Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tube Play #1

This first tube play we did is GREAT for toddlers and preschool aged kids!


What you need:
Empty toilet paper rolls and/or paper towel rolls
Tape (blue painters tape or masking tape)
Scissors
A basket or bucket
Pom-poms, marbles, KIX cereal or other round objects that can roll easily

Start by taping one tube, on a wall or door, straight up (at THEIR eye level) for your kid to drop the marble in. Now tape other tubes diagonal (you may need to trim the rolls with scissors), zig-zag, however you want the marble to roll (I cut one tube in half so they could see the object rolling). Once you've made the tube maze place the basket at the end (where the marble will drop out). Then show your little one what to do by dropping the marble into the tube. Have them use their eyes to watch and their ears to listen.

My 18 month old played with this for over an hour! My 2 preschoolers loved it as well. I hope you (and your little one) enjoy this fun learning time! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Homeschooling Preschool


As I was searching for the right preschool for my 4 and 3 year old this summer I thought I finally got lucky. When I was filling out the paper work I saw a BIG number that would be due every month. Being a one income family with mortgage, utilities, bills, and a car payment we couldn’t see how we could afford preschool.


"MOM! I can see the ocean!"
About 8 months ago I started thinking about homeschooling my kids. When I would mentioned the word homeschool to others I would instantly get a lot of weird looks and questions like “don’t you need a break?” and “Why?!” I even got a very negative “You’re brave…” from someone. Of course none of this altered my thinking. If I wanted to homeschool, I was going to homeschool darn it! With major support from my husband, I felt I was on the road to success and no one could stop me.


So when I did the math and weighed the pros and cons of sending my kids to preschool vs. homeschooling, the answer was clear as crystal.

Let me lay it out for you…

Preschool:
Money~
Tuition $75 per kid
Monthly fee $125 per kid
Gas, driving to and from
Other fees; field trips, school t-shirt, etc.
Pros~
A schooled teacher, who knows what she’s doing and how to teach kids
I would get a small break from 2 out of my 3 kids
Cons~
Cost
It’s over 20 minutes away
It’s only 2 and a half hours (a lot of money, little time)
 ~
Homeschooling:
Money~
Supplies (paper, crayons, markers, pencils, paint, printer ink, etc.)
Field trip fees
Curriculum (work books, etc.)
Pros~
We don’t have to spend $250 a month of preschool
I don’t have to go shopping for school clothes, shoes or backpacks
One-on-one learning
My kids won’t learn bad habits from other kids
I know 100% what is being taught
I can teach values, manners, etc.
I can teach them how to cook and do chores
Cons~
I don’t get a break
I only have a high school education
It’s a lot of work!

Personally these are my reasons. Others may have different reasons. As I said before the answer is clear as crystal. Homeschooling came out on top.

I made our decorations

So I began to prepare. I bought supplies, read a lot of positive (yet realistic) blogs, sot out and asked questions from homeschooling mothers and did a lot of googling. I’m very lucky to have a mother-in-law who owned her own preschool for years. I also had to mentally prepare myself. I knew the first week or so of school would be fun but the excitement would wear off eventually. I had to find different motivations that worked for me.

I spent a lot of time (and probably too much money) at my local craft store (I would buy the whole store if I could). I did my best to shop around to get the best deals on things. I ended up doing a lot of returning and exchanging. I also found my local teacher supply store. And I found out I could not only spend all day in that store but I could spend a lot of money there as well (I really had to watch myself).

Google became my new best friend. I found a ton of FREE pintables! Flashcards, learning coloring sheets, etc. I also became a HUGE fan of Pinterest. I found most of my crafts, tools and ideas on there.

Here are a few of the many helpful sites I found with FREE printables:

My printer has been working overtime. I've printed pages I've found online, worksheets I created using Word, numerous ABC and 123 pages, plus I copy pages from workbooks (so I didn't have to buy 2). If you are even thinking of homeschooling then invest in a good printer. Having ours has saved us more money then I think we realize...  

So far my kids love school. It did take some getting use to, but now they look forward to learning time!

