The 2020 quarantine awards.

I would like to take this time to thank the real MVP’s of quarantine. There was a three-way tie for first place, and all three of you are more than deserving of the gold.

First off, Starbucks. Thank you, delicious Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with extra sweet cream. You nectar of the gods, you are the only thing wonderful about mornings. Thank you for always being there, and for not judging me lovely Baristas, no matter the hot mess condition I am in when I roll up to the window. Thank you for being patient as I try to order over the sounds of fighting children in my backseat. Thank you for then being nice to said heathens, as you are the only adults they see apart from us on the daily. And as Biggie tells the Barista “see you tomorrow!” thank you for not judging me my daily Kryptonite.

Secondly, electronic devices. I wouldn’t be where I am today (no, really) without you, Netflix and Disney+. Thank you for the mind numbing silence you allow me to have when I turn on Bluey or Mickey Mouse and pretend not to exist.

And third, but definitely not last in my heart- naps. My kids are psychopaths for not liking naps- I would nap to coma-inducing levels on the daily if I could. I would also like to give a shout out to my weighted blanket and eye mask. Thank you for smothering me in a way I actulaly enjoy.

Without the three of you, I would not be surviving this quarantine. Words cannot express the gratitude and love I have for you. Don’t tell my kids, but you guys are my favorites.

Anxiety, pandemics and real estate, oh my!

So we moved 3 weeks ago into this house we built- FINALLY. Pro level- try and close on a house when the country gets shut down due to an apocalypse/pandemic. Is it ok to laugh/cry on here? I spent at least 2 full weeks scared out of my fucking mind that our house closing was going to get shut down in the last few weeks of the construction.

I went to get my anxiety meds refilled to make sure I was stocked up. They make you take a questionnaire on how your anxiety is and how you are feeling. Then the doctor and I laughed and laughed. How is my anxiety during the age of COVID? Less than awesome, is that an acceptable answer?

I was a fucking train wreck. I was terrified and imaging our dreams going down the toilet. I thought we might lose the house. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. I was eating back up anxiety meds like candy. I was a level of stressed out that was really concerning my husband.

And then… we closed! We actually fucking did it. And we moved- not in the two week vacation while the kids go to school way we thought. We moved while working because we couldn’t take time off. And our parents were self isolating so we had the kids, too. How is moving with small children all by yourself? No- imagine it harder than that. It BLEW.

But now, sitting on this new couch in this new house and feeling mostly settled, I finally stopped taking back up anxiety meds. I think I’m going to be ok, guys. I hope you are safe and ok, too.

P.S- wash your fucking hands, this shit ain’t over yet.

Who’s the boss now, bitch?!

Guys, I did a thing! I started my own business! I’m about 3 weeks in, please excuse my absence as I have been learning all the things. This is something I have wanted for the last year or two- basically ever since reading “Girl, Wash Your Face.” If you don’t pray at the alter of Rachel Hollis who are you and what are you doing with your life?

So it’s a lot, starting a business. You hit the ground running, and there is so much to learn. I am finding out so much about life and myself and how far I can push myself. Am I still wondering if I did the right thing, as my plate is already full? Duh- but I also want to go back to school and that isn’t going to be a cake walk either. So I’m working hard and putting myself out there and I know it’s going to pay off. I’m playing the long game, and I’m having fun.

One thing they tell us is to know your why. Your why is what is going to draw people to you and keep them coming back. So I’ve been thinking about it. Your why isn’t money- obviously money is a bonus. I’m fortunate that I already know who I am, thanks to my journey through anxiety. And I know a little about putting myself out there because of this blog.

But WHY did I start my own business? Well one of the reasons, the biggest one probably, is my family. I want us to be able to live comfortably in this beautiful new house we built. I want us to be able to take amazing family vacations. I don’t want us to struggle ever again.

I need a strong, supportive female presence in my life. I have learned that over the past year. This team I am on is full of amazing, boss women that cheer you on and push you to push yourself. This is what keeps me fighting to make this business successful. I am surrounded by constant support and enthusiasm that I never want to live without again. Call me spoiled, I don’t care. 🙂

I know I am made for more. I was meant for more- I need to push myself farther, out of my comfort zone. As Rachel Hollis says, “if you are the smartest person in the room you need a new room.” I am a little fish in this big pond and instead of making me feel insecure, it is making me feel like I can reach the stars.

