The Importance of Sex in a Relationship

This week I got the great idea from my husband to talk about sex. Or as he so eloquently put it: “talk about doin’ it.” However you refer to sex, I wanted to talk about the importance of sex in a relationship. And how more intimacy and more sex leads to a happier, long-lasting future with your partner.

Jon and I have been together for almost 10 years and I certainly credit our great sex life to how happy we are together. Sex is one of the most important parts of our relationship; it helps keep us connected emotionally and makes our relationship stronger. Any issues that we may be having can affect our sex life and vice versa. So we make an effort to keep an active sex life since sometimes it can be difficult with work and kids.

Why is sex so important though?

Sex helps to keep a level of intimacy that’s necessary in committed relationships. Everyone wants to feel loved and secure in their relationship and sex helps by increasing the overall happiness with your partner. Frequent sex is a self-esteem booster and makes us feel attractive and more confident. I, as well as so many others, have lots of insecurities. I’ve had many moments where I felt very unattractive, especially after having two kids. My body has gone through changes and I have a lot more stretch marks than when Jon and I first started dating. But regardless of how I see myself, he still finds me attractive, and I know it by how often we have sex. I feel more desirable and more confident the more we have sex.

Sex is an awesome stress reliever. Sometimes after a long, hard day, you need a long hard… night. Kissing, cuddling and sex release oxytocin (the hormone also known as the “love hormone”) which helps us to relax and have a more restful sleep. Dealing with the issues of day-to-day life can be difficult. Work, household chores, kids (if you have any) and potential financial problems can put a damper on any relationship. But having an active sex life with your partner can help to ease that burden. Maintaining a close and intimate relationship makes it easier to tackle any issues together. While an inactive sex life can make a you feel like you’re more of a roommate than someone who’s in a loving relationship.

Sex is also great for physical health. Are you looking to switch up your exercise routine? Looking to workout with your significant other? Well, having sex is a great way to get a workout in and burn lots of calories. Sex also benefits heart health and improve overall fitness. Don’t forget to squeeze those glutes, yours and theirs.

I cannot stress the importance of sex in a relationship enough. Now, I’m no expert on love, sex or marriage. This post is simply my own interpretation of how sex enhances my relationship with my husband. Hopefully, some of you reading can relate or at the very least, have more of an open discussion with you partner about sex. It’s certainly one of the most important parts of my relationship. I feel loved, feel confident and secure in my marriage because we have sex as often as we do. And it helps keep that spark alive.

So set the mood: light some candles, get out the massage oils, have a glass of wine and put the kids to bed early. Happy humping!

-Toniann

I’m Vegan and my Children ARE NOT

Yes folks, you read that right. My daughters are not vegan and that’s ok. My household is not a vegan one. My husband eats meat and my girls eat… a varied diet. I mean, they’re kids. They go through phases of foods they like and then hate, willing to try and not try. It’s all trial and error, and they each have their own preferences just like anyone else does. I’ll admit it took me a while to accept my girls eating dairy, and rarely eating meat, and sometimes it’s still a struggle but in the end, they will make their own choices when it comes to food.

The girls eat a mostly plant-based diet since that’s what I cook at home. They love tofu and almost every fruit they’ve tried. There is the rare occasion where I’ll make pizza and get regular cheese for them and the hubbs. Because, honestly, vegan cheese is nothing like dairy cheese. And there are probably a few times a year that the girls will eat meat, and that’ll usually happen at a family barbeque or some special event at school. There are many birthday parties they will be going to and the last thing I want is to tell them they can’t have any treats or cake because they’re not vegan. Their diet doesn’t need to be so strict.

Like I said before, my kids go through phases with food. When my oldest was 2 years old, she never ate meat, even though she was offered at every meal. Her favorite food for almost a year was a peanut butter sandwich. But she’ll try meat now when she sees her father eating it, the same with my toddler. I forgot how tricky toddlers are with meals. One day she’ll love oatmeal and literally the next day will not eat it. But she loves fruits, both of my girls do. Since I’ve become vegan, there are lots of foods that we’ve tried that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We love to try new vegan restaurants and go to vegan food festivals as often as we can. My husband even went vegetarian for a year and vegan for 3 months (something he claimed he would never do. Love you baby!) So when I actually think about what my girls eat, I would say they have a healthy diet.