Counting with beans
Michael’s favorite things are~
the calendar and weather wheel
writing and numbers.


Emily’s favorite things are~
Coloring
coloring and crafts
snacks, story time.

We do school Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and try to do it during Sam’s nap time on those days. Here is a summary of our week:

Monday:
Calendar and weather wheel
Letter of the week coloring page
Letter of the week worksheet
Seek and find the letter of the week (find things that start with the letter of the week)
Snack and story
Number worksheet
Seek and find letter of the week game
Game/craft

Wednesday:
Calendar and weather wheel
Activity worksheet
Sciences
Snack and story
Number game
Craft

Friday:
Calendar and weather wheel
Letter of the week worksheet
Math
Writing
Snack and story
Letter of the week craft
Game
OR field trip (once a month)
 
Our first field trip
This is really just a guide. Plans change and you go with it. Some days it flows smoothly while other days do not. The kids (or myself) are in a bad mood and listening is a challenge so we take a 10 minute break. But then we get back to work. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and only a few days we ended still in bad moods. Mostly it’s a happy and fun filled learning experience for both myself and the kids.

I love being able to spend one-on-one time with my kids. I love watching them get excited about learning. I love how happy they are to tell others about their day and show them their crafts and worksheets. Sometimes they surprise me with their skills and knowledge. Soon they will be passing me up and I’ll be learning with them. Until that day we are enjoying the fun of learning.

Watching two colors come together to make a new color

Thanks to my husband, my parents and my in-laws, I have the never ending support to keep me headed on this amazing new chapter in my family’s life! Chad, without you my life would not only be lonely but I wouldn’t even have the willingness to get out of bed each morning. You have made me the strong, independent women I am today. If it wasn’t for your unfailing support and love this would not have become a reality in my life. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Make time!

Time. It’s so hard to find time these days. Or is it?
 
I think we come up with the “too busy” excuse more and more often. Sometimes we even push our kids and other things aside, as if they are not important enough at that time. We dive like we are in a hurry and rush around, not taking time for anything off our list or schedule. We hear the term “make time” and just laugh. There aren’t enough hours in the day to begin with, how can I make time?
 
Between work, kids, sleeping, shopping, eating, me time, exercise, checking facebook and church what else do we have time for, right? We surround ourselves with things that we have to do. Let me ask you something… Are the things you have to do really that important? To some, yes. And to others, they don’t stop to think how important, or unimportant, it is.
 
A few weeks back my family and I went for a walk to the park. My husband pushed our 1 year old in the umbrella stroller while I took care of our 3 and 4 year old making sure they stayed out of the street. Michael did a good job of listening but Emily turned a deaf ear to my voice. More than once I had to grab her shirt or arm before she ran into on-coming traffic. I'm sure you can imagine my frustration with her. On the way home she would stop every few minutes to pick flowers, watch an ant on the sidewalk or look at a leaf floating by. After her 12th time stopping I could hear the tension in my husband’s voice, “Emily, come one!” We were on the same block for 5 minutes… I turned to aide my husband and help Emily move a little faster as I was getting tired of waiting as well. This is when I saw her doing something that made me stop. She gently laid a flower down she had picked a few feet down the block, talking to it as she adjusted it, then waved goodbye. I could help but smile. We went on and again had to stop for her. I told my husband to keep going and we’ll catch up. I watched again as Emily placed another flower just right and waved goodbye. As much as I wanted to get home, I couldn’t stop her from leaving flowers behind. This sweet and simple gesture touched me. I couldn’t help but think, what if someone walked by and saw this flower and it brought a smile to their face? My little girl was blessing others! I just stood there a watched my 3 year old daughter leaving little blessings down the sidewalk. The walk home should have taken no longer than 15 minutes, but in that 30 minutes of stop and go, my little Emily left 6 blessings on the sidewalk. I took that moment to thank God for my daughter, who willingly left her beautiful flowers behind that they might bring a smile to someone's face and even spread Gods light in this dim world.
 
one of the flowers she left

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Activity Jar

My kids and I did a fun craft I found on Pinterest. They called it a “bored jar” but I prefer “activity jar”.

