Lil Lemon Drop

Lil Lemon Drop
Happy Clothes for Happy Kids

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reading together, brotherly love


This post contains affiliate links.

It has been an effort to keep my ten-year-old reading during this break from school. He would much rather do a hands-on experiment, watch a YouTube video of someone doing a hands-on experiment, play Minecraft, or just ride his scooter around than sit and read a book. However, as both a teacher and a mother, I know how important it is to continue reading. Not only does reading practice those important skills, it introduces the reader to new vocabulary, and far beyond academics, enlarges the reader's worldview and the whole scope of their life. If you think I am being dramatic. I am. It is! Reading can absolutely change a person and change a life. Think back to those first chapter books which have really stuck with you. If you read and reread enough, those books become a part of who you are. That is why I love sharing books in my classroom, even if I am reading or we are listening to an audiobook. Stories broaden our world. I learned history though teen romance novels and science through adult literature-and learning this way is painless!

Off my soapbox now. I want my boys to understand and share my love of reading. I also want them to have a shared experience beyond who can ride their scooter the fastest down the road. So I have made a deal. Some might call it a bribe, but I prefer to consider it a business deal. My older son is reading this famous book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aloud to my seven-year-old, and I am providing incentive to do so.

Now, you might be a little shocked over the incentive, but hear me out. First, my 10-year-old doesn't like Harry Potter. Magic isn't real and he lives very much in the world of real, or at least theoretical. However, we are a Harry Potter family, and I strongly desire to get his Ravenclaw butt hooked. My seven-year-old likes Harry Potter, but could use more opportunities to practice sitting quietly and listening. Also, I remember listening to my brother read books such as The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe aloud to me. I could see those gigantic spiders swooping in ready to gobble up the Bilbo and his friends. I could feel the respect and awe reserved for Gandalf. I, too wanted to step through the doors of the wardrobe into a magical world where adventures awaited. I want my sons to share that experience of wading through imaginary lands on an adventure together.

We have purchased the Illustrated edition, because it is so beautiful. I just love the pictures and I believe they will draw in the young listener. There is enough text, however, they will still have to rely upon their own imaginations to help create this world in the clouds.

It's risky-pushing someone to do something which I would like to come from the heart. If things work out perfectly, then they will enjoy it so much, they will ask for the second book, and continue on an amazing childhood adventure together. If it doesn't, then my son still won't want to read for fun, and the bonding I hope happens will form somewhere else. At that point, I will continue to read aloud to them in the evenings, but it is proving difficult to always fit the time into our evening routines since the three-year-old is staying up later.  They will have to bond over BeyBlade competitions and Minecraft discussions. I am excited to see how it turns out!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Nice in the time of Coronavirus

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

What if, for a just a little while, we stopped the nastiness?
I know, I know, how idealistic of me.

When all this first started and items started to disappear from the shelves people began to worry. A local citizen started up a facebook group to spread information , help people locate necessary goods, and find out when their stores were operating. Everything was changing rapidly and this group did a fantastic job of providing community members with the information they needed.

After a couple of weeks, however, it started to get a little nasty. People started posting opinions and politics and eventually it became a place I didn't want to hang out anymore. As time has gone on, the supply of most items I want has balanced out anyway. I even managed to score a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer last week!

Life goes on, even during a pandemic, and it wasn't long before the memes started. They were funny and clever and at first, poked fun at this weird situation and all the ironies we were being faced with. But they slowly began to change. Suddenly all the friendship and comraderies started to disippate, and people began moving back to their corners. Instead of honest discussions about the repercussions real people were feeling, people started name calling. It didn't seem to matter which side you were on, you were wrong in someone else's eyes. 

Worried about getting your job back or paying your bills or not losing your business? Someone had something to say about that.

Scared of being forced to work as an essential worker. Someone was mad.

Scared of getting a disease that could be deadly? Geez. Obviously the left mainstream media had you fooled.

Worried about the government using this to limit your freedom (now or in the future)? Well, you are just a dumb trumper.

Boy, this will show those dumb anti-vaxxers!

Buy an extra bag or two of flour and rice because you are worried about your next paycheck? How selfish!

I think the very, very worst I have seen is people stating, "No medical care if you go to a rally. Let all the Trump-lovers get what they deserve." And believe me, I am no Trump lover. 

The truth is, many of us fall into more than one of those categories. Some people may put all their trust in the government and feel very secure with shutdowns. Others may remember governments of the past centuries and be very scared. The truth is, there can be unintended consequences and fallouts from ANYTHING, and we still don't have all the answers. 

And no matter which side you fall on and who you believe, your feelings are valid, and your thoughts  might be very real. We don't know how this will play out. We don't know know how long it will last, how severe it will be if it returns, if they will find a vaccine which works effectively. We don't know if governments and private corporations will take advantage of this to gather more control.

