What is beauty?

As a young girl, beauty was a way to describe the world around. Flowers, trees, butterflies…they were all beautiful. But people? That was different.

I grew up believing that to be beautiful was to be thin. Anything bigger than a size 8 was ugly, bad, gross.

My mom certainly didn’t push this idea on me. So where did it come from? Books, magazines, doctors, family, friends, classmates…

You get where this is going?

I’m not thin. I’ve never even been close. Growing up, I was always the fat girl. I may not have been the biggest, but I sure felt like it. I was constantly made fun of, bullied, traumatized. Clothes never looked good…in fact, it was horrible shopping for anything.

I was on diet after diet from middle school on. And nothing worked. I’d lose a few pounds, but then gain way more back. In an effort to be beautiful, I starved myself. To attempt to fit in, I exercised myself into exhaustion.

I feel (sometimes) like finding someone who loves me for who I am was a complete fluke. As if I don’t deserve love because I’m a size measured in double digits.

I know (logically) that beauty isn’t measured by your dress size, or by the way you wear your hair, or by the clothes you wear. I don’t judge others for how they look…so why do I find it so difficult for me to feel beautiful?

Honestly, I feel frumpy. Disgusting. FAT.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and should be proud of that fact. Or that I’ve had 3 children and it’s going to take a while to get my body back. I feel like whenever I go out, all eyes are on me and judging my decisions. Like I shouldn’t be eating out or shopping for new clothes.

“Geez, did you see what she ate? Have a salad you cow”

Are people actually thinking these thoughts? I HIGHLY doubt it. And I definitely DON’T think like that when I see other people. Why is this so engrained in how I think of myself?

My definition of beauty needs to be amended. Maybe I don’t think I’m beautiful when I wear a dress, but my kids think I am. Maybe I feel frumpy when I wear an outfit that looks cute, but my friends think it looks great on me. Maybe I need to stop judging myself and listen to others.

But it’s difficult to reprogram 30 years of thinking.

“You have a pretty face, but you would be beautiful if you lost “x” amount of weight” ~ said by a doctor.

I’m healthy. I work out anywhere from 5 to 15 hours a week (depending on our activity levels). I eat pretty well. I don’t smell, I’m not a drain on society. But I just can’t feel good about myself because I’m constantly being told that fat is, in fact, NOT beautiful.

It’s all me. All in my head.

“Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are.”

If only I could be comfortable being me. If only I could accept that God made me this way. If only I could feel like I’m enough. If only I could feel truly beautiful for once.

If only.

 

I am woman

It’s funny how when I finally decide to dust the blog off, topics just keep presenting themselves to write about!

I had an incident occur on Facebook (*sigh*) and originally was going to leave a longer status to update my support network, but decided to take a little time and spend more than 30 seconds on something I felt was more important.

My husband has been traveling quite a bit for work lately, which means I’ve spent more time alone than I have. It takes me a ridiculous amount of time to ask for help. (I’m so horribly stubborn at times.) Going back to the months after Kira was born, I KNOW I need to ask for help more. I KNOW I can’t do it on my own. So when I ask for help (even for something small), it’s not a small feat.

It was a stupid status that started it all…me asking if anyone wanted to join me and the girls to attend a princess party at a local restaurant. And, truth be told, I didn’t expect anyone to take me up on it (we opted not to go and are attending another function this weekend instead). But a comment was made that just really, really struck me.

“If you are the type of mom and women you claim to be you take them yourself”

Yeah.

Now, I know the person that posted this is having some serious difficulties at the time. I know she needs prayers and help. But I also know that she said that with the intent to hurt.

And you know what? It did.

What she didn’t know was what was going on in my head. How difficult it’s been for me lately, how out of control I’ve been feeling.

I’ve been feeling like the worst parent in the world. I yell too much, my house is a disaster, my child told me that she never wanted to go home again this past weekend, and getting a decent meal on the table has been a struggle.

And yet…my kids are safe, happy, well-fed, socialized (ugh). I must be doing something right.

