Fists of Fury

“5 Activities to Help You Be A Good Mom”

That was the caption under a pin on Pinterest I scrolled across a few days ago. No sooner had I read those words, an intense rage boiled up inside of me. Not just normal rage- “Momma Bear” rage. My husband likes to joke that I am sweet until someone brings out the “Philly Fire” in me and then people better watch out! And nothing stokes that Philly Fire more than my momma bear instincts. Why was this stupid Pinterest pin making me so angry? I wanted to punch the fake smiling mom in the photo in her face. Okay, that’s a tad violent, but who is she to tell me I’m not a good mom? And why would her activities ensure I was a good one? She doesn’t know me or my life!

I truly believe this is why so many women feel like they aren’t good enough. There’s this constant flow of ads on tv, magazines, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram making us feel like we are falling short. Social media in general can make one feel extremely bad about themselves if they are not careful.

Mantras For Mommas

Repeat after me ladies: I am NOT a bad mom!

Whew! Doesn’t that feel good to say out loud? Take it from my own experience: I hear at least once a day from one (or all) of my darling children that I’m “stupid” or that “I’m ruining their life” or that I am the “worst”, etc. etc. – you get the point. Normally these just bounce off of me because I know they don’t mean those words, but on those occasional bad days when their words do cut me down, actually saying I am NOT a bad mom out loud to myself helps! I’m serious! Next time you are feeling pretty low about your ability to parent, just repeat those words to yourself (or any personal variation) and you will feel better.

Some other popular mantras I like to repeat to myself are:

It’s Almost Bedtime

Mommy Is Not A Maid

Tomorrow Will Be Better

Mommys Need Time-outs Too

They’re All Alive So I’m Calling It A Win

I mean, this list is pretty much endless, and yes most of these are supposed to be funny! I would not get through most days without a little humor (and caffeine!)

If you’re day is going south fast, just take a few minutes to yourself. Take a breather, take your caffeine source of choice, sneak one of those treats you hide from the kiddos, repeat a good mantra to yourself and head back in there! It will all be okay.

The Year of No

By May of this past year I was feeling extremely burnt out. Between my kids sporting events, art classes, my sporting events, our church callings, Scouts, traveling, Jess needing to leave for Boise in April until September, my work with the American Cancer Society and with the Rape Recovery Center I was feeling at the end of my rope. We were just TOO busy! I felt like we weren’t spending enough time as a family unit, and it was starting to show. Not in any huge obvious way, but as a momma I could tell my kids were struggling with it.

In June after the Hope and Healing Gala I helped with for the Rape Recovery Center, and my epic trip to Rwanda with my Grandpa, the kids and I made our way to Boise to spend the rest of the summer with Jess while we worked. After the first week of pure summer fun and no plans whatsoever I felt so recharged, happy, and steady. I decided I needed more of that in my life; this coming school year, we would start saying NO!

This means that other than the things we have to do, we will not add more to our load. If we don’t need to commit our precious time we could be spending together, then we won’t. Our kids actually WANT to be with us, and who knows how much longer we can enjoy that? I really felt like we as a family needed some time without extra responsibilities and stress. We are going to focus this time on spending it together and strengthening our family unit while the kids are still little. I stepped down from helping with this year’s event for the American Cancer Society because frankly I was feeling so burnt out, and I needed to spend that quality time with Jess in Boise. Coming home only after a week or two would have not been a good decision.

Without any prompting, our kids have started saying no as well. Calvin after much debate decided he didn’t want to play football. I was proud of him for making that decision on his own, because I knew it was hard for him. Jess and I did not put any pressure on him to play or not, and he felt like it was not something he wanted to pursue this year. He has many years ahead of him left for sports, so I am not worried at all about him “falling behind” or any of that mumbo jumbo. Him not playing  has been a huge change for us from last fall in a positive way. He had practices every day and games every Saturday and by the end of the season he, and us were exhausted! It was fun, but a lot of time commitment. It was also a time commitment that Memphis and Shay had no say in.

So far this school year has been easy peasy. Our days aren’t as hectic and full as they were last fall, and it’s just what we needed right now.  I’m sure next year we will pick right back up and be busy with activities, but I am glad I listened to my gut and decided to start saying no.

Put Up Your Dukes!

