Friday, August 31, 2012

Vactation Time

The three of us will be spending next week on vacation in South Haven. We're so lucky this Summer to be able to go down and spend so much time together at a house our parents have rented! I think the sun, sand and family time will do us all a lot of good. I feel a little bad for Jess and Tim though, they'll be commuting to work most of the week.

Don't worry, we have posts ready to go for next week, and when we get back I'm sure you'll get a full recap of our time there! Pictures of all the adorable babies included!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

20 Questions: Jamie

You've heard from Mal, Alexis and a few other guests. Today, Jamie is answering our 20 Questions. Next week you'll hear from two more guest mamas!

1. Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.  
Tim, my husband of 3 years. He runs the Midas shop on the 28th St. in Grand Rapids (so if you live in the area and need any work done on your car, stop in and see him!). He balances me in almost every way. I say almost because we are both worriers. It's been fun to watch him grow as a dad. He can get Stella laughing so hard that she can't stop.

Our Love Bean, Stella is 11 months. It's hard to believe that she's almost 1 already! She has 6 teeth and 2 more just popped through recently. She loves her blanket. She's probably going to be one of those kids that has to take carry a piece of their blanket in their pocket when they go to school. She is the sweetest babe around, but she makes you work for a smile.

Jamie, well you know me. I'm trying to build a freelance graphic design business, so that I can remain home with Stella. I've been meaning to post about that for awhile, hopefully next week.

2. What's a typical day in your household like?
Tim wakes up around 6am to start getting ready for work. At 6:30 he bribes me out of bed by telling me he has coffee made. I pack his lunch while we chat about our plans for the day and then at 7am he's out the door headed to work for the day.

Sometime between 7 and 8 (usually closer to 7) Stella wakes up, I go get her out of bed and then feed her breakfast. While she's eating I unload the dishwasher and clean up the breakfast mess. After breakfast we usually shower and then I get some freelance work done and watch my morning talk shows, while Stella plays by herself. Sometimes, I get interrupted to read a book or two :) Around 9:30 she usually goes down for a morning nap, and I get about an hour and a half of uninterrupted time to get work done.

Once she's up from her morning nap, we don't have a strict routine. We play, read, run errands, or go visit her Nanner or her cousins. If we're home, we eat lunch around noon (which is usually leftovers from mine and Tim's dinner the night before) while listening to music. and I usually sneak in a little more computer time, write blog posts or do some more freelance work. She goes back down for an afternoon nap around 2:30/3:00pm, and I get more work/stuff around the house done.

She usually eats dinner around 6, while I start cooking dinner for me and Tim. Our meals are separate right now because, Tim doesn't get home until 7:30 or later, and that's about time for Stella to be winding down for the night. When Tim gets home, he and I eat. After dinner he gets Stella ready for bed and gives her a bottle. She's in bed by 8/8:30 most nights. When Stella gets older, it's my hope that we'll be able to have at least one meal together as a family, even if that means waking up extra early to have a big breakfast together.

I have a personal rule that I don't get on the computer after Tim gets home, and we only watch TV shows we both agree on, so from the time Stella goes to be to the time we go to bed (around 10) we get to have some quality time together.

3. How has your lifestyle changed since having children?
Our lifestyle changed a lot after having Stella. Tim and I went out almost every weekend and even during the week sometimes. We would order take out or go out for dinner like 3 or 4 times a week and I went shopping all of the time. We both had full time jobs, and we didn't have to worry about anything other than ourselves. Around the same time that Stella arrived, our job situations changed, we had more expenses and less money coming in. Our lifestyle changed dramatically. We rarely go out anymore, and now that we're back in Michigan we hardly ever eat out. Although, when we were in Chicago, we would usually ate lunch and dinner out on Sundays, because we were usually out doing something as a family, even it was just walking around the neighborhood.

We've adjusted pretty well, although, we do miss Chicago sometimes. It's so much more fun watching our Love Bean blossom.

4. Have you ever felt the need to defend your decision to start a family in your 20's?
Yes, when we were living in Chicago, but not since we've been back. In Chicago it was pretty strange to people that we were even married in our twenties. Add having a baby at 24, and you have an even more uncommon lifestyle. I always felt the need to justify our decision by saying, "I know we're young, but getting married and having kids young is totally normal in small town Michigan."

5. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom, and what's the most rewarding?
For me, the most challenging thing is letting Tim figure things out on his own. Since I'm home with Stella all day (and she's a total mama's girl) I know exactly what to do to calm her down when she gets upset, I know which foods are her favorite and which ones she'll just throw on the ground. I know Tim needs to learn all of these things in his own way and time, but sometimes I just can't stop myself from taking over.

I think the most rewarding thing are all the little moments that can go unnoticed, like when you catch your baby "reading" a book to herself, when she snuggles her head into where your neck and shoulder meet, or when you walk in to find her head first in her toy bin trying to dig out the toy she wants. Those are the moments that I just feel overwhelmed with happiness.

6. How are household chores divided up in your family?
Since I'm at home all day now I do all of the housework. Not gonna lie, sometimes it's a little frustrating to have to do all the chores and chase after Love Bean all day, especially when I have design projects or blog posts I want/need to work on. But I guess that's the trade off I made when we agreed I wouldn't get an office job.

7. How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
Tim works long hours, and he works every Saturday. He usually sees Love Bean for 1 to 2 hours everyday. I think it breaks his heart, so on his days off we usually hang out just the three of us, so he can get his Stella fix. We do need to get better about making time to visit Tim's family.

8. What's your most embarrassing mom moment?
When Stella was about 6 months old, I took her on the Amtrack to come up and walk with Team Gatlyn at the March of Dimes. Since we were participating in the walk, I had her stroller with us, which made things a little tricky. After we got off the train, I was trying to unfold the stroller while holding Stella, but I was having a lot of trouble. A lady noticed and came over and said, "here let me hold the baby, while you mess with the stroller." AND I LET HER! I just handed my baby over to her! Obviously, she didn't run off with Stella, but what if she had?!

