An Uncomplicated Life Blog: October 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Planning For Home Improvements

Use this tool to help you plan your home improvements

Last fall, we completely gutted our master bath. We literally took the room down to the studs and started over fresh with a completely new bathroom! Our house was built in 1979 and it was the only room that had yet to have any serious renovations done. The previous owners had done some cosmetic updates, like new fixtures and fresh paint, but at the end of the day, it was still a 1979 bathroom that needed a sledgehammer in the worst way. So we decided to bite the bullet by hiring a contractor, getting a few bids, and the next thing we knew a few guys came in with those sledgehammers! I learned a few lessons (some of them the hard way) and learned that the PLANNING of your home improvements is just as important as the implementation of those improvements.

Helpful tips and tools if you're planning a home renovation

What were some of those lessons? The biggest one (or two, really) was expect it to take longer and cost more than what your bid states. Contractors know what they're doing, but they can't see and know everything about your home until they're already working on it. Expect for unplanned expenses and delays in work - just build them into your budget and timeline in advance!

For our timeline, we were quoted two months. We live in Dallas, which currently has one of the hottest housing markets in the country because of the stellar job economy here. Not only that, but our neighborhood in particular is in the national top 10 for explosive growth. We bought right at the beginning of the growth curve, so we're loving what we're seeing for home sales! That means our home equity is increasing. We increased it further by renovating the last room in the house that needed improvements!

The bummer about all the growth meant that contractors are BUSY. Our timeline got blown out of the water quickly. I had ordered custom vanities that should have taken six weeks to build and arrive; but because of all the growth and how busy the builder was, they took almost nine weeks. That threw my contractor off so that he had to rearrange his staff on what projects they were working on. It ended up that the vanities were delivered and sat in for a week because my contractor didn't have capacity to install them. That threw us off by 10 whole weeks! I learned there's an order of operations in construction. Tile has to be laid before vanities can be installed; the vanities have to be installed before the counter tops can be installed; the counter tops have to be there before the under-mount sink can go in; and so on. So when one piece of the puzzle gets thrown off, the whole project is delayed!

Budget was the other big lesson. As in, you need far more of it than you think! I know HGTV tells us we can do a whole master bath for $8,000 but let me tell you: Nope. You can't. That wouldn't have even paid for the labor, let alone materials cost for our bathroom! In fact, I can tell you that my vision for the bathroom was to have a large, free standing soaker tub instead of a drop in. When we were out selecting materials for our renovation, I fell in love with a cast iron soaker. "Ohhhh, babe, that's our tub!" I said. Then I asked our sales associate "how much" and with a grimace, she replied, "That's a really nice tub... It's $10,000, and that doesn't cover delivery." So, that was out real quick!

We paid our renovation in cash, but that's not the reality for most folks. Capital One has this really neat home equity calculator, and also has great rates for home equity loans, which is how most people finance their home improvements. Whether you’re remodeling your home or consolidating debt, Capital One is there to help with simply smarter tools that help you choose the right option for your situation.

Carpet that will eventually be replaced

Now that the master bath is complete, the our next task will be replacing the carpet in the bedrooms. The living, dining and hallways are all hardwood or brick, but there's carpet in the bedrooms that the previous owners installed a few years ago. They put in high quality carpet, but it's beige. And I have two boys. And a dog. And a husband who seems to spill coffee every day. We invested in a Rug Doctor and do spot cleaning every few months, but someday we'll just outright replace the carpet. I'm not sure if we'll do hardwoods or if we'll do different carpet, but I know that I can expect it to take longer than planned and cost more than we though! And if we need financing for our next home improvement, I know I can use the tools from Capital One and get a great rate on a home equity loan.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Favorites

The best Halloween has to offer, from movies to decorations to activities

Halloween is my favorite, the same way Will Ferrell's favorite is Christmas in the movie Elf. My absolute favorite. It's only fitting that I share some of my favorite things about this fabulously bizarre holiday, right? Right. Let's jump right in then.

Favorite decorative piece: This skull cookie jar. We got it on our trip to New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities. Tons of fun voodoo shops and haunted history there, so that's no wonder, right? I don't actually put cookies in it because I don't want any grubby toddler hands breaking this little gem.

Halloween cookie jar

Favorite scary movie: The Conjuring. Y'all, don't watch this one alone! I had some bad dreams after this movie, no joke. The Conjuring 2, however, is pretty lame so either don't get your hopes up when you watch it or go head and skip it all together. The Ring is a close second. I think I was in high school when that one came out and I didn't sleep for about a week thinking that distorted shapes were coming out of my closet, about to manifest into a ghost or demon.

