Wednesday, August 27, 2014

......back to school with Stuck on You.......

.....the preparation for school is so exciting.....I remember it clearly when I was younger and it may be even more fun for me now that I have my own children....the difference is that in this day and age, you electronically purchase the school supplies months before the first day and they go directly to the classroom....so it is less shopping for rulers, glue sticks and pencils and more shopping for trendy and fun gear.....

......this is my third round of partnering with Stuck on You and I am thrilled each season we have come together because I love their products!.......my children tear open the bag of goodies and every time we receive incredible items that also become great ideas for gifts, favors, stocking stuffers or birthdays......

.....With my oldest child just beginning first grade, I have learned that there is a certain "cool" element to having bag tags for your backpack......all of the girls have a multitude of souvenirs dangling off their bags and Elsa loves her new keychain style bag tag......



.....she also loves that it is personalized because for the past several months, her name has been a popular ice breaker......(and if you don't know why the name Elsa is a hit, go see the movie Frozen).......


......Callie loves her junior messenger bag, which is a nice break from the oversized backpacks......this is perfect for Kindergarten because it is large enough to hold her folder and snack, but is still small enough to be portable on the bus and easy to carry......


.....it also has a front pocket for emergency cards, sunglasses, a sunblock stick, a favorite bracelet, a random coin, a half eaten bagel, a rock, a broken Barbie or whatever other knick knack carry items your little likes to cart around......

.....there is also a great selection of icons to choose from, so these bags can be personalized in several different styles.....


......nursery school still has another two weeks to go until Brody has his first day.....there has been a lot of hustle and bustle around here as we have been getting the girls ready for elementary school; and he has been anxious to have his turn......

.....my little man typically will not pose without bribes for pictures; however I think he was so excited it was his turn to break out the school gear that he made the exception......not to mention, this junior backpack is amazing.......it's made well, it's stylish and Brody loves the design......



.....the best part about it is the insulated snack compartment.......it is easily accessible for them and it lightens the load in my purse since he can carry his own snacks and water bottle........


......every mama has to love a product that fosters independence.......


.....Stuck on You has fantastic products that are unique and made to last.....many of their back to school items are on sale and they are also generously offering two readers a $25 gift certificate to use for purchase toward their products........


......good luck and happy back to school shopping.......


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

.....two at Holmes school......

.....the days are long, but the years are flying by.....

.....we certainly felt like that during Elsie's first year of Kindergarten.....she grew so much in that year.....socially, academically, emotionally and certainly physically.....she even looks so much older in the picture of her last day of school.....I remember that day so clearly because it was only 9 weeks ago......and here we are celebrating a week where all of our friends are back to school......the new backpacks, the supplies, the shiny shoes and the butterflies of excitement in the belly......


......Elsa (she has preferred Elsa over Elsie since Frozen was released) has been gung ho and ready for first grade all summer and Callie has been hot and cold about starting elementary school.....

......the first day for Kindergartners is actually an orientation......they tour the school with their new teacher, the parents get to see the classroom and mingle with one another and then we go home and continue on with the routine of summer......we play outside, have some snacks, and play with the neighbors.......life is good......

......so our first morning was really a run through, but for Elsie, it was the real deal.....



.....and Brody asked several times when it will be his turn.....he doesn't like to miss any of the fun......


......we raced to school to meet Elsa when she got off the bus......


.....and she posed for a snapshot, but was determined to go about her own way.......she had friends waiting for her that lead to conversations about bus rides and lunch boxes......


......and with sweaty palms, but a brave face; it was Callie's turn to head into her new classroom and see where she would start her love for learning.....



.....and then her anxiety began about the bus ride......the same bus that she waved to every single day last year......the bus that she was dying to get on with her sister and watched it drive away down our street for 9 months......all of a sudden when it was her turn, she decided, "I am NOT gettin' on that bus tomorrow" the eve before her first full day......

.......we hugged, we talked, we reasoned, we listened.....

.....she sobbed......

