Thursday, December 17, 2015

Celebrate Christmas with Cocktails, Cigars, and Experiences.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Scandinavian Tobacco Group, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #masteryourblend  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV” 


One of the biggest challenges of this {and every} holiday season, is finding the right gifts for those that we love.

When I think of gifts, I think of love language. It's a way for us to show someone how much we care. It's a way to give back a token of our appreciation to another person. It's a way for us to communicate and to give thanks. To help those in need. To shower those we love. And to indulge in giving back. And it doesn't necessarily have to cost a lot, or even cost anything at all. Gift giving is all about the meaning behind the gift. And gift giving doesn't necessarily have to be things. From cocktail and cigar parties, to tickets to a sports game, and a coupon book including a golf trip with the guys. It's the meaning behind the gifts.

For us, Andrew and I have always been big on gifts. We used to buy each other extravagant gifts around this time of year in celebration of the holidays, his birthday, and our anniversary. But after having children, owning a home, and needing money to go into more important places, we definitely took a step back when it came to presents. Instead, we chose presents that were more meaningful, that didn't necessarily have to be an actual item, and that often times consisted of us spending quality time together. Because let's face it, parents don't get enough of that when they are busy at home taking care of the little ones. And to be honest, I love those gifts even more.





I know that men tend to be the more difficult category for shopping, and it's a struggle in our family to find the right gifts for the men in our lives, but I am here to tell you that it is possible. Even for those that you think may already have it all. And the best part about it is that they aren't the typical gifts you may be used to seeing.

Here are a few of my favorite things to gift:

1. Gift Basket: These are always fun to open up, and I love to do these specifically for my dad and my husband. Things that can be included in this gift basket: Cubero Cigars, chocolate, shaving gel, cologne, bottle opener, a lighter, gift cards, and anything else that is small but useful.






2. Cocktail and Cigar Party:
A fun way to celebrate with friends is by throwing a party. Getting dressed up in the fanciest of clothes, having the most delicious of appetizers, Christmas music jamming in the back yard, and of course lots of cocktails and Cuberos to go around. I love that you can pair these flavored cigars with your favorite drinks. Instead of spending money on buying your husband an actual gift, give him instead the experience and laughter that he will enjoy the most with the best company.
To sign up for free coupons and to find a retailer near you visit Cubero Cigars website here.  


 

3. Tickets: I love the idea of gifting someone an experience. Whether that be to a comedy show, an opera, or movies and popcorn {one of my favorites}.
 

4. Sports: Another experience that you can share with the person. You can either gift them a night out with the guys, or you can join them and act like you completely love it! {I'm not a huge football fan, but for my husband, I can definitely turn into one!}.  




5. A vacation: Love this idea of completely ditching the effort of buying something to open, and instead using that money that you would have spent on each other to take a little vacation.
 

6. A night out: If you can't plan a vacation to getaway, then a night out away is something I know that my honey always appreciates. We usually do a dinner at our favorite restaurant, a comedy show afterwards, and then spend the night in a hotel. It sort of makes us feel young again!
 

7. Coupon book: I gifted my husband one of these one year, and he adored it! He loved to use the cute funny ones {don't take the trash out today}, as well as the fun ones {take the day to go golfing!}

No matter the gift, no matter the dollar amount spent, it's being together and enjoying ourselves that means the most to us. I could color my husband a picture, send him on a scavenger hunt to a surprise, or just steal him away and plan a night out, and I know that he would be just as please as if I booked an extravagant romantic vacation for just the two of us. The thought and meaning behind the gifts doesn't change based on how big or small they are.

It took me a long time to understand this concept. But I get it now. I really get it. 





Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Learning to let go. Learning to let my kids be....kids.



When Elliana was 4 months old, I remember sitting at night reading a blog post written by an experienced mom of 4. She talked about a woman who had let her child have a candy bar at the checkout and how this type of parenting was frowned upon. It was giving in. It was letting the child win. It was essentially lazy parenting.

I knew it was judgmental. The tone was harsh. The message seemed wrong. Yet, I took mental notes, reminded myself to never do such thing, and went along to the next post about motherhood.

I read a lot in those early days.

A lot of posts of what to do and what not to do. How to raise good children, and how to raise spoiled children. The way you teach children, and the way you neglect them. There was seriously a blog post for every parenting decision out there. And in a way, I thought this was actually... helpful to us new moms. I believed it was helpful. I thought that we, the new moms, were at an advantage. Advice at our fingertips. Resources just a click a way. Experiences witnessed, shared, and learned from.

But I was wrong. It led me to be a parent I never wanted to be. It led me to focus on the things I never wanted for my children. It painted an image for me of motherhood that was far from rewarding. But in the eyes of others, it was perfection.

I didn't want perfect out of my child. I didn't want to be perfect myself. I wanted more than anything to see happiness in our family. And I couldn't help but ask myself a very important question... since when did our society forget the most important part about childhood: letting kids be, well kids.

No candy. No bribery. No toys. No presents. No jumping. No running. No touching. Please share. Please clean. Please listen. Please be quiet.  Play nice, be gentle, and wait your turn.

I've said all those things, and I've regretted just about most of it all. And slowly I began to change. 

And if you were to walk into our home... this is what you would see:

They jump on furniture. They jump off it too. But they know that's not allowed in other people's homes, and they know that there is a potential to going to the hospital, and that if they make a mess with the pillows as their cushion when they jump.. that they better put it right back when they're done.

They  get treats at the checkout, or while walking through the store. Not every time, but definitely sometimes. But guess what? They also walk in the store with no problem. They stay next to me, they know to say excuse me, and they listen well. They even push their own carts around at Trader Joes, empty their stuff at the checkout, and then go to put the carts back.

They can touch stuff. I used to be so against this. And then I realized how crazy it was. They are so curious and so why not? They know they have to put things back where they found it, and they know that if we break something we buy it. But they touch, and they know, and so all is ok in the world.

They get rewarded with bribery. And we threaten {things will get thrown away}, and we tell fibs like: you drink that water, bugs will grow in your belly {the lake water}. And you know what, it's not going to kill them. How else do you think I convince my children to take family photos and to actually... smile? Treats!


They don't have to share all the time. At our house, the rule is that you wait your turn. If someone is playing with something, then you shouldn't expect them to give it to you to play with. Once you are done, then you can pass it to the next person. However, they also know that nothing in our home is "mine". All the things belong to all our family members.

They have ice cream almost every day. After dinner, pretty much if there is ice cream in the freezer, then they get it. They also know that they need to eat their fruit and vegetables, or no ice cream it is. And don't even get me started on chocolate and cheesecake for breakfast. Look, if I'm eating it, how fair is it for me to tell them no.

They watch TV almost every day. They get anywhere from 20-40 minutes of screen time on the TV, and a little on the ipad. They double that time in reading books and playing outside. And then there are days when we spend watching movie marathons. Those are fair game for any kind of "sick day."

Speaking of sick day, if they need a "day off" school {when they start going to school}, then they get a day off. There will never be such thing as a perfect attendance. My mom let us stay home about 6-7 times a year. And if your birthday fell on a school day, then a day off you got! Everyone needs a break from work, including our children. Needless to say, you can probably understand my stance on taking a "vacation" even in the middle of a school year.