On top of all of these unknowns, everything in life has shifted. The smiling face at Walgreens is now behind a plastic partition and ugly blue mask. Every one in the store looks warily at everyone else, and people move away from others. I greeted a fellow teacher as we passed outside the school building a month ago, and while he smiled, he also moved a few steps away from me. It is hard not to take it personally when a person steps away as if you are diseased or dangerous. The Karen in me isn't used to this! I'll reach to grab a can of corn, and someone turns to look, and I think, "Oh my God, I am in their space." Yesterday, I witnessed one older gentleman reach out to another other man, knowing he was of the same political persuasion and say, "I am not afraid to shake your hand." As we stared in horror, the second gentleman smiled and said, "That's okay, I was just about to wash my hands, anyway."


This is not normal. None of this is normal. And to have every little aspect of life turned upside down and for how long, we don't know, is really hard. And to start splitting it into partisan ideals is just too distressing.

And I just wish, we could all listen a little harder. I wish we could listen to the scientists, consider the politicians, and accept our neighbor. I wish we didn't need to prove a point, by being gleeful at the thought of protesters getting sick, and I wish we would not reach out and shake a 74-year-old man's hand right now to prove a political point.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

My Review of Staying Stylish by Candace Cameron Bure




woman sitting on wall during during daytime
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash


This blog contains affiliate links.

Candace Cameron Bure's Book (with Rebecca Matheson), Staying Stylish, published in 2017 by Zondervan.com, was on my quick read list today. For me, a fashion/style book doesn't require reading word for word. The subtitle of this book is Cultivating a Confident Look Style, and Attitude. The book contains three parts: Fashion, Skin Care, and finally, Health, Fitness and Spirit.


Note: The cover price on the book reads $22.99. Amazon is offering it heavily discounted.


I personally love me a good fashion/beauty book. Self-help and self-improvement books have been on my menu since elementary. Sometimes it exasperates my husband who seems to think they are below me, but he doesn't get it. I enjoy reading fluff books, just as he likes listening to music, and I have no apologies to offer for my little pleasure. The equivalent of bubble gum pop, top 40 dance jams (yeah, I just said that), or dare I say it? Bouncing around the Room, these books are relaxing good time read.

In the fashion section, we have Candace modeling classic basics. Let's be honest. She is just so cute! It's hard to believe looking at the photos she is only 5'2". She must have to stick to a depressingly low calorie intake to stay so slender. If you have never read a fashion book, then there might be some new information, but otherwise I just enjoyed getting inspired by the pictures. Most books give advice on how to build a capsule, which I felt was lacking in this book. To me staying stylish would include on advice on what is flattering rather than telling someone to try on what is flattering and/or get it tailored. While that is part of the equation, most people want a little more guidance before heading to the store. Also some discussion about color choices would have made it even better. A lot of people struggle with putting together a thought-out mix-and-match wardrobe.

 The Skin care portion was pretty straight forward. Candace shared some of her products and routines. I only skimmed that part. I have my routine down already. There was information and product recommendations for makeup, which again, would probably appeal to the young, or those who want to feel REALLY in touch with Candace through products.

 I totally skipped the exercise section, but it consisted of Candace holding weights in her hand and getting in various positions. She definitely does look toned! Where's my chubby cheeked sister from the 90's?

The nutrition information was great. I loved the idea of carrying a water bottle, although as a teacher, it doesn't seem like the best way to get through the day (90 minute block scheduling)... But her recommendations for healthy eating on the go were helpful. Tuna and salmon packs are great ideas which I never think to consider. I particularly liked the easy-grab meal and snack ideas, because so many book incorporate complicated menus and recipes-and I just don't have time for that in my life.

Finally, the suggested for nurturing your spirit were right on. From journaling to reading to prayer to giving back, Candace devotes a from a few paragraphs to a few pages for various activities designed to nurture your soul. Most of my free time is devoted to nurturing the spirit (Hello, Blog!), so while I didn't find anything new, it is always appreciated. I gotta admit after reading Candace's selection of favorite books, I found myself wondering if reads all that much, but hey! she is a working actress, she doesn't have to be a total book nerd.

I think the target audience for this book would be women in their upper 20s and 30s.  If you are Candace fan,  you will enjoy the cute outfits and her big smile plastered on numerous pages. If you are don't know a lot about wardrobe planning or want to have her fitness moves in an accessible place, buying the book might be good for you. For myself, it was a great library book and I enjoyed the hour I spent flipping through it!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Silent Saturday








Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tomorrow

Photo by Rota Alternativa on Unsplash

Tomorrow is a lovely word, isn't it? Tomorrow I will go collect some of my personal items from my workplace for the summer.
Tomorrow is someone's birthday (actually, next Monday is!).
Tomorrow I will eat well.
Tomorrow I will exercise.
We put off the unpleasant, and even the pleasant which requires effort, until tomorrow.

Our dreams are always waiting for us in tomorrow-land. A lovely world of wishes, sunny skies, and happy days.

