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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Parenting Illusions of Social Media

Parenting and relationships are difficult enough by itself, but throw social media into it and it just got a whole helluva lot more complicated. Don't get me wrong, the plethora of information out there is great, and the support I've found from mom groups has given me lot's of comfort during some lonely times.

But it's dangerous out there. We all want to do the best thing for our children and so naturally when we hear about someone doing something different, we compare. And we are usually comparing their best day with our worst. We also seek advice from complete strangers when sometimes the answer is deep within ourselves.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter . . . it's just one big highlight reel. Celebrity marriages create this horrible illusion that what they portray is reality. It's not. Reality is full of messes that celebrities experience too. They just don't want us to see it.  Social media showcases our best moments. But life isn't just a compilation of our best. We all have those horrible days.

Now what if I posted this photo with the caption: Enjoying some alone time while my beautiful babies take a nap!

You form an opinion about me and my life. But it's not just this one picture on my Facebook account. It's hundreds just like this. Highlighting the "better" moments. It's easy to assume my life is a certain way.

What if I told you I took that picture 20 times before it looked just right, and it actually took me an hour to get both babies to sleep. I also spent the entire morning ugly crying because I was up with my baby 6 times last night and I'm so exhausted. It wasn't just last night, it's every night. And I haven't gotten more than five hours of broken sleep in eight months.

And we missed a doctors appointment and when I called to reschedule they said," if you ever miss an appointment we cancel all future appointments and don't allow you to be a patient anymore." And we have been through hell since we moved trying to find a good pediatrician that takes our insurance and have already had one horrible experience and have no other options. I begged them to make an exception. I cried on the phone to someone I barely knew.

I cried because my husband is gone 12 hours a day and I wake up alone every morning.  I struggle every day to not lose my shit while I get four kids ready for the day. Myself included. I wake up alone because my husband commutes to work because we couldn't really afford to live in the city he works in and we wanted more for our kids. We wanted a great neighborhood and great schools. A nice house. So we sacrificed. I cried because my sinks were full of dishes and my kitchen was a mess and I felt like a failure. I felt like life was just too heavy for me to handle. I cried because I felt like I was failing.

I cried because I've been telling myself that things will get easier. My daughter will figure it out and sleep. One day. Work won't completely consume my husband. One day. I will crawl into bed one night and not wake up until after the sun comes up. One day, I cried because I've been so patient and this morning, I didn't want to be anymore. I wanted everything to be the way I wanted it to be.

I'm typically a genuinely happy person. Honestly. It's the one thing my family and close friends have always said about me. Why are you so happy all the time? And this morning, I cried because I was disappointed in myself for being so negative. We all need days like that. I'm not a robot. I can't always be happy. I cry so hard sometimes because I need to.

Next time someone posts a photo or several photos, or their entire social media account seems like they have the perfect life, just remember they probably don't. We are all going through our own stuff and have days when we leave the house in leggings, a mom bun, and a baggy sweater. No sexy peep toes, but dirty flats with a hole in the side, But we don't post those kinds of photos. We post the photos of ourselves when we manage to shower, do our make-up and leave the house holding a hot Starbucks coffee, donning our best skinny jeans and designer blouse.

To the mom right now sitting in her pajamas reading this, You aren't alone. I'm in sweatpants right now, my toddler didn't take a nap and my coffee is still sitting in the microwave from this morning.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I'm In There Somewhere

My first child was born when I was only seventeen years old. Despite all the advice I was given about motherhood, nothing truly prepared me for it. Nothing. I foolishly thought who I was would never change. The truth is, you can't really be that great of a parent if you don't change. You have to. There is something about motherhood that honestly changes you whether you like it or not.

Who you are, what you look like, and what you're wearing begins to take a back seat to who your children are becoming, what they look like, and what they are wearing. Half of mine are usually running around naked anyway.

Before I had my kids I thought of myself as vibrant and fun. A self proclaimed night owl who loved to explore the day away. I would listen to music, go to the gym, write, watch a movie in the afternoon. Take a damn nap if I wanted to. Waste the day away lounging in coffee shops, or driving around just because.