They don't have a limit on presents under the tree. Because we put no limit on giving. We donate anywhere that is needed, and our trunk is always full during the holiday season. And so, I try to teach my children the power of giving to not only those in need, but also to those we love dearly. But you know what my daughter squealed with excitement about when she opened up her birthday present? UNDERWEAR!

They climb up the slide. When we are only with our friends at the park, or by themselves. But they know that when other kids are around, they need to be courteous and go up the stairs instead. I let them be monkeys at the park, and I watch from afar. I cringe every time that Graham climbs those large gap stairs up, but I've seen him do it many times, and I encourage him every time.

They have toys. I know this may sound like a strange one, but I read so many posts last year of this trend about taking all toys away from children and letting them depend only on their imagination. I mean... what. Yes, my kids have toys, and they can spend hours playing with them... but even with all the toys in the house, nothing compares to the hours spent playing Jake and the Never land Pirates.

They don't have to finish everything on their plate. In fact, they don't have to it at all. I simply ask that they try. I won't make a new meal for them, they may eat their fruit and vegetables, however, I do not force them to eat anything. They have to take a bite... and trust me when I say this... after "hating" it 20 times, after that 20th bite... they learn to one day love it. Look I don't love everything out there, so why should I expect my kids to? Everyone has different interests, likes, and desires. That includes children.



Look, I'm not here to compare my kids to your kids or his kids or her kids. What I'm trying to say is that I've started to let go, and I'm not longer ashamed of it. I've gone from the mom that said no so many times, that tried to be perfect in every way possible, that tried never to scream or say the wrong thing, give too much TV, or to have kids that actually made messes. I followed everything by the book. I followed those blog posts that I read, and I took those notes into action. And slowly, I became that mom that wanted my kids to look perfect in public, to get that stamp of approval from others, and to be a picture perfect family on the cover of a magazine. I've been that mom. I'm still that mom at times---the one so worried about what others think. But I find myself stopping in my tracks before I react, before I set high expectations, and before I make a mistake I regret.

The reason I write all this is because I am far from being that free-spirited parent that I so badly want to be. I'm getting there, I'm learning as we go, I'm trying my best to be open-minded, but I still admit that I struggle and that I am constantly learning. And I want you to know that you're doing okay. Whatever you are doing. That no matter what you read, what you see, or what others tell you... trust your instinct first. There is no "too much" or "too little" in the book of parenting. And when I'm still unsure of which direction to go... I go with my gut.

Trust your gut.

If it seems wrong, then it's wrong. If it seems right... then keep doing and never look back.

And so far... that's led me to the happiness that I was searching in motherhood for so long. No longer am I reading blog posts about how "time-out" is detrimental to children, and questioned whether we should or shouldn't do it. No longer am I reading posts about only doing 4 Christmas presents under the tree, and thinking that perhaps we need to change our ways. No longer am I wondering if we are harming our children in some sort of way by the way that we choose to say "yes" or how often we say "no." We just... PARENT. We go with it, day by day, moment by moment, child by child. We've made mistakes. We still make mistakes. We don't know what we are always doing, and we are always seeking to be better. But we just do.


And for us? It's working out.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy 5 baby girl.

***Forgot to post November 8th


Elliana,

I am sitting here with less than 48 hours until your birthday, thinking what do I write. more importantly, where do I write it. It only made sense to write it here. Where I will go to when you're heading off to school. The place I will seek when you tell me about your first crush. And the letters that I will read over and over the night before your wedding.

I know that this is a space that I have kept since the beginning of my pregnancy with you. Though much slowed down, it is still a journal of all our milestones that we have achieved. Together. My milestone of becoming a mother, and your milestones from smiling, to walking, to reading for the very first time.

We have had so many moments, and I just wish that I was better at this. Documenting our every day lives, videotaping our every day, and holding on to every little bit of who you are now. I know it won't accomplish anything. It won't slow down the time, or make you stop growing. In fact, I want you to keep growing. With you growing, it means that you are thriving, that you are living, that you are growing up. I can't wish for something for selfish reasons. I want to know the 5 year old Elliana, just as much as I want to know her at 10, 15, 20, and 30. Even if that means that I have to also let go of the 4 year old Elli.

So here we are. The big five. FIVE FINGERS. You hold up your entire hand now when people ask you how old you are. How do I have a 5 year old I ask myself?

The same way I wonder how it's possible I have three of you little ones. How lucky I am.

So let's talk about age 5.

At 5, you love gymnastics. You have been going since you were 26 months old {with a little break in between}, and you absolutely love it. You constantly talk about wanting to continue, and we are happy that you have found something you truly enjoy. We aren't looking for a trophy at the end of the day, or for you to be the best. We simply want you to have fun, to engage with others, and to try your ultimate best. That's all we care about. It's funny though because when your mom was little {hey, that's me}, she loved to do back hand springs, flips on the balance beam, and more. And I never took a single lesson either.

At 5, you love your brother and sister. A lot. From day one, you have always been an amazing sister. I mean you love your brother really hard. A lot. And even though we had a stretch of about 5 months there this past year where you two fought more than we would like you to, you guys are past that. You can play together for hours on end, pretend play, and are so sweet together. He calls you sissy, and I feel like that will be a forever thing. And then we have your sister, who is going to grow up absolutely adoring you and looking up to you. You kiss her twenty times a day, and if she is upset you get your "mommy voice" out and talk her down. You sing songs to her. You hold her hand. You're so gentle, kind, and tell her to "be brave Polina" every day!

At 5, you are a very big reader. You have been reading now for almost 2 years, and we are constantly amazed on your love for reading. We go weekly to the library to exchange books, and never leave without 30+ books. You read in the car, at the table, on the couch, and anywhere else you could possibly imagine. On average, you probably read 10-20 books a day just on your own, not counting what we read to you. You love the Step into Reading books the most.

At 5, your favorite shows to watch are Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You and your brother will then act out this show for hours at a type, and you are always Jake. He on the other hand is normally Cubby. And mama will take turns being the mean Captain Hook.

At 5, you are very vocal as to what you like to wear and how you like to do your hair. Which means you are normally to be found in leggings, a shirt {no frills, no bows, no tutu stuff}, a hair clip {no hair ties except on gymnastics days}, and nikes. You are definitely not a princess type girl, and I don't mind that one bit. In fact, I was the exact same way growing up.

You love cereal, waffles, pancakes, syrniki, spaghetti and meatballs, carrots, salami, chicken tenders, peppers, apples, pomegranate, yogurt, anything sweet {anything and everything}, and snacks.

You don't like: broccoli, meat {that isn't already in food}, and onions.

When you grow up, you tell me that you want to be a nurse like mommy!

You have a bunch of "Stuff" in your closet that no one is allowed to touch or move. This stuff consists of buckets, boxes, stuffed animals, pillows, pictures, and more. You say that it is magical. I always tease you that it's disorganized more than anything else. You are exemplifying signs of hoarding :)

You love to talk to people on the phone. You will talk to your grandparents for 30 minutes at a time, and never let them hang up unless absolutely necessary.

You learned how to email your loved ones. We even made you your own email. It's your nickname.

You haven't lost a tooth yet.

You are very protective over your brother. If he is doing something dangerous, you instantly begin to cry and beg for him to come down or to stop. It makes my mommy heart so happy to see you keep such a good eye on your brother and sister.

