Thursday, October 19, 2017

5 Reasons to say YES to Self-Care


I sometimes think we as women were designed to put others first. We naturally would do anything for our loved ones, especially our children and seem to accept that our wants and needs are at the bottom of the list.

But is that really how it should be?  I don't think so.  In order to be the best you, you have to put yourself first and here is the catch, NOT feel bad about it.

This idea of self-care has always been important to me as I am pretty in tune with my mental health and very open about my vanity (at least I am being honest). Now that I am a mommy, finding time for myself is tricky. I am often torn between feeling disgusting or battling guilt to get away and stop feeling disgusting.

1. HEALTHY WIFE, THRIVING LIFE. I often feel terrible taking time for myself, but if I don't do it I am miserable. For example, I know I need to exercise at least 20 minutes a day -  no matter what. Whether that means the kids are crawling around under foot, fighting, screaming, making messes or driving me nutty, it doesn't matter, I have to finish that workout...even if it takes hours. If I put it off or ditch it all together I feel horrible the rest of the day and it isn't fair to myself or my family. I need to put my health first in order to thrive.


2. HIGH-MAI IS THE NEW LOW-MAI. While I don't consider myself high-maintenance, I undergo regular beauty treatments in an effort to be low maintenance. WTF does that mean you ask...? Let me explain.

Since I no longer get my hair done (I used to be bleach blond...not the best phase of my life), nor tan, nor get monthly facials, nor weekly manicures, nor bi-monthly wax sessions, nor take two hour gym sessions, I feel I am somehow justified in my current indulgences

For example, if I don't have my nails done I feel super gross. I cannot do chipped polish (nor a color for that matter, I am a OPI Bubble Bath girl) and since I have a horrible cuticle picking habit I decided that I was going to commit to long lasting gel polish every three weeks in an effort to keep my dish washing, diaper changing, laundry folding hands looking classy. Do I feel bad about it? NO. I only have to sneak away every few weeks for an hour and the rest of the month my slightly pink tips are polished and looking fresh...therefore, I am feeling fresh.


3. YOU LOOK GOOD, YOU FEEL GOOD. Notice how you just feel better when you get all dressed up, get a fresh blow out and throw on some lashes. Well, it happens. When you look good, you feel good. And I when I look in the mirror at any point of the day/night, I want to feel good about it. So, instead of going through endless amounts of mascara trying to find one that doesn't end up sprinkled under my eyes each day, I decided to get lash extensions. Is it a commitment? YES. Is it beyond worth the money/time to get them done and feel amazing each morning when I look in the mirror at the hot mess staring back at me who has perfect lashes? YES. The precious hour I get every two weeks to sit with my eyes closed in silence only sweetens the deal. If it makes you look good and feel good, DO IT.

4. YOU DESERVE IT. Instead of feeling guilty about the few little things I do for myself, I welcome my self care needs with open arms. But it doesn't stop there, one night a week I also do a deep facial mask while soaking in a Epsom salt bath....I know...insane right? NO! I DESERVE IT! I love putting my family first and wouldn't have it any other way. But that one night a week where I can escape into a tub of bubbles with a glass of Rosé and my face caked with a hydrating mask is the highlight of my week and I earned it!


5. LIFE IS TOO SHORT. You will always have somewhere to be, something to do, someone who needs you, so why not just press pause on all that and do you every once in awhile. Life is too short to not take care of yourself. Being a dedicated Thriving Wife/Mommy/Fitness Professional/Educator/Blogger is all incredibly fulfilling...so I might as well look and feel good while I do it right? You only get one life.

So, the next time you are wondering if you should do that little something, or sneak in that little appointment, or pop into that little class the answer is YES. Always put yourself first and know that by doing so you are able to be the best version of yourself, therefore making the world around you a better place.

Trust, you do not want to see this mommy chasing three small boys without her lashes and nails done....especially if she hasn't gotten in her sweat session....recipe for disaster. #Truth

What self-care activities are an absolute must for you?


