My favorite, messy, and unconventional love story

November 4th is one of my most favorite days because it’s my daughter’s birthday; the day our family expanded. But, today, November 15th, is my MOST favorite day because this is the day our family began. This is the day that my husband and I vowed our lives to one another and entered into a covenant with God.

Growing up, like most little girls, I dreamt of the day I would marry my very own Prince Charming. I had this great, grand idea of the perfect man, who would be the perfect husband and as I got older I thought about him being the perfect father to our perfect children. In high school, before Pinterest was popular, I was so obsessed with the idea of the most beautiful and perfect wedding, that I had compiled four different folders on my computer of my dream wedding organized by season. Yep, I had a perfect wedding planned for spring, summer, fall, AND winter; because you just never know, right? I had EVERY detail planned, down to the party favors and napkins. You could say I was like Monica from “Friends” with her big wedding binder. I mean, that show did influence me maybe more than a show ever should, but that’s a different story. So, needless to say, I was a bit obsessed with the idea of marriage and weddings. So when I met my now husband, he had some pretty big shoes to fill and so many expectations to meet that he didn’t even know about. I laugh at this absurd idea now of perfection, but I can also remember so vividly what it felt like to be so disappointed because I never found “perfection” in the way it was built up in my head. No, my husband isn’t “perfect” in the Disney fantasy sense of the word, but I don’t know any human who is. My husband is so sweet, he’s funny, he’s the most hardworking man I know, he is caring, he is so smart and he loves Autumn and I so deeply. Call me crazy, but that sounds pretty perfect if you ask me. Does he have flaws? UMMMM YES!!! He’s messy, he farts all the dang time and doesn’t care who knows it, he buys way too much fast food, and he’s so forgetful, but all that shows is that he’s human….and SUCH a dude….Oh, also, he proposed to me in a Dollar Tree parking lot with a 50 cent ring right before seeing a movie at the Dollar Theater. Which if you know my husband Preston, you know that is SUCH a “Preston” thing to do. It doesn’t sound very romantic, but it was actually the sweetest thing ever when you know the whole story, that’s a different post though…

I told you in the title of this post we are totally unconventional, and I’m guessing if you made it this far in the post, you’re beginning to see I’m not joking about that.

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Our Wedding Day
More often than not, a huge part of the wedding is the wedding dress. I was an avid “Say Yes to the Dress” fan, but guess what, my wedding dress came from Target…and I think it was on sale… Unconventional.

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I originally bought it as my birthday dress (a tradition I have with my mom, but she ended up surprising me with one that year so I saved this dress)
Ordinarily, the bride has champagne and O.J. and some fruit or something cliché like that with her bridesmaids in a hotel as they all get ready. I had to work that day, so I curled my hair the best I could to make it last all day, got my work uniform on (khaki shorts and a polo shirt and TOMS) and drove to work in Preston’s suuuper old and kinda dangerous pickup truck. I worked at a museum with all kinds of animals who were rescued and too injured to survive in the wild and there was a playground with a water table feature….that’s what I was doing hours before marrying my love. I was monitoring and cleaning up children playing and watching a badger did a hole. We both would have asked for the day off, but we didn’t even know the far in advance that we were going to this, I ended up texting a co-worker to cover the rest of my shift and went home to change into my cute, little Target wedding dress and attempted to salvage the state of my hair. Then after my husband got home he took a quick shower and put on his best pair of jeans and his only clean “nice” shirt and we headed off to city hall. Well, what we thought was city hall, we ended up in the wrong building and they told us where to go to actually get married, so we went. We filled out the marriage licenses and had Preston’s aunt and uncle meet us there to serve as our witnesses. The most “normal” thing about our wedding was the bouquet of red roses, and a “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” his aunt brought me. So we headed upstairs to the “ceremony room”, Preston’s uncle walked me down the aisle of white folding plastic chairs and it was the happiest I had ever been in my life.

Preston and I stared in each others eyes with all the love in the world and at that moment nothing else mattered.