You love to snuggle. You love to be "held like a baby" after bath time by your papa, and to get tucked in to bed by him. You are slowly becoming more and more of a daddy's girl.

You love to give. You love to wrap up presents for your friends and cousins. These presents are typically toys you no longer play with, ha.

You are SO into "big eyed creatures" right now. In other words, the TY bears with big eyes. That is all you want for Christmas from Santa.

We are so excited to watch you grow and to become the wonderful young lady that you will be one day. Until then, we will savor every bit off "little" girl that you are. Your sweet voice, your loud singing vocals, your love for pretend play, and your smart imaginative personality. You will do GREAT things in life, and we are so proud to be the parents to support you every step of the way.

Happy FIVE!



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Battle Cold & Flu Season

I was not paid for this review, however, I was provided products and all opinions stated are that of my own. 

It's that time of year.

The holidays are here; the Christmas music is ringing in our ears, the lights are flashing in our homes, and there is a sort of bliss that surrounds us all. Not to mention the desirable food that leads us to unbutton our jeans and let out a big sigh of relief.

But one thing that also comes along with this time of year is the sniffles, the runny noses, the coughs, and late nights. Never fails, from December through March, my kids have a chronic cold that will inevitably lead to fussy kids and a whiny mama.

With 3 kids under my belt, and many many cold winter months behind us, we have a sort of routine with the kids. A normalcy if you will with these sort of things. I hear a cough, I hear the sniffle, or those watery eyes come around, then we change gears and quickly start he natural healing process.

1. First I ask myself, what is causing the symptoms and is this something serious. Thankfully for us, the answer has always been no. Looking at the child, assessing whether they are just down with a virus, or actually caught something serious is important. When one isn't sure, the answer is to go to the doctor. I fully believe in mama intuition, and thus far, we have been able to avoid the doctor {except for well visits, and 1 case of pink eye and double ear infection}. As long as the kids have still been able to take some fluids {and a little food} down, are able to wake up, converse {and even play sometimes}, and based on their breathing, color, and overall complaints, I am usually able to help them feel better just by staying home, resting, and relieving the symptoms.

2. Humidifier.  Has been a good friend to us since the kids were little. Whenever they are stuffed up, congested, and just not able to sleep well at night due to their illness, I turn our humidifier on and it makes a world of a difference. 

3. Newborn Nasal Aspirator. Wonderful for the little ones that are hard to suction out those yucky little monsters! I'm pretty sure this is a "must" on the baby registry, because all three of my children have put this sucker to good use.

4. Rest, fluids, and plenty of cartoons! My kids know that if they are sick, they get treated like a prince/princess by mommy. They are allowed to be on the couch, everything is brought to them, and they get to pick whatever they want to watch on TV. They deserve it for feeling crummy and being a champ about it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Showing Children the Importance of Giving through Example




One of the most important parts of parenting for my husband and I is that we instill the value of helping the local community in our children. Not only that, but also those worldwide— giving to those that are in need, and reaching out to those that are hurting—in any shape or form. Children begin to observe at a young age, from what we say to what we do, to our actions and the way we react to certain situations. These behaviors will instill a certain mindset in our own children, and we hope to let them have the opportunity to take in something good out of this world that is too often surrounded by evil.

I love the holidays for this very reason. It not only brings people together, but it also opens up doors for those that are reaching out to help others in need. Although our children are still very little, and may not understand completely what their act of giving is going toward, it is still important to us to continue to exemplify these acts of kindness and to talk them through it as we go. We started a few traditions when our oldest was just a one year old, and with three kids now, we continue to do the same things during the holidays.


And that's what I love about the powerful message that Western Union is sending with their new Chain of Betters project. It’s an idea that empowers people with the opportunity to change the lives of others. As money moves around the world, and good deeds are carried out, together we can start to change lives in ways that are positive and extraordinary.


1. Donate Birthday Toys. Do you ever stop and think about how insane the amount of gifts that a child will receive throughout the year? From birthdays to Christmas gifts to being spoiled by their grand parents. When my daughter was turning 1, I knew that I didn't want her to always view her birthday as an opportunity for gifts, gifts, and more gifts. So, we asked that instead of our friends purchasing us gifts, that they instead bring a gift from the need list at a local hospital for children with cancer {you may choose any form of charity that suits you best}. You can provide the link on the birthday invitation, share some ideas of the needs that this hospital may have, or just ask for those to instead make a monetary donation to a specific charity that you may have in mind.  We allowed for our kids to continue to receive gifts from our family members, but anything given to us by friends was then donated.

2. Find a donation center for used items: How often do you go through your stuff in your home, and dig up piles and trash bags full of "stuff" that you no longer need. What do you do with them?  Many people I hear send their items off to goodwill {I used to do the same}, others have a garage sale, and many even just send it away on trash day. I often hear that people struggle with finding where to donate, and I have to tell you, it's simply a google search away. I typed in "where to donate" and then typed in the city, and I got an amazing amount of results. Since that first google search years ago, we drop off our stuff a couple times a year at the same "donation barn" at a local church nearby. They take everything from clothes, to household items. If you try to search and still don't find anything, you may always call around the churches and ask them if they accept donations {most do!}. Just remember, they will have access to those that are need more than we will.



3. Adopt a family during the holidays: This is another "google" search that lead us to a domestic violence organization which sets up a family tree donation opportunity. We get matched with a family, and then we purchase items on their need list: socks, shoes, clothes, hats, gloves, etc. And then also gifts for the children. We also "adopt" children through a children's bureau where they have over 500+ children in need for gifts for the holidays. I go crazy and just keep shopping until my trunk is full, because I honestly cannot imagine any child not opening a single gift during the holidays. Yet it still happens, year after year.

4. Volunteer your time at a local food bank: This is a great one for Thanksgiving, and I cannot wait until the kids are a little older so we can start helping out more in this area of need. You can also find a local food bank simply by searching on the Feeding America website with your zip code.

5. Purchase toys/winter gear together to donate: I always see little drives for winter gloves, hates, and coats wherever we go; from our local library to our church. Going shopping with the kids and letting them pick out these items and then taking them the next time we go somewhere really shows them that not everyone has the luxury of staying warm during the cold winter season, and how very lucky we are to have these simple items that we often take for granted.  The same goes with toys. My kids have gotten such a thrill in taking a large bag full of purchased toys to our fire station in our neighborhood for their annual toy drive.


6. Make "goody" bags for the homeless: This isn't necessarily a holiday tradition, as it is simply a year round act of kindness that I think is so very important. Often times people are steered away from giving money to the homeless due to the stigma surrounded by it, but I believe that every single person out there, no matter the circumstances, deserves our help without the judgement behind it. I don't know who needs my help more, or who deserves it more, and it's not for me to decide. If only 1/10 of the people we have given to actually needed it, then I know it was worth it. Trying to reach that 1/10 is what matters most. So if you aren't into giving money, buy paper bags, an assortment of items {cereal bars, apples, water, socks, etc} and fill it up in the bag. Have the kids help in the process, and leave them in your car for when you stop at those stoplights and someone is asking for your help.

7. Sponsor a child: there are so many organizations that may assist in this process, and make sure you really read up on them first, but we loved sponsoring a child from a different country and helping out financially with their needs. Although the kids do not physically see the money reaching the child, seeing the child's face on the fridge served as a daily reminder to them of children that are much further away from us and the reality of the struggles that they face.