But for that. For me to have my worst fears just written out there by someone who really has no idea.

“If you were the type of mom and woman you claim to be…”

That stings.

I’m not perfect, not better than anyone else out there, and I’ve NEVER claimed to be. I’m not super woman, not a person that I feel deserves to be admired.

Dave and I have worked hard for the life we have and we’re lucky enough to be in a position where we are seeing the benefits of our hard work. Believe me, we have our struggles though.

No one is perfect.

But to have it thrown out there, to have it shoved in your face…(even by someone who is saying it that you probably should just ignore) oh it sucks.

The good from this has been amazing. I have an AMAZING group of people surrounding me, who are willing to take a stand and help me fight. Women coming out of the Facebook woodwork to tell me that what I’m feeling is unjust.

To all of you, thank you.

Thank you for proving that, even when we feel like the worst parent in the world, we are not and it shows.

Thank you for taking the time to lift someone when they’ve been crushed.

Thank you for showing me that, even though one person is trying to shove me down, I have a much MUCH large group there to lift me up.

May we all be blessed to have the love and support that I’ve experienced.

Why homeschool?

That’s a question we get often. Usually followed by “I could NEVER do that” or “I just LOVE my time alone when the kids are at school!”.

You know what? I daydream of having time to myself and a house that stays clean for more than 2 minutes. I lose my temper more than I should and in no way, can claim to know everything I need to teach my kids.

But I still feel like it’s the best.

Paige (6) is the only one who is currently being homeschooled. (Kira is 3 & Zoe is 6 months, so they have a while) She has NO attention span or impulse control. It’s to the point where I’m debating seeking at actual ADD/ADHD diagnosis just so I can talk to someone about how to help her. If she were to go to school, it’s almost certain that they would want her to go on medicine (which we are against until it becomes an absolute necessity). Or she would be like my brother and labeled a trouble-maker. Like him, she’s a good kid who just has difficulties at time.

Then there’s common core. Ugh, don’t get me started. NCLB, common core, WHATEVER they want to call it is horrible (and yes, I know those are two separate programs, however, they both stink). The federal government needs to stay out of the school systems and let the teachers teach. Sure, there are horrible teachers who don’t deserve a job, but do we need to move in such a direction that the teachers are merely facilitators? What happens to the “good” teachers then? I had some fantastic teachers growing up and there is no way their teaching style would work with the new “guidelines”.

Now, I would very likely drive the girls to school, if they were to go. But the behaviors and attitudes I’ve seen? Yeah, I don’t want my girls around that all day. Believe me, it’s bad enough with them just being together.

Academically, Paige is extremely advanced. Part of why I’d like to get her a diagnosis is to see if she qualifies as gifted. She’s 6 and registered with the state as being in kindergarten. However, she’s in 2nd grade curriculum for Language Arts and History and 3rd grade for Math (other subjects aren’t by grade). She’s been reading chapter books for a good 6 months. And I honestly feel like her two 2nd grade curriculum classes are too easy. Child would be bored out of her mind if we were to put her in a school setting where she had to do what the class was doing. I understand that I could fight to get her into a gifted program or attempt to make sure her teach challenged her, but why deal with that when I can keep her home and tailor her school to her?

The last thing I’ll hit on (because Zoe is melting down and Paige is singing while she does school, which means the level of chaos going on is HIGH), is that our school day is typically over at 12, no later than 1 (unless Paige is really pushing the envelope on how much she wants to test me for the day). They have all afternoon and evening to play, instead of a couple 15 minute recesses and coming home to more homework.

So why do we homeschool? Because at this point, it’s what is best for our children. Because I truly believe that the school systems aren’t doing what they are supposed to for our children.

(Disclaimer – I don’t fault you for sending your children to school. Nor do I believe that everyone can or should homeschool. These are just our personal opinions.)

Starting over

So, it’s been a while. In fact, so long I probably should just start at the beginning.

My name is Kelley. Hi! I’ve been married to Dave since 2006. We’re that young couple that’s still on the floor with the older couples at our friend’s wedding when they do that ridiculous anniversary dance.

