Saturday, March 30, 2013

What's in my Diaper Bag?

Evening all! Happy Saturday!

Before I start my post, I wanted to say a big Happy Birthday to Ashley! And, also, Shannon took the day off yesterday to spend with her family! Have you ever taken a mental health day from work or school? I used to be a professional at that! Sometimes, we need to take a break from our blog too :-)

So, I hope this isn't a completely crazy post, or boring, but, it has been a crazy week in my personal life, and I'm just not ready to share yet! But, I thought I would share something fun!

So, I am going to share what is in my diaper bag, and if I can get everything to cooperate, post pictures with it! When I was pregnant packing my first diaper bag, I had it beyond full. A lot of things I didn't need, and some things I did need I didn't have in there! So, I will share with you what is in my sweet girls diaper bag, at 9 months old!

Let's get started! First off, we carry an Eddie Bauer diaper bag that we purchased at Babies R Us when we were pregnant. Originally, this was going to be the "Dad bag" but I love all the pockets, and how spacious it is! I secretly wish it were cuter though! We registered at Babies, and purchased the bag with a gift card. It was $34.99 and I had a 20% off coupon!

I'll also post a picture of the bag I take with me when I am running a quick trip somewhere. This bag is much cuter! My husband got it for me for Christmas. Well, not originally. Originally, he picked a way overpriced bag from Aldo that I think my Grandma would carry. Just not my style. So we returned it, and I found this bag, on clearance (of course) for around $15.

Also, I still breastfeed my daughter, well exclusively pump, but still breastfeed. So, I carry a cooler with me everytime we go out. I have two coolers. Depending on the length of our trip will determine the size cooler. The smaller one I was given at my drs office with a formula sample. I donated the formula and kept the cooler! The larger one came with my Medela pump in style advanced. The ice pack came with the larger cooler. For the smaller cooler, we found two medela coolers at a local breast feeding store for $1.95 each. They work awesome for their size! At the top of the small cooler, you will see a metal ring. This is a long pink attachment type thing for decoration. It has my daughters name on it, so I flipped it out of view!

Okay, let's unpack!

On the side mesh pocket I usually store a bottle. On the other side there is a flap pocket. I usually stick my car keys there. In the long back pocket, well, I use it for random things, usually my cell phone, receipts, hair bows, etc. Right now there is a white hair bow. In the front small pocket right above the Eddie Bauer logo, I have a paci (N rarely takes them anymore, but you never know when you may need them) and our rec center membership cards. Also below the logo, that folds out to a changing pad. I thought I would use that a million times, but the only time I have unzipped it since we bought it was tonight to look at it!

On to the inside...

First, there are two sides, a middle pocket that divides the center, and is removable, and side pockets!

To start with one side.

~I have a Mickey Mouse book that plays music. N LOVES these books! We have tons. 
~There are two mini board books, also Mickey.
~I also packed an extra outfit since you never know when a blow out will strike or a meal will get very messy!
~There are two diapers (size 3, up and up)
~ A rubber ducky that I got for .30 right after Valentines Day on clearance
~ A Nuby sippy cup
~ An emergency take and go baby food packet, Pear and Butternut squash from Target,
~ A bowl from Ikea, there are five packs for a couple of dollars there and they are AWESOME. I have pink packed for now!
~ Snacks~ Puffs (strawberry apple), Yogurt Melts (Mixed Berry) and an all natural teething biscuit from whole foods. The brand is healthy living or something like that.

In the Center pocket, that is removable you will find

~ Coupons! Of course! I have target coupons, and some cleaning product coupons that my husbands grandma mailed to me! Isn't she the sweetest?!
~ A little baggie with tylenol and cough drops
~My Wallet

In my wallet (which is from Target) I have...

~ Debit card
~ Target red card, which is attached to my checking account
~ Costco card
~ Health insurance card
~ Drivers license
~ $2 in cash. I have an extremely weird thing about cash. I rarely carry it because I cannot stand the thought of the germs.
~ Three stamps
~Library card
~ Gift Cards
~ Loyalty card to Once Upon a Child

Other side pocket
~A bee/butterfly/dragonfly/we have no idea what it is toy.
~Pair of socks
~Sophie Teether
~Cute little turtle that squirts water. As you can tell she is teething like crazy!

I cannot get this picture to rotate for the life of me! Sorry!! And the one above this will not flip to be right side up! Oh well. Builds character right?!
Finally, in the two little side inside pockets there is

~Sun screen. SPF 30 for baby. I use this on days that it is partly cloudy, and she will still have a hat on.
~ Vanilla lipsmacker chapstick
~ A spoon
~ Baby Tylenol- cherry flavored- up and up brand
~ A medicine dropper
~ Hyland's all natural teething tablets
~ Tiny travel Aquaphor healing ointment (princess has excema)
~ Tiny Cetaphil lotion
~ Travel sized Desitin diaper cream
~ Baby N's sunglasses

Hopefully this wasn't too boring of a post! Sorry the pictures are darker, I had the lights off because  N is sleeping! Also, I wanted to add a couple of things! I keep two extra bags in the car. One is a brown and pink polka dot diaper bag. This has extra wipes, diapers, outfits, band aids, etc. I also have an anchor tote bag that has toys in it. Having these in the car allows my diaper bag to have way less in it. The ones in the car are mainly for emergencies. I also keep extra blankets in them, winter hats, short sleeved onesies, etc. And, lastly, I do carry wipes. haha. They are missing from the diaper bag all of a sudden and I can't find them anywhere!

But, in every diaper bag, in my opinion, the must haves are diapers, wipes, extra outfit, toys, pacis (if used), food/formula/breastmilk (or nothing -or nursing cover- if you're baby drinks fresh from the tap ;-) )

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. Happy Easter, if you celebrate!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's this!?

Good evening, everyone! Ashley here! With my Birthday coming up. I thought I would write about something very close to me, which impacts my life day in and day out. For some of you, this will be repeat information.

This is going to be a rather short post, and I hope you'll forgive me. It's going to take me a long time to write. You see, I'm having a pain day. This is something that I am used to typically, but after pregnancy, my pain days are at least twice as bad as they used to be. I can blame this on hormones from pregnancy. In particular, relaxin. This is the one that looses all of your ligaments so that your hips and pelvic bones spread, making room for baby to come down the birth canal. Now, for the average mommy, this is very useful. For me, and for mommies like me, this is simply unnecessary and kind of damaging. I have EDS - Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. There are several subtypes, but I am going to talk to you about my type, type III, which is the hypermobile type. Looking back, I have had symptoms my whole life, but because so little is known about EDS, it is very rarely diagnosed. Notice I did not say that it is simply rare. Right now, yes, it is considered rare, but I think that it's actually more common that anyone even knows. But that's a conversation for a different day.

Moving on...