I have been vegan for almost 6 years now, a decision I made happily on my own. The last thing that I want is to force a vegan diet on my daughters and they, in turn, never want to be vegans when they get older. I have had many talks with my oldest daughter about where meat, cheese and eggs come from and she knows I went vegan because I love animals so much. In my opinion, being vegan seems like the most natural and logical way to live. And it was hard for me to accept that I had to let my daughters choose for themselves, the same way I did. It’s only fair. What you eat is a very personal choice. And while I can guide my children with what I serve them at home, in the end, they will be making their own food choices. I’ll love them no matter what.

-Toniann

The Reality of Parenting Failures

Being a parent is hard work: you’re in charge of raising a tiny human being into a functional, hopefully self-sufficient, adult. And if you have more than one kid, that makes it a lot harder. Especially if they have totally different personalities like my daughters do. It’s an adventure to say the least.

I feel like more parents nowadays worry about EVERYTHING! Well, I know I sure as hell do. Sometimes, the tiniest mistake I make as a mom crushes me, and it shouldn’t.

Living in this online age, where information is so readily available is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I can check to see if my daughter’s wart is indeed a wart (which it is), and on the other hand find out that I’m probably scarring my children by yelling at them so much.

And then you have social media.

We all have that one friend that makes motherhood look like a fucking breeze. They’ve got an amazing outfit on, their hair is done, house is immaculate and their kids look just perfect. They also work and still have time to make these fancy individualized little lunches for their kids. I mean, how the fuck? I haven’t cooked dinner since Thursday and last month, one of our dinners was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And bless my husbands heart because he was so excited that night. But to be honest, I feel bad when I don’t cook for my family. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I should no fucking excuse, right?

I know that most of what those moms post is just a façade. I’ve also been guilty of posting gorgeous pictures of myself and my kids, but for the most part I try to keep shit real. I’m not afraid to open up about some of my struggles as a mother. Mostly, I hope not to isolate other mothers who might be facing the same problems as I am.

There was more of a village mentality back in the day when it came to raising kids. There were many family members and trusted friends who would help and ease the burden. But that seems like a rarity now. And I know in a lot of cases, that’s for good reason.

But can we just stop with all the judgement? Being a parent is hard enough without people offering unsolicited advice and criticism. I beat myself up enough on my own, I definitely don’t need anyone else doing it too. I have so much anxiety now, wondering if I’m doing right by daughters. I want to make sure I don’t yell too much, feed them healthy meals, raise them to be strong and stand up for themselves, to come to us whenever they need help, to love themselves and each other. Most of all I want my children to be happy and to feel loved by my husband and I.

There is the rare day where I feel like a bad ass mom, but most days I feel like an epic failure. My daughters mean the world to me, and I go to bed every night and I hope that I haven’t fucked them up in some way. And I promise myself that the next day I’ll do better, but sometimes it’s difficult. I’m not perfect. But the shit of it is, no matter how horribly I think I’m doing as a mom, my kids still love me. They give me the biggest hugs and make me feel like the best mom in the world. I hope one day soon, I can see myself the way they see me.

-Toniann


5 Tips to Help You Go Vegan

Happy Monday everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, or have not read my blog name, I’m vegan. I became vegan in 2013, almost 6 years ago next April. Check out my post on Why I Became Vegan if you haven’t already. But for this weeks post, I’ll be sharing some helpful tips for anyone who’s thinking of going vegan.

Do Your Research!

Going vegan requires a lot more research than going vegetarian. At least that was the case for me. Vegetarian simply means not eating any kind of meat or fish. But going vegan means not consuming ANY animal products. It can be overwhelming to find out how many of your favorite products have animal ingredients in them. Again, why the fuck is there milk powder in certain brands of salt and vinegar chips?! SALT AND VINEGAR! I’m still outraged by this, but let’s move on. Research vegan companies and companies that don’t test on animals. Find out which products are accidentally vegan, you might find that some of your favorite snacks are already vegan. It can be intimidating at first, once you see an actual list of non-vegan ingredients (especially ones with the overly scientific names), so be thorough in your research.