Favorite bad scary movie: Cabin Fever. You know movies that are SO bad, they're actually amazing? Like you're sitting on your couch in awe that the film got production funding - that bad? Well Cabin Fever takes the cake in this category, hands down! Everything about it is fantastically awful; the acting is horrific, the plot sucks, the gore is so fake I think they used watered down katchup for blood. It's so bad, it's amazing. And hysterical.

Favorite costume idea: So here's the thing - I'm TERRIBLE at costumes. No really. You'd think that for a woman who loves Halloween, she'd be the most clever at figuring out costumes, right? Nope, I suck at it! I usually go as a witch, which as you can see from this throwback (photo of a photo, sorry digital didn't exist in 1990 when this was taken) is a perennial fave of mine. You're welcome for this pic.

Just Witch/Zombie twinning with my sister

With the kids, I let them choose their costumes. Henry went as a ninja turtle last year (which ever one the purple one is - he definitely chose that costume because his favorite color is purple. I think it's his favorite word, too. He says it 100+ times a day) and he's going as that again this year, because hey! That thing was $40 and it still fits and he still loves purple. Otto will be a pumpkin, because Target had that costume in his size. Told ya I suck at this costume business.

Our little Ninja Turtle last year *heart eyes emjoi*

Favorite Halloween activity: Decorating the house. And doing a new decor craft like these pumpkins every year. I LOVE holiday decorating and actually get sad when it all comes down because the house looks so bare! It's fun to open the storage boxes and think, "Oh hey! I forgot I had this!" or "Oh wow, totally forgot I bought that on super sale last year!"

Carving pumpkins and trick or treating are actually on the bottom of my list: My skin is allergic to pumpkin so carving is kinda a bummer (hives like whoa) and trick or treating is cute for a block with the kids... But the issue is that in Texas, people don't seem to understand that you only ring the doorbell of the homes with their porch lights on. Our kids go to bed at 7pm. And a-hole kids STILL ring the bell (and make the dog bark) well past 9pm, when not only do we have the porch light off, we've turned off all decorations and made the front of the house dark too. So rude! I sound old and crotchety.

Halloween is fun because it's laid back, there's no stress with hosting family for a large meal unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, the weather has cooled down and there's treats. What's not to love? These are a few of my favorites for this fun holiday. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2016

When You're The Friend Who Leaves

On the challenges of friendship when you move away

I've packed up all my crap and moved across this country three times. Once for grad school. Then again for a job. Then again for my husband's job. I actually find it quite exciting to head to a new city, and hope I have the chance to do it again at some point. What's NOT exciting is the toll it takes on your friendships. I was having a text convo with my roommate from grad school, as she's also moved all over the country with a military husband. We were talking about a shared experience with some of our high school friends when I got the idea for this post. This, guys, is what it's like when you're the friend who leaves by moving away.

Just because you move away doesn't mean that friendships die

Also, I hope you enjoy the party pics of me and some of my "forever" friends. I dug deep into the bowels of Facebook to find these old pics, just for your enjoyment. Back to the topic at hand:

At first, it's exciting. You need to figure out where the grocery store is, and where Target is, and you're trying to find your favorite local restaurants. And while that's exciting, the early months are also the loneliest. You haven't made new friends yet - if you're lucky, you've just met some new acquaintances. So you rely heavily on your friends from your former city. But it's bittersweet to talk to them. They fill the conversation with tales from your former favorite restaurants and bars, the kickball league you used to play on, and give you the gossip on your former favorite yoga teacher. In those first few months of living in a new city, you depend heavily on your old friends. But oddly, sometimes talking to them makes you sad. They only remind you of everything you loved and how badly you miss it.

Pre-kids, when I could fly to Richmond several times a year to party with these beauties. This is 2010. Red-faced drunk guy totally photobombed this otherwise cute pic.

After you've been gone for several months, you've made new friends. You have people to go to lunch with and you have people to hang out with on the weekends. But they don't know you like your old friends do. You're finally no longer homesick, at least not all the time, but every once in a while you think, "Dang! I wish (fill in the name of your closest friend from your former city) was here! They'd totally understand why I'm laughing/crying!" And then you call up that friend, and have a good long talk about it, and feel refreshed that there are people in the world that still truly "know" and "get" you.