But what if tomorrow started now?
What if we gave that someone a call or hug now instead of waiting until their birthday?
Whatever I stopped eating for the day now?
What if I did a few exercises as I prepared for bed?

What steps can we take right NOW to reach those beautiful sunny dreams? Can we label a jar "Hawaii" for our dream vacation? Or perhaps we can start a paragraph, a page in the book we want to write.
Right now, we can sit for five minutes and meditate, focusing on our breath and consciousness, or focusing deeper on our vision. Right now, we can pray to God and shower the heavens with our words of gratitude, or share our sorrow and ask to be shown the light.

Waiting for tomorrow is romantic, and practical, and oh so very safe. But safe doesn't take us to our dream. Safe keeps us on the shore looking out at the surging sea and racing vessels. Let's put our oar in and bring a little bit of tomorrow into today.

What I have been reading...

Having all this time is both a blessing and a curse, isn't? Those of us who are lucky enough to work and home aren't feeling the financial strain as badly, but there are still conflicting emotions to work through and face each day.

I will tell you this blog contains affiliate links from Amazon.

Sometimes I feel like this is just an extended weekend, and other times I feel like I have been living this forever.

First and foremost, getting paid to stay home with my family is my dream come true. However, it isn't quite like I had planned it. First of all, I do have at least a couple hours of paperwork, grading, and phone calls to do every day. As a special education high school teacher my grading load might be lighter, but IEP and evaluations still have to be completed one way or another, if possible. And it's all good. I love being home. What surprises me though, is how little energy I have left for my family. Someone told my husband, he was lucky, his wife was a teacher, as if teaching my own would somehow be easy. And the answer is, "Nope." If my first grader doesn't want to practice reading (and he is learning slowly) he will throw a pillow across the room, do a karate chop kick jump, while screaming, "No." My fourth grader lives to learn-but only what he wants to learn. Science facts and experiments. Anything else is a struggle. Which sucks, because he is going to need those math skills to advance far in science. Throw in a three-year-old (and folks, my kids have ENERGY, fire and vim (wonder where they get that)), and it makes for a long day.
So yes, I have everything I want temporarily, and no, it isn't quite as I had imagined.

But between working on work stuff, blog stuff, business stuff, and family stuff, I have been trying to read as much as possible. So here are my recents reads, affiliate links, and opinions!




The Career Code This book is subtitled Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish,and Self-Made Career, and includes 27 Life Hacks Every Woman Should Master!

Combining fashion and career advice, this book would be perfect for the new graduate just starting her career! I love fashion advice, and the career advice would have been useful to me years ago, before I made a bazillion mistakes, not understanding the cardinal rule, it's who you know, not what you know. Actually, I sort of suspected that, but couldn't figure how to get to know who you needed to know, you know? Introvert failings and all. It still was a fun book to read, and I highly recommend it to the 20-something gal.

In answer to that question how you get to know who you need to know, this next book just sort of has it.

Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential

It is so good. It really takes all the stuff your gut kind of knows, throws a little research behind it, and throws it back in your face in a palatable way.







This Kindle book is just fantastic. I am only about halfway through and I have learned so much. From explaining stereotypes and how they affect us all (it helps to be white, male, and attractive), to giving real advice on how to feel and exude more power, I am treasuring this book. This book acknowledges that some people have an advantage, but (so far) I am appreciative of the helpful advice that is given to those who aren't from a most privileged spot. The main idea of this book is that influence comes from both strength and warmth. It is important to have the right balance of strength (power to get things done) and warmth (overall likeability). This balance differs depending on who you are. Men can get away with exuding more strength, but women who show too much strength run the risk of being labelled a bitch and disregarded. Too much warmth though will have you disregarded as sweet, but ineffectual. It addresses how to get the balance right in order to  boost your level of influence.

Back in the fluff department I am flipping through

Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today?






I got this book from the library, but it is a book which simply BEGS to be owned. With its gold foild color and its fabulous color photos of classic pieces of clothing and how to put the pieces together for certain occasions including the ubiquitous "From Office to NightClub" all the way to "At the Courthouse for my Divorce,"  it will become a classic on your fashion/self help shelf for sure!

Now we get into my latest interest, Manifestation and The Law of Attraction. This is a whole new can of worms, which I plan to do more posts on, both bookwise and discuss my passions and conflicts with the light movement, but I have just worked through these books, so I wanted to add them here.

The Magic Path of Intuition




A quick and simple read, you will find yourself refreshed and hopeful after completing this read. The stories are simple and straightforward, and it makes for a nice read sitting in the backyard watching the kids play in the sunshine.

Liquid Luck: The Good Fortune Handbook



This kindle edition is fairly short, positive, and upbeat. It is all about recognizing with gratitude the abundance which already surrounds you. I am only about halfway through. Although I haven't found anything that can't be found elsewhere, if you want an introduction or referesher into abundant living, this book would be fun to read.