Challenge yourself, guys. Believe in yourself, and find other people who believe in you too. Cut out the bullshit and negativity, even, and especially if, it is coming from yourself. You can go get any goal you want. Go grab that dream by the horns and tell it how it’s going to be. Go find your room, and don’t look back.

When quarantine gets ugly.

Today was it, guys. Actually, it started last night. Smalls kept crying in the middle of the night. After the second time I put him in bed with us. Which means I spent the rest of the night and next morning with him perpendicular to me in bed with his hard ass head wedged in my boobs. Lovely.

Biggie came in after daylight because he had an accident. He changed and got into bed with me. Dading had already left for work (I’m working from home, he’s working every other day at the office). When we finally get up Smalls has wet OUR bed. So now I’m washing sheets like we’ve got a headlice epidemic. The dog puked on my new rug. Maybe the kids are making him sick. I can relate.

Cue the usual sibling fighting, Smalls fighting me to go poop on the potty, and then the straw that breaks this mama’s back- Biggie LIED to me.

He tells me his brother got into my pens and is writing on my work boxes. I go upstairs to see toddler scribbles, along with the first two letters of Biggie’s name. If you’re going to lie to me, you little shit, at least cover it up better and don’t tag your graffiti with your own name.

They got sent to their rooms, Biggie lost his shit. Like if anyone is entitled to lose their shit around here it’s me, tyvm. I called Dading crying that I had had enough and needed him to come home.

So yeah. I’m tired y’all. I’m frustrated with kids acting out even when I understand their reasons and wish I could extinguish their boredom. I’m tired of the fighting and the ear shattering screaming that never stops. I’m tired of someone needing something from me every goddamn minute of every day. Did I mention I was tired?

Check on your friends with small children. We may not be doing virtual school, but we are in the toddler trenches and it’s getting ugly down here.

Validate me, damnit!

We all know those people- the ones that talk AT you. The ones who suck at listening. The ones who always play devil’s advocate to whatever you are saying. The ones who don’t just let you feel what you are feeling. Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m not) but it is the most exhausting thing to be around these people. They always know better, They always know what’s best, they always have all the answers. They just. Don’t. Fucking. Listen.

When I am pissed, get pissed with me or get the F out of my way. When I am happy, be happy for me! Can we just support each other in this ever increasingly fucked up world we live in?

It isn’t hard to just be supportive of someone else. Don’t be a dick, just be nice. It seems like I am always being talked down to. I don’t need your parenting advice, or your house building/decorating advice, or you diet advice. I am doing just fine on my own, tyvm. People give their opinions way to freely, and forget that no one asked them for it in the first place.

So before you try and tell someone how you think it should be done, take a step back and just listen to them. Understand that the only person who knows what’s best for me is me. And my therapist, obviously.

New decade, zero fucks to give.

I made a resolution to be better to myself this year. I thought this meant not be so hard on myself about my physical appearance. Maybe take better care of myself. What really ended up happening this year is I stopped caring what other people thought. I stopped putting energy into people who don’t deserve it. I put up my ballistic shield around my mental well-being. I don’t know if my initial resolution was the catalyst for this, or if I have just gotten so fucking tired of dealing with other people’s bullshit that I just grew a pair.

I talk about this a lot but I think a lot of it is the support system I have now that I didn’t before. Maybe it’s because I finally know who I am and what I stand for. Probably it’s all these things combined. And I can tell you that it is absolutely exhilarating. To not internalize everything, or absorb everyone else’s bullshit is so fucking empowering!

I still slip up from time to time. I forget not to let the negative shit in and I have to work hard to get back on track. But I am on to something here, and I won’t go back. For those of you who already wake up every day feeling like this- dude. You are the real deal. For those of us who are working on it, keep going. Keep pushing forward. And for those of you who haven’t taken the first step, no time like the present. Think about how much free space in your head and heart you would have if you controlled the flow instead of letting others control it for you. How much happier would you be if you kicked negative people to the curb and just did you? Let’s all ring in this new decade only giving a fuck where a fuck is deserved.

Diary of a former judgy mom.

I did a post a while ago about how everyone is a judgy mom. Even those of us in denial about it. But over the last few months I have really changed how I feel about this.

