REAL TALK REAL MOMS: FINDING YOUR CONFIDENCE

I never had to think about finding confidence in being a friend, a daughter or a spouse, but for some reason, finding confidence when I assumed the role of a mother was a struggle in the beginning. I deeply understood that my children were 100% dependent upon me to provide for their needs. Talk about intimidating! Social media pressure, peer pressure and familial pressure are much smaller fish compared to the reality of the responsibility of parenthood. And now more than ever, we are aware that our parenting choices condition our children to a certain extent and have lasting effects on their development (thank you science and research). So, how have I found confidence in my parenting along the way? Well, it's a combination of things:

1. My confidence isn't in myself, but in God. I believe that my children are a gift from God, created by God for His purposes. My children are really God's children entrusted to me to nurture them in the wisdom and love of Him. I try my best, I pray for my kids and at the end of the day I know that God loves them even more than I do (I can hardly imagine that). That gives me so much peace. 

2. I lean on God for wisdom in knowing my kids and what's best for them. There are many days where I feel like I don't know how to navigate my daughter's emotions or my son's health battles, but I believe that the discernment I have (that gut intuition) is really God guiding my heart and mind to the right decisions for my kids. There's nothing too small that I pray for either...from praying my kids would take naps to praying we would find the right doctors to choosing a school, I surrender it all. That, of course, doesn't mean I don't make a ton of mistakes because I sure make a lot of those. But I also know that when I make mistakes it's because I'm acting out of a bad place or not really thinking with wisdom. And, I also know that there is forgiveness and grace for me with the mistakes I made because of my beliefs. Knowing that makes me feel free and confident whereas aiming for perfectionism fills me with anxiety and fear. 

3. I surround myself with encouraging mothers. I have dear friends with kids that are the same age as mine and women who are now grandmothers. They are all supportive and encouraging people that have been in my shoes, and that's a comfort. They don't judge me when I share my mistakes, but they also don't let me keep making them. They encourage me through it, and I do the same for them (at least I'd like to think so). 

4. I set up boundaries with people that shame me for my choices. I'm always open to hearing feedback from people on other ways to approach problems or struggles. But, if I find people that continue to voice their opposing opinion over and over and over again in a shaming, passive aggressive or condescending way I set up a boundary. This has been a challenge for me, and I'm still trying to navigate it. Something that has helped is visualizing a rope surrounding me and creating a physical barrier that they cannot cross. The people that support me are on the inside of the circle and the others that don't are on the outside. Honestly, it helps me feel more free as I parent and make choices when I'm temped to people please. 

5. I remember that no parent has it 100% figured out and every child is different. I have especially found this to be true after having a second child and realizing what worked for Elle doesn't always work for Levi. Just knowing that alone has made me take everything parents say with a grain of salt. What works for their kid isn't always what is going to work for mine. At the end of the day, I just have to do what works for my family.

6. If my kids make bad choices that doesn't mean I'm a bad parent. We cannot control our children. We can guide them the best that we can, but I cannot make Elle's choices for her. So, when she makes bad choices I try to remember the blame isn't all on me. Of course, I try to work with her on making the right ones for the future, but coming to this realization earlier than later is vital to holding confidence as a parent. I know many mothers that deal with toxic shame when their child has turned to drugs or made other unfortunate decisions, and that shame can eat at you far beyond confidence as a parent but as a person all together The only thing you can control is yourself. That's it. And all you can do is your best. That's it. Surrender the rest. 

I would love to hear what has helped you find your confidence as a parent, and be sure to read thoughts from other mamas in this series: The Effortless Chic, Design for Mankind, A Daily Something; The Fresh Exchange, The Sweetest Occasion, Apartment 34, Oh Lovely Day, Design Addict Mom, The LIfe Styled 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

NUEVA NEW YORK - A TWIST ON THE MANHATTAN

Out of the three cocktails Barrel Aged Dad has taught me to make this one is my personal favorite because it involves wine and tequila (my alcohol of choice usually). Jason took the classic Manhattan and give it the wild west treatment by swapping whiskey for tequila and vermouth for wine. Yowza! The classic cocktail originated in New York City, but it's far from home in taste while the appearance and beauty remains classic.  This is a great cocktail if you want to wow your special guy for Father's Day with presentation and bar skills because it requires a bit more technique (two things that I don't have, but I will totally look like I have with this cocktail). 

NUEVA NEW YORK COCKTAIL
2 oz Anejo tequila (Kirkland brand at Costco is a great bargain, $20)
1 oz Lillet Rouge
1 barspoon agave nectar (about 2 teaspoons)
2 dashes Scrappys Bitters Chocolate Bitters

Add ingredients to mixing glass with ice, stir, fine strain into a cold coupe glass. Express the oils from an orange peel over drink, discard peel. Garnish with Luxardo cherries. 

Add ingredients to mixing glass with ice

Add ingredients to mixing glass with ice

Stir briskley. 

Stir briskley. 

fine strain into a cold coupe glass

fine strain into a cold coupe glass

Garnish with Luxardo cherries

Garnish with Luxardo cherries

Be sure to check out our other cocktails for more ideas for what to serve on Father's Day,  as well as my gift guides. Follow Barrel Aged Dad for additional cocktail inspiration. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer

PARADISE VALLEY STAYCATION

One of the plus sides of living in such a beautiful part of the country is that everyone wants to vacation here. The dry climate and desert beauty lends itself to be a desert oasis for the rest of the U.S.A. living in the cold during the autumn, winter and early spring months. The resorts and spas are plentiful here, and one of the best resorts in the Valley is Mountain Shadows

It's a new resort with a very old history that dates back to the Rat Pack days. The original resort was demolished and this new resort (its namesake) was built in its place. The modern architecture and interiors pay homage to the mid-century history of the previous resort while bringing the resort into the 21st century with contemporary elements as well. It's STUNNING to say the least. If you're a mcm architecture lover you will enjoy the space a lot.

One of the Arizonan secrets is to plan a staycation during the off-season if you really want to enjoy peace and quiet. The pace is slower in the summer due to the heat, but it's really optimal weather to spend an entire day poolside. So, Mountain Shadows invited me to come and relax enjoy a much needed girls weekend with a couple close friends to experience all the resort has to offer. 

Everything from the moment I stepped out of my car to the moment I left was top notch. When I walked into my room was I was stunned by how beautiful it was. Each room has a patio with beautiful views. The resort is nestled between two mountains, so I mean it when I say there isn't a bad view. 

On Friday night, we enjoyed appetizers and drinks at The Living Room (their bar) where they had the best live music. I swear I thought John Mayer was in concert the band was so good. They usually have live music Friday and Saturday nights if you ever just want to go to the bar for a date night. The service was lovely and the food was outstanding. Most everything is locally sourced and the menu is constantly changing to reflect the seasons and freshness of the local produce. We shared a yummy beet salad, burrata and chip and guacamole while we talked for hours with some wine in hand. 

I forgot how it felt to not have a care in the world and just hang with friends. I really haven't done anything like since becoming a mom. If you're in a similar position, I highly recommend carving out the time to plan a trip with some friends once in awhile.

We didn't have to wake up early the next morning, so why not stay out all night long. We went to bed around 11pm (late for me) and I woke up at 7am and enjoyed a slow morning with Rennai. We had some Press coffee and lounged outdoors listening to birds and people watching. 

I had every intention of enjoying a yoga class that morning. So we wandered over to their top of the line fitness center to wait for the class to start. I stretched and took in the peace and quiet, but I started not to feel so great, and thinking perhaps my stomach just needed some food, we moved up our brunch reservations and ate some oatmeal and eggs at Hearth '61. 

It was SO GOOD! Just what the doctor ordered. I highly recommend their oatmeal or eggs Benedict. Although be sure to read the post until the end because I had the most amazing pancakes in my entire life there too. 

After brunch we got our suits on and headed for the pool. If I was going to lay down all day I may as well do it by the water, right? And that's exactly what we did. We had a very lazy day and just talked for hours while we sipped watermelon juice. It was so good for the soul. 

The poolside service was excellent. They had towels waiting for you on every chair and plenty of umbrellas and cabanas for your comfort. We saw families with little babies to adults on romantic getaways. Your view is of Camelback Mountain the entire time, and there are two pools (one higher and one lower), so there is plenty of space for everyone. 

After the pool we washed up to get ready for dinner at Hearth '61. But, at that point, I really started to feel sick.  It turns out that I caught the stomach bug from my daughter (she had been sick the night before I left). I was so bummed that I couldn't go to dinner with all of my girlfriends, but I sent them to a night out anyway. I told them to report back all of their favorite foods they savored. 

The girls shared a nice bottle of red wine, and started out with a taste of street corn with ricotta salata, chipotle aioli and popcorn courtesy of the Chef Alfred. The presentation was gorgeous. 

The gals had a big appetite, and were completely sold on the idea of splitting a 40 ounce steak (yeah, you read that right). See, this is what happens when I am not there. Haha! I never would have thought to order that, but after hearing about how amazing this Niman Ranch tomahawk rib-eye was I think I need to go back and try it for myself. It came with rosemary truffle butter (oh my gosh). Need I say more? 

The also enjoyed sides of carrots with tahini yogurt chevre and polenta a la plancha with creme fraiche and basil. 

Dessert stole the show though because they got to try every dessert on the menu. They tried peanut butter mousse, molten lava cake, brioche bread pudding, and the vanilla lavender panna cotta. 

I couldn't believe they had room to try all of the those, but I guess when it tastes that good you make room for it. They told me hands down the peanut butter mousse and the bread pudding were the best. So, if you visit be sure to try those.

While they had a night out I went to bed at 7pm and woke up at 7am still feeling nauseous, but not enough to detour me from eating breakfast. We headed down to enjoy some pancakes and eggs. I didn't finish every bite, but what I did savor was out of this world.