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Recipe - Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Bars


Pumpkin season has kicked off and there has been no stopping me in the kitchen. With my trusty Better Homes & Gardens 100 Best Pumpkin Recipes (thanks MIL!) I am working cover to cover, picking out my faves.

And this one is hands down the top winner thus far this season. Pumpkin meets chocolate meets soft, spongey goodness.  The moistness level in this guy in insane. I mean, is there anything better than a perfectly moist baked good? Albeit PUMPKIN?! No, I think not.

I have already done this recipe multiple times and want to eat it all. season. long.


Now, let's get started!

With your ingredients gathered, preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a 15x10-in baking pan with foil, making sure to extend it over each edge. 


Next, in a large bowl stir together the first seven dry ingredients (through to cloves...note the star breaks...)


Into the dry mixture, stir in the pumpkin, 4 eggs and oil until combined. Then dump/spread the batter into your pan. 


In a small bowl, microwave 1/2 cup of the chocolate pieces until melted. I typically do 30 second intervals, stirring in between.


Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar (with a mixer on medium) until combined.


Beat in 1 egg, milk and melted chocolate.


Spoon the cheesy chocolate over the pumpkin mixture and using a kitchen knife, swirl slightly to marble. 


Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips/chunks on top and bake 25-30 minutes or until puffed and toothpick comes out clean (my oven usually takes 45 minutes - 1 hour FYI). 


Cool in pan on a wire rack, then use the foil to lift out of the pan. 

Cut up, enjoy and try not to eat it in its entirety without sharing....a struggle for me every time.


If you are able to restrain yourself, make sure to store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to three days. But I am sure they won't last that long!!

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes? Any ones that cannot be missed this season?

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mac Turns One


One year ago, on this very day, I became a mommy...again.


40 weeks of pregnancy, 5 hours of labor, a successful/non-medicated VBAC and nearly eight pounds of pure perfection...I had another little man and was officially a mommy of three boys.

As I savored every second of those first days with Mac, I desperately missed my big boys and our "old life" together. Those first few months of transition are still a blur of breast milk and tears.

Now, a blink of an eye/year later The Dude has grown into the biggest, happiest, largest, smiliest, hugest, most fun loving guy around...did I mention he is gi-normous?


Now, my three little men tear through the house screaming, chasing, laughing, hiding and creating scenes from a world only they know. As Dude gets older he only grows more fascinated with his brothers and wants nothing more than to be playing with them all. the. time.

Here is an update on my biggest little boy:


Dude is a beast. Weighing in at nearly 28 pounds and towering at over two feet, this guy is big. But man is he the sweetest beast that ever was. Mac is almost always smiling and taking in the world around him. He is the chillest baby I've ever had (and remember, I had two before him) only getting vocal when he is hungry (which is often), thirsty or tired. But man, does he have a set of pipes on him!

He is starting to nurse less as he becomes a master solids eater. I am letting him lead the way with  my milk producing super power but foresee it coming to an end in the next six months. Dude has matched his six front teeth with two juicy molars and those things seem to be popping up everywhere.


He took his first steps just last week and I know it is only a matter of time before he kicks it up to a full run. Thankfully I have two extra sets of eyes that are often making sure he is safe and are quick to yell, "Mooommmyyyy, GET DUDEY".

Dude loves water, dancing and getting into any/everything he should absolutely NOT go near. He is a rough, tough, truck lovin' boy like his brothers and of course...one of my three very best friends.


Happy Birthday to my forever baby, you have added immense joy to our lives and we can't wait to continue to watch you grow!

Strive to thrive,
Em

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nest Obsessed - Home Signs


It is not out of the ordinary for me to become quickly obsessed with things. I tend to be attracted to certain styles, need to have them alllllll. And since moving into my dream home two years ago I have been collecting/making various HOME wooden signs.  

I am not quick to decorate the walls as I have learned to wait and really love what I am going to put up. Needless to say, my house has a lot of "negative wall space". Some may consider it "sparse" and that's ok, I like it just the way it is.


