially like that Mr. Cross makes very clear that we need to move our bodies. At the end of the movie, he says it’s about so much more than juicing and/or fasting–good health is about balance.

Watch the movie. I think you’ll enjoy it. One thing that struck me was how every single overweight person on it admitted that it’s his or her own fault that they keep choosing to eat fast food and chicken fried steak. Some wanted to change their habits but were afraid or didn’t know how. Others decided that they’d rather die young and happy, so they planned to keep eating themselves to an early grave, consuming truly unhealthy foods because it brought them pleasure. Everyone has to decided for themselves how they want to live. This documentary reminds us that it’s not about the food–it’s really about us, what we believe, and what we want from this one, precious life we’re given.

Do you juice? Have you seen this documentary? What percentage of your diet is fruits and vegetables?


Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 23 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job.

My oldest guy, Nighthawk, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a junior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college sophomore; and my youngest, Dragon, is in ninth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy.

www.kierankramerbooks.com

Loving Myself: Part I

My husband and I have a new favorite TV show: CBS’ Elementary. For those of you who haven’t watched it or heard of it, it’s a Sherlock Holmes series set in modern-day New York. If you aren’t very familiar with Sherlock Holmes, although he’s a genius with amazing observation skills, he’s also had issues with drugs in the past. In Elementary, he’s been sober for about a year, but he still struggles with triggers sometimes. In fact, in the finale last week, one of my favorite quotes was (paraphrasing): “I may presently be sober, but I’ll always be an addict.”

These words struck me and became memorable because I am an addict, too. Not a drug addict, thankfully, and I know it sounds silly when there are so many bigger/serious problems one can have, but it’s true: I’m addicted to food.

I have never been officially diagnosed with anything, but I suspect that I could have in the past been diagnosed with a binge/purge disorder (where I would eat anything I want then fast for one-three or more days). Of course, every time I did this I was convinced that the fasting would be a line in the sand that helped me to cross over to eating healthfully from then on, but it never did; I always broke the fast by bingeing again. Most likely I could have been diagnosed with a binge disorder (without the purging) because there are times when I’ll eat and eat and eat even after I’m full just to numb myself or make myself feel better.

Yes, I’m an emotional eater, too. *sigh*

But here’s the thing: unlike Shana and Maisey, who have both written about their past struggles and how they’ve overcome them and who are both SUCH an encouragement to me, I’m not there yet. I struggle every day. I think about food ALL the time; it obsesses me.

You may have seen on this blog or on Facebook if you follow me that I’ve been trying to adopt a plant-based vegan lifestyle for over a year. I saw the documentary Forks Over Knives in January 2012, and it changed a lot of my views on health. (I have since become more sensitive to animal cruelty, but the truth is that health was the main motivation was for me.)

I stopped eating meat in February 2012. I stopped drinking cow’s milk in April 2012. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2012, I binged and went on a free fall until August. For a little less than a month in August-September 2012, I convinced my husband to try to go all-out and be 100% plant-based. It didn’t last, as you can see from the time period above. I have to admit, I wanted the support and encouragement of having the entire family on this journey with me. Not having that happen was really a bummer, and I kind of gave up for a while. Along with other family issues and my mother-in-law’s illness turning for the worst, I took all the comfort from food that I could. I would eat some healthy things, but it wasn’t a commitment. Yes, I felt bad physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as a result of my choices. But in the moment of using food to fill those empty spaces, it didn’t matter.

Finally, things started looking up earlier this year. I made the commitment FOR MYSELF, no matter if anyone joined me or not, to become a plant-based vegan beginning on March 6, 2013. I was convinced that THIS WAS IT. No more quitting, starting over, falling off the wagon, etc. If I indulged, at least it would be in plant-based foods that I made at home.

The most important thing to me was that, even though I still thought about food all the time, I was thinking about HEALTHY food, cooking HEALTHY food, influencing my family to eat HEALTHY food, eating food that was good for me 99% of the time (those indulgences I mentioned above? I didn’t really want them anymore). I didn’t count calories; I ate as much as I wanted until I was no longer hungry. I didn’t deprive myself, but neither did I overeat, either. My body was getting all the nutrients it needed, and I’d never been happier. Honestly. It was such a high for me, especially also because I started going to the gym and was becoming fitter and stronger in that way, too. I was so proud of myself for doing GOOD things for me, for starting to become the person I’ve always wanted to be. And, to be honest, 99% of the recipes I made were delicious!

Then, at my 24 week pregnancy appointment at the end of April (I hadn’t gone to a regular appointment in March, because I had an anatomy ultrasound instead), the nurse practitioner noticed I’d lost 20 pounds since my 16 week appointment. I FELT AWESOME going into the appointment…afterward, not so much. It wasn’t that she didn’t approve of a plant-based diet or that she wasn’t happy that I’d lost weight; it was that I’d lost so much weight in so short a time.

After a couple of days, I had a phone call with a dietician about eating more calories and how to implement that in my daily eating.

At first, I was resistant. I’d been keeping a food journal, and I knew that I was eating enough of a variety of food to get every nutrient I needed—even protein. As I mentioned above, I was in no way depriving myself. When I was hungry, I ate; when I was satisfied, I stopped. It’s funny that for the first time in my life, I was happy with myself when it came to food, eating the healthiest I’ve ever eaten, and I was basically being told to start overeating. The baby was doing fine; he was actually measuring ahead. This had been the easiest pregnancy for me yet; compared to the previous two, my aches and pains were minimal.

Yet, because of those two conversations, I started doubting myself. I started overeating and indulging in plant-based desserts more often. I gained weight, but I became unhappy because I felt like I was falling into the same patterns I had all my life. I stopped going to the gym.

Then, right before Mother’s Day, I became sick. Not vomiting or anything, but seriously all-I-want-to-do-is-sleep-and-sit-on-the-couch sick. This lasted for almost two weeks, and I didn’t want to cook at all. It started out small, but soon I had completely stopped being plant-based and gone all the way to eating meat and cheese and really, really bad-for-you processed and fast foods. Why, you ask? Because I wanted to feel better. Because I didn’t care about my body because I had tried really hard and had been told what I was doing was wrong.

As a result, I’ve gained almost 10 pounds in the last two weeks.

Yeah.

Hello. My name is Elise, and I am a food addict.

Admittedly, some of that is baby weight, but you and I and my doctor all know that 99% of it is just crappy food weight.

So, where do I go from here? I definitely don’t want to continue like this. I HATE this. Even though it feels good in the moment and I can convince myself in the moment that I’ll start eating right again tomorrow, I’ve been down that road before, and it makes me miserable in all aspects of my life.

I’m writing this on Thursday, although you’re reading it on Friday, but tonight we’re traveling to Houston for my mother-in-law’s memorial service. In June we’ll be traveling to North Caroline for the first real vacation we’ve had in 10 years (also our 10th anniversary!). I know it’s not going to be easy to try and find plant-based options on these trips. Everyone around me will be eating whatever the heck they want: typical vacation food.

Then, I’m due in August, although I have a feeling the baby will come a week or two early. There’s not that much time from when we get back from our vacation to the due date. Why try to be healthy again? Why not just start again after I have the baby?

Guys, I’m so SICK of this pattern. I’m so SICK of using non-healthy food as self-medication. I’m so SICK of giving up control of my body and my health for that short-lived rush of “treating” myself, when it actually makes me feel even worse.

So, here’s my promise to you. This morning (yesterday now), I had cereal w/nondairy milk for breakfast (of course WonderGirl wanted some, too ;). You are my accountability. When I go home for lunch, when I eat dinner at the airport tonight, when I’m gone to Texas this weekend, I’m going to be eating healthy, plant-based foods. I’m not going to take the easy way out. I’m not going to doubt myself. I will undoubtedly lose some weight when I weigh in at my next doctor’s appointment because I’ll be eating healthy again, but I’ll happily do as much as I can to make sure this baby inside me is growing as he’s supposed to and getting nutrients from living food instead of nothing from dead, processed food.

I will not doubt myself again. Aside from a number on the scale that freaked out my doctor’s office, my body was happy and healthier than ever before. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I had never felt better.

So, as I end with this promise, here is my acknowledgement as to what this post is about (in case you were wondering). I know I’m not the only one out there with these issues. You may not decide to embrace a plant-based lifestyle, but you may be struggling with trying to eat healthier and taking control of your body and your life.

There may be ups and downs, but if you keep getting up, if you keep trying, those down periods will get shorter or shorter. We may be food addicts, but we have the power to choose whether to be “sober” or not. Others may not understand the constant struggle we face, and so we might try to trivialize it to ourselves, but you and I both know how important this is to all aspects of our lives. Forgive yourself when you fail, but don’t give up that hope and commitment, either.

Here on PBK, we try to focus on the truth that you should love yourself just the way you are. I’m not trying to undermine that truth with this post. For me, from past experience of making both bad choices and good choices, I know the only way I CAN love myself, the way I show love to myself, is by treating myself right.

So here it goes.