Start Slow

Now, if you want to be a badass and go vegan overnight, more power to you. I know there are some people who’ve done it, not personally as I have literally no vegan friends in real life, but I couldn’t do it that way. If you still eat meat, start by cutting meat out first. There are tons of meatless Monday recipes online. Then start cutting out eggs and dairy. OMG, but cheese! Yes, yes, I hear your cries. I was once a lover of cheese and an egg over easy but you can live without it. Try vegan alternatives like cashew ice cream and faux meat products. Just remember to go at your own pace.

Experiment with New Products and Recipes

This one is probably my favorites. I always stuck to the same foods when I used to eat meat. But now that I’m vegan, I have tried so many new foods that I wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise (I’m looking at you quinoa). And I’m always trying to veganize some of my favorite childhood dishes, and so are many other vegans out there. There are many non-vegan companies that are creating plant-based products to keep up with the vegan demand. I definitely enjoy trying new recipes and I’m always on the lookout for new vegan products, especially dairy-free ice cream. So next time you’re out shopping for groceries, take a look at some vegan alternatives and try a new recipe.

Watch Some Vegan Documentaries

Whatever your reason is for wanting to go vegan, there is a documentary you can watch for it. Want to go vegan for health reasons? Watch What The Health. Want to go vegan for the animals like me? Watch Earthlings. And if your an aspiring environmentalist, watch Cowspiracy. Those are just to name a few, there are so many documentaries out there shining a light on how truly horrible the meat and dairy industry are. They’re really not for the faint of heart, but trust me, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to consuming animals.

Stand Firm in Your Reason for Going Vegan

Going vegan is hard. It’s really one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. And while it was a huge challenge in the beginning, it’s gotten easier with time. There will be lots of criticism from friends, loved ones, and some random person you just met that finds out you’re vegan. There will inevitably be some slip-ups, but that’s not reason to back-track. I had a really drunken, super fun night out with my husband last year and I ate a slice of cheese pizza (or 2 or 3, I can’t remember), but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to go back to being vegetarian or eating meat again. Don’t forget, we’re all human. Just keep reminding yourself why you wanted to become vegan in the first place.

I hope these tips help some of you to go vegan, if you’re not already. It does require a lot of research and maybe a lot of time for some people, but it’s so worth it. Many people believe that going vegan means you’re sacrificing so much or going without, but that’s not the case. Going vegan gives you an opportunity to try new foods and new products without the guilt. If you love animals, value your health and care about the well-being of our planet, then go vegan. You won’t regret it.

-Toniann

A Letter to My First Daughter

My darling baby girl,

I love you so much. I know that I don’t always show it and I’m sorry for that. Mommy is not perfect, no matter how hard I might try. But never forget how much I love you.

You are growing up so fast. It’s such a wonder to see all that you can do now but it also fills me with a lot of sadness and fear. You are strong and brave, energetic and silly, and best of all, you are so loving and kind, just like daddy.

I remember the day I found out I was going to have you. Daddy and I were home at our first apartment when I took the pregnancy test. The second pink line was faint but undeniable. I was gonna be a mommy. And while I couldn’t believe it at first, I was so incredibly happy.

I couldn’t wait to meet you, to hold you and give you kisses. I would have dreams about you almost every night. You had such dark hair in my dreams, and I remember hoping that you would be born with lots of hair, especially because I had so much heartburn! But most of all, I just hoped you would be born happy and healthy.

And after all that waiting, the time came to give birth to you. It was finally happening.

I remember Daddy, Grandma and I going to my last doctors appointment on May 26th. I was 40 weeks pregnant and the doctor told me she wanted us to go to the hospital that night so I could give birth to you. So later that day we went to the hospital, and they gave me medicine to start labor. When the morning came, you still hadn’t come, you were so comfy inside me, you didn’t want to leave. My doctor came in and told me that she wanted to send me to the operating room and have a C-section to get you out. After waiting all this time, I was finally going to meet you.