Then you decide, you know what! I'm going to go back to that city and pay everyone a visit. So you get your ticket and let all your old crew know you're coming. You start to get activities and dates set up to hang out with as many people as possible. But you're also shocked at who DOESN'T respond to you, nor make time to see you. You're left a little miffed, thinking, "hey, I'm traveling 1100 miles to see you! Why can't you clear a night to hang out with me?" You'll be shocked at who won't drive to your side of town when you've traveled so far. You'll be saddened by who decides to leave town on the very dates you're traveling there so that they can take a last minute trip with their new boy/girlfriend. You'll also be happy with the friends that go out of their way to see you and make your trip worth it.

2008: The year I thought it'd be fun to be a brunette (it wasn't), lived in Savannah and told Paula Deen I wanted to marry one of her sons. That didn't pan out, but I'm still friends with the gal in the photo!

As you put more and more time in between the date that you left your last city and all your friends, the calls and texts get fewer and fewer. You start to submerge yourself in your new city and life and friends more and more. Perhaps now when you need some advice or want to have an in-depth conversation, you even call one of your "new" friends because you called one of your old ones, but got their voicemail for the third time.

There are friends who will be your "forever" friends. With the friends who do stick around, every time you talk it's as though you never left. You're able to jump right back in to your regular ways and conversation and it feels so good! Then there are the friends who will let the distance sever the friendship. There are friends who will put in the time and effort to remain connected and those that won't. And who is who and which is which will likely bring some surprises.

Been friends with this guy for almost 20 years! This was NYE 2009. Just look at those false lashes!

Being the friend who leaves is both the exciting role (whoohoo, a new city and new experiences!) and also the lonely and frustrating role. You want so desperately to continue friendships, but sometimes that's hard. At first, it just makes you more lonely and then after some time, it just becomes challenging. Lives change and move forward. You make new friends. Your best friends will always be in the picture, even if you don't talk to them regularly or see them often. But who truly ARE your best friends might shock you when you're the friend who leaves for a new city.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October Currently

What I'm thinking, feeling, loving and hating right now!

I had honestly planned on doing a birthday recap post today. I turned 32 on Sunday and we actually threw a little party for me on Saturday. Turns out, I was having so much fun that I completely forgot to take a single picture! Whoompwhoomp. So I'll just break out a classic old school "currently" post, so y'all can get caught up with my thoughts give me some advice. Full disclosure? Monday's blog post was a ton of work and I have a few more coming up that are labor intensive sooooooo this post is just going to be a hot mess until I'm caught up with my posts/editorial calendar. That's what happens when you spend your weekend day drinking instead of blogging. But, yay birthdays!

Currently, I'm:

Loving: Henry at two and a half. The "terrible two's" is a load of garbage, two's are awesome! He hugs me and Otto constantly and says, "I love you mommy!" "I love you Otto!" and he helps me in the kitchen, knows how to do the laundry, helps clean up the playroom at night, loves a good game of tag, and most importantly, he walks himself to bed promptly at 7pm. What a champ. Before you Negative Nancy's speak up, I know - three is supposed to be awful. But he's not three, he's two and a half, and I'm enjoying it to no end. He's also taken a liking to Halloween, and it's making my little heart swell with pride!

Just look at this face!

Hating: All things social media. Obvi Facebook is a mess of political opinions. I've had to hide more than just a few people for their insane beliefs and comments. If you run a page for a business or blog, you've probably also noticed that your reach is way down. They've changed it so that you basically HAVE to pay to reach even the people who like your page, and it's outrageous. All the way until this summer, I got great organic reach through a simple strategy. Those days are over. Instagram is also falling to pieces with algorithm nonsense. And then I think, "am I really basing my blog or my own worth on the number of likes and comments it got?!" And that's just a sad place to be, isn't it? Ughhh social media, I hate you.

Basically I'm only enjoying Pinterest, and that's because I never "niched down" -- I always kept to pinning what I enjoyed, even if it was "off brand." Well low and behold, that's the only thing that's fun anymore!

Consuming: ProNourish. I'm pretty sure I wrote a blog post a year ago or so about how important breakfast is, yet I never eat it. I wake up and get one kid out the door to preschool, hit up a yoga or barre class and it's nearly noon before I'm back home and still just running on coffee. Not a healthy way to live, Paige! I found ProNourish and it's great - I can throw it in my purse and drink it en route to preschool drop off. It's a low FODMAP drink, so it fits with so many different lifestyles. Best yet, I scored it at Kroger on sale. Healthy, good tasting, I can eat it on the go AND on sale? Pshhhh, winning.