One of the most powerful things that I heard from our pastor was that we are all rich. Even those that make minimum wage here are much better off than the majority of others around the world. We see that in our daily news. We hear about it through social media. And yet, too often, we come up with excuses of why we just cannot afford it this time around. I've been there. I've come up with excuses of why not this time. But I've always quickly learned that giving has never made me poor, made me lose anything important in my life, or put me in a bad situation. In fact, it's done the complete opposite.

Watch this video to learn about the Chain of Betters project.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shopping Online Made Easy




Holidays are a special time in our lives. It's a time to rejoice, a time to get together, a time to reminisce and share laughter and memories with those closest to us—our friends, family, and neighbors. Creating these memories for my children is especially important to us. Matching family pajamas, chocolate milk with a breakfast casserole, and Christmas music playing in the background as we gather around the tree and rip through the presents on Christmas morning. The gifts that I put so much thought and love into. 

I am an avid online shopper. I shop throughout the year for the best deals around, and I makes lists for my family members based on their interests. Every "like" and "want" turns into a Christmas list idea, and I giggle like a school girl when I know that I have nailed a present.

Shopping doesn't have to be complicated. It certainly can be lots of fun, and I shared my shopping tips for the Best Family Gifts for the entire Family to Use here. Check it out!



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Before you shop online, stop and read this. Now!


Add caption

Yes. Your eyes aren't lying to you. That is $500 of free money.  No gimmicks. FREE. And? That was just the first check I had received in 2013. Since then, I have made over $2,000 more total. My highest check in a 3 month period was 900. So.... your must be thinking....

What is it?

It's a shopping website. How it works? You search for the place that that you want to shop at {for instance lowes, target, wal-mart, ebay, etc} and then it directs you to that site. For every purchase you make, it then gives you a percentage back. And?

By signing up and spending your first $25 linked through their website, you get a free $10 gift card to the place of your choice {I picked Target}.

Then? Refer your family and friends and get even MORE money back. For instance, they are running a promotion where you get $100 for referring 3 people. Surely you know 3 people that love to shop online.

Did I mention that it's free money? You're shopping anyway. You're going to spend that money anyway. Why not earn money back doing so? I never checkout on a website until I have first gone to Ebates, searched the store, and then clicked from there so that they are able to give me cash back!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An 8 Year Old Charged with Murder. That's a crime in itself.

There are very few things that I like about Facebook. The only reason I haven't deleted it is because I use it for my business page. I use it for my blogging promotions. And from time to time, I use it to check in on someone from a distance. Well, people tend to call that stalking.

Regardless, I really don't enjoy Facebook anymore.

Part of that reason is because people post ridiculous stories. Constantly over-sharing things that are unnecessary, including mounds and mounds of sad stories, videos of people popping over-sized pimples, and celebrity gossip that really doesn't pertain to anything relevant in the world.

But there was a story that popped up on my feed today {more like 30 minutes go} that I just couldn't get out of my head. For many reason.

For one, I cannot wrap my senses around why in the world any mother {yet alone two} would leave 5 children between the ages of 1-8 home alone by themselves. My first thought is: fire! Fire! What in the world would those children do in case of a fire. My second though is injury. What if one got out of bed and fell down the stairs. What if they went outside looking for mommy and got hit by a car, or went in the river. Even the simple thought of them being scared knowing that they could not find their loved one is bad enough. My next though is how could you possibly even enjoy yourself knowing your children are left alone with all these awful scenarios that could possibly occur.

But to hear that an 8 year old's actions led to the death of a 1 year old was by far the most damaging title of all. To think of all the children that were scarred by this tragic event. To imagine that all of this could have been prevented had the mothers thought of their children versus their selfish desires.

It's what I read further that took my breath away.

Trial. Murder. Don't "think" he will be tried as an adult. Heinous. Evil.

This is a child we are talking about. What we are doing is saying that he is capable of making adult decisions in the middle of a late night, alone, with a crying baby. Whether or not we believe he knows the magnitude of his actions, doesn't change the fact that this is still a child and one that needs our help and love and support more than ever before.

But instead, we are willing to label him, to judge him, to push hatred on him because a terrible thing happened. A very terrible, tragic, thing. Yes, his hands caused them. But what was inside his head is what matters. What sort of environment has he been brought up in. What has he been exposed to. What sort of love and guidance did he receive in his short 8 years of life.

Why are we, as a society, willing to ruin his entire life already. He is 8. He is a child. He still sounds like a child, is built like a child, and thinks like a child. 

To think of this child surrounded by police officers. To think of him having to deal with lawyers, judges, and other authority figures. To think of the labels that this child will have to carry with him for the rest of his life. To think of the looks of disgust, the words of hate that he will constantly hear. To think of him being so isolated now. To think of him crying for his mother.

It breaks my heart and makes me angry.

This isn't justice. This doesn't bring the young girl back. This doesn't change what has already happened. We have the opportunity to save a life here, one that is tragically hurting bad right now, and instead we dig the hole a little deeper. So deep that one day he won't be able to climb out of it.

Punishment is not the solution to this. Not even close. One life is already lost because of this tragic event, and our society is ready to ruin another one along the way.

All because of a decision that two grown adults made. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

 ** I was provided an opportunity to review cards by Minted.com, however all opinions are that of my own.



Pictures.

They are important to me. Very important to me. Pictures, to me, tell a story. They bring back memories, emotions, events, and milestones in our lives. They are not only for us, the parents, but also for our children, and grandchildren down the road. A way for them to look back, put the pieces of their history together, and most importantly to carry on the memory of those that are no longer with us.

Pictures are sacred.


It's the thing that people run after if there was a fire.
It's a way for people to show off those they love most.
It's a memory of something, or someone.
It's a piece of our past to hold on to.

Therefore, it should be of no surprise to anyone to know that I have tens of thousands of pictures printed. Books of every year of our lives. Canvases blown up of our three children when they were born. Many frames across our stairway wall showcasing this years growth and milestones. And two computers that have warned me on more than one occasion that it is going to blow up if I don't find a new storage area for all these images.

So when it comes to holiday cards, I think they are important.  I love sending them in the mail, and I love even more receiving them in the mail. I love to see those we love the most with their families, and how they have grown over the past year.


We did our fall pictures early in October with the birth of our newest family member, Polina, so I was on it this year and had our Christmas cards printed immediately after our pictures were taken, ordered, and on my doorstep within a week. Minted has always been the most reliable company to work with, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to use this company that not only offers quick service, but great quality of cards as well. My biggest struggle was just pinning down which design I wanted, and all the details that I wanted included. They even offered to address all my envelopes for me, for free! There's an option for foil press, letter-press, to write a message on the back, there's an option to change the shape of your card, to have a colorful envelope, and more!



Kind of like that commercial where they say "there's an app for that" well there's a design for that is what I said whenever I was maneuvering through the Minted website!

They are finally ready to be placed in envelopes and sent out to our loved ones.




Friday, October 23, 2015

Smile with your eyes, be gentle with your hands, and hold love for many in your hearts.



Busy.

It's the season of life that we are in. That most are in when they become parents. And then they add another child. Or another sport. They add another family tradition. And then maybe yet another child. They add family-teacher conferences, play dates, birthday parties, and soccer games. And maybe even another child. And before you know it, busy all of a sudden takes on a whole new meaning.