Why didn't I say, "Actually if you could just open the stroller for me, that would help a ton."

9. Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
Tim and I talk about how we were raised and what we want to carry over and what we don't. And I watch other parents—family, friends, strangers at the grocery store—and try to emulate things I like, and make an effort to not do certain things. I also read about parenting a lot, and try to put into practice things I think will work for us. I subscribe to the idea that not only is every child is different, but every mom is different, so there isn't a one size fits all parenting style.

10. Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed? Have you made new friends, strengthened friendships, or lost friends?
My friendships didn't really changes all that much. Since we didn't have Stella until after we'd been out of college for a couple of years, my friendships had already sort of settled into what they were (if that makes sense). The friends I had stayed in contact with from high school and college are still my friends and were among the first ones to visit and make time to see Stella.

My relationships with each of my sisters has changed and been strengthened now that we're all mothers. Especially with Mallorie - we always butted heads a little bit when were young, but now we're super close and talked at least 3 times a week while I lived in Chicago.  However, I can't say that I've really gained new friends by becoming a mom, maybe when I join MOPS this year...

11. How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
Like I mentioned above, I have a personal rule that on days Tim works, I don't get on the computer after he gets home, and we only watch TV shows we both agree on. That has helped our relationship in so many ways.

12. What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
Don't feel guilty if you don't love every minute of being a mom. Trust me there will be times that you just want to scream/cry/pull your hair out, and that's okay. For me it was the first few weeks of breast feeding. I remember crying multiple times when it was time for Stella to nurse (Stella was having trouble latching on one side, and it hurt, like really hurt). I even remember texting Tim once asking if he'd be upset if I gave Stella a bottle. We powered through it, and breast feeding worked out just fine.

Those tough moments are short lived, and are overwhelming out weighed by all the magical moments of being a mom. They aren't worth beating yourself up. It wasn't going to be the end of the world if I didn't make it to my breastfeeding goal. I wasn't breastfed, and I turned out just fine :)

Also, don't ever wake a sleeping baby!

13. What's your childcare set-up and why does it work for you?
I stay home with Stella. Since I'm just starting to get into freelancing, it works for us. I think that when I start to have more work come my way, we might have to rethink our set-up a little bit. It's tough to get enough work done during nap time.

14. Do you ever get time to yourself?
I get time at home to myself - nap times or if I go out for a run at night, but I rarely go do anything alone outside of home.

15. What was the toughest adjustment going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids? If you only have one child what was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
Hands down, leaving the house was the biggest adjustment. Instead of the standard keys, wallet, phone check, with a baby it's keys, wallet, phone, diaper bag (which has a checklist all of it's own), blanket, oh and don't forget getting the baby ready. And even though it's only an additional couple of items, until you get your system down, it adds like at least an extra hour onto what used to take you a minute.

16. Has having children changed your relationship with food?
I don't think my relationship with food has ever been that unhealthy. But when Stella started eating solids, I made a conscious decision to be more aware of eating a balanced diet. We eat a lot more vegetables now, and I've found ways to work them into meals I normally would have left them out of.

17. What are your plans for your child's education?
I tossed out the idea of homeschooling, and Tim shot that right down. Plus I think my mother in-law, a teacher, would probably want to disown me ;) So, when the time comes, she'll probably go to public school. But the idea of homeschooling/unschooling really fascinates me. It's something we'll definitely do before she goes to school and on Summer breaks.

18. How is discipline handled in your family?
We are just now starting to consider disciplining Stella. I'll definitely be the disciplinarian of the family though. Tim can't even bring himself to leave Stella in her crib if she stands up before he walks out.

Right now the two things I am being most conscious of is NOT talking in the third person, when scolding her and using the same stern tone of voice each time. So instead of saying "Mommy said, no you can't do that" when she's taking all of the DVDs out of the drawer for the hundredth time, I get down at her level and say, "Stella, I said no." and remove her from the situation. It makes the conversation more personal, and gives Stella the direct attention that she needs.

19. If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?
Right now, there are lots of things I wish were different. But I'm trying to remember, sometimes things fall apart, so better things can come together. Something I also think Tim and I need to both work at is just being content and happy with how far we've come.

20. Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known...
That being a mom would come to me naturally. People say that, but if you're like me and have never had a maternal instinct in your life, you find that really hard to believe. For me it was like flipping a switch, the second she was born I felt completely comfortable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Four Little Bookworms

I have Rae, Roo, Stell and Gat tonight. So far, there has only been one time that I've felt a little overwhelmed. Most of the time they're sweet little bookworms.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Much Needed

I am taking a two week hiatus. I am going to enjoy my family, quiet time and crocheting (yes I am picking that up and LOVING it)

I need a break from sickness, computers, and the craziness of life! Ready to get back to what truly makes me happy. Beat Jess in Bananagrams, him beat me in Sequence. Play Memory or High Ho Cherry Yo with Jo.

I realized I needed this after having a night out with Jess on Saturday and then spending Sunday with my parents, grandma, brother, Jess and the kids in South Haven. I need to dig in the word and find me again. I am ready to enjoy 11, yes ELEVEN, days in the sun and sand with my kids and family. Hopefully, there I can find what I need. To be happy from the inside out.

I want to be content along with a few other things. But, lately I cannot shut my mind off and feel lonely. I am going to reconnect with God, myself, hubs and family.

Until then, enjoy the last few weeks of summer. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Extra Love

It's Friday and I'm feeling extra generous today so I'll give ya two posts! ;) Or I am just really bored because I don't have Roo this weekend.

We met up with Ruthie's Lola (Grandma) today as it is her weekend to go to her dads. We meet half way in between his house and my house, which is Howell, to make the switch. The bonus, yet potential downside, of this location is the outlet mall! Jamie and Stella decided to tag along and do some damage at the mall while we waited. We found some great deals, so I thought I would share our findings with you. In my defense, "Of course Ruthie & Stella pretty much begged us for everything, so we couldn't say know." In Jamie's defense, "Tim you don't wanna know the damage I could have done so just be thankful for what you don't see."

