Mal Smiles

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Life Lately: Teething Hell and The Waiting Game

Good morning, lovely blog readers. First I want to thank you for being so sweet and supportive last week. I still haven't figured out the perfect answer to what comes next but I know I want to keep blogging. If anything, I want to blog more. I didn't realize how much I want to keep blogging until I truly considering stopping.

We are still living in teething hell. It's a real place; ask any parent. Collins' top molars have poked through but those pesky canines are on their way. Send coffee.
Other than teething, Collins is a funny little chick these days. At 17 months she is still just under 20 lbs, finally grew into her 3-6 month shoes, and fits into her 12 month pants. Her answer to everything is "no" and she will occasionally give me a little "mama" when she knows I need it. She loves her doggies, openly gives hugs and kisses, and is walking like a crazy woman. She loves books and empties her bookshelf daily; we've read Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon more times than we'd like to admit.
As for me, I am hanging in there. My workouts are the same although I haven't been running outside or long distances. The Disney Princess Half Marathon is next weekend and I didn't train. I was going to and then I decided that I can finish 13 miles so why waste my time on the treadmill? It might not be fast or pretty but I will finish. I'm banking on the lower altitude and flat course to help me along. We'll see how that works out for me...
DLW is finishing up his academic quarter this week and crushing it. He used his winter break to work ahead in all of his classes so this quarter has been pretty stress free. Just four more classes until he is done with his degree. I think we will both be happy when his school is over but we will miss the easy Green to Gold lifestyle.

We don't have orders for our next duty station yet but we are hoping to find out more this month. I am eager to know where we are going and start looking at houses. As always with the Army, we are playing the waiting game. DLW finishes up here May 14th and will have to be in Virginia the first week of June. That only leaves us a couple weeks to get moved if we want his help. Ideally we will get orders somewhere back East and Collins and I will go ahead and move so we are closer to him than Colorado. South Carolina is at the top of our list.

It feels like each week goes faster and faster these days. Spring will be here before we know it and we will be on our way to our next new home. I promise to share the process with you all and keep you updated on what's going on with us. Thanks again for being the best.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I Was Used As "Click Bait." AGAIN.

Remember back in September 2014 when a company was using our wedding photo for click bait on Twitter? Or in December 2014 when someone was using DLW's picture on Tinder? Well another picture has been stolen from this blog and is being used for weight loss click bait on Facebook.
I owe a big thank you to a reader, Jennifer, who saw the ad and took the time to send me an email. Apparently I lost 11 lbs in one week just by drinking a "tasty drink." Let's just have a quick laugh because I'm clearly pregnant in the "before" picture. It wasn't a tasty drink that made me lose 11 lbs in a week. It was childbirth.

This is the third time that I know of that a picture has been taken from my blog. What if there are more? I am very fortunate to have awesome readers who let me know when they see my face where it shouldn't be.

Obviously I was furious, upset, offended, and angry. I shared the screenshot on my Facebook today and Melissa, a blogging/ Instagram /army wife friend, was able to do some digging. She can read source code (so cool) and was able to determine what website stole the picture initially and where it went from there. She also helped me out with a DMCA letter to send to the website that is sharing my picture. The worst part is the website that initially stole the picture has an entire section of the website dedicated to DMCA because they steal images so often. I sent the DMCA letter to the website and hope they will remove the picture ASAP.

But now this situation has me thinking. Why does this keeps happening? What if next picture stolen is of Collins? Is this the final straw? Is this the end of Mal Smiles?

I immediately wanted to switch my blog to private but know I would miss this space to document and share our lives. I love that my family and friends all over the country can check in on us and that I've made so many connections with you all, too. I don't want Mal Smiles to go away but I need to protect my family. How do I do both? Blogger's private setting is not very user friendly as all readers have to be invited and create a Google or Blogger account. Blogger doesn't have a built in password option, either.

As many of you have suggested in the past, I could/should watermark my photos. I have been reluctant to do this because I barely find time to blog; taking the time to add a watermark felt overwhelming. I would also have to go back and add watermarks to all of my previous posts. I don't have the time or patience for that but maybe I should.

I did switch my Instagram account to private today. This was something DLW and I have talked about because I share so many more pictures of Collins on Instagram. I block at least 10-20 followers on Instagram every week because they are spam accounts, kids, creepy, or foreign (terrorists use social media, too). If you aren't around my age, a mom, into fitness, or have something in common with me- you're getting blocked. Instagram is my favorite place to connect with people so I'm sad to not make as many connections on that platform anymore.

I'm still researching options and trying to find the answer to this problem. This blog is MINE and I want to feel safe sharing my life here. I'm just not sure how to do that yet.

p.s. It felt REALLY GOOD to blog tonight. Like, really good. I need to do this more often.

p.p.s. Go Panthers!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

We Love The Little Gym

We signed Collins up for The Little Gym last week and we LOVE it!
Collins took her first independent steps earlier this month but wasn't very motivated to get up and walk at home. DLW and I talked about getting her more involved in activities with other kids because she seemed bored with us at home all day.

