The Military Brat’s “Virgin” Move…

So anyone who knows me knows I have moved my entire life. Born in Maine, bounced around the US, then Europe (Azores, Spain, Germany), Korea, then back Stateside, the longest I had lived anywhere was 5 years. Then, I met and married an “airline” guy – and anyone who knows what that is like knows that moving is part of the deal. So…after meeting in Texas, there was a move to New York, then back to Texas, then after 9/11 back to the Northeast…this time Boston.

My point? I have moved…a lot…a whole lot! So much so that I can’t stand it when people ask where I am from, because there really is no good answer. Family from Ohio, but aside from a 6 month stint following college, I have never lived there.

So, having set that background, I’ll fill you in on the latest happenings in the Grant household. It won’t be a surprise. We are moving again. Only this time, it’s different. How, you might ask? Well, before, it was just me, as a kid, with my sisters and brother, and my parents doing all the work. I had no responsibility whatsoever. Then, as a grown up, it was my responsibility, but it was just hubby and me…embarking on a new adventure.

This time is different.

We have the Littles.

They were born here.

They know no other home.

There toys are here…their beds are here…this is their home. The only home they’ve ever known.

And this, my friends, is why this is different. This is why, it will be our “virgin” move. A move with kids.

I hope you’ll join us on this journey across the country…much more to come!

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Clearing the mind for inspiration…

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but it’s not for lack of time or desire – it’s honestly because lately I’ve just felt, well, uninspired! You know, that feeling of just being in a repetitive, boring old routine, day in and day out? Truthfully, I have nothing to complain about – I have an amazing family, incredible friends, a beautiful home, great career, good health, and so on. God is good!

But sometimes change is good too! Before we had the Littles, I used to enjoy home decor and home improvement. It was a great creative outlet for me, with inspiration for design coming from any number of places, and when a project was completed, the result was inspiring too! Everything about the process was fun – from the mental visualization of a room, to the shopping for the perfect decor, paint color, place setting, or curtain fabric – even the hard work involved in the actual “doing” was uplifting! And anyone who knows me well knows that once I start a project, I need it to be done quickly – so I would spend mornings ’till late nights working on it until there was something tangible to see. That was back when it seemed like I had all the time in the world!

My job/career is similar. The position I am in has reached a maturity after 12+ years such that finding inspiration can be difficult. Sure, it’s busy, but busy doesn’t necessarily equal “inspiring!” I am a problem-solver! A creative idea generator! Obviously, no one would wish real problems on themselves at work, but boy, when I can solve a problem and help people, that’s inspiring!

I do realize, that inspiration needs to come from within. So I need to find some inspiration myself – just me – workin’ my little ol’ brain and looking inside myself – and pulling something out that is not necessarily a big deal to most people, but that will make a big difference to me. Change is good! So am I telling myself I need to redecorate/remodel my house or find a new job? I don’t think so…BUT, ridding our house and my office of some of the clutter may clear my mind and make room for other inspiring changes to come!

Looks like weekend clutter cleanup is in order! Stay tuned! You never know what inspiration will come out of that!

What have YOU inspired lately?

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Life is like a whack-a-mole game! Gotta get ’em one at a time!

The past several months have been interesting times, to say the least. I am not complaining, because honestly, I really have nothing “real” I could possibly complain about! However, for those of you who have been following my posts and remember the one about “simplifying,” I’d love to know if that really is possible! It does seem that just when you make one decision to simplify a particular thing, something else just pops up to take its place. If you’re not careful, these little pop-ups can wreak havoc on your resolve to simplify!

Thankfully, my resolve is intact! I will not give in to chaos! Just have to take things one day at a time and smash those little pop-ups like they are the moles in a whack-a-mole game! So the past several months have gone something like this:

1. Move Littles to new school, much closer to home to cut down on the endless driving. Check!

2. Purge closets and basement of clutter and excess. Check!

3. Sit down with husband and make a 5-year plan for where we want to be financially, etc. Check!

Progress, right? Simplification? Yes!

So what is the latest “mole” to pop-up? Hormones! Yes, I do believe that’s it. At 44 years old, I have felt pretty good, despite the mommy-tired feeling that I think exists always with young children, and have, up until now, been able to just watch my calories for a few days to a week to get any stubborn pounds off that creep on from time to time. But about 5 months ago, I went in for a procedure to have my tubes tied, and that’s when things started to get a bit hairy. The Doctor said, “you still have your ovaries, so this really should affect your hormones,” and I was relieved to hear that!