Top Left: Stella's finds. Royal blue jeans and flower tank from Old Navy and stripe tank from Gap.
Top Right: Ruthie's finds. Flower T-shirt from Gap and orange polka dot leggings from Gymboree (which she will wear as part of her Halloween costume)
Bottom Left: Stella's find. Black stripe in a 2T that she decided to wear as a dress right now and a shirt next summer!
Bottom Right: Ruthie's finds. Yellow jeans and "Its good to be a girl" tank from Gap.

Both of them made out pretty good Ruthie paying a total of $30 and Stella $36.

Fresh Air and Fresh Eyes

This week my mom and dad have been at the beach house in South Haven so instead of staying at the house alone Roo and I have been crashing at Auntie J, Uncle Tim, and Stella's house.

So anyways, Monday and Tuesday we sat inside being lazy all day with our girlies. We sat there for hours in Jamie's dark living room on Facebook and Pinterest which can also translate to sitting their talking about how much we wish we had, what we wish we looked like, what we wish we could eat or basically talking about how much we suck at life. It was a rather depressing two days.

Wednesday, I said OK WE NEED TO GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING INSTEAD OF SITTING HERE FEELING SORRY FOR OURSELVES! We decided we were being ungrateful little, well I'll just say it, brats the two days before. So we got the girls packed them up and went to the park. I must say just getting outdoors and getting some fresh air and actually doing something instead of sitting inside has a big impact. It felt good to get out and the park was a cheap way to do that. So Thursday we got Mal on board and we all went to the pool.

Moral of the story: Sometimes some fresh air and some fresh eyes are all you need to see life a little differently. Well all know once in a while we all need a little reminder that sanity still exists.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

20 Questions: Angie

Hi TwentySomethingMamas readers! My name is Angie and I blog about life with a sexy fisherman and our superhero son over at Authentically Angie.

I'm pretty jazzed that the Mamas invited me to take part in their "20 Questions" series... because who didn't love that game in high school? Amiright? I mean, how else were you going to con your poor friends into telling you all their deepest secrets and desires? {insert semi-evil-but-still-very-
likable-laugh here}

Let's get to it:
1. Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.
Sexy fisherman/ClintClint is my husband of 6 years, my best friend, and my compass. He's sexy, hilarious, handy... and he takes direction well ;-) Haha. Clint works as a claims rep for an insurance company -- but fishes as if that was his job.

Isaiah is an inquisitive 6 year old with an even older soul and a penchant for reading -- and he is a superhero on the side. He keeps his dad and I on our toes with questions like "How many countries are there?" and "What does 'inquisitive' mean" ... he is a laugh a minute, that kid. He was the best surprise either of us could ask for.

Animal friends/Roxanne and Brew
Alongside us human-folk we have some furry friends residing in this old house of ours. Brew (feline) and Roxy (canine) were both rescues who came into our lives, caused mayhem, and then never left. Haha. They make our lives more interesting and our house a home. Despite their insanity.


I am a twenty-something hippie wannabe doing my best to tread lightly ... and keep my sanity. I have an affinity for coffee, Greek yogurt, and beer. I don't know what I want to be when/if I "grow-up" but for now I am lucky enough to work from home full-time as a regional Account Manager.

2. What's a typical day in your household like?
Our days are really anything but typical and every single day in different. We have a few constants in our routine however, like work and family dinners. A "typical" school day might go something like this:

7:20 Clint leaves for work (after brewing Angie some coffee, awwww)
7:45 Angie gets Isaiah up and ready for school (breakfast, lunch packed, teeth brushed, animals fed, etc)
8:28 Take Isaiah to school, Angie calls Clint on the way home from dropping Isaiah.
8:45 Angie works
11:30 Angie and Clint talk on the phone again. Haha. Wow, we are overly connected. We usually talk for like 3 minutes each call though.... so maybe that is less creepy?
3:21 Leave to get Isaiah from school
4:00 Isaiah plays outside, or watches a little TV while Angie continues to work on her laptop wherever he is
5:30 Clint gets home! Angie and Isaiah pounce. We have a family "snuggle patch" and talk about our days and what we feel like eating for dinner.
6:00 Angie makes dinner, we eat together, Clint cleans up. We usually talk about the next days' plans over dinner as well. We like to take it one-day-at-a-time around here.
7:00 Family activity. This varies a lot. Might be a walk to the park, Wii, gardening, yard work, errands, reading, ball game, etc etc
8:30 Clint reads to Isaiah and puts him to bed
8:45 Clint and I either take turns on the treadmill or grab a glass of wine/beer/whiskey and head for the couch. Sometimes we continue the yard work or whatever we were doing before Isaiah went to bed, but either way we are usually home for the night.
11:30 Clint and I head to bed. I read, he sleeps.
12:30 Angie snooooozes

Some evenings we watch Clint play ball, some evenings we go fishing, sometimes we eat dinner out or have people over for dinner... I also usually spend one evening a week with a friend of mine. It's very fluid and we are comfortable without a routine. The routine outlined above probably happens 3 times a week max. Summers are a huge cluster with very little routine. They go something like this.

3. How has your lifestyle changed since having children?
Our lifestyle is night and day different. When we had Isaiah we were so young and had very few responsibilities. Before he was born we just did whatever we wanted all the time. Now we try harder to make time to eat together every day (something that is very important to both of us) and to keep some semblance of a routine for Isaiah's sake.

4. Have you ever felt the need to defend your decision to start a family in your 20's?
I wish I could say "no"... but I have. However, it wasn't necessarily a "decision" per se to start a family in my 20's so in some ways I had to defend it even to myself. I think it is easy for people to pity me/us or to assume that we are only together because of Isaiah -- but I think that cheapens what we have. What we have is amazing, and no amount of questioning or side-ways glances were going to take that away from me.

Few people have come up to me and said anything, but there were a lot of "looks" and gossip in the beginning. It was harder to brush off then, but now I couldn't care less and I'll happily explain to anyone who will listen how fortunate we are to have each other and to point out the many ways that having a family in my 20's has benefited me -- and my family for that matter.

5. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom, and what's the most rewarding?
Challenging: Patience. Without a doubt. I have never been a patient person and sometimes that 100th question during a 5 minute car ride is a little hard to answer with much more than an "i don't know" or an "ask your dad when we get home." Haha. 6. It's a fun age.

Rewarding: The sense of accomplishment I feel when he gets something "right." He tries so hard at things and I just love that feeling when something you taught them "clicks." That look on his face when he gets it. Man I love that look. It feels like we both accomplished it together.

6. How are household chores divided up in your family?
We try really hard to keep things 47/47/6. Clint and I work the same number of hours each week and we share an equal amount of household chores as well... and Isaiah does his 6% too. We feel strongly that he does his part.

I cook, Clint does the dishes, I empty the dishwasher (when he cooks, I do the dishes)
Clint does the laundry/I put it away
I do the finances, Clint does the mowing/weed whipping
We do the weed pulling/gardening/painting/organizing/moving -- and Isaiah helps
We all clean the house
Isaiah cares for the pets and cleans his room, empty's trashes, etc.

7. How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
Clint and I have an understanding... we both do as we please, within reason, and as long as more times than not we are together. He plays sports and fishes and hunts and I make dinners with friends and go out sometimes. And we both go to all of Isaiah's activities together.

Family time is a priority, but so are each of us as individuals. Some people might think that we are doing it wrong or spending too much time a part, but for us it works.

If we ever decided to have another child, I could see where this dynamic might shift -- but for now, it is pretty simple and we are so thankful for that.

8. What's your most embarrassing mom moment??
Oh man. I could go on for days... the most recent one played out like this:

{We are at an end-of-the-school-year Kindergarten class pool party/potluck. There are parents and kids everywhere. Everyone is eating, it is pretty quiet.}

Kid across the table: My dog killed a possum.
Isaiah: Oh really? My dad kills possums with a baseball bat.

Me: Ohmygod! Isaiah.... (to the other parents) I am so sorry.

Awkward chuckling ensues.
I wish I could have denied his claims, but alas -- I married a Neanderthal. And it comes with the territory.

9. Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
Our own childhoods have influenced our style the most, undoubtedly. We also talk at length about what we want for Isaiah, and the best ways that we can shape him so that he is set up to succeed. Communication is huge. And being on the same page is a must in our book.

10. Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed? Have you made new friends, strengthened friendships, or lost friends?
I think in the beginning (at least for me) you kind of find out who your friends are. Luckily most of my friends were very supportive and have remained my friends. I have certainly made new friends as well, mostly because my son and I are overly social. And of course, some friendships have fallen by the wayside. But I think that happens regardless when you leave high school. Since our family got started around that same time I think it makes the line a little blurry.

11. How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
I swear that I am not trying to promote only ever having one child... but it certainly has made our romantic relationship easier to maintain.

Having one 6 year old child, an amazing network of friends and family, and an 8:30 bedtime... as well as a mutual desire to not let the fire burn out -- and mutual attraction of course (ahem) -- has all been helpful. The stars align pretty regularly and Clint and I get a good amount of time to ourselves. We are so thankful.

When Isaiah was younger and we were still establishing a network of friends here in Ann Arbor it was much harder, but not impossible, to get time alone together.

12. What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
DO NOT compare yourselves to other moms or participate in the mommy-war mentality. It is so easy to judge yourself, your kids, and other moms and kids... or to get down on yourself about not doing it "right." It sucks the joy right out of motherhood.

For me, that meant getting off Facebook. Disconnecting a little was done wonders for me.

13. What's your childcare set-up and why does it work for you?
I am fortunate enough to work from home full-time and Isaiah goes to school full-time (has been since pre-school) and that takes care of most of our childcare needs. We often do kid-swaps as well. I have a few friends with kids who we trade off and on with. We haven't paid for a babysitter in years.

14. Do you ever get time to yourself?
Yes. For me it is a necessity. I find it wherever I can. I take candlelit baths and read, I go for walks, and I love to shop alone. My husband is a saint. He knows when I need some time, and he diverts Isaiah.
15. What was the toughest adjustment going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids? If you only have one child what was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
For us the biggest adjustment was finding routine. Getting in a groove so that we could find ourselves and each other again was a low priority in the beginning -- and then a high priority when we realized that only prioritizing the baby was going to make for a loooooonnnnngggg 18 years. Haha. It took time, but we are right where we envisioned getting to all those years ago.

16. Has having children changed your relationship with food?
YES! So much. I sound off on this quite often because it is something I am passionate about -- but we definitely eat a 'cleaner' more local and less processed diet than we did before Isaiah was born.    
17. What are your plans for your children's education?
We send Isaiah to Ann Arbor Public Schools and we love it. We hope to one day send him to college if he chooses (UofM would be ideal -- wink --) but we are hesitant to make any plans for him in that respect. College isn't for everyone.
18. How is discipline handled in your family?
We do time outs as needed and we have spanked previously on rare occasions. Mostly Isaiah is good at listening though. Sometimes we take away privileges as well -- like TV and Wii/Leapster and favorite toys. I'm sure we'll be moving into grounding and other consequences down the road, but we aren't there yet.
19. If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?
I know this is going to sound ridiculous -- but I wouldn't change anything right now. A year ago I would have wanted a house. Three years ago I would have wanted to be graduated and working. 4 years ago I would have wanted a community of friends here to lean on. 5 years ago I would have wanted to move. 6 years ago I would have wanted to crawl back in the womb and start all over. Haha.

We have worked too hard and so tirelessly to get through college and find jobs and settle down in a house and put Isaiah in school full-time. For years we were looking forward to getting right where we are now. And I don't want to spoil our dream-come-true by wanting for anything else.

Not just yet.
20. Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known...
.... how to gracefully handle awkward moments. Haha.

Thank you so much for letting me talk about myself on end. :-) I enjoyed being a part of this series!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stella is 11 Months

I can't believe in less than a month, our Love Bean is going to be ONE! Man, time flies when you're chasing after a rock eating, blanket loving, silly little girl. Summer camp theme birthday party is in the works!

We had a tough time getting this month's photos. She didn't want to sit still, I forgot her pink headband and she wouldn't smile unless she had her blanket.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

20 Questions: Amanda

Today's guest, Amanda, is answering our 20 Questions!

1. Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.
Harrison: my awesome husband. Is a police officer in Las Vegas. His favorite hobbies outside of spending time with the family are hunting and playing basketball.

Myself: I'm a stay-at-home mom to 3 little ones who keep me very busy.

Hudson: he is 4 1/2 an awesome son and great big brother! He loves going to the park.

Aislynn: 2 1/2 her nickname is Franny because we joke that she is so crazy busy and acts frantic all of the time.

Kinsley: 10 months and getting too big too fast! She is almost walking and such a joy to have around!

2. What's a typical day in your household like?
We live a very scheduled, but chaotic life. Breakfast first, then we either run errands, have a play date, or go to the gym. After that it's lunch and nap time, which is when I catch up on cleaning and prep for dinner. I always make sure to have dinner on the table when my husband gets home, so we can spend the evening time as a family and we either play at home with the kids or go to the gym if I didn't make it in the morning. And then you know, add in the millions of things a mom has to do during the day in there somewhere. 

3. What are your plans for your child's education?
If we are in Vegas I'm going to do the k-12 online home school program. If we are in Michigan they will be in public schools. I plan to give them just enough of a push to get them where they want/need to go and encourage them along the way.

4. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom?
Being "on call" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

5. What's the most rewarding thing about being a mom?
Watching my kids growing up together and having fun and of course the "i love you mommy."

6. How are household chores divided up in your family?
With my husbands demanding and stressful job I pretty much do all of the chores at our house. I do love to get the kids involved with me too to teach them how to pitch in and help the family... and it keeps them out of trouble. My husband does notice when I get to the point where I'm having a hard time balancing things and pitches in.

7. What's your most embarrassing mom moment?
We were at a nice restaurant with all three kids (doesnt happen often) and a very large man sat down at a table next to us. My son was 3 at the time and loudly said, "that's a whole lotta man right there isnt it daddy!?" sooo embarrassing! 

8. How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
My family always comes first and if I feel like we are getting to a point where we are getting too involved in outside activities I start cutting back where I can and it is usually enough to get us back on track.

9. Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
This is a hard one. I would say I get a lot of my parenting advice from my mom, but my husband and I do sit up a lot of nights discussing an issue or issues that we are having with the kids and how we are going to parent to try to fix it. It usually involves me praying and reading books and talking to friends and getting the right information to handle whatever situation it may be. So I'm kind of forming my own style as I go.

10. Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed? Did make new friends, strengthen friendships, lose friends?
I have less time for my friends that's for sure. I moved at the same time that I was becoming a mom, so some friends I didn't stay in touch with because of the move, but most of the new friends I made were moms because I knew I needed to surround myself with good moms. I do have my besties that I will always stay in touch with, but most of my friends are married with kids and get it, so we don't feel too guilty when we go a month without talking and we get it when we get the "i need to vent" call even when it's been a month since we talked last... that's when you know who your true friends are. 

11. How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
We have a rule that the kids are in bed at 8 because we need time as a couple. Yeah, some nights we are too tired to hang out and go right to bed, but we really try to watch a show together or rent a movie. I am usually pregnant or nursing, so we don't go out on dates often, but we do order in and have movie nights after the kids are in bed. 

12. What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
Realize that sleep is over-rated and that they are only small for a short time, so enjoy every day with them.

13. What's the best piece of advice you were given about raising children?
 Let the house get messy and enjoy your kids because they grow up too fast.

14. How do you handle childcare?
I am a stay-at-home mom and I am very blessed in that I only have to use child care when I go to church, mops, or the gym. I always make sure to tell my kids ahead of time what is going on and that I will be back to pick them up, so they are prepared and don't have too much anxiety. I never did like the whole leaving them without saying good-bye and then them realizing that you aren't there and having a major anxiety attack. They do have some days where they don't want to be left and cry, but I go back and peek 5-10 minutes later to make sure they're ok. Some days I have just as much anxiety about leaving them as they do about staying, but I think it's good for us all to have that separation once in a while.

15. Do you take time for yourself sans kids?
The only time I take for myself is usually in the evening after the kids are in bed and I do my daily devotional and bible reading to wind down. Once in a while I do make it a point to do lunch with my girlfriends to chat and catch up without kids.

16. What was the toughest adjustment going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids? If you only have one child what was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
Going from 2 to 3 was the hardest adjustment for me. My son had just started preschool, my second child was in the "trying twos", and of course the lack of sleep gets greater after each child, so It was quite the adjustment for me. One of my friends says, "I'm glad God gives us at least 9 months in between pregnancies, so we can adjust." I always thought that was a good way to look at it. Everything comes around with time.

17. Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known...
how much my mom really loved me and wanted what was best for me. It's easy to get mad at your parents when they are being hard on you, but once you have kids you realize how much a mom really loves a child.

18. Has your relationship with food changed?
My relationship with food is the same i would say. The only difference is i don't have time to cook and sit and enjoy it like i used to, but i've always been a sweet tooth and i've always loved to eat!
19. How is discipline handled in your family?
I am the primary disciplinarian because I stay home. If we every disagree on a parenting style we talk about it later and figure out what we are going to do, but we usually discipline the same. We are big on time out and explaining exactly what was done wrong and what should be done next time. I try to keep the kids busy at all times because they are usually only naughty when they get bored and I'd rather spend the day playing with them and having fun than having to correct them all day because they're bored.