We said our “I do’s”, exchanged rings, he kissed the bride and just like that, we were married!!

Following the ceremony, we went to a local restaurant called “The Post Office Saloon & Grill” and called the rest of my husband’s family to join us and surprised them with our news upon their arrival. At some point in the dinner, my mom had finally called me back so I could tell her the news, and she was able to hear Preston give a beautiful speech which made her cry.  Of course, a piece of my heart ached not having her with me, but I could feel her love from 700 miles away.

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From there we went up to Preston’s little hometown that has a population fewer than 600, where his aunt and uncle live. My husband who had celebrated a little too much *wink wink* was rambling on and on about Harbor Freight the whole 2-ish hour-long ride which made it feel more like 5 hours, but it’s something we all look back on now and laugh about. We stayed in a tiny hotel that was decorated in the cutest small town way, it almost made me cry. The next morning when we were out and about in this little town, everyone we saw congratulated us-which was the most special and strangest thing for me because I didn’t know any of them and coming from a major city like San Diego, I’ve never experienced anything like that. How did they all know we had gotten married?! That’s something else I look back on and laugh about. From then on, nothing we’ve done has been in “the norm”; unconventional is kind of our thing.

I was pregnant the first year of our marriage and we got to celebrate our first anniversary with our sweet girl who was just over a week old. 1978882_10204276560507775_1232881488234249438_n

As much as I wanted a huge, “perfect” wedding when I was younger, I have to say, I love the way we did it. If I could change one thing, it would be to have my mom there, but other than that, it was perfect, in its own unconventional little way. It was the beginning of a lesson I am still learning and that is to let go of the idea of perfection. I’ve spoken about it before on this blog, and it’s something I am still learning to do. I love my husband and I love that between the two of us we are the most organized mess ever, a beautiful mess.

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Take the Time, Mama

As a stay at home mom, I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time because I am seeing the constant messes and things that need my attention throughout the day while taking care of my daughter.

I am prepping dinners for the week and I’m interrupted because there’s a crisis that needs immediate attention, you know, like my child can’t find her toy that’s literally on the floor right next to her…that sort of thing. I get side tracked, to the point where sometimes I totally relate to the dog from UP! (squirrel!!) I start doing something else then remember “oh shoot, I was meal planning” and on and on it goes. Meanwhile, my coffee is still sitting on the counter waiting to be enjoyed and gets warmed in the microwave about 4 times by the time I get to finish it. I know what you might be thinking, and no, I don’t have ADD. I’m just a mom.

We do a lot as moms and sometimes we get so incredibly caught up in all the chaos that we forget to stop and be mindful. Here’s your reminder, mama. Take the time to STOP what you’re doing, don’t worry; it WILL get done, eventually. Take in the sunset. Let your heart rest in the quiet, even if that quiet is when you finally get the kids in bed and hubby is scrolling Instagram at 11 pm. Let the dishes sit in the sink unwashed for just 5 min more and see something beautiful that you would typically overlook. Write down a list of things you’re grateful for and smile. For me this week is already dragging on and on and it’s only Tuesday, but whenever I take time to be mindful, I find that I don’t really mind the chaos as much.

Cheers.

Start again

HELLO MAMAS!!

Grab some coffee and hang out with me!

I am so excited to get back in the writer’s seat and crank out some blog posts!! In case you haven’t noticed (I won’t blame ya if you haven’t) ,but it’s been almost a whole month since my last post!! In fact, I was looking at my archives and I’ve been consistently posting only ONCE a month for a while! Granted, this blog is less than a year old, but geez, what’s my deal?! There’s a long answer to that actually, but that’s another post for another time. 😉 This particular post doesn’t have much of a message other than just to say that I am re-committing myself to this blog, to the inner voice inside that wants to be heard, and to you guys-my readers!

Life gets way too busy, crazy and hectic sometimes and we all know that parenting is difficult. Our little ones are always throwing us curve balls and there’s always SOMETHING or someONE that needs our attention. It’s so easy to get distracted from tasks that we wanted to get done. I know for me personally, all too often I find myself ambitiously writing my schedule out in my planner only to just erase and re-write the same tasks for the next day because I simply got distracted and never made those things happen that day. You know, that feeling when you’re exhausted at the end of the day and you know you did SO much, but yet can’t cross anything off on your “to-do” list, yeah, that happens way too often to me. And because of that, my blog has slowly taken a back seat because it just wasn’t urgent enough for me to get to, or sometimes I’ve been downright lazy about it. BUT I am here now and I WANT to keep going with this blog. I am still a bit unsure about exactly where I am going with this blog, but I’d love for you to join me on the journey!! 🙂

It’s time to get back on track and stay focused! I bet there’s something in your own life that you could say that about, what is it? Write it down. Commit to it! Let’s be consistent and make the last part of 2017 the best part of 2017!! Don’t get hung up on the fact that you stopped or need to start over, that’s not important. The important part is always that you picked yourself and started again.

Cheers mamas!!

(and papas)

August Chaos & the Beauty In It All

‘Tis the season of chaos!!

We are nearing the end of summer, back to school shopping, some are even back to school already. It seems that as our lives are going back to normal as kids go back to school, we all are going just a little crazy in this transition stage. Now, my toddler isn’t in school yet, but we still totally got bit by the “busy bug” (yeah, I made that up, corny things like that come to me more naturally now that I’m a toddler mom…)

Anyway, we are currently getting ready to transition from tiny apartment to house next month and couldn’t be more excited for our little family, but man, moving is a LOT of work and planning!! On top of the crazy meal planning and prepping, budgeting normal bills and including saving “extra” for moving and yadda yadda yadda. It’s exhausting!! And that’s not all folks, we are also (wait for it….)

P O T T Y  T R A I N I N G ! !

This is our third attempt, and it’s true what they say, third times the charm!!!

We did the 3 day potty training method and I am totally humble bragging when I say how proud I am of my little Autumn for getting it in ONE DAY!!! …..well, for the most part. She did have an accident and a half the second day, the half was just that she started “going” before she got to the potty, but most of it ended up in the potty; so I am gonna take it as a win. Anyway, if any of you mamas (or papas) out there are approaching potty training, my biggest advice to you is to seriously wait until THEY are ready. My daughter has always kinda been on the more advanced side (another partial humble brag, but mostly just what her doctor has told me) so it was difficult for me to imagine that she wouldn’t be ready early for the potty. Our first attempt was at 18 mo. and it was a huge fail. The second time was a little better but still totally stressful and she ended up actually getting sick in the middle of the process so I stopped and decided not to try again until she was really truly ready. I fought giving in to the pressure of making sure she’s potty trained just because everyone is telling me to do it. I let her lead, and I regret not coming to that conclusion earlier. We are on day 4 so we are still definitely still in training mode, but she’s got it so far. Our next step is going out and about. (Wish us luck!) She is 2 and 9 months and my ultimate goal was to train her before her third birthday, but I made myself get rid of that expectation and low and behold when I did, she decided she was ready shortly after. Funny how that works…

This past week has been exhausting and just as I was getting a little too comfortable in my parenting, my toddler threw me a curve ball and decided she was ready for potty time. It reminded me that we, as humans, are always learning and growing, and to count that as a blessing. We should never become too comfortable and always rise to challenges that life brings us no matter how exhausting or seemingly impossible. Sometimes we choose a new challenge, like accepting  a new scary job and leaving our comfort zone job you hate. Most of the time though, life just gives you new challenges, like potty training a toddler or dropping them off on they’re first day of school. Just know that what ever your challenge is you’re currently facing, you are growing and becoming a stronger person than you were the day before and that is such a beautiful thing. Fill up your coffee mug and keep going!! Cheers to chaos, cheers to moments of rest, cheers to becoming better and stronger people.

Don’t be a hater

Everywhere we look these days we see and hear people saying negative things, sometimes it’s about someone else, sometimes it’s about themselves, but regardless,

IT HAS GOT TO STOP!!

I will be the first to admit that I have been part of this group. Not so much the speaking badly about other people, in fact, I struggle more with thinking everyone is so much better than me.

I talk so much crap ABOUT MYSELF!! I don’t even realize I’m doing it sometimes – wait, what?! Yep, it’s gotten to/been at the point for SO LONG that bashing myself has become second nature to me. The saddest part about that, is that I am far from being the only one who suffers from this mindset. I’m willing to bet that the majority of women(or men) reading this right now fall into the same category.

I have struggled with self-hate and became aware of my “flaws” at the ripe age of 5. Yep, F I V E!! The memory will forever be ingrained in my mind the moment that I began hating my body. It was a summer day and I was getting ready to ride my bike outside, I had these turquoise biking shorts that I had just gotten(probably for my birthday) and I was modeling them for my step-mom as per her request. My older brother was sitting on a bean bag chair and he said “Dang Manda you have a big butt” and my step-mom started laughing and joined in on the teasing (she did that often). I quickly had a change of heart about my new biking shorts that I had just been so excited about and I covered my tushie as I ran to my room crying. I spent the next hour or so looking, examining, critiquing my five-year old body in the mirror when I should have been outside playing and riding my bike with my friends like I had planned. From that moment on, I questioned EVERYTHING about myself; even my decision-making, because I thought those shorts looked great on me, but apparently I was wrong, what else was I wrong about? Now, just to be clear, I don’t hold this against my brother, he was just being a 7 year old boy and teasing his little sister like most big brothers-he apologized and I know he didn’t mean harm to me. That being said, it still damaged me and I endured much more bullying from people throughout the years.

I’ll skip the details, but at the age of 12 I started cutting my wrists and deeply hated myself. At the age of 15, I began purging after almost every meal, but never wanted to categorize myself as “bulimic” because then that’s admitting I had a problem.

I know I must’ve broken my mother’s heart over this issue countless times, she spent SO MUCH TIME telling me that I was perfect the way I was and that I am beautiful and all that stuff a mom is supposed to say. I didn’t believe her, I wouldn’t believe anyone unless it was a guy telling me I was beautiful. Any guy, it didn’t even have to be someone I was interested in.

As time passed, I decided I was tired of this issue consuming my life & began seeking counsel and healing at the age of 19. I received a TON of support from my close friends and mentors and I was starting to become whole again. Fast forward a couple of years I was beginning to really LOVE myself and that’s when I met my now husband. I was 21 when I met and started dating him, and I have to say, he was the cherry on top of my healing process. He made me feel so good about myself and although I had mostly good days I would bash myself every so often and oh boy did he HATE that. I had done so well learning to love myself, but slowly I was starting to creep back to my old habits. Fast forward again to postpartum and I was back to hating my body and feeling so insecure about myself. I was almost completely back to where I started minus all the physical harm. That’s when I realized that this might very well be a lifelong struggle. That is not what I ever wanted, but it’s true. I am still, at the age of (almost)26, learning again to love myself and my body.

I cannot expect to teach my sweet daughter to love herself, if I don’t first love myself.

We are called to love one another, and you are included in that statement. When doubts and insecurities start to surface, knock them out in their tracks. The second I start to believe I’m not good enough, I’m too this or that, or I need to be more like this person, I remember who I am and who created me and that I AM enough and I AM beautiful. I won’t allow anyone convince me otherwise, and I have my daughter as my new inspiration. It brings me to tears thinking she will ever think a negative thought about herself, I need to be the one to teach her that she is beautiful,smart, funny, brave, all the things the world is going to convince she isn’t. We MUST stop bashing others,including ourselves. We MUST stand firm for our sons and daughters. Even if you may not believe it now, start telling yourself you’re enough. Start telling yourself you’re beautiful or handsome. Start being the person you want your children to grow up to be. Eventually, you’ll mean those positive statements about yourself.

Stay Strong. 🖤