Hi, my name is Mandy, and I used to be a judgy mom.

Almost subtly over the last few months I started to notice that my attitude towards other moms changed from sizing up and judging to compassion and empathy. When I see another mom now my first instinct is to joke, or compliment, or offer to help.

Calm down, I’m still the sarcastic mama you know and love. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s majority rules here.

So why the change? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that too. I have found my mom tribe, is the big answer. I let go of friends that didn’t make me feel good about myself, I stopped holding on to toxic relationships and forced myself to let them go. I found friends who supported me and let me support them back. I extended this to my Instagram, and cultivated my follows to other like minded moms. Every interaction we have helps build this foundation of acceptance and support.

So maybe everyone is a judgy mom until they find a community where they feel supported and understood. And then out of that acceptance comes tolerance and compassion. If you’re a judgy mom like I was, maybe take a step back and reevaluate your circle and where you are putting your energy. Find your mom tribe, your REAL mom tribe, and maybe you’ll find yourself letting go too.

Things I learned on Christmas vacation.

We just got home from a two-week vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. We spent Christmas and New Year’s out of town. Nothing gets you to re-evaluate your life more than coming home from vacation and getting back to the real world. Here’s a few of the tidbits of knowledge I acquired while we were away:

1. Taking kids on vacation is a FUCKING nightmare. They are out of their routine and sleeping in a strange place. Nap time and bedtime get thrown off track. They are over stimulated after long days hiking and playing in the snow. And even though you plan amazing adventures every day, they still get fucking bored and drive you batshit crazy. I swear to god I have never yelled more in my fucking life. Their lives have never been in more danger than they were for these past two weeks.

2. Something ALWAYS goes wrong. Two weeks of fresh mountain air and NO sickness and we were living the high life, forgetting that parents don’t ever get that lucky. Idiots. Biggie’s breakfast didn’t agree with him on the 12 HOUR car ride home, and he spent the first few hours throwing up. By the third time I didn’t even bother putting pants back on him so I wouldn’t have to do a highway-side wardrobe change again.

3. Getting out of town is critical for mental health. Guess who didn’t have a single anxiety attack for these past two weeks? Yep- this mama. No work and no stress about living conditions made for a healthy mental health cleanse. My biggest stress was trying to survive the assload of stairs this Airbnb had- I better have J Lo calves now or WTF. A bazillion stairs plus adjusting to high altitude (we live in South Florida the only altitude we get is speed bumps) literally had me huffing and puffing like an asthmatic with COPD. This and trying not to abandon my children on a hiking trail was all I had to worry about. It was so needed and so worth it. Please remind me of this when I go back to work on Monday and question my entire existence again.

4. Experiences and memories don’t have to be made at Disney. Our kids were totally pumped when we reached the waterfall at the end of our multiple hikes. They were blown away by the nearly hand-tame deer that lived on the property, and how close they could get to them while feeding them. Hearing Smalls say “where deer?” And “waterfall” was awesome. Biggie got to go ATV’ing up the side of a mountain through the mud with Daddy, and got to go fishing in a trout pond. They got to breath two weeks of clean, fresh air. They got to see friends and family they don’t get to see very often because they live so far away. Dading and I aren’t big on theme park experiences, so these are the kinds of things we want our kids to do and remember.

5. Not being in town for the holidays makes them so stress free. The expectation that you have to see everyone you know and buy gifts for every person you’ve ever come into contact with gets tossed right out the window when you aren’t actually going to see anyone or spend the holidays with them. It really lets you focus on what’s important, and hopefully we passed some of that down to the boys. Instead of spending a fortune on Christmas cards, we sent a text to all our tribe with a picture of us on vacation. Honestly, I loved that more than the cards I print from Walgreens or Shutterfly every year. You realize who and what’s important when you take a step back and look at it from a distance (in this case 2000 miles and 5000 feet above sea level).

6. Traditions are made in the quiet places. We decided we are going to try and do this every other year. And we decided we would get refrigerator magnets from all the cool places we go, so our new house can tell the story of our adventures every time anyone goes in the kitchen. 2019 was the year our little family really started creating our own traditions.

