My husband thinks I’m nuts, which is a given, but even more so because of the emotional attachment I have with every single book I read.  Even the not so great ones. But once I start a book, damn it, I have to finish it. Example A. I read several books at a time but there’s always a front-runner and after that book is finished, the cycle starts over again.

Stage 1: Deciding on a book to read. Sounds easy but it’s torture picking one book out of millions. Damn those first world problems.

Stage 2: I finally decide on one but there might be a few more that are in the running. As much as I love real books, I’ve been reading on my kindle more and more. So, I use the “buy now with 1-click” button. And those few other books that sounded good? The “buy now with 1-click” button makes me get those too.

I had more self-control when I would be asked for my credit card but it would be in my purse downstairs and I would be too lazy to get it. Boom, no impulsive shopping for books or anything else for that matter. Now, with that clicky button, I go clicky crazy and have accumulated so many books, I could open my own library.

Stage 3: I seem to start out reading a book and usually think, meh. Because it’s not the last book I read and my head is still in that story.

Stage 4: I cannot put the book down. I don’t want to tear myself away from the characters. My kid needs to be fed, dinner has to be made, and laundry has to finally be folded after spending the past 3 days in the dryer after being dried over and over again with the intention of taking it out but then forgetting about it. But I can’t stop reading!

Stage 5: It never fails that when I’m at a crucial point of a book, my 6 year-old wants to have every single second of my attention. Even if she has a friend over to play with. I’m convinced that kids have an internal radar that pings when you really, really need a little time by yourself. It’s like she knows and thinks “Wait a second! My mom looks like she’s enjoying herself without my company. So, I will bug the shit out of her to make sure she remembers I will never let that happen.”

For that matter, even my husband is that way. The man isn’t much of a talker but when I’ve been having a toddler like tantrum in my mind because I haven’t been able to move along in the current book I’m reading and my daughter is in bed at last, I open up my kindle and my husband seems to have a rare moment when he wants to talk and talk. They know. Oh, yes. They know.

Stage 6: Oh my god. I’m getting close to the end of the book. No! No! No! This can’t be happening. I want to finish but I can’t let these characters go!

Stage 7: I set the book aside for several days because I need time to accept the fact that it will be over soon. Sniff… sniff.

Stage 8: I finish my beloved book and it’s bittersweet. Yay, I’m done but booo, so is the story and characters I’ve been consumed with.

Stage 9: Spend days with a book hangover.

Stage 10: Finally settle on a new book. And get a few more because of that damn “buy now with 1-click” button.

This post was originally featured on Elle Davis’ blog, This Is Mommyhood. Featured image via.

Look, we can’t all look like models all of the time. But in spite of our own sweatpants couture it’s still fun to check out the looks of our favorite fashionable mama, Blake Lively.

So in honor of the actress/entrepreneur/writer/badass, we put together a few gifs depicting the times Blake blew us away.

 

1. When her baptism outfit was pure 1930’s glamour.

 

2. When she made the perfect food baby/actual baby joke.

 

3. When she was a loving mom even though her daughter was 50 years older than her

 

4. When she made baby bumps a hot red-carpet accessory.

 

5. When she was part of this gorgeous mother-daughter moment

 

6. When she brought the fashion AND the funny.

 

Looking for some inspiration for your Labor Day Weekend celebration? Then take a peek at this festive roundup we’ve put together of all things red, white and blue! From food, to nails, to decorations, you’ll be sure to find something to help bring out your holiday spirit! 

Total Relaxation –  something we all long for, like a fully paid vacation on a tropical island, eight hours of sleep a night, or even just 10 minutes of alone time on some days.  As much as I’d love world peace, I find myself selfishly longing for a day without doing dishes much more frequently. Alas, since most of us aren’t able to escape to the spa on a daily basis (or permanently eliminate the things that cause us the most stress), here are some simple ways you can have moments of relaxation and reduced stress throughout your day.  Spoiler alert… eating chocolate is one of them!