Daddy held my hand the whole time, there was a curtain under my chest so I couldn’t see anything. The doctor got your head out first and you started crying right away. And I cried too, I cried this huge sigh of relief because you were finally here. I asked Daddy if you had a lot of hair, he said yes. Every time you cried, I cried along with you. And when the nurse put you in my arms, I couldn’t believe how beautiful you were. I was amazed that Daddy and I made you, this wonderful little baby. And I still feel that way, each day you get older.

The day we came home from the hospital. Look at all that hair!

I just want to share a few things I want you to remember as you get older:

Stay kind. This world can be a very dark place but please don’t let it harden you. You always look on the bright side of things and see the good in everything. It’s a quality I wish I had, so please don’t ever lose it.

Don’t ever settle, for anything or anyone. You deserve the best.

Mistakes are important. I know sometimes its difficult to fail, but it really is the best teacher. Don’t be afraid to fail, just make sure you get back up and try again.

Most of all, I want you to be happy. Life is short, and it’s easy to think you have time to do things later on, but time still goes on. So do what makes you happy.

Baby girl, life will be difficult sometimes, and it may feel overwhelming, but know that I am here for you. You are a strong, kind, brave, intelligent and beautiful girl. You have taught me so much since you were born and I thank you for that. You gave me the greatest gift, you made me a mommy. The day you were born was one of the happiest days of my life. I know sometimes I’m not the best mommy, but I hope you know that I am trying everyday. I hope you grow up to be a better woman than I could ever be.

I love you.

Love, Mommy

-Toniann

How Being Off Social Media is Improving my Mental Health

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’ve been taking a social media break since the beginning of this month. My original goal was one month, but it’s been going so well I think I’ll make it a bit longer. I’m writing this post as an update on how my break is going. So let’s get started.

I’m less anxious. While I’m a self-proclaimed bitch, I’m also a very emotional person, especially after having my daughters. While on social media, I would feel bad about not being invited somewhere, worried that someone doesn’t like me, beating myself up for not having as nice a body as another mom and countless other things. But deleting social media apps from my phone has helped me to not worry about things that are out of my control. I’m not constantly seeing the problems my online friends are going through, I’m not worried about how many likes or comments my posts are getting, I’m not worried about posting every meaningful moment in my life. I’m not focused on what I don’t have but feeling grateful for all that I do have in my life. I’m simply living, and I feel much lighter.

Enjoying a visit from my older brother.

I’m more present. I’m paying more attention to my family and my friends. I feel better about not being rude by picking up my phone mid-conversation to check something on social media. I would always check my phone, while watching movies, during dinner and even at red lights, and that’s still something I’m working on. But having social media off my phone makes it easier since I don’t really have much to check.

Having fun with my silly girl.

I have more time to do things I actually want to do. I could spend hours on social media, flipping between apps, watching videos and so much more. It was easier to pick up my phone than it was to crack open the book I’d been wanting to read or to study for my personal training certification. Not to mention how long it would take to snap a decent picture of a great vegan dish I just made and also posting the recipe. It was eating up all my damn time. So it’s safe to say I’ve been enjoying all the extra time I have.

Hiking to the top of one of the Supersition Mountains with the hubbs.

When I get back to social media, I’m not going to put the apps back on my phone, I’ll just check on my laptop. It’s a vicious cycle for me. After my breaks I feel like I have so much to catch up on and wind up spending so much time on social media and then realize it’s too much and need another break. So my hope is to keep social media off of my phone indefinitely.

I also need to work on not using my phone as much. I began replacing social media apps with games and other apps on my phone since I still had the urge to check my phone. But this was still a huge distraction.

My friend recently sent me a fascinating New York Times article about creating a healthy relationship with your smartphone and it’s something I’d really like to do. I don’t want to rely on my phone as much as I do. I want to enjoy my time with my husband and daughters, and time out with friends. I want to live a happier life, and I honestly feel I would be if my phone wasn’t constantly in my hand.

