MIA – Week Four

Here we are, week four, the final post in my MIA series. Thank you to all of those who have been reading and reaching out to me as I have gone on this little journey through the month.

I have been reflecting a lot on why I started, what I wanted to be doing with the website, and where I am currently at in all areas of life. In some ways, I have certainly come a long way, in others, I think I maybe just tried too hard.

I believe I wanted to “do it all”. Outfit posts, business/product sharing, inspirations, recipes, etc. Which is all great, and I can do all of those things; however, I was trying to do it all at once, and at times, in a matter of a post a day. It all started off really well. I was able to reach people and grow a small following. I was even invited to be a guest on Local Lifestyles, our local morning TV show, which lead me to do an amazing and very fun photo shoot with Christy Lively Photography; the picture above is from that session.

I was able to get outfits together, find great businesses to share (which can still be found on my Shops I Love page!), and whipped up some great smoothies. I have learned that I should have taken my time in sharing though! I stated to realize that I was struggling a little to find something to share, what would people like, what would work, what wouldn’t?  I have taken so much time these last couple of months and learned how to plan out all areas of my life better, including my website.

I allowed the pressure of it all to get to me, and to make me feel like I HAD to post everyday. But, I don’t, it’s my site. I can post and share when I want to, when I have time. I can plan out posts in advance more, and create more “series” to help me organize my thoughts and help others.

I have started working on myself physically as well, and am starting to feel “better in my own skin”. I am looking forward to starting back into some Outfit Inspiration posts. I am hoping to have some fun food inspirations as well!

I want to hear from YOU though! What are some of the things I have done that you have liked? Is there anything you want to see more of, or that I haven’t done that you would like me to do?

Thank you again for being here, your support is wonderful!

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MIA – Week Three

 

Week Three

As time continued on, I was happy that I was able to find my way out of the Postpartum Depression. I also began to feel little more like I had a some control on myself and the “new normal” of adding second child to our family. We were finding a rhythm to our day, as well as a good nap schedule!

Coming out of this fog was a really great feeling. Our oldest daughter was doing great in school, and loved being a big sister. Mark helped out at home where he could, and I am forever thankful for his support and understanding. 

In June of this year, we had the chance to go home to Oregon to visit my family and our friends. Traveling with a 10.5 month old is about as fun as it sounds at times, however, we all did great and managed wonderfully on the flights.

We were able to do so much while there, and see so many friends. We stayed with my parents so we had a lot of family time. We also got to spend a few days on the Oregon Coast, which is my favorite place. We got to relax a little and just enjoy being a family of four. 

It was during this time that I began to think a little differently about the blog and gave myself some grace regarding it. I was a new mom, I had a family and a life that wasn’t happening in a screen. It was okay for me to take this time for ME, my daughters, and my husband.

I can be completely open and share that I was certainly struggling with my “post-baby body” and it was natural not to feel like doing outfits posts. I had to remind myself that it was okay to take a step back from everything, focus on what truly matters in my life. I had found my love of reading again, even joined my local Barnes & Noble Book Club, and was enjoying life with two beautiful daughters and wonderful husband. It is a very freeing feeling when you decide to give yourself time and understanding, rather than beat yourself up over somethings that are out of your control. It is okay to allow yourself space, to not feel like you have to try to do it all. 

It may have taken awhile, and I still have a long way to go, but at least I am starting to navigate this new area of life, of understanding and patience for myself. No one can do it all, not even me. 

MIA – Week Two

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read Week One, I appreciate the support!

Week Two

Our daughter made her arrival toward the end of July 2017, and I am pretty sure we spent those first 48 hours in the hospital just staring happily at her. The day it was time to go home, I held her in my arms and cried on my husband’s shoulder. “She’s ours, she’s really ours, and we get to take her home.” I was so happy my heart burst open; it was the best feeling could have after all we had gone through. All of that waiting, those months of hoping we’d find out we were expecting, only to find out we weren’t, lead us to this wonderful amazing day, she was here, she was ours, we were going home.

My parents had come in from Oregon to help with our oldest daughter, and for a bit after we got home. Having them here for two weeks was so wonderful. They took Riley on great adventures, cooked meals, snuggled baby Tenley, and helped however they could. My husband also took that time off from work. He popped into the office from time to time, but otherwise he was home. Riley was at the end of her summer break, so my house was full of company and happiness. I felt like I was always surrounded by love.

Then it seemed as if I had the rug pulled out from under me. The two weeks was up. My parents had to go back to Oregon, my husband had to go back to work, and two days later our oldest started school started. After having two weeks of support and love all around, suddenly, I was alone, with a newborn.

Of course I knew it was going to be an adjustment. Adding a newborn always is as such. I now had to plan out our day to be ready to get Riley from school in the afternoons, amongst other things, all around feedings and numerous baby naps. I wasn’t going to figure it out day one, I knew that. What I didn’t see (or feel) at first, was slowly creeping in.

I was bummed out my parents had to go home, of course, I missed them and had days where I felt sad; but that wasn’t all that was going on. Everything soon began to feel like the biggest task. I felt heavy, and as if I couldn’t smile. About one month in to having a newborn, the Postpartum Depression had arrived. When I say nearly everything was hard, I mean it. Caring for Tenley seemed to be the only thing I could do.

Sometimes it comes in like a flood, other times it slowly rises and you can’t even fully tell it is happening. All you know is that something is wrong, off. One day in particular I just couldn’t even feel really anything. I have dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life, however, PPD is a different beast. I did what I could to get through my day, but all I wanted to do was to disappear with my baby.

One evening, I basically did just that. I just couldn’t do anything anymore, even sitting in the living room was too much. My husband was making dinner, our oldest was hanging out in the dining/kitchen area. I had been nursing the baby on the couch and she started to doze off a little. Without saying anything, I just got up off the couch, went upstairs to our bedroom, gently laid her in her Rock N Play Sleeper (best thing ever for newborns), and just laid on my bed feeling numb.

The picture above was taken during that moment. She held my finger for a bit and that was everything to me, that seemed to be the only thing I could feel. My husband and oldest daughter hadn’t even noticed we had left the living room. After a little time had past, my husband came in and just held me for a little bit. I was so thankful that I didn’t need to say the words, he just knew. He left the baby and I to just be for a little while, until I felt ready to go back downstairs. That’s finally when I was able to release a little of my numbness, and I cried. The kind of cry where you make no noise and your tears just fall and fall.

Postpartum Depression is different for everyone who experiences it. Thankfully with the help of my therapist, and support from my husband, I was able to get through it. It took time, patience, and giving myself some grace. There was a lot of other things I dealt with during this time, and I honestly just don’t want to get into it all. Postpartum Depression is a highly personal journey, and I just hope that by sharing a little piece of mine, it helps another woman be able to find a way through hers.

If you are struggling with Postpartum Depression, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, I encourage you to find the help you need. Talk to your partner/spouse, a trusted family member or friend; find a good therapist. Remember that there is nothing wrong with you, and there are people to help guide you.

Stay strong, stay beautiful, stay kind.

Leopard On A Mission – Week Three


It’s mission day!! How did the first two weeks go for you? I hope you are finding a little more positivity in your life, while adding some light to other people’s lives.

This week’s mission is easy, write at least one letter. Not an email or text, but an actual letter. Bonus points if you write multiple letters! Thank a friend for the help they gave you, say hello to a Grandparent, tell a family member you love them.

Mail it, or hand deliver! Think of the recipient’s face when they receive such a heartfelt message.

I can’t wait to hear how this week goes, don’t forget to use the hashtag: #LeopardOnAMission on social media so others can see the kindness you are spreading!

Family Activities to Bring You All Closer Together


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As a parent, it is your responsibility not only to take good care of your kids, but to ensure that you spend lots of time with them building a strong bond that will ensure that, should your kids be dealing with any serious issues, they will feel confident that they can talk to you about anything. One of the easiest ways to do this is by scheduling regular family activities, where you can all have fun together while laughing, playing and talking.

Here are some of the best family activities to bring your family closer together:

Family Dinner

If you can’t have a family dinner around the table every night, and this can be difficult if you or your spouse work long hours and the kids are enrolled in extracurricular activities, at least schedule a couple of nights when you can get around the table each week.

When you’re all enjoying a home cooked meal around the table, it’s the perfect opportunity to ask the kids about their day, hash out any problems and generally just enjoy some pleasant time together. Families who eat dinner together often, tend to be happier and closer than those who do not, so make a real effort to incorporate this into your life.

TV Time

You might be wondering what I’ve included Tv time on the list. Watching TV often gets a bad wrap. Some people will say that it causes families to become more distant, and less inclined to talk to each other, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have decent cable and on-demand services from Optimum, for example, you can pick out a couple of shows that have family appeal and which feature a range of issues you might want to broach with the kids. For example, if you want to talk about mental health and suicide with your teenager, sitting down to watch 13 Reasons Why together could be a good way to broach the subject. The key is to limit TV time and encourage the watching of shows to be a family thing, not a solitary pursuit.

Organize a Camping Trip

Spending some time in the Great Outdoors as a family is undoubtedly one of the best ways to do some serious family bonding. For a period of time, you’re taken away from your normal lives and the myriad gadgets that keep you from spending quality time together, which means you have to entertain yourselves. You can do this by swapping family stories, telling tall tales and asking your kids about their aspirations. It’s sure to be a very illuminating time that will give them memories to treasure forever.

Have a Games Night

Game nights might seem a little quaint in the internet age, but there’s nothing quite like gathering around the dinner table to play a game of Monopoly or Settlers of Catan to bring the whole family together for some wholesome fun. If you struggle to convince the kids, there are no reasons why you can’t throw some console games into the mix, just prepare to be thrashed!

Library Trips


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Encouraging your kids to read more will only ever be to their benefit, and enjoying trips to the library together is a great way for the whole family to bond. You can discuss books you loved and hated, read favorite passages to each other, and as with Tv watching, you can use books to bring up those topics that might otherwise be awkward to discuss.

Home Movies

Investing in a video camera is a great way to get closer as a family. Not only will you be able to document all of the important milestones in family life, but you can encourage the kids to talk to grandma and grandpa about their life experiences, on film, bringing them closer together and fostering a greater appreciation for the extended family. You’ll all have lots of fun watching the videos back too.

Volunteer Together

Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, and something that all children should be encouraged to do. If they have a particular passion, whether it’s for rescue animals or the environment, see if there’s a local related non-profit that you could volunteer for as a family. They’ll appreciate the effort you’re making to know more about their passions, and even more that you’re willing to help.

Learn Together

In a similar vein, if your children are interested in learning a new hobby, such as karate, knitting or painting, instead of simply paying for them to have classes, why not go along too? Having at least one interest in common will definitely make it easier for you to relate to each other and you’ll probably increase your cool parent rating by at least 30 points if you show a genuine interest in doing something your kids love.

Start a Tradition

Your family probably had a few traditions, like baking cookies every Saturday or going out for dinner with your grandparents on the last Sunday of the month. Why not start a new tradition just for your family; something that you’ll all enjoy now and which you’ll look back on with fondness in years to come. It can be something simple like a family walk through the park after Sunday brunch; it doesn’t matter as long as it brings as many members of the family together as possible.

Random Acts of Kindness


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Random acts of kindness are a great way to enjoy family time together because, not only do you get to spend some quality time as a family, but you teach your kids about the importance of sharing, being kind and looking after your fellow man. Acts of kindness can be as simple as helping an elderly person cross the road, or something a bit more involved like crafting cards and gifts to be given anonymously to neighbors.

Whether you spend your time playing, laughing or eating together,  what really matters is that you are taking the time and effort to actually do things together. Spending quality time together as a family is the best possible thing you can do for their children to give them a happy childhood now and a bright future.





Are You Taking Enough Breaks From Your Kids?

Any parent will laugh at you when you suggest the idea of them having time away from their kids. They’ll tell you that they don’t have the time, and even if they did, they wouldn’t want to abandon them. But they’re probably doing themselves more harm than good by having this attitude. It’s important for parents to have time away from their kids for a lot of reasons. It’s better for their relationship with each other, as well as their relationship with the kids. If you aren’t spending time alone, these are the reasons that you should be.

 

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Stress

Stress is a central part of every parent’s life. You aren’t going to escape it, but you can help to negate the effects by having a bit of time away from the hustle and bustle of family life. Why not go for a relaxing deep tissue massage to de stress, or meet with a friend for coffee. Whatever it is that you do to relax, taking this time away from the kids and regrouping will stop you from burning yourself out. When you return to them afterwards you’ll be revitalized and you’ll be able to enjoy your time with them more because you won’t feel like you’re being overloaded.

Identity

It’s important for your children’s development that they see you as a person in your own right. You’re always going to be their parent before anything else, but they need to see you expressing your own personality or identity so that when they grow up, they understand it’s ok for them to do the same. Seeing you going out to do things that you enjoy will encourage them to do the same and help them to start forming their own identity.

Give Them Space

People always think that taking a break from your kids is all about you, but the truth is, they need it as much as you do. Kids don’t want to spend every waking moment with you otherwise they’ll be completely defined by you. Without time to be independent, they’ll never learn to do things for themselves and they won’t be able to develop a personality separate from you. They’re also going to move out permanently at some point so if you’ve not got used to being an individual without them, that transition is going to be incredibly hard for both of you.

Think For Yourself

When you’re a parent, most of the things that you think about are related to the kids. Who needs picking up from where? What are you having for dinner? You barely get a chance to think about anything for yourself. That’s not healthy for anybody so getting some time away to think about the things that you used to think about before you were a parent is always a positive.

Leaving your kids for a while doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning them. It will give you both a much needed rest and strengthen the bond between you, so don’t be afraid to look after yourself and take a bit of time for yourself every once in awhile. 

Why Your Family Should be Cycling


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It can sometimes be difficult to find healthy and active ways to spend time together as a family. To get all the family together for a day to do something that everyone enjoys. However being active together as a family is one of the most important things that we can do in life. So today we are focusing on the top reasons that all families should be spending more time together on their bikes, out in the fresh air, enjoying some good old fashioned family time.

 

Kids Love It

 

Kids absolutely love cycling. It gives them a sense of freedom and as it is fast and fun they feel like it gives them a certain sense of independence. That doesn’t mean however that it is not an activity that they don’t also enjoy with their parents. Quite the contrary. Family cycling trips are an incredibly bonding hobby and can really help to make families feel connected.

 

Whether you, as a parent, haven’t ridden a bike for years or whether you are a keen cyclist this could be just the exercise that you are looking for to bring your family together and enjoy the great outdoors. If you don’t have any adult bikes, then you will want to spend a bit of time online researching the best bikes for what you are looking for. Hybrid bicycles are a good all round bike as they offer versatility from commuting around urban areas and also are great for tackling harder terrain in countryside areas also. So put in a little time to find the best kind of models for you and your family.

 

Cycling with Toddlers

 

Cycling with toddlers can seem a little intimidating however it is much easier to cycle around with young children than you think. There are a huge range of bike seats and trailers to put young children in and then as they get older you can then get them into a ‘tag-along’ bicycle and then eventually get them a bike of their own.

 

Cycling with toddlers and young children is a great sport for parents, especially mothers. It has been found to boost positive frame of mind and can also relieve stress. Babies love the feeling of riding around in the fresh air and it offers a fantastic opportunity to deepen your bond with your baby. It is a free way to get about which is of course is a big bonus and it also allows you to be actively introducing healthy activities into your children’s life from a very early age.

 

Older Children

 

As children get a little bit older they will certainly want to start pedalling for themselves and this can be one of the most wonderful times in a family. Teaching your child how to ride their very own bike is an exciting time for both children and adults. Children on bicycles are much more likely to get their minimum of 60 minutes a day of physical activity, which means you are promoting the best health in your children.

 

It has actually been proven that children who walk and cycle to school are actually more alert and open to processing information than children who have been driven to school. So getting your children cycling and cycling together as a family is not only a really fun family activity it is also a really important hobby for the health, development and happiness of your kids.

 

#WCW/Lady Leopard – To My Mom

We have all seen the #WCW posts on social media, and I have decided to take a much more positive approach with it. 

Throughout 2016 you will see me feature various women who are inspiring, motivational, and act as great role models to other women.

These women will be family, friends, or well known women I find to be a true beauty of the world. These women will be also be tagged as a “Lady Leopard”, creating a force of incredible woman all over the world.

  

My First Lady Leopard is my mom, Heidi.

I could probably go on and practically write a book on all of the awesome things this woman has done. (Besides raising three fabulous girls!) I will focus on the most recent of her accomplishments and spare you hours of reading.

For the last 17 years my mom has worked as a CMA for an Orthopedic Surgeon.  A little over two years ago, they stepped their schedule back to around part time. It was at this time that my mom decided to hit the books and start a new career. 

She remained working with this wonderful Doctor, and during her days off studied hard and successfully received her Real Estate License. After this she joined an amazing real estate office and was welcomed with open arms. 

Since then she worked hard at two jobs, continuing to grow her real estate business, and help her Doctor treat patients. 

She also remained an awesome wife to my Dad, and still laughed through his funny antics. (And kept her own sense of humor, I might add. Please don’t be mad about the pic mom, it’s too funny!)

   
 

 
 

She is an amazing Grammy to all her granddaughters, and is still there for her daughters wherever we need.

 
  
 
  

After 17 years, and an amazing work relationship with this Doctor, the time has come for him to retire. The time has also come, for my mom to fully follow her new her career path.

Tomorrow, she and her Doctor will take their last walk through the office. She will wake up in 2016 able to focus all of her attention on her new dream. She will no longer work two jobs, or “wear two hats”, she will be a Real Estate Agent. 

My mom is a great example of the C. S. Lewis quote:

  

I hope that my mom inspires you to fight for your dreams and reach your goals. Thank you mom, for being a Lady Leopard. 

For the Stay at Home Moms 

There I was in the checkout line at Target today, (I know, it’s my favorite store!) when I had quite an unsettling experience. 

I’ll set the scene for you; it’s the Monday before Halloween, around lunch time. The store is apt to be a little busier during this time of day and time of year. I know I was getting the supplies I needed for our Halloween party, and saw others with such items as well. 

I was unloading my cart, having let a lady with one item step in front of me, when what to my listening ears should I hear? But a condescending woman, speaking quiet clear.

“So busy!! All these ‘little’ stay at home ‘mommies’.”

  
My head snapped up so fast you would have thought someone yelled, “Chris Evans is here and shirtless!” 

Sadly no, that is not what was said. Captain America was not there to save the day. Neither were any of the Avengers. (Although I think Black Widow would have been on this woman before I got my head up.)

  
I’ll go ahead and take a little “guess” myself (since this lady decided to make such a knee-jerk choice to assume everyone there was a “lowly, lame, sad, Stay at Home Mom*”) that she doesn’t have kids. 

*SAHM through the rest of the article. (And no, we are NONE of those things.)

I’ll go ahead and also assume she has NO idea how hard we actually work. Yes, I am a SAHM. A PROUD one! 

She should not just run around assuming because a business is a tad busy at a LUNCH HOUR, that everyone is a “little stay at home mommy”. 

Maybe these women, we’ll say they were all mothers just for the purpose of my rant, are on their lunch break? Running to Target to get a few things for their child’s costume, grabbing the snack needed for the class party, or getting bags of candy for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters, instead of eating lunch. 

(And because they know that Target will have what they need, they always do! I love you, Target!)

So what if all of us were SAHM?! What? Are you better than us and don’t have to wait in a short line?! We are all waiting, learn some patience! (And trust me, you aren’t better than us, certainly not with that “little” tone.)

She probably has no idea how hard a SAHM actually works. I run my website and all of my own social media accounts for it, take care of our child and household, while supporting and being present in my Husband’s job.  That’s like three full time jobs, I have no helper or assistant, and yet I’m patient enough to stand in line and be polite.

Some SAHM’s run successful in-home businesses. Some run successful craft businesses. Some work part time out of the home. Some work evening/night shifts to be with their kid(s) during the day. Some are also students and are working toward a degree. A lot of us volunteer at our child’s school, with charities/non-profits, at churches, and in the community. 

All while keeping the child(ren) taken care of, errands ran, house kept, schedules organized, etc.

Do you want to try? No. I don’t think you do. 

  
Being a Mom means no days off. No vacation, no sick days. You are on 24/7, everyday of the year. I joke with my husband anytime we travel with our sweet tiny human, it is a “business trip”.  

Potty needs or bad dream at 3am? Yep, Mom is awake.

Sick at school? Mom is on the way.

Class party? Mom will help plan it. 

Also, SAHM’s are smart. Many have degrees or left careers because their children were more important. We have brains, and thoughts, like any normal adult! We can have conversations, and even vote! (I know! “Say it isn’t so?!”)

  

Does it sound like we just sit with our feet up on the couch all day, “watching our stories”? No? 

We work our tails off during the day and still have a dinner ready on time.

  
(Me too, Beverly. Me too.)  

So please, before you run around judging someone because they chose to put their child first, know that we sleep a little better at night knowing our families are cared for, our households are (mostly) in order, and we work harder than you.

  

PS – This is also why wine and chocolate exist. They are really made for us, but we’re nice, and know how to share. #YoureWelcome