Why I Left My Job

Because sometimes you have to be a little crazy to stay sane.

The third season.

She’s here. The wind gently whispers her arrival, and the first set of leaves begin to fall. I push the stroller with one hand, hold my warm mug of coffee in the other, and slowly make my way back home. The big kids are at school now. For the next few hours they will play, learn, and make friends. All on their own. For the next few hours, it’s just me with my baby daughter and baby nephew. We will eat, play, sing, and read. Fingers crossed they will nap well too. Our walk is quite peaceful this morning. It’s just what I need to settle into the day. It’s just what I need to get ready to greet her: Hello, Autumn.

The tree-covered path is still damp from yesterday’s rain. I maneuver the stroller to avoid the muddy patches, but notice that the tires have already begun to collect the first fallen leaves. I watch the brown and yellow colors spin with the wheels as I continue down the path. Some remain stuck to the wheels while others slip off. A gust of wind releases more leaves into the air. I reach out to touch one. It is time to welcome this new season.

The last time the leaves began to change and fall, I was preparing to greet my new daughter. I could hardly wait to see the brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. I could hardly wait for her arrival. And finally, one October day a big gust of wind came and she was here. I held her tiny body close to my chest while the final leaves fell. I watched her so close, waiting for those first smiles and intentional movements while the snow covered everything around us. Then fresh buds began to speckle the bare branches, and our baby girl delighted us with constant babbling and her growing personality. As the temperature began to rise and the trees became lush with leaves, I watched my daughter learn to crawl, pick grass out of the lawn, and feed herself watermelon. And now, well now I’m listening to her say “Wow!” as she notices the leaves too.

Autumn is beautiful, but the perfectly crisp morning air and vibrant colors never last long enough here in Minnesota. The changing of the leaves will peak soon, and before we know it, the branches will be bare once again. We hold on tight to this fleeting beauty, and we are abruptly forced to let it all go. I watch another wave of leaves fall around us. These leaves that were not here last year and are now suddenly ready to be released from the branches they grew from and clung to over spring and summer. They are released, and more leaves will grow next year, and the year after that. And while I’m reluctant to accept that this season is already beginning to swiftly flee, this new season does bring the promise of space and time for new leaves to grow.

I push the stroller through the waves of falling leaves and acknowledge that this beautiful season with my third baby has already begun to culminate too. She is inching closer to toddlerhood. There are many more firsts to come for her, but this first wave of firsts is so precious. With each child, I held on so tight to their first big moments, and with each baby time forced me to let go so quickly. It all begins, and changes, and passes by swiftly. The leaves continue to fall and glide through the air around me. I collect a few from the damp ground as I make my way back home. These leaves are lovely, and although they are released too quickly, they are mine to press and keep forever in my heart.

Pixies Photography : Becoming Confident in My Postpartum Body

My arms and heart are so full of love for my beautiful children. My children make this life so beautiful. It’s beautiful –not sexy. So what in the world was I thinking when I agreed to take part in a special blogger event at a boudoir photography studio?

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Maybe I should turn around. My palms get sweatier by the minute and I begin to feel my body going into full panic mode. I take a sip of water to combat the cottonmouth that has set in and I try to calm my nerves by turning up the radio in my car. Holy s#!+, I’m so freaking nervous! I should turn around and go back home. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking?

This. This is me. Right now my life consists of waking up before everyone else so I can pump and relieve my engorged breasts. I assemble countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and meals that will ignite some sort of complaint or tantrum. Baskets of laundry waiting to be folded never seem to leave my dining room chair, and dishes line my kitchen countertop. I chauffeur my children to sports and birthday parties and doctor appointments. My clothes are adorned with baby spit-up and drool. And I’m lucky if I get the cloth diapers in the dryer before midnight so they are ready to be placed on the baby’s cute little bottom by morning.

This is my life right now. My arms and heart are so full of love for my beautiful children. My children make this life so beautiful. It’s beautiful –not sexy. So what in the world was I thinking when I agreed to take part in a special blogger event at a boudoir photography studio?

