The Amazing Strength of Every Woman

Often when we hear about the hardships of our friends or strangers, the common response is “I don’t think I could survive that”. When in fact, we have all overcome adversity that we had initially thought were impossible –  failing a class, heartbreak over a first love, never ending job search, long nights with a crying baby. And as we get more invested in life, the bigger our adversities become and the more we have to lose. But for whatever reasons, we still feel unprepared for the struggles that await us and panic at its arrival. However I have found that women, all women, possess amazing strength that we are unaware of. When disaster occurs, that strength finds us and carries us through. Because we, as women, are more resilient than we know and stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

When we think of war, we think of the big bombs and courageous soldiers. But what we forget is that life goes on. That on the same fields where bombs are destroying, there are people marrying, dying, divorcing, growing, laughing, crying and loving. And while we’re familiar with the heroic tales of the soldiers and commanders, what we do not hear are the stories of the women who keep life going. Zainab Salibi tells in her Ted Talk of the mother who puts on puppet shows for her children so that they would not be afraid of the fighting taking place outside their doorstep. The music teacher who kept her school open during the war and had children playing wearing coats, mittens and hats so that they  could still have music in their lives. The woman who ran around her village and collected all the flour the moment cease fire was declared so that if there was no cease fire tomorrow, there would be bread for everyone to eat. These women went above and beyond just the call to survive but rose up beyond the tragedy and made something good. Their strength aided not to the end of war but the continuing of life. Because when war ends, and it eventually does, there will be something to come back to, children to carry out the generation and life still flourishing all thanks to these women.

When my dad passed away suddenly, my mom found herself alone for the first time in her life. She had gone from living in her parents’s home to living with my dad. They lived together, they worked together, they did everything together. My dad took care of everything – from home life to the store and driving in between. If my mom had a doctor’s appointment, my dad would drive her the day before so she would know where to go. But in a matter of mere moments, my mom found herself alone. Alone at home, alone at work and alone to take care of all things that my dad had done. My sister and I helped where we could, stayed with her as long as we could and even invited her to stay with us but she refused. This was her way of life now.

Since then my mom has adjusted. She’s been running the store by herself, finding her way to the doctor’s by herself and living in a new place by herself. She comes over and plays with the kids, she volunteers at church and even cooks me food. Where she finds the energy, I do not know. I used to hold my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Its been two years and it never has. I know when her world turned upside down, she didn’t think she could go on but she did and did so with more grace and strength than I thought was humanly possible.

There are moments in my own life when I’m not sure how things will turn out and if I have much more to give. But I remember that deep inside myself, I have a reservoir of strength to draw upon. Strength that have been deposited by my mother and her mother, my sister, my daughter, my friends, the women before me and the women after me. No one wakes up with the thought that today, they will do something life altering. We all wake up and we do what the day asks of us. But its in answering those calls that we find ourselves doing the extraordinary – giving more than what we thought we had in us to give and doing better than we had anticipated. It is only when we look back that we see how hard it was, how much we’ve grown and how much stronger we are now. So, my dear friends, the next time you’re up in the middle of the night worried about how you’ll make ends meet, how you’ll face the day or how you’ll ever go on, take a deep breath and know that you have the strength to face whatever challenge that stands before you. Because you, a women, are amazing and have more strength, more courage, more love than you think you do – I am sure of it!




Journaling with Chatbooks

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One of the problems with digital photos is that we usually forget to print them. All of our photos are archived on our phones and computers forever and ever – who has the time to comb through the hundreds of photos, pick out favorites and put it into an album? Thats where Chatbooks comes in. Chatbooks links directly to your Instagram or Facebook so every time you post a picture, that pictures is automatically added to your book. And since each page only holds one picture, no time is wasted trying to figure out the best layout. In addition to the picture, it also captures the description, date and even location. There are many options such as multiple contributors, books for a specified hashtag and uploading directly from your phone (no social media necessary). 

I use Chatbooks not as just an album but to journal milestones, funny things the kids do or say and moments I want to remember. It’s a good way to document the milestones without having to create a separate book. If you don’t want to share every moment of your life on social media, you can upload directly to Chatbooks. However, the one downside of Chatbooks is that it doesn’t have the capability to edit photos. You have to use a separate photo editing app then import it to Chatbooks. To get around this, you can create a separate account on Instagram and add that account to your book so that posts from both accounts will be part of your book (you can also add your spouse or other family members). And since Instagram recently updated their app to support multiple accounts, it’s easy to switch between accounts. In addition to the using Chatbooks as a journal, I also have a separate books for all of Lincoln’s artwork. I take a picture, upload it to Instagram on my secret account and hashtag it with #lincolnproject. All pictures with that hashtag are automatically compiled into a separate book and shipped once I fill 60 pages. This makes saving Lincoln’s artwork easy and I don’t have look for new wall space every week. 