Feeling: Much better than last week! I was completely out of commission for several days with a stomach bug. Two weeks prior to that I had strep throat. For all of October I've had a sinus infection. It's been a hell of a month of sickness for me! But, um, the silver lining is that I' at my pre-baby weight so it's not all bad. Vain? Yeah, so what.

Shot this pic with a fever from strep:

Buying: Henry's teacher at school told me he was the only kid without a nap mat and I was like whaaaa? I mean, the school provides them mats, but I guess I was supposed to get some fancy cover thing for him. Thanks for waiting a month to tell me, preschool! So I got him (and Otto, who starts preschool in January) these cute nap mats. They come in tons of prints so if you have a little one heading off to preschool you should check them out! Reasonably priced, too. And now, Henry won't be "that kid" who's mom was too dumb to know he needed something special for naps. Poor guy.

Watching: American Horror Story. I loved season one, was ok with season two, hated season three and was meh over season four, but they've redeemed themselves with the Roanoke season five. I actually don't even think I watched every episode of the carnival season and I fell asleep for several episodes of the hotel season. But this one? Excellent.

Soon enough, I'll be on to Christmas movies. What's your favorite Christmas movie? I need to fill up our queue!

Reading: Car reviews. My lease is up in May and while I get that's more than a few months away, I need to have my replacement vehicle ready. I currently drive a Volvo XC60 and we're going to move 'er on up to a full sized SUV. Hubs and I are SICK of being cramped in the front seat with two car seats in the back! I'm tall, hubs is tall, Henry is tall, and Otto is the lankiest baby on the face of the planet. We need room for all these limbs, y'all! Volvo doesn't make anything with three rows so I'll be switching makes and models. Normally, I know exactly what I want but I've never had a car this big! I need room for the kids and the double stroller, so I need leg room and trunk space. Oh yeah, and safety is probably also important.

In addition to your fave Christmas movies, y'all got any thoughts on full sized, three row SUVs?  

Excited for: Otto's first birthday and the party I'm planning him! I'm in full out planning mode for his Lumberjack themed affair. His invites arrived from Mint and they're beyond adorable (as they damn well should be for what they cost), and now I need to get some decorations and favors in all things plaid and woodsy. Of course I know he won't remember this... First birthdays are for parents and pictures guys. I don't believe in throwing a big birthday party again until the child is old enough to ask for it! So. Much. Work.

Monday, October 17, 2016

DIY Raw Sugar Peppermint Foot Scrub

Make your own holiday gifts with this easy DIY

Ahhhh, the holidays are quickly approaching and with that comes all the gift giving. Honestly, gift giving stresses me out. I want the person to like it and I want it to be useful but also luxurious, and I also want it to be unique - not something I picked up at Target last minute, you know? The icing on the proverbial cake is that I want it to be cost effective without looking (or actually being) cheap. I know, so many hopes and expectations for the gift giving season! However, I think I found the answer with making this DIY raw sugar peppermint foot scrub! It meets all my criteria and best yet, I can easily make a large batch of it, pour it in individual glass containers and tie some bows around them to keep on hand for any last minute gift needs.

Make your own Christmas or hostess gifts with this easy DIY foot scrub using essential oils, sugar and coconut oil #Christmasgiftidea #hostessgift #Christmasgift #stockingstuffer

First, the essential oils! Revive oils are my new go-to. Yup, I used to be with Young Living, but the expense of those oils were insane. I asked some of my oily gurus who they got their oils from and learned about Revive. They're therapeutic grade, indigestible essential oils that are NOT a multi-level-marketing structure. You can go on their website and buy them like you'd buy something on Amazon - no need to sign up for some membership! They have packages with diffusers and single essential oils, plus roller bottles and other lifestyle items. Use code Paige10 for 10% off your order and experience the same quality of Young Living or doTERRA without the obnoxious price (and minus the sales people always trying to get you to buy things...)

The raw sugar in the peppermint foot scrub is the key to why it's for feet. Raw sugar has larger crystals than refined sugar, so I wouldn't use it on my face. But it's great for getting off all the dead skin that tends to pile up over the winter months! That said, if you wanted a facial scrub, I'd swap out the raw sugar for refined sugar and you'd be good to go.

It's so easy to put this together! It took me no more than two minutes to mix together and there's only four ingredients. If you're already into oils I bet you already have these on hand, and if not, I'm not sure what you're waiting for! Peppermint oil is a staple and good for SO many things - headaches, upset stomachs and foot scrubs, just to name a few. Get on the essential oils train and make this DIY raw sugar peppermint foot scrub for yourself and your friends!