Days are forgotten. Birthdays are almost missed. Multi-tasking becomes a sport. And juggling is simply an expectation.


For us, having just had our third baby, life definitely hasn't slowed down. I've written down their milestones. I've written them birthday letters. I've taken more pictures than should be legal. I have turned those images into albums throughout the years. I've videotaped their first steps, Birthday mornings, their impromptu singing, and family vacations. And yet I'm worried. I worry I will forget that feeling I felt when they first giggled, said "I lub you", the way they looked at me, the way they squealed when they opened their first present, the way their eyes get big at the sight of a donut, the way they climb that one broken cabinet drawer that is barely holding on, the way they can play pirates for hours on end, the way Graham sings so loud that I swear the neighbors can hear, and the way they beg and plead "just one more," for just about anything and everything. Just the way that they are. Each one of them. Unique, special, and perfect in their own way. 

I worry. I worry I will somehow forget it all. The noise, the faces, the moments.

Forget their smells, their voices, their tiny toes, sweet soft cheeks, the smell of the outdoors, the way they argue over the silliest mundane things {like who's going to kiss the baby first}, the way they say words incorrectly, and the way they think that their mama and papa are the greatest things on Earth {most days}.

And the baby. Oh the baby. The smell. The soft hair. The need and ultimate desire to be loved and held all hours of the day. The coos. The sleepy smiles. The warmth on her cheeks after a feeding. The way she fits so perfectly in my arms.

As I sit here doing two things I haven't done in a long time {drink a cup of coffee and sit at the breakfast table blogging in the moment}, I can't help but look around at me. Capture a mental note of everything around me. Smile at the commotion. And shed a few tears for not understanding this whole motherhood thing and what it's all about many days.

I remember, I understand, but somehow I get lost in those moments and then forget.

It's not about them being perfect, using their manners all the time, having patience, listening, or learning how to share. Somehow we put so much importance on those things {and they are very important} that we forget to just let them be kids, and most importantly to be human.

To make mistakes, to get angry, to want things for themselves, to be selfish, to ignore the requests {which sound like demands}, and to just sit around and watch TV gosh darn it from time to time. Isn't that how we as adults feel at times? Don't we have moments where we want to be lazy, write off the entire universe, and just be left alone.

Aren't they allowed to feel the same?

I never want to get lost in the ideals of raising children. I never want to put the wrong importance on things that will just happen. I want to focus on the good, the happiness, and most of all I want to let them be children.

I want to teach them grace and patience. I want to teach them that kindness is more important than grades, what kind of job you have, or the money in your wallet. I want to teach them to always help those that need our help the most; the poor, the young, the elderly, and the sick and the pained. 

I want them to cherish their family. To stick up for one another, to teach each other, to never lose sight of the importance of those that share your blood, name, or house that you live in. And to make time for one another.

I want them to know it's okay to make a mistake. It's okay not to be perfect. It's okay to not think about others but yourself at times, and that this is something that we all struggle with at moments in our lives. It's the one quality that every human on Earth shares; Imperfection.

I want to teach them to value life. To not take a single day for granted. To understand that anything can change in a second, and that we should forever be grateful. For our health. For our loved ones. For having the opportunity to wake up every morning. For our legs that help us walk, and our arms that allow us to embrace our friends. For our voices that give us the opportunity to speak, and for our ears that allow us to listen and learn.

So enjoy life. Enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy that ice cream before dinner {which sometimes turn into dinner}, enjoy the TV marathon, the book you can't put down, the smell of fall and the way the sun feels on your skin. Enjoy laughing none stop to farting noises, dancing with everything you've got, and feeling what love is truly all about. Even when it hurts at times.

Children, I want you to know that I cherish you. I adore you for who you are. I never want you to be anything but you.  I hope that you forever know how loved you are, how appreciated you are, and how important you are to this world that we live in. You don't have to win the Noble peace prize, become the doctor who cures all of cancer, or have millions in the bank account.

All I ever want, for each one of you, is to smile with your eyes, be gentle with your hands, and to hold love for many in your hearts.

If I can just accomplish that as a mother, then I know that I have done something right by you.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

1 Month Polina



I'm already a week late in posting this, but I wasn't going to let this month go by without writing down every detail. I don't want the year to fly by in a way that I know it will. I want to be able to write down all of her milestones as I did with the other two. I want her to always have something to look back on and read, and remember how very loved she is by her family.

Polina,

I wish there was a better way to bottle up this time with you than just words. I wish I could put the emotions and feelings of it all so that I don't ever forget it.

The way you lay on my chest for hours on end. The way your body goes limp, and all I can hear and feel is your breathing. The way I know that it is the best sleep you have ever gotten. Your safe haven. The beating of my heart, and the place she feels most at home. The way there is no where else I would rather be.

The way your scrawny little legs have started turning to soft little mushy of chubby rolls. The cheeks that have plumped up, and are the sweetest to kiss right after a feeding. Rosy and warm to the touch.

The way you stretch your arms up in the air, fists clenched together, head sprawled back, and lips puckered out.


The way your hair feels as soft as silk. Long and dark, leaving me wondering if they will turn blonde like your older sissy's.

The way she you are my tiniest baby thus far.

The way you smile in your sleep, and makes me want to wake you, squeeze you, and kiss you all over. 

The way your brother and sister literally fight over you. They kiss on you all hours of the day, sing sweet songs to her {mainly twinkle twinkle little star}, and want to take turns holding you. They tell you all the things that you will be doing when you're older, and I just know they will guide you every step of the way.


The way your daddy doesn't even know how wrapped around your finger he really is. If I was a betting woman, I would bet that you will be his little baby princess.

The way your mama just cannot imagine how any more perfect you could possibly be. How you have fit so wonderfully into our family. How you make life with 3 seem like a breeze, and I couldn't thank you enough for that.

You're about 8.5 pounds now {if I had to guess, and based on a rough estimate from the home scale}, and I am so so proud that you are chunking up. You breastfeed exclusively, and just about all the time when you are awake. The milk quickly puts you to sleep, and you continue to sleep for most of the hours of the day and night. You have periods of being awake in the morning for a couple hours, and then at night.

You wear newborn and 0-3 month clothes and are in newborn diapers. We will be transitioning to size 1, and then eventually to cloth diapers {although papa says otherwise}.

Your head is getting so strong, and I'm amazed of how well you can hold it. We do "tummy time" but that mainly consists of the time you spend on my chest. Which is all day.

Twinkle Twinkle little star is the tune you hear the most, and it usually comes from the mouths of two little toddlers known as your brother and sister.

You're the greatest thing to ever happen to our family, and we are so excited to watch you grow, learn, and prosper!
 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How the 3 deliveries were different, the same, and unique in their own way.



One of the things that I loved to do the most when I was pregnant with my first, is read all about labor and deliveries. Of course it is something that I still enjoy to do, but unfortunately, do not have the time that I had when I was first pregnant.

I also remember jotting down notes after Graham was born on how my first two deliveries were the same, different, and unique. I want to be able to do the same with Polina's birth, even if it sounds like a complete snooze. Let's just say this post is for the memory books.

Born

1st: 39 weeks 1 day: November 8th, 2010 in the a.m.
2nd: 38 weeks: December 26th, 2012 in the afternoon.
3rd: 37 weeks 3 days: September 15th, 2015 in the a.m.