The picture above was taken a year or so before I found out I was pregnant with my first. I spontaneously decided to bike ride down to this pond and fish. Spontaneity is a word that no longer exists in my world because every single thing we do for the most part has to be planned. We have nap schedules to work around and bed times and homework and guitar lessons and swim class. 

When my husband met me, I was a very difference person than I am today. For a really long time I used to think that was such a bad thing and would often apologize for not being the girl he met all those years ago. I promised him that I was in there somewhere; beneath the bags under my eyes and extra baby weight and leaking breasts,and stretch marks.  I was in there. Somewhere.

I wanted to be the girl in the picture again. I pined for her. 

One night, my husband and I were lying in bed, the kids were asleep, and we started talking about all the free time we had before we had four kids. He looked at me and said, "Back then you were this dependent, confused girl. Look at you now. You went and grew into a strong, independent woman."

It took me some time to realize, but I don't ever want to be that girl in the photo again. That season of my life is over. She was a first draft of the many versions of myself I will grow into. I've become something more incredible than the sixteen year old version of me could have ever dreamed of. I developed self worth, self confidence, strength, appreciation for so many things in life. I became a mother and learned more about love and life than I could possibly try to write about. The years have given me experience. The kind of experience you have to actually live through and can't be explained to you.

 Strength. Drive. Dedication. Perseverance. Patience. Knowledge. Realization. Love. Words I've come to truly understand the meaning of.

There are days I fall apart. Days where I'm sleep deprived, defeated, frustrated, and moments I cry so hard because I feel like I am failing. I feel like I can't possible do this anymore.  But I know who I am, and I'm so proud of that. When I look at that photo, I'm standing there alone, living only for myself.

When I look at photos now, the lives my husband and I created are in them, and I'm not just living for myself anymore. I have this incredible full, crazy, hectic, exhausting life, and I've never been happier. 

I am in there somewhere, along with all my other experiences and pieces of my past self who have made me into the woman and mother I am today. That girl couldn't even fathom the degree of happiness I have today, and I would never want to go back to being her. I had so many other amazing things ahead of me, I was just too naive to realize it.  

Always remember who you used to be. Know who you are. Look forward to who you will become. 




Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Marriage Comes First

So if there was only one apple left you would give it to your husband?

When I say my marriage comes first, I don't mean I would deprive my children of something for my husband. Our children wouldn't even exist if my husband and I weren't together so our relationship needs constant nurturing and attention.

Our marriage is the foundation for this beautiful fortified kingdom we created together. If our relationship weakens, everything we have worked so hard to build begins to crumble. Our whole world falls apart and our kids need us to be strong and work together. They need us to be a team who works together and fights for the family.

This doesn't mean I tend to my husbands needs before my crying children, but we actively carve out time for one another and never stop dating. Our love and relationship is far more advanced than that of a dating couple in the honeymoon phase. We flirt, send naughty text messages, ask each other out on dates, and romance each other as if we just met. We pursue one another, all the time. My husband still opens the car door for me, fills up my water bottle, and texts me to tell me he misses me. I do his laundry, iron his shirts when I have time, leave him sweet notes, and make sure I tell him how much I appreciate him.

None of that comes easy. We have four children. Two of them have activities during the week, homework, want to spend alone time with each of us and the other two are both under three years old. I have also been breastfeeding every single day and night for the past three years. And was pregnant for 18 months out of the last 36 months.

We also recognize that things aren't always going to be equal or 50/50. There have been times when Greg needed me to give 90% because he only had 10%. Times when we were both able to give 50%. There were also times when I've been so sleep deprived and had absolutely nothing left to give. When he travels for work I'm giving more than I thought I had to give. Marriage isn't always about things being fair. It's about working together and being a team. Sometimes one of the people on that team has to bear more of the burden. Neither one of us are ever bearing it alone, or for very long.

I don't think anyone ever really tells you how much work it is to maintain a marriage and keep it thriving. It's not easy. But it's worth it. Any anything worth anything is hard.

