1 year of blogging!

My Mission

March 2018 officially marks  the 1 year anniversary of Everything Under the Sun Blog! YAY!

Here is our little family ❤

Montage (20 of 124)

Shot in September by @therealmaryana. Go follow this girl she is amazing with photography!

I’m suuuper excited because the very fact that I even started writing and intentionally blogging alongside the pages of my journals has been fun, meaningful, growth-enabling, encouraging and an all around an AAAMAZING learning experience.

I can not wait for the next year what it has to offer and what new places E.U.T.S will go!

When I begun the blog I had just given birth to my second daughter, Chloe (two sweet girls under the age of 2) and fresh off a huge move from Seattle to OC.

I was looking for an outlet for a while after becoming a FULL time mama. Something to call my own and have an excuse to stay up late, baking my No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies or my 4 ingredient banana muffins . I love the idea that I can go hide a way a few hours, sit in a hip coffee shop & write.

Originally I was going to create only an Instagram account documenting my goals with weight loss and post about mom stuff and anything noteworthy. Well, I am happy and thankful to my husband Dmitry who encouraged me to dust off my laptop and start documenting my goals with weight loss and post about mom stuff and anything noteworthy in A BLOG! LOL.



I’m proud & excited to have reached out to several continents and tens of countries! THANK YOU for reading! I’m still blown away by how connected we can be!

As people grow and change so has my approach to the blog. No I did not stick to the one post a week I planned on. Yes I had weeks without any and this may be the first of the year… and its MARCH!

But its come more natural to have been focused on the social media side of my blog on Instagram (which I invite you to like and follow @everythingunderthesunblog ) with daily stories, videos, fitness tips, recipes and EVERYTHING in the details that matter to me which can matter to you!

What I have come to understand is that we are all very much alike in what are needs are BUT what really makes us all different and sets us apart is the DETAILS. The routines, products, foods, hobbies & EVERYTHING combined creates us all so unique and gives us a voice for who we are and what we are about.

That is why I believe that I am not just another blogger mom. (which was & is my insecurity with having a blog and being a mom, I AM PROUD OF IT!) Rather my mission and hope is not only to relate to my readers but offer a new perspective, helpful tips & recommendations. To maybe trigger an appreciation for a new craft idea, a helpful product,  a recipe or even make that BIG choice to starting a healthier lifestyle.


Fitness Update

It was March 2017 that I again after 3 years downloaded the “loose-it” app. Two kids later I had a goal of loosing 45 pounds to get to my “goal weight”, which seemed so hard and unattainable.

This BEFORE & AFTER picture shows where I was. One year ago and today.


I was 3 months postpartum in the before and now 15 months postpartum. Lots of pride & grace towards myself in both photos…back to back.

I lost just under 50 pounds on my own and 70 total since giving birth to my second baby!

I had gone down from a size 12 to a size 6!

I truly believe that making that change in your life is possible too in whatever stage of life you are in.

Eating healthy and exercise are what will help you sustain that healthy fit-life. Gain back that confidence and take care of YOURSELF because everyone deserves to look and more importantly FEEL GOOD!


I am healthier. I am happier. I am confident in who I was before and now.

A year ago my bad cholesterol outweighed the good… by a lot. Glucose was high now normal. Before my bad outweighed the good and now that has switched places. My B.M.I. (which always seems unreasonably calculated) is also in the right place. This along with a side by side health check up with a physician that I’ve improved my overall well being and health. PRAISE JESUS!

How I did it

I believe that if I can achieve my GOAL you can achieve your GOAL!

Every time someone has asked me how I did it I’d say the same thing. DIET &light exercise. But DIET.

The “loose-it” app was such a helpful tool to assist me in my wieght loss and fitness goals for the SECOND TIME that I have used it to achieve my goal weight. I highly recommend it! Check them out!

Such a satisfying snapshot! (not an ad) (for loose it or sprint lol)



For more details on how I began my new journey, I called it a ‘reboot’.  You can find out by going to, It’s time for a reboot: 5 tips for losing weight post. It will give you a more in depth perspective on how I started my goals.

But in short WHY my diet stuck is because I made it sustainable and I even ate what ever I wanted. It came down to self control and portion control.

It really mattered more what foods I started saying YES to rather than NO to. This positive approach helped me keep going and make less stops to Del Taco & to the fridge after the kids were in bed.

LEARN your eating habits!

I went for sugar when I felt tired. That is especially true in the afternoon and night when I had low energy. I’d reach for the muffins, cookies, sugary drinks and chips.

Being that I was sleep deprived it was hard but I had to get creative and start eating right to nourish my-body right for both me and my baby.

Lots of raw nuts, fruits & whole grain toasts with nut butters, avocado or a non-dairy smoothie would replace the easy fast snacks and sugars I’d normally intake.


Every meal was a choice whether I wanted to go forwards or backwards. I believe in FOOD FREEDOM like what you hear from many ‘whole30ers’ , ‘Paleo’, ‘Keto’ & other on-trend diets. I’d say if I were to describe my normal sustainable diet today it would probably closest to Paleo/whole30ish.

So of course I allow myself to have fries, mac n’cheese or a burger to reward myself but again it would be a treat and not my go-to type of food.


>I don’t go for seconds unless it is veggies or Salad> DRINK LOTS OF WATER> MEAL PLAN>I’D MAKE soup regularly with BONE BROTH for a meal daily> walk & light exercise daily>love my body where I’m at > always have goals.


MY Approach in the beginning was important. I went COLD TURKEY from sweets, breads, pasta, starches, dairy, sugar, caffeine & processed foods for the first two weeks.

This meant veggies, fruits, whole grains, proteins & again lots and lots of salad. I also had to eat enough to nurse and stay healthy for the both of us.

Your can look different with a cleanse to start or stick to a Whole30 or Paleo diet. Its really up to you!

The first 10 pounds I lost were the sweetest validation and gave me the motivation and encouragement to keep going.

As the weight came off it became second nature and easy to live in a new routine new purpose and healthier living. 

The Present

I am sustaining a diet + light exercise with the same approach I’ve had before and eating GOOD FOOD that’s GOOD FOR YOU!

I have new fitness goals. I’m currently doing a 30 DAY FITNESS CHALLENGE to help tone up in general but also for our April Vegas getaway and continue to grow stronger with this simple 5 minute routine. 

30/30/30 reps of squats, sit-ups & push-ups.

Here is my silly time lapse of the 30 day challenge. lol. 


Hot Yoga is something I’d like to get back into again. Another reason to get out for an hour of me time 😉

START with what ever you can do. Even 5/5/5 reps each and work your way up especially if you are postpartum and have been cleared from your doctor to start exercise be patient and know that EVERYTHING counts. I found that walking 30 minutes a day was the best way to jump start my metabolism and energy to ease into a more active life!

The best way to incorporate new healthy habits into things you already do! Get that routine going!

I am also regularly present on social media sharing and crafting new healthy alternative recipes, from my kitchen through Instagram stories or just ANYTHING I’m obsessed over in the moment. LOTS MORE TO COME! Including my protein lemon bars! I’m going to dig these up from my Instagram archives. 


Protein Lemon Bars (gluten free & vegan)

Goals for E.U.T.S

 3 PART SPRING CLEANING series in the works! 


This includes DIY projects, tips & tutorials! HOPE YOU will join & SPRING CLEAN with me! 

What I would like to do in the future and if anyone is interested to collaborate or partner up for some extra fun and inspiration, DM me IM SO DOWN!

I would LOVE to hear what you would like to know more about, hear & see from this blog. i.e. Tutorials, more reflective posts, healthy- baking workshops, fashion diaries…etc. I have ideas tossed in my mind and a voice but would appreciate the help in narrowing down what exactly people want. 

Please DM on Instagram for your thoughts and feedback! 

Thank you for reading my post and hope you enjoyed the update. Remember to subscribe to never miss a post by going to the home page!


FIND ME ON INSTA @everythingunderthesun & add my personal INSTA @nicole_pinkvas






Disneyland in 1 Day

Let me add to the title here a little bit (writing from a MOMS perspective) ‘How to Disneyland in 1 Day, also with toddlers’.



This is ones more of an excuse to look back on some amazing memories we made last year while going to Disney. We went once with my sister and brother in law (who were incredibly gracious and handy baby sitter for us) and a second time by ourselves. Sharing some cute pictures along with tips of what to do and see.


I think Disney sells itself really well with A L L the draw and hype around it. But I have heard lots of friends who still have never been.

(You guys I was born in Anaheim literally blocks away from Disneyland, I think they need to send me some lifetime passes yooo. Anyways…)

Its been fun seeing lots of friends come visit SoCal and others who have moved into the area. And when I ask many of them “Have you been to Disneyland?” most answered no and then had a series of questions and objections about going there.

Whats so special about it? Is it worth the $$$? Its crowded. Last but not least How did you do it with small kids & how do you do Disneyland in one day?

I think there is a common miss perception about Disneyland that its ONLY for kids & families.

On the contrary its THE perfect place to go on a date & if anything its very Romantic especially at night!


Lets just put aside all the prep, the checklists of things to do & see, ‘will we see enough?’, Mickey Mouse, the nursing, snacks, naps, too hot/ too cold weather (yes cold happens here), crowds & lines…pheww. You may ask “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOU, your kids & to Disneyland?”

On the drive to the park, on the tram that takes you to the park, at the ticketing line ‘$$$’, at the photo stop before entering the park & lastly to the first melt down 20ft into the park when Naomi wanted to take her socks off. haha . Lol. Cry face emoji. ‘I asked myself how are we going to do this?’


But, putting aside THE ANXIOUS pessimist inside of me, I put on the pragmatic/optimist hat for this particular adventure. We loaded up the double stroller and had two separate trips to Disneyland in 2017 both for one day. Both were great but came better prepared and equipped the second time with a few tricks up our sleeve.  

There is really something magical in the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH there is a way to make the most of your time even with little ones in one Day.



1.Buy your tickets in advance + MAXpass

I highly recommend this because you skip the LONG line & get the Maxpass.  For $20 more you get to cut the wait time in lines by reserving your place in line using the Disney MAXpass app. This allows you to plan out your day, make an  itinerary and move smoother through the rides & lands within the park.

It was so easy and WORTH the little extra you pay to save TIME to get on more rides.

We took turns on some rides that were not for little kids which were only 2 of them and the rest are FAMILY FRIENDLY. Chloe at 9 months went on Pirates of the Caribbean! So you get to experience all the fun together!

It feels sooo VIP. Enough said. 

2. Devise a game plan

You got maxpass. G R E A T. Now what? Start booking your rides and they give you an hour window to make the reservation. You can reserve two rides at a time. Pick which one in your proximety and still go on rides while waiting for your reservation.

IN GENRERAL THOUGH. While you are loading up your maxpass, we decided to do Disney clockwise.


Now Disney consists of a main alley that takes you straight to the castle with lots of shopping along the way with multiple themed “lands” to explore, taste, ride & see all around on your left & right. SAVE THE MAIN ALLEY SHOPS FOR LATER. (They are sooo smart at Disney. Although the park is closed the shops stay open an extra hour while you get those magnets & trinkets.$$)

Your eye is just wondering all directions pulling into the marvel of it all upon entering. It’s truly a wonderland! Its overwhelming especially to even take it all in. But, try to stick to the plan as much as possible & just get lost in the magic.

So again, what do I mean by clockwise? In example, the farthest area from the entrance is Toontown  behind the castle. Its at the ’12 o’clock’ hour if I were to point to it on a clock.

I start there because that’s were you can meet the main characters, parades begin (they go all day)  & end there. There are LOTS of fun places to explore all ages and a tot-lot too.. That way they can get to experience Disneyland with  Mickey & friends in the adorable back drop of the characters very own homes!



Grab some of the essential photos & autographs & by the time morning starts its nap time.


3. Avoiding the crowds

I don’t think there really is a time or special pocket in the week that has no crowds.

Maybe less crowds like after Christmas season & New Year? We went on a Tuesday and on a Monday and both were PACKED. So can’t help you there. I feel like every time I drive by there are swarms of people coming into the park! Try not to go on a weekend that’s basically all to it.

4. Eats & Must haves


Definitely come to feast with your eyes, its like sensory ooooverload but I will highlight what I’ve tried and some yummy goodies to try.

  • I loooove the world-famous turkey legs in the kiosks, the churro is always the first treat I get with my cappuccino & please get the beignets in the New Orleans corridor.

  • If you are going without the kiddos. I highly recommend getting a reservation at ‘Blue Bayou’. SO ROMANTIC. Its magically located inside a ride which is under a star lit sky (all day) with tasty creole creations & American classics. Quite the experience.

  • Dole whip. Just try it. 

  • Fresh kettle corn is everywhere.

  • You can bring your own food and drinks! I brought a lot of snacks & toddler friendly food that wasn’t easy to find or purchase at the park. (There are also bottle warming stations and nursing rooms around the park. aka lots of benches)

During one of our trips SoCal was having one of the biggest wind storms had seen all year. The fireworks even had to be canceled and after the sun went down in the winter there was a VERY brisk strong wind that carried into the evening.

We were down on snacks, gold fish, pouches and even water. Desperate for shelter & food lol. (Its hard to find indoor seating & eating  in the park as its mostly designed to keep you outdoors.)

  • This indoor indoor pizzeria/cafeteria came up with a salad bar located in Tomorrow-land. We took to our seats not expecting much from the food coming there for convience. I got the Chicken Cesar and we got slices of pizza to share.

This leads me to my next point.

5. Expect quality & cleanliness!!

This isn’t a tip but its my recommendation/stamp of approval to say again GO TO DISNEYLAND. 

(Especially if you get a chance during Christmas, more magic EVERYWHERE)

They set a high standard and it comes through EVERYWHERE in the park. Its clean, accessible, making it stroller city & the food is not a let down. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. 

6. Disneyland during Christmas


If you get a chance to go during the Christmas season, go! It REALLY adds to the magic you get of the park but the benefit of  the million dollar lights, shows, decor & Christmas on steroids experience you get! 

The weather is comfortable, light jackets, not too hot. I mean Santa & Mickey mouse on one float? I’m in. 

Imagine this. To top off our Christmas visit to the park we got some hot chocolate as we strolled the open shops topping off the night with snow fall, twinkling lights EVERYWHERE with a 100 foot real Christmas & castle for the backdrop. Romantic much? Oh, and we had two sleeping babies so we got to take turns and ride Space Mountain a few more times.


We stayed to the closing of the park both times. Straying from the schedules and routines and just got transported and lost in all the M A G I C.


(Fun fact, I have performed at Disneyland with my Chorale back in school days. I got to see the tunnels and the back stage of the park which is just as big or bigger than the park. WOW.)

So no, you will not see me there on stage lol. But, I really believe in the magic and its what you make of the time and day you have there. I believe there is some planning and with a few tips you can make some amazing memories. 

Hope you get a chance to visit soon! Ill write my thoughts and review of our Disney Cruise when we go in 2019!


Nicole IMG-3386.JPG




D.I.Y. Kitchen refresh under $40

Looking to refresh update or try a new look for your kitchen? Well look here to this easy & budget friendly alternative to a full reno by doing this D.I.Y. Kitchen refresh!