As a mom it’s extremely easy to get offended and defensive when it comes to our kids and our ability to raise them. A prime example is me and that pin that made me so angry. I mean really, I have no reason to get so riled up by 9 words, I already know I am an amazing mom to my kids. The word that sticks out in that sentence is MY. These children are mine, and I am the only one who knows them intimately, and know how to cater to their individual needs. No one else would be able to do that! Each child is different, and each family is different.

All I know is, that I love my children fiercely, and I try my darndest to do my very best to raise them right. I make sure they go to bed every single night with kisses and knowing that they are loved. My husband and I parent together with what we feel is right for our family, and what’s right for us isn’t right for the next family- and that’s okay! Every family has unique challenges and beliefs and that’s what makes this world so diverse and beautiful. Our differences and acceptance of those differences is what makes a community better.

So keep doing you moms of the world, cuz you’re doing great!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Portuguese Dirty Bathroom Floors

As I sat in the bathroom stall with unbearable pain stabbing at my stomach, I knew that I was about to be extremely ill. We had literally just sat down at a table outside of the nice French Restaurant in Sintra, Portugal and were looking over the menu when I suddenly was overcome by “that” feeling of oncoming sickness. You all know the one – the oh-so-lovely  “number 2” kind. I bolted for the restroom, and there I sat on the toilet with my head in my hands to try and stop my head from spinning. Sweat was pouring down my face and neck making me even more uncomfortable. I had my coat on and another two layers underneath it since it had gotten chilly as the sun went down, and those layers were all just sealing in all the juices.

I badly wanted to take off my coat to help relieve me from some of the heat, but I didn’t want it to come into contact with the dirty floor in the bathroom. Granted, it was a nicer restaurant, so it was cleaner than most places but it was still a public bathroom in the middle of Portugal. I was determined to release these demons, and be on my merry way. Unfortunately for me, my body had other plans. All I’m gonna say is  it was a good thing that no one else was in the bathroom because once the floodgates opened, it was ghastly. Had it not been me, I would have been laughing, because it sounded like a professional sound board of flatulence and diarrheal explosions used in a movie. It was really bad. So bad in fact, that I  started to get really dizzy and quickly recognized that I was going to pass out. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and even though I could barely see what I was typing I managed to text my sister:

“Help”

Finally succumbing to the fact that I was indeed fainting, I figured it would be better to lay down myself than fall down. Feeling so awful to the point that I just didn’t care anymore about the aforementioned dirty floor, I plunged from the toilet head first. I did however, manage to place my hat on the floor so my face was not in direct contact. It was there, in all my post-diarrhea glory with my pants still down, that I finally blacked out.

Within moments my sister dramatically flung the door of the bathroom open, (I imagine her kicking it open with her fists in the air). She told me later she thought my text message meant I was being kidnapped, (I mean, obviously if I was being abducted I would be able to text), and she was fully prepared to fight off whoever it was. I was brought back to consciousness by her pounding on the bathroom stall door. I was able to lift my arm and unlock it, and she knelt down by me to assess the situation.

After telling her what happened she ran to fetch Jess. When the two of them returned, he knelt by my side and the first sweet thing that came out of his mouth was:

“Why are you so sweaty?!”

Had I not been incapacitated I would have busted up laughing. This whole situation was crappy – pun intended – but it was hilarious. The bathroom smelt horrendous from the ungodly things that had just come out of me. I was aware I was extremely sweaty – I had a river flowing from my neck to my backside- but I can only imagine what I looked like to everyone else. I was not only riding on the hot mess express, I was the conductor. Toot toot!

Along with Aly and Jess came a waitress, who was super freaked out and wanted to call an ambulance. I was mortified. First of all, my pants were STILL down around my ankles so, first order of business was to get those suckers back up. I was so glad they would come back up! You know after you go swimming and if your legs are a little wet it’s impossible to get clothes on? It was kind of like that. Secondly, I would be damned if I had to get in an ambulance because of a little diarrhea! What would they have done anyway, wipe my butt and give me some tums? Nope. That absolutely was not happening.

After drinking some water and sitting up for a few minutes – still on the bathroom floor mind you – I assured the waitress that I would be alright, and we headed back to our Airbnb which was thankfully about five minutes away. Once there, I stripped all my clothes off and put them in a plastic bag to be washed at our next stop, showered and went straight to bed. I was so relieved to be laying on a soft bed and not a dirty bathroom floor.