I am going to summarize the best that I can for you so that it doesn't get too confusing and so that my hands don't freeze up completely. Basically, my body doesn't make enough collagen. Collagen is what makes things "tight" and stay together. I'm sure you've seen those anti-aging creams. Well, what makes them work, is the collagen... It gives your skin the ability to "bounce back"... It essentially tightens any skin that is on its way to loosening and wrinkling. Well... My body doesn't produce enough on the inside. I guess you could say that my ligaments are like a 90 year old's skin: super loose and just not holding up all that well. So what does this mean to the inside of my body? This means that my ligaments are unable to their job, which is holding my bones in joint. For example, if you were to raise your arm and throw a ball, as you rotate your arm, your ligaments allow your shoulder bones to rotate in the joint by stretching just enough for the motion to be completed, but then tighten up to make sure that the bones don't go beyond exactly what they need to. In my body, doing something as simple as throwing a ball over-handed can be dangerous and painful. Because I don't make enough collagen, if I don't throw a certain way (which I have taught myself through a lot of trial and error), my shoulder could subluxation (slip out) or dislocate all together. I've experienced subluxation of my shoulder doing something even as simple as pulling back the shower curtain. Now, after pregnancy and having had relaxin coursing through my body, ALL of my ligaments and joints are even more lax than they ever used to be.

Another issue with EDS, is that chronic pain is a daily experience. But some days are simply worse than others. Today was the worst day I think I have ever had. I woke up this morning in pain, but pushed through and was still able to get baby C to the sitter and get myself off to work. But as I was driving in the car, it hit. I suddenly realized that my EVERY single joint (and I literally mean every one... From shoulders and knees to knuckles and my jaw) hurt unlike I had ever felt. One thing that is very common for me on a pain day, is that my hands - especially my right hand (of course) - seizes up and I find it difficult to control my fingers or move them, or grip things. This makes life very difficult and frustrating. The best way I can describe this pain, is that feel like my body is made of glass, with cracks and fractures all over, and if anyone or anything touches me to abruptly, I might just shatter into a million pieces. It has gotten better as the day has gone by, but my neck is still killing me. I have been having trouble looking down, up or to the right. I mentioned my pain at physical therapy this afternoon, and my physical therapist checked things out and said that a few of my vertebrae were rotating and moving outward. Thankfully, she was able to gently move things back into place for the most part. Now we just have to hope it all stays. I went on with my exercises for the day, even though there wasn't a whole lot that I was able to do.

Oh man... There is so much more that I wish I could share with you, but my hands are beginning to seize up. I just wanted to add how much more frustrating this all is now that I have my little man. It's so frustrating when I feel like I can't take care of him. And it's so upsetting when I'm in too much pain to play with him on the floor or hold him for snuggles. Baby wearing does help with this, but he's getting bigger and he wants to see my face and interact with me, which I love! Now, every day is not like this. I do feel pain every day, but it's not always like this. And I am aware that it could be so much worse. There are so many of my friends from my support group who do have it worse. But it's still frustrating.

I hate EDS. And as much as I have dreamed of what it might be like to live life without it, it is so much a part of who I am that I can't imagine not having it!

Sorry I don't have an OOTD picture today... I promise I will have one next week! :)

Zebra hugs and love from the crunchy momma!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Three Year Old Tuesday

Hey y'all it's Shannon on another bright sunshiney Tuesday! :) I hope y'all are well and that you have been having a delightful week so far! I just have to confess something ...

.... I'm freakin' out!
.... I can't believe it!
.... How did this happen?! 
 My sweet baby boy, Big M, is going to be FOUR TOMORROW?!??!! 

Time just flies so fast!!! It seems like only yesterday I was holding him for the first time and staring into those big blue eyes and blinking back tears as I held my first child, my baby boy, my son close to my heart! I can't believe how big he has grown he started out 19 1/2 inches long and now he stands as tall as my hip! I just am in shock where did the time go? I can't believe he has grown so much he has gotten taller and he is becoming such an amazing young man.

So to my son before you turn four and leave being a toddler behind for good...

 BIG M, You are incredible! You are so smart! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

 I will always treasure those first beautiful moments when I first saw you on a dark screen just jumpin' and kickin' like crazy in your ultrasound picture. I remember how perfect your little profile was in that first picture of you! I remember dreaming what you would be like and I remember how you would kick and jump all hours of the night in my tummy. I remember when we first met and I held you in my arms for the very first time I remember just holding you and realizing that you were my baby! I will always remember when we brought you home and we heard your precious little baby coos next to us as we slept.
  I remember the day you first pulled up on the couch and stood up lookin' at us so proud just beaming with that big smile of yours. I remember how I used to walk around with you snuggled close to my heart and you just cooing away while I sang to you sweet lullabies and patted your back until you fell asleep against me.

 We listened to your baby coos become one syllable words and now your words have become sentences. You are such a big boy, Boog! I just love you to pieces kiddo! Your daddy and I are so proud of you buddy! You are becoming such an incredible young man! I can only imagine what adventures we will have together in the future! I wish I could just freeze frame this moment and just hold you in my arms forever! But you are getting so big and despite how much I wish I could stop time and how much I wish I could keep you this happy and carefree for always but I know you have an awesome adventure ahead of you I'm just so blessed that I get to be your mama and unbelievably thankful that I get to watch you learn and grow into a young man!

  Boog, you are just the most wonderful, smart little boy that I could ever have hoped for you to be! You make me so proud, honey, and I love you so much! As we say goodbye to three years old and welcome four years old tomorrow I just want you to know that today you are the most amazing 3 year old I've ever known!! I love you Boog, my Big M, I am so thankful and blessed to have you in my life!! I love you baby boy and I can't believe you have gotten so big so fast! Keep that great big smile and always give me super big bear hugs and know that no matter how big you get my arms will always be big enough to hug you and it's always ok to give mommy big kisses on the cheek even when you are all grown up! I want you to always know that mama loves you so much and always will! I'm so amazed by you every single day! You are so wonderful, smart, talented, and absolutely amazing my Big M! So tonight as I tuck you in and give you goodnight kisses the sun sets on your third year and tomorrow when the sun rises we will have a four year old in our house?!! Happy Birthday baby boy we love you so much!!!  
Love you always, forever and a day,
your Mama!

 Sometimes I wish we could just freeze our littles at this age so they will always be little. I wish we could protect our sweet boys and girls from everything scary, gross, and just bad in this world. I wish we could hold their hands forever! I wish we could shelter them from all pain, from all the bullies in the world, from all the rejection that this world offers. BUT we can't... we CAN be there to kiss booboos and scare the monsters out from under the bed, and bake cookies with them and play cars, and give them hugs and kisses, and let them know that they are so loved, and that even though they can't win them all they CAN get up and try, try again, we can remind them that hard work pays off and that they can be anything they want to be, we can remind them that they always can talk to us that we are always here for them because we love them more than they will ever know!

 Though I am reluctant to celebrate another birthday for my baby boy because it means he is not a baby anymore, I am so EXCITED to tell you my baby is going to be four years old tomorrow and he is just getting so big! I hope y'all have a great tomorrow and you remember to hug your littles because they really won't stay little forever.

 sending you big four year old smiles and bear hugs from our house to yours ... Shannon and my big birthday boy :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

"You couldn't even breast feed"

This post was inspired by someone who attempted to challenge my ability to care for my child. One of the things this person said, was, "you couldn't even breast feed."

My first response was to be seriously hurt by this. But why? It wasn't true. Baby C has had nothing but mommy's breast milk since his very first moments of life. But even still... If I couldn't breast feed, then so what? What did it matter to this person HOW I feed my son, as long as he is being fed? What business was it of this person's and why would not being able to breast feed make me such a terrible mother in his/her eyes? Well, the first blaringly obvious thing to me, was that this person doesn't understand that as a parent, you DO NOT openly pass judgment on another parent for how they choose to raise their child. You guessed it... This person does not have children. So why would they be passing judgment at all anyway? The only answer I could come up with was: People who do not know or understand, judge. Even fellow parents will sometimes openly pass judgment on us. But why!? I know I sure don't have all the answers! I have my own experiences, but that doesn't mean that what works for me will absolutely work for everyone else.