Next week, Part II of Loving Myself and how we influence our children with our choices, from my personal point-of view.

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I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too! www.lukasholmes.com), but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 9 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart. www.eliserome.com

To Moms (From Facebook)

I saw this on the wall of a mom I know. She shared it from Jenn Adams’ Facebook page. I thought we could all relate.

To the mom who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mom.

To the mom who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mom.

To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mom.

To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mom.

To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mom.

To the mom who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mom.

To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mom.

To the mom who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mom.

To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mom.

To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mom.

To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.

20 Things More Beautiful Than Super Model Perfection

Your Sexiest Summer EVER! Crazy-Easy WEIGHT LOSS, Frizz-Free Hairstyles, 60 Products You’ll LOVE, and Summer Beauty 911!!!  Those are the headlines I found when sitting down with magazines tonight. I’ll confess. It’s a magazine I like to flip through. But I also like to flip through Yoga Journal, which greeted me with this: HOW TO FIND THE COURAGE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

I’ve been thinking a lot since last week’s blog on the Pursuit of Perfect, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got two or three more follow-ups in me, but this is something that’s been burning a hole in me: the truth about beauty. We, as a society, spend gobs of money and time and effort and frustration on the (never-ending) pursuit, but at the end of the day, that which is most beautiful,  sustaining, soul-nourishing, most capable of turning your life around,  will never come in a bottle….

Smiles

Laughter

Hugs

Holding hands

Love

Friendship

Grace

Faith

Hope

Imagination

Creativity

Passion

Inner-Peace

Confidence

Courage

Sense of self

Humility

Compassion

Acceptance

Forgiveness

If we spent as much (money and time and effort) on pursuing from this list…can you even imagine???

I can.

Guest Post: My Annual Sanity-Saving Scrapbooking Vacation

The PBKMoms are pleased to welcome Amy Moss and her sanity-saving vacation tips!

It started so innocently, like most life-changing, amazing ideas do.

I was sitting around a dining room table with my four close girlfriends.  Two years prior we had all taken up scrapbooking as a hobby.  This is not a story about scrapbooking; so if you are not into scrapbooking, don’t worry. In place of scrapbooking you can insert knitting, crocheting, needlepointing, cross-stitching, quilting or any other favorite craft.  We’d found a hour or two here and there on rare weekends to get together, drink wine and try to put pictures of our children into scrapbooks.  Scrapbooking is a great hobby because it is a shopper’s dream.  There is always something new to buy – sparkly jewels, Mickey Mouse die cuts, just the right shade of black paper (It does not exist.) and on and on.  I have more scrapbooking supplies than I will use in my lifetime, but still I buy that new Victorian Halloween paper that would be perfect for my imaginary fall layout.

Anyway, it was not for a lack of supplies that led to the great revelation, but rather an over-abundance of them.  We had so many neat scrapbooking toys that it made it hard to get together.  Even with Creative Memories rolling luggage bags, it was a hassle to pack it all up.  We’d complained about this problem at several crops.  Then enlightenment hit – What if we went away for the weekend and scrapped?

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Wait a minute! Could we go somewhere away from the kids, away from the husbands, away from the jobs, away from the cleaning, cooking, laundry, playdates, swim teams, etc.??  This idea was pretty unheard of outside of bachelorette parties to Vegas or New Orleans.  Our voices dropped to whispers, lest anyone hear of our novel scheme.  The more we talked, the more we loved the idea, and so we made a list of requirements:

  1. Location must be within driving distance – shorter the better.
  2. We each need our own room – Ladies, after college you are too old to share a room.
  3. We need a place with a large space to all sit together.
  4. We need a TV, DVD player and sturdy blender.

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The plan was born: Friday through Sunday in a rented house on the beach in Galveston, Texas.  Just us girls – all together with no responsibilities (and, as it turns out, a lot of tequila) for three whole days!  After our first weekend together we knew that we had something unique and precious.  Something we were determined to do again… regularly…  and our annual scrapbooking weekend was born!

Unlike other girls-only vacations there is no running around to see antiques or museums or going out to restaurants or bars.   And no shopping.  No need to worry about what to wear or wanting to go home because you are tired when everyone else wants to party.  With this vacation there is no schedule!  You get up when you want to.  You go to bed when you want to.  Hell, you even get to take a nap if you feel like it!  You also don’t need to worry about what to bring.  Pajamas, t-shirts and yoga pants are pretty much all you need.  No one to see you.  Your girlfriends don’t care that your hair is in a scrunchie and you are wearing old Eeyore pjs.