What would a European vacation be without an epic diarrhea story, right? Well, I would prefer it not to be me who was sick, but I took one for the team. My husband Jess, sister Aly, and myself traveled to Spain and Portugal for two weeks this past October. It was a dream trip that we planned for about a year, and even as we got on the plane to leave it didn’t seem real. The thing about traveling, especially with long trips like this one, is that nothing will ever quite go as planned. That’s just a given!  The mishaps and adventures along the way are what make a trip so memorable. Kind of like the hilarious example below where Jess and i could not nail this jumping photo!

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Besides this little diarrhea debacle, our trip was amazing, and I cannot wait to post more about it! I took SO many photos so get ready!

 

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Table Rock | Boise, Idaho

Perhaps one of the most iconic spots in the Boise area is that of Table Rock. It’s easy to see why once you’re standing at the top with a beautiful panoramic view of Treasure Valley,  as well as the Owyhee Mountain range. The 60 foot high white cross that adorns the summit of the butte is equally loved and hated by native Boiseans. The area itself is sacred ground of the Northern Shoshone tribe, who apparently used the butte and surrounding caves for ceremonial purposes. Apparently, it’s a sore spot why nothing is there to preserve or respect the Shoshone tribe, and instead the white cross stands tall.  IMG_4693IMG_4697IMG_4694

The cross actually stands on private land, owned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, (Jaycees), who purchased the land in a very shady auction which the general public was not even made aware of. So, the cross itself has a pretty turbulent and controversial history. BUT, controversy aside, it still is extremely cool to hike to the top and explore the surrounding caves. It’s become quite the graffiti mecca, and there is always new artwork to admire.

You can either start from the bottom where the trail starts by the old Idaho State Penitentiary, (which is also highly recommended to go and see!) The littles and I started at the bottom of the trail, but only made it about half a mile and had to turn back. It didn’t help that it was 96 degrees out when we started. So, we got back in the car and decided to drive to the top of the bluff instead. It ended up working out much better for us, and we were able to explore all the little caves and crevices.

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clearly, they were thrilled to hike up. You can see the cross that’s blurry in the top right corner. We had a ways to go.

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Even the artwork on the electrical buildings on the hike up from the parking lot are impressive! The details on them are phenomenal.

Once we sat on the summit for a few minutes and took in the gorgeous panoramic views, we hiked down to the caves right below that encircle the entire bluff. Memphis is really into Batman right now, so he kept exclaiming “I found a Batman cave Momma!” Too cute.

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Table Rock is a must see on my list of things to do in Boise! If you’re in the area, definitely go! Me and my littles had a great time exploring it and maybe one day we can go back and actually hike up to the top instead of drive.

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

A Kitschy Surprise in Melba, Idaho

When I packed the kids in the van and drove over to Melba, Idaho a few weeks ago I was under the impression that we were going to a “fairy” trail. Shay my daughter is obsessed with all things fairy and magical so I was sure she would love it. When we pulled in to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Trail I was a little confused but pleasantly surprised to find it was in fact a “ferry” museum which was a nod to the still standing 150-year-old buildings which at one time housed the ferry services across the Snake River. What I soon discovered was that a man by the name of Dr. Samuel “Pappy” Swayne and his wife Cleo purchased this land and constructed buildings to house his medical practice and for them to reside in. When Pappy passed away in 1976, Cleo decided to turn their property into a religious nature trail.

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The sign that we passed as we entered says it’s a “faith adventure”. Anyone could see as you start your journey walking the trail that it is heavily influenced by Christian religious beliefs whether the various decorations are subtle or not so subtle. Cleo put up bird houses along the trail which all have included signs with whimsical and religious quotes on them about life, love, and family. Judging just by looking, there must be thousands of houses so that feat was amazing in itself to achieve! This part of the trail also houses a cemetery which is the final resting place of the beloved Pappy Swayne and various other family members.