Okay... Back on topic.

As a crunchy mommy, I absolutely believe that breast is best. Still... There are conditions to that- I believe that breast is absolutely best for US. There are so many benefits of breast feeding for both mom and baby. However, there are also reasons why breast feeding could be bad for mom and baby.

Here are some reasons that I love breast feeding:
- It is a great bonding time with baby C that I alone get to have.
- It helps the uterus to contract more, encouraging a swift return to "normal". (What IS normal a out our bodies after childbirth?)
- Barring serious issues, breast milk is in constant supply!
- I don't have to worry about bottles when C is out and about with me.
- Breast milk provides baby C with nutrients and antibodies as his body tells my body that he needs them. (When he or I is sick, my body receives the signal to make the antibodies that C will need to fight off the sickness.)
- The fat content of my breast milk changes as C grows.
- Reduces risk of breast cancer.

Now... These are all great reasons to nurse my little man. However, sometimes there are instances when continuing to breast feed or attempt to breast feed can cause much more damage to both mommy and baby, outweighing the benefits.

- If a baby is born prematurely, mom's supply may not come in in time, and it may be necessary to supplement with formula. Most of the time, this makes it nearly impossible to get baby to breast.
- There are situations when mom's supply doesn't come in at all.
- Sometimes, there are situations when mom is so distressed at the thought of breast feeding (due to pain, discomfort, frustration) that continuing to attempt, only upsets baby as well. This ruins bonding time with mom and can leave both mom and baby feeling unsure of each other and can even trigger post partum depression in moms.
... There are so many more reasons that a mom may not want or be able to breast feed. So who are we to judge?

I know of a girl who had some serious problems with breast feeding. For her, in this culture where people are advocating for nursing moms, but not explaining that it's okay if you can't, deciding to formula feed her angel was a very difficult decision. It was a choice that she made for her and for her baby. It was the BEST decision for them. Still, a stranger thought it was her responsibility to walk up to a struggling brand new momma in the formula aisle and let her know that her decision was "wrong". This stranger told this mom things she already knew and encouraged her to try things she had already tried. Can you imagine how this poor mom felt? I would have either broke down sobbing, socked the stranger in the face, or been absolutely stunned silent. Hearing this story, I was stunned into silence. Who did this stranger think she was to judge a new mom? What made her more qualified to make decisions for my friend's baby than my friend? And biggest question of all... What business was it of hers!?

We are all mommies. We may not do everything the same way, but we all have the same goal: to raise healthy, happy littles who know that they are loved and adored. So why on earth would we pass judgment on each other? We can understand each other's struggles, can we not?

Now going back to my judge. This person who decided to pass judgment on me does not have kids. So, while incredibly annoying, it's a little understandable that such an assumption that being unable breast feed equals a bad mom, would be made. It was an assumption based on the cluelessness of which I was accused of being guilty. Now, for me, breast feeding did not come without struggles. We had to start baby C on a shield for the first few weeks of his life. So when we weaned him, it was like starting nursing from the very beginning, physically. It hurt. A lot. But I was lucky... I was able (somehow) to find a way to make it work. Let me be very clear, though... If I had been unable to make it work, I would have PROUDLY fed my son formula. Formula is not evil; it is not the enemy. Formula is something that moms are very lucky to have now! I wonder what moms did years and years ago before formula was even an option?

Well, I hope this post wasn't too all over the place. I've been writing it as I run back and forth between my iPad and my little man. :)

Have a lovely evening and remember that moms are on the same team! Let's not judge each other... Let's support each other! And to those childless folks who find the need to judge us... Let us laugh and remember that they will understand soon enough. :)


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Mother I Never Had

Happy Sunday! Kailly here. I know we don't normally post on Sunday, but it has been a crazy few days, so I decided to upload my post this morning, instead of at midnight last night when I finally had a chance.

I received a few messages via text and facebook asking about a comment I made about my mom last weekend. They both asked if I would maybe do a blog in the future on my mom. This was a hard one for me. I don't like talking about her much, and I definitely don't like when people give me the "pity" look when I explain something on how I grew up. I don't have a lot in common with my mother. Well, besides that our DNA matches.

My mother is an addict. Not past tense. Not just one addiction. You name it, it's been there. She has supposedly been clean for seven months now, which is great. But, my guard is not down. You see, I've dealt with her addictions since I was born. 24 years.

When I was knee high to a pigs eye, she had food issues. She would constantly talk about us not being allowed to be "fat." I struggled with this years later. Even as a child it set in quickly to me that you needed to be thin to be loved. How sad is that? Being a five year old girl, I hated eating. I thrived for that confirmation from my mom that I was awesome. We all strive to make our parents happy, right? Sadly, when I was a 16 year old girl, things hadn't changed. I dropped weight quickly, worked out way too much, tossed my cookies way too often, and only ate paper for the fiber. After a lot of counseling and help, I have finally conquered this! I will never speak of weight around my daughter. No matter what size she is, she will always be perfect to me. I, as her mommy, will always love her more than anything in the world.

As I grew up, her addictions changed from food, to alcohol, to drugs. She went to rehab when I was 16. She was clean for a few months, but not long enough. I have hardly seen my mom in a sober state. I know her personalities based off what she is on at the time, and have shut her out of my life since I got married. We tried to help her last August. It bit me in the butt so hard, I likely still have a welt there.

When you grow up with an addict your whole life is different. But, I never saw that. I love life. I always have. And, I didn't grow up without a mom. My dad married my step mom. She came into my life when I was a young girl. My weekends were spent with my dad and my step mom! Those were the best memories of my childhood. My step mom taught me how to cook, bake, and how to take care of myself. I can never thank her enough. D if you are reading this, please know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. YOU are the person that taught me how to be a Mom. And, I will always look at you as my mom, and as N's grandma (Mimi!)

Here is where it all changed. October of 2011, my husband and I found out we were expecting. I panicked. I was so afraid of being a mom because I didn't want to be a bad mom. I didn't want to be the mom I had. The mom that would punish us for no reason. The mom that would leave us home alone while she went out late. The mom that would come home drunk late at night, while her elementary aged children stayed up waiting in fear, and then would hold her hair back as she threw up for hours on end. She would sleep it off the next day, while we headed to school to try and get an education of some sort.

As I grew up, I knew I would be different than my mom. I got an education. I worked my butt off so hard at a job I was at for years, working mainly on commission to buy my first house when I was 21. This was my dream home. We've since sold it and moved to Denver, but I will always be proud of myself for that house. I made sure as a teenager and young adult that I would be financially stable. I didn't want to struggle.

Anyway, I panicked. I didn't want N to grow up with a mom she secretly despised. I don't want her to be an adult and push me away. There were many days I turned to my husband in tears for comfort. He reminded me that I've never done drugs, and I don't drink alcohol, besides a strawberry daquiri every once in a blue moon, my last was months before I even got pregnant. And, N is now 9 months old, and besides a few sips of beer, I still don't drink.

But, this is where it is different. I don't struggle. I know I am a great mom to N. And, I know I will take great care of her, forever. I will be an inspiration to my daughter. She will have a mother that never chooses anything above her. She is my addiction. When I wake up every day to my gorgeous girl smiling at me, I can't imagine not having her with me. She is my partner in crime, my best friend, my mini me. She is the light of my life. And, I will do whatever it takes to make sure she grows up happy, healthy, and taken care of. I will forever work my butt off every day to be the best mommy I can be.

Hope that answers a few questions! Love y'all and see you Wednesday! Also, join us on facebook! Search for Just ASK Always and come chat with us about our blog, and share your story with us!

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination" Jimmy Dean

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just say, "Go kick rocks we rock these mommy socks!!"

  Well hey y'all Shannon here. How is your Friday going? Mine has been pretty fun. We went to a Squadron Family Fun Day today. There were all kinds of bounce houses, lots of music, plenty of food, and some good company. I got to meet a bunch of my fellow army wives and enjoyed chatting with some really sweet gals! I always love meeting new friends and especially other mamas and army wives. :) I love talking to other moms about our kiddos, sharing fun stories back and forth, and just hearing about others joys and trials in motherhood.

  I'm a mom, Ashley is a mom, Kailly is a mom, and I'm sure many of you reading this right now are moms too... Does this make us experts in the field of motherhood nope, absolutely not! (But WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE OUR CHILDREN!) If you work in childcare (speaking from experience) this doesn't make you an expert either. There is no end all be all level of expertise to be attained when you are talking about raising children. There is no "mommy manual" and there is no "cookie cutter solution" that works across the board with every child. I get just a little hot under the collar when I see mamas being criticized in any way shape or form especially new mamas!! I absolutely hate when people think they have all the answers and decide they must tell you that you're doing it wrong or feel the need to steal your joy when you decide to share a funny story or a mommy triumph. (We moms all know when the kiddos go potty in the big boy or girl potty it is a HUGE triumph!) 

 We love our kiddos! If you are a mama you love your babies it's instinct. When you become a mom you also become a bit of an animal with those mama bear instincts. I know that personally, I will do absolutely anything for my children, and would give anything to protect my family. I am that mama bear. I want to remind you mamas out there this is perfectly natural and perfectly okay! You are the parent to your children not your relatives, not your friends, not your mother in law, or your sister, or aunt or uncle, grandparents, cousins, or any childcare representatives, and especially not those random people that you meet in the grocery store that feel they need to correct your parenting. YOU ARE THE MAMA!! Not them! It is nobody's cotton pickin' business how you choose to raise your children. It is nobody else's right to tell you the way you choose to parent is wrong! Our babies are OUR babies it is our God-given right to be their parent and raise them the way we choose! 

 When you become a mom you don't get a manual to teach you the ins and outs of motherhood. When you are a mom it doesn't make you an automatic expert but you do become an expert about YOUR OWN personal motherhood experience and about your baby! 

  When you have a baby there isn't a fairy in the delivery room that sprinkles us with "perfect" mommy dust... man, I wish! right? But when you have a baby you do become an expert when it comes to your own baby! As a mommy, you learn the ins and outs of your baby, the intricate details of how your baby looks, what each different cry means, and how to care for your baby the best way that you know how. I just want to remind and encourage you, "YOU ROCK MOMMY!!" YOU GOT THIS!! Shake off any and all negativity no matter who it is from! You are doing the very best you can and that's the best for your children! Whenever someone criticizes you just shake it off. You can't control what other people say but you can choose how you react to them. Someone can only make you feel badly about yourself if you let them. So don't let them! You know in your heart that you are a good mommy and that you are giving the best of yourself to your family and to your children. We all make mistakes daily but what makes a good mama is knowing that you're not perfect and having the courage to do it again tomorrow because you love your babies and know that they deserve your best! YOU love and YOU take care of your littles not someone else. So why should they have a say at all in how you choose to raise them?? Answer is: (our daily double) THEY SHOULDN'T! 

  I'm gonna wrap it up for the night but I just want you to know YOU are the best mommy for YOUR child! Don't let anyone bring you down. Motherhood is tricky business and being a mommy is the most difficult rewarding job that you can possibly have because the job description always changes :) We have to learn, grow, and adapt to new phases of motherhood all the time, but when it comes to our babies we ARE the experts! So even when we have rough days, and we just feel like we need a break... WE are mamas hear us roar! It's hard, it's messy, it's chaotic, it's exhausting, but it's beautiful, amazing, and the most rewarding thing we will ever experience! 

  Hug your littles tonight hug them super close and tell them you are their mama, that you love them and you would do anything to protect them! Tell them that they are the reason for your happiness and that you are the most blessed parent in the world because you have them as your babies!! And when people criticize you and try to bring you down just smile and know that you are the best mom you can be and that is all anyone can ever ask. Know that when people try to bring you down and steal your joy that says everything about them and nothin' about you!! 

My Little M!
My Big M!

Outfit of the day... chasing kiddos around the park cozy and rockin' my mama socks! :)

 Wishing you all the best on this Friday night! Goodnight hugs and love from this mommy to you... Shannon :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Becoming Mother

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all!"

... This is written on a jewelry box that was given to me. At the time I thought, "but I am SO not my mother!"

Ashley here, folks! I wanted to talk to you all about my mom. Shannon and Kailly know and love her well. She has adopted several of my friends, and I'm sure they will all get a chuckle out of this, just as much as I do! :)

In my twenties, I have learned that I not only look like my mother, I kind of am my mother. Sometimes it feels like a bad thing, sometimes it feels like a good thing! No offense, mom! But, seriously, sometimes the things that come out of my mouth just give me the chills and I think (and sometimes say), "oh dear god, that sounded just like my mom." Even MH has caught me and said the same thing! For a good chunk of my life, I was told that I was so much like my father... I looked like him, acted like him... I could see the resemblances. And I didn't mind. You see, I'm a middle child. So growing up, I was constantly battling with who I wanted to play with or be like: my girly girl older sister or my tom boy younger sister - notice I did not say little; she is not my "little" sister. Hehe! Anyway, being told that I was like my dad was okay with me, because I didn't always want to be a girly girl! So when I entered my teen years and started to hear, "oh my gosh, you look so much like your mom!", I would deny it. "Ugh... I do not!" As I progressed through my teens, Middle School and High School, I heard it even more. In fact, it got to a point where if my mom was at my school to pick me up for whatever reason, they knew she was there for me! So, eventually, my response turned from "ugh... I do not!", into "yeah... I know." Still... I was resistant.

I fought with my mom a lot. I'm very stubborn and can be quite loud... I like to say I get my volume from my dad. As a matter of fact, my mom let the orthodontist know that my small mouth meant nothing because "oh that's okay, because she makes up for it with volume". "Ugh... Moooom!" Back on topic... I fought with my mom, resisted her personality and found her to be just incredibly anal-retentive. It made me crazy! She always wanted my bedroom floor to be "spotless", my closet to be "neat and tidy" and for everything in my room to "have a home/proper place". Sooo overbearing, right? Haha...wrong. I just had to be right. But I never was. Not once. But I didn't realize this until I was in college and no longer living at home.