The first large sign I fell in love with was an accidental stumble at my local Farmer's Market. Brooke's Beauty for Ashes has an amazing collection of handmade treasures and this was just one of the many I plan to add to my collection. 

I love the rustic, worn wood the crafter used, the border and of course the heart! This large sign brings a down home country feel to my girly vintage dining room and complimented my glittery chandelier perfectly!

Atop my vintage hutch surrounded by my frugal fab find favorite collectables, my HOME sign showcased in full glory.


With the dining area complete, I wanted to focus on the entry way. It is the hallway that leads to the great room and I wanted it to be warm, welcoming and "home-y"...pun intended.

I fell in love with this floral and gold cutie pie at the MomMade Market in San Diego. I try and go every year and this past year I went solo with two toddlers and a newborn. As usual, the newborn was a breeze. 


The Treasure Hunts had so many wonderful things I had to pull myself away after purchasing two wooden CA state key chains and this wonderful angel above. I look forward to keeping their Etsy shop close on my favorites as the holidays creep closer.

My floral "home" fit perfectly above (yet another) vintage hutch filled with antique treasures. I was in love!

As soon as word spread to my MIL that I was on a mission, the packages started to arrive and boy was I thrilled! She had found another Etsy shop, American Farmhouse that had perfect additions to my rustic feel.


A large House + Love = Home and an additional Home - Sweet - Home sign and I. was. freaking. out. 

The long HSH went atop my floral love and there we had it...SO CUTE!


Now my hutch featured a few of my favorite things, a homemade sign and my latest collectables. Heaven.


What are you nest obsessed with? Anything you just cannot live without?

Shop local and keep supporting those small Etsy shops! And fill your HOME with LOVE!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

5 Years of Thriving Wives


Wow. FIVE YEARS?! Where on Earth has the time gone. It literally seems like an hour ago Nic was chatting with me about this idea she had. After lots of champagne, giggling brainstorming sessions via phone, email and weekends together  -  Thriving Wives was born. 

And here we are, a mere five years after our very first post and so much as changed. As we OTW juggled careers, creating homes and of course, the most time consuming event of all, mommyhood, TW was always a part of our very busy lives. Between us both we have a boy for each year TW has been live! I mean who would have ever thought.



This past year Nic helped me grow my own blog boss wings as I took over TW so she could put all her energy towards her family and growing her own amazing birth business (if you are pregnant, going to be pregnant, or know someone is pregnant in the Orange County area she is THE best and you should not miss a chance to take her classes/work with her). While it hasn't been the easiest transition,  she is still my go to girl and is always willing to help. She will forever be a huge part of Thriving Wives as it was her and only her who pushed me to share my love of thriving with the world.


And of course, thank you to all of you amazing readers. I go through a lot of ups and downs with TW and find myself sometimes wondering why I even bother.  Then a few moments later, I will get a text, email or message from someone thanking me or telling me how I inspired/motivated them in some way. 

That is why I do it. To make sure we, as women, wives and mommies never forget how powerful we are. To keep us always striving to thrive.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I cannot wait to grow and continue to share the big dreams I have for TW as the future unfolds. Put it out there to get it back...right?!

The "blurb" we shared on our first post,  still rings true...so here it is:

Join us in the kitchen where we’ll Eat, and share our collection of culinary adventures and favorite family feasts.  Next we can Sweat together, sharing rockin’ body blasters and mental cleansing moves.  Each morning let’s Thrive together and share self motivating tips and ways to stay in control.  We welcome you into our homes with Nest, and share our gorgeously green tips and frugal fab finds. Lastly, we want to share our Love, everything in life that makes us smile.


Cheers to the last five years and now on to the next!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Thursday, September 28, 2017

30 Minute HIIT Treadmill Routine


THROWBACK - 
I was never a runner and never wanted to be, let's get it straight. Granted, I had to run for soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball and my short stint with tennis, but I never was really into running as a sport. I mean, it's not like I joined cross country or anything, yikes!