Via

1. Eat Breakfast Before Coffee
Caffeine on an empty stomach can increase blood sugar levels, which can lead to irritability.  No wonder we are stressed almost from the moment we wake up.  Also, as many nutrition experts will tell you, it is important to eat something within 30 minutes of waking up to kick-start your metabolism for the day. If you don’t have time for a full breakfast, something small is OK, but keep it healthy, like a hard boiled egg or 1/2 a grapefruit.  Reducing your blood sugar will keep you more calm throughout the day. Check out other quick and healthy options here. (Source)


Via

2. Tea Time
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now, but green tea is one of the most healthy beverages on the planet.  It’s loaded with antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of cancer, has numerous heart health benefits that can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, and lowers your blood sugar level to keep you calm, among many others.  Take 5 minutes to kick your feet up and enjoy a cup of tea every afternoon!   Make sure you are super comfy from head to toe. I highly recommend keeping your feet cozy with a pair of Gold Toe Oh So Soft socks.  Unlike traditional spa socks, these are thinner so your feet can actually breath without sacrificing softness and comfort.  Love the fun colors, and I love that they are made with a little spandex so they fit my feet perfectly.  Since I work full time, my tea ritual is usually in the mornings or at night right after my shower. (Source)


Via

3. Take a Long Bath
This one might not be as feasible on a daily basis, but ALL moms need to dedicate at least one day a week to a long, hot bath.  I fill my tub with tons of bubbles and lavender-scented bath oil.  The scent of lavender is known to reduce your heart rate for increased relaxation (more on scents below).  I light a candle, turn off the lights, put on my favorite calming music, and zen out as long as possible. After the bath, of course, I put my Oh So Soft socks on and enjoy a cup of green tea. (Source)


Via

4. Take Time to Smell the Roses
It might be cliche, but there’s a very real reason this expression exists – aside from the obvious message of stopping the hustle and bustle of your daily activities to enjoy the small things in life (which, of course, is very important). There are many known scents that have been proven to help people relax: lavender (my all-time favorite), jasmine (my other all-time favorite), mandarin, vanilla, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, rose, lilac, and ylang-ylang. I try to keep a lavender candle lit whenever I’m home, and I spray jasmine on my pillow case at night. I even have lavender-scented dish soap so I stay a little more calm while doing dishes every day. An easy way to keep a scent with you all day is to spray a little bit of your favorite fragrance on a cloth and put it in your purse. If you start to feel stressed, pull it out and take a little sniff to calm down. Or, next time you eat an orange, keep a few of the orange peels in your car or in a bowl at home so you can be surrounded by the scent all day. (Source)


Via

5. Eat Chocolate
Yes, you read that correctly my friends.  Studies show that dark chocolate (in moderation) can lower your blood pressure and lower the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart attack…. not to mention the shear joy of indulging in chocolate guilt-free!  Remember, everything in moderation, so go ahead and have a couple squares of your favorite dark chocolate during tea time.  You’re welcome! (Source)


Via

6. Exercise
Now that you’ve enjoyed your chocolate… exercise might seem counter-intuitive to the notion of ‘relaxation’, but it’s not.  Exercising even a moderate amount daily actually helps maintain your metabolism and reduce spikes in your blood sugar.  My favorite form of exercise is dancing.  For me, there’s nothing better than putting on my favorite music and busting a move.  While I take regular dance classes at a studio, I will often take a few minutes to dance to a great song if I’m feeling particularly stressed.  Even when I’m at work, I can put my headphones on and take a brisk walk around the block to calm my nerves. (Source)

 

My body is not perfect by any means. My fingernails are uneven and haven’t had a good manicure in a LONG time. My toenails need trimmed. I currently need a shower. My graying hair needs to be redyed sometime soon–the three grown out inches do not blend well with the rest of my chestnut brown hair. It also needs a trim. When I fail to put mousse into my curly hair, it’s the frizziest mess you’ll ever see. My thighs touch (gasp!). My belly is the furthest thing from flat. My arms could give someone a black eye when I wave at people. I have no eyebrows or eyelashes unless I draw them on. I rarely wear make up. I’ve got a black chin hair that grows back more rapidly the older I get. I’ve got wrinkles around my eyes. I’ve got stretch marks and dry skin on my body. I’ve got a double chin in pictures.