Once I was on my own, I realized that all of those things that my mom used to say to me, all her methods of maintaining things and organizing that used to drive me crazy, had actually been burned into my brain, never to leave. I definitely fought my mom less when I was in college, but I was still resistant to being like her. I think all girls are like this... We want to be our own person. A lot of times we say, "I will never be like my mother!" However, a lot of the time, as is my case, we end being exactly the same. Just this morning, I thought of something that I had to share with my mom.

... Last week I started going through my closet and dresser drawers to get rid of all of my maternity clothes, and realized that I needed to pull out my Spring/Summer clothes! This was a tradition in our house growing up! It happened every spring and every fall. We would pull out the clothes for the new seasons, and box up the clothes of the previous seasons. I honestly thought everyone did this until I met and lived with my husband. Anyway, I started to pull everything out and make piles of "maternity", "too small", and "put out/wearable". MH's grandma re-finished the dresser that I grew up with and it was initially intended for C's nursery, but the dresser that MH and I were sharing was just too small, so we swapped. So, moving clothes in and out of my childhood dresser, put me in a major "flashback" mode. I suddenly remembered sitting on the floor of the room in the house that I grew up in and going through my dresser drawers to get rid of old/unusable stuff and replace it with all of the things for spring and summer time. I told my mom about how I loved doing this, because it always felt like "Ahhh.... Fresh start", with everything organized and in a proper place. Gah! Even THAT is something my mom would say! ;) She told me that she was so happy to hear that, because I always seemed to fight her on it. I said "I know. But notice how I always seemed to take the longest to get it done? I never wanted to DO it, but once I got started, I actually enjoyed it!" You see? I am my mother. I probably always have been.

I now regularly employ mother's methods of dealing with a lot of things: conflict - maintaining a silent stubbornness until YOU figure out you were wrong all along; organizing my house - "[MH], everything needs to have a home! Everything should have a proper place". Even my mannerisms and expressions seem to mirror my mom. Now, I am a mother. And I'm sure my son will face a time or two when he hears, "you are so much like your mother!" And I'm sure he will cringe. And I will smile, knowing that it'll only be a matter of time before he realizes that it's the biggest compliment in the world. Because, really... I am my mother. I probably always have been. And I think she kinda rocks. :)

Well, I hope you had a lovely Thursday and that your Friday is simply splendid!
- Ashley

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Cheeks Were SO Red!

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday! Friday is almost here!!

I'll be honest, I haven't been sure what to blog about today. Normally, I talk about life. Well, today has been pretty normal. Nothing super exciting, nothing super boring, but I don't want to waste your time with me mumbling along about stuff you've already heard me post!

So, how about a good embarrassing story instead?! We all love a good laugh, especially when it is at other people.

On St Patricks Day, I had to make a quick run to the grocery store. I had my husband watch N so I could be in and out in minutes. As I am walking to the back of the store to the eggs (did you ever notice when you need to make a quick trip, what you need is all the way in the back of the store, on the opposite side of where you parked?) I hear my phone buzz. I never have my phone on anything but vibrate. I'm not big on hearing phones ring, and vibrate just works better for me. Plus, my lovely iPhone 5 is stuck on vibrate, so even if I wanted to hear the jingles resembling elevator music, I can't. Okay, sorry, keep getting off topic today. Back to the phone. I pull it out, and see there is a video message from one of my mother in laws friends. It says it's a surprise for N so I figure it's a sweet message. Accompanying this message is a text wishing her a Happy 1st St. Patrick's Day, and a blessing over her, which was so sweet (and I really appreciated the whole message.) I figure the video is the same message being spoken. Oh, was I WRONG. Instead, it was a five minute song, an Irish song. And, believe me, I am Irish. My maiden name is an O'H name. But, this song was full blown leprechaun type music. It is such awful music, I cannot even describe it. Type in awful St. Patricks Day music into youtube, and you may get this song. And, it is blaring. I can't get it to pause and I can't get it to turn down. Thank you again for that iPhone 5, we are no longer buddies. So, I am red as a lobster rushing to the checkout lane. People are chuckling, others are asking one another if I am serious, and one guy even started to dance. Yep, I can tell you I was so red my toes were blushing. So, I go to the self checkout, and a nice lady keeps saying "where is that awful music coming from?" I turn to her and say "I am so sorry, it's my butt." She stopped and stared, jaw half dropped. "I mean, my phone is in my back pocket. I can't get it to turn off!" She laughs and says it is hilarious. I laugh too, even though I am dying with embarrassment inside. I fly outside where more people turn and laugh at me, probably thinking "why is this blonde girl, who isn't even wearing green be rocking out to the music that's clearly muffled by a purse or back pocket?" I get to the car and guess what happens, it turns off. Of course, it waits until I am in the car! I called my husband and he about fell out of his chair laughing! Oyyyyy.

We all need a good laugh sometimes, that one definitely made me chuckle again just typing it. And, I even felt my cheeks burn a little.

Sorry to make this blog a shorter one, I promise Saturdays will be much better! I am off to bring dinner to a Mommy that deserves a break today!

Here is my outfit of the day! Odd angle but I am cooking away! See ya Saturday!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rough Todays and Counting Smiles

 Hey y'all Shannon here, comin' to you live from my living room :) I hope where ever you are you had a beautiful sunshine-y Tuesday! How was your day? What did you do today? I sure hope y'all had a wonderful day that was all sunshine and smiles! Here are just few of the things that made me smile today...

  Today was a delightful day at my house. This morning I woke up, got myself dressed and semi together and my adorable little M crawled up with me and cuddled up with me and told me, "I jus' wanna 'nuggle mama" (I am extremely fluent in toddler so I will translate for y'all) His precious little face was sweet as ever as he told me he just wanted to snuggle with me. I just love that my little M has such a big heart he just loves. Little M just loves so much! I feel so tremendously blessed that this sweet little fella loves me! 

  Shortly after the good morning cuddles, Big M woke up and after my big good mornin' hugs and smooches the boys picked their outfits for the day including Big M's choice of "big boy unders" as we are really hitting the potty training hard again now that we've settled in a bit at our new place. He chose the blue pirate ones in case y'all cared to know haha (even though we did end up going through quite a few wardrobe changes throughout the day... oh the joys of potty training...) Big M picked a light blue osh kosh shirt and some plaid shorts to finish the ensemble. While Little M opted for a more bold statement telling the world via his shirt that "I get my GOOD looks from my Daddy" and it's so true! Little M also opted for the no pants option for much of the day rockin' his big boy pullups (did I mention potty training with two toddlers is SUCH a joy!?) 

  We finished gettin' ourselves together for the day and had some breakfast I had a delicious cup of Arabica coffee! The boys had some yummy "yoop yoops" (translation: fruit loops) I had fun watching the boys chase their yoop yoops in their bowls with their spoons and counting out loud, "one, two, 'tree', four, five, eight, nine, eleven, eight, seven..." So we practiced counting a little more haha. Then the littles wanted to watch some cartoons after breakfast so they grabbed their box of matchbox cars and sat at the coffee table racing the cars back and forth and then boys will be boys ... Little M wanted the monster truck that Big M had so they had a bit of a screamin' match which of course escalated to a shoving match.... I had to be the referee and blow the whistle.... flag on the play... unnecessary roughness!! We talked it out and learned we use our hands to help and hug and not to hurt! 