I recently moved into a new flat and we will be renting for the time being while settling down in O.C. We have been homeowners in the past and downsizing wasn’t the easiest choice we made but we are cozy & happier than ever in our humble abode.

I love to cook and life naturally happens around our kitchen so with every other room in the apartment transformed with our furniture and belongings the kitchen, although updated, was not quite finished.

While browsing the isles of Target where I find myself often I came across this idea when seeing this tile wallpaper in a roll.  I immediately thought, “I can put this up in the kitchen?”.. followed by.. ” But it would look cheap or cheesy? No.” So I didn’t get it.

Later after contemplating some more I looked up photos of the finished product others have posted & I was impressed at the results.


I posted this photo and I think I may have fooled a few with the fact that this giant sticker gave me the cozy rustic kitchen I’ve been dreaming of!

So here I have for you my review of “Devine color prints” & how to apply this look step by step.



Step 1. Buy the wallpaper. Its called Devine Color Prints Sold at Target for $34.99 for 27 sq ft. ( I used one roll & every square inch ) They have many different patterns and colors so check them out!

Step 2. Prep the walls. Just make sure they are clean with no excess dirt or dust. No rubbing alcohol needed!

Step 3. Get a straight edge, razor, pencil & scissors ready to use. YOU WILL NEED TO USE THESE!


Step 4. Measure from the bottom of the cabinet to the edge of the trim or the size of the wall you are planning to use. Mark your measurements to the wallpaper.

Step 5. Cut the piece out & paste.  The first one is the easiest. Next you will need to measure the pattern exactly to match the design. You want it to look like a tile layout a professional would do. Make each cut count & keep all scraps!

  • What I love about this wallpaper is that it is soooo forgiving. Yes I messed up a few times, it wasn’t & isn’t perfect (even though I’m O.C.D.) and I can un-stick this so easily and stick it right where I need it.

Step 6. Have patience & precision.  It took me a few hours from start to finish but I took breaks having too littles around and needing my attention.

  • At times I had to eye-ball the final result but I’m so happy with how it turned out!
  • Beware of the outlets! When coming across them I measured that space as needed and just cut with a razor directly off the wall.




It looks so real from anywhere you sit in my home & you can only tell when you come up close to inspect that its a giant sticker!

The 3D like design gives of the illusion that its textured & like the real thing! I would recommend this product to all!

This is the perfect alternative for a semi-permanent home, dorm, apartment & home to give you that trendy kitchen for under $40!

Thanks for following and sharing my blog with your friends! I have a new instagram for the blog please follow @everythingunderthesunblog

Best, Nicole



Shortcut D.I.Y. mini Diaper Cake

Baby season seems to be all year round. These diaper cakes are a trend in the baby shower/ baby sprinkle department. . When looking for diaper cake tutorials it seemed that there were too MANY little steps that I just don’t have the patience for. What I did next was create a ‘shortcut diaper cake’ that isn’t too cumbersome to put together or take apart for the mama to be.

I wasn’t actually planning to post this one with each step by step image but its really simple if you follow these steps below!

Best part about this easy D.I.Y. is that you most likely have what you need at home and the cost is that of a small package of diapers. 



  1. 1 package of size Newborn Diapers, (about 40 diapers or less needed).  I used babyganics diapers because they are simple in print & white for the cake.
  2. Rubber bands- handful of thin & thicker ones
  3. 1Paper towel empty roll
  4. Your choice of ribbon/string/decor


  1. Take your diapers and start rolling them tightly from the ‘open’ part to the ‘folded’ part.
  2. Take the thin rubber band & loop around each diaper. (x5)
  3. Take your paper towel roll & the rolled diapers & line them up against the roll standing up. Use a larger rubber band to bind them together creating a first layer to the cake.  Do this for the first layer of each tier. 

    *For the bottom layer continue these steps increasing the amount until you get three layers. Not each diaper will need to be rubber band with the main layer. *You may need a larger rubber band for the bottom than the other top tiers.

  4. Second tier same method just create two layers.
  5. For the top layer use about a bunch of  diapers to make a ‘mini’ tier. Same method.
  6. To cover the rubber bands I used black & red ribbon to match the onesie I am putting as the topper for this cake! Simply with a hot glue gun securing the ribbon ends wrap each tier with the ribbon to cover the large rubber band holding the each tier together.

It should come together & look like something like this! FullSizeRender (28)

I love to improvise, that is basically all my life is (even with lots of thought & planning) So I added some rustic string as a second layer, I created this custom tag using butcher paper & a sticker letter with a memo on the back & to hold the ‘I ❤ selfies’ onesie I used a ribbon & tied it from top to bottom. 

Be creative & adjust as you go! I was really fun trying this out for the first time & I see myself making these for future baby events! 

I would love to see your creations! Tag me using #everythingunderthesunblog & follow me if you don’t on socail media! Good luck!


Best, Nicole 


Credit to:

googleimages, babyganics

Hi, I’m still here…exciting news & update


Hi its been a while! I just wanted to update y’all with what I have been working on for Everything Under the Sun blog & vlog coming soon! I am excited to make a vlog for fun & upon request from others. It will include tutorials, cooking & baking snipits & daily topics from my P.O.V.

It was a busy end of summer season with many birthdays and events happening for our family. We just decided to stay off line as much as possible to take in the sweet moments.

BUT.. I have many blogs to post that are coming your way!

I have an update coming up for my fitness & diet journey that I am so excited to share with you, also A Beauty & skin care post, A look at on our family vacation where we conquered Disneyland & ‘how to’ do vacation with small kids, & as always the happiness of my soul cooking & baking recipes…healthy, mostly ;).

I have a lot to write down and refresh for my new ideas. My renewed inspiration is coming your way, so thank you for following Everything Under the Sun!


Best, Nicole x

Me & my Apple Watch

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This isn’t an Apple Watch review, this is an apology letter to all those who have tried to reach me between the years 2011-2016 & a half. 

I’ve had a few people ask me about the Apple watch and I am happy to share what I think and the oddly BIG impact its had on my life. I’m pragmatic, organized, careful, strategic, slightly O.C.D. & as my husband so lovingly calls me a “beautiful contradiction”, because I’m also a creative, care-free, mellow type of person that can’t seem to get to places on time and respond to a simple text.

I got the apple watch as a gift not long after Chloe was born last year. I was really skeptical of its purpose for me. I am NOT tech-savvy. (I should say I have a bigger learning curve in that department than most millennials). I was planning to return it before even opening the box.

To my surprise, it has done wonders for my life & I just had to share it with everyone!


I was really bad a two things (well I am bad at a lot of things). But these 2 were on the top of the list.

  1. I would be late. Too often.
  2. I didn’t respond to calls & texts. Promptly.

Its simple to respond when someone is reaching out.  Its to simple to be on time. Just do it right?

I takes more than an afterthought to make a change. Obves.

I remember my husband coming home from work early to take me out on a “date day” out. Got a sitter in place and everything. Not realizing that I should check my phone or take it off silent when he was trying to coordinate with me (I have this weird quirk, I keep my phone on silent for no apparent reason, its probably PTSD from school to have it on silent.. I might disturb someone ok? What can I say I am and was a rule follower.) ANYWAYS…  I was  completely out of the loop & unaware that I have this amazing husband who wants to spend time with me, took time off for me and I am on the other side of the city. I would be home no time soon because of traffic to only miss the opportunity of spending that extra quality time together we so desperately needed as new parents.

This was one of many other cases that appeared on and off for years and luckily I have found a solution. Besides, all the mindfulness in the world & force of will sometimes fail; that is why I call this watch my hero!

(Especially now it takes us an average of an hour for us to get out with the kiddos)

Hand to my heart, most of the time it was truly an innocent response (or lack there of.) And combination of these things: absent-mindedness, immaturity, and just selfishness. Over time the countless apologies, defensive explanations, and excuses all were wearing thin on those in my orbit.

I knew I had to change. To be more self aware and just be available! And that is were the Apple watch comes in.

Thanks to this amazing second screen on my wrist it solved both of my issues: the “what time is it? Oh no im late problem” & the “where is my phone?” problem.

Its so silly just even writing this out I am practically crying and laughing all at once because of how ridiculous all this sounds in my head, out loud & now written out.You know when you have an idea that you think is great, just brilliant and then you try to make it happen and its like really blah…anticlimactic maybe? Well, that maybe this post… lol… just hear me out!

It has done wonders to my response rate with messages, texts & availability overall. I can’t say I’m perfect now, but I’ve become more attentive , both with my time and response rate.

Basically what I am trying to say, is that you should get a smart watch! I LOVE my Apple watch since I use an iphone.

Here are more reasons (besides scoring brownie points with your closest people & crushing it at life ) why you should get the Apple Watch…

  • It syncs all my phone & apps with a single scan from my phone.
  • Fitness tracking & alerts.
  • Trendy fashion statement (cool interchangeable straps)
  • Vibrating silent alarm without waking your spouse or kids up.
  • The second generation watch is water proof up to a few meters.
  • It has excellent voice capture tech for texting and I can have conversations with the speaker just fine when I have two kids in both my arms.
  • Different watch faces everyday if you want. (I like Mickey Mouse as Naomi’s obsessed with Mickey telling me what time it is)
  • Apple pay with your wrist! You don’t even have to reach for your wallet when buying your smoothie!

I recommend this especially for fitness. It tracks your steps, customizes your goals, heart rate monitoring, breathing exercises & standing reminders if sitting too long etc. Dmitry and I have accountability to one another as we made it so both of us can see our goals and where we are at for the day or week. I believe I has helped me loose weight alongside my fitness journey and I’m only scratching the surface with these features.


I don’t have a perfect track record since getting it but its improved dramatically! Its not  JUST a glorified watch & I love it! Its novel and just a fun piece of technology for users like me and you!

Thank you for reading my blog! 

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Motherhood: finding myself without losing myself

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Hi! I’m back! Lets just say life has been kicking my butt over the last few weeks  and ironically it was the same time I was working on this draft on motherhood (coincidence much?!)

*Consider reading this parent or not, we may just find something in common*

I stepped into the unknown as soon as we were expecting our first.  I had NO CLUE what I was getting myself into. As soon as Naomi was born she was just the apple of my eye and it was a blissful time in my life. It was so empowering to know I can take care of a real human being! I also found so much fulfillment in motherhood (especially in the first year) that other relationships and priorities were placed on the back burner.

Aside from mommin’ all day and night… I’ve often had to pause and ask myself this question, “Who is Nicole?” amidst diaper changes, sleepless nights and two little ones constantly in need of their mama. Meanwhile the other parts of me: wife, friend, employee, student, artsy, fun Nicole was less and less prevalent.

My husband and I often exhale, look at each other and say ‘Wow, where did the day go? What happened?’ 

Although we understand that this is just a season we are in for a time & we cherish it whole heartily but also understand we have to work in order to fulfill what used to be normal. When things would just come together with no grand plans when things were meant to be how you would imagine in a D.I.N.K. (double income no kids) household . A vibrant social life, time to workout, weekly date nights, travel, lots of spontaneity, fun & MOST importantly freedom. 

Isn’t it funny how we romanticize/covet other people and what stage their in? I do! If you are single its marriage, if its marriage it can be singleness or becoming a parent or if you are older to be younger or you are looking at retiring early and how to become wealthy or you just cant wait till the kids are out if the house…the list goes on and looks different for us all, but I think you get what I’m getting at. We want what we don’t have and we live in order to get somewhere that isn’t our reality today.

Its hard for me (us) to turn off auto pilot mode. Meaning, just go with the motions of the day as needed without actually engaging with the situation. With each minute only anticipating the next thing my kids will need: meals, cleaning up, change of activity, cleaning up, the glorious thing a nap does for EVERYONE. When all are tucked into bed for the night (cross my finders) and I start catching up on social media, I find myself looking through photos of my kids & reflect. I think to myself ‘wow this is so amazing what a great day it really was!’ How all that was wrong or didn’t go according to plan fades away in an instant. But then sadness hits me. For some reason I was not fully present.

What I try to do is stop and consciously tell myself “be here with them, no be HERE.“I may feel like their butler & order taker all day long but there is so much more meaning in my time spent with them I can’t contain myself when I’m actually present in the moment.

Whether I got caught up on getting through the day, my to-do list, or making sure my Instagram photos were edited to perfection, it cost me much more than I bargained for. 

Now, you maybe reading this and think, well I’m not a parent I can’t relate to you or what you are experiencing. This can be  reality for your life as a student, business owner, employee, spouse and any other stage you may fall under today. I say this because its been true to my life before I became a mom. Yes my circumstances have changed, yes my life stage is different but tendency to fall into old habits is a constant battle.

I have a hunch that I am not the only one that has “the struggle is real” written all over them through various parts of the week.

When my pragmatism turns off and I become more present I feel most myself and full of joy.  

Yes, I LOVE being a mama, it was always a dream come true to become a mom (x2) I believe with all my heart that I have been and being formed and molded into a better, loving, caring and nurturing person because of my girls. I am more confident in who I am, where we find ourselves in life and feel validated with all the choices made as a family along the way.

But no matter how planted I may feel anywhere we live and with anything that gets thrown at us, in the good times and the difficult,  I have wondered back to this place over and over again, “Who is Nicole?”

Something that I was taught in church was to be intentional. To be intentional with life: your time, finances, and relationships. I would get a little uncomfortable by this idea. To me it didn’t seem authentic. Like you are manufacturing a reality and are forcing friendships. I was perfectly content letting life go on as is and not place “intentionalality” as the driving force. I always just thought that if two things were meant to come together, it will JUST HAPPEN. If its meant to be its meant to be, right? This worked for me before but why not now? Why not as a parent? Why not today?

Although this was insightful for me to recently recognize & add to my list of quirks, this non-intentional method in my mind I grew very COMFORTABLE with ultimately failed me. Over and over again.

It failed me in my relationships, in my marriage, in wasted time & in missed opportunities. It also failed my day to day life, primarily as a mom. And the once blissful fulfillment I once  felt as a mom my identity I hold dear has come and gone.  I felt depleted, tired, unsatisfied & empty with myself.

I realized if I want to have a full and complete life I must be intentional and I need to ask for help in order to achieve this reality! (Something I have too much pride to do but know I should)

SO, how do you strike a balance between the things you do and who you are?

Well what if they don’t have to be separate? In western thinking we tend to separate who we are. I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I’m Christian, I’m a __________.  When in reality that is WHO I am, It should be a holistic way of defining ones self.

John Calvin once said, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.” What does that mean?

Well, we are made in Gods likeness and in His own image, therefore we know God by knowing ones self. We worship to God amidst our day our life and are most ourselves in his presence. And just as its not helpful to separate God, He is three in one, is isn’t helpful to separate our- “selfs”.

Something that comes with the territory of motherhood is there would be sacrifices made: loneliness (believe it or not, even with a little one with you 24/7) changed relationships, marital strain, identity questions, and lots of tears. Tears of joy & tears from hardship. There is hope and joy I’ve realized in who I am. I’m certainly a work in progress but I carry it all wholeheartedly and found that I CAN have a fulfilled life in any stage if I am INTENTIONALLY living life.

Being intentional can be authentic and be REAL if you are present.

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Thank you for reading my pen & paper blog post. These are the harder ones to write being more personal and raw. I hope you get a chance to explore my other posts & recipes. I have a few more posts coming together in the near future.

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