Friday, December 9, 2016

What's Keeping You Busy

There is a huge stigma that stay at home moms have loads of free time. This sort of makes me laugh out loud because if any of the people who thought that shadowed me on my 24 hour day they would cry, and apologize.

As I type this blog, with one hand, I'm holding a six month old in the other, while simultaneously teaching my two year old how to write the letter 'M'.

The truth is, I have FOUR full time jobs. FOUR. Each one of my incredible children are different people who need different things on different levels at different times. My 13 year old needs conversations, and discussion about homework and life. My six month old needs 24 hour care. I'm also exclusively breastfeeding so only I do middle of the night feedings, which happen to be every two hours because, why not? My seven year old needs to tell me every detail of every dream she has ever had, and every detail about her entire day and I have to listen carefully to every single word or she will start all over again. My two year old is still very attached to me, so when I'm not holding my baby, I'm holding her and playing with her and teaching her colors and letters and numbers and going for walks and making sure we get enough outside time.

In between all that, I have a 4,000 sqft house I get to maintain and clean. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, the dreaded kitchen. I don't have a nanny, or a cleaning lady. The thought of getting one has certainly crossed my mind though. Then there is laundry for SIX people. Two of whom are under three and if you have ever had children know they need at least two or three outfits changes a day due to poop explosions, breakfast or lunch not making it into their mouth or any other number of reasons kids get messy.

I cook three meals a day, every single day. Clean them up. Then there are the countless requests for snacks. Drinks of water. Hugs. Alone time with mom. Baths. At some point I have to squeeze in a shower for myself which happens probably every three days. Then there is my husband. Who has dropped from full time job status to part time because the moment he walks in the door after work, he jumps right into the circus as co ring leader while we divide and conquer for the rest of the night.

Once the kids are in bed, our teenage usually wants to talk. So we spend time talking with him while folding laundry or cleaning up the kitchen. After that, when all the kids are in bed, we make all these amazing plans for the rest of the night and usually fall asleep talking about the things we should do now that the kids are asleep. His day ends there, mine however, does not. I am up at least three times a night with our six month old. I do not get to take naps during the day. My husband is gone for work before we even get up for the day so I get four kids up, dressed, fed, lunches packed, and out the door by myself.

I haven't even included doctors appointments, grocery shopping, meal planning, budgeting, and a handful of other things that come up.

I do not get sick days, or weekends off. I don't get vacation time. I don't only work an 8 or 9 hour day. My days blend together. I am also a very hands on mom. I don't plop my kids in front of the t.v. We play and learn and interact. Sure there are days when we just need to chill and watch a movie, but that lasts for maybe an hour. And I'm not sitting watching a movie because  I'm playing with a six month old who doesn't watch T.V.

What's keeping me busy you ask? What am I doing with my spare time? It's almost comical you think I have spare time. There are fleeting moments when the baby surprises me and sleeps for two hours while my toddler is also napping. On these rare days the clouds have opened up and God knows I so desperately needed that two hours.

I may not leave the house and drive to a job. But my family is my job and I give it 200% every single day.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mr.Trump

Dear Mr. Trump

I'll just call you that, and no, I don't really care if you are happy or not. I've thought a lot about this letter, and about you. Maybe you are a nice person. Maybe you aren't. Maybe you are a sad product of your environment. Someone who is self-righteous and entitled. Someone who thinks they can do and say whatever they want without consequence. You can't.

Your so called "locker room talk". Other's find this disgusting, while I truly find it sad. Sad that you are so undesirable that you have to force yourself onto women. That you feel your fame and wealth have produced some free pass to all the vagina's in the world. Whether or not you meant what you said, or not, and frankly, I normally wouldn't care, but you want to be the president of this country so now you have my attention. You are a public figure. A T.V personality, an extremely wealthy man, and by saying the things you said, you are normalizing the idea of sexual assault, of rape, of groping, cat calls, and unwanted advances. You make the already sick men of this world think that when women are saying no, we mean keep going. You make them think that when we politely turn you down we are being coy.  You contribute to the idea that women are asking for it. That we are a distraction. That men have no control over their minds or their bodies. A real man does. My short skirt, or tight shirt is not a VIP invitation.

No one in this world has the right to touch me without my consent. Not even my husband. This might be a hard one for you to swallow now, but even if I tell my husband no, he doesn't have the right to do it anyway.

The more normal it becomes to say it, to joke about it, the more normal it becomes to actually do it. And people are doing exactly what you claim is just talk. Women are assaulted, raped, touched without their consent. What you have stated was just words.  Sometimes words cut the deepest. All poor decisions start with a thought, then become just words, which develop into action.

Were you even sorry about any of this before it went viral? People who get caught usually have no intention of being honest or truly being sorry.

Once upon a time, the president was someone kids looked up to. It was someone at least five people in my second grade class wanted to be when they grew up!  I don't want my children; my son, or my daughters to want to be you. You are supposed to be a role model. Someone who sets a great example. The only example you have set is that women are objects, here for your pleasure, whether we consent or not. That all we deserve is a number rating.

I will share something with you that I tell my kids to ask themselves before they do or say something.
Is what you are about to do or say helpful, or hurtful? Maybe you should start asking yourself that before you speak. Maybe you didn't mean what you said.(wrong)  Maybe the media is taking a lot of things you have said out of context, (not true) or trying to make you look bad. Maybe you are misunderstood. (doubt it)

Maybe your actions are sort of like what we have done to this country. You realize you screwed up big time, but it's too damn late.





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"If you don't let anything happen to you, then nothin' will ever happen to you"

I could blog about motherhood or parenting today, but I feel like this is a more important topic that in a way, pertains to motherhood.

When my husband and I started living together and moved into our first little house, we were thrilled to have a place to live and start a family, despite the overwhelming amount of renovations the house needed to simply make it livable. As we settled in, and drowned ourselves in renovation after renovation, and credit card debt, after credit card debt, we began to accept things in our life.

We accepted that we would never get out of debt

We accepted that after two failed attempts, we would never sell our house

We accepted that our "master bedroom" was really in a partially finished basement and we wouldn't have privacy for a long time

We accepted that we would probably be living in Christiansburg until our kids were in high school

We accepted our life for what it was and tried to find things to be thankful for every day

It's great to be thankful for what you have, lot's of people have less, but there is nothing wrong with wanting more if you are willing to work for it.

We both got stuck in our life. Too comfortable and accepting things we weren't really happy with.
I'm not good with change at all. I actually try to avoid it as much as possible and do what I know. I have always avoided trying new things, I hate traveling because of all the unknowns I might not be able to control. I'm a planner and an organizer. I want to know exactly what is going to happen and when, at all times. I like a routine. A routine that I made and am comfortable with.

But here is the thing, "If you don't let anything happen to you, nothing will ever happen to you."

Ever since my son was little, he watched Finding Nemo over and over again. Five times a day sometimes. I can recite the movie in my sleep and yet Dory's advice to Marlin never hit me.

"If you don't let anything happen to you . . .

I never let things happen to me. Ever! If I thought something would turn out bad, or be a stressful experience, I wouldn't do it. Over the last six years, we have had three different opportunities to move to Colorado and turned each one down. THREE!

The last time my husband was presented with the opportunity, we said yes. And more things have happened to me in the last six months then over the last six years.

Some of it was horrible and I cried. I cried so hard some days, and didn't think I had it in me to do anymore. But I did. My kids witnessed a strength in me that I didn't even know I had. Here is the other thing. Anything worth anything is never going to be easy. And after all the exhaustion and stress, and worry and having everything that could have possibly went wrong, going wrong, I can't even tell you how worth it it all was when we made it to our new house. In a neighborhood. With actual neighbors and kids and a playground and a gorgeous house that didn't need any work or renovations.

Don't get me wrong, the days following were miserable. Adjusting to the altitude, the time change, unpacking with three kids and a newborn, crying children. But in that moment, that five seconds before everyone lost their shit, I knew it was worth it. I wasn't going to not let things happen to me. I would be brave and take chances, meet new people, stray from our routines. It's hard sometimes. The kids cry, throw fits, and I wonder why we even try. Then I remind myself that we only have one life, and we aren't promised tomorrow, so I want to make sure that today, we are truly living and loving and trying something new, even if it's hard.

And Lord willing, if I am given decades, I don't want to look back and realize I did the same thing every day because I was afraid.

I took chances when I was scared. Tried things when I didn't want to. Taught my kids to be strong and work hard for things you want because really living is worth it. Settling is not.


Monday, August 8, 2016

10 Things I Stopped Trying To Do

I actually giggled while writing the title to this blog, because it currently 8:11 am in Colorado and due to the altitude, or the time difference, or constant go, go, go, the past couple months, my kids are all exhausted and still sleeping. Yup! All four of them.

 I bravely (and quietly) made coffee, opened my laptop, to find the battery dead of course, and decided I would finally try to write one of five blogs I have had floating around in my head.

Things have changed drastically since moving across country, which is a whole other blog entirely, but there are a number of things I decided to stop trying to do during the day, while my kid are here, and it's made my life so much easier.

1. Showering in the A.M

Why have I ever even tried to do this with a toddler and a two month old? The baby is happy, I would say to myself. The toddler is occupied. The moment that amazing warm water hits my skin, either the baby starts screaming, or one of my kids is yelling my name because my two year old is lathering herself in chocolate syrup. I now shower at night when the littles are in bed, my husband is home, and I can lock the door, be alone, and take my time.

2.Pooping with the door shut

Something about me being in the bathroom is so awesome, that three out of four kids are either on my lap, in the bathroom, asking me questions, telling me stories, or just watching. I don't even bother shutting the door anymore, which is awkward when your so used to leaving it open, that you forget to close it when your at someone else's house

3. Anything during nap time 

Nap time is like murphy's law. If I decide to take a nap, my kids sleep for 40 minutes. If I wander around the house anxiously waiting for them to wake up, the sleep for three and a half hours. I can't win, so I relax during nap time no matter what.

4. Spending a lot of time making fancy dinners  

I used to fuss so much about making these super nice dinners. Spending an hour of prep time and using all my good spices. Making sure it was healthy and creative. Theeenn, only half my crew would eat it. The leftovers would sit in the fridge and I would be forced to eat the same thing for a week because I didn't want food to go to waste. I keep it simple now. And maybe one night a week Ill make something awesome.

5. Making important phone calls

Every single kid could be completely occupied until the exact moment I dial someone's phone number and start talking. I'm the most popular person in the house . . . until I hang up the phone. I save my calls for nap time.

6. Thinking Your Kids Are Still Sleeping

Waking up in the morning before my kids and thinking I have time before they all wake up to accomplish anything, like a shower, a work-out or the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee.
I broke one of my own rules when starting to write this because it is now 2:13 pm. Jokes on me!

7. Wearing nice clothes

I almost feel like moms of littles should wear scrubs! It is amazing how many smears, stains, and bodily fluids I have on me by the end of the day. It is a guarantee that if I put on a nice outfit, it will be ruined. I just stopped wearing nice stuff unless I am going somewhere special.

8. Having Sex

Okay, so I'm not trying not to. We actually plan to every night, but end up falling asleep. So we just stopped planning on it all the time and just let it happen. And it actually happens more by not trying then by trying.

9. Leisure Shopping with toddlers

Time and time again I've attempted to be super mom and take my toddler shopping with me. This is always more stressful then fun. Toddlers are curious little bugs who want to explore and touch, They touch everything. Trying on clothes, or shopping for specifics is almost impossible. I set aside special time for me to do this alone. Kind of alone. I have the baby with me, but I can wear her and she isn't mobile yet, so she snoozes away while I shop stress free.


10. Using Glass plates for every meal

I know its wasteful, but I have seriously underestimated the amazingness of paper plates! We use about five plates a meal, times 3 meals a day. That's a lot of dishes. Fast, easy clean up means more time with my kiddos instead of washing and loading the dish washer.





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