.....she woke up this morning and I gave her one of my necklaces.....it is an old necklace, but it is green; my favorite color and it has a big stone in the center......I asked her to hold it and close her eyes anytime she felt scared or lonely and to think about how much she is loved.....

......I fastened it.....she touched it.....she smiled and she slowly started to come around as the morning progressed.....

......she sprinted toward the bus the instant she heard it coming up the street and I had to ask both girls to come back off to give me big hugs and kisses.......




.....she rocked that bus ride......and sister kept such good care of her......I was so proud of Callie for her bravery and Elsie for her compassion and adoration for her sister......the other mamas at school were crying because they missed their babes; running off and beginning a new world of independence......I was holding back the tears because the girls made me so proud.....their sisterhood is such a gift to me and one of my greatest joys has been watching it unfold......I am so happy to see them enjoy this experience together.....of course I miss them and have the fleeting feeling that time with little kids in the house is running low.....but more than the sorrow of that chapter being closed, I am so joyful watching them enjoy this time in their young, little lives......



.....they will have as many memories this school year as they did this past summer.....there are too many to list, but we played and we played hard......

.....we had friends visit from near and far, lots of days of glorious sunshine, swim lessons, beach days,  fruit picking, pool days, BBQs, holiday parades, and enough ice cream to start our own parlor......





















.....we came 8 short of hitting our summer bucket list to full capacity......Bowling and apple picking will have to be picked up during a chilly fall day in our near future......


......and we will suck the life out of those days, too.......so long summer......from here on out, I will await you with two arms open, waiting to have my oldest little ones back at home when they are all mine again......
......but for this season, we are celebrating structure, excited about learning, anticipating newness and expanding our comfort zones......

.....and it feels so, so good......

......so proud of you Elsa and Callie......


Xx

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

……the me I want to be…...

…..I share so much about the children on this blog…..after all, this space was intended and designed for them…..certainly, it has been an outlet for me to write and journal life with young children……it has been a creative space for me, a virtual slate of white paper, a journal, an inspiration board to attach all of my favorite pictures of the ones I love……it has also been the place I come to for my mind to be set on grace and blessings…….it allows me to step away from the minutia of the day to day and rise above the life I am living….from the aerial view I am able to see a wider and more splendid picture……it is the place I come to for reflection and gratitude……

…..very rarely have I blogged about anything other than the children and I have toyed around with the idea of posting this essay simply because I want to keep the blog pure of child focus…..but eight months ago today, I had my fourth baby in under 6 years and there have been some really, really hard days……I prayed for a fourth child, I wept for a fourth child and I would have a fifth baby if I was younger…..truly….we are beyond blessed with our family of six, but the months following Mae's birth were emotional…...I did not swing back after Mae was born like I did with the others……

…..if you know our family well or have been reading this blog, you are fully aware that our family likes to get out and experience life emphatically…..so it wasn't surprising that we decided to drive an hour away to pick and chop down our own Christmas tree three weeks after having a baby…..the entire excursion ended up taking several hours since Mae was still eating every 2 hours, the kids needed to be bundled from the gusty wind that day and that we would have to take breaks to change the passengers in the red wagon that I pulled…….all while shielding Mae from the wind, coaching the remaining child on foot who cried the entire time that the walk was too far and they were too cold as Stefan dragged our 6 foot beauty in from the forest……once the tree was tied to the top of the suburban and all 4 babes were warm and full bellied, we laughed at the quest we took on that day…..I definitely remember feeling exhausted, but with that kind of adventure, plus the physical excursion and a newborn; it was to be expected…...


…..Christmas rolled around a few weeks later and my Dad came to visit for two weeks…..his birthday is Dec. 27, so it seemed like a great year for him to spend the holiday with us, meet baby Mae and celebrate his birthday……we visited, we prepped for Christmas, we ate and ate and ate and then celebrated some more…..I still felt exhausted, but that is to be expected with a 6 week old, Christmas plus three other kids running around, right?…….