I have 3 daughters…apparently, my husband is not allowed to have another male in the house. Well, except the dog, but he’s “special”.

We homeschool our oldest and intend to homeschool the other two as well. Many reasons, but that’s almost another blog post by itself.

I’m a stay at home mom, so it’s not uncommon to find me in my pajamas at 5 in the evening. Hey, they’re comfortable!

I used to do some photography work, but that’s really fallen by the way-side. I’m hoping to get back into it when the girls are older. There are times when I really miss shooting, but then there are times when it’s nice to not feel pressured to be the one photographing whatever event is currently going on.

Our family tends to travel quite a bit and we love it. Just this summer, we spent almost 2 weeks in Utah and a week at Sunset Beach, NC. And in a little over a month, Dave and I will be heading to Europe (work trip for him). This will be my first visit to Europe, so I’m excited. Munich and Oberstaufen (Germany) and Paris. Yep, it’s going to be fun.

My first love has been and will always be music. I play a few instruments (not well, mind you!) and used to play organ for a church. Sad to say, that’s a big reason why I’ve distanced myself from all ministry. I used to have that calling, but now I’m horribly jaded in how the church works. I still love the piano and love singing.

After our 2nd child, I was diagnosed with Post-Partum Depression (PPD). That was a dark period in my life. There are still days when I feel unbalanced or I get angry at every little thing, but I  know that it will always be an on-going battle. For the most part, I’ve been able to go off the anti-depressants.

This is me…well, a small part of me. Here’s to hoping to start doing this a little more often & a larger part of who I am is shown.

What’s In Your Camera Bag?

I had an awesome birthday present this year…which considering I’m entering a new decade, makes COMPLETE sense to me.

Anyway….Dave bought me this:

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Canon 5D Mark ii

Isn’t it pretty?! Oh! And he got me this (it was part of a kit):

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Canon 24-105 f/4L

It has brought back my passion for photography again. I still get crappy photos, but the quality has dramatically increased. Prior to this, I had a 50D with a 28-135 lens. So not like going from a point and shoot to a professional grade camera, but still an upgrade.

I’ve been over-loading my Facebook feed with photos of the girls and am currently working on action shots. Dude…that’s HARD. I’m not talking running or playing…it’s the bubbles and jumping on a trampoline that is testing my abilities and I LOVE it.

So in light of my amazing gift, I’m going to give my loving and awesome husband ideas for the next few years. My wish list of camera gear. (And he’s laughing incredulously at me!)

The very first thing I’ll be buying is a new battery grip and a couple of batteries. I’ll probably get an off-brand, but I’d love to have the Canon version.

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Canon Battery Grip

Next is a new flash. I’ve been working with lighting for just a little while (I’m primarily a natural light photographer) and I’ve seen what a good flash can do. This one would be awesome:

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Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

I have a “cheap” flash that works with the new body, but it’s slow and eats batteries like it’s its job.

Next would be to upgrade my memory cards. I’ve used all kinds (the current 2 I have are SanDisk and Kingston), but I’ve heard great things about the Lexar professional cards.

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Lexar Professional

My current cards can snap about 8 or 10 shots before they slow down considerably and I’d like to beef that up without having to decrease the quality of the photos. Now, if I could get Eye-fi to make a CF card, I’d want that. But alas, I’ve only seen the SDHD cards. (link me if I’m missing something!)

So once I have those…on to glass. This is the seriously not cheap part. I’ve seen the difference between L lenses and lower quality glass and I’m not going back. Sorry babe.

First up would be a good portrait lens. I know quite a few photographers go with an 85 or even a longer lens, but I don’t like to be that far away from my subjects. So this one would be perfect for me:

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Canon 50mm f/1.2

HOWEVER, for over $1000 less, you can get this one (and I’ve heard fantastic things about it):

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Canon 50mm f/1.4

There are some pretty significant difference, but this is one of the only lenses I would be okay with not owning the L version of. I don’t do so much portrait photography that I could get by without the best.