 The morning took a turn for the fussy as it went on and more brother vs brother mini smackdowns ensued, so we had to sit and have a talk. I pulled Big M aside and asked him why he was being such a grouchy pants today and he looked up at me with those big blue eyes and crossed his little arms and with such frustration exclaimed "I just have a rough today, mom!" (with such melodramatic flair he could easily have stolen the Oscar from the best leading actor in Hollywood!) and then he buried his little head in his crossed arms and I couldn't help but smile... I scooped him up into a big hug and said, "Poor buddy I'm sorry you're having a rough today but let's try to have a better day without all the grumpies ok?" He looked up at me and gave me 'nosies' (eskimo kisses) and then we went about our day. 

 My big helpers unloaded the dishwasher (after all the too sharp and too heavy objects were removed) they helped tidy the cars and toys in the living room while I finished folding some laundry and put some away (not all of it but some is an accomplishment nonetheless) Ashley's wise mama once told me "Instead of striving for perfection let's just aim for excellence" It is something that I try to hold as a standard for myself! I'm never going to be perfect so why set myself up for failure when I try to hold myself to absolute perfection I will never be perfect so giving the best that I can is what I choose to aim for. I'm a recovering perfectionist so it's hard to let go of those precise guidelines for myself and my goals of 'perfect', but it's a much more realistic goal to aim for excellence because we can all do our personal best, so it's far more attainable. 

 We watched the Muppets and sang along (Oh yea I belted out "Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet" and danced in my kitchen like a total idiot and probably gave the impression I had something more than coffee in my coffee cup that morning) and then we played cars together again, had lunch (a hot dog some homemade french fries and a few cheeto puffs that believe it or not actually stayed in the kitchen this time ;)  had a few more mini meltdowns then the littles fell asleep on the couch watching the Muppets for the second time and had a nice long nap. I snuck away and folded and put away more laundry. Reloaded the dishwasher with our lunch dishes and shined my sink and counters, had my third cup of delicious coffee (the English have afternoon tea. I have lunchtime Java... to each their own, eh?) I had a few of the leftover homemade french fries and caught up with the latest episode of "Once Upon a Time" and texted back and forth with my lovely cohorts, Ashley and Kailly. :) 

  Hubbers got home from work and we talked about how his day went (turns out he tore a muscle in his leg, the technical medical jargon "he has a proximal quadricep tear", we talked about how my day went and the various little antics of the boys, the kiddos climbed all over poor Daddy and were so happy to see him they just wanted to love on him but poor hubs leg/hip quadricep (I feel smarter for saying the actual muscle haha) is just really sore today. We caught up and hung out together and the boys settled down. They played in their room (for the most part) while I cooked up some supper. I made lemon pepper pork chops, buttered noodles, and garlic green beans for supper. It turned out really good! I always know that I hit it out of the park when my Hubs says things like "Oh this is terrible! You really shouldn't eat this... I'm serious it's my job to look out for the family and this is just terrible you and the boys really shouldn't eat this..." which really means it's so good he wants it all ;) Love that goofy guy I married! :)

  We have all had such a full, busy Tuesday, but it's been such a good one! I have accomplished so much today I smiled, and snuggled, I drank coffee, I played cars, I did dishes, folded laundry, I played referee, I  cleaned up quite a few accidents and messes and was the cheerleader (who cannot for the life of me do a cartwheel) for my boys potty training efforts, I did more dishes, drank more coffee, made my own french fries, was a personal chef for my family, and much much more... Today and everyday my days are always so full but they are filled with so much love I am busy and hectic sometimes but it's always worth it because I have the world's most adorable boys and the greatest husband ever! I'm so incredibly blessed and I wouldn't trade my crazy, hectic, beautiful life for anything in this world. I'm going to smile each day that I wake up blessed with the priviledge of loving my family! 

 I hope tonight as you reflect on your busy Tuesday you count the moments that meant the world to you first. Count the times you smiled throughout the day. Don't let your stresses ruin those moments of love and happyness! Let love override stress and let smiles drown out any negativity! I love y'all and pray your today was wonderful and that your tomorrow is even better! Smile and hug your loved ones they make the day brighter even when it's grey outside! :) 

  (no outfit of today as my dumb smart phone decided to not take clear pictures this morning so I will share a few throwback pictures just for fun...)

Hubbers and me. Love this fella!

Big M and me goofin' around...

Love me some snuggle time! (with Little M)

Goodnight Y'all!

  Sending you my crooked smile and great big 'nuggles' from my house to yours... Shannon :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's always Sunny...

Alright, everyone... Ashley here! I hope you have had a fantastic Monday! Mine has been absolutely crazy! My little man slept so splendidly last night; unfortunately I did not. I was wide awake for a good majority of the night. Needless to say, I'm exhausted, but I'm betting I pass out hard tonight!

This post is going to be a bit short, but the ASK ladies decided that, in order to follow up our guest poster, we ought to reflect a bit on the highlights of our day. These were especially important for me to pay attention to today, as I was so exhausted and just "not in the mood", if you know what I mean. ;)

My day started, just as every day does... Waking up with baby C. I love this, because I get to lean over, say "Good morning, booger! Hi!", and I'm greeted by the BIGGEST smiles! It's just beautiful. Then I pull him out of the bassinet and nurse him. When he's done, I let him lay there on the boppy for a minute or two and we make faces at each other and just laugh. Baby C LOVES to stick out his tongue, so most of these smiles are obstructed by his entire tongue taking over his face. Drool goes everywhere and I laugh at him, and then he laughs at me, laughing at him. It's a vicious cycle. :) I burp him, then lay him down on the bed to take off is pajamas and change his diaper. I love his belly, so once his diaper is changed, I let him lay there for a few minutes, as I tickle his belly and blow raspberries. He thinks this is just ridiculous! Today, all of these same things happened, and it was so important to my day! I couldn't have gotten out of bed today, if I hadn't seen that big grin and heard those squealing giggles!

After the fun and giggles, just as every other day, I got C ready for the baby sitter's and we left. The baby sister, S and her husband J are just awesome! They just love baby C and so do their kiddos! Their youngest, miss little S, is four and gets to stay home with S and baby C and she is always happy to see him! This morning, as I was exhausted and just feeling drained, I didn't feel like doing anything, let alone leaving my little man again. But I pulled up to the house, took C inside, and everyone was so happy to see him. We all chatted for a few and then the next thing that happened, absolutely made my morning. As I turned to walk out the door, all three of them gathered around C on the floor, with him still in his carseat and said "good morning!" and "hi, mister C!" They all had big smiles on their faces, looking at him and I knew that C just loved it! As I walked out the door and climbed into my car, I thought to myself, "this situation could not be more perfect." I sincerely could not be happier about leaving C with the Y family while I'm at work.

My day at work was a little bit hectic and a lot bit frantic. But I still enjoy my job. Even when things are slammed and there is a lot to be done, I think to myself, "well... At least I'm not just sitting here!".

Driving home to pick up C, I couldn't wait to see him, but I knew that as soon as I got home, I had a LOT to do in a short amount of time. I needed to get C inside, get puppy and take her outside, get the rest of our stuff from the car, get the puppy back inside, let the kitty out of her room, start dinner, clean out the diaper bag, feed and change C, continue dinner, wash C's bottles, greet MH, hand off a cranky C, finish dinner, serve dinner, sit down and eat dinner, change C, nurse C, put C to bed, wash the dinner dishes, take the puppy out again, and sit down to write this post, while the puppy climbs all over me.

It's been crazy. But in the midst of the scurry, I stop for a few moments at a time to observe and enjoy the view. The most beautiful sight I saw today, was MH holding and playing with C. That's always a favorite moment and it just makes me fall in love with MH more each time. They are truly my favorite boys. They simply make my heart smile.

The last moment of the day, before darkness falls, and everyone is in bed, I get to nurse C. There's a feeling of accomplishment that I feel when I nurse him to sleep. It's precious and special and something that only I can do for him. I love the little sound he makes when I move him just a little bit so that I can stand up and carry him to bed: I call it one of his sleeping sounds. It's a sound of true contentment and comfort and it's a sound that you so rarely hear come from a grown man or woman. To me, this is a beautiful sound. I put him in that place and he loves me for it.

I will have one last highlight of my day, though. It will occur in a few hours. MH and I will put the animals to bed, turn off all the lights and climb into bed, baby C next to me in his bassinet. I'll click the small lamp off and MH will roll over to watch his show on his iPhone or iPad. And for a few minutes, I'll sit there in the dark silence, and look on either side of me at the two most beautiful people in my life. I'll listen to their breathing as it settles into a rhythm of sleep and I'll sigh as peace and calm settle over us all, and I welcome the end of another beautiful, messy chaotic, thrilling day. And I'll lay down and smile, because nowhere else in the world could possibly be more magnificent.

What about you? What are your day to day highlights? What do you look forward to; what keeps you motivate and moving?

I hope you all rest well tonight! I know I will!

Zebra love and hugs, and wishes for a simply fantastic tomorrow!


Here's my second OOTD, as the first one got spit up all over it! :P

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Love of Single Motherhood ~ Guest Post

I was born to be a single mom. I think I knew that was my destiny from an early age. I am a product of divorced parents since before I was two years old. I have never used 'Mom and Dad' in the same sentence. I have never known normal life with two parents. My weekends were counted by moms weekend or dads weekend. Even now, 32 years later I can't imagine my mom and dad being married and living under one roof. They are two totally different people.

My parents were the perfect divorced parents. They co-parented well. They taught me how to be a good single mom. They could tolerate each other when in the same room. They were friendly to each other. Their new spouses were always kind to the other. To this day my mom never talks bad about my dad and my dad never talks bad about my mom. That was the most important I learned from them and the thing I most appreciated.

I was married on October 17, 2007. Deep down, I wasn't sure my marriage was the right thing or would last forever. I knew I loved him and wanted to be married. I had a life long dream of being a wife and mother. Right away after our wedding I got pregnant and had our son. Our relationship was pretty opposite of normal marriages. When there was stress or life changes we came together well. Our marriage was the best during those times. When life was normal we had troubles. When my son was just over 2 I wanted to try for another. The main reason I wanted another child was because I knew at that time I was going to divorce my husband and I didn't want my son to endure the change alone. I grew up with a sister a year older than me and we went through everything together. I wanted my son to have a buddy. I delivered my daughter on 1-1-2011. My husband wasn't present for her birth as she decided to come rather fast and was born in an ambulance. He was hurt that he didn't get to see her being born and that caused some tension. Three weeks after her birth was the best time we had together. Abby was admitted to Children's Hospital of Minneapolis for RSV. Rob was there every step of the way. He supported me (as a nursing mom) and kept my emotions in check. We were never closer. Rob is a very hands on dad. I tell everyone I am glad I nursed my babies because that was sometimes the only time I got with them. He did all the baths, diaper changes, burping...he loved the newborn stage.

In May of 2011 I packed my bag and a bag for my kids and left. I am not going to share the circumstances of that day. I am not going to share the reason behind our failed marriage. I am not going to point fingers or blame. It happened. I am not going to dwell on it and just move forward. At the time I had no job, no car, no house and $58 in my pocket.
I broke down and got help from the local county and state. I swallowed my pride and asked for help. My family was supportive and my back bone. Within a few months I found a job, save some money, got a vehicle and back on my feet.

I am also the mom that woman hate. Okay, 'hate' might be a strong word...let's say 'cringe at'. I get several questions about how I make it work? YOU'RE a single mom? How am I so happy with my life? How do I handle the career I have with being a single mom? Don't you hate your ex-husband? I am not your typical 'single mom'. I can honestly say I LOVE being a single mom. I wouldn't change anything in my life. I have no struggles. I have no fears. I have no regrets. I am very happy and content.

There are several ways I make it all work and there are several ways I think other single moms can make it work as well. First and most importantly, I have a can-do, positive attitude. I battled depression in high school and mentored others with depression throughout my adulthood. If I let negativity creep through one tiny crack in my brain it toxifies everything. I don't have time for negativity. I don't have energy for pity parties. I have no option but to keep going through the hard times and celebrate the good times. Even the tiniest thing I will celebrate. The answer I have to most questions I get about being a single mom lie within my attitude. I focus on the positive side of being a single mom rather than the negatives. There are more good things about me being a single mom than bad things.

Rob is still a very involved dad. We split custody 50/50. He is a great dad and enjoys being with his children and deserves that time. I am not a spiteful ex-wife that would keep his kids away from him just to spite him. His children enjoy him and want to be with him and they deserve that relationship. We don't agree on everything and there are differences in parenting but we work well together when we can. I will continue to carry with me the precious lessons my parents taught me. I will never talk bad about their father to them or in front of them. My children will know they are loved and accepted by both parents. I am a successful single mom because Rob helps me to be. I also help him be a successful single dad.

I am blessed beyond belief with an amazing family. My mom and step-dad live 2 miles from me. They are my back up daycare, my taxi drivers, my go-to people, my 'last resort'. My dad and step-mom are about 15 miles from me and have always provided me the emotional support and intelligent advice. My parents have given me more than I could ever imagine. My dad passed on his used Ford Expedition to me when I was in need. My step-dad has allowed me to live in his second house he purchased to 'flip' several years ago. My parents have taken my children on vacations, cared for them when they were sick, helped them learn new lessons and given them experiences I couldn't have given them.

I have the career of my dreams as an Executive Director of a large senior living campus. I have been in the industry for almost 15 years and I knew my dream job would be managing a community. I work long hours, am on-call around the clock and have a lot of responsibility. My team knows I am a single mom and need to have a flexible schedule. They know my daycare days that I need to be out early. They know my nights I can work late. My Regional Manager knows I have two young kids and knows my limits. He supports my lifestyle. It is because of this career I am financially secure.

I can honestly say no other title in my life has fit me better than 'single mom'. I am not ashamed of it. I have the perfect balance in my life. I am able to be a good mom, a career woman, able to date or spend time with friends as I want. Yes, it is hard when I have to say good-bye to my kids for five days when they go to their dads. That is when I focus on my career or friends. I miss them but if I sat home and cried I would fail in other areas of my life. Many moms (single or not) think they need to be with their kids 24/7. If I kept my kids from their dad just so I could be with them 24/7 and never ever miss them that would make me selfish. That would damage my kids more than letting them split their time. It isn't my job, as a mom, to be joined at the hip with them 24/7 and protect them from every tiny thing so they never get hurt or upset. It is my job to teach them and help them develop into decent human beings and positive members of society. It is okay to miss my kids because it makes me cherish their time with them even more. At the start of 2013 I worked 7 weekends in a row with no break. We were going through some changes at work and I had to be there. Last weekend I took an entire weekend to myself to read a couple books, eat ice cream and watch Lifetime movies. This time away from my kids and my job allowed me to refuel and refocus. I am not filled with guilt that I sneak away to get an hour massage or go on a date. That time away from my kids allows me to be a better mom. I met with several attorneys when I started my divorce and had some harsh responses to my custody agreements. I didn't want my children full time. I didn't want them attached to me 24/7. I had to be honest with myself and know I would be a better mom if I had time to myself to keep myself sane. It was very hard to be honest about not wanting my kids all the time. I am not a bad mom for the decisions I made. I am a better mom because my kids get a relationship with their father they deserve and I am able to have a career and the perfect balanced life.