…..for the record, I may be the only nursing woman on the planet who GAINS weight post baby…..


…..we always do some sort of special feast for New Years……to ring in 2014, our theme was surf and turf…..we dined on crab legs, lobster and filet and it was decadent……my Dad was there to assist Stefan in pulling the meal together because I remember thinking in between the nursing and the other 3 kids, how am I ever going to have time to cook dinner again?…..I ran around with the four kids from mid afternoon until dinnertime and didn't have a second to even throw salt in the boiling water on the stove…..


…..we did make it til midnight, but again I remember feeling so, so, so tired…..


……January called for a special trip to see my Aunt Allison……Mae and I flew to St. Louis and spent the weekend visiting with family…….I got to see an old friend, too but I still did not have any energy……I am half asleep in this picture and it wasn't even dinnertime yet…..plus I only had Mae to take care of……that should have been a slam dunk….


…..Stefan's birthday rolled around late winter and by this time, Mae was only waking up 1-2 times per night…..I can usually handle that kind of schedule for a few months because at least I can plan to get two 4 hour chunks of sleep if I time it right……Stefan wanted to ski for his birthday, so the whole family went to Vermont to grant his wish…..we had a ball….I arranged for a sitter from one of the local churches to come to the hotel room to watch the kids so Stefan and I could ski alone…..I was physically unable to do more than a few hours and I required a lot of rest in between runs…..Mae was 4 months at this point and as much as I had intended on getting to the gym to start to get back into shape, it just hadn't happened…..


…..at Callie's 5th birthday party two of these little girls asked me if there was another baby in my belly….oh boy….


…..so I deleted every picture that showed me from the waist down after those two innocent questions……



……days after Callie's birthday, I was standing in front of our kitchen sink post lunch time……I had been up a few times the night before feeding Mae, stayed in bed as long as Mae would allow me to the next morning, and then slammed some coffee as I was packing lunches and getting the kids ready for school…….I nursed Mae as I got Elsie on the bus, took the other two kids to nursery school, and then drank some more coffee…….I took Mae to a well check, ran into the grocery store for some staples, drank more coffee, nursed the baby again in a parking lot, picked the two nursery school kids up, drove home, made their lunch and then nursed again…..more coffee…..got Mae down for a nap and put the other two in their rooms with books so I could have some quiet time…..

….at the kitchen sink as I was scanning the snow filled front yard, I saw my reflection in our kitchen window……I was inhaling a cake pop and it was 2pm……not eating it…..I was inhaling it, leaning over the sink and jamming the sweet into my mouth furiously because it was the first time I had eaten all day…..it was a pivotal moment for me because in that instant, I knew I had to make a change…..

….sure the exhaustion was from a newborn and three other young children in the house, but it was also because my body was not getting what it needed……I needed to eat clean, I needed to move my body and get my heart rate up, I needed more energy in order to be the best version of myself…..the exhaustion was taking a toll and I was not only the tired one all the time, but I was cranky with my kids and my husband…..I was supposed to be relishing in the fact this would be our last newborn but I was constantly walking around in this lethargic fog snapping at my kids or pouring coffee to make it through the next household or parental chore……I was also carrying around an extra 18 pounds that my body needed to shed…...this wasn't the way I had envisioned it…..

…..I called my friends Kelly and Allison who had been doing Team Beachbody workout programs……they had also been drinking these nutritional and protein filled shakes called Shakeology and raved about the energy it gave them…….it was time for me to put my excuses away……

….I have a 5 month old who is still waking up 1-3 times per night, I never have time alone to do a workout, I won't respond well to an at home DVD workout program, I need the energy of a gym, I need to be in a fitness class with other people for motivation, I make my own protein shakes, I can get healthy with cutting portions, I can't justify the additional cost to my gym membership, I don't need a program, I don't need to be in any sort of group on Facebook for support and motivation, I am not working out in my basement every day……..no, no, no…..no way……

…..but something had to change…..

……so I pushed the excuses aside this past April, five months after having my fourth baby; and I made the leap…..I committed to drink Shakeology every day and also committed to Focus T25 workouts……T25 is only 25 minutes a day and who can't carve out 25 minutes?……surely I could find less than a half of an hour…..


…..I took my before pictures…..reluctantly and with the expectation that I would never show another soul the photos……I also measured all the parts of me that were about to get movin'…….I couldn't believe the work I had ahead of me…..


…..I wasn't necessarily fat or over weight, but I certainly wasn't in good shape or good health……I was soft and mushy……I was sleep walking most of the time, going through the motions of life…….my family deserved the best of me and I was wasting time not giving them the version of me that I like best……


……I started to push play…..I would truck on down to the basement, bring my water bottle, half dread it, but got it done……and slowly, slowly, slowly I felt like the cloud was lifting……I was cranking out my 25 minutes before the kids woke, so I could run through my day feeling so good that my work out was done…..


…..my energy came back almost instantly after drinking shakeology…..I stopped craving the sugar after my meals…..Stefan brought home a box of chocolates from Germany a few days after I started T25 and my shakes……the old Tracy would have eaten the entire box in a few seatings, munching on the chocolate throughout the day, even as early as breakfast……the Tracy who was in the process of being transformed did not even bat an eye at the chocolate……in fact, the thought of sweets turned my stomach…..instead I was craving fruits, salads, and crisp veggies……

…..with my energy back, I was the old me…..open to adventure, more patient with my family, emotionally available and not in a fog…..


…..my children watch me push play 6 days per week and know I am taking care of my body from the inside out……they love to see me sweat, try to join in if they are awake for my workouts and drink shakeology too…...we have good discussions about health…...they are learning what clean eating is because we are eliminating the stuff that got me in my funk in the first place…….


……the physical transformation has been a bonus…..I can fit in my pre baby clothes again…..when I look in the mirror, I can focus on the changes in my body that I do like instead of the negative talk in my head about the areas of my body that I didn't like……but the best benefit for me has been the change from the inside……the confidence of knowing I am taking good care of myself so I can be the best for the ones I love…...


….shortly after starting T25 and Shakeology, I also made the commitment to be a Team Beachbody coach…..my past career was managing people and building teams with a common goal…..when the products started to change me, close friends and family started to notice change and asked questions…..without much effort, five of my closest friends and family members started drinking shakeology and doing a Beachbody workout program…...they were ecstatic about their results and I got to share their excitement with them.…..not only was my life being transformed, but the lives of others who I love were also being positively impacted too…..weight was coming off, cravings were being diminished, inner lights were shining bright just because we were now a team trying to make good, wise, healthy choices together……It was as if my past career experience had collided with the passion I was feeling about adapting a healthier lifestyle……combing the two not only has helped other people, but it has provided me with something to focus on outside of motherhood……tapping into those past skills has felt really good and it has been a lot of fun…..

….I have taken it day by day, prayed for God's will to be revealed and organically, the team has been growing…..we are The Balderach Babes and lives are changing, people are getting healthy and I am trying to show my children that setting aside excuses and taking responsibility for change is a choice…..

……it is work in progress, but I am getting stronger every day……


……when I make healthy choices, I can truly enjoy my blessings because I am fully present……there is no more fog, there is no more chronic exhaustion, and there is no more hiding behind clothes…...


….I am open for the adventures that have given our family so many fun memories…..I am a better listener, I don't get agitated as easily, I can be more gentle, patient, compassionate and loving because I am treating my body well and fueling it with what it needs…..


…..I want to live a long and healthy life serving my family and seeking God's will……I want to help other people do the same……I want to surround myself with joy seekers, life lovers and people who want to be happy on purpose…..


…..and as a result, these little loves will get the best version of the me I want to be…...

…..if you are someone who has found yourself in a funk and want to live a healthier life, email me at thebalderachs@aol.com…..I would love to help you……

Xx
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