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There’s also a kitschy side of this trail. Mixed amongst the Christian decor are spectacularly kooky lawn decorations including life-sized African safari animals, a full Hansel and Gretel set, a random rocket ship housing an alien with included “Take me to your leader” sign, and a collection of bronze sculptures including historical figures. I took a photo with William Shakespeare because I recently discovered he is a distant cousin of mine! (And by distant I mean like 14th cousin twice removed or something crazy like that!) The dichotomy of different worlds just kind of makes you cock your head and say “Huh.”. But it’s also a very interesting contrast and just makes you feel like you’re in a giant attic of your favorite grandma. Despite it being almost 100 degrees that day, we enjoyed our nature walk. There are also chickens roaming free, and there is a muster of peacocks which the kids had a phenomenal time feeding, and we loved seeing the babies!

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If you’re in the neighborhood, head on over to Cleo’s Ferry Museum and Nature Walk. It was a very unique discovery for us, and whether you’re religious or not you can appreciate all the time and work that went into this beautiful space.

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

Wahclella Falls and the Fish Hatchery at Bonneville Dam in Oregon

What a weekend! We drove up to Portland to visit my family and we definitely packed as much as we could in the 4 days we had up there. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it’s just a good reason to go back! We took two days to explore the breathtaking Columbia Gorge. There’s so many hikes and waterfalls- it would literally take a week maybe two to see it all! Because we have littles and little legs we needed to pick holes that were kid friendly.

The first day we went to the gorge, we hiked Wahclella Falls. It was not a flat or easy hike, and Memphis protested and demanded to be held several times, but we survived. Us out of towners were pretty cold at first and all had our layers on, but by the time we reached the falls I was sweating! The weather here is so unpredictable but we got really lucky and it ended up being sunny and pretty warm.

 

 

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The hike itself was gorgeous. I still cannot get over the moss covered trees! My kids called them “fuzzy trees”. My stepdad Rick was a fountain of knowledge pointing out every plant we passed and telling us what it was stinging nettle, and Poison Oak which thankfully no one walked through or touched! We even picked some delicious wild raspberries along the trail, but also saw salmon berries,Oregon Grapes, and huckleberries! We saw a few garter snakes and Rick picked it up while the littles squealed with delight.

The Falls were quite impressive. The greenery surrounding Wahclella makes it seem like you should be in Ireland instead of Oregon. It was quite magical really. We made our way to the water which was too cold to swim in, but the littles had a good time throwing rocks in the water for a long time. Okay, the adults threw some rocks too! The kids explored a cool dripping cave, and then we headed back down the trail to the cars.

That same day, we visited the Fish Hatchery which is across the road from the Wahclella Trailhead at the Bonneville Dam.

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We saw lots of fish, and even Bigfoot! It was worth driving over to see the hatchery.I had never been to one before, so it was very interesting to walk by all the huge tanks holding the baby fish in them. Tons of tiny fish were leaping out of the water which the kids enjoyed watching. We moved on to the Rainbow Trout which were so vividly colored, and the kids liked throwing in fish food and watching a giant writhing pile of rainbow fish fight over it.

From there, we moved to the sturgeon viewing areas. Man, were these prehistoric fish impressive! They even had a viewing window under their pond so you could watch them swimming underwater. The largest one they had must have been at least 10-15 feet long! Memphis loved looking at their eyes, and Calvin loved to point at the pieces of dead fish along the bottom of their tank. Shay just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that they are as old as dinosaurs.

Once we were done watching them, we drove up to the actual dam. Inside, we took the elevator down so we were underneath it, and they had these viewing windows where you could watch the fish swimming up the ladder from under the water. We maybe saw one fish from under there, but were much more interested in the alien-like Lamprey which were suctioned to the windows! Their alarmingly sharp little teeth made it look like a horror film! Honestly, I could have watched them all day. I never knew that they are basically leeches and suck the fluids out of the fish they attach to! Calvin started talking to a group of people and told them that “They are basically related to Dracula!” which made us all laugh! He’s such a good tour guide!

We walked outside to watch the fish leap up the ladder from the top of the water. Sadly, we saw plenty of fish but none of them were jumping so we didn’t stay long. We got a good view of the dam from up there, and then called it a day.

It was such a jam-packed day of fun and we really lucked out with the weather being so nice and sunny! I snapped this photo of Memphis when we pulled into my birth mom Sherri’s house.

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You know it was a good day when he’s asleep in the car (which he never does anymore) AND covered in dirt!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette