Tackling Mommy Guilt

27th January 2015

Can we just take a quick moment to talk about this commercial that has had me ugly crying for a week straight?

Did you watch it and are you sobbing?

Mama hearts everywhere can relate to the overwhelming pressure to fit into a category of parenting.
We all disagree about something whether it’s what we feed our babies or how soon to teach them long division and cursive.
But we all have the biggest thing of all in common: We love our kids fiercely and we’re just trying to do our best.

I just started reading this book that my coach Jenny got me called Confessions of an Imperfect Mom and in the very first chapter the author talks about another thing we all have in common:
Mommy guilt.

People around us feel the need to tell us how to parent all the time but our harshest critic is usually ourselves.
I know that I have found myself experiencing mommy guilt on more than one occasion and when I’m focusing on everything I think I’m doing wrong it clouds my ability to see everything I’m doing right.

Have you been there?

She has her readers do an exercise that I would like to encourage you to do as well today.
Make a list of things that ARE NOT on your guilt list as a mom.

Here’s a sample of my list to help you out:

WHAT ISN’T ON MY GUILT LIST AS A MOM

- Saying “I love you” a million times a day.

- Breastfeeding as long as I did AND stopping when I did.

- Holding Declan when he cried as a baby instead of letting him cry it out.

- Dancing like a fool around the house with him.

-Forcing him to take naps.

- Quitting my job to be a stay at home mom.

- Smothering him in kisses all day long.

- Co-sleeping

- Reading the same story over and over again on command.


What’s on your list?

Take your time to write it all out and then read it aloud to yourself.
Pretty powerful, right?
There is so much goodness in what we do on a daily basis but it’s easy to only highlight the mistakes.

I hope you take a moment today to rid yourself of whatever mommy guilt has had a grip on you recently and instead focus your energy on what a wonderful job you are doing.

I promise you will be a better mother, spouse, and person for it.

And if you ever need to vent or trade mommy guilt stories with someone in order to let it go, I’m here for you.

Comment, email me, FB message me, etc.

I’ll laugh and cry right along with you as we share about our shortcomings and celebrate our triumphs.

Crispy Parmesan Kale Chips

23rd January 2015

If Declan could eat macaroni n’ cheese all day long he would.
I know this because there have been days where that is literally all I could get him to consume.
Variety is a daily struggle but my main concern is trying to get enough veggies into his diet.
I sneak spinach into our morning Shakeology and on a good day I can get him to eat zucchini with hummus, but generally speaking this kid hates vegetables.
I once tried to mix them in with his macaroni and he just ate around every single veggie in that bowl.

I know I’m not alone in the struggle and I’ve talked to a lot of other moms that are desperately trying to get their picky little eaters to get enough nutrients.

Now to be honest, I was VERY hesitant about making these at first.
I really love kale but it’s kale… not potatoes.
The idea that you could make something to replace my beloved potato chips out of green leaves seemed preposterous to me.
But today I found myself with a head of kale that I needed to use before it went bad and decided that I really had nothing to lose by trying it out.

Much to my surprise this recipe is good.
Like, crazy good.
I got a little brave and decided to see what Declan thought and he DEVOURED them.

I’m not kidding.
He just kept saying “Mm!” and grabbing handfuls.
My only caution is that if you are giving these to your little one make sure they are in their high chair.
These chips can be super messy at the hands of little ones!

CRISPY PARMESAN KALE CHIPS

What You’ll Need:
– 1 head of organic kale leaves
– 1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive oil
– 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
– Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.
2. Rinse and dry your kale very well. Cut each side of the leaves off of the thick center stem so that you are left with only leaves. From here, you can cut the leaves in halves or fourths (depending on how large you would like each chip to be).
3. Place the leaves in a bowl and coat evenly with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
4. Lay leaves on a baking sheet and top with Parmesan cheese. (Feel free to add more or less Parm here!)
5. Bake for about 18 minutes or until leaves are crispy and cheese has lightly browned.
6. Devour and enjoy!

When I told Declan these were a healthy vegetable snack he was like, “say what?!”