  DIY Raw Sugar Peppermint Foot Scrub
- 1 part coconut oil
- 1 part raw sugar
- 20 drops peppermint oil (per 6oz container; you can adjust this to make it as peppermint-y as you'd like)
- 5 drops eucalyptus oil

I've gotten questions from my DIY acne clearing face wash post on what "1 part" means. I use 1 part because the actual quantity doesn't matter. You could make just one small jar and use a half cup or you could make 10 jars and use five cups. The important part is the ratio. So when it's "1 part coconut oil and 1 part raw sugar" you use equal amounts of coconut oil and raw sugar. Again, it can be any amount, you just need to be mindful of the ratio.

Back to the recipe: Heat the coconut oil until it's just soft enough to stir with a spoon, like the consistency of icing. Add in the raw sugar. Add your essential oils. Pour into a glass container and let set up. Depending on the temperature and humidity of your home/climate, it should be ready to go in about an hour.

Make your own Christmas or hostess gifts with this easy DIY foot scrub using essential oils, sugar and coconut oil #Christmasgiftidea #hostessgift #Christmasgift #stockingstuffer

If you're giving this as a gift, a great idea would be to make a tag for the ribbon you'd tie around it, with the title of the scrub on one side and the recipe on the other! That's my plan, anyway. Of course, all my friends now know that they're going to get this DIY raw sugar peppermint foot scrub so all the mystery is removed, but that's how it goes when you have to have your Christmas posts up before November! Now go enjoy some soft, sweet smelling feet.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Best Books for 1 and 2 Year Old's

Reading is an important habit to start early on, but reading the same books over and over can try a parent's nerves! Here are the best options for 2 yr old's that they'll love but won't drive YOU crazy!

Henry has loved to page through picture books since he was old enough to sit up on his own. Then at around a year to 18 months old, he'd sit and babble at the books, pretending to read. At two and a half, he's still not reading yet, but his babble is more advanced. He's reciting colors and numbers and the names of the characters in the books. The thing is... He's two. So he loves to read the same books overandoverandover again. He loves to read to Otto too. Which is great! I'm proud he loves them so. Yet... Holymoly can that wear on your nerves, hearing about the same characters and having him want the same short stories actually read to him several times a day. Here's a short list of our favorite books that I actually don't mind reading a ridiculous amount of times, because hey! They're actually pretty entertaining, even for an adult.

Great books for bed time or story time

These books have thicker pages to they can't tear easily. They have bright colors so younger babies love to look at them. And most include animals, which I realized after I put the list together, because animals go over well in this house. The pictures I'm posting are of our actual copies so you can see how well loved (and used/read) these books are!

The best books for 1 and 2 year old's:

The Gruffalo and Friends
The Gruffalo and all his friends come to us out of the UK. There's a series of eight books, all of them equally charming. They rhyme but in only a way a clever British person could pull off. Unlike Dr. Seuss where I stumble to read the book with all the made up words, these flow quickly off your tongue and you actually look like you know how to read to your toddler. Does anyone know what I mean?! When you're trying to read to your kid and you have to spend time "sounding out words" and your kid looks at you like, "What's the hold up on the story, momma?" Just me that's been there? Ok cool. Well, you won't have to struggle with this series. They're entertaining and flowing and rhythmic in the best way possible.

Pajama Time!
This is a bedtime staple in our house. Perfect way to cap off an evening and get your kids excited about being in their pajamas and in bed. It also rhymes but isn't obnoxious about it. Am I the only one who gets really annoyed by cutesy rhyming books?! Maybe it's because we read them 9, 984 times but geez. Anyway, Henry gets a kick out of pointing out all the purple pajamas, since purple is his favorite color. And when he sees this book, he knows it's time for bed, which is another massive plus.

Little Owl's Night
Now maybe it's because one of Henry's favorite words to say is owl, but this one has been on repeat since he was about 9 months old. He loves to point out and say all the names of the animals in the book. It's full of nontraditional animals likes skunks, porcupines, beavers, and the like. Plus, is there anything funnier than having your toddler go nuts for a beaver?! "Mommy, beeeva! Beeeva!" It makes my day every time. Every. Time.

Oscar Otter and the Goldfish
This book is a winner for both Henry and Otto because there are animals hidden beneath pull up pages that they love to find. There are also textures to feel on the book, so it's great for the younger crowd too. Plus, otters are just adorable. Who doesn't love a cute otter?! It's well illustrated, so I don't mind reading this one over and over, and having both Otto and Henry be surprised at which critters are hidden in the pages time and time again.