Bacon pistachio pancakes you guys! Need I say more? Best pancakes of my life. I would go to brunch at Hearth '61 any day for these. 

It sure was a tasty end to the getaway. And even though things didn't go as planned for me, the hotel was so beautiful it was actually the best place for me to simply relax and heal. 

As a interior design and architecture lover this is hands down my favorite hotel in the Phoenix area right now. It's pure luxury, super sexy and high end. I would highly recommend Mountain Shadows to guests visiting Arizona, as well as couples looking for a getaway. Be sure to check out their website for their summer rates. 

Photos by Rennai Hoefer; accommodations were covered by the hotel as payment. 

GIFTS FOR THE TRAVELING DAD

Ryan's new job requires him to travel at least once a month, so this Father's Day I thought it would be great to give him gifts that make his travels feel more comfortable and stylish. I found so many great gifts on Amara.com. They are a retail site that specializes in luxury style and customer service. The site is curated so well it takes only seconds to find something "gift worthy." 

In fact, to make things easier for you this Father's Day they have a quiz that will help you figure out which kind of gifts your guy would love. It's a helpful starting point if you are a bit lost. (find the survey at the end of the post). 

For Ryan, however, no survey was needed because I knew there were certain travel essentials he would love. On our recent trip to New York City, he mentioned he really wanted a quality weekender bag. So, I got him this Bric's olive green (looks very brown in person), leather holdall bag. It's beautiful! I may have to steal it when I go out of town next. It's quality from top to bottom, and will be the perfect carry-on for short strips to Santa Barbara. 

Given that he works for Sonos and is a total audiophile, quality headphones for the on-the-go listening experience were an obvious gift as well. He has tiny ear buds, but they aren't the most comfortable things to wear for long flights. So, these KREAFUNK headphones will make him very happy. I'm a sucker for good packaging and design, and the box alone is pretty enough to simply put a bow on. 

If you have seen my latest cocktail series with Barrel Aged Dad, you know that Ryan is a lover of a good craft cocktail. A gin and tonic is Ryan's summertime cocktail of choice. Amara sells these adorable travel bar kits that include a jigger, linen napkin, tonic syrup, and a bar spoon. Just add alcohol and you are set (or jet set, rather). 

Lastly, to help Ryan feel like he has a piece of home with him, I thought a quality pair of UGG slippers would be the perfect touch. I have a pair myself, and they are the most comfortable things in the world. After a long day on my feet I love to slide my slippers on, and now he can too. 

All of these gifts took me only five minutes to find. Be sure to check out Amara.com for Father's Day or anytime you're on the hunt for the perfect gift. And take the survey below to get you started on your gift hunt:

Find out more about #DrinkWithDad at Amara.

This post is sponsored by Amara. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Product was given as payment for this post. Photos by Rennai Hoefer. 

WELLNESS UPDATE

In March, I started a wellness journey that has truly transformed my life. What began with just trying to feel strong and be more active with pilates has become a full life change for me. In the process of establishing a regular fitness routine at Core Body Pilates, I found out that my ANA levels were high which is an indicator of an auto-immune issue. I'm no stranger to autoimmune problems with a history of Hashimotos disease and rheumatoid arthritis, but up until now I thought my inflammation had been under-control. I was wrong.

I discovered these high levels after seeking help from a dermatologist about some unexpected hair loss. And though I was glad my hair falling wasn't due to aging, I was bummed to find out that my hair loss is most likely related to another auto-immune issue. UGH! 

I have made an appointment with a rheumatologist per the recommendation of my dermatologist and primary care doctor to find out what else is going on, but I know that often steroids are prescribed to bring down inflammation. I really would like to avoid steroids, so I've started trying to see how my diet could also help lower inflammation in my body. And after a lot of research and asking others who have similar diagnoses, I have decided to be gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free for a minimum of six months to see if it really changes my inflammation (loosing following the auto-immune protocol diet).

I started these dietary restrictions at the beginning of May, and it surprisingly hasn't been too hard to do. I will say that traveling makes it much more difficult to stick to though. Cooking at home and preparing snacks and meals ahead of time is really key to this new lifestyle (be sure to follow my Recipes to Try board to see what I'm making). In the process I feel as though our family is healthier because they eat what I make, and eating out isn't as tempting. Overall, I feel a lot healthier already. I had no idea how many crackers and pieces of bread I was filling my body with instead of healthy proteins and veggies.

My stress levels and my joint pain have been non-existent. It's crazy! I can't say that I know it's indefinitely due to the diet change, but it's a possibility I'm not ruling out. I'm also down from 140 to 130 with more muscle.  This is seriously a surprise to me because with all of the sickness that has been in our house, all of the travel and busy schedules my stress levels should be even higher. Nope!

I'll be sure to continue to update you guys at the end of June when my fitness challenge has been completed and my ANA levels are tested again. If you are a in a similar boat as me with auto-immune issues I would encourage you to start this journey as well. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.