We Are Women

When did who we are become a one-size-fits-all range? Because the last time I checked, that just isn’t true, possible or interesting. You can look anywhere and find an article or a Blog or a story about how women are being alienated by other women. Sometimes we call it “mommy shaming.” We see women judging one another based on how we feed our children: breast or bottle? Organic or processed? And if we breastfeed, sometimes we’re applauded for doing it in public and other times we are chastised. We are judged for having careers and judged if we stay home to raise our children. We are judged by how we dress our children, what extracurriculars we put them in, how late they stay up at night…the list goes on and on.

And it’s not just mothering. If we dare to say we don’t want children then people can’t seem to wrap their heads around that in any way. We hear things like, “You’ll change your mind when you’re older.” “But you’d make a wonderful mother!” or “We want grandchildren!”

Anywhere you look you’ll see the arguments on both sides of all of these topics and many, many more. These subjects have been debated up and down and in and out and all throughout time. I’m going to spare you the lecture on why it’s ridiculous to assume that you know everything about everything and instead discuss something from an entirely different angle. Here it is. Have you ever considered, for even a moment, how your judgements and opinions make people feel? And I’m not talking about strangers on the internet, but the people you love. Have you?

Here’s the thing. If you are adamant in your opinions and your ideas, if you are positive that you are right, please realize what that does to the people around you. And what kind of a person that makes you. If you don’t open yourself up to the idea that you aren’t right about everything and that different situations call for different measures, and that life’s experiences cannot all always be handled exactly the same way every time for every person, then you are doing something horrible to the people you care about. You’re telling them that regardless of their situation, you will be unsympathetic and not someone they can come to in a time of need or count on for advice, comfort, guidance or understanding.

I can tell you this as a fact because I used to be that person in some ways. Here’s an example. I had a friend many years ago who began dating a guy. I didn’t know this person but did know some of his friends and had heard some rumors about them and, in turn, him. I told her she shouldn’t be dating him. I was afraid he was going to hurt her. I believed she was making a mistake. I told her how I felt and that I didn’t approve and that I was sure she was making a mistake. Guess what? They’ve been together ever since and are blissfully happy. I love him like family and he is a wonderful, loving, incredible person. So not unlike the women I am referring to here, I was closed off to the idea that I could be wrong. I was sure that I knew everything. But I was wrong. Luckily it didn’t take me all this time to realize it. Not long after they started dating she started to talk to me about him and I realized what an ass I had been. I immediately apologized, asked for her forgiveness and promised to support her no matter what. Because guess what, ladies? We have to be there for each other.

We have to realize that our choices and ideas and ideals don’t have to be the same for every person in the world. Because life is imperfect and so are we. Because loving someone means supporting them and helping them and providing those incredible things that friendship and family and community offer. And if you want to be a truly good person, someone who loves and makes the world a better place and who contributes to the happiness of others, then you will take this advice. None of us are perfect or always right. But we can be the perfect friend, wife, sister, daughter, neighbor, or any other role, if we just decide to let kindness and compassion override our need to be right. And that’s when the most incredible things come in and change who we are, because that’s how we learn and grow. And that’s how we can find true happiness.

 

Here’s a picture of me and my littlest mister, Bennett – whom we allow to stay up too late 😘

IMG_20170903_002520_990

She’s Our Daughter

I have to say that I’m not too thrilled with the current trend of getting offended over every single little thing. Have we forgotten the fact that we are not born as all-knowing beings? We learn and grow through experience and through asking questions. If you’re going to be offended by every little thing, then you are part of the problem. Seek to educate – not alienate. Take for instance our daughter. She’s adopted. I’ve had people say things to us and ask us questions that, if I were another person, I could easily have been offended. However, I instead understand that people say things out of curiosity and a want to know and understand. They say things out of a place of unknowing. And that’s OK! Take those opportunities to educate them and to help them grow.

Here are some questions people have asked me in relation to our adoption. I’ll post them here, along with the answers and, in some cases, a more appropriate way to phrase something or a different term to use so as not to be hurtful. Hopefully you can take this knowledge and learn and grow from it!

  1. Why didn’t her parents want her? Well, her birthparents did want her. They love her more than you can imagine. Her birthmother carried her for 9 months. She went to her doctor and had prenatal care. She went through labor and delivery. And then she did something that most people could never, ever do. She and our daughter’s birthfather chose adoption for their daughter. I say most people could never do it because it takes an unimaginable amount of selflessness, love and insight to create an adoption plan. They love her just as much as you love your own children. They knew they wanted her to have a wonderful life, and they found a way to give that to her through adoption.
  2. Why did they give her up? They didn’t “give her up”, the proper terminology is they created an adoption plan. They carefully considered all of their options, they poured over letters from couples who desperately wanted a child, and then they chose us. They decided how much contact they wanted to have with us. They did anything BUT give her up.
  3. Where are her real parents now? Well, we are her real parents. We are the ones making plans for her future, changing her little diapers and getting up twice a night to feed her. We are raising her, and that makes us her parents. The appropriate term is birthparents, and we are in contact with them and hope to always have a relationship with them. They are wonderful people who we care for very much.
  4. Do you love her the same way you love your other kids? We do! It’s exactly the same love. She is our daughter just as the boys are our sons. The love is the same. I always say I grew my sons in my belly and my daughter in my heart. They are all a part of me.
  5. Open Adoption seems weird. Aren’t you scared that her birthparents will try to take her? Isn’t it confusing for the child? These were our same thoughts when we first heard about open adoption too! But here is the reality. We are not scared of her birthparents because we know them. They chose adoption and they chose us! We didn’t take her from them. And open adoption has proven to be much healthier for everyone involved. It’s healthier for the birthparents because they get to see her grow up. They get to see her healthy and happy. They don’t have to worry about whether or not she’s OK. It’s better for our daughter. She gets to grow up knowing that she has two sets of parents who love her more than anything. And it’s good for us too, because they aren’t some strangers we are scared will show up one day trying to get her back (“life is not a Lifetime movie” our social worker said). And we don’t have to worry that she’ll grow up and set off to go find them. She’ll already know who they are. They won’t be exotic strangers to her and her life won’t be one of wondering and questions. We will raise her having the answers to all of her questions – with their help.
  6. Oh, she’s adopted! How nice of you! I can see why you would say that. We are constantly having pro-life agendas shoved in our faces and told that we should all be fostering children and adopting children. In the Bible, God tells us to adopt. I get it. But here’s the thing. We didn’t adopt out of a need or want to do society a favor. We wanted another child. We knew that when I was pregnant with our youngest son. My husband asked me if we should have one more and I thought that sounded perfect. We knew it would have to be quick because I was 36 when I had Max and 38 when I had Bennett. We needed fertility assistance to have them both. Nothing extreme like IVF or anything, but we needed help. But then my doctors told me that I was lucky to come away from those pregnancies healthy because my heart didn’t handle them well, and I was advised not to carry another baby. I thought, OK, that’s it then. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that we weren’t done. That our family wasn’t complete. That something – someone – was missing. We chose adoption to complete our family. To have the daughter I always wanted (I say I because my husband would have taken another boy, I don’t think he really cared either way. Though he did say, well if we can choose, then let’s choose a girl!) We chose adoption because – and I believe this with my entire being – our daughter was out there somewhere, and we needed to bring her home.

So there you go! Some answers to some questions. And I’m always happy to answer questions and have discussions because it’s important for growth that we share and learn! So if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comment section and I’ll be happy to answer them! Here is a picture of us the day we got to bring our daughter home. It is truly one of the happiest moments of my life. Her birthparents could have chosen anyone, but they chose us. And for that I have a special love for them and a place in my heart for them that I never knew could exist. It’s a beautiful thing, and I am so, incredibly, grateful.

20621320_744103359111203_3417178659987290229_n

FabFitFun Editor’s Box 2017

I recently subscribed to Fabfitfun’s quarterly subscription! The subscription comes at the beginning of each season so you will get a box at the beginning of spring, summer, fall and winter! You can also get the editor’s box at anytime and if you would like a little taste of what they offer you can order the starter box which is cheaper and has fewer products but it will let you see what is in store. As I state in the video I saw this advertised and it’s something that I thought would be fun so my husband got it for me as a Christmas present! The boxes are $49.99 each – and each box contains items that add up to be over $200. Easily. You can also get the Annual Subscription. This is really fun because it entitles you to a few perks. Also, I saved $20 by choosing the annual subscription. Each Season FabFitFun also chooses a charity to support, which is really cool. Fabfitfun subscription boxes contain a lot of different elements, which I love about them. They have all sorts of things in there like makeup, jewelry, fashion, lifestyle items, Fitness items, and even nutritional things. So it’s really cool because they cover an array of areas and it’s not the primary focus on just one thing. I’ll open up my boxes here on my blog for you to see so you can see if you might be interested in ordering them too!

Click the link below to see my video and please subscribe!

#FabFitFun

 

You Time

You’ve heard of “Me Time” I’m sure. Finding ways to do something that you enjoy or that helps you relax or that is fun. It can be something you do alone or something you do with friends. It can also be a bubble bath or a little shopping trip or a pedicure. Anything that makes you happy and helps you unwind.

Some people, especially women, don’t make this a priority. They are so busy putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own that they continue putting this on the back burner. That’s a bad thing, and here’s why. Doing something just for yourself is not selfish and it doesn’t mean that you are choosing to push your family’s needs behind your own. It’s actually healthy. Now, I’m not talking about going out every night or anything extreme – but once a month or once a week or once a day finding little ways to do something for yourself is healthy. Constantly sacrificing and doing things for everyone else is taxing and exhausting. If you don’t occasionally take a break you are likely to get stressed. And this means you’re more likely to get sick, get bad sleep, and feel resentful. None of those things are good.

I’m not saying you need to do anything extreme. Here are a few examples of how I handle “Me Time.” Sometimes after a long day when my husband gets home, I’ll go upstairs and take a bath. It’s nice for me to just sit for 20 minutes and be alone. Sometimes I read, but usually I just sit and enjoy the quiet. Another thing I do is at the end of the day, when everyone else is in bed, I’ll light candles in the fireplace (it’s not a fireplace we can actually burn wood in), put the heating pad on my back, lay on the couch with my softest blanket, and watch an episode of something I love on Netflix.

It’s also important that your spouse gets this time too. My husband will occasionally just lay on the bed and play games on his phone for 20 minutes. Sometimes he’ll take his kayak out for a few hours. These times are equally good and healthy for him.

The point is this. You need to make sure that you are giving yourself some time or fun or whatever you need to recharge and relax. Occasionally doing that is good for you and necessary. You can be your best self when you are happy, healthy, rested and fulfilled – and taking a little time for yourself here and there is an incredibly important part of being all of those things.

21151318_754460848075454_6266894738929083761_n

 

How Do You Do It All?

How do we parents (Moms & Dads) manage to raise our children, work at our careers, keep the house clean, have a strong marriage, be a friend who is ever present, take “me” time, have date nights, and always be caught up on the laundry and the dishes?  The answer is: we can’t.

Throughout our lives all things will rank in one of four places. And they are:

  1. Immediate Need
  2. As Soon As Possible
  3. Eventually This Needs Done
  4.  Someday…hopefully

Now, many things will ebb and flow all over this list. Some days paying a bill or taking your child to practice may be sitting at number one. But let’s say you’ve scheduled time after that to see a movie with a friend, but she cancels. Well now you have 2 hours, and sometimes you’ll fill it with a #3 – or perhaps it’s a great time to finally tackle a #4. How you prioritize and handle your business is up to you. The important thing to remember is this – it is absolutely impossible to have all of it sitting in spot #1. You CANNOT possibly be everything to everyone at all times while simultaneously doing all of the things that need done and fit in some me time.

Not long ago I saw an article that a mother had written about how hectic things were for her. It started out with her morning, her getting up and getting her child ready – but then she said the housekeeper showed up. And I stopped reading. It’s not that she isn’t still busy, but that’s not something I can relate to. As a stay-at-home-mom, while I do have a small job also (it’s just a few hours a month), we can’t afford things like housekeepers or laundry services or a Nanny (we do have a babysitter we use from time to time – but still, not the same.) I think most of us are trying to do it all and all by ourselves. If we are lucky, and I am, we have a partner who is in it 100% with us to take half the load. Even then though, there are challenges.

I do little things to try to stay on top of things. Every night before bed I do the dishes. Once everyone is in bed I do the dishes so that in the morning they are done and I don’t have to find time. I will also not go to an area without taking something that needs to be put away. For example, if I need to run upstairs to get the baby a diaper, I take with me something that belongs up there and put it away. And when I come back downstairs, I do the same thing. If I’m going to the kitchen, I take the dirty dishes with me from the living room, etc. It takes no extra time really since you’re going there anyway. Another trick I use is this. I’ll set a timer. Say I want to clean up the living room. I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes. It helps me to stay focused on the task at hand and I find that I work faster and get more done because I don’t get sidetracked and also because there’s just something about that timer running that makes me haul a little ass!

You’ll see a lot of pictures and eventually videos in this little blog of mine. And the pictures will be nice and of clutter-free areas in my home. But rest assured – that’s not what my house looks like all the time. I typically have to move things out of the area. It’s what my house would look like if no one actually lived here.

21271326_756800474508158_2496968634398585425_n

So the best advice I can give you is to give yourself a break. Find joy in the little things and know this: your children are only young once, and I can tell you that that time goes by faster than you can possibly imagine. Though you’ll have days where the minutes seem like hours, suddenly you’ll be standing beside them in their cap and gown on their graduation day – and you’ll be wondering how it could have possibly gone so fast. Please believe me, I speak from experience. So if the mess and chaos is getting to you on certain days, remind yourself of that. Someday they will grow up and move out. And your house will be clean. And oh, so quiet.

Champagne Taste and a Beer Budget

When I was 17 I went to the mall with one of my best friends, Shannon. We went to the Clinique counter because she needed something from there. She wore the good makeup from the department stores, I wore the drugstore makeup like Cover Girl. But at that time I had a job at McDonald’s. My Dad required that I put half of every paycheck into my savings (very smart advice) and the other half I could have. So on this particular day, Clinique was having a special gift with purchase. If you purchased a certain amount then they would give you a cute little bag with mascara, powder, a lipstick and eyeshadow in it. Those might not be the exact items, but you get the idea. Well I had my own money and I wanted the good makeup! So I bought a lipstick. Back then I want to say that their lipstick was around $11 or $12. So I felt like I had gotten a really good deal because I got all of those free items with my purchase. But when I got home, my dad saw the receipt and I got a lecture about spending that much money on makeup. He said that I couldn’t afford to shop there and that I had Champagne taste and a beer budget. I didn’t really know exactly what that meant because I’d never bought nor drank either of those things, but as I got older, I realized what he meant. And he was right. You put two things in front of me, say two purses. I will hate one and love the other. Then I’ll look at the prices. The one I hate is $29.99. The one I love is $379.99. It’s ridiculous and it happens with everything. So over the years I’ve found ways to have those champagne things on my beer budget. I shop at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory and Tuesday Morning. Regardless of where I am, I hit up the clearance areas first. I don’t care if things are last season or last year. But I do want quality. Case in point, this wreath. A year ago I saw it at Kohl’s. I love wreaths but they are ridiculously expensive. At the time this wreath (made of dyed wood shavings and wood pieces) was $59.99. I checked another time when it was on sale and it was still around $30, and I didn’t want to pay that either. So I waited until the season was over, thinking I’d get it on clearance. But people had bought them all and none were on clearance. This year they were there again, same price. But this year when I went to the clearance aisle, there it was. For $5.99. Granted, one of the flowers and one of the stars were missing. But I just pulled one from the top of the wreath and filled it in. So I guess my point is this. Whatever it is that you want, whether it’s an item or a goal or a dream, find a way to get it. Sometimes it takes patience. Sometimes it takes working harder. Sometimes it takes creativity. Sometimes it comes in the form of assistance from others. Regardless, stay focused and motivated and find a way to get there.

Baby Love

Our littlest had her one month check-up at the pediatrician today. She is doing awesome! Our doctor said she is healthy and beautiful. She gained almost a pound since her last visit! The funniest thing happened while we were there though. I had told the receptionist that our baby was adopted when I made the appointment and we’ve been going there for probably 9 years, all of our kids go to the same doctor. And he has the same nurse who we see every time.

So we get there and the nurse takes us back to the office and she starts asking us questions. And they are all pretty typical newborn baby questions like how much did she weigh when she was born, how long was she, etc. But then she asks us if she was delivered vaginally or by C-section and Shawn and I just look at each other and I say, “Um, I don’t know. Vaginally?” And Shawn says, “Oh yeah, um, we never thought to ask that.” And the nurse is looking at us like we’re insane and I realize she doesn’t know that she’s adopted! So I tell her, and we had a laugh and she said that I didn’t look like I was pregnant the last time I was in there, but you never know and she never asks!

The love I have for our daughter is no different than the love I have for our sons. She is mine the same way that they are mine. When people ask how old she is I tell them and if they see the boys they say, “Oh you finally got your girl!” And I say “Yep, we sure did!” The only time that I mention that she’s adopted is if they tell me how great I look. It’s funny how people say that. Even when we had the boys people would say, “Are you going to try one more time for a girl?” Things like that bother and offend some people but they don’t bother or offend me. Maybe because I did always want to have at least one of each. So I can understand the inclination to want to raise both sons and daughters. I still can’t believe I finally get to have both ❤️

The Nom Nom Popcorn Company

Shawn and I saw this place today and we never even knew it was there! We went in and sampled several flavors and every single one was AMAZING. They have gourmet popcorn, gourmet cupcakes and specialty beef jerky. I highly recommend it. Here are the flavors we tried:

Buffalo Ranch, cotton candy, dill pickle, sea salt caramel chocolate, loaded baked potato, Carolina reaper, beer cheese soup, supreme pizza and grape. They were all good. The flavors we bought and brought home were Buffalo Ranch, dill pickle, cotton candy, and caramel sea salt chocolate drizzle. So in case you didn’t know it was there, they are in Belden Village, on Everhard by Arby’s.

Being Mom

I have been a mother for over 18 years now. I am Mom to an 18-year-old son, a 4-year-old son, a 2-year-old son, and an infant daughter. Our oldest is from my first marriage and our youngest is adopted. I think all of these things, from the age ranges in my children, to having one who was adopted and one who I brought into my marriage, gives me a unique perspective on being a Mom. And I have many ideas of what it means to me to be a mom, a wife, and still find a way to express myself, have passions, and be my own person. I think as women, we are constantly trying to find the right balance. I decided to create this blog to share our stories and my experiences, and hopefully to open up a dialogue where people can chat, learn, share and support one another! Thanks for reading, and in case you were wondering, you’re killing it being Mom ❤️