Things you’ll need:
~A mason jar (I used smaller ones)
~Elmer’s glue
~Glitter
~Acrylic paint
~Paint brushes
~Popsicle sticks
~Fine point sharpie
~Newspaper or other paper (to protect your table)

For jar~
Cover table with paper. In clean mason jar squeeze about a tablespoon of glue, let child brush the glue all around the inside of jar. Dump child’s choice of color glitter in and have you kid shake the jar to spread glitter all over. Let dry. Once glue is dry, squeeze child’s choice of paint color into jar. Depending on age they can use a paint brush or turn the jar until the inside is covered. Pour out extra paint. Let dry.

For “activity” sticks~
Have child paint the Popsicle sticks in their choice of color(s). Let dry. With sharpie write on each stick a task, chore, activity, etc. I wrote something fun on one side and a chore on the other (they have to do the chore first).


Activity suggestions~
I know how hard it can be to think of things to write so here are a few ideas: (My kids are 3 and 4, make sure the activity/chore is age appropriate for your kids)


Chores:
~Help pick up living room
~Wipe table
~Help unload the dishwasher
~Clean room
~Make bed
~Help vacuum
~Pick up toys and clothes
~Help put clothes in washer and dryer

Fun:
~Make fort
~Play outside
~Paint or color
~Read 2 books
~Play with toys (that they don’t play with very often)
~Play pretend (dinosaurs, house, etc.)
~Play with the dog
~Sing and dance
~Make cookies

Every day I have the kids blindly pick a stick and do the chore and activity. I keep the finished stick in a “done jar” until they do them all. Then we start over again.

~

I also made myself one. With things like:
~Do yoga
~Paint nails
~Organize computer desk
~Clean toilet
~Do craft on Pinterest
~Dust
~Lift weights
~Wash windows (inside)
~Organize junk drawer

I hope you get to enjoy doing this with your kiddos (and/or for yourself)! Have fun and God bless!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Life With Joy!

Joy - noun
1. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.
2. The expression or manifestation of such feeling.
3. A source or an object of pleasure or satisfaction: their only child, their pride and joy.
4. To take great pleasure; rejoice.
5. To fill with ecstatic happiness, pleasure, or satisfaction.
6. To enjoy
(info from www.thefreedictionary.com)

A few short weeks after my first birthday we welcomed a new addition to the family. Her name was Joy. Born like other babies, she cried, she slept and messed her diaper. Little did my parents know that her brain was not like other babies. At age 2, Joy was still not walking or talking. After a lot of testing, doctors said she may never walk or talk, she would be a burden.

At age 5 Joy walked just fine and did what she could to communicate. We all learned basic sign language, which helped but only a little bit. She did a lot of grunting, pointing and crying. We all got frustrated trying to communicate. But I think it was hardest on Joy.

Doctors told my parents that Joy will not have the mental capability beyond a toddler. This, of course, was hard for my parents to absorb. And my mom fell into a depression. She slept a lot and “hid” in books.

Joy has Mental Retardation, Tourette Syndrome (TS) and is slightly autistic. She can read simple children books, write her name and other small words, and talks like a 3 year old. It took her longer to do simple things us parents take for granted. Like walking (2 ½ years old), potty training (9 years old), talking full sentences (7 years old)… How hard would that be as a parent?

Disneyland 2004

Things that we long for and cherish, she will never get to enjoy. Joy watched me learn to drive and get my license, she watched me fall in love and get married, and she intensely watched my belly grow all 3 times I was pregnant. When I was learning how to drive I remember her always asking “My turn?” and “Can I drive next?” When I was planning my wedding she asked “I get married too?” And when we told her I was pregnant her eyes went from my belly to hers and back to mine again.
 