The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self




So here is what I have discovered. At this point, tapping is not for me. Now I can throw my hands up, thumbs pointed toward myself with Gabby Bernstein on Youtube, but I can't quite bring myself to tap through my anxiety. It's NOT a BAD idea. In fact, I think for many people it might be a fantastic way to get control of anxiety so they can move from the shadow to the light. But my anxiety is highly caffeine driven and sitting still tapping my body isn't my thing right now. I will keep it in mind for when I become a little more peaceful and still.The OTHER information in the book is absolutely useful.


Fiction

Now on to fiction. I have managed to get a little fiction reading in!

In the Dark, Dark Wood

Now I read this book on the kindle app on myphone, but I think fiction is best tasted with paper.




At first I felt a bit of embarrassement reading this. I guess I am a bit of a book snob, and nothing here was calling out literary genius. But I got hooked on the book anyway, pulled in by average characters who just seemed kind of cool and trying to figure out whodunnit. I do think it was predictable, but just seeing how it all unfolded made for a lot of fun. I couldn't put it down!

In An Instant




This young adult book was not what I thought! I guess I didn't carefully read the summary first, but it took a turn fast, and I was along for the ride watching it all unfold. There were characters who angered me: those who were selfish, and those who were judgemental of the selfish people. I felt Mo's character was just a bit too perfect and idealized, but overall, the book had me caring about a tidy ending and truly loving the character Chloe. It was fun to watch this family, whose real balance lay in a strong mother, fight and struggle as they grieved and learned to love again.


If you are going Corono-Crazy or just want to try something outside your comfort zone, I recommend these books. Time is a blessing and let's make the most of it.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Book Review ~ Bliss Happens

Photo by Francisco Delgado on Unsplash




This blog contains affiliate links for the kindle version of the book in review. I use the kindle app on my phone and love it!

I was perusing the library for some, "Oh my goodness, they are about to shut down the town" reading books last month, when I came across the book Bliss Happens by Kym Douglas. The subtitle was "the six-week plan to a happier, prettier, thinner, and richer life!"

Now I love a serious book, but I am in no way opposed to fun and light reading, especially when it promises so much! When I finally dug into it. I was hooked. I quickly read through the book in one day.

Kym's writing style is so girl-next-door friendly you will find yourself loving her in spite of any jealous, catty tendencies you  might have simmering under the surface. She may have been kissed by the good luck star (is that a thing?), but if her real-life persona is anything like her book personality, she probably earned it. She is just so fun! 

The book starts out with  a quiz to determine how blissful you are, then breaks off into other parts which include: Beauty Bliss, Living Bliss, and the 30-Day Bliss plan. I quickly tried out some of the beauty ideas which included brushing my teeth with strawberries and smearing lemon slices along my arms to lighten the  age spots, um freckles. Now I can't remember if I read that in the book or if I was just finishing my morning hot water with lemon and found myself overcome with inspiration on natural treatments, but it was fun. It gave my arms a taut feeling for several hours, which I enjoyed, and I tasted sweet and sour, too!

Her life and momming advice was sensible. The food plan sounded delicous and if I stuck to it, I am sure the pounds would melt away. I didn't go through the day-by-day plan yet, but it seems reasonable, and honestly, I adored the alternative exercise ideas such as walking the dog, giving your parner a massage, and having a living room dance party. Really, if you can't follow this exercise plan, you probably aren't even trying.

The only caveat I found was her suggested at ditching coffee for her minty lime drink in the morning. I am just not there yet. I am not sure I ever want to be there, but the drink itself sounds like a treat!

If you are sitting around with only the grocery store pickup as occasional comfort I suggest following the affiliate link above, snatching the book to read on a free Kindle app, and planning out some homemade beauty bliss!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

My Worst Job Interviews Ever


Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash


Let me start off by saying when you are not a natural public speaker and you struggle with self-esteem, interviews can be a killer. I have watched more outgoing and less qualified people talk their way into jobs that those who knew them knew they were NEVER going to keep, while I was getting turned down by Waffle House and KFC. It was so frustrating!

So without further ado here goes:

1. Kentucky Fried Screw-Up- It was November of my junior year and my mom was pushing me to get a job. Now, I was about the shyest thing since baby Bambi, so it was pretty traumatic. "Just say you are looking for holiday work. Everyone needs to hire more people for the holidays," my much more outgoing mom told me. Embarrassed I dressed up (because Mom) and headed into nearby fastfood restaurants to apply.
I filled out the application at Kentucky Fried Chicken and the manager behind the counter asked what I was looking for. "Um, holiday work?" saying what my mom had told me. The assistant manager chuckled and said, "We don't hire for that." Meanwhile a boy from my year at school was working and I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

2. Waffle House. I had waitressing experience and yet somehow I could not get hired at the Waffle House. I don't really remember the details other than the north side one interviewed me and suggested I try the one a few miles away. The south side one stuck her nose in the air and made it clear I wasn't what they were looking for. Too old? I was 27. Too young? I don't know. Too fat? I was about 145. Not chatty enough? Most likely.