So here I am, sitting at the kitchen in the house that isn’t mine, preparing to go back to work on Monday, blogging. You don’t have to drive 3 states away and risk certain death by a thousand stairs like we did for it to count. If you need to get away, do it. No matter what that means or where that takes you. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff online about how you don’t owe anyone anything for the holidays, and that you are allowed to do what makes you happy. The holidays are hard on everyone, some more than most. You do you. #NewYearNewMe.

Here’s to all our adventures for 2020.

Attitude of Gratitude.

It’s fitting to be thinking about this topic during the week of Thanksgiving. I want to be disgusting and only focus on positive things this post ( I know, cover your ears you don’t need this kind of negativity in your life).

First and foremost, I am thankful for my boys- all 3 of them. They keep me grounded and humble. And fill my world with colors I didn’t know existed. When I look at them, I am home. We went to see Frozen II over the weekend (we took Smalls because we are suckers for punishment), and the whole movie I kept looking down the aisle at my family and thinking how fucking amazing they are. They have managed to take my sanity, my body, my sleep, my money and my patience- but they have given me purpose.

I am thankful for the relationship I now have with my parents. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and there was a time (more than one) I thought we would never speak again. Having them as an active and participating role in our family, and watching that relationship continue to grow fills a void that was soul crushing when it was gone.

For my mental health- without it I would not be able to realize all the good things I have. I know who I am and where I am going and what I want out of life. It may have taken 33 years, but I know now that I have value, not just as a mom but as an employee, as a friend, as a woman.

I am thankful that we have the opportunity to build our forever house. I still remember what it was like in our first house- how little we had and how we thought things wouldn’t change. How terrified I was when we bought our last house that we wouldn’t be able to afford it because it was a little above our price range. If you had told me then where we would be now I don’t know that I would have believed it.

To my new circle of friends, who have helped me feel seen, heard and supported. You make life fun and keep me from actually cutting a bitch when I want to.

Thank you, to everyone who completes my circle. I hope everyone has a fulfilling Thanksgiving that ends with you eating until you feel like you’re going to die. I am living for the thought of all the leftovers in the days to come.

Even psychos (toddlers) can be taught empathy.

Toddlers are psychopaths. They have half your DNA and none of your humanity. That’s why being a parent is so fucking exhausting- you have to teach those little fuckers how to be a human being. I saw something on the internet once that went something like “kids are great, and maybe even the best, but they are learning to be human beings through trial and error.” Which basically sums it up.

Biggie is 5, so that’s 5 years of us teaching him manners, and feelings, and putting in the fucking work. And now I am happy to say we have an extremely well mannered and sweet little man who is only a dick to his little brother like 3 times a day on average. Speaking of the little one- he yells at you to stop it, and thinks slapping the shit out of you is playing. Also he tantrums whenever you tell him something he doesn’t want to hear- so let’s just call him a work in progress.

We’ve always drilled into them manners, and the meaning of family, and being nice. Within the last year or so we began teaching Biggie about not judging someone based on how they look. (The Greatest Showman gets like half the street cred for this). He knows we treat people based on who they are on the inside. It can be hard to give them diversity in life sometimes, but we try to give them experiences and interactions that show them all the color that the world can offer.

This year though, for me, it’s also about teaching them about protecting the environment and giving back. Dading and I had a charity softball tournament yesterday, and we did the Walk to End Alzheimer’s today. The kids did the walk with us, and I explained to Biggie in 5 year old terms what the walk represented. I told him how much money we raised and what it went to. I want the boys to grow up knowing what it means to get involved and give back. I told Biggie to take a water bottle to the officer that was directing traffic today. He knows not to litter because it’s bad for the environment AND someone else will have to pick it up, which isn’t cool. He knows plastic ends up in the ocean and hurts sea turtles. He knows about recycling.

Look, we aren’t perfect. I still use plastic straws at restaurants and forget my reusable bags at Publix. But they see us try, and they understand why. Raising kids is about so much more than trying not to kill them (it makes total sense why animals eat their young) and getting them to adulthood semi-successfully. I want them to grow up to be human fucking beings who believe that love is love and who a person is lives on the inside. That family watches out for each other. That GIVE YOUR BROTHER THE FUCKING TOY HE WAS PLAYING WITH DON’T BE A DICK.

And as I’m writing this next to Biggie, he just said to me “You know how much I love you? Double super much.” So yeah, pretty much crushing it at this parenting thing 😉