20. If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?
Well, we are in the process of possibly moving across the country right now, so we are living with my parents until our house sells, so I would change the "living on the fly and with the parents" because it's a bit stressful with 3 little ones, but over all I feel very blessed to be where I am right now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Funny Girls

I was upstairs while Jo and Rae were outside playing. Jo runs upstairs laughing and says, "Mom, I told Rae to go and hide and that I will count. Then I sneakily came inside. hahaha."
I reply, "Andi that is not very nice you need to go find her."
"But Mom, she is not saying Andi or crying."
"Andi Jo go find her."

: "boochee foo chi ga ga" Alexis: "Andi don't talk like a baby" Jo: "but im not, that's Spanish"

"Mom, I am so hungry feel my belly." She proceeds to walk toward me sucking in her belly.

Me: "Andi you look just like your dad."
Jo: "No I don't"
Me: "Yes you do."
Jo: "But I have your nice skin."

We had just left Heidi's Market and were on our way home and this conversation started. This one was just so sweet. Especially looking back and seeing her powdered sugared face.
Jo, "Mom, I have two questions for you." 
Me, "Uh oh what are they?"
Jo: "First, when are they gonna grow pumpkins?"
Me, "They are already growing them. They just aren't ready yet."
Jo: "Oh. Where were they?"
Me: "In the field."
Jo: "Ok. Next. . . . . . I am really surprised that you let me get this donut."
Me: "I am glad. Thank you for being so good."

Jo had went fishing with her Poppy Ladean and Dad one morning and had a lot of fun. She is a little fisherwoman. She went to my parents after a day or two after that. When they brought her home they informed that she had seen an eagle go in the water and catch a catfish. 

They were impressed;) I asked Jess about it, apparently a seagull had swooped down and got a perch that was floating (aka dead) on the top of the water. I don't know about you but I liked Jo's story better.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

20 Questions: Sarah

1. Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.
Derek - My husband Derek is a Certification Engineer for Roush. He races cars in his spare time, which means he doesn't at the moment because we're too busy with a new house and kids.

Me - Derek is a great provider, allowing me to stay home full time. Occasionally I will do some freelance graphic design but it's not something I really like to do anymore. Homemaking is enough work for me.

Leighton Emery - Leighton is our beautiful, 15 month old, strawberry blonde babe. She's been a dream baby. She only fusses when she needs something and is pretty easily satisfied. She's always happy and flashing her dimpled smile.

Lincoln (middle name TBD) - Lincoln is -2 months old. Come early October, he'll be with us and I'm sure all of my answers to these questions will be different.

2. What's a typical day in your household like?
Derek leaves for work around 7:30 and I get up whenever Leighton summons me. Lately that's been around 10ish. She and I sit for a bit on the sofa before breakfast. After we eat, she plays with her toys and the dogs. She loves to taunt them with cheerios, making them chase her around the kitchen island. Depending on how I'm feeling (I am 31wks pregnant, after all) I either do things around the house or just chill in front of the tv or read. We're very unscheduled. We play, eat, veg, etc whenever we feel like. Sometimes we get dressed for the day and sometimes we stay in our jim-jams.

When Daddy comes home around 6, we eat dinner then Daddy and Leighton play so Mommy can have some relaxation and/or a nap. We moved into our first house a few months ago and did some renovations so I'm still trying to get it all put together.

3. How has your lifestyle changed since having children?
In a way, it has changed a lot and in some ways it hasn't. I've always been a homebody so I definitely don't feel like I'm trapped at home like a lot of new moms. We've been lucky enough to have great in laws on both sides and they watch her whenever we ask, allowing us to have time for friends or just us. The biggest difference is just having someone else to worry about and care for.

4. Have you ever felt the need to defend your decision to start a family in your 20's?
Not at all. We got married at 19 and 20 (which we definitely had to defend!) and didn't have Leighton until we had been married 8 years. We got more "it's about time!" than anything.

5. What's the most challenging thing about being a mom, and what's the most rewarding?
Not being able to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it. I've always swung to the beat of my own drum and it's difficult to get into someone else's rhythm for sure. That and patience.

The most rewarding is just being with her. She's starting to talk and say "Mommy" and give hugs.

6. How are household chores divided up in your family?
Because I'm a homemaker, I pretty much do everything aside from trash and yard stuff. Derek gives Leighton her bath at night, which helps a lot.

7. How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
I have no commitments other than being a wife and mother so there's no problem with balance. However, when I first had her, I was still working part time doing graphic design and I was terrible at balancing. I am not a multitasker.

8. What's your most embarrassing mom moment??
I can't think of anything beside the time I spent nearly ten minutes trying to get my stroller to collapse correctly so it would fit in the trunk. It happened right in front of a restaurant with people sitting outside, watching me. Oh, and there was that time the stroller collapsed with Leighton in it but that wasn't so much embarrassing as terrifying.

9. Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
I'm sure we've gotten a lot from our own parents; mine especially, because we lived with them for Leighton's first 8 months. But I think we've created our own style, influenced by how we wished we were raised, our personal philosophies on life and through some research we've done.

10. Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed? Have you made new friends, strengthened friendships, or lost friends?
Luckily, everyone had babies with me! Nearly all of my friends started having babies at the same time so I think we've gotten closer. I think it would be nice to make a few new friends who live closer but that's difficult as you get older.

11. How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
We just do. We've never been big romantics so things aren't that different, other than being more tired at night… if you catch my drift. : )

12. What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
Don't let anyone tell you how to do something or how to feel when it comes to your child. Do your own research and make decisions according to what you and your spouse feel is right. That goes for doctor's too, not just other moms and friends. Their opinion doesn't matter so don't worry about what they think of your parenting.

13. What's your childcare set-up and why does it work for you?
It's me. It works great.

14. Do you ever get time to yourself?
Yes, usually every evening I can get an hour or so to read or get on the computer.

15. What was the toughest adjustment going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids? If you only have one child what was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
I'll let you know in two months!

16. Has having children changed your relationship with food?
No but I would like it to. I want to learn more about healthy cooking but I pretty much hate all foods right now (thanks to pregnancy) but I'm hoping to work on it after. I'm picky and I don't want them to grow up being picky just because I am.

17. What are your plans for your children's education?
Unschooling ( I was home schooled until high school and it was a great experience for me. The things I've retained and enjoyed learning the most are the things I've taught myself or chose to learn because I had a real interest. I want my kids to live their lives according to what they want, not what they're told they "should" want.

18. How is discipline handled in your family?
It's difficult to say right now because she's only one. If she throws a fit because we won't give her something she wants, we ignore her. I mean, we'll let her know we're there for her so she doesn't feel ignored but we don't give in just because she's crying.

19. If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?

20. Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known...
I can't think of anything.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Catch Up With Gat

Gat has been home for 4 months, that seems like such a short time. He still hasn't been home longer than in the hospital.

He got his broviac out two weeks ago and has been swimming, in the bath, and shower. He is loving the water and we like having a good smelling baby, unless his med port opens. His med port sometimes pops open, then formula and other nasty stuff comes out of his belly. It sounds bad but really it is just gross. It doesn't bother him, just us!

Currently he is weighing in at 15 pounds 8 ounces. He has been stuck at this weight for a month. So, I am sure some sort of diet change is in the future. We need him to gain that weight!! 

He still has his feeding tube that is running 20 hours a day. He gets 40 mL over a hours time. The other 4 hours he is off the pump, because of the reflux med he has to take twice a day. 

He is starting to eat some solids, about 5 bites. He tends to eat any mixture with pears. I was going to make his baby food. But, do to the texture his feeding therapist requested that I don't for now. We offer him a bottle 1-2 times a days as well. He usually will take up to 15 mL. He could eat more, but he doesn't have the drive. He never really gets hungry enough to want to eat. If that makes any sense. 

Every other week we go to Feeding Therapy in Grand Rapids. There they teach me what to do and assess his progress. It has been very helpful getting tips and encouragement from them. 

This summer he has had physical therapy twice a month. Starting in September he will get it every week again. Because that is through the intermediate school distract, Early On, they do summers slower. The therapy usually lasts about an hour if he can handle it that long. His therapist stretches him and works on things I would have never thought to work on. She leaves me a list of stuff to work on with him too. The biggest things right now are tummy time and stretching out his legs. 

He has been catching every little virus that is going around. He most recently is fighting a cold. Hopefully he will fight it off with no trips to the doctors or ER. 

It is amazing feeling to have him home. I don't even remember life before Gatlyn. Actually Wednesday, August 15th, will be one year from the time when my water broke. Almost a year ago we thought we weren't going to have a son. Thanks to the big Guy upstairs, we have him and we are soaking it in. 

He is beating the odds and doing awesome. I am so excited to watch him grow and became a toddler:)
The little bandage is where is broviac came out:) He loved his first bath!!

You were given this life because 
you are strong enough to handle it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

20 Questions: Alexis

My turn to play 20 questions :) Be sure to stay tuned weekly as we will be having guest appearances from other 20 Something Mammas, starting next Tuesday!!!!

Tell us a little about who makes your house a home.
Well I live with my parents. So of course there is…

Mamma: She is the best cook you’ll ever meet and is OCD about her laundry. Which I am ok with because that means I can’t do it ;) She is a stay at home wife and Nanner.

Pappa Bear: Also known as Ba to Ruthie and Poppy to Andi and Rae, Stella and gat have yet to pick a name. He is a hardworking, as he likes to put it, “Agricultural Businessman” aka a farmer. Really though he is fun and easy to pick on when he’s home, especially when he sits on his Ipad all night and plays solitaire.  

Ruthie: A sweet and very busy 1 year old who has the cutest personality and never fails to put a smile on your face. I may be a little bit biased tho! She loves blueberries, animals, ranger rides with Ba, being outside, food, and the book Brown Bear Brown Bear.

Me: Your average girl handling life one day at a time.

Oh and don’t forget Ruthie’s fish, and her bunny Cheez-it.

What's a typical day in your household like?
Lets just talk about a good day ;) you don’t want to here about the bad, trust me. But seriously, most days Ruthie and I both sleep in to about 830-9ish. I wake up to her yelling MAAA MA down the hall. We get up and I fix Ruthie breakfast, her usual, two eggs and a half of bagel with her Auntie J’s homemade blueberry jam. From there it varies each day depending on the calendar. But most of the time it involves one of two things Ruthie playing a lot and me doing homework or Ruthie playing with all her cousins and me chatting with all my sisters and mother. Don’t forget the much needed 9:30am to 12pm and 2:30ish to 5pm naps! Around 4:30 I say goodnight to Roo if she’s up and head to work and come home around 10pm and she’s fast asleep for the night. I stay up doing more homework and then go to bed around 12.

How has your lifestyle changed since having children?
I would say I am more of a homebody. I prefer to stay home, I only like to go out on a rare occasion. I used to be your typical college girl but becoming a mom has put different priorities in my life and I am okay with that.

Have you ever felt the need to defend your decision to start a family in your 20's?
I often feel threatened by other people my age thinking I am crazy or making comments of how they don’t understand why people our age are having kids or getting married. Personally I think just like a race, everyone takes life at it’s own pace but we all end at the same finish line. So I feel that area could be a little more respected.

What's the most challenging thing about being a mom, and what's the most rewarding?
The most challenging I would have to say are the tantrums. I am not going to lie I find them rather annoying and especially embarrassing when in public places. The most rewarding is (this may be a little harsh) the cry when I leave for work because I know she doesn’t want me to go and she’ll miss me. But besides that I love just watching Ruthie play by herself. It is quite hilarious and I love watching her figure out things for herself.

How are household chores divided up in your family?
My mom does A LOT of it and I am expected to help out. I admit sometimes I fall short, but don’t worry I am put into place when I do. Not directly, short humorous remarks are made and let’s just say I get the hint. But I do most of the errand running since I go to town the most and when asked to do something I make sure to do it without complaining about it.

How do you find a balance between your commitments and family time?
In order to do this well I have to keep good time management. Some weeks are worse then others but most of the time it works great for me. Ruthie takes two naps, so I try to designate those times for homework. That way when she is up I can keep up with her busy self. Other then that Ruthie is really the only relationship I have to balance so it really isn’t to bad.

What's your most embarrassing mom moment??
I have lots but probably the most embarrassing was when I went back for my 6-week check after I had Ruth. She went with me and while we were waiting for the doctor I smelt a nasty poopy diaper. I decided I had time to change her so I put her on my lap to do it. I was holding her legs up and bent down to get a new diaper form the diaper bag when Ruthie decided she wasn’t done and shot diarrhea all up the front of me. It was disgusting. I hurried got her changed and attempted to wipe all the crap off of me. The doc came in and I said, “don’t mind the large stain on my shirt and the awful smell, there was an accident.” I then had to proceed to walk out through a full waiting room with the “I just got shot with poop” look on my face and shirt.

Who (or what) has influenced your parenting style the most?
I would say my mom because she has helped me out a tremendous amount since the beginning and always seems to be the first person I ask when I have a question. But when I think about what type of parent I want to be I find myself searching and paying attention to the bad parents and the naughty kids. I look at what they are doing I say I will NOT be doing that!

Since becoming a mom how have your friendships changed?
Have you made new friends, strengthened friendships, or lost friends?
Since my freshnman year of college I have had the same three really close friends and I am proud to say since becoming a mom I still have them. They have been there from the beginning and haven’t ever left and for that I love them to death. It would have been easy for them to leave since we had only known each other for a year and a half and we all live more then a hour away but they didn’t. I would say after you become a mom you find which are true friends. I know Natalie, Alissa, and Bunny (yes that is just a nickname) are true friends because our relationship doesn’t take any work. I can not speak to them for weeks and pick up right where we left off. They respect my feelings and decisions as a mom and don’t tempt me or give me a hard time for not going out but at the same time they are there the moment I decide I need a night out. They love Ruthie to pieces. They feel more like sisters than friends.

I would say I have made new friends. I have more in common with people who are moms as well so it is easy to talk and relate to those women. I attended a MOPS group this past year, which has really helped me find friends who I can relate to.

How do you fit in time for your romantic relationship?
I don’t have one nor am I looking for one.  I don’t really want to handle the amount of stress that that question sounds like it has.

What's one piece of advice you have for future/new moms?
So I heard this piece of advice but I never believed it. "They grow up fast, so enjoy it while they are little." But seriously, it goes SO fast. I can't believe Ruthie is already a little toddler :( So really embrace those naps where they will still lie on your chest because before you know it they don't want you to be a pillow anymore, you will be a jungle gym. 

What's your childcare set-up and why does it work for you?
My mom watches Ruthie for me while I am at work, and if she can’t one of my sisters steps up. It works great because after I leave Roo is up for at least 2 more hours and then heads to bed. Being home where her bed is allows her to keep a sane schedule and consistency, which is good for her. When I go full time I will be looking into some type of day care or nanny.

Do you ever get time to yourself?
Yes, having one child I find naptime as a time for myself. I also try to let myself go have fun without Ruthie, although I usually flake at the last moment, whether this is pedis with my mom and sisters or a night with my friends. I think it is harder for a working mom to push aside the guilt of leaving her kid for the night because we already leave them for a period of time everyday during the week. But I do think working mom or not it is important to get some “me time.”

What was the biggest adjustment after baby was born?
Going somewhere. Sounds simple but before I had a baby if I wanted to go somewhere I just had to get up get dressed and go. Now I have to wake up at least an hour earlier so I can feed her, bathe her, dress her, pack her diaper bag. Then it involves loading her in the car the stroller in the car and unloading her when you get there. Sometimes it just easier to stay home.

Has having children changed your relationship with food?
I have never been a picky eater. I eat or try most of anything. I do think this has influenced the way I feed Ruthie. I let her try anything I am eating and she always likes it. I go in spurts where I try to be healthier and when I am in those spurts I find myself giving Roo healthier options too. I should probably do that more often.

What are your plans for your child's education? 
I haven’t really thought about it too much I guess it depends on how Ruthie is doing when it comes time to make those decisions and what my working situation is.

How is discipline handled in your family?
I handle all discipline unless Ruthie is alone with my parents they are involved to. Ruthie does see her dad most every other weekend but he informed me the other week that his time out chair involved a comfy chair with gold fish crackers…. good luck with that! My outlook, which was also formed with a conversation with Jamie, is that right now Ruthie is testing boundaries to see what she can get away with and what she can’t. So it is important for me to establish those boundaries and that’s what we are working on now. If she is doing something wrong I first tell her no and if she doesn’t listen I’ll remove her from the situation. If she goes back and does it again I then use the time out chair. She sits there and I stand by her with a not so nice look. Once she calms down I talk to her and end with a kiss. I know she probably can’t comprehend this 100% right now but I think we are on the right track, she has shown improvements.

If you could change one thing about your current set-up, what would it be?
I like living with my parents don’t get me wrong. But I hate the feeling of being dependent on someone other than myself. I would love to get Ruthie and I a place of our own, but I know right now I could not provide that without help so I am saving, saving, saving so I can once I graduate. Then I will feel accomplished and truly feel I can do this on my own.

Finish this sentence, Before having kids, I wish I would have known... how incredibly hard it is to say no when there are cute clothes for little kids in almost every single store I walk into. I will be in a store have stuff for both Ruthie and I, but then I end up putting back mine so I can buy more cute stuff for her.