3. Division of Family Services-Senior division. I was sitting on a psychology degree, not really relishing the idea of getting a masters. I had been in a few master's programs because the ultimate goal for anyone who loved college was to become a professor, right?, but nothing was really calling out to me enough to put that much work into it, and whenever I tried science (the Master's of Geosciences was calling to me), my self-esteem issues got in the way.  I decided to try being a social service worker. I went into the interview so nervous. I was literally sweating all over the place. My hands sweating were a given, this was prior to learning how to stop the hand sweat. However, I had sweat dripping down my back, across my upper lip-it was awful. They actually told me to just relax. I didn't get the job shockingly. They were super nice, though.

4. Another social servicy job. This was at the food stamp office. I had some doubts about the interview time, as I was excited and nervous when they called, but I was too embarrassed to call back so I thought it through and thought I had it right. I went to the interview and they called me up. They asked me questions and talked about what a responsible, organized, and punctual person was, how I kept track of records by writing things down, and juggling appointment times would be not trouble. Then one lady cocked her head to the side and asked,  Why then, had I been ten minutes late to the interview? I was mortified.
They didn't hire me and I am glad. I would have been good at it and trapped in it forever most likely.

5. A teaching job.  I had been working at Greenfield which, while I loved the little kids, wasn't quite what I wanted long term.  It was literally an hour's drive each way.
I was interviewing for a school district which was only 30 minutes away. It was a science position and I felt reasonably confident in by ability to handle middle school science. In the middle of the interview, the principal looked me in the eye and said, "Define loyalty." She was so hostile about it I knew I was trapped. She wanted someone who would stick out the position for several years, I think. Fair enough. But her hostility had me tongue-tied. Clearly I was interviewing for this position from another school (and people do this all the time. People change jobs and look for something closer to their calling ALL THE TIME. IT IS OKAY). The other interviewers looked embarrassed and looked down at the table. And I knew, I sure as heck did NOT want to work at that school. The position was open again the next year, by the way.



Those were my worst interviews. I am sure there are other moments I may have forgotten, like the time I interviewed for a seventh grade social studies job that I REALLLLLLLY wanted and said, "Y'all" when when answering a question.

Or the time when an assistant principal called me to set up a phone interview for a time I had had tickets for over a month to see a movie with my daughters. I didn't handle it well, and then mortified called her back and left a message to go ahead and do it. I sat in the summer-hot car in a parking garage outside the theatre with the windows rolled up in fear of getting robbed. I was definitely sweating. I did get the job, but I don't think I was their first choice.

Well...they say it is good to get uncomfortable and step outside your comfort zone. Noone can argue I haven't done that, right? And I think all these embarrassing moments and all these mistakes are just an indicator to not give up. Go on your interviews, answer their questions thoughtfully, and then adjust your answers accordingly at the next interview. At first this may seem dishonest, but it really isn't. Just as I was unwilling to promise I would stay at a school a certain amount of time (beyond the contract), I also found the the act of changing my answers also changed how I viewed the job and approached the question. For example, if I said I was perfectly comfortable calling parents, well, then I was making phone calls to parents without complaint. If I said the office was a last resort, then I was promising the office would be a last resort. Changing your answers to fit the interview isn't really a lie. It is a learning experience about what the job expectations were and your willingess to meet those expectations.


Man, if I didn't believe in growth mindset before, I sure do now!

Enjoy learning!

Jillian






Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quarantine Fashionista

My day job consists of going out to work every day dressed in some form of apparel. Every few years the boss will share some tips to help us dress in appropriate clothing. Usually there is something funny like shoes with bows or Mary Janes. But overall, what I take away from it, is no jeans except for Friday and "special" days, and probably no sneakers. I have noticed a lot of people wearing sneakers anyway, and I sort of get it (I do it, too). I mean we are walking all over the place, standing up a lot, comfort matters.

For me this could be anything from dress pants and skirts with a blouse or sweater to leggings and a tunic top and a pair of boots. If I wear a blazer, I try to save it for dress-down jeans Friday because who wants to look too stuffy?

Suddenly now though, I find myself in this new and exciting world of working at home (and I sort of love it!). So I thought I would share a few of my favorite pieces which get me through the week:
This post contains affiliate links.

Pajama Chic!

Photo by Chase Fade on Unsplash

Pajama chic is PERFECT for the morning after an anxiety-induced sleepless night worrying over bills, whether your job will survive, loss of FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOMMMMM (thank you, Mel), and you know, whether you and your kids are going to end up "living in a van down by the river" picking grubworms to eat for lunch.
If there is a chance a neighbor will knock or an older child might drop by, you might want to go ahead and throw your favorite sports bra on, because these tops tend to be very thin.
Something like this should be just about right...