Then he proceeded to eat almost the entire bowl by himself.

So if you’re iffy about kale I totally get you, but do yourself a favor and spend the $3 to give this recipe a shot.

Happy weekend, lovelies!

Row Your Boat

20th January 2015

I had an interesting moment the other day.

I was driving to the park and all that could be heard was the road beneath my tires and the faint

hum of my radio.

It was there in the stillness that a thought popped into my head and fear crept into my heart.

Has this all been a dream?

I jolted my head around and saw the bright blue eyes and rosy cheeks of my son.

His growing hands were clasped together and he was grinning as though he had been reading my mind the entire time.

Calm came over me and I let out one audible laugh at the thought that I had doubted his presence in my life, even for a blink.

Sometimes my world seems so good I wonder if it is real.

It is always in the effortless moments.

The ones that most would consider mundane.

As I gently row down the stream of my life I can’t help but marvel at each glorious scenery I pass.

The profile’s of my son and husband as they watch a show together.

A distant whistle from Derek in the other room or the quick stamper of Declan’s dancing feet.

The beating of my husband’s heart as I lay on his chest after a long day.

These microscopic, humble happenings consume a colossal space in my heart.

It makes me think of a classic nursery rhyme that we’ve all heard a dozen times but have probably never actually listened to:

I want to encourage you to move through your life gently.

Take the time while you row to marvel at the little things which often are the most forgotten, yet the most breathtaking.

Life is not a race; it’s a dream.

It can be whatever you want it to be but it is gone in the blink of an eye.

So be merry.

Be kind.

Be observant.

Don’t miss out on the sweetest moments because you’re trying to race to the next major milestone.

It is the stepping stones in between those milestones that define our journey and who we are.

Mamas Need Selfies Too

13th January 2015

(Though these may be bad examples)

Let’s get real:

Am I the only mom that feels like a full-on Monet most days?

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I vaguely remember a time where it was a daily routine to curl my hair and wear eyeshadow.

Now I’m lucky if I get blow-dry my bangs.

I find myself excessively thankful for Instagram filters and a cute kid to hide behind in said photos.

Nobody will notice that I haven’t washed my hair all week if I use Valencia and smoosh my face next to Declan’s, right?

But the thing is, even if you don’t notice, I do.

As my hair gets thrown up into yet another bun and my glasses go over my tired, naked eyes I think about what it felt like to look “normal” on a daily basis instead of just the weekends when I have an extra set of hands to help me out.

I know I can’t be the only one and I think it’s time we put an end to that feeling.

Say what you want about selfies and how they are the demise of our society but I think there is a clear difference between vanity and confidence.

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Don’t be that girl.

But do be the woman that takes a moment at least once every week to appreciate how beautiful she is.

Our bodies endure a lot before, during, and after having a baby.

It’s so easy to see the stretch marks, the under-eye circles, the widened hips and forget just how gloriously beautiful the new you is.

Mama, you created life.

 I’m a firm believer that “pregnancy glow” stays with you long after you give birth.

When I see a mom on fire for her kids I find her absolutely radiant and breathtaking.

Motherhood doesn’t take away your beauty, it enhances it.

So I have a challenge for all of my mommy friends this week.

Get yourself all dolled up in whatever way you feel the most beautiful and post an adorable selfie of yourself on Instagram.

Be sure to tag me (@andifranklin) and use the tag #Mamasneedselfiestoo so that we can see your gorgeous self!

Freakiest Friday

9th January 2015

If a man in a top hat came to my door right now saying he was the ghost of Abe Lincoln it wouldn’t surprise me.

Today has been that weird and it’s not even 11 am.

It started out normal enough.

Woke up abruptly by a savage Declan demanding Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and snacks.

Showered, made breakfast, and managed to put pants on which made it feel like a successful day already.

Then I decided to go out which must be where I went wrong.

We headed to Walgreens first to get some pictures developed.

Declan held the keys while I ordered the photos and we headed back to my Jeep to move on to our next destination.

But as I went to open the passenger door I noticed that I could hear a car running despite there being no other cars around me.

Is my car running?

HOW is my car running?