I checked out The Little Gym's website and was happy to see that the first class is free! I was a little nervous that they didn't list their prices online but figured we would try it out and get more information. I filled out their information sheet and someone called me the next day to set up our first class.

Last Tuesday, we arrived a couple minutes before the 9am "Birds" class as the gym was just opening. Kaitlyn, the instructor, was welcoming and helpful. She had me sign a quick waiver and gave me a short overview of the prices and military discount. I will admit that the $72/ month price tag was a bit shocking (that's almost the cost of OrangeTheory) but I know that good products are worth good money.
The class started with shakers and a song then we quickly moved into a warm up. Collins was walking and running with my help and had the biggest smile on her face. We then moved to "free explore" time around the gym where the kids can climb and play on any of the gymnastic equipment. The Little Gym has balance beams, bars, rings, spring boards, and lots of run mats. Throughout the "free explore" time, Kaitlyn showed two "skills': swinging on the bars and a forward roll. Collins tried the forward roll and wasn't too sure about it.
After about 20 minutes of exploration, we came back to the big mat for balls and bubbles. The kids can grip the big soft balls and go nuts for the bubbles. Kaitlyn knew all the students by name and was sweet and encouraging. By this time, I knew we HAD to sign up. Collins was happy, trying to walk on her own, and interacting with other kids.
The class finished with a couple songs and stamps for the kiddos. The classes are approximately 45 minutes and the kids are engaged the entire time.
I happily handed over my credit card and we have been back five times since. The $72/month is for unlimited classes and there are 5 classes for "Birds" (10-18 months) each week. We try to attend 4 classes a week (the Friday class is right in the middle of nap time or we would go to all five). I take her Mondays, DLW and I both take her Tuesdays, and DLW takes her on his own the other two days a week.

What I love most about The Little Gym is that it is safe, clean environment for Collins to explore and interact with kids. In just a week she has come so far in her walking and The Little Gym has played a huge role in her confidence and motivation.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Make Time For Mommy "Me Time"

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Real Simple® and Sunset® Magazines but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #NewYearMeTime

One of my new year's goals has been to focus more on myself and to take time for me every day. As a parent, you're "on the clock" 24/7 with no weekends or holidays off. Your weekends are often scheduled and it feels like your to-do list is never ending. Taking just a few minutes for relaxation and a little self care can completely change how you feel.
Collins' nap time is Mama's "me time." I don't clean or do laundry or respond to emails. I take those 60-90 minutes for myself. Some days I shower, most days I nap, and other days I fill the time with little activities just for me.
Today I'm sharing five of my favorite Mommy "me time" activities:

1. Get some rest
It turns out that "sleep when the baby sleep" thing is solid advice. Even if I don't fall asleep, I lie down and let my body rest. Chasing a tiny human all day is exhausting. Enjoy a little quiet time on the couch and maybe even grab a wink of sleep.

2. Read a little
I picked up Real Simple and Sunset magazines last week while shopping at Safeway. Flipping through the magazines had me day dreaming about future vacation spots and tearing out new healthy recipes to try. Take advantage of $1.00 off participating titles (PEOPLE®, InStyle®, People StyleWatch®, Real Simple®, and Sunset®) with this digital offer until 2/15/16 while supplies last. I hope to read 16 books in 2016 but we'll see how that goes...
3. Take a shower (or a bath)
A hot shower with no one talking to me is the most relaxing 15 minutes of my day. After a hard workout or run, I like to soak in epsom salt to relax my muscles. I feel so much better after a shower even if I just put on a pair of clean pajamas.

4. Eat something
How often do you get to sit and eat your food while it's hot? Make yourself a snack or lunch and actually enjoy it. I like to keep food in the house that I want to eat to keep myself from eating a plain turkey sandwich every day. I try to loosely plan a lunch and dinner menu for a week before heading to the grocery store. Planning ahead keeps dinnertime stress to a minimum and allows for more "me time" in the afternoons because I'm not scrambling to come up with a recipe. 20 minute dinners? Yes, please. Make yourself a panini or grab some popcorn and don't share.
5. Get out of the house
Find a time where Daddy or a friend or neighbor can watch your kiddo. Make a date with a friend to grab coffee or get your nails done. Just a couple hours away and a little adult conversation helps me feel more human. If you can't find a babysitter, just sit outside and soak up a little sunshine.

Making time for Mommy (and Daddy) "me time" is essential to surviving parenthood. DLW and I both make sure the other gets time away from the baby to do what makes them happy. You are responsible for tiny human but you still need to take care of yourself, too. You may only have time to do one of the above activities or maybe only get "me time" on Sundays but one is better than none. So take a nap, grab a magazine, or even just take a shower. You deserve it.

  • What is your favorite "me time" activity?
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