So, how do I have this perfect life that is balanced well? I stay positive. I stay focused. I stay honest and true to myself and the needs of my kids. I have an amazing support system. I work hard. I cherish every moment I have with my kids. Mostly, I keep a good attitude!

Guest poster!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Just' a Stay at Home Mom

Hey all! Kailly here. Just going to jump right into todays post!

The other day, I was at the grocery store. Lines were crazy, so I patiently waited. Daddy had N, so I was just chatting with the gentleman in front of me. He asked where I worked. I showed him a picture of my princess and said I stayed home with her, and I was blessed with a husband that busted his butt at work for us. He smiled big and said she was beautiful. But then he said to me, and I will never forget it, "Oh, you're just a stay at home mom?" Just a stay at home mom? Like all he thinks I do is lie around in my plush bath robe, flipping through gossip magazines, watching "Guiding Light." Oh, and don't forget that I do all that while eating bon bons.

Sir, let me welcome you into the reality of being just a stay at home mom.

Most days start at the butt crack of dawn, since N decides it is time to play. There are no birds chirping, and there isn't a beautiful sun glaring through the windows. It's still dark out. Not, dusk dark, or early morning sun peeking out dark, nope, just dark. This happens at least once a week. I've tried to explain to her, that if the sun is still sleeping, that we should be too. She hasn't really gotten that part yet, but it's okay. These are honestly some of the best times with her!

Some days as I change N's diaper, she smashes her heels into it before I can catch her. She is a wiggle worm to the "T". Of course, this never happens with a pee diaper, it's always those poo ones. So, poo flies through the air, smashing me in the face. Usually, I remember to wipe it off, if she hasn't tried to yet crawl off the couch. My daughter is an adventure seeker. She loves the feeling of falling. Toss my princess in the air and you will hear her giggle for miles. It is adorable. She also has pee'd on me before. How is that possible with a girl? I never thought it was. N was lying on the couch, I had already pulled a diaper off, and was getting the next one ready. As you can probably tell, this was when I was new at being a mommy. This doesn't happen anymore! :-) Any way, she decided to toot, and pee came with it, and with how strong her little toot was, pee went everywhere. My shirt was wet, my arms were dripping and my face was covered. I wipe my face quickly, and if I am lucky I get a chance to change my shirt.

Afterwards, we have breakfast. I eat with N as she sits in her high chair. Our table is right by the patio sliding glass door, her chair right next to it. I've learned to pull the curtains back so she can see outside. Usually, our dog, Lylla is lying right outside the door. N loves to watch her puppy. And, if she can't see outside, she won't eat. It took me a while to figure that one out! So, we eat breakfast as she watches her puppy. Some days, N loves to smack the spoon as I try to fly it into her mouth. Pears hit the wall, and N kicks her feet with delight. I laugh as I clean the walls, and whatever other objects may have been in the line of fire. N is going to be excellent at starting food fights one day.

By now, Mr. grocery store man, can you tell things aren't what you think they are? You see sir, it is now about 10 am. Only 10 am you think? Yep, only 10 am. There is already a load of laundry in the washer. One, that I usually remember to get into the dryer, and eventually fold. That laundry is from the blow outs of yesterday, from the few bibs from her meals, and from my clothing that is dirty from our adventures. N is likely going down for her morning nap. From here, I have to pump, and then I hurry to make lunch, since I likely didn't get to eat my breakfast. Now, here sir, is where you may have something right. I do sneak in some mommy time. I watch, my guilty pleasure, "The Price is Right" as I finally get around to folding laundry. But, I'm not in a plush bath robe. I'm likely wearing dirty pajamas, my hair is a mess, and the only reading material in sight is a stack of childrens books, most of them being Mickey Mouse, my daughters favorite character!

If I am lucky, I will flip the video monitor on and rush upstairs to take a shower and get into real clothing! I pop the monitor on the counter, and hop into the shower before it is the right temperature in case she wakes up. I pop my head out once or twice to make sure my sleeping beauty is doing okay. My shower will last about 5 minutes, and then I am out. I quickly get dressed, toss on some moisturizer, or makeup if I have time, and run back downstairs.

Once N is awake, we will play like crazy. We laugh together as we play with her alligator music toy. We chase balls that fly out of her Mr. Elefun toy, and we flip through books, reading stories and making funny voices. After playing more, feeding time, diaper changes and packing a bag, we load up into the stroller and walk down to the park. It isn't too far away which is awesome. We stroll the park a few times before she gets fussy and starts talking. I know what she wants to do, so I park the stroller, pull her out and we head over to the swings. She squeals with delight as I push her back and forth for the 50th time! Then, I climb up the huge playground equipment, with her in hand, wishing they had stairs and we go down the huge slide. Each time, she is so happy, and kicks her feet, her hands go up in the air, and we dance through the park. N weighs 20 pounds, so by this time, I am running out of breath, thinking I may need to work out more or something!

Once home, we do baths, change clothes, and I pump again for the fourth time of the day! We play more, and on more than one occasion, I find myself laughing until my sides hurt. We crawl across the floor together, and sometimes I scoop my crying princess into my arms after shes rolled into the metal bars of her bouncer. I kiss her boo boos, and give her a toy to distract her all the while bouncing her up and down on my leg singing a horsey song. Once she cheers up, we are back on the floor playing, crawling, rolling, scooting, whatever she wants. We also have music time, signing time, and other time to stimulate her! After another feeding, she falls back to sleep. This is usually right before Daddy gets home. I put her down as I run rampant, trying to clean up all the messes from our day. I try to get the laundry put away, give the dog some attention, and clean up all of our toys that are scattered all over the place. Once I am finished, I may turn on reruns of Americas Next Top Model while I finish getting dinner prepped or whatever else needs to be done. Then Daddy gets home. He helps a ton while he is home, which is great.

Mr. grocery store man, I love what I do. I have the best daughter I can imagine. But, can you tell it isn't just relaxing and eating twinkies all day? Have you ever wondered why you pay so much for daycare for your kids? Do you think that is because your provider hangs out all day doing nothing? I saw that somewhere and it made me laugh with how true it is.

Sir, I am my daughters provider, teacher, doctor. I am her personal stylist, hair dresser, manicurist, masseuse. I am her chef, bath giver, boo boo kisser. I do everything for my little girl, and I love every single minute of it! She is my life, and I am hers! I am her mommy, and she knows it. There is no better feeling than that! So next time you tell someone they are just a stay at home mom, please remember this! And, if you'd like, I'll give you my address so you can see, in person, what every day entails! It is the most fun, awesome, rewarding thing in this world. And, it's also the hardest job I've ever had!