Weight

1st: 6lbs 15 oz
2nd: 7 lbs 11 oz
3rd: 6lbs 15 oz

the girls were exactly the same weight, even though their gestation age was nearly 2 weeks apart.

Length

1st: 20 inches
2nd: 21 inches
3rd: 19.5 inches

Water Breaking

1st: At the hospital, spontaneous; large POP and gush
2nd: At the hospital, by the physician, and just a slow quiet gush
3rd: At home, very VERY small trickle

Total Labor Length

1st: approximate 3.5 hours
2nd: approximate 4.5 hours
3rd: approximate 5 hours 

Labor

1st: Went in after work because of contractions throughout the day {inconsistent} and thought my water had broken. My blood pressure was high in triage, and since I was 39 weeks and already 3cm dilated, they decided to go ahead and keep me and induce labor {didn't matter, once my water broke, all went crazy from there}.

2nd: Was at work, 10 hours into my shift, with contractions {again inconsistent} and lots of pressure. The girls are work decided to call security to send me across the street to the women's hospital to get checked out. Although I was not in labor at the time, because I was already 4cm and because my previous delivery was very quick and there was a huge snow storm, they decided to keep me break my waters hoping to stimulate labor {it did!}.  

3rd: Was at home, woke up to a small "gush" and then immediately contractions began and escalated from there--was by far my most painful and real experience of what labor truly felt like. Upon arriving to triage, it was determined that I was in real labor, and that my membranes had in fact ruptured. I delivered a couple hours later.

Pain/Epidural

1st: Right after the epidural was placed, I felt intense pressure and the nurse then discovered that I was fully dilated. I was able to feel all my contractions and push on my own, but there was definite pain relief!

2nd: I was offered the epidural prior to my water breaking in hopes of avoiding pain, and somehow {even though I wanted to wait}, I went with it and agreed. I ended up not feeling a thing, being numb from the waist down, and hating every second of it. I went into a full blown anxiety attack, although I knew that this was all completely normal, and asked the anesthesiologist to come back to lower my dose. We had a little bit of a disagreement at first, but then he reluctantly did what I asked, and I proceeded to feel many of my contractions and was able to push on my own as well.

3rd: I wanted to wait. I wanted no epidural if I could. I think I could have done it had I waited maybe 30 more minutes at home. Instead, I got hit with the hardest of contractions at the hospital and finally gave up. I think at this point I had probably already dilated to an 8 or 9, but because I didn't know where I was at, I just gave in to it. I didn't feel relief right away and I felt two more painful contractions and thought surely I was going to die right there and then {dramatic much?!}, until the doctor gave me a little boost and it was perfection all over again. I had the epidural on for only an hour before I asked for it to be turned down {they decided instead to turn it off completely}, so that I could feel when I was pushing.

Pushing

1st: I think it was 15 minutes {in between them setting up}, and about 4-5 contractions that I pushed through.
2nd: Out after 2-3 contractions {5 minutes}. 
3rd: 1 contraction {3 total pushes}, out.

People In Room

With the 1st, I had everyone in the room that you could think of {I think there were 8 total}. All women of course. With the other two? Just me and Andrew. 

Recovery

I had a 1st degree tear with my first, and none with the following two. I had great recoveries with all three, and was up and moving within hours after birth. 

Breastfeeding

All three babies latched on right away and had no issues breastfeeding from there on out. Never had to supplement with formula.

How the kids reacted

Obviously with my 1st, there were no other kids.

With my second, Graham, Elli was overjoyed and excited. She was intrigued by the baby at he hospital, but only for a minute. There were no tantrums of any sort, but she did have trouble sleeping in the first two months.

With my third, Polina, of course my oldest at this point is MORE than overjoyed. She is VERY intrigued. She always wants to help, and she always wants to be around. As for my second child, definitely no tantrums or jealousy like I expected, and has surprised us so much by his excitement and love for his little sister. He can't walk past her without wanting to kiss her, and is so gentle and kind. And definitely understands when I need to tend to her.

---

I can't believe that this may have possibly been my last labor and delivery. To think that I may never do this amazing experience again just saddens me, and I don't even want to think about it. At the same time, I have to just say that I am so thankful that I have had three healthy deliveries, and I choose to focus on that. Thank you God for this gift, and thank you to my husband for being the strongest rock by my side.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Importance of Life Insurance




I know this isn't a topic that I normally talk about on the blog, and it is far from all the mama business, shopping deals, and everyday life that surrounds this little space of mine, but I also know that life insurance is a topic that we, as mothers and wives, need to bring more awareness and discussion to the table.

So first, why is it that young people dislike talking about this?

Perhaps due to the lack of extra finances to open up a plan. Maybe the lack of knowledge of what life insurance is and what it will mean for them. And most importantly, lack of understanding of what life after death may look like to their beloved family members. So why am I, a 29 year old, talking about this today? Because I am wife and a mother, because we have debt, and because I have seen too many sad stories that leave families not only without a family member, but also without a means of paying off bills.

I am surrounded by both life and death where I work as a critical care nurse. Illnesses and tragedies do not only effect the old. Not only do I see the old pass but also the young. Young men and women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. Women and men with young children. Some with older ones getting ready to head out to college. A daughter who is getting ready to walk down the aisle. A son who's the star quarterback on his football team. A wife who has been a stay at home mother for 10+ years. A lifestyle that they have worked so hard to build throughout the years, and then death happens. And it rips the family apart. It rips everything they know, everything they do, how they function, how they don't. And thus, they are forced to enter this new world of being a widow, left without their loved one, left with bills, responsibilities, and changes that they never thought for one second they would have to live with.

Perhaps I have reached the core of why young people don't discuss life insurance. Because by talking about it... it means that "it," in other words death, can actually happen. And the thing about it, is that it can. And it does. Car accidents happen. Heart attacks come unexpectedly. Cancer, in which we still don't have a cure for, strikes. And the unfortunate part is that these things can surprise at any age, any day, any moment in time.


I was 23 years old when we opened up our first life insurance plan at my work, which fortunately for us, a very large amount was offered both for myself and my husband. I was surprised, and very impressed, that ours actually offered something more than the typical 50k/100k plans that you typically see in work environments. Therefore, we took out the maximum amount allowed, which would far exceed a funeral, pay off our home and student loans in full, and give myself or my husband a 5+ year cushion to get our feet off the ground, get out of our depressed beds, and figure out how to get ourselves back in order.

We have maintained this plan since. Thankfully for me, it costs very little to us, and we view it as pocket change for what could be life changing if death did unfortunately strike. And we have further discussed opening up a separate private plan in the next couple of months to add onto the "cushion" of our life insurance. A cushion we do not exactly like to discuss over the dinner table, but as our family grows, know how important it is that we do.


When something as unfortunate as death of a loved one occurs, the last thing anyone would ever want is financial burden on top of the grief for their family members.

I hope that I will be one of the many that throws her money into an insurance plan that we will never have to use. Because that to me? Would mean that both my husband and I are still alive and living life with our children. But in the unfortunate event that we do? I at least know we are covered.