Seriously, I should just turn around and go home where I belong. I should be wearing spit-up on my t-shirt right now instead of slipping into sexy lingerie, right? Wrong. I’m so glad I didn’t turn my car around that night. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone because I was reminded that being a mom is more than spit-up, and tantrums, and getting up at 6:00 a.m. to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Being a mom is also about feeling comfortable and confident in who you are as a woman. And sometimes you need an amazing and total out-of-your-comfort-zone experience at a boudoir photography studio to remember that. I know I did.

 

The Pixies Photography Experience

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When I walked into Pixies Photography, I was super relieved to see that I already knew most of the bloggers who had signed up for the boudoir photography event at the studio. And when Pixies founders Kelly and Stephanie offered me a glass of wine, I was double relieved! Yes, I’d love a glass of wine before getting in front of the camera!

We started our night out with some wine, snacks and a tour of the studio to get familiar with the types of settings, props and poses that Kelly and Stephanie use when shooting. I was impressed with how classy the studio space looked and immediately began to feel much more comfortable with what I was about to do. One thing I greatly appreciated was how Stephanie and Kelly turned our fears and reservations about boudoir photography into excitement to get in front of the camera. They were so easy to talk to and their passion for making every client feel beautiful and confident was undeniable.

After our tour, it was time to get ready for our mini photoshoots. Some girls brought their own lingerie, but I couldn’t wait to choose something from Pixies Photography’s wide selection of sexy undergarments. Since I was four months postpartum, I decided to go with a flattering chemise and a pair of my own favorite black heels that I hadn’t worn in years. Then it was time for hair and makeup. Yes, they do your hair and makeup for you! While teasing your hair and wearing fake lashes may not be your thing (it certainly isn’t mine), I was extremely pleased with how the whole look turned out in my photos.

I’ll admit the glass of wine made it a little easier to get in front of the camera when it was my turn for my mini shoot, but when it was time to pose, I suddenly felt a rush of confidence. Stephanie and Kelly guided me through my poses, and they were so encouraging. I felt beautiful, sexy, and proud of myself for allowing myself to do something for me.

My experience at Pixies Photography was exactly what I needed to help me climb out of my baby blues funk. Unfortunately, it’s taken me two months to write about my experience. I’m nervous to share with others that I did this, but at the same time, I want for so many other women I know to have this experience too. This experience is more than just feeling sexy for an evening. It’s more than just experiencing the thrill of doing something out of your comfort zone. It’s about seeing yourself as a beautiful and confident woman. It’s about carrying this experience with you in your next step tomorrow, whether it be in high heels or bare feet. Because there is so much more to you than spit-up, and tantrums, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And while your kids definitely don’t need to know that you had your photos taken while wearing only lingerie, they do need to see that you are confident and comfortable with your body just the way it is.

 

Your Experience at Pixies Photography

I had my amazing experience at the studio, and now it’s time for you to enjoy your own experience at Pixies! I have a special gift to share with you.

For only $149 you get to enjoy the Silver Package (plus more!) at Pixies which includes:

  • Choice of wardrobe
  • Choice of set
  • Professional hair, makeup, and lashes
  • Multiple guided poses
  • Approximately 50 proofs to choose from
  • An 11×17 12 month/6 photo calendar (a $155 value by itself!)

Mention code: Feb169 when booking your appointment to get this special deal!

 

My experience was important to me because I am getting used to my new postpartum body after having my third baby, but the other bloggers who attended the event had powerful experiences too. Read more about their personal experiences at Pixies Photography here:

Darcie at  Gust Gab

Jamie at Toys in the Dryer

Lisa at Twin Cities Frugal Mom

Jen at Wonderfully Unkempt

 

When it was just you.

I remember the days when it was just you like they were only yesterday. But now you start your own adventures, just you, without me.

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Do you remember when it was just you, my son?

Do you remember how I gave you all of my hugs? How my eyes watched you always? How I loved only you, my child?

You are my first. You will always be my first. And while you are no longer my only, you are the one who made me a mother. You are the one who changed me forever.

You were my first pregnancy test. You were my first oh-my-goodness-what-the-oh-my-am-I-ready-for-this-holy-cow-I-hope-I-am-because-this-is-so-freaking-amazing-but-oh-shit-what-the-oh-my-okay-this-is-happening-for-real moment. You are the first.

You were the one to give me my first worry as a mother. You were the first to tear my heart open in a way I never knew was possible. I thought I lost you. As quickly as I discovered that I had been gifted a new purpose, I thought that purpose had been cruelly stripped away. I thought I was losing you. I thought you were gone. The doctor on the phone thought so too. So your daddy and I made a late night visit to the emergency room. I was broken. And within a few hours, I saw your tiny heart beat on the screen, and I could breathe again. You were there. You were so tiny, your heart was beating fast, and you were there.

You were the first of my children to hold. I loved you before you were born, but when I held you for the first time, well, that moment was the first. That moment was the first time I discovered how intoxicating the scent of a newborn can be. That moment was the first time I understood how intense motherhood would be and how I would never be the same. That moment, my son, you gave that to me.

Do you remember when it was just you?

Do you remember how I smiled when you said your first word? Do you remember how I clapped when you took your first step? Do you remember how I cried when you got your first big owie?

You are my first. Together we’ve seen so many firsts. And now you are the first to begin your own firsts in the big world outside of our little home.

I will smile, I will clap, and yes, I will cry too when I watch you enter those school doors on Tuesday for the very first time as a kindergartener. We’ve had so many firsts together, but this is the first time when I will not be there to see many of your firsts. This is the first time since leaving my full-time job to be an at-home mother when I will not have one of my children with me during the day. These past two years all of my days have been spent with you and your sister, and for the next few weeks until the baby arrives, it will only be me and your sister at home –without you. It will be a lot quieter; perhaps too quiet. It will be less tiring for me; perhaps not tiring enough. Your sister and I will still have many adventures, but our adventures won’t be the same without you. You were the first to make me want to soak up as many adventures as I could while you were young, while you were only mine, while we had these days before kindergarten and scouts and soccer practice and Sunday school.

Oh, my son. I will smile, I will clap, and yes, I will cry too for so many reasons when you enter those school doors on Tuesday. I will smile because it makes me happy and proud to see you so excited to start school. I will clap when you share your accomplishments with me. And I will cry, maybe not in front of you, when you share how your heart hurts. You are my first, and this is a new first for us. You will experience new firsts on your own, and I will be here for you when you need me. We can smile and clap and cry together, but my son, it’s just you again. You get to do this on your own. You get to do this without me.

I will smile to encourage you that you are ready for this. I will clap to remind you that I am so unbelievably proud and excited for you. And I will cry when you walk toward your teacher and classmates because I will miss you. I will miss sharing so much of each day with you. These past two years as a stay-at-home mom have been a gift. It’s been fulfilling and trying and exhausting and inspiring and full of adventures, and it’s been amazing because you’ve been a part of it all from the very beginning. This journey started with you, and now it’s time to let you start your own journey.

Remember when it was just you and me that moment when you were first placed on my chest? I do like it was just yesterday.

I love you, I’m proud of you, go get ‘em my little Jedi. When you get home I’ll be here to smile with you, clap with you, and cry with you if you need me to. And when I tuck you in at night, please don’t mind if I hold you a little longer and tighter against my chest.

This magical moment.

Noticing the simple, magical moments in our everyday lives.

ThisMagicMoment

I am a worrier. I worry about my kids when they are playing rough. I worry about my to-do list when it doesn’t seem like I am adding enough checkmarks. I worry about my husband encountering distracted drivers on his way to and from work. I worry, and when I worry, my view of what is in front of me becomes a little cloudy and grey—the world becomes a lot less magical.

In January, I decided that instead of making a New Year’s resolution I would choose one word to live by in 2015: magical. I needed to focus on worrying less, especially about what I have no control over. And I needed to learn how to see the world through the eyes of my children more often. Yes, so much of what goes on in the world is scary and heartbreaking, but every day there are magical moments happening right in front of us. When we put our fears and worries aside, when we take a moment to breathe and open our eyes, we let the magic in.

As I look back on these past seven months, or seven days, or even the past seven hours, I admit that there have been many moments that were not magical. There have been many moments when my eyes have been closed and my heart has felt heavy with worries. But I am learning. I am learning to worry less. I am learning to see how beautiful the most simple and ordinary moments can be. I am learning a lot of this from my kids.

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were invited to attend Princess Wednesdays at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America. For attending and writing about the event, the Hard Rock Café treated my family to lunch. I went to the event prepared to take notes about our experience watching the princesses from Tiny Diva Princess Party perform as well as the experience of having lunch with my kiddos somewhere other than the park or our home. However, I ended up spending most of my time paying attention to my kids’ reactions. I sipped on my water, ate my juicy and spicy Fiesta Burger, and I watched my children. While my son was having more fun drawing on his kid’s menu, my daughter was absolutely delighted by what was happening before her eyes.

While the kiddos and I ate our food, we watched Anna, Elsa and Kristoff perform some of our favorite songs from Frozen. We had a great seat by the stage, and to be honest, I had a fun time singing along. While my daughter stared at the Frozen Sisters, I couldn’t help but stare at her with a heart full of joy. It was such a simple moment, but for my daughter, it was a magical moment. At one point during the performance, Anna stepped down from the stage to sing and dance with the dozens of kids at the performance. I was about to tap my daughter on the shoulder to encourage her to join Anna and the other children, but for the first time (in forever), she didn’t need my encouragement. She took one more bite of her macaroni and cheese, she gently set her fork down and hopped down from her chair, and she marched over to Anna to hug her. It was such a sweet moment for my girl, and it was a proud moment for me. My daughter tends to be quite shy in these types of social settings, and while she was still a little meek, I saw her take a big, confident step all on her own. And for me, that moment was magical.

HRCMeetAndGreetwithFrozen

The Princess Wednesdays event was fun and we enjoyed our meals while watching the characters perform. Afterward, the kids all had a chance to meet and take pictures with Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. As a parent, it was so entertaining seeing all of the kids excited about singing at their tables, dancing with the Frozen Sisters and meeting some of their favorite characters. The event was free for dine-in guests, and it was a great way to spend an early afternoon with the family. Kids meals are reasonably priced, and we all ended up taking leftovers home. And to sweeten the deal, all Twin Cities Kids Club members who attended the event received $5 off of their purchase of $25 or more at the Hard Rock Café.

Twin Cities Kids Club is sponsoring two more Princess Wednesdays events at the Hard Rock Café during the month of August, and I would love to see you and your kiddos there. The events will be held on Wednesday, August 12th and Wednesday, August 26th starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Hard Rock Café in the Mall of America (located on the first floor near the LEGO® store and Nickelodeon Universe®). On Wednesday, August 12th, all are welcome to dress up in their favorite princess gowns and eat a royal lunch with the princesses of Tiny Diva Princess Party. On Wednesday, August 26th, all are welcome to enjoy a theatrical story time performance of Diva Ever After with the princesses while eating lunch. To learn more about the upcoming events and to make a reservation, please visit the Twin Cities Kids Club Events page on Facebook here.

While guests pay for their own lunch at the Princess Wednesdays events, the performances, and meet and greets with the princesses of Tiny Diva Princess Party are free. So don’t forget to bring your camera! Guests who are also members of Twin Cities Kids Club will get $5 off of their $25 purchase by showing their membership card. To learn more about purchasing a membership, please visit Twin Cities Kids Club.

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{Disclaimer: I received a free lunch from the Hard Rock Café for sharing my experience of attending Princess Wednesdays. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I am also a team member of Twin Cities Kids Club, and I am excited to share my adventures of working with a fun, small, local group of talented individuals.}

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