For now, I feel so fucking free being off of social media. And I would recommend everyone take a break every now and then. It’s an unhealthy escape from reality. My life is pretty awesome, and I’m happier living in the moment instead of posting it on social media.

My babies ❤️

-Toniann

6 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mom

This week I want to talk about a few things I’ve learned since I’ve become a mother. I usually write my blogs early on Monday but, better late than never. My brother is in town for a few days so I’ve been trying to spend some quality time with him. With that being said I’m going to try to make this a short one, so let’s get to it.

I’ve been a mom for almost 8 years now but I still feel like I’m scrambling to get my shit together. My daughters mean the whole world to me and I try my best, but I constantly think about what I could be doing better. And while there’s so much I need to work on as a mom, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned so far.

What works for one child won’t necessarily work for the other. Before I had my second daughter, I was sure that certain things I had done with my first would automatically work for her. How foolish I was. For example, when my oldest would hurt herself, she would look at me, and I made it a point to laugh so she wouldn’t think it was a big deal. And soon, if she had cried after falling or bumping into something, I knew that she was really hurt and was not just crying for attention. But I tried this same “trick” with my second daughter, but she cried even worse when I laughed! So when I saw that she had hurt herself, I tried not making eye-contact with her and that seemed to work. My daughters have their own personalities and their own individual needs. I mean, my pregnancies with each of them were so different, so why wouldn’t that be the case with raising them.

Take other moms advice with a grain of salt. This is similar to my first point. Every child is different, so what works for one mom and her kid might not work for you and yours. I’m no stranger to asking someone for help when I need it, so I appreciate the advice that I’ve asked for. Sometimes its frustrating to deal with the constant advice being hurled your way by other moms, especially when you don’t ask for it. But sometimes it can be wonderful when that advice works. At the end of the day, I have to be comfortable with how I’m raising my children, no matter what anyone else says.

Sometimes, Mommy needs a time-out. It’s difficult for me to be at home with the girls all day so I try and make it a point to give myself a time-out. Sometimes, its a nap on the weekend (which is my favorite), sometimes it’s just taking some deep breaths while I do the dishes, and when I used to smoke, it was the daily cigarette on the back patio. It varies depending on the day, but it’s important for me to check in with myself and make sure I’m okay so I can be a better mom to my girls.

Date nights are very important. The hubbs and I didn’t go on our first date night as parents until our first daughter was 6 months old. Honestly, it wasn’t even a thought for us at the time. We were so busy in our new roles that we forgot to take care of ourselves as a couple. But it is so important. We get a chance to reconnect during our dates which I feel makes us a stronger couple, and better parents.

Patience. Yes, the most important thing I’ve learned is patience. When people see me with my girls, they always say how patient I am, and I am so surprised every time I hear it because I honestly feel like I’m such an impatient person. It really doesn’t help anyone when I lose my shit. So, whenever my daughters aren’t behaving after I’ve told them something for the millionth time, I try to take a breath before reacting. And the times that I’m able to take a step back, the outcome is so much better.

Stop beating yourself up. This is one thing I probably struggle the most with. I am always making myself feel like shit for not doing better by my girls. ALWAYS! I shouldn’t have given them so much junk food today, I shouldn’t have yelled so much, I should have spent more time playing with them, I should hug and kiss them more. These are just some of the things I think about when I put my girls to bed and finally have some time to myself. I make myself feel guilty. But my husband always tells me that that just means I care so much about them. And it’s true, if I didn’t care about being a good mom to them, I wouldn’t worry about all this stuff. All I can do is try and be better the next day.

I’ve learned so much since becoming a mom, its definitely a fascinating experience. I never knew I could love two little humans so much. And because I love them so much, I so desperately want to be the best mom I could be for them. But I’m not perfect, so there are good days and there are bad days. There is always a way I can do better but it also doesn’t help me to dwell on what I should have done. I promise myself everyday that I will do better and I hope my girls can see that I’m trying. And I hope everyone knows that even with all my flaws, I’m still one bad ass mother.

Toniann