Another great feature of Chatbooks is the multiple contributors to one book. So if you go on a group trip, you can create one book with everyone on the trip by using the same hashtag. Then all pictures from your group with the hashtag #beachtrip2016 will be automatically added to the book. No more emailing pictures back and forth or trying to decide on a layout! Best of all, you can subscribe a book series so that once you have 60 pages, it will automatically print and ship – all for $8! You can even ship it to multiple recipients (i.e. grandma and grandpa). Chatbooks is a great way to get your pictures out of your phone and into a hard copy with minimal extra effort. As much as I love scrolling through old photos on my phone, there’s something satisfying about looking at them in print. Try it and let me know what you think! And as always, if you have questions or have tips, let me know about that too!

The Forgotten Art of Apologizing

My three year old loves Daniel Tiger and frankly, so do I. There’s no violence, sexual innuendoes and each episode includes a life lesson  wrapped in a catchy tune. The other day, we were watching Daniel Tiger and the lesson of day was saying sorry. According to Daniel Tiger’s mom, saying sorry is only the first step. To fully rectify the situation, we have to ask, how can we help? I think this is a lesson many of us have forgotten, myself very much included. We do malicious things or say hurtful words to our friends and loved ones and when confronted, say sorry and expect to be immediately forgiven. Its a familiar scene: you muster up the courage to tell your friend how their comment hurt you, they say sorry, then five seconds later, asks if you’re still mad. Of course I’m still mad! Saying sorry does not relieve the anguish – it’s just the beginning! To complete the apology, we have to ask how can we help make it better? This may include confronting a third party, paying for a damaged object, adjusting our attitude, having some quality time, or picking up the tab after a round (or two) or drinks. In most cases, the perpetuator knows what needs to be done (if you don’t, ask); the hard part is following thru. But an apology is nothing without the after action. So the next time you slip up and find yourself apologizing, remember the words from a very wise tiger and ask how can I help?

“What’s for dinner?” (Meal Planning 101)

If you are like me, I absolutely hate the question, “What’s for dinner?” and I usually try to ask it to my husband before he can ask me.  As a mommy of 3 littles, I have tried so many different ways to deal with this question. Here are a few recommendations for services and apps to help with your dreaded meal planning for the week:

Meal Subscription Services: Recipes and Ingredients will be sent to you on a weekly basis

  • PLATED: A bit more pricey than some of the other options but they also provide more options.  For example, if you pick the 3 meal per week version, you will be able to pick the three recipes /  meals from 9 options.  For 2 people 3x per week you will pay $74.  If you prefer 4 meals per week it is $96. Many subscribers noted that this is a good choice for a couple, not a family.
  • BLUE APRON: Seems to be the winner among these types of subscription services because the price is a bit more palatable and the recipes are yummy and interesting but not super difficult.  For 2 people, BLUE APRON will run you $59.94 per week for 3 meals.  For a family option, you will pay $69.92 for 2 meals a week and $139.84 for 4 meals per week.
  • HELLO FRESH: The comments in regards to this subscription is that the recipes and ingredients are very basic but still very fresh. This may be a better option for people or families who want very healthy meals.  For 2 person meals 3 times per week, it will cost $69.  For 3 meals a week for a family of 4, it is $129.
As you can see, these are not cheap / inexpensive services and will cost more than if you were to do your own meal planning and shopping list and shopping but let’s be honest, you are paying for convenience and the comfort of not having to think about what is for dinner a few nights a week.
Another option that I have tried is Fresh 20 which sends the customer a list of 5 recipes per week and the shopping list.  The idea is that you only have to purchase 20 fresh food items from the grocery store in order to make all of the recipes.  Initially, I liked this concept because it helped me not waste food and I felt like the recipes were pretty healthy.  I have friends that really love this option but I haven’t been able to keep up with it.  I live overseas though and some of the items just aren’t available to me. This is an inexpensive choice with an annual price of $65, 3 months for $24, and 1 month for $10.
If meal subscription services aren’t your thing and you are a meal planning pro, you may still find these well loved apps helpful:
  • Cook Smarts:  This is similar to Fresh 20 where they will send you recipes and shopping lists for the week. Their aim is to help people improve their cooking skills while making meal planning easier. This will cost you $6 per month
  • Pepperplate:  This is a free app where you are able to import recipes and the app will help you organize them.
  • Ziplist: This is a free app with a shopping tool and organizer
  • Plan To Eat: Helps to organize recipes by incorporating your calendar and a shopping list generator.
  • Paprika:  Another recipe manager with list generator.
As you can see, there are various tools available to help you with your meal planning… now it is a matter of what suits you and your family.  We would love if you comment with your thoughts / ideas on meal planning and what works well for you!