I would also take this one instead of the 50mm, but I don’t see it being a top purchase 😛

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Canon 16-35 f/2.8L

If I could have my absolute most-wanted lens…it would be the following…

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Canon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6L

This lens would be a fantastic walk-around/all-purpose lens, but it costs as much as my camera kit did. And I would love for the f-stop to be lower…I’m actually torn on this one or my last lens

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Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L

I love the lower f-stop, but I’d like to have a little more zoom for those times that I’m photographing sports or really want to get close to the kiddos.

 

SO MANY CHOICES! AAHHHH!

What do you shoot with? I’ve worked with Nikon (I used to want a D2X when I worked in a studio), but I’m a Canon girl through-and-through. Even my point and shoot is a Canon Digital Elph (and it takes fantastic photos for being as tiny as it is!). And if you had unlimited money, what would you get? I know I could drop some SERIOUS money if I had unlimited funds, but I’ve posted stuff I might actually own some day. For what I do, it’s more than sufficient!

Kelley’s Cakes (The 1st Edition)

Have you started planning your child’s birthday, find the cake you want, and then realize that you would have to pay more than what you’re spending on the party JUST FOR A CAKE?!

Yeah, that stinks. So between my mom and myself, we’ve always done the girls’ cakes. I don’t have photos of them all, but here are a few.

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This was for Paige’s Rockin’ 2nd Birthday Party. A guitar cake pan, icing, Rolos, mini-Oreos, and chocolate cut-outs decorated it. It was cute, but the icing was bitter. I’ve since learned how to deal with that, thank goodness!

 

Kira Christening

My mom actually made this cake (where do you think I get my talents?), but I did the flowers. Mini-Oreo’s in the middle were a hit with all of the kiddos.

 

3-D panda panda cup cakes

These were for Kira’s 1st Birthday. She’s our little panda bear, so a panda theme. My cupcakes could totally go for mice, but they were cute. And once Kira got over her screaming fit (very typical of Kira), she loved her panda smash cake!

 

practice gabba cake

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This was my first attempt with fondant. While not professional, it looked so much better and was actually EASIER to decorate than the ones I’ve done with just frosting! Top was a practice cake I made (and then passed off to our neighbor’s to eat) and the bottom are two photos of the actual cake.

Here’s a video via YouTube that shows how to make the fondant. I have started to put in a packet of gelatin and it seems to make it even smoother, but totally your call!

(a tip if you use fondant – steam it before you put icing on it! Makes the fondant shiny and pretty!)

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This next cake is Kira’s. We call her our Care Bear, so I went with it when planning her party. This was the first time I worked with adding something in between the layers and it was fantastic! Top layer was a basic french vanilla with lemon frosting (it tasted like the lemon Girl Scout cookies, I swear!) and the bottom with chocolate cake filled with strawberries and whipped cream. Everyone said it was amazing and we didn’t have much left over.

 

pirate cake

I did this pirate cake for my friend’s two little boys. The sand was brown sugar! Once she put the pirate duckies and figurines on, it was super adorable!

 

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This was probably the most time-consuming because of all of the cut-outs, but I made it for a sweet 16 party. The top was caramel with homemade caramel sauce. middle was french vanilla/lemon, bottom was chocolate with strawberries/whipped cream. I really like how I did the tie-dye ribbons around the base of each of the cakes. One of my favorites!

 

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Tangled! This was for my niece and she loved it. 🙂 Instead of doing strawberries, I caramelized pineapple and filled the top layer with that and whipped cream. Again, amazing. One I’m going to remember to do later.

 

flower cup cakes

They needed 3 different types of cake/icing combos for my niece’s party, so I also did some flower cupcakes. Way easier to decorate than you realize!

 

So you can see…I’ve definitely progressed over time and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so. It’s fun and I love being able to be so creative!

 

~Kelley~

On Bullies

It’s a common problem lately. It’s on the news, the radio, written about on blogs. And yet, it’s still a major problem.

Bullying.

You would think that we would have some time before this becomes a problem in our house. After all, our children are 4 and 2….not exactly ages that invite bullies. Not to mention the fact that we home school Paige. So interactions are limited.

But we recently had a situation that has me still shaking my head.

After Paige has gymnastics class at our local YMCA, I usually tend to let her play with the other children in the “family” gym. You’re not supposed to have children over 6 in there, but it was spring break for many of the local schools, so the rules were being bent. No biggie. I was annoyed by the older boys throwing the blocks at the younger kids, but it wasn’t a huge issue.

Paige found a group of girls and went up to play with them. I sat on the bench…messing around on the iPad (free time! yay!), but was still keeping an eye out for her. Not more than 10 minutes later, she comes up to me crying. Apparently, these girls were being mean to her. My normal response is typically along the lines of “I can’t fight your battles, but here is something you can say to them”.

So I sent her back and started monitoring the situation closer. What I saw was horrible behavior out of these girls. They flat out told her that they didn’t have to listen to her when she requested that they stop what they were doing and then ramped up the intimidating actions. I waited. Watched my child crumple into a sobbing mess as the girls continued. I held my breath, hoping that a parent of one of these children would step up.

No one did.

So I did. I was polite. Asked them to please use nice words and nice actions because how they were acting was really upsetting Paige. I wasn’t mean, they needed to learn that how they treat other girls really does matter.

I figured it was a teaching experience for all. And as I walked back to where my stuff was, one of the girl’s parents called out and asked if they were being mean. I responded that they were, but I had taken care of it and the girls would work it out. I even smiled!

And then I heard them talking. The looks in my direction confirmed that they were talking about my child.

“What’s she going to do when she goes to school?”

Umm….seriously?

MY child needs to learn how to deal with bullying? At 4?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

Since when do the bullied have to be the ones to “deal with it”. When are the bullies just shrugged off?

Are we, as parents, really failing our children in this regard?

I agree that my child does need to learn to walk away from the situation or learn how to deal with a bully…but why are you not placing the blame on your child who was tormenting my child? When a group of 5 or 6 children gang up on 1, there is a VERY large chance that the 1 child is not the issue.

I wasn’t upset until the parents started defending the actions of their children. And then that made me incredibly angry. I tweeted the words that I just couldn’t say, cried tears on the way home, spent the day absolutely aghast that I actually witnessed what I had.

Parents, putting the blame on the bullied and not the bullies.

Come on people.

We can do better and our kids deserve it.

No parent wants to be that parent, but you need to be. You need to be a parent, not a friend. Teach your children. After all, they learn by example. If you push off their actions onto another, you are letting them be the bullies.

“Mommy? Can we go now? I’m not having any fun”

Heart. Broken.

The hard one.

It sneaks up on you and then suddenly, it hits you across your head.

Depression is a bitch.

You have a perfect life…well, to the outsiders. What they don’t see is the internal struggle for happiness going on inside you at all times.

You can’t really explain it, you just know that you aren’t you. You’re in a fog, fighting to be free.
It’s kind of funny. It’s so en vogue to say “I’m SOOO depressed” but the people saying that have no idea. They don’t get how difficult it is to get out of bed and function. They don’t understand the rage and outbursts that occur more frequently as the days go by. Or the fact that the slightest thing can set off a crying attack.

So do “x”, do “y”, do “z” they say. Don’t you think it’s been tried? Or you hear “you should really get off those meds” so you do and 6 months later, you’re back to wanting to run.

But run where? You have no where to go.

So you shop, but that just makes you feel worse because what if you go broke? What’s going to be said to you the next time a budget is done? Oh my God, I don’t want to turn into one of those hoarders!

So then you want to cry out, to ask for help…but the help you really need isn’t there. And the people you’ve relied on for so long are tired of you. And every word you say gets turned against you, so you learn to just shut up.

Then you slap on a facade. Pretend everything is hunky-dory while you’re slowly drifting away.
The thoughts are just flowing. “Oh dear, you’re so fat.” “Jesus, get off your ass and do something!” “Your children are suffering because you are the laziest person alive!” “What we’re you thinking? You can’t do this!” And on and on and on.

And you can’t shut them off.

And you find yourself about to lose it.

It’s a never ending cycle and you want to get off. But this is a ride that never stops. So you just keep trying to maintain that perfect life facade you’ve gotten so good at but you realize that it’s only a matter of time before the cracks start to appearing.

“Your life is perfect” they say.

Oh, if they only knew.

*I’m okay. Just struggling.

Pass the happy pills

Do you ever get to that point in your life when you just don’t feel up to, well, anything?

I’m very good at faking it. Very good at pretending that everything is just perfect, but it’s not. Being home all day, EVERY day with the kids is more draining than anyone imagines. But if I complain, all I get is “well, you could just go to work”.

Thanks for your support.

I don’t work because the cost of daycare would negate any sort of income I would bring in. I don’t work because I honestly feel like I can give my children a better education than the public school. I don’t work because I actually love being with my children.

But it’s difficult. Really REALLY difficult. And not being able to say that just makes it worse.

If I cry, shout, withdraw, show ANY sort of weakness then I feel like it’s just another bullet point on the ever growing list of “Why Kelley Should Make Money”.

Money that we don’t need (this should be stressed).

I just need someone who believes in me. It’s a constant uphill battle. I want to be able to say that I’ve had an absolutely horrible day without being told that being home isn’t my only option. I GET IT, BUT IT’S NOT WHAT I WANT. What I want is to be able to bitch and complain like everyone else gets to do when they’ve had a rotten day. You get to do it…can’t I have a day every now and then without the reminder attached? Jesus!

I’m feeling over-whelmed and unappreciated, not a good combination.

I get it…I have a fantastic life. But it’s not perfect. And if I’m not allowed to say anything negative about it, I’m going to go absolutely bat-shit crazy.

So…how about that happy blog to get me restarted in this new year? Happier posts to come, I swear.

Spinach Carbonara Pizza

Yay! It’s another Pampered Chef recipe!

My aunt made this for me once and I remember it being AMAZING. She used a different crust and made it exactly to the recipe. But I tend to play with recipes to fit them to the ingredients we have, so I’m going to post the version I made last night. It was still really good (not as good as the Chicken Caesar Pizza from the other day lol), but not what I remembered. I’ll have to do it “right” the next time :-P. Anyway….my version!

You need:

1 refridgerated pizza crust (or make your own)

1 1/2 cups of bacon pieces

Chicken (I used 6 chicken breast tenderloins, but you can use more/less as you want)

1 TB minced garlic

4 cups of fresh baby spinach (I would double this to 8 like the original recipe says the next time)

1 cup of Alfredo sauce

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

 

To make:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Spread your pizza crust into a pan (I used a bar stone from Pampered Chef. I *heart* my stones!) and then cook for 10-12 minutes. Don’t do like me and over-cook it. Remember that it will have to go back into the oven for about 10 more minutes once the toppings are on!

(see? over-cooked. Still turned out tasty, but I bet it would be better if I had paid attention)

Put your spinach and garlic in a bowl. Cover and microwave for 2-3 minutes (until the spinach is wilted). Press the spinach into the side of the bowl using a spatula and watch the water run! Blot all of that up with a paper towel.

(eww, yuck! Spinach juices!)

While your spinach is cooking, put some chicken in a pan and cook it. I just put mine in a skillet, salt/pepper it/cover it and let it cook on medium heat. No extra oil or anything. Just remember to flip it! Usually, 3 minutes or so a side is enough.

Once it’s cooked, chop it up so it’s nice and fine.

Combine the Alfredo sauce, bacon, black pepper, and 1/2 of the chicken in a bowl and mix it up. This is the sauce for the pizza (if you didn’t already figure that out!)

To put it all together, spread the sauce to the edges of the crust. Top with about half of the cheese, add the spinach, top with the rest of the bacon and chicken. Finish with the rest of the cheese.

Bake it again for about 7 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Yummy!

(Thanks again Pampered Chef and Aunt Hope!)

As always, let me know if you like this!

~Kelley