So here is where I challenge you to ask yourself if life insurance, or any other voluntary insurance policy is right for you and your family. With open enrollment around the corner for many businesses out there, it is important to sit down and have this important discussion with those that you love, check out what your company has to offer, and start thinking about the future. 
I know this isn't a topic that I normally talk about on the blog. I know that it is far from all the mama business, shopping deals, and everyday life that surrounds this little space of mine. But what I also know is that life insurance is a word that the young seem to steer away from, and unfortunately a topic that needs more awareness and exposure.

Why do young people not like to talk about it? Perhaps due to the lack of extra finances to open up a plan. Maybe the lack of knowledge of what life insurance is and what it will mean for them. And most importantly, lack of understanding of what life after death may look like to their beloved family members. So why am I, a 26 year old, talking about this today? Because I'm a mama now. Well, I've been one for quite some time. Not to mention that I am a wife. And also the fact that I am surrounded by both life and death where I work. Because I not only see the old pass but also the young. Young men and women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. Women and men with young children. Some with older ones getting ready to head out to college. A daughter who is getting ready to walk down the aisle. A son who's the star quarterback on his football team. A wife who has been a stay at home mother for 10+ years. A lifestyle that they have worked so hard to build throughout the years. And then death happens. And it rips the family apart. It rips everything they know, everything they do, how they function, how they don't. And thus, they are forced to enter this new world of being a widow, left without their loved one, left with bills, responsibilities, and changes that they never thought for one second they would have to live with.

Perhaps I have reached the core of why young people don't discuss life insurance. Because by talking about it... it means that "it," in other words death, can actually happen. And the thing about it, is that it can. And it does. Car accidents happen. Heart attacks come unexpectedly. Cancer, in which we still don't have a cure for, strikes. And the unfortunate part is that these things can strike at any age, any time.

I was 23 years old when we opened up our first life insurance plan at my work which fortunately for us a very large amount was offered both for myself and my husband. I was surprised/impressed that ours actually offered something more than the typical 50k/100k plans that you typically see in work environments. Therefore, we took out the maximum amount allowed, which would far exceed a funeral, pay off our home and student loans in full, and give myself or my husband a 5+ year cushion to get our feet off the ground, get out of our depressed beds, and figure out how to get ourselves back in order.

We have maintained this plan since. Thankfully for me, it costs very little to us, and we view it as pocket change for what could be life changing if death did unfortunately strike. And we have further discussed opening up a separate private plan in the next couple of months to add onto the "cushion" of our life insurance. A cushion we do not exactly like to discuss over the dinner table, but as our family grows, know how important it is that we do.

When something as unfortunate as death of a loved one occurs, the last thing anyone would ever want is financial burden on top of the grief for their family members.

I hope that I will be one of the many that throws her money into an insurance plan that we will never have to use. Because that to me? Would mean that both my husband and I are still alive and living life with our children. But in the unfortunate event that we do? I at least know we are covered.

My husband and children are the most important people in my life. I hope I live to see my daughter's children be born. To watch my grandchildren graduate college. To travel and see the world. I hope I live to see the day my husband gets gray hair, is in need of a hip replacement, and needs a pill box to organize all his medicine. My hopes and dreams all revolve around my family, their health and security, and their future. And if a day comes that I won't be here to be a part of all these important milestones in their lives? My hope is that they will still be able to carry on those dreams of theirs with absolutely nothing holding them back - See more at: http://frommrstomama.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-life-insurance-movement.html#sthash.0IIRJhCf.dpuf
I know this isn't a topic that I normally talk about on the blog. I know that it is far from all the mama business, shopping deals, and everyday life that surrounds this little space of mine. But what I also know is that life insurance is a word that the young seem to steer away from, and unfortunately a topic that needs more awareness and exposure.

Why do young people not like to talk about it? Perhaps due to the lack of extra finances to open up a plan. Maybe the lack of knowledge of what life insurance is and what it will mean for them. And most importantly, lack of understanding of what life after death may look like to their beloved family members. So why am I, a 26 year old, talking about this today? Because I'm a mama now. Well, I've been one for quite some time. Not to mention that I am a wife. And also the fact that I am surrounded by both life and death where I work. Because I not only see the old pass but also the young. Young men and women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. Women and men with young children. Some with older ones getting ready to head out to college. A daughter who is getting ready to walk down the aisle. A son who's the star quarterback on his football team. A wife who has been a stay at home mother for 10+ years. A lifestyle that they have worked so hard to build throughout the years. And then death happens. And it rips the family apart. It rips everything they know, everything they do, how they function, how they don't. And thus, they are forced to enter this new world of being a widow, left without their loved one, left with bills, responsibilities, and changes that they never thought for one second they would have to live with.

Perhaps I have reached the core of why young people don't discuss life insurance. Because by talking about it... it means that "it," in other words death, can actually happen. And the thing about it, is that it can. And it does. Car accidents happen. Heart attacks come unexpectedly. Cancer, in which we still don't have a cure for, strikes. And the unfortunate part is that these things can strike at any age, any time.

I was 23 years old when we opened up our first life insurance plan at my work which fortunately for us a very large amount was offered both for myself and my husband. I was surprised/impressed that ours actually offered something more than the typical 50k/100k plans that you typically see in work environments. Therefore, we took out the maximum amount allowed, which would far exceed a funeral, pay off our home and student loans in full, and give myself or my husband a 5+ year cushion to get our feet off the ground, get out of our depressed beds, and figure out how to get ourselves back in order.

We have maintained this plan since. Thankfully for me, it costs very little to us, and we view it as pocket change for what could be life changing if death did unfortunately strike. And we have further discussed opening up a separate private plan in the next couple of months to add onto the "cushion" of our life insurance. A cushion we do not exactly like to discuss over the dinner table, but as our family grows, know how important it is that we do.

When something as unfortunate as death of a loved one occurs, the last thing anyone would ever want is financial burden on top of the grief for their family members.

I hope that I will be one of the many that throws her money into an insurance plan that we will never have to use. Because that to me? Would mean that both my husband and I are still alive and living life with our children. But in the unfortunate event that we do? I at least know we are covered.

My husband and children are the most important people in my life. I hope I live to see my daughter's children be born. To watch my grandchildren graduate college. To travel and see the world. I hope I live to see the day my husband gets gray hair, is in need of a hip replacement, and needs a pill box to organize all his medicine. My hopes and dreams all revolve around my family, their health and security, and their future. And if a day comes that I won't be here to be a part of all these important milestones in their lives? My hope is that they will still be able to carry on those dreams of theirs with absolutely nothing holding them back - See more at: http://frommrstomama.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-life-insurance-movement.html#sthash.0IIRJhCf.dpuf
I know this isn't a topic that I normally talk about on the blog. I know that it is far from all the mama business, shopping deals, and everyday life that surrounds this little space of mine. But what I also know is that life insurance is a word that the young seem to steer away from, and unfortunately a topic that needs more awareness and exposure.

Why do young people not like to talk about it? Perhaps due to the lack of extra finances to open up a plan. Maybe the lack of knowledge of what life insurance is and what it will mean for them. And most importantly, lack of understanding of what life after death may look like to their beloved family members. So why am I, a 26 year old, talking about this today? Because I'm a mama now. Well, I've been one for quite some time. Not to mention that I am a wife. And also the fact that I am surrounded by both life and death where I work. Because I not only see the old pass but also the young. Young men and women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties. Women and men with young children. Some with older ones getting ready to head out to college. A daughter who is getting ready to walk down the aisle. A son who's the star quarterback on his football team. A wife who has been a stay at home mother for 10+ years. A lifestyle that they have worked so hard to build throughout the years. And then death happens. And it rips the family apart. It rips everything they know, everything they do, how they function, how they don't. And thus, they are forced to enter this new world of being a widow, left without their loved one, left with bills, responsibilities, and changes that they never thought for one second they would have to live with.