However, as I got older and my organized sport days became less and less, I realized I may just have to get used to this whole running idea.... barf. After my first year in college, I started feeling more disgusting by the minute. Eating not so great foods and let’s be honest, drinking daily, was not having the greatest affect on my body or spirit. So, I broke down, I did the unthinkable, used my monthly rations to join a gym. I set out determined to get back to being that athletic beast I was used to being. Having never been a “gym rat”, I was pretty overwhelmed by all the equipment and didn’t even know what an elliptical was. So, I went to what I did recognize, the dreaded treadmill.

While trying to ignore the girls with perfectly styled down do's, prom prepped makeup faces and those catching up with friends via cell phone chats, I found a nice little machine in the corner. I jumped on that thing and just started to run.  Once I had a nice little 6.o pace going and I was starting to feel pretty good.  Well, that feel goodness only lasted about three minutes.  After that first time check all I could do was watch the seconds tick by; hating every bit of it. Keep in mind, when I was going through all this, the iPod was only a whisper in the halls of the Apple offices in Cupertino, not something eeevvvveryone had. So, I brought my super cool disc man and tried to make sure my pounding feet didn’t make the song skip.


I definitely didn’t love it while it was happening, but after each 20-30 minute run, I learned to accept it happening and appreciate the way it made me feel after.. As technology changed, I was thrilled to finally get an iPod; which meant I could now create some rockin' great playlists. I chose a ton of high intensity songs, anything worthy of making me want to dance...on a treadmill that is.

I also needed to get out of watch the clock mode, and just get lost in my mind.  With the music pumping, I put a towel over the screen to free myself. I also decided to make some serious adjustments to my routine I decided to add a little interval training, not only to get keep my body guessing, but to make the time go quicker. I swear, it works!

PRESENT DAY -
I am elated when I can sneak away from the madness of three little angels to power out a sprinting sweat session on my treadmill. It is a gift from the fitness Gods. Lucky for me I snagged a treadmill to keep downstairs since we all know getting to the gym these days is not. happening. If I can't enjoy my beloved sprints, I can always wear The Dude and power up some hills...let us not forget he is pushing 30 lbs!!!


Of course you can/should change the levels and intervals to meet your current fitness levels, but as always, you should alway be pushing out of your comfort zone too!

If you aren't challenging yourself, you aren't changing. Now go get it!

Strive to thrive, 
Em

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The ONE Thing I Wish I Would Have Done...


As a first time mommy, figuring things out as you go is the norm. You get advice from friends and family, consult Google at all hours of the night and just try to survive...then you get pregnant again and the cycle starts over.

You assume since you did it once you will be able to do it again, however the most common phrase I heard was, "Well, each pregnancy/child/experience is different"...right, got it.


Of all the things I was dedicated to the first time around (weekly pregnancy photos, monthly baby pictures, detailed nursing notes...the only thing I truly wish I would have done is keep a damn journal on how I managed to get through it all.


With each milestone and stage of development comes a whole new set of mommy challenges. From breastfeeding, to crib transitioning and teething to sleep regressions...what happened last time and what in the high Heavens did I do to thrive through it?

My mommy-nesia runs deep and I can barely recall any specific moments from that blur of double baby bliss...yet it happened and I wish I knew what strategies I tried, what worked and how long all the not so fun times lasted. I would love to read my own reflections on how to approach each phase of those early years...especially to relish on the details of my success.


But alas, with baby #3 I find myself back on the text advice train, Google search-a-thon and questioning myself....did this really happen last time?

Yes mommy, yes it did. You just chose to erase that moment of mayhem from your memory. Ugh (enter sigh of frustration).


So, dear mommies, whether a first, second or last timer...take a moment to jot down what is going on during that amazing hectic time and use it as the answer to your future Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Motherhood Mind...I yearn for that non existent book of mine...like for real...on the regular.

Thrive on Mommies and try not to forget a second of that spectacular madness. Specifically the parts where your babies are sleeping peacefully through the night as you enjoy a hot bath and a good book!

Strive to thrive, 
Em