These books are all great options for one and two year olds. And they're also great for parents, since we're the ones who are tortured by reading books to the point we can recite them even without the words on the pages. I wanted to make a list of some non-classic books (I think we all own a copy of Goodnight Moon, amirite?!) so that you have some fun options next time it's story time in your home!

Monday, October 10, 2016

5 Tips To Rock Your Yoga Arm Balances

You don't need super human strength to pull off an arm balance in yoga! Check out these tips for a successful crow pose and running man arm balance

In high school, I was a cheerleader. Not the kind that just stood there in a skirt, the kind that threw people up in the air, went to competitions every weekend and was a state champion - some of the only state champs my middle class high school had in a sea of far wealthier western suburban schools of Minneapolis. Cheerleading might not seem to have anything to do with my current yoga practice, except it's the reason I can do just about any arm balance. Not because it made me strong. But because cheerleading taught me where my center of gravity is. Much like riding a bike, once you learn that you never forget it (even if it gets a tad rusty)! Arm balances are daunting to some, but here are my 5 tips to get you rocking at them!

Tips to nail your yoga arm balance in your next yoga class
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These are my general tips for all arm balances, but I'm going to break down crow pose and running man since they're two of the most common arm balances I see in a vinyasa yoga class. 

1 Strength
Yes, obviously you need some arm strength if you're going to support your weight on your hands. But more than arm strength, you need CORE strength. If you only rely on your arms to support your weight, you're making an arm balance far too challenging on yourself. If you use your core muscles to lend those arms a hand, and pull up through your core (I'm talking butt and abs) your arms won't need to be as strong. In fact, I can almost promise you that if you use your core, your arms are strong enough to support your weight TODAY.

2 Fear
Arm balances (and inversions like headstands, for that matter) are 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental. Arm balances haven't really ever scared me because I'm so close to the ground when I'm attempting them that I don't care if I fall on my face. But my frame of reference is being thrown 15 feet up in the air for a basket toss, or a pyramid that was two and a half people high in college cheerleading. THAT is scary to fall from! An arm balance? Aint no thang! And I've biffed it out of plenty of arm balances - never been hurt once. Let go of the mental fear of placing weight on your arms and you're most the way there! This is both the easiest and most challenging tip I have.

Crow pose:
When you're just starting, it's easier to put your knees on the OUTSIDE of your elbows, shown above
Bring your weight forward until you're able to lift your toes off the ground
Boom! Crow pose. Once you've got it, your knees go into your armpits, like I'm doing here.

3 Bring your weight forward
I think this is what drives the fear: When you're in an arm balance, you have your weight on your arms, supported with your core. But you have all your legs behind you. To counter the weight of your legs, you need to bring your weight (and your face) way forward over your arms. People tend to get nervous when they can no longer see their hands or what's supporting them. But if you can let go of the fear and bring your weight forward, you'll be able to...

4 Find your center of gravity
Play around with where your center of gravity is! It's hard to describe and it's different for every person and every body. But once you find it, you'll feel it. You'll go from being wobbling and unsure of yourself to, "Hey! Yeah! Ok. I got this!" It's a secure feeling. Play around with weight distribution and find that center of gravity.

5 Practice 
I did land crow pose the first time I attempted it (I swear it's because of those cheerleading skills!), but I didn't get good at it for a few years. I had to practice. And I still can't "float back" into chatturanga from crow pose. I'm going to blame having two kids in a year and a half on that, because that takes some crazy core strength I just don't have - yet! But I WILL get it with practice, just like you will get your arm balances with regular attempts and practice.

Running man:
Three legged dog

Swoop your knee forward to elbow to knee from three legged dog. Do this slowly to build strength, avoiding momentum
Once you get the hang of three legged dog to knee to elbow, start to bend your arms like you would in chatturanga and bring that weight forward!
Straighten your leg and boom! Running man

Yoga arm balances ARE achievable! It's about the physical strength of your core muscles and the mental strength you have getting over the fear of falling on your face. Pro tip: If you are going to fall out of a balance, and we all do at one point, remember to turn your head to the side so you don't bonk your nose or chip a tooth! It's funny when someone falls out of a balance in class, but it's not so funny if they get a nose bleed or an expensive dentist bill. If you use these 5 tips though, you'll be rocking those yoga arm balances in no time!