I opened the front door with Declan still on my hip and sure enough my radio was going and my engine was roaring.

The keys were still in my hands.

I turned the car off, buckled Declan in, and then went to the driver seat to try and duplicate what had just occurred.

I could not.

After that I decided to take a quick drive over to the park nearby to let Declan get some energy out.

I love this park because it’s very excluded but I also hate this park because it’s very excluded.

I saw another mom with her kid on the playground so I parked and we played.

Across the way I noticed a giant flock of birds scatter and saw a man standing parallel to them taking photos.

Declan moved to the car on springs and when he went back over to the play set I saw the back of a grown adult sitting at the top of the slide.

He was dressed in a bright yellow hoodie and jeans and when he turned around I realized it was the same man I had seen across the way taking photos.

I didn’t think too much of it as he took a picture of every inch of those slides and led Declan to the other side where the other mom with her kid were playing on the swing.

Suddenly this guy was knelt down in front of my son with his camera lens ready to snap.

I held my hand out over Declan’s face and said,

“Please don’t take pictures of my kid.”

I already felt uneasy about him trying to take the photo but when he said “oh…sorry” in an eerie, snake-like tone I felt chills go down my back.

I watched and waited until he had left the park to leave myself.

I assumed he must have walked there because I never saw him get into a car, just disappear behind the tall brush.

As I loaded us up in the car to go home I noticed another vehicle across the street speed off right as I closed my door.

The detective in me decided to follow them to see if it was that guy and if I could snag a license plate number to report him.

I drove the opposite direction of home, followed the vehicle on a right hand turn and quickly noticed it was not the guy.

As I tried to make my way back to where I came from, which was towards home I got stuck in a massive construction site.

By the time I had passed the park again, this time going home, it had been at least 10 minutes since I had left the park and at least 15 minutes since the man had disappeared.

I approached a curve on the steep road above the park and turned white as I glanced over at the car going the opposite direction of me…

Toward the park.

He was driving about 5 miles per hour, dressed in his bright yellow hoodie, in his silver Scion.

I was in shock and knew I had to act fast so I followed the curve and immediately made a U-turn.

Less than 30 seconds had gone by and I was already headed back down toward the park in his direction when I noticed he was completely gone.

There were no side streets for him to turn down between that curve and the Main Street.

The only explanation was that he must have sped up from 5 mph to 50 mph when he saw me, because that’s the only way he would have gotten down the hill without me seeing him.

This expression was glued to my face the entire way home:

I don’t know what it is about today but I think I’m ready for Derek to get home already.

If you need me I’ll be hiding in my closet for the rest of the day.

One And Some Change

6th January 2015

So much for blogging more often, eh?

I swear I have had this and about 3 other posts just sitting in my draft box since Sunday.

Declan has declared this the week of no naps and early morning wake up calls so it’s been chaos.

But better late than never, right?

Little dude actually turned a year and a half the day after Christmas but I’m finally getting this up now.

I stopped doing monthly updates on Declan when he turned one but now that he is a year and a half I feel like another update is in order.
This kid has grown so much in the past six months!

LETS GO TO BED DADA:

Watching my son with his dad makes my ovaries hurt.
Derek is such a wonderful father and it shows in how much Declan loves him.
Recently we have started to transition little man out of our bed and so we brought his mattress into our room and have it on the floor next to my side with pillows and blankets.
To our surprise, Declan LOVES having his own space.
We used to have to take hour long stroller walks to get him to sleep and he would stay in the stroller until 12-1 am when he woke up and demanded our bed.
Now, around 6-6:30 every night he simply grabs Derek’s hand, leads him to our room, lays in his bed, and has his daddy cuddle him until he falls asleep.
It is the most precious thing I have ever seen.


CAN YOU REPEAT THAT?

Declan loves to repeat three things: “Elmo”, “Apple”, and “what is that?”
He will literally say them over and over and OVER again until someone’s head explodes.


NEIGH!!

This kid is all about his animal noises.
He’s got pretty much every barnyard animal you can think of down including the in-every-household-pet dinosaur.
It’s pretty cute to watch him get excited when we are out and about and he spots one of animals he knows in a painting or on a shelf.
At the petting zoo he yelled MAAAAA! at all the goats which was epic.


RUGGED MAN:

If it were up to Declan we would only come inside the house to catch a quick episode of MICKEY Mouse Clubhouse.
He is obsessed with being outside and will go to the back door, try to unlock it with keys, and yell “ah-side” until we let him roam free.
We have a backyard playground coming for him in this week which will be a saving grace.


POTTY TRAINING:

We said we were going to start over Christmas when Derek had work off but we ended up being way too busy and frankly, I just felt nervous about the whole thing.

We bought him a little potty that plays music when he pees and has a handle to flush which he thinks is the greatest thing ever.

Just this week Derek started telling Declan to let us know when he needs to go and to our surprise he has actually been doing so about 25% of the time.

I’m pretty impressed considering the fact that a week ago he didn’t even know how to say the word “potty” and now he’s saying it while leading us into the bathroom so he can do his business.


He asks for water, tells me “no way!” when he doesn’t agree, and has become this little… person.

It’s almost overwhelming when you watch your child grow up before your eyes.

You say, “I can’t wait until he can…” and then an hour later you’re saying, “I miss when he would…”

There’s this awakening that stirs where you are suddenly aware of just how quickly time moves and you’ve got to learn to embrace the speed rather than curse it.

Carpe Diem is taken to a whole new level and so you get down on your hands and knees to play dinosaurs or stack cones.

You put the phone, the computer, the distractions away and you invest your energy into those moments.

Because they will never be this young again and you will never be able to get these moments back.

Enjoy your little ones today my friends!

Clean Eating Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

4th January 2015

I haven’t done this in a while but I wanted to pop in and share a recipe with you guys.
My friend Alwyn made me lemon poppyseed bread for Christmas (my favorite) and ever since then I’ve been craving more.
Wanting to indulge but refusing to compromise my waistline, I went on the hunt to find a clean eating lemon poppyseed recipe.

I stumbled upon a muffin recipe and ran to the store to grab my supplies.

These are dairy free and egg free which means I got to lick the spoon which is always a plus!

Declan and I have been devouring these bad boys the past two days and I hope you enjoy them too.

CLEAN EATING LEMON POPPYSEED MUFFINS

(Recipe adapted from Live. Love. Learn. Eat)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp poppyseed

3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup sunflower oil (I used Safflower oil instead and they turned out great)
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven at 350 and Combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppyseed) into a large bowl and mix until well combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined (don’t over mix!)

4. Fill greased muffin tin 3/4 of the way with the mixture in each and bake for 15-18 minutes.

*The original recipe states you get 18 muffins out of this batch but I got 14.
I tend to fill my tins up pretty generously though because I love a big, fluffy muffin.

Enjoy!

P.S.

Have you guys noticed it looks a little different around here?

I cleaned up the blog design for the New Year and I’m hoping to start blogging a lot more too.

Here’s to a new year and new adventures!

5 Awesome People Doing Awesome Things

31st December 2014

I have the pleasure of knowing a lot of talented people and today I wanted to take a moment to give them a little praise.
Nobody knows I’m doing this so it is in no way endorsed, I just want to highlight 5 people that are awesome in no particular order.


Back in 2011 our huskies had puppies and we sold them all to loving homes.
We had an application process and were very serious about making sure each one went to someone who would take the best care of them.
One of the buyers was Julio Gonzales, and we have stayed in touch with him throughout the years.
Julio is one of the funniest people I know, which makes sense because he is a professional stand up comedian.

Derek and I saw him at the Jon Lovits (R.I.P. awesome place) and were practically in tears.

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It’s worth noting that he has legitimately lost over 100 lbs. since this photo was taken as well just by making smarter meal choices and exercising.
He’s also one of the nicest people ever AND he’s an amazing artist.
For Father’s Day this year he made this custom picture for me to give Derek as a gift.

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He does custom art upon request and he’s always got an awesome show on the horizon.
I highly recommend checking him out on Facebook.

(Here is his link: Julio Gonzalez)


Next there is Kelly Smith.

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After several years of teaching Kindergarten Kelly just switched on over to the first grade this year.
She not only works all day shaping the minds of our youth but then she creates most of her own templates and lesson plans.
She’s got a great teacher blog called “Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten” where she sells her awesome templates for other teachers to use and she does lots of freebies too.
I would really recommend checking out her blog if you’re a teacher looking for some new material or even if you’re just a mommy looking for some material for at-home learning with the kiddos.
Her stuff is adorable.

Here is the link to her site: Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten


My dear friend Amanda Jonsson that I talk about all the time is a fantastic blogger as you know, because I post her links all the time.

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But you may not know that she is also an incredible cake designer, and self-taught at that.
She made this amazing cake for Declan’s first birthday while on vacation AND pregnant.

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Here are some links to her other masterpieces.

Dairy Free Moist Chocolate Cake

Frozen Cake

If you’re in Wisconsin and looking for an awesome cake, she’s your girl.
Did I mention she can make them dairy free for you?!


My other blog friend Nikol ZumMallen not only runs her page where she talks about her sweet little girl, she runs a business.

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Nikol manages three Rockstar Tans, takes care of her daughter, and still finds time to throw awesome Stella & Dot trunk shows for ladies.
Somehow she manages to always have her hair done and a smile on her face too which just amazes me!
You can check out her blog here (Celebrate We Will) and if you’re in the market for a good tan go to one of her three salon locations in Cypress, Costa Mesa, or Laguna Niguel.

Here is the website: Rockstar Tan


And last but most certainly not least is Andrew Veis.

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Andrew is the Godfather of my son, Derek’s best friend, and our old roomie.
He is also a runner.
I love working out but running outside, in the air, on the ground…
It just doesn’t work for me.
Andrew however went on a run the morning of his wedding and has truly gained a passion for the sport.
He was selected to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of Tufts Medical Center which is a huge honor and accomplishment.
Currently he is trying to reach his pledge goal of $5,000.

I hope you’ll check out his page and considering donating to this wonderful cause and fantastic person!

Here is the link: Andrew Runs Boston


There you have it folks!

I hope you enjoyed learning about someone other than me today ;)

My friends are pretty awesome and I’m glad I was able to share a few of them with you.

Until next time.

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The Fourth Week Of Christmas

28th December 2014

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Sorry that I’m behind on posting.
My brother and sister-in-law got into town last week so we’ve been trying to get lots of family time in before they have to go back home to New York.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday week/weekend.

We saw lots of family and like true Californians hit two extremes on back to back days:
The snow and the beach.

We also made sure to take a moment daily to do something kind for someone else.

This week was really a team effort and I’m so fortunate to be married to such a giving man.

December 19:

Target was crazy crowded and the lines were out of control.

Still, I noticed the lady behind me seemed to be in a much bigger hurry than me so I let her go ahead of me.

Total Cost: FREE


December 20:

There was a woman outside of Toys R Us raising money for the local homeless shelter.

We rarely carry cash on us but Derek just so happened to have a $20 bill so he gave it to her.

Total Cost: $20


December 21:

A drive-thru Duncan Donuts just opened right by our house and we had no food in the house.

I get hangry if I don’t have breakfast before 9 am and Derek knew he only had a few moments until the monster inside of me came out to wreak havoc.

We didn’t have anything at home to make breakfast so we jetted over to the drive thru to grab some breakfast sandwiches.

I decided to bring a chocolate bar with us and gave it to the girl at the window.

Total Cost: $2


December 22:

I love World Vision and have really enjoyed sponsoring Mariela for over two years now.

Every holiday season however, we like to do a little more.

This year I chose to give to the woman and girls who has been victims of sex trade.

My good friend Andrew Veis works closely with girl’s right here in L.A. who are bought and sold into sex trade and as he was telling me stories over the weekend about these women my heart was broken for them.

This donation goes to protecting and educating these women overseas that have already endured so much.

Total Cost: $35


December 23:

Declan and I had to go to the Ontario Mills mall on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to finish Christmas shopping for Derek.

That mall is HUGE and I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry Declan around the entire time without him giving me hell.

So instead I decided to fork up the $5 for one of those car shopping cart thingies.

(Someone left their candy in it and I didn’t want to touch it with my hands…)

Best $5 ever spent.

As we were leaving and I was about to put the car back I noticed a little girl and her mom standing in front of them.

I watched as the girl begged her mom to get one, mom checked out the price, and promptly told her that they couldn’t.

There is no time limit on how long you can use one of those bad boys so I approached them and offered my cart.

Both the mom and daughter were incredibly grateful.

Total Cost: FREE


December 24:

Oh Christmas Eve.

People are so stressed and it shows in everything they do.

The roads are crazy, the stores are crazy, the people are crazy.

So I decided that as my act of kindness I would make it a point to yield all day long to people on the road.

If a car turned on their signal I slowed to let them through.

I let cars go ahead of me at stop signs.

And I smiled at everyone.

I know that it makes my day when people are kind on the road and I hope I was able to help calm some people’s stress that day.

Total Cost: FREE


December 25:

This year we decided to do Secret Santa with all us “kids” in the family rather than buying everyone a gift because that gets expensive.

So I had my mom give us all a person and on Christmas we all got to find out who our secret santa was and receive our present.

Well it turned out my mom goofed and never assigned my brother Roger to someone.

So Chris got two presents and Roger got none.

I felt so terrible for him when we discovered that he had accidentally been left out so I went online and bought him a cooler for his laptop he had been wanting even though I had already bought and given my gift.

Total Cost: $20


December 26:

As I stated, we decided to drive to Big Bear so Declan could play in the snow.

Derek got out a sled and we had a blast.

A woman and her daughters came up to where we were and the kids started running straight to our sled.

So Derek offered it up to the girls so that they could have fun too.

Total Cost: FREE


That sums up last week!

I’m going until the end of the month so we’ve still got a few days left to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.

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The Third Week of Christmas

19th December 2014



I bought some Christmas cards a few weeks ago and they became a highlight of my kindness acts this week.

There’s just something about receiving a hand written note that makes a person feel good inside.

So on Monday I wrote words of encouragement to the people who were entered into our Giving Jar contest but didn’t win the jar.

Total Cost: Postage


DECEMBER 16:

My friend Nikol who blogs over at Celebrate We Will had posted on Facebook about a homeless woman her mom was helping that had a two week old baby girl and was in need of warm baby clothes.

Funny enough, that very same day I had bought a Target gift card thinking I was going to give it as a gift and then ended up realizing I didn’t need it.

The minute I saw her post I knew where the gift card was meant to go.

So I mailed it out to her mom to give to the woman.

Total Cost: $25


 DECEMBER 17:

I wrote Christmas cards for strangers and left them on their cars.


Some friends and I decided to all go in on a gift for someone.

One of the girls was kind enough to pay for the item and then have the rest of us pay her back.

I ended up needed to mail out the money but I noticed that one of the girl’s in our group had stopped responding to the emails a while back.

I didn’t want my friend to get stuck covering this other girl’s costs for the gift all by herself so I went ahead and paid extra so that it would help cover the majority of the absent girl’s portion.

Total Cost: $8

**Ready for more craziness?**

For some reason I woke up Thursday morning in a rut.

I could feel my heart being tried, Declan was on a good one, and I was feeling overwhelmed.

I called on one of my best friends for prayer and encouragement and she instantly reminded me just how lucky I am to have her in my life.

Then, within an hour of talking to her I received a notification that I had a new comment on my blog.

The Giving Jar winner Amy Martinez had messaged me, and this is what she said:

“Again, thank you so much! I hope you don’t mind but we are using the money to buy warm coats and gifts for a few kids in need at our church for Christmas. We have also decided to keep this money jar and collect money all year to do the same next year!”

.

I was floored and crying for the second day in a row.

It’s been said that “If only one life is touched – It will have all been worth it” and I have tried to live my life by this principle.

After feeling all week like I was incapable of making a difference God showed me just how wrong I was.