Oh, boy, was she wrong! Despite my normal calorie counting, which had always worked in the past, 12-15 pounds creeped on, or should I say just drove up in a moving semi and set up “house” in my belly area! Feeling like a bloated, beached whale, I became desperate to find out what in the world was going on! That’s when a friend suggested I may be “peri-menopausal.” Huh? But that doesn’t happen until you’re like…50 or something….right?

Wrong. I started reading online. Dr. Google, as my husband likes to call it, shed some light on what exactly peri-menopause is, when it starts and what the symptoms are. I have read more stuff about peri-menopause, estrogen dominance, progesterone cream, synthetic hormone replacement, “PTLS (post-tubal ligation syndrome) – yes, there is one – and on and on, than I ever cared to. But the truth is, I…am…there. Damn that little perimenopause whack-a-mole!

So ladies…if you are my age and experiencing the same thing, read up! I am now using some natural progesterone cream to balance out my hormone levels AND on a 30-day whole system cleanse to help take care of my new fatty residents, and it’s working! Down 5 pounds in a week – at least it’s finally going in the right direction! So maybe this little mole is sufficiently whacked. What will be next, I wonder?

Are you experiencing the same thing? Let’s commiserate!

**Disclaimer – Google is really not a doctor (duh!) and neither am I, so I recommend you also discuss your symptoms with your physician. Perimenopause_doctors_Chicago_0

Every girl has an inner Princess!

I admit I am one of those moms. It’s official. Yes, the one who feels so bad that her girls have an early January birthday (translation: post-Christmas, cold, snowy, sucky time for a birthday), that she agrees to throw them a half birthday party in the summer. So there it is…the 5 1/2 birthday party…Princess themed, of course! And in true mommy fashion, I completely overdid it. I’m writing this on Monday morning (the party was Saturday) – through bleary-eyes, wondering why I am so physically exhausted. But then it comes to me. I am exhausted because I wanted them to have the best Princess party ever, and went so crazy with it that even I was sitting eagerly with the “real” Princess Aurora to get my face painted!

I must say, though, I truly believe every girl has an inner Princess just waiting to come out, and by the looks of them, they all came out at this party! Sparkles and princess gowns were everywhere, and they sang, danced, laughed, limbo’d and twirled right along with Aurora – it was a sight to behold! I think I reverted back to being five myself, except that I got to drink Sangria, while all the pint-sized princesses had to settle for Shirley Temples!

There was Princess food, a Princess pinata, a Princess bounce-house, Princess face-painting and balloon animals, balloons galore and more! It was a day I hope and pray my girls remember forever. I know it’s a day I’ll remember forever for sure! There is nothing like the feeling of watching their sweet little faces light up with wonder or giggle uncontrollably at the Princess while she worked her magic throughout the room. Even the boys were enamored! It’s magical!

Yes…one of those mommies…who just loves them more than anything in the entire world! Enjoy some of the photos from this special day! And if you happen to be in the market for a Princess Aurora (or others), check out Urban Circus Events – they did not disappoint! www.UrbanCircusEvents.com

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The blessing of a lifetime…

Anyone who knows me knows that my Littles are my life – and while I’m sure there isn’t a parent out there that doesn’t feel the same, I truly don’t remember life without them, nor could I imagine it. Getting them here did not come easy, though. My husband and I routinely joke that we spent our entire young adulthood trying NOT to get pregnant, then when we wanted to, we couldn’t. Anyone who has struggled with infertility knows the frustration of the “routine” – you know, that one in which you use every drugstore test, calendar and the like to pinpoint the exact timing of ovulation, followed by the demand for hubby to “produce” NOW – only to find out those couple of weeks later that for another month, it didn’t work. No baby. While it seems comical at times (imagine notes left on the counter telling him to wake me up upon his return after midnight from a long day of travel), it really is a roller-coaster ride. The ups and downs can be crushing, and can cause stress in any relationship, as you spend too much time trying to figure out what’s wrong, why it’s not working, and who is to blame.

Most fertility centers will not even consider seeing you for treatment until you have been trying for at least a year with no success. So that year passes slowly as patience wears thin. For many, formal medical treatment is not even an option, mainly because of the incredible financial implications. In our case, we were lucky. We were lucky enough to live and work in a State that mandates coverage for fertility treatments in fully-insured medical plans, so we saw very little financial impact of treatment. For others, the costs are simply not feasible, leading to an even greater feeling of helplessness.

For those who do have insurance or the financial means, there is still the chance that treatment may not work – and this can be devastating to couples who want nothing more than to grow their family. I can’t even imagine the grief that must accompany multiple treatment attempts that fail. It must be like experiencing the death of a loved one each and every time. In our case, again, we were lucky. Despite being told that we had a very slim chance of conceiving without IVF ICSI (sperm injection into eggs), we conceived the very first time with an IUI (intrauterine insemination, or what I like to call “the turkey baster method).

10 months later, Colton was born and changed my life forever. When he was about 9 months old, we returned for another attempt with an IUI, and lo-and-behold, our twin girls, Lauren and Taylor, were conceived. We were overjoyed then, and have been every day since. I consider us blessed beyond belief, and have made a promise to myself to help others in our situation to experience that same joy.

Until I have the financial means to launch our own foundation to help others, I plan to support a charity called the Cade Foundation, and encourage anyone who knows the joy of children to do the same. As as a special fundraising opportunity, I am committing all profits from sales on my website from now through the month of August to the Cade Foundation. I welcome you to visit the site and “shop” – or donate directly to the Cade Foundation on their website (below). If you have been blessed with children, enjoy every minute. If you are struggling to conceive, I encourage you to reach out to the Foundation so that they may consider your request for aid with treatment.

God Bless!

https://stephaniegrant.myrandf.com (my website)

http://www.cadefoundation.org/  (The Cade Foundation)

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Somebody SAVE me! (A tribute to the trauma of personal hygiene)

So you all know I have 3 Littles – a BOY and twin girls. And somewhere along the way, I suppose I will admit to pre-conceived ideas about how each of them would behave. For example, my BOY would be sweet, but rough and tumble, liking to get dirty and would absolutely inherit his Daddy’s love of baseball and other sports, and my girls would be Princess-loving, dainty little girly-girls that wore nothing but pink ruffles. Yes, I am one of those girly girls myself!

I could not have been more wrong! And don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE how each of them is turning out. Each in their own way, they are witty, precocious, independent and dependent, adventurous and clingy, headstrong, creative and so lovable! Amazingly, only one of my girls, Taylor, is that girly girl – and boy is she ever! She changes her clothes at least 6 times a day, all pink and sparkly, and 3 of those changes are usually into a Princess dress. She is physically athletic and fearless, though – probably the most athletic of the three of them, and has already experienced a broken wrist from her shenanigans. Lauren on the other hand, could not care less about what she is wearing, as long as it’s comfortable, and loves to chase her brother around doing whatever it is he’s doing. She is headstrong, very literal in her communications, and always one step ahead of us in her planning! She is fiercly independent and a Daddy’s girl, but is also the clutziest kid I know! We always joke that she can fall down while standing still.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because of my BOY! Colton is the sweetest, soft-hearted little boy I have ever known, and very much a Momma’s boy (which I love, of course). But my assumption that he would grow into the stereotypical “boy” has been completely disproven. As you also know, he just turned 7 – and I have enjoyed watching him grow into the handsome little guy that he is. But he has never been that rough-and-tumble, dirt-loving, bring in the bugs kind of kid (at some level I am SO grateful for that)! He is gentle and passive, quiet and shy, introverted and focused – and completely wimpy! And I say that in the most loving way – really!

BUT – what got me posting today is the experience of cutting his fingernails and toenails. Talk about a wimpy kid! If I even broach the subject with him, he literally runs and hides, whimpering in his room or wherever he thinks he can get away and avoid the whole ordeal. Meanwhile, my husband and I are thinking they are so long he could climb telephone poles with them! So then comes the wrestling match – the body block while I put a vice-grip hold on his hand (not really, but I do have to hold really tight), and attempting to cut his nails while he pulls, tugs, yanks and otherwise tries to wrestle free – all the while screaming bloody murder, “somebody saaaaaaaaaave meeeeee!” in the loudest wail I may have ever heard.

My girls – not a problem – cut them, paint them, it’s all good. My boy, not so much. The whole experience is traumatic – not only for him, but for me! It takes me hours and two glasses of Cabernet to stop that jittery, shaken feeling that follows such an experience. Next time, I think I’m going to give him the clippers and empower him to take care of it himself. Does anyone else have this experience? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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What to do when you have nothing to do? Simplify…

Wow…I can not even believe it, but…I have absolutely NOTHING planned for this weekend! When does that ever happen? Never! I am now in a quandary – what to do? Of course, in Living the Littles world, there is always activity – 3 young ones make that a simple fact. And then there’s the laundry, chores, grocery shopping…the normal stuff. But with no appointments, dinner or party plans, deadlines, I am feeling a little strange! Lost, even!

Why is it we feel the need to fill up our days with extracurricular activities? Have we completely evolved out of the need to just have a lazy, relaxing day? If we have, I think we all need to rethink what we’re doing before we run ourselves straight into the ground! I see it all the time, day after day. Parents running (or really driving) around, rushing from activity to activity, trying desperately to keep it all together while they manage school, kids’ activities, a career, a marriage, a household – honestly, it’s just too much!

For the past month or so, I have been in simplification mode. I have moved the Littles to a school much closer to the house to cut down on all the driving, I have purged dresser drawers and closets of the excesses of clothes they have grown out of, and even simplified some of our home decor to minimize the clutter. All that excess and drive can make you lose sight of what is simple and good in life, like the sheer act of snuggling quietly with a little one and having a long, personal chat, or feeling your shoulder muscles relax while you stop and breathe deeply for a few minutes, or having a quiet moment with God to say “thank you” for all His blessings in life.

So despite my brain’s running list of things I could get done this weekend, I think this once, I will dedicate one whole weekend day to simply soak in life – a little sun, a lot of fun with my precious Littles, a little food, a lot of family. Blessings. And no one else. Simple. Beautiful.

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Foodie Frenzy!

As I sit here with my measley handful of almonds, in an attempt to trick my tastebuds into thinking they are having “real” food, I can’t help but indulge in a little “foodie following” from a couple of my favorite bloggers. Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to get to that perfect swimsuit and vacation shape and weight, the blogosphere and social media seem to blow up with amazing-looking, easy recipes for everyone to try? Or is it simply that they are always there, but just jump out a little more when I’m attempting to be ultra-disciplined?

Honestly, whether you want to drop a couple pounds, or a whole lot of weight, staying on track has become increasingly difficult if one is on social media as much as I am! Before all this constant communication, one could just try to fight through the hour of the Phantom Gourmet TV show (always perfectly time-slotted just before lunch), or just turn the TV off and go clean the house or something!

Oh, well…I guess the only saving grace is that in Living the Littles world, I don’t have a lot of time for cooking things that my Littles won’t eat anyway, so I just indulge in a little (hopefully) healthy snacking and a glass of red wine. Not nearly as good as something gooey and cheesy, but I’ll just feast my eyes instead and avoid the extra calories.

Here are a couple of my favorite bloggers on the foodie front:

http://www.laurenslatest.com/

Not only is she and her family adorable, she posts the most amazing looking goodies and simple meals! She also has great giveaways from time to time (I have yet to win one, but that won’t stop me from trying)!

Here is another:

http://damndelicious.net/

Fresh ingredients, nothing crazy – stuff you can actually DO that look and taste incredible! Also some great copies of restaurant recipes from the likes of PF Changs and the Cheesecake Factory! Mmmmmmmm!

So feast your eyes with me, and post if you actually try some of these – my tastebuds would love to know which are your faves!

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Gettin’ “bit” by the Fitbit!

I have a confession to make. Here it goes. Out loud and written down. I…do…not…like…to…exercise! Whew! There it is! It’s out! The horror! Especially in this world in which we tend to be hyper-focused on fitness and looking good, and of course, fitting into our incredibly fashionable new summer capris and tops that show just a little bit more when the weather is nice! But it’s true – when given the choice between lounging with a nice glass of Cabernet OR a sweaty trip to the gym, I’ll choose the Cab any day of the week/year/decade! Having said that, I do still need to fit into those capris, so any little bit of motivation helps. So the order has gone in for the hot pink (yes!) Fitbit Flex Band – the one that syncs with the iPhone AND the My Fitness Pal app AND also monitors sleep patterns. Sounds really cool, huh? Of course, the hot pink is on backorder, so I have a couple of weeks to lounge with my Cabernet before committing to 10,000 steps per day or whatever other torturous activity will be required to beat the day before – Salut! Motivating? Or another gimmick designed to remind me that I’m not doing enough? Join the conversation! fitbit