 Growing up with a mentally disabled sister was hard. Most of the attention went to her. My parents spent a lot of time helping and teaching her things that I grasped very easily. My parents did not neglect me, although it felt like that at times. My parents went to all my school plays, dance concerts and ceremony’s I was involved in. There were times I didn’t understand why I was in trouble and wondered why I was always “second” at home when I was first born. Looking back, I believe my parents did their best to give me the attention I craved.

Joy and I at Grandmas
Joy and I were very close growing up. We were born 12 months and 2 weeks apart, how could we not be close. I had friends that would have sleep overs and it was hard on Joy watching me go places she could not. But when I had sleep overs Joy was welcome to get her sleeping bag and join… until middle school came along. I think we can all agree that middle school was not the best years of our lives. Sadly, Joy was no longer welcome. We wanted to talk about “grown up” things, like boys, make up, clothes and hair, and I knew Joy would not only be bored but she would rather watch her favorite Disney movie anyway. It never had anything to do with her being “different”, it had to do with different interests.

As time went on, high school came and went. I got engaged at age 22 and was married 6 months later. 2 months after that I found out I was pregnant. When Michael arrived I was surprisingly not nervous about Joy holding him. She did better than I expected! When she held him for the first time I remember her saying “Hi Michael. It’s me, your auntie Joy. I love you.” It brought tears to my eyes.


Holding Michael
Holding Emily
Holding Sam

A little over a year now Joy has been having problems with her medication. A switch in the medication landed her in the hospital. It was a VERY hard time for my family. It has taken about 6 months, but we are slowly getting our Joy back.
  
She loves to feed the ducks

Joy has lived up to her name most of her life. She spreads joy everywhere and brings a smile to faces who’ve never met her before. When she first grabs you and kisses your hand it scares most people, at first, but most of the time they start a conversation with her “Hello, what’s your name?” My family has had moments of frustration, embarrassment, fear, even bitterness, but we have had many more moments of happiness, laughter, love, joy and selflessness. Joy has taught us many things; patience, the true meaning of joy, love, to put our faith in God, and the true meaning of family. Joy is an inspiration. I believe, if I didn’t have her in my life I would not be who I am today.

Thanks Joy! 
My favorite picture
 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smarty Pants!

There, their, they’re. To some, the spellings of these three words are confusing. By 5th grade, if you don’t know the difference you are considered slow, dumb, stupid, and even special needs. You are automatically a target. You inherit the not-so-nice nicknames: stupid, dumb a**, retard… To most people reading and spelling is a breeze, its second nature to them. So naturally, they don’t understand why some can’t grasp the concept. They don’t understand that maybe some have a learning disability.

I am dyslexic. I see letters, numbers and some words mixed up or backwards. To me, b’s look like d’s as well as p’s. Where I saw the word angel I would say the word angle. Where most see the number 503, at first glance I see 530. In high school it took me twice as long to read a sentence and even longer to read a phone number or math problem. I love words like “together”, to-get-her, this is the only way I can remember how to spell it. I hate words like “read”, one word with two meanings? What the heck english language??? Once I hit 3th grade I hated math, reading and spelling. I was put in special classes. I was tested once a year. And yes, I was bullied… While some kids skip grades. I was held back and had to do 3rd grade twice. In 11th grade I had the approximant reading level as a 4th grader. Once I got to college I was placed in the lowest reading level class. I didn’t pass that class. I quit college after one semester.

Even at age 28 I have a hard time with the difference of there, their and they’re. Reading is a challenge and other then simple adding and subtracting, math is near imposable without a calculator. The first time I read a book all the way through I was 18 and that was for school and I had to ask for extra time. I have only read about 4 books my whole life. Only 2 of them were because I wanted to, and one was The Hobbit and it took me over a month to finish it.

It is "rocket science" when you have a learning disability
As an adult I still see others (whether they know it or not) giving people with learning disabilities a hard time. Some might call this bullying. I know most of them don’t mean anything by what they say (or type) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother some people. Not everyone gets a 3.5 GPA or higher in school. Not everyone graduates with honors. Not everyone who goes to college successfully passes every class. I know all the people I know never mean to hurt feelings and I would never hold it against them. I didn’t write this to make anyone feel bad. I wrote this so people might take a second look at why, instead of quickly judging. I may not be a smarty pants but I have family and friends who love me, and to me, that’s worth more than spelling correctly.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Little Girls & Fashion

As I was scrolling through Pinterest I typed “little girls fashion” in the search box. I was shocked at what I saw. Little 6 to 8 year old girls dressed like models. All I could think of was “Do these girls know the meaning of life?” I have no issue with child models, it’s the message us parents receive from these pictures that bothers me. Most of the comments below the pictures were a lot of “my little girl will dress like this” and “this is how I picture my little girl to look”. I’m sorry but what happened to letting kids make their own decisions? I encourage independence with my kids. Call me crazy but I let my kids dress themselves.

I have seen comments on facebook pages about not going into public unless their kids are spotless, hair up and cute and dressed in their cutest clothes and perfect. Now, I understand not going out if your kids are filthy, but really? You know you’re only making your kids dress up so YOU look good. And in my opinion, that is wrong. I understand the feeling of wanting to show off your cute kids but I believe some parents take it too far. What are you teaching your kids? That it is only okay to go in public if you’re cute? We need to be teaching our kids to be independent. We need to teach our kids to love themselves and love others for who they really are. We need to teach our kids that looks fade but character doesn’t. If we teach our kids to respect us (their parents) and themselves they will respect others.

There is so much wrong in the media (TV, facebook, twitter, Pinterest, magazine covers, etc.) that it’s clouding our minds. We think if our kids don’t dress or act a certain way they will be an outcast or bullied. As parents we all want our kids to fit in. If we teach our kids to be confident we won’t have to worry “will she fit in?” But we need to be careful, being confident and being prideful are 2 very different things. Pride is thinking you are better than everyone else, confidence is not caring what others think about you. Teach them to be confident!

The meaning of life is not cute clothes, hair styles, shoes, makeup or accessories. Life is who we are, not what we wear. Life to a kid is playing outside without worrying about getting their hands dirty. Life is enjoying the fun times, working hard for something you want, loving your family and friends and trying to make the world a better place.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Princess In The Middle

With hands on her checks and tears in her eyes, “Mommy! My Pinkie Pie fall down!” As I tell her it’s ok she picks Pinkie Pie up and cradles the toy as if it was truly hurt. Kissing it better she went back to playing.

My Emily is about as dramatic as girls come.

From my previous blog entry’s you can tell she’s a bit of a handful. Well here is her “life” story.

While still in my first trimester of pregnancy with my daughter, I was holding my 5 month old son. I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower back. It came, then went. I put my son down to make him a bottle when the pain struck again. This time it shot down from my lower back, down my left leg. I fell. The pain was almost unbearable, but then suddenly left. Sitting on the floor of our apartment with my son safe in his pack-n-play, I was confused. “What the heck was that?” I said out loud. I was almost afraid to get up. But slowing I made it to my feet and walked into the kitchen.

When I asked my doctor about it, she said it was my sciatica. It’s a nerve in the pelvis area that can get pinched during pregnancy, due to the hormone relaxin witch loosens your joints. Well, little did I know that the “little” pain I felt was nothing compared to what was to come.

As my belly grew, so did the pain… At times I couldn’t even move. No matter what I did (or my husband did) nothing would sooth the excruciating pain shooting down my leg. I would take hot baths, sit on heating pads, take pain relievers, nothing helped. I remember one night in my third trimester I couldn’t move without pain and I really had to pee. So in the middle of the night, my husband had to carry me while I cried to the toilet, helped me pull my pants down, held me up so I could “sit” on the toilet, pulled up my pants and carried me back and laid me in bed where I sobbed. Not only because of the pain but I felt humiliated. He laid next to me not knowing what else to do, he held a heating pad on my lower back and I remember seeing a tear fall down his check.

I will never forget that moment.
 
During the ultra sound the technician had to get measurements and could only get them from certain angles. She had to push, hard at times, on my belly to get her to move to get a better angle. After an hour and a half of tears (on my end) and “fighting” my baby for clear snap shots, the technician called in her boss and he “fought” with her for a while. Finally she (Emily) gave up and they got everything they needed. This was proof that she was going to be a handful. We just didn’t know it yet.

The day I walked (or should I say limped) into the birthing center was, in my mind, supposed to be a good day. My doctor said my nerve pain may or may not continue for a few weeks after birth. Hoping I was in the “may not” category, I prepared for surgery (I was having a C-section). As I lay on the operating table with my husband holding my hand we hear a squeak, then a gasp for air, then a scream. Our little girl had arrived! They wiped her down, wrapped her in a blanked and placed her in daddy’s arms. He brought her to me and I looked at her face. Those checks! Those chubby checks! I couldn’t be happier. Then, unlike with my son, only after a few short minutes with her, the nurse took her from Chad and said “Sorry but her heartbeat and breathing are irregular. She has to come with me.” Chad went with her while I could not. Once I got back to my room I just laid there in bed watching the clock. 20 minutes goes by, then 45 minutes, an hour and a half… WHAT THE HECK?!?! Where is my daughter and is she ok???? Chad comes in and gave me an update. Her heartbeat and breathing were still irregular. She had to be put on oxygen once, had a chest   x-ray, she was under a heat lamp and had wires on her… He kissed me then I told him with tears in my eyes to go be with her. He left. I just laid there and waited...
 
6 hours after she was born she was finally in my arms! And I never wanted to let her go. Her doctor came in and told me what had happened. She was in shock. With some babies the transition from belly to the world sends them into a somewhat common shock (sorry I don’t remember the name of it). And it took her 6 hours to calm down. Every baby goes through it but every baby reacts differently. My girl wanted the whole world to know she was here and not happy about it.

The first month was hard at the time but looking back now it was easy. She had an attitude. When she was hungry, she gave you about a 10 second warning then she would SCREAM for 40 minutes. Nothing would calm her down, not even a bottle. Once she got over her fit she took the bottle with no hesitation. As month 2 came along she seemed to do nothing but cry. This continued for months. At her 6 month appointment I talked to her doctor about it. He said “it sounds like she could be colic. But she’s too old, so it must be behavioral”… In other words “it’s a phase”. I went home and like every day before I just laid on the floor and cried with her. I took care of my sons needs but it was near impossible to give him the attention he needed. Every night I went to bed at 7 with a migraine. I fell into a deep post-partum depression.


As time went on Emily did not grow out of it. At 18 months she still screamed all the time. She woke up screaming most every morning. When she would throw a fit it would last hours. If I ever braved the store, I always regretted it. I would end up with her screaming in my arms and “dragging” Michael while trying to push the cart. 80% of everyday was nothing but screaming, 15% of everyday was crying and 5% of everyday she was not crying or screaming, but not happy either. I remember her screaming so much her voice would be gone my 4 every night… By 2 years old Emily had not changed. She still screamed ALL the time. And with a new baby brother things seemed to only get worse with her.

One of the first good pictures of her not crying but smiling!

One day, around Christmas time (she was 2 and a half) I finally noticed a small change. Something was different, she seemed almost happy. She still cried (a lot) but it was not the screaming fit of rage she had been. I couldn’t tell you what changed but honestly, I didn’t care. After 2 and a half years of nothing but screaming from her, seeing her smiling and laughing was one of the best moment of my life.


Loving the pool with daddy
Even now, I still don’t know what went on those first 2 and a half years of her life. Today she is my VERY pssionate, happy, stronge-willed, energetic, and very dramatic 3 year old princess. She loves life and loves her family. She is not afraid to say hi and make new friends at the store or in the park. Her toys are her “live” babies, daddy is her knight in shining armor, big brother is her best friend, she is little brother’s favorite thing and mommy is her best snuggle buddy. We all love our little miss Emily!                          
 

My princess in the middle!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Choice

I am not here to say myself, or anyone is right or wrong in their choice on this subject. When you’re a mother, this may be one of the hardest (or easiest) decisions you have ever had to make.

Stay at home?
OR
Go back to work?

Some mothers will weigh out the pros and cons. Some mothers flat out don’t want to leave their baby. Some mothers can’t afford childcare. While some mothers have no choice. Whatever your choice is, you based it on your life style and family needs. No matter what, we are all mothers and we do what we think is best for our family.

My choice. Stay at home. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

1. We cannot afford childcare. Even if I had a good job, with my pay check and my husband’s pay check combined, we can’t fork out $500+ bucks a month for EACH kid! That’s crazy!

2. Without a doubt, I know my kids are getting what they need.

3. I can teach them things others places can’t (and sometimes don’t teach). Like common sense, morals and values, the love of a family, etc.

Most days…. I want to rip my hair out. With my 4 year old chasing the dog screaming while tracking mud through the house, with my 3 year old emptying out the fridge onto the kitchen floor or finding the art supplies and with her artistic abilities “decorate” the living room walls and floor, with my 1 year old on standing on the kitchen table in a pile of soggy cereal with his cereal bowl on his head splashing the milk everywhere or goes to drink my FULL cup of coffee and spills it all over him and the couch. And to think, this is an average day at my house…

Not only is the above paragraph real, but here are only a few of the many stories of what has really happened.

~ I came out of the bathroom to find Emily with the syrup bottle open and upside down, drizzling it on the living room rug and laughing at it getting on the dog who is licking it up.

~ To my kids, desitin is body paint and hair gel and baby powder is snow. They have covered themselves with it and when I find them they run and smear it everwhere they go, the couch, kitchen table and chairs, all over beds and pillows…

The kids have made a concoction of ketchup and chocolate syrup and layered the kitchen floor with it.

~ They have covered the kitchen counter with some flour and about a pound of powder sugar and “drove” cars through it, making my kitchen a sticky, winter wonderland.
 
We (5 bodies and a dog) live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 800 square foot house. The only time my house is half way clean is from about 9 PM to 7 AM. By 7:05AM you have to find your way through the maze of toys, books and clothes just to get to the bathroom. My house smells like sour milk, the floor is always sticky from juice and I cannot get the smell of pee out of my bathroom! The kitchen counters are always cluttered, the sink is always full, the laundry baskets are non-stop over flowing and the day I fold and put away all the hand towels is also the day I run out of them from cleaning up messes. I deal with non-stop very quiet whining from one kid, do my best to communicate with my “kitty cat” that refuses to say a word other than “meow” and try to figure out the wants of my teething 14 month old that only speaks in baby jargon.



(Some say being a stay at home mom is just an excuse to be lazy. But, regardless of how "easy" us stay at home mommies have it, I can guaranty that those who think this way will not last 1 day in my house.)
 
You might be wondering how or why I do it. The answer is simple............
L-O-V-E.
I love my kids more than anything. More than warm food, more than daily showers, makeup or the latest hair style, more than cute clothes and shoes, more than a vehicle that doesn’t have siding doors, more than a full night’s sleep, more than a fit body, more than alcohol and parties, and more than extra money… I sacrifice more in 6 hours than most people do in 24 hours. I gave up working part time at minimum wage job not so I could stay home and do nothing. I gave it up for my kids. I wanted to be there for them, period. I am very lucky to have a husband who not only make “enough” to support a family of 5, but who also understands if I didn’t get to the dishes or haven’t started on dinner yet. Both my husband and I are proud of our lives. To us, no amount of money is worth leaving the kids with anyone else. I am proud of my choice. I hope you are proud of yours too!
 
(This picture was taken October 2012)

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Bod: Old vs. New

What is true beauty? The answer changes every day. Depending on your own mood, how your husband (or significant other) treats you, what the magazines say, everyone has a different answer to that question. Whether you’re a size 0, 6 or 16 we can all find something "wrong" with our bodies. "I wish I didn't have this nose" "I hate my hair!" "My thighs touch!" "My feet are too big!" Sometimes it’s not just one thing we don't like... We look in the mirror and hate everything. Some people complain but don't make an effort to change, some go over the top with working out, and some are just fine but gripe about the little things ("I hate my freckles").

All throughout my life I have been small, short and very skinny. On my wedding day I weighed a tiny 86 pounds at the age of 23. In sixth grade I stopped growing at 4 feet ¾ inches tall. I was too small. I hated it! Size 0 pants would fall off of me, XS shirts hung off my bony frame. To make it clear, I did NOT have an eating disorder. I ate lots of food and loved it. I was picky, but what I did eat should have packed on the weight. Because of high school dance, I became very fit. My body was tone and what curves I did have were firm. I started liking my body, yet still too shy to show it off.
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In the above picture I was on my honeymoon. I was 86 pounds, just under 5 feet tall and 23 years old. I look like a 12 year old… Yet, this is what magazines say is "true beauty". Like all women, I see models/other women and instantly start comparing. Even when I was 23 and "truly beautiful", my self-esteem was low, I found flaws: my middle fingers are slightly bent, my nose, a chipped tooth with a crooked smile and large moles on my arm and back. Like I said, even when we look good, we whine about the little things.
 
On my 24th birthday I was 6 months pregnant and weighed more than I ever have, 102 pounds! And the weight kept on coming. The last time I weighed myself before I gave birth to my son I was 122 pounds. I know right, most women just turned their nose up at me. You instantly hate me. But when you do the math, I gained 36 pounds during my first pregnancy. That's higher then the recommended weight gain for a healthy mother during pregnancy.
 
At this point in my life I was feeling joy, excitement, a little scared and FAT! Even with the reassurance from my husband “You’re so sexy!” “I love you more and more every day.” even with the simple love looks he gave me, I didn’t feel sexy at all. I had major swollen ankles, my face was chubby and my skin was stretched so tight it felt like my belly was going to rip open any second. And, surprisingly no stretch marks… yet.

After I had my son it took about 6 weeks to look normal. I didn’t get down to my pre pregnancy weight but in my mind, that was a good thing. But I will say that I felt very unattractive. When Michael was 4 months old I found out baby number 2 was on the way. There went my chance of toning up my body.
 
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Above I'm with my 1 year old son and a very round belly. This was only a few days before my daughter was born. And still, no stretch marks... When my daughter was born she weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces. My doctor said because of my small size, me having an 8 pound baby is like an average size women having a 10 pound baby. Wow!
 
After I had Emily it took a long time for me to feel even a little comfortable with my body. Hearing about and seeing what celebrity had a baby but because of her personal trainer and endless flow of cash she looks better than ever, made me feel very insecure. Having 2 kids 12 months apart gave me no time for, well, me. I let my body go…
 
Only a few weeks after Emily's first birthday I found out (yet again) we were pregnant... After a miserable third trimester, I gave birth to a 9 pound baby boy! HOLY COW! Yes, little me carried a 9 pound child. No wonder I could barely move the last 3 weeks! And yes, this time I ended up with stretch marks. On my hips, butt, thighs, and a little on my belly. Now I hated my body! Not only is my skin stretched out, but now I have stretch marks too! I thought my body would never be beautiful again.
 
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Here I am today, 28 years old with my 16 year old sister Rachel. I am happy with my weight at 111 pounds. I am an out of shape, stay at home mother of 3 kids. I had 3 kids in 3 years. After a shower I look in the mirror and like 98% of women out there, I do not like what I see.
 
I asked some moms how they honestly felt about their bodies before kids vs. after kids. Out of the women who answered (including myself); some feel no different, some feel more confident, some don’t feel comfortable but don’t mind it and some hate it… But they all have one thing in common, every one of them said it was worth it. Worth all the stretch marks, loose skin, tired eyes, messy hair, and little to no sleep. When I hear my kids laughing and playing together I couldn’t be happier. And even though I don’t like to show my body off, it doesn’t mean I’m not content. My kids are my life! They mean more to me then a toned body ever could. So I ask again, what is true beauty? My answer is, the mom who cares more about her kids then her own body image! What's your answer?