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Remember there is no schedule here and you have nowhere to be.  So cocktails start whenever you want them.  It is a safe drinking environment because there is no driving.  Your girlfriends are watching out for you with Advil and water.  So have that mimosa with breakfast and smile!

This is the time to watch all those chick flick movies that your husband and kids don’t want to see.  So pull out the Notebook and the tissues!  Haven’t seen the first season of Downtown Abbey – you can watch the whole thing this weekend!  Want to watch Gone with the Wind again – all four hours of it – with enough vodka you can do it.  I also recommend a PBS mini-series, any Jane Austen movie and missed seasons of Glee.   

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 Now is the time to indulge in the food you love.  Never have you seen a grocery cart so full of delicious and unhealthy junk.  Oreos, five different kids of cheese, salami, BBQ potato chips, peanut M&Ms, etc.  You name the junk food and we eat it guilt-free.  This is vacation and the calories don’t count.  We take turns cooking dinner or we decide to just eat olives and cookies.

However, the best part about these scrapbooking weekends is being with friends that are family.  We talk.  A lot.  About everything.  Life’s scary challenges have been tackled with laughter, tears and loving support (plus a little drunken dancing).  If I have a problem, I know these girls will be there with at least three possible answers and a shoulder to lay my weary head on.  Their experience with home and business matters is invaluable and this weekend gives us the opportunity to swap stories and best practices.  It is a safe place to bare our souls…. and we get a little scrapbooking done too.

In short, this is a wonderful stay-cation away from home with your best girlfriends doing a hobby you love.  This relaxing time is the best weekend any over-stressed mom could have.  I hope you can plan your trip soon!

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Amy Moss is Corporate Securities and M&A partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP in Houston, Texas.  She is the proud mom of two amazing kids, Z-Girl who is finishing up third grade and Z-Boy who starts kindergarten in the fall.  She is lucky to be married to Z-Husband, whose idea it was to pick names for the children that start with Z.

C, D, P, M and K – can’t wait till scrapbooking weekend in September!

All Alone for My Anniversary

I forgot I was supposed to blog today. My excuse? I’ve been single-parenting the kids all week, and I have a week more to go. My husband is in England, playing bass with a band. He’s sending me amazing pictures and he’s having a blast!

Meanwhile, I’m trying to finish a book that’s due in 4 weeks and keep my sanity together.

And did I mention it’s our anniversary tomorrow? It is. Happy Anniversary to us. 😉 We’ll be celebrating it in different countries. We’ve had some interesting anniversaries. Our first one with a 3 week old baby. The 2nd in a hotel room with a one year old who wouldn’t stop screaming…Well, a lot of them have centered around kids. But this is our first one apart.

I was thinking today though, as I got a little sniffly over not being with my husband, why our eight years together has gone so well.

Obviously summing it up too neatly is impossible, not to mention too neat, and would overlook the challenges we’ve faced/mistakes we’ve made (and we’ve certainly made them!). But one thing I think we’ve both done well for each other is that we’ve both been willing to make sacrifices, however big or small, to allow the other to have something for themselves.

When we had an 8 month old, a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old, my husband sent me off to Florida for RWA, and he did it happily, because he knew it would make ME happy. And he’s willingly taken the helm whenever a conference has come up I felt like I needed to go to. When he got this chance, even though I knew it would be hard, I told him to go for it.

Am I crazed? Heck yes. (see forgotten blog post, diminished word count, etc) But I’m glad that he went. I’m glad I could do this for him. I’m glad that MY achievements matter to him, and his to me. I’m glad that we value each other’s happiness as individuals, and I think it makes for a happier time as a couple.

I think he’s better at making these sacrifices. I think it’s his willingness to do it over the years that made me so happy to do it for him now. He certainly led on this one. I’m more selfish by nature, I think. 😛

These kinds of gifts are a two-way street, I mean, you have to give them and have someone giving them to you as well, otherwise I think that just breeds contempt. But someone also has to give first.

I’m just sort of blah blah blah today, forgive me, it’s the sleep depravation talking. 😉 And drinking alone to 8 years, and to many, many more!

Build Her Confidence: Guest Post by Samantha Grace

Today the PBKMoms are thrilled to welcome fellow author and mom Samantha Grace.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be blessed with a child to raise. You want to keep your children safe and have them grow into healthy, happy, successful, loving, and productive individuals that will make the world a better place to live. You want the world to be a better place for them.

It’s no small task to be a parent. The hours are long, the work is hard, and the pay stinks, but the benefits package is priceless—snaggle-tooth grins, sweet belly-laughs, admiration shining in their eyes. Yeah, it’s totally worth it.

Having a daughter feels like even more responsibility, at least for me as a mom. I’m THE example in my daughter’s life of what a woman should be. Or if I’m horrible at this mother gig, maybe I’ll become a precautionary tale. (grin)

I feel it’s every generation’s job is to be better than the one that came before it. Our pasts should not be projected onto our children, and mistakes shouldn’t be repeated in an endless cycle. My mom was a great example for me in that respect. She didn’t have an affectionate, loving home growing up, but that didn’t stop her from trying her best to give it to me. I never doubted my family loved me.

My mom wasn’t able to give me was the confidence that comes from being comfortable in my own skin. I want to give this to my daughter so badly. I don’t want her to look in the mirror and zero in on what she sees as flaws. I believe how you actually look has little bearing on how happy you are. Beautiful women can feel lacking and large women can be living the best life imaginable. While I always want to focus on health, I don’t want my ten-year-old daughter to ever feel anything less than a goddess and unwilling to settle for anyone who isn’t going to love her fully.

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Here are steps I’ve taken to help build her confidence, and so far, they seem to be working.

Being a good example: Actions always speak louder than words. No matter how many times I might tell her she’s beautiful, smart, funny, and sweet, my efforts could be for nothing if I’m critical of myself. My daughter is a part of me and therefore anytime I put myself down, I’m putting down a part of her. That may sound far fetched, but as I’ve grown into a woman, I see more of my mother in my features. If I complain about how ugly my nose is and my daughter has my nose, I’m telling her she is ugly too. (Personally, I have nothing against my nose. It does its job.)
Sometimes it means faking confidence when I may be wrestling with insecurities, but it’s amazing how something that starts out as pretending can become real.

Letting her fail and be successful: It’s normal to want to protect our girls (boys too, really), but always coming to the rescue can send the message that our daughters aren’t capable of handling things on her own. That’s a slippery slope because then her focus as she grows becomes how to find someone who can take care of her rather than her seeking a partner to stand by her side.

One simple way I’ve worked with my daughter in gaining social confidence is having her make her own phone calls to RSVP for parties. I model for her what to say, have her practice, and then stay by her side while she makes the call. Sometimes it takes a vote of confidence. “You can do this. You’ll be fine.” And I always follow it up with praise for how brave she is. I’ve done the same thing with helping her approach service counters and ordering at a restaurant. We also practice different ways she can respond to classmates who aren’t being nice to her.

Reinforce that she was born exactly the way she was meant to be:
As a teen, I remember hearing how pretty I was. And how I could be a ‘knockout’ if only I would lose five pounds. Oh, the ever present five pounds, the only thing standing between bliss and me. I know my mom meant well and probably thought she was being helpful. But in my head, I only heard “You’re not quite good enough.” It also seemed incredibly important for me to be a ‘knockout’ and to be attractive to the opposite sex. But you know what valuable lesson I learned eventually? I didn’t need to change anything to be loved. I only needed to love myself and once I’d started down that path, my husband came into my life. And you know what’s even more amazing? The things I considered my weak points – i.e. curves—he loves. So there ya go! I’ve told my daughter since she was a tiny girl that she is exactly as she’s supposed to be, because I believe that with all my heart.

Focus on her strengths:
I don’t give my daughter false compliments, and I don’t praise everything she does. I think that only makes kids more reliant on outside reinforcement that they are okay. But I do notice her strengths. She’s a decent singer, budding artist, and good writer. She is a great friend. She’s sensitive to others and she’s kind. Her teacher chose her for a special leadership program at her school because she is always helping other kids. In fact, in kindergarten she became the self-appointed buddy to a classmate with special needs, helping her get to the bathroom and into line for different activities. She has a great work ethic in school and she isn’t shy in the least.

So how do I know the efforts I’m making are working? If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen postings about things she says and does that illustrate how confident she is. Her latest show of confidence came when I said something about her talking distracting me from what I was doing, and she responded with absolute seriousness, “I’m sorry. I know I’m interesting.” Gotta love that girl!

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Samantha Grace is the author of several Regency romance novels. Lady Vivian Defies a Duke (released May 7th) is the final installment of her Beau Monde Bachelor series. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. She writes what she enjoys reading: romantic comedies about family, friendship, and flawed characters who learn how to love deeply.

Samantha is a part-time hospice social worker, moonlighting author, and full time wife and mom. She enjoys life in the Midwest with her husband, two witty kids, and a multitude of characters that spring from her imagination.

To Connect with Samantha, you can find her at:

Samantha Grace Author | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Lady Scribes