READ MORE: Seriously… The Thigh Gap?!?

And yet I am more beautiful than I’ve ever been.

My finger nails are uneven because I was so busy coloring with my kids that I forgot I only filed one hand. I failed to trim my own toenails because my daughter wanted her toes painted “just like mommy’s pretty toes.” I didn’t shower this morning because I wanted the fifteen extra minutes of sleep after being up until 1:15 a.m. (no I wasn’t up with a child, I chose to binge watch “Once Upon A Time.” Don’t judge).

I haven’t made time for a hair appointment because I’ve been having too much fun living life: an extra busy Christmas season spending time with those closest to us, I published a book, I went on a trip, I’ve taken my kids to the science center, we baked cookies, I took my kids sledding, I grew my business, I made new friends, I held new babies, I had date nights with my husband.

READ MORE: I Feel Fat

I often don’t put mousse in my hair so my kids can easily play with it. They love seeing how big it can get and I love that something that simple can make them laugh.

I carry the extra weight that comes with having three kids in under four years and not being able to afford a personal trainer and too busy to make time for a 5 a.m. class at the gym. Yet, I hike for miles on a whim with my kids. I haven’t worked out my arms in years because, well, I really hate arm exercises. And I’m okay with that because I’m finally aware of all that I truly dislike, what I can stand, and what I love to do.

READ MORE: I Have Never Felt Beautiful

I hardly notice my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes. I’m just thankful to have not had any other medical issues. It’s amazing how little focus others put on your flaws when you yourself no longer notice them.

I can be beautiful without the make up. It’s fun to done a full face of make up, a cute outfit, but that’s not my day to day attire. I feel just as beautiful and more myself in my yoga pants (which has a growing hole in the thighs from them rubbing together) and an oversize sweat shirt than I do in my new Banana Republic number that I spent too much money on.

The chin hair I could do without, but if anything, it shows my age. An age that I am at ease with. I don’t dread becoming older because I can look back on my years and know I’ve lived them with no regrets.

READ MORE: What I Wish I’d Known About Body Image

My wrinkles are from smiling because I’m happy, laughing, and smiling my way through life. This is something my grandma once told me as I danced on her feet around her kitchen and something I’ve never forgotten. It’s something I tell my children to remind them to smile through everything.

My stretch marks and scars tell the story of my last 7 years. The story of my children’s births, of my love of dark chocolate, of my surgeries. They show the maturity that I’ve come to find in my journey through motherhood.

READ MORE: Change The Way You Look At Pregnancy

How does any of this accumulate to being beautiful? Because beauty isn’t how you look, how much makeup you cake on to cover the flaws, and it’s most definitely not restricted to a size. Beauty is embracing who you are. It’s living your life the way you want to live it. It’s embracing your flaws and owning them. It’s confidence in yourself and willingness to try the things that you’re unsure about.

READ MORE: Breast Reduction Surgery: The Real Deal

I may not be the 5’11 size 6 twenty one year old I once was, but now I’ve got something I didn’t have then: I’ve got the belief that I have the power to do anything I want. I have the power to laugh at myself: at the finger nails being different lengths, my hair being extra frizzy, my stretch mark shaped like an S for our last name (according to our kids), my chin hair that I forgot to pluck away before I left the house, I’ve got the confidence to simply be me.

Once you learn to love all of yourself and be yourself, true beauty will shine.

Photo via Jade Beall’s A Beautiful Body Project