Joggers!

Photo by Andrei Mike on Unsplash
When you are feeling a little better about things and think you might even get a little laundry folding in between online assignments and report writing, these are the pants. You can even make that panic trip to Walgreen's in them, if you find you are out of a staple like milk or bread.



Zoom Meeting Dress Shirt:

Time for your weekly Zoom meeting? Dress it up, girl! This shirt has you covered from the waist up (just don't forget and stand up to yell at your kids to GO Watch TV NOW! unless you take the time to at least throw a pair of jeans on, too (I kid, I have a 9 year old, no more pantless days for me).



Photo by Bibarys Ibatolla on Unsplash



Evening Time
Finally get those rascals in bed? Or maybe you just gave up and handed them a tablet and sent them to their rooms?
It's wine time, pretty momma! Relax in style in a simple flowy tank dress like this:
 

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Not only slouchy and sexy, but it hides that Covid 19 y'all better be putting on, too, so I am the not the only one who emerges from this with a greater resemblance to Jabba the Hut! Solidarity Sisters!




Now you have some simple styles to get you through these long weeks in style! Stay tuned for hairstyles next week!


Enjoy dressing,

Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Handling it, but not as well as I could

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
It has been about a month since our Disney trip was cancelled/postponed and stores began slowly closing. A month of uncertainty, a little fear, a lot of anxiety, and the ever-encroaching boredom gnawing at my brain.

The thing is, I love to work. As much lip service as  I pay to being home, I like to be actively doing something with my head, working on something, finishing something, creating something. And here I am feeling like this big "SUCK" has latched onto my brain, and is sucking out the light and blowing in the darkness. The idea of not going back to work until August is really hard to hold on to.

Just lots of disappointment all around. And it's not just me, I know. The fact that everyone else is feeling the stress brings a feeling of solidarity. The extreme sleepiness bothers me, but I apparently this is a much larger stress to our mind than we might realize.

So what to do?
Well, I am still working on the 50-walk challenge. It's a little hard to get motivated when day after day is dreary and chill, but once I head out the door and walk, I never regret it. I am well on track with that goal.

I am slowly working on a much needed cupboard and cabinet cleanout. The struggle with that sort of cleaning is there is always a crazy mess right in the middle. But I am getting there. I want to paint, but I am embarrassed about getting paint. I feel like someone is going to stop, point me out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, and scream, "NOT AN ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" But my keeping myself emotionally healthy and busy is essential, too. So maybe I will grab a daughter for moral support and head up and get paint. Are they still mixing paint? I guess I could call.

If I, as an ultra-introvert, am suffering, how are the extraverts handling this? How many people are REALLY following the guidelines and how many are pretending, too, but breaking little rules here and there? I am curious.

Anyway, goals are important, so I plan to get from 10 books read on my reading challenge to 15 books by the end of April. I plan to paint my three-year- old's room. I plan to organize all the kitchen cupboards. I do have some paperwork for work which will take up a chunk of time. Maybe I will just go through it r e a l l y  s l o w l y to stretch out the time it takes. If I am working a lot, I will appreciate the downtime more.

The jury is out on gardening. If I don't have summer school, I will have enough time to do a great vegetable garden, but I am sort of sick of the mess. I am leaning towards just throwing out grass seed and having a green lawn.

Eventually, I will pretty these thoughts up, put a lovely filter over them, adjust the lens, and make them into something else. But for a little while longer, I am just going to feel the reality.


We've got this, right?
Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Dichotomy of Personal Choice

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Recently I was super-excited to find a cheap online learning course regarding living a life with poise. I happen to like this author, most of the time, so I was excited to get a little more lifestyle reading in. But even as I signed up for the cheap course (which lets face it-nothing is new-it's always just a refresher of what's already been mind-consumed), I felt the pull against poise. The pull towards authentic honesty.
There are two different camps. The camp of elegance, poise, and a bit of polite mystery stand tall on one side. Meanwhile, the pull towards authenticity, honesty, and transparency rises on the other. True, there may be some who can straddle both camps, but I think that's rare. And I find myself being pulled back and forth. I feel as if I should be on the poise side-the senator's wife is how I would describe it. Cultivating an aura of warmth, while revealing nothing, living the beautiful life and striving towards greater beauty would be paramount in this lifestyle.
On the other hand, I have always feared I would be put in the dreaded Candor group in Divergent, with a pull towards openness and honesty. I want to drag people into my crazy, into my mess, and show them,"Hey, it's all okay."

I see people around me falling into these two camps. There are people on Facebook who only show the lovely parts, who never speak of sick relatives and rarely share photos. Everything they post appears so carefully planned to present an image which helps them climb the ladder of their ambition.
And then there are the real people, the open and honest people, who tell it like it is. And I think these are the people I like more. But of course, there has to be a balance. Feelings change on a breeze, a new thoughts changes the perspective, and creates an all-new terrain frequently. If you always tell it like it is, you'll be a in a mess. I like people who are open about peeing their pants on a date, who ask people for sympathy when loved ones are ill, and who admit when their spouse is being a butt.
But then I read the poise side, and I wonder if maybe they are right. The world certainly rewards them more.

And as someone with a growth mindset, because I too am a product of this environment, I want to be improve and become more and better. I just wonder which way more and better is. Obviously, this is a case of wanting to have my cake and eat it, too. I want to say what I think, have people care, but at the same I want people to take it with a grain of salt and not care. Impossible. Ideally, I would become one of those lucky few who straddle both camps. But who is to be my guide, when I don't know any of those people? Who is to show me where the line is, so I can push it just a little bit, without hopping off the edge?

I was talking to a relative a year or two ago, about my blog just not picking up the readers like I wanted it to. This person suggested I limit the amount of personal introspection and boil it down to a lesson to give people advice on how to better their own life. This leads to doubt and stilted writing as I feel I always have to have a point. Maybe I just need to go with my gut and write what I feel and if noone follows, noone follows. Not having followers and loyal readers though, when I have the urge to write, makes me feel as if I getting it wrong. Writing with authenticity is a matter of laying one's soul bare-or rather pieces of one's soul because if one were totally honest-well, it wouldn't be pretty-and it is raw and difficult. And to not be followed can lead to a such a flushed, hot feeling of embarrassment and shame.

And then I remind myself of all the times I was quiet, and I think a life not expressed is a life not really lived.

Friday, April 10, 2020

THE 50 WALK CHALLENGE

I am so excited! I have been lying around slothlike and really feeling the detrimental effects of not moving much. After going over my max daily maintenance calories AGAIN, I grabbed the boys and went for a starlit walk. And then it hit me!
I needed a goal to get myself moving on a regular basis. The idea for a 50 Walk Challenge came into my head, and wheels were set in motion.

As soon as I returned home from the walk, I downloaded an app to keep track of
my walk. I set a deadline of May 31st. I absolutely counted today's walk 😀. I decided the walk had to be a minimum of 15 minutes long to count.
Accountability is a hard one for me, so please feel free to ask me how the challenge is going. My current plan is to report back every Friday night until this goal is met!

I downloaded an app called Goal Tracker to my Android phone. I can just check off my daily walk.

Here is a pic of what the chart looks like.

I could use an accountability partner if you want to play along and share your workout or walks in my comments each week.

What a Wonderful World

Today I was pouring myself out in words, playing up the melodrama, and feeling sorry for myself. I referred to my younger self as poor. Then all of a sudden little things started to happen, and I realized once again how lucky I have been.

What I realized:

  • We didn't have a lot of money, but we had a mother who read to us which is worth its weight in gold. 
  • I remembered a time in high school when we were running errands for French (as juniors). We stopped by my townhome, because I needed something. "Wow," my classmate (with the car) said, "How much do you guys pay in rent?" I told her. "That's what we pay for our house and these are much nicer!" Just a moment before I had been embarrassed over the trials of living in a rental townhome, and she was legitimately saying it was nicer. We stopped by her house after, and I understood.
  • I remembered visiting a friend in a nearby neighborhood. My mom dropped me off with plans to pick me up later. As we walked back to her room, which was on a glassed-in porch, I noted there were no cabinets under the sink, just a cloth hanging there. Now, there is nothing wrong with that and it could be quaint, but it was my first time seeing someone in such a situation. 
  • Then I was also lamenting having to make meatless meals for days on end for my kids when I was in college. Oh the horrors! And then as the day went on I realized, "My God! I had meals for my kids! Some people eat meatless meals every single day. By choice! I was able to go to college as a single mom. Sure our house was a bit crappy in large part due to my own poor housekeeping, but to pity myself as poor? I was so lucky!
  • And finally, I was taking a long, hot bath searching through Zillow. Now typically I look at higher end houses for fun, but today, I decided to look at cheap houses just to see what was out there, and I saw some of those places and thought, my goodness-people live there. People get naked in that house and touch those floors with their bare feet, and I realized again, how darned lucky I have been.
And I had to shake my head at my own foolishness. Perspective is EVERYTHING. I know you have heard it many times before, but there are people out there who only DREAM of things you have. I have more than so many people on this earth, and if half of it went away, I would still have more. 
How is it that we get so lost in searching for what we lack or have lacked, that we fail to see all the abundance around us, over and over again? 

I need to make a sign, like Augustus Waters mom would put up, reminding me just how very lucky I have been in this world. I'll hang where I am forced to see, and I will remember what a wonderful world this is.



Sunday, April 5, 2020

8 things I Do To Make Myself Happier

Listen! We are living in some crazy times. If you are anything like me, or say, the other 7. whatever billion people on this planet, your whole life has been turned upside down in just a few weeks. Although most of us are holding on the hope that things will eventually (and hopefully soon) get back to to normal, we are still going through a huge amount of uncertainty, upheaval, and resulting stress.

To get through these times without losing my mind, I find it helpful to keep a stash of little things in my back pocket to lift my spirits, so I can continue to be the strong and mighty queen the world needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Rehydrate every morning
I find it hard to drink water, especially upon waking, EVEN IF my throat is dry. One thing that helps is having a quick 8 ounces before I start my coffee brewing (seriously it almost makes me gag, I don't know where this aversion comes from),  and then sip another warm cup with fresh squeezed lemon. Somehow when I warm up the mug of water, and splash a little zesty lemon it becomes a palatable treat!

I've got to get this happy cup!



2. Caffeinate
I like my coffee. Dark, rich, and hot, just holding that steaming cup in my hands in a fantastic morning pleasure. If coffee isn't your um, cup of tea, perhaps trying a cup of tea will give you a lift. There are so many varieties of coffee and teas, both caffeinated and decaf, you can easily find the right brew to lift your morning mood. Anything that becomes part of a quiet morning ritual will enhance your day and bring a feeling of wellness. When it comes to favorite brews, I swear I love the Walmart Great Value French Roast K-cups. To increase the value of that minute or so waiting for the Keurig to heat up and brew, I do between 20-30 various squats to tone my legs.

Go crazy and consider this coffee:




3. Morning Meditation
I am not going to lie. I am not a super-meditator who can sit for 45 minutes visualizing world peace (although if you are, you go!). But I like to sit and listen to a short meditative lecture on the Simple Habit app, while doing slow stretching exercises to warm my body up and loosen for the day. After that, I will listen to some white noise or meditative music and practice true meditation and visualization for oh, an average of around 6 minutes.
If the Simple Habit app isn't for you, here are links to several other similar sites you can try

4. Hiking

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

While not my picture, and apparently that photo was taken in Chile, I love hiking. I don't do it nearly as often as I should, because the hump I have to get over to pack enough for the kids and get all the stuff ready seems to outweigh my perceived benefit of pushing through, but when I do push through I always am delighted I did. I love the outdoors, the scenery, the exercise, and even the confidence I feel when I manage rocky terrain surefootedly. Nothing as of yet has compared with our short family hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, however, I have explored Ozark hills, quiet wooded paths,  emerald green paths atop the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and I plan to see how the Alps compare to the Rockies as soon as fate allows!

While not technically hiking boots, these were my go-to boots on rainy walks in Ireland:




I swear I love these things. I get so excited on work days when it is wet and rainy. A perfect excuse to wear my two-year-old boots!


5. Favorite Movies
A little media can be good for the soul. Watching a tear-wrenching film is often the carthartic release I need to look at the world through new eyes. Most of us are getting more than enough screen time. Let's just make sure it is something worth our time which enriches our lives. For you it might be a silly comedy, an action film, or a light-bright rom-com. You do you. You deserve it.

Or watch something fun, like the movie we got my youngest child, Alec's name from (I am totally the dorky blonde girl)





6. Reading
I will never have enough time to read. From fabulous fiction which takes me away to a better place, to informative and inspiring nonfiction which helps me discover who I was meant to be and encourages me to become that person, there are so many amazing books out there! Now that my life is so busy I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. It is just so much easier to skim and drop off and pick up a nonfiction book. But every now and then a fiction book will grab ahold of me and won't let me go until we come to that shaky, sleep-deprived ending. Heaven!
I'll be posting on my current reading soon.

7. Brainstorm Fun Ideas
From bucket lists, to do now dream lists, to planning imaginary virtual vacations, I love to think about the all the options in the world, and think about what it would be like to make it happen.
I have recently been inspired by my reading of How to do Everything and Be Happy, by Peter Jones. It's a simple book to help you feel brave enough to take back some time and has practical hints on how to organize the things you want to do and get them done.

This is one of the books that is cheaper in paperback than kindle...




8. Practice Letting Go
Letting go of past hurts and disappointments is never easy. But it is the KEY to a happy outlook. Give yourself the time to really dig in and feel the feels and then when you are ready, look for the lesson, and move on. Learning not to hold grudges and not to drown in self-pity has given me the power to control my own happiness, and I recommend giving it a try. This is a lesson which requires practice, because once forgiven, doesn't mean always forgiven. The stubborn heart when challenged will bring back those unpleasant memories, so it helps to think of forgiveness as an ongoing process you can practice again and again and again.

I am sorry. My good-girl-ness doesn't usually like bad words, but is just so right on. A good short affirmation for yourself!



As you can see, these are simple ideas. Not a one of them is too crazy-hard to implement to increase your daily happiness. While you would obviously want to switch out the ones which don't work for you and put in things that make you, personally, happy, the key is to add a little joy to your life Every. Single. Day.

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