Perhaps I have reached the core of why young people don't discuss life insurance. Because by talking about it... it means that "it," in other words death, can actually happen. And the thing about it, is that it can. And it does. Car accidents happen. Heart attacks come unexpectedly. Cancer, in which we still don't have a cure for, strikes. And the unfortunate part is that these things can strike at any age, any time.

I was 23 years old when we opened up our first life insurance plan at my work which fortunately for us a very large amount was offered both for myself and my husband. I was surprised/impressed that ours actually offered something more than the typical 50k/100k plans that you typically see in work environments. Therefore, we took out the maximum amount allowed, which would far exceed a funeral, pay off our home and student loans in full, and give myself or my husband a 5+ year cushion to get our feet off the ground, get out of our depressed beds, and figure out how to get ourselves back in order.

We have maintained this plan since. Thankfully for me, it costs very little to us, and we view it as pocket change for what could be life changing if death did unfortunately strike. And we have further discussed opening up a separate private plan in the next couple of months to add onto the "cushion" of our life insurance. A cushion we do not exactly like to discuss over the dinner table, but as our family grows, know how important it is that we do.

When something as unfortunate as death of a loved one occurs, the last thing anyone would ever want is financial burden on top of the grief for their family members.

I hope that I will be one of the many that throws her money into an insurance plan that we will never have to use. Because that to me? Would mean that both my husband and I are still alive and living life with our children. But in the unfortunate event that we do? I at least know we are covered.

My husband and children are the most important people in my life. I hope I live to see my daughter's children be born. To watch my grandchildren graduate college. To travel and see the world. I hope I live to see the day my husband gets gray hair, is in need of a hip replacement, and needs a pill box to organize all his medicine. My hopes and dreams all revolve around my family, their health and security, and their future. And if a day comes that I won't be here to be a part of all these important milestones in their lives? My hope is that they will still be able to carry on those dreams of theirs with absolutely nothing holding them back - See more at: http://frommrstomama.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-life-insurance-movement.html#sthash.0IIRJhCf.dpuf


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Polina Jane Birth Story Part TWO


11:08. I got out of bed.

I went to the bathroom, and there it was. A very large, and unmistakable, bloody show.  Strange, I thought to myself. I sat there for a moment just contemplating all the different things that could be going on here. Is labor around the corner? Is my body trying to tell me something? Am I going to have a baby soon?

All while Andrew is hollering from our bedroom, "What, what, what is it!"

Well honey. There is a big large glob of bleh that is streaked with blood. And then I said to him....

"I think we are going to have a baby tonight."

I got into bed, laying flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling, covers pulled up to my chest, and texted my friend. She asked me if I had contractions, and as I was typing her "no," all of a sudden I had a... contraction.

11:15.

Not having had one this entire pregnancy, there was definitely no denying what this was. Was it a coincidence? Was this just going to be one of those nights where you have a little activity and then things simmer down? Who knows, but I timed it and it was about 30 seconds long. Low intensity.

"Andrew, baby, I just had a contraction."

Half asleep, he asked me if it was okay to go to sleep. I told him, "No! Are you crazy? We are going to have a baby tonight." He squinted, rolled over, and started snoozing.

Five minutes later, another contraction. 4 minutes, another, and then another. More and more intense.

11:30 I text my dad to stay by his phone. I text my MIL to tell her we may have a baby tonight.

11:45 Contractions are getting stronger. About 2-3 minutes about. I decide to get up and start putting make up on. I holler at Andrew to tell him it's time, and he needs to get up. He goes to get bags ready. I walk downstairs and pace around for a minute, having to stop with each contraction and sway from side to side. I wasn't moaning yet, but it was very uncomfortable, and too frequent that I couldn't stop thinking about them.

I make a page to the OB night doctor to tell him what's going on, and that I was coming in. It feels like forever until I get that call back.

12:00 The doctor calls me back and asks me what's going on.

"Hello, my name is ..... I am a patient of ..... I am 37 weeks 2 days pregnant and about 30 minutes ago I had my bloody show. Immediately after, contractions began and have intensified and gotten closer and longer from there. They have been about 2-3 minutes apart for the past 20 minutes. "

"And this is your first baby?" ---he clearly thought I must be crazy to call him only 30 minutes from the start of the first contraction.


"No, my third, and they have been 3-4 hour labors."

"Ohhhhh, well we need to get you in the hospital then."

12:05 a.m.

After I hang up the phone with the doctor, I have Andrew call my dad to wake my mom so she could head over. I could hear my dad on the other line sounding confused. I'm not sure he even realized why we were calling, until it finally hit him that we are going to the hospital.

After hanging up, Andrew rushed upstairs to quickly shower. I was left alone with my thoughts and these terrible contractions.  Although I knew with 100% certainty that there would be a baby here in a matter of hours, I wasn't quite sure where that baby would be delivered. Everything had progressed already so quickly, that I began to worry that we would end up in the news as the next couple who delivered in the car. Thankfully, we pass about 4 hospitals trying to get to ours, so I was assured that at least if we had to, we could stop elsewhere.

12:30 Andrew was finally ready, and our bags were in the car, but the contractions were getting more intense, and I was scared at this point. I tell Andrew to call my mom and to have her jut meet us at the hospital. We pack the kids up in the car and drive.

Lots of contractions in the car, a lot of moaning on my part. But I have periods of rest in between, even if they are only a couple minutes, it feels like heaven.

When we arrive to the hospital, I have Andrew drop me off and him meet my mom with the kids so she can take our car back. The lady at the desk quickly checks me in, and

1:08 Signing paperwork, getting hooked up to monitor, and answering a lot of questions. A little while into being at triage, I finally tell the nurse that I felt like I was wet down there, she barely glimpsed and said "Oh yup, you sure have ruptured!" Somehow the thought that my water had broken somehow slipped my mind. Once we were done with the all the paperwork, she decided to check me.

"Do you want an epidural?"

"I'd like to try without one as long as possible."

She checks me. 5 centimeters, 100% effaced.

Only 5. That is all I could think about. I was hoping to be a 7 by the time I arrived at the hospital. I was hoping that I would be able to deliver shortly after, and that they would tell me that I just didn't have time for an epidural. Why? Because I just knew I wasn't strong enough to do it otherwise. That ultimately if you would give me the choice, as soon as it got too hard, I would choose it.

But for now... I dealt with the pain.

2:00 Arrive to my room. Contractions are really intense at this point, and I can barely talk in between them.  There are a million and one people in the room, everything is set up for baby to be delivered, and I have more paperwork to sign, an IV to go in, and an ultrasound to be completed to "confirm" the baby is head down.

While this is going on, I get irritated with one of the residents, and end up saying that to the nurses who then make the decision that he won't be coming back in again. At this point, I was in too much pain to even care who was coming in and out of my room. My eyes barely remained open.

2:30 I had about 5 back to back hardest contractions of my labor, and I whimpered out "I can't do it. I can't." