Bare Naked and Loving It

Today I celebrate the bare bottom of my son.  Today I celebrate his cute little behind running around the house naked as the day he was born.  Today I celebrate his smile, voice and joyous laugh.  The laugh I have come to hear more and more these days. The laugh that has replaced the screams and cries and squeals of a child fighting furiously to claw his skin through his clothing. Today I celebrate a rebirth of my son and his baby smooth bottom and his flawless complexion   

Today I celebrate the love that I have for my son and how I just cannot keep my hands off him.

Since birth, Harrison has suffered from chronic eczema brought on from food & environmental allergies.  Only recently did we began to see an improvement in his condition, undoubtedly from the elimination of our carpets from our house, which are known to hold massive amounts of allergens.

 This photo, along with Harrison’s current obsession to run around naked, may not seem like a big deal to you, but, to us, it signifies a liberation. It indicates the freedom from being constantly covered up.

You see, up until just a few weeks ago, we were forced to keep him dressed in his footie pajamas to prevent him from scratching his ankles and elbows to the point of bleeding during an eczema flare up. He wore pajamas to the supermarket, to our friend’s & family’s houses, and to pick up his sister from school.   He wore his pajamas so much, he would wear holes in the knees and soles of the footies.

So, you see, the simple act of allowing him to play unclothed is more than just a simple disregard for apparel.  It’s a full on celebration of his freedom and redemption from a world of constant discomfort. Today we celebrate his clear skin and his gorgeous face, because it’s the best it’s ever looked and it’s the smoothest it’s ever been.

I love you Harrison and I’m so happy to see you free from the bondage of your clothes. 💕

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How to Take Running Action Shots for Instagram

This post is long overdue.  And I’m sorry it’s taking me this long to construct it.  So many of you have came up to me at races or asked on social media how I take my running pictures, and I’m sorry I’ve neglected this post that has been sitting in my draft folder for literally months.  So this is for all of you on Instagram and Facebook who keep inquiring about all my dirty photography secrets.    I don’t run with a little photographer.  And no, I don’t run with a paparazzi.  But I do have a couple tricks up my sleeve and I’m revealing them today.

Five years ago, when I first began filling my Instagram feed with snapshots from my life, I didn’t have a plan, theme or scheme in mind. I just took random pictures of my life and posted them: my kids, food, workouts, selfies, landscapes, etc. By no means did I feel like I had to create a certain look or theme to appeal to anyone other than myself. However, through the years, I realized I preferred a certain theme and look to my pictures. Bright, eye appealing shots were what I tried to achieve. And since running was my big passion and one of the accountability reasons why I was on Instagram to begin with, I decided to shift my focus to sharing mostly fitness and running snapshots – the same kind of things I looked forward to seeing from other instagrammers.

Overtime I’ve collected quite a following on instagram.  As with most things, you get better with practice.  And as my creative side started to improve, my running pictures transitioned from simple post run shoe selfies to mid-stride action shots.  And I guess I got the hang of it, because I’ve had many requests asking how I manage to capture my images.  So today I’m going to share with you just how I take my running photos for Instagram using my iPhone and a few other tools.

First and foremost, I always use my iPhone to capture my photos for my feed.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, the best camera for taking pictures is the one you carry with you. That being said, I always have my iPhone 6 plus, so that’s the camera that I use to take most of my pictures.  In addition to my iphone, I will occasionally use a clip on detachable lens to add a little bit of an artistic perspective to my pictures.  There are many available on Amazon, but this one here is the one I use the most.  I like it best because it opens up the composition and captures a much wider range than my iphone is able to on it’s own.

Next, decide what you want to showcase in your shots.  Whether you want to achieve a snapshot of you running through your front yard, or posing while mid stretch session, you’ll want to decide what scene and setup is desired for your “photo shoot.”  Many times I wait until after my run is complete to take my pictures. I tend to focus on my training runs until I’m done, then I’ll setup a scenario in my head during my cool down.

Determine if you need a tripod, or something to prop up your phone to achieve your photo. I used to carry one of those bendable tripods, like this one, but have since realized I can utilize other things without having to carry an additional item with me.  I’ve used everything from a mailbox, to the hood of a car to setup my phone.  Sometimes people think you’re a little creepy, especially if it’s not your mailbox or car you’re using, but it’s all for the sake of Instagram, so it’s worth the dirty looks….maybe.  And quite frankly, the majority of my running pictures are taken from the ground, so just a little something sturdy, like a rock or my water bottle, tends to do the trick quite nicely.  But I will warn you, achieving a flattering image at that angle is much more difficult.

Now comes the difficult part.  Once you determine how you want to capture your action shot, you’ll need to set your phone’s timer and run back and forth in the frame trying to score the perfect angle, pose, and frame.  Let me be the first to admit. There is no easy way to achieve this.  On average, I repeat this process anywhere from two to five times before I’m happy with a frame.   It takes a lot of trial and error and can be very tedious.  But once you figure out which angles and directions you prefer to capture, you can easily setup for pictures without much thought.

One of the biggest tips I can share with you for finding the best pictures is to utilize your video feature.  What do I mean by that?  Set your phone up on video mode.  Then set up your camera and take a video of you running back and forth a few times with your camera. Do it from different depths in the frame with every pass by the camera. Then play it back and pause the frame where you like.  Then take a screenshot of that frame.  With motion, the stills of a video aren’t always great quality, but at least you can pinpoint how you like certain angles, depth and composition.  Then you can recreate those settings and apply them to your front camera with the timer feature, as it takes better quality photos.

Lastly, you’ll want to edit your photos to add your own personal touch and style to your pics.  I play around with a few different apps like PS Express, Pixlr and VSCO before posting to Instagram.

So there you have it.  My personal secrets for taking action shots while running.

 

 

Do you have any tips or tricks that you use for taking great instagram shots?

 

 

 

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New Year, New Direction (not the pop band)

This is not going to be the kind of post where I tell ya how committed I am going to be in the upcoming year to goals A, B, and C  And I’m not laying out some spectacular schedule where I tell you to look forward to lifestyle blogs on Tuesdays & Thursdays and Fitness on Fridays. Nope. This post is going far from that direction. Besides, you’ve heard all that crap before. But if you really want to read something like that, you can read my previous end of year posts here, here and here. Or you can google “resolutions for 2017” and you’re sure to find hundreds of similar structured posts like that.

Today I’m finally admitting to everyone, mostly to myself, that this little blog of mine is slowly fading away.  It’s been a long time coming and I need to be honest about the direction I’m taking it.  While most bloggers I know are preparing to increase their blog’s productivity in the new year, I’m preparing to cut back…. like waaaay back.  Like, there’s not going to be any promises in the coming year of how much action this blog will receive.

But don’t worry too much,  I’m not ready to throw in the towel completely. At least not right at this moment. But I need to address my intentions to take a step back with this little side project of mine.   

Blogging has been a struggle for me ever since Harrison was born.

Let’s face it. 2016 didn’t really present a lot of time for me to be typing away at my keyboard. I’ve said it enough on the blog and social media.  Life has been messy and anything but easy for us.  And online journaling has been the furthest thing from my priority list.

Being that I’m as real a realist as there comes these days, I’m not going to toss out a bunch of aspirations and goals for myself for the upcoming year, only to feel unaccomplished and failed by the second week in January.  Sure, I can tell ya all the ways I’m going to stay on track with marathon training, lose the rest of my baby weight, potty train Harrison, etc.. and I genuinely enjoy sharing about these things in my life, but when the dominos fall and life gets messy, or my kids want me to tuck them in or read them a story, I don’t want to have a deadline for a post in the back of my mind.  I’d much rather close my eyes and take the trip to sleepytown.

Blogging started as a creative outlet but now it feels more like an obligation

I started blogging five years ago because I wanted a creative outlet. I wanted a way to reach outside of the four walls of my house and make a connection with the outside world. I was a new mother wanting to share those first years of my life as a parent, and I was a new distance runner needing to share my running adventures with someone other than my non-running husband. But those areas of my life have changed, for the better I might add. And if I’m being fully transparent, Instagram has shifted into that medium for me.

Instagram has become a micro-version of blogging to me.  And I see many others shifting their focus to instagram as well.  It’s like all the connections and content has shrunk, but the quality is still the same.  I can snap a picture with my iphone, edit it in my personal style, add a little story or synopsis, attach a bunch of hashtags and connect with hundreds of others in my niche. And if I’m being honest with myself, and you all, I enjoy the Instagramming scene much more than I have blogging in the past year.

Make no mistake, I got nothing but love for all the amazing bloggers I have met through this digital storytelling journey. I actually have more real-life friends because of writing this little blog of mine. But somethings needed to be placed on the backburner for a while, so that I can take the necessary focus and time on the things that are MOST important right now.  Those things like my family, my business, my personal development, and my social life.

So if you want to connect on the regular and you’re not already doing so, make sure to connect with me on my social platforms where I’ll be much more present.

Here’s the links for my social accounts:  Instagram, twitter, and facebook.  I’m working on some amazing things for myself this year that I’m certain I’ll be sharing at some point soon.  So make sure to check me out on IG where I’m most active. And I want to wish you all the best in the new year and beyond.

One thought on “New Year, New Direction (not the pop band)

  1. Love your honesty, transparency, and commitment to your family first! I feel the same way about Instagram! I “left” blogging for my IG account…I viewed it as daily bloggettes. ☺️ So much more doable as a busy mom! Love ya! Happy New Year!🎉

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Are those $98 Lululemon pants worth the price?

With so many options in the fitness apparel industry these day, is the high price tag of those running crops with the stylized “A” logo on the side really worth it?

I don’t know about you, but if (or when) I decide to purchase a high priced item of athletic gear I expect it to be well constructed.  It should offer comfort, breathability, style, strength and longevity.  At the very least, it should hold up to repeated wear during vigorous exercise.

As a distance runner, I own dozens of shorts, crops, pants and running skirts.  Four to five days a week I put these items through the ringer.  Miles upon miles, up and down the streets and trails, then back home and laid across my bath tub until laundry day. Just to pick it all back up the following week and endure the same rigorous treatment.  But one thing is for certain. The care and delicacy with which I treat these items is such that no other clothing item in my wardrobe receives.  My running clothes get the luxury treatment.  And I don’t mind treating them this way, because, to me, they are worth the price.

Which leads me to the question of the hour.

 

Are those $98 Lululemon pants really worth the price?

 

Let’s evaluate the product first and consider what you’re getting with that price tag.

 

  • Performance and Comfort – probably the most important factors in athletic gear.  If you are a serious runner, logging a minimum of 30 miles a week, you are going to need a well constructed pair of crops or shorts that fit right and perform without chaffing or movement.  One of the biggest selling points for lululemon’s running crops is their smooth, chafe-resistant Nakedseam™ technology.  They use bonded seams instead of stitching so you don’t get rubbed raw.  My Pace Rival crops have flat and bonded seams.  I can log 15 miles in the pouring rain and not worry about how my shower is going to feel when I’m done.  The wider bands on the Run Inspire Crops holds firmly against my not-so-tight tummy and supports me in all the right places.  I recently had a friend in my running group mention how Lululemon crops made her feel like she was wearing Spanx.  And I will agree that I prefer the supportive structure of Lulu’s pants and shorts to those of others for that exact reason.  They are definitely more forgiving.
  • Functionality  – With pockets for storing everything from keys, cash and/or nutrition on the go,  Lululemon definitely hits the mark with functionality. They have water-resistant zipper pockets on the back of their pants called Block-It Pockets that help keep your essentials secure and dry when you’re working up a sweat.  And with mesh fabric panels for extra ventilation, along with moisture-wicking fabrics, these pants are sure to keep you dry even during those hot summer training months.
  • Fit – There’s a little bit of a debate on this one.  Some people say that Lululemon’s sizes run small.  Some say their sizes are inconsistent.  Some say the sizes only cater to a certain body shape and size.  And while I can’t confirm or deny any of those, here’s what I do know.  Lululemon’s sizes range from 2-12.  For an official size chart, you can visit their website.  It’s labeled under every item.  And even though the size chart is not an exact science, it is a good starting point. Just keep in mind that fabric stretch can account for a little variance in size and feel.  As a woman on the larger size, I’m 5’9″  and155 lbs,, I can confirm that lululemon gear does allow some forgiveness as I mentioned above.  As an example, I was able to wear my Run Inspire crops until my 6th month of pregnancy, along with several of their Cool Racerbacks.  They offered the most amazing fit for an expanding belly and allowed plenty of ventilation for hot day trips to the theme parks with my daughter.
  • Fashion – Let’s face it.  Lululemon made their big mark on the athletic apparel industry with the introduction of their fashionable yoga wear.  People may have been wearing athletic attire out to lunch and to play dates before lululemon, but they were not strutting their stuff like the women wearing lulu do.  Lululemon grabbed the attention of many women with it’s stylish attire and they continue to provide plenty of attention grabbing styles that so many of us appreciate.
  • Customer Service and Product Warranty – I’m mentioning this purposely because I have personally experienced exceptional encounters with both, yet have seen and heard the opposite of what I encountered.  First and foremost, I absolutely love and rave about Lululemon’s quality product warranty.  Being that I use these garments in such a way that requires constant use and washing, I require these articles be durable to make their cost worthwhile.  On two separate occasions, I encountered a rip in the threads of two of my bottoms: one in my favorite black Run Inspire crops, and the other in a running skirt.  The first time I merely tweeted how devastated I was to have “ripped my favorite @lululemon running crops.’  Within hours, I was contacted by lululemon customer service and asked about the article.  In the end, the prompt response, coupled with their product satisfaction guarantee equaling a brand new pair of running crops for yours truly won me over one hundred percent.  On the second occasion, I reached out to the customer service number on their website to inquire whether my skirt was covered under that same warranty.  To my utmost joy, it was, so I again was allowed to return the item for a gift card in the amount of the item’s original price.  I might add.  Both of those items were worn excessively for two full marathons, several half marathons and countless training runs.  The mileage alone on those bottoms were in quadruple digits.  But they stood by their warranty and that speaks volumes to the quality and pricing of the garments.

I know many people may want to ask what my budget is for fitness apparel when I tell them I only run in Lululemon gear. But the truth is that I can’t afford NOT to run in their clothes.  Sure, ninety-eight bucks is a lot of money for a pair of pants that you sweat in, but break it down like this.  If you wore those crops every week for two years, those crops would equate to a dollar and six cents ($1.06) for every usage.  And with that price, you would get confidence in your fit, convenient pockets for stashing those personal items, performance and durability guarantees, and comfortable functionality.

I say all of this, not because I think you should necessarily buy Lululemon running crops, because there are other quality fitness apparel lines out there, but by me doing so, I ended up saving a lot of hassle and money in the long run.  And I just so happen to really like their running line.  Six years ago, spending almost a hundred dollars on workout pants wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.  But, once I became an endurance athlete,  it didn’t take me long to appreciate the value in paying for quality gear that is used so frequently and more likely to outlast the bargain buys.

Final Thoughts

 

When it comes to down to it, the athlete must decide for themselves what is most valued in their spending.  What are your specific expectations for running gear?  Do you need all the pockets and extra features?  Is having fashion forward fitness apparel important to you? Are you able to splurge on something like this or is this considered frivolous?  Would a couple “staple” items be sufficient to start with before adding to your collection?

In closing, I definitely think Lululemon running pants are worth it, if you have the budget to spend.  And even  if you don’t have the budget to go all out right away, try starting small, with one item, then gradually building up a nice collection of pieces over time.  This method can reduce the initial shock to your bank account.  And adding one or two pieces after a while or putting them on your wish list for birthdays and special occasions is never a bad idea. That makes for an extra special surprise too. And I gotta say, those cute little red gift cards make great gifts (hint, hint).

Tell me your thoughts on Lululemon and their price per garment in the comments below.  

Are you a fan of their line?   

Do you find their gear to be worth the price tag?

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Christmas Eve Gardening

Today I’m keeping it short & sweet.  

Being that we are away from home and so many of our usual traditions, I wanted to do something fun with the kiddos to keep the Christmas spirit alive and fresh.  

This year, on the night before Easter, we “planted” jelly beans and Lollipops grew overnight.  I explained to my daughter how this magical occurrence only happens on Easter.  It was a huge hit and brought much excitement to our morning, in addition to the traditional Easter baskets from the Easter Bunny.  

For Christmas, I thought I’d repurpose that idea using candy canes in place of lollipops.  
So for one night only, Christmas Eve, when a peppermint disc is planted in the ground, a candy cane will magically grow from that seed.  

Our house elf, Buddy Dee, presented the idea to our kids this morning with a note. My daughter can’t contain her excitement.  


And now there’s one more thing to bring a smile to her angelic face on Christmas morning.   
Do you do anything similar with your children?? 


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Why I Decided to go Back into Direct Sales

It seems like everywhere you look, everybody is selling something these days. Clothing, wraps, fingernail decorations, fitness DVDs, protein powders makeup and skincare. Direct sales are taking over the world. And rightfully so. With the boom of social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, it’s never been easier to get your products in the eyes and palms of your target market.

If you are not familiar, direct selling is the marketing and sales of products directly to consumers away from a brick and mortar store. Most companies encourage their sales associates to host parties and/or online events to bring their products into the hands of their friends and family.

Once upon a time, I signed on as a direct sales associate with Beachbody. You know the one.  You’ve seen all the infomercials with Shaun T, Tony Horton, Autumn Calabrese, Chalene Johnson or one of the other celebrity trainers.  Beachbody is the company behind The 21 Day Fix, Insanity, T-25, Body Beast, PiYo and many others.  They’re also the brand/company that creates, markets and sells Shakeology. One of the things they do differently from most companies is label their sales associates  “coaches.”  Being a fitness instructor, I loved the idea of helping people lose weight and get healthy.  I was already using Beachbody DVD workouts and love their programs, so it seemed like a great fit.   I tried to dive right into the methodology of the business, but after going through their “training” I just couldn’t accept the culture 100%.  If I’m being completely honest with you,  I had a tough time selling the Shakeology subscriptions. From the beginning, I had reservations about buying for myself.  It’s expensive.  It’s not for everyone. And I wholeheartedly didn’t think people “needed” a nutrition shake to lose weight or maintain proper nutrition.  Personally, I was not a shake person, so you can probably understand why selling one was a struggle.  And if I’m being completely transparent, I took issue with the entire “challenge/accountability group” tactics.  I won’t go into details with that, but I will say this.  Too many people, myself included, were annoyed by these so-called coaches adding them to random Facebook groups(these “challenge groups” are utilized as a sales techniques by many beachbody coaches) and I hated being lumped into the same category with them.

Okay, now that I’ve burned all my beachbody bridges with that last paragraph, how about I talk about how I just didn’t put much effort into being a coach because my life was in turmoil and I was singlehandedly parenting two children and struggling with my own challenges at the same time.

Yes,  Life was extremely difficult for me at that time.  I was attempting to balance life as a new mom to two, along with with my son’s health concerns and my husband’s traveling schedule.  My daughter was rebelling and struggling with her new role as I needed her to be more independent and I was barely sleeping.

No, I didn’t put the time and effort into developing my business the way I knew I could have done.  But even if I had, deep down I didn’t groove with their practices, so I was doomed from the start.

As most people will agree, if you don’t fully buy into a philosophy or a product one hundred percent, you’re going to have a really tough time trying to persuade others to do it.

So after about 10 months of struggling and contemplating my decisions, I resigned as a beachbody coaching.

After that debacle, I swore I’d never get sucked into another direct marketing gig every again.

Fast forward eighteen months later, and I’ve signed on as a consultant with Rodan + Fields.

So what the heck made me change my mind?

 

Well, it wasn’t just one thing to be honest.

First and foremost, I have always valued a great skincare regimen.  Much like staying fit and healthy, skincare has been a consistent in my life since I was very young.  My mother instilled great habits in me as a teenager and I carried those with me through my life.  I saw a dermatologist biannually, applied sunscreen daily, washed my face nightly, drank plenty of water and used creams and serums like a good little lady.

However, as the signs of sleep deprived motherhood started to sink in, I knew I needed to aggressively tackle those visible signs of aging.  The need for a great product line became more and more important.

I did my research and discovered Rodan + Fields through a couple way-back-friends.  One of my girlfriends was posting her promotional posts on Facebook and I became more and more intrigued.  I didn’t let her know that, of course, but instead searched all over the internet for reasons why I should stay away from R+F and continue using my regular skincare line from Nordstrom and Sephora.

After weeks of reading blogs, seeing mentions in Nationally published articles in magazines like these from Allure, OK Style, People, Women’s Heath and Smart Business, it became clear that R+F was a well respected brand.  Everything I read was positive and lead me to dozens of product testimonials. I’ll let them speak for themselves.  

 

I mean, who wouldn’t be intrigued to get involved with a product line that yields results like these?

The second really significant reason I decided to become a R+F consultant was because I respected their business practices.

Not only was i not required to purchase any inventory or product to start my business as a consultant (even though I did for my own personal usage) , but I was given the amazing opportunity to earn back every cent I initially spent developing my business.  How amazing is that!  What other company allows the investor to do that??

You may ask how that’s possible.  Here’s how.

With Rodan & Fields, ordering from the website is simple and products are delivered straight to the customer. Rodan & Fields provides an easy way to order, ships the product to my customers, pays me a commission and provides a ton of reports and information about sales from my down-line.

Another huge selling point was the 60 DAY EMPTY-BOTTLE MONEY BACK GUARANTEE.  This wasn’t just for customers but for new consultants as well!   So going into this business,  I understood that all the money I invested in the products, was safe and secure if I decided after a month I didn’t want to continue being a consultant.  I was free to return my used products for a full refund.

I believe it’s because of this that Rodan + Fields has a 1% return rate.  You have to admit, that is pretty remarkable!

If you did your research like I did, you’d read about how R+F is the number 1 anti-aging skincare line in the United States.  You’d also read about how R+F has experienced over a 100% growth in business since 2009.  That’s way more than Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Lancome combined (which subsequently were two of the three products that I was formerly using).

When I really consider why I became a R+F consultant, it’s really simple.

Rodan + Fields is a much better fit for me.

I stand behind the guarantee, I completely embrace the philosophy and culture.  And I I support the products one hundred percent.  I am passionate about leading women and men to a product that is proven to impact their lives.

Rodan + Fields Multi-Med® Therapy is designed to deliver the right ingredients, in the right formulations, in the right order to transform your skin. We combine pharmaceutical ingredients with active cosmetics for effective formulations that feel like luxury skin treatments (and some of those treatments seriously do feel like silk).

Above all I support the practices and the philosophy.  It’s easy to sell a product that is proven, not only to work, but to be the best in it’s market.   And while no single ingredient or product can effectively treat a complex skin concern, we don’t claim to be a one-stop shop for all dermatological issues. What we do is offer the RF Connection, which can work in addition to your products to support you on your path to great skin. At the RF Connection, the R+F trained nurses and product experts offer custom support and are a source for skincare questions and product advice.

So unlike my previous DS business, I can feel confident selling a product that is backed by proven results and allows for trained medical professionals and experts to help support my clients and offer advice.

 

Looking back at my previous direct sales journey, I can really appreciate some of the things that I discovered and learned about myself.  Direct sales is definitely not for everyone. Most importantly, I learned that just because one direct sales gig doesn’t groove with you, it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in the business.  For me, it really just took me time to find the right direct sales team and the right product.  Rodan and Fields is that for me.  I think that’s a pretty good reason and it’s a decision that I am really glad I made.

If you would like more information about Rodan + Fields,  you are welcome to visit my personal website for product inquiry, but I am also happy to assist you with any questions.  Feel free to email me.   haleydduke (at) gmail (dot) com

 

Have you ever tested the waters of direct sales marketing world? 

What is your thoughts on the many direct sales companies out there?

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Silent Sunday

Carving Jack o’lanterns

Excited for family themed costumes 


Planning for a safe & sober celebration


Roommates Reunited


Drooling over these.  

Changing up my hair do


My pumpkin
The two 
Working on my flexibility 
Where does the obesession end?
Kitchen Ideas

My life

Hope you enjoy your Sunday!!

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Party Guests

Last night, while my husband was thousands of miles away on a business trip, and I was hours behind on my sleep, I decided to get the jump off on our bedtime routine for my two cherubs. By 7pm, everyone was bathed, teeth brushed and lotion slathered and all cuddled up together in my bed watching Toy Story of Terror. (Probably not such a great idea considering Harrison’s dream from previous night)Anyway, as I laid there, praying both kids would drift off to sleepytown so I could catch up on work and laundry, I had a moment of reflection.  Here’s what I saw.  

 In the previous life of my youth, I had always craved the attention and affection of those around me. If there was a party or gathering, I could not miss out.   I longed to laugh and socialize with my friends and loved ones. I wanted to be smack dab in the middle of the action.  

 And yet, in my current stage of life, I had two little ones who wanted nothing more than to party with me.  To be where I was.  To do whatever I was doing.  To sit and chat and sing and be silly with me.  And they wanted to be touching me constantly.   

So why is it that I constantly want to get away? 

Why do these needy little humans tugging and pulling at my pant legs and shirt, much like my drunk girlfriends did, set me off and make me just want to retreat to the bathroom?

Did becoming a mother take the fun out of my every day party?  Did my transition from party girl to imaginary tea party guest make me bitter?   Did I lose a piece of my identity when I became a stay at home mom?

Thinking about this in the dark with my two children twirled around me like ivy to a tree, I felt a pang of guilt.  These children of mine, why couldn’t they be my party guests?   

Why does the party end when you decide to have children?   

After all, they’re always here.  It’s like the never-ending party.  The fun never stops.   I even have the disastrous house to prove it. 

My new party guests are hard core too.  They wake up at all ours of the night and want to dance, sing or jump on me.  They’re quite the party animals.  

All joking aside, these crazy little ones are the ultimate companions.  They fill every need I once desired.  They depend on me.  They want to be with me.   They want to hold onto me and feel safe and secure.  They want me to hang out with them, and talk to them.  They look to me for approval.  Why has it taken me this long to see it?

 As my daughter clenched my left arm and snuggled in to find her favorite spot nuzzled up against me as she does so many nights, I realized I’m just where I’m supposed to be.

Those sleepless nights and the constant demands to “hold me momma” and “play with me” are exactly what I desired from those in my youth.  The togetherness that I once craved has resurfaced in the faces and needs of these little babes I never knew I wanted.    

I haven’t evolved into this zombie of a mom because my kids need me so much.  I’ve become this way because I hadn’t realized just how blessed I am to be their first choice for everything from hide and seek to snuggletime.   

Motherhood is exhausting on almost every single level, but one thing it is not is lonely.  

Can you believe I fit between these two just a moment ago?

And if I really did the math in my head, I’m probably getting more sleep now than I did in my 20’s.  (Maybe)

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What Toddler Dreams May Come

Last Night Harrison had one of his worst episodes of the year. He was restless, scratched violently throughout the night and woke the entire household up close to a dozen times. As I lay in bed with him, trying to soothe his body and comfort him back to sleep, I fought back tears of frustration and anger. I prayed for relief for his poor system and I cursed the allergies he constantly battles with. Before too long, he drifted back to sleep in my arms. I too began to fade into my slumber, until, once again, Harrison began to toss and turn. But this time, his restlessness came as a result of a nightmare. As his head shook back and forth on the pillow, he began to cry out “Nooooo. Noooo!” I stroked his head as he continued to call out in a heart wrenching tone. “Nooooo!” Then, more information was verbalized as he uttered the names of the poor beings being tormented in his dreams. “No Dory! No Marlin! No Nemo!”
I popped a smile and fought back a chuckle as I watched my son struggle with what I can only imagine was a dream reenactment of the movie of which he recently became obsessed over. I snuggled him closer, whispered in his ear that Dory & Nemo would be okay. Then I closed my eyes and tried to fall back asleep.

Now that I reflect on it, I don’t think Harrison has ever made it through the entire movie to see that Dory & Marlin do, in fact, make it out of the jellyfish trenches to find Nemo. And upon further consideration, I think this kid deserves his happy ending. If not for the closure, then for the sleep that I may gain.

 

Have you ever heard your child dreaming about a movie or storybook character?  

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Falling for #prAnaFallStyle 2016

**** Through my affiliation with Fit Approach and thanks to prAna, I was offered two items from the prAna fall line in exchange for this review.  

 

Even though the temps here in Florida are still hanging around the 90 degree notch on the thermostat, and you may doubt the existence, fall is here and soon enough we will be searching through our closets for those sweaters and cool weather gear.

I am a huge fan of all things fall, especially the cooler temperatures – once they eventually hit. And thanks to prAna,  I now have two awesome new pieces ready to go.

First of all, I must admit, I was not too familiar with the prAna apparel line. I’ve seen plenty of bloggers post reviews and I’ve seen my fair share of their merchandise on Instagram, but that was the extent of my familiarity with them. Naturally, I gravitate towards the active lifestyle and their clothing line boasts a “versatile, stylish, and sustainable clothing line that you can wear during every activity, every adventure, every day.”  So, obviously, as an avid athlete and active parent, this apparel line is right up my alley.  So I was very excited to try them out.

(Unfortunately, I wasn’t too thrilled with putting on a sweater in ninety degree weather, but sometimes we gotta do the unthinkable all in the name of blogging.)

 

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Kara Jean in Grapevine –   Retail Price  $89 

This soft-stretch denim consists of 79% Organic Cotton / 19% Polyester / 2% Spandex.   This style is fitted, with a tapered leg and the length can be worn cuffed or super long.  I’m 5’9″ and the length is be a little long for me, unless I decide to pair them with a chunky heel – which won’t be absurd once the temperature drops below 80 degrees.  The Kara Jeans are super soft and offer plenty of stretch. They fit me snug in all the right places, yet don’t constrict my athletic legs like some other straight leg and skinny jeans tend to do. It has a slightly lower rise, but still offers flexibility with a lightweight feel.   I will definitely be purchasing more of these in additional colors.

 

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Devan Henley in Mineral Green  –  Retail Price  $75

This organic cotton jersey Henley has a soft and cozy feel.  I specifically chose this shirt because it offered the most versatility.  It can be worn as a base layer or as a stand-alone.  The drawstring hoodie offers an extra level of protection for those super cold climates and the fabric is soft and the color is a gorgeous shade of green.  I originally requested a large, because I’m busty and sweaters always look odd when they’re stretched out on top, but a medium was all that was available.  Having only weaned my son four months ago, I’m still hoping to drop my chest size down a couple more cup sizes, then I think this medium will fit me perfectly.  It’s snuggly, comfy fit will be perfect for those crisp cooler outdoor family outings this year.

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I don’t have plans to visit any cooler climates this year, but I may have to persuade hubby to let me tag along on one of his trips so I can wear these super cute pieces/. He’s always trying to get me to travel to Colorado or Tennessee and I may have to take him up on that.

I absolutely love the cut and feel of the Kara jean and I could see myself living in the Henley.  It’s so comfortable.  And now, after trying these two pieces, I’m completely intrigued with the entire prAna line and I want to try all. the. things.  I may not have the funds to try everything on their website, but I do have this fantastic offer to help you take advantage.

Save 15% off your order at prAna.com with code  PFS16DUKE  

You have until 10/31/16 to take advantage of the discount.

 

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Until mother nature decides she’s ready for us Floridians to enjoy the change of seasons, I’ll be rocking my Kara jeans with a tank top and saving my Devan Henley for the air conditioning.

 

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What fall fashion pieces do you love?  

What would you like to try from the prAna line?

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