May 20, 2018

Save it for Sunday | 5.20.18

Happy Sunday! This week I am adding something new. My favorite Eloise-ism from the week. You guys, this girl. She says the funniest, most ridiculous things! She is constantly surprising me and making me laugh out loud. I know I will kick myself years down the road if I don't start documenting her quotes somewhere.

The Highlights

Eloise got fitted for her first dance recital costume! I was initially not a fan of the costume itself, but seeing them all together as a class in their cheetah print made my heart skip. Costume day at the studio ranks right up there with Christmas morning. These girls were ECSTATIC. I was also able to capture a practice run of their exit off stage after their performance. Eloise is the very last one stage right, and they exit stage left. So my tiny dancer has to chasse all the way across the big stage. And boy does she go after it! She doesn't cheat a single step. The other moms have promised me they will hoot and holler on show day as she slowly makes her determined little way across. At the end of the video you can hear her teacher Miss Debi say, "I'm telling you that's going to be the best part of recital right there."

On Friday night I had plans to take my zoo over to a new friends house. Her husband is deployed right now, and Friday was the inaugural gathering of a reoccurring dinner group she will be hosting. We were only going to be able to stay for an hour before bedtime melt downs hit, that is until our new babysitter texted me. Her flight out of town had randomly been cancelled, and she wondered if I needed a night out. Serendipity! This mama really needed the good food and laughter that followed with no overtired hooligans to chase around. Not much can beat the solidarity of sweet military wives after conquering another solo week of work or parenting (kids and puppies alike) while missing our spouses. I left feeling uplifted and thankful. Thankful for the quality time with five strong women and new friends. And that someone else had fed my kids, bathed them, and put them to bed so I didn't have to. 

Saturday was a much anticipated day at our house. Dadford was home! For another fleeting day off he came home from the field, and we soaked up every minute with him. We went on a donut date, both kids had their assessment for new swimming lessons, and we attended a great unicorn themed birthday party for Eloise's best friend Paisley. I think the highlight for me though was Brad serving up a gourmet lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup to me on the couch while we watched the very first episode ever of Grey's Anatomy. Is anyone else out there still watching with me after 14 seasons? I still love it, and Brad had voiced a desire to start from the beginning. It was an unusually chilly day yesterday, so the comfort food, husband cuddles, and nostalgia were just what the doctor ordered. In all honesty, I feel a little bit like I am at my breaking point on week three of this field training when he was originally supposed to be away for two nights. I can do the time apart, but I certainly do it much better when I am given proper mental preparation. I woke up in the wee hours this morning to Brad quietly sneaking out of bed and placing his pillow up against my back where he should be. Back at it. I wiped away a few tears and will be thankful all week for the gift of yesterday together. 

The Small Moments

On Monday night after a full day of sun it rained hard for only a few minutes. With the storm door screen on the front of the house open and the middle window facing the backyard open we get the most amazing cross breeze. I stopped and stood next to Oliver and Lola, my original babies, sitting in the window sill looking out at the mountains to the left and prairie to the right. We smelled the rain and felt the breeze. Man did it feel good. There is not much I love more than a spring storm and a cat (or two) in a window sill. They know how to recognize and appreciate the goodness of life! Not to mention our view as the storm rolled in over the mountains was pretty okay too.

The cows came home. Literally! The first few weeks we were in our new house in October we had cow friends in the prairie behind us. We saw them every morning for a while, and then they disappeared for the winter. Well, they're back! And with a lot of baby calves (busy winter). This morning I could hear moo's from bed, and sure enough, a cow parade was marching right by our fence. By the time the kids were up to welcome them back, there was a hot air balloon floating out there too. I have said it once but I'll say it again, the magic of this backyard is unbeatable. We can't get enough of it. Eloise spent a good portion of the morning moo-ing back at them. And Oliver, the only one not a fan of the cows, spent a good portion of his morning protecting us from the intruders.

I usually spend nap time cleaning, finally feeding myself hours after lunch should have happened, catching up on shows on Hulu, and scrolling through Instagram while not even watching the show I sat down to enjoy. This week I have made the back patio my nap time hang out instead of the couch. On Tuesday I sat in the sun and read Rachel Hollis' "Girl, Wash Your Face" while exchanging Marco Polo messages with my lifelong friend Josh. He had encouraged me to download the app earlier that morning, and so far I am loving it for exchanging videos without the FaceTime pressure of connecting at the same time or the comparison monster of social media creeping in. Anyways, I sat in the sunshine and laughed out loud at Rachel's writing and at a funny Josh story. And I laughed when the sprinklers came on and I didn't even bother to move I was enjoying my "me" time out there so much.

The Ways We Grew

Sorry in advance to the non-parents out there for this one. But when Harvey poops in his diaper now he walks right up to me and says "poop." Actually, it sounds more like "pewp" which makes it exponentially cuter. Is it possible that there will come a day when we are at last a diaper free family?! I consider his "pewp" realizations and confessions as a step in the right direction!

We have a budding artist in the house. After quite some time of silence from the playroom, Eloise came running out with her magnadoodle. "LOOK! Humpty Dumpty!" This marks the first time she has shown any skill past the scribble and her signature kitty face. We had a few friends over for a play date at the time, and I think they might have thought I was nuts given my thrill over the oval and lines she revealed. But c'mon. So cute!

Eloise is finally earning her keep. Kidding! Sort of. She is taking after her mama and showing her love of a good routine. She has a few daily tasks that she is responsible for, and she takes great pride in them. Her favorites are clearing her dishes and Harvey's from the table after meals and watering our potted plants. These pictures made me lose my breath. Stunning and so big. And for those of you who know her, Aunt Meredith's twin, right??

The Eloise-ism

"When I grow up, I'm going to have earrings and big boobies."

There is video proof. It will be played at her wedding someday.

I will leave you with this. Don't mind me while I have a sign from the universe moment. Earlier this week a hummingbird flew right up to me in our backyard, hovered there for what felt like a very long time, then flitted away. It right away reminded me of one of my favorite quotes featured on the insert of Papyrus greeting cards. You know, the fancy, beautiful ones you can never afford.

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

Thank you universe. I need that sweet and perfect sign. And I'll be putting my hummingbird feeder up this week.

I hope your week was a happy one!

May 13, 2018

Save it for Sunday | 5.13.18

The very first Save it for Sunday! Welcome.

Most of these will be a tiny bit rambling and maybe even a little boring for some of you. But I am hoping to create a snapshot of our week including a few of the big moments we enjoyed, the simple small ones that made us smile, and a few ways we grew as a family.

This past week is a biggie for me every year. It was nurses appreciation week, military spouse appreciation day on Friday, and Mother's Day today. Might as well declare this one Kayla week next year, right? Here is how we celebrated.

The Highlights

I finally put the finishing touches on our newly decorated guest bedroom. From now through June we've got seven sets of visitors coming!! Back to back most weekends. I am so thrilled we finally live somewhere that our friends and family are excited to visit. Where were all of you when we lived in middle of nowhere, Missouri?! Just kidding. I really can't even blame you. Not for a single second. Anyways, prior to my decorating, the room was an old bed frame with a hand me down mattress. That is it. Now it is such an enjoyable space Brad said we should just move into it from the master bedroom. I tried to really think through what little details would make the room comfortable and accommodating for all of our travelers. I hope my mission was a success. At the very least, the room is a beauty. I look forward to my peek inside at the top of the steps every trip upstairs.

We discovered a great park and met new friends. A playdate that felt a little like a blind date (set up through a mutual Facebook friend) was fortunately a hit! We met up at a park near us that we had never been to before. I highly recommend Bear Creek Park for our Colorado Springs friends, and Eloise will likely be on her first soccer team that meets up there on Saturday mornings throughout the summer. What struck me about it was that it was so green. I wasn't expecting Colorado to be so...brown...dead? You can tell Bear Creek is well cared for, and it's lush open space was much appreciated by the tiny pitter patter of the feet of new friends as they chased each other and giggled. The mom is also a nurse with a sweet little 3-year-old girl with blond, curly hair. Needless to say, we had a lot in common. The girls got along great, conversation between the moms flowed easily, and Harvey was just happy to be along for the ride in the sunshine as per usual.

Jackie came to visit! On Friday, military spouse appreciation day, we picked up one of my longest and most beloved Army wife friends from the airport. She is pregnant with twin girls, and seeing her perfect bump for the first time was emotional in the best sort of way. Jackie just returned to the States after living in Italy for three years, so how could I say no when she lit up at the sight of Target and Chick-fil-A? The best part of our time together was exactly that. We made small outings that might seem mundane to most, but just being together was more than enough. She is one of those friends who just soaks up time spent watching the kids be kids and was thrilled to sit in our blow up pool eating popsicles together in the backyard during naptime. We did have a babysitter over last night so we could sneak in a date night just the two of us. The dinner and pedicures were lovely. The conversation, relaxation, and sangria from the full service bar at the nail salon was priceless. This morning Brad surprised us home from field training with two sets of gorgeous flowers in hand. He spoiled us each with heartfelt cards (Jackie cried) and chocolate chip pancakes. My love meter sure was overflowing sitting at the kitchen table on Mother's Day morning with them.

Eloise took this silly picture. I sort of love it.


The Small Moments

Harvey can identify his belly, nose, and head now. He loves to be asked, and his smile makes it obvious how proud he is of his new party trick. I dare you not to smile watching the video.

Eloise has been sick with a nasty stomach bug the past few days. Great timing for Mother's Day. Although I do really think nothing says Happy Mother's Day quite like snuggles with your preschooler that hardly ever snuggles anymore. Brad's original surprise plans for us was to do a new hike and go to what he described as a family spa in Denver. Eloise and I had Mommy & Me Manicures scheduled. She overheard us canceling our reservation and got really upset. To help cure the sadness I took her along with her puke bucket out to the patio for some sunshine and girl time. After I painted her nails and toe nails she thought it would be best to swing to air dry them. She and I sat on the swings together while Brad, Harvey, and Ruby ran through a sea of bubbles. As it turns out, it was the perfect Mother's Day.

It sounds silly, but ever since I put my hiatus from social media into action, the moments I have enjoyed the most are just watching my kids run (or waddle in Harvey's case) around the backyard. Ruby is usually right there with them every step of the way. We ate homemade watermelon lime popsicles one afternoon and Eloise taught Harvey, entirely unprompted by me, to cheers with their treats. The combination of this week's perfect weather and our backyard view and set up has made for the best play time lately.

The Ways We Grew

Harvey finally has new teeth to expand upon his goofy two toothed grin! When I was changing his diaper the other day I made him do a big belly laugh and noticed two of his MOLARS have come through. So strange. And we didn't even have a clue. My kids are both such easy teethers. If there is one thing we know about Harvey its that he forges his own path when it comes to his milestones. He takes his sweet time and I guess takes the path less traveled when it comes to the usual tooth eruption pattern. I can't help but laugh every time I imagine his new smile with only his two bottom teeth, two molars, and two canines which appear to be next in line. In addition to new teeth, Harvey's vocabulary seems to grow by leaps and bounds daily now too. His new and favorite words are currently mama, duck, up, help, hug, book, milk, snack, and bubble.

Eloise officially asks for her cup without a lid at every meal and doesn't spill a drop. So big now. First it's the lid on her cup, next thing I know she's moving away to college. She also discovered during her time on the couch with the stomach bug that she loves the movie Shrek. Which I think is hilarious. For a few months now whenever she feels like she has disappointed you or can tell someone is sad she will say, "Are you happy? Are you happy right now?" It's adorable but also a little heart breaking that she is so in tune with and affected by negative emotions at such a young age. She is certainly a people pleaser. This week though she added a new request to the end of her questions. "Show me your big smile." We've been smiling a lot around here lately, even when we don't feel like it. When Eloise asks you to smile big, you smile big without even needing to force it.

There you have it. My first Save it for Sunday complete! I do want to say thank you quickly to everyone who has reached out to support me in this change. It means a lot to hear so many of you say you are feeling the exact same way and my words have inspired you to make a change too. I also do feel a little bit guilty but flattered at the number of people who are right there with Grandma Sue in missing our social media presence, particularly on Instagram stories. Direct quote from a sweet friend: "I might go through withdrawals without videos of Eloise's sunshine and rainbows outlook on life." It makes my heart so thankful that what I have shared of my kids has painted their personalities in an entirely accurate way. I hope these highlights will help maintain a small connection that you will enjoy weekly. I'll be back here again next Sunday after another week soaking up the sunshine and rainbows. And probably a few rain clouds too if I'm keeping it real.

May 12, 2018

I'm Breaking Up with Social Media

In exactly six months I will celebrate 30 completed trips around the sun. This year I'm giving myself a gift that doesn't quite feel like a gift just yet. I am breaking up with social media.

It has taken me (almost) 30 years to get to a point in life where I am truly proud of the wife, mom, friend, and daughter that I am. I cherish honesty, true friendships, and genuine happiness. Just in the past few months I have found myself in a pretty dark place. This usually happens to me at about this time after every Army PCS (permanent change of station) as I am settling into a new city, a new routine, and a new group of friends. But this time has felt much different. After a lot of reflection, I realized it was not any one person or group making me feel so down. My confidence in who I am is finally so strong that it cannot be shaken by negativity anyone throws at me. Instead the main culprit is the comparison and feelings of exclusion that social media creates. The negativity is self-made as we sit behind our screens. But the beauty of something so ugly you've created is that also means you are entirely in control of it. 

For a long time I've sat back in envy of the people who seem to be able to use social media in all the right ways. They don't overshare, and they have a sort of tunnel vision for the positive people who are also using social media in an uplifting way. They don't let the pettiness and inauthenticity get under their skin. Most importantly, the peek I get into their life seems real. It is not always a perfectly painted picture. I honestly do try to share the good days along with the wild days when I am barely hanging on. The things that make me jump for joy and those that make me want to tantrum right alongside of my toddler. But I will gladly admit that I feel addicted in a way that has become unhealthy. I find myself too often trying to get the perfect picture or video clip to immediately blast out to the social media world rather than enjoying the moment as I'm in it. Why? I find myself comparing my kids' milestones, my postpartum body, my decision to put my career on hold to stay at home, my wardrobe, my home decor, my inability to get a nice dinner on the table on time most days, my social life.... Why?

In an effort to be truthful with myself, I know I don't wish to make a clean break from social media. I have many long distance loved ones who enjoy it for keeping up with our life and watching our kids grow. Plus I love the picture history social media logs for us. And lets face it, Eloise and Harvey are just too cute and hilarious and brilliant not to share with the world. But everything in moderation. 

My realization that social media has become an unhealthy thing for me stems all the way back to New Years. My husband and I don't really make solid resolutions, but we do like to talk about the small changes we could be making with a fresh start to see big improvements in our happiness. When I brought up these feelings to my incredibly wise best friend who always seems to know just the thing to say, he had a great idea. Once a week on Sunday afternoons, I am going to set aside some time to share a few highlights from our week. A Witt family highlight reel, if you will. That will be the only point throughout the week that I log on. It is my intent to be more present with my kids as we are living each day. They deserve my full attention, and I deserve not to miss a single second of their precious lives with my face glued to my phone screen. I have been graciously given a front row seat to watch their lives unfold, and you better believe I am going to set myself up for success to embrace it. 

So how in the world am I planning to do this? I have moved the apps on my phone to a folder that says "Save it for Sunday" and placed it out of sight on the second screen. I turned all notifications off. I am a week into this change and you'd be shocked if you knew the number of times my thumb automatically reaches for the spot those apps used to be. Like I said, this gift to myself is not one that will provide instant gratification. This is hard. I mean really hard. It is a change that requires almost constant mindfulness. Another thing I have done to set myself up to do this and do it well is to keep good books handy. I really love to read. Now instead of aimlessly scrolling before bed I am diving into a stack of must-read books I have had waiting for me, claiming to be too exhausted for by the end of my day. To satisfy my urge for mindless clicking in waiting rooms or during down time I am clicking into a new motivational quotes app instead that sits where my Facebook app used to be. So far it has been incredibly difficult but also refreshing. I am really looking forward to the gift of mental clarity and a newfound appreciation for every minute of my day that I know this change will bring once the habit has been broken. 

I will leave it at this. If you have ever logged on to a social media outlet and felt the sting of comparison creeping in, you are not alone. If you've felt the pressure to post the perfect family picture to gain some sort of weird online admiration, you are not alone. I know you've heard it before, but I will say it again. Comparison is the thief of joy. I know from my own experience and from witnessing personal relationships that what you see on social media is not real life. It is so far from it. Your life is yours to live and you'd be mistaken to waste it on the hunt for little red pop-up notifications that someone is in awe your life as seen on social media. Let people instead admire you for the way you laugh out loud when your kids are funny with no camera rolling to capture it. Let them admire you for the way you reach out via text or email to exchange pictures of things that are happy in both of your lives. I promise that personal connection will make them feel a thousand times better than any "like" ever will. Let them admire you for the way you are totally present and engaged during a dinner out, phone completely out of sight. The quality conversation and time spent with a friend is worth more than staging a cheers with wine glasses to get the perfect boomerang. 

When I told Brad about these new goals, he said, "It's funny that something created to connect us ends up isolating everyone instead." Wow. That really hit me. Powerful stuff. I have had conversations with close friends explaining the emotions I've been going through and the changes I am making. Each and every one could completely empathize and had felt similar in ways. They totally understood. Except for my mom. She is still mourning the loss of her beloved instastory viewing of our day every night. Sorry Grandma Sue! 

Surround yourself with people that lift you up, people that make you a better person. And be present in your life. Just be there! Don't be on Facebook or Instagram, Twitter or what have you. It is amazing in the one short week I have been completely off line the number of times I have noticed and appreciated a million more small things in my day. Even just Eloise running across our sunny backyard with our dog Ruby happily bobbing along side of her nearly made me cry joyful tears yesterday. Normally I would have missed that tiny moment. Make a change, even just a small one to begin with, and I promise you'll be better for it. You will probably even feel a little bit free. 

With her arm around him, E explained to H, 
"Don't you worry Harvey P, Dadford is just giving the grass a tiny haircut." 
I sat in the sunshine in awe of this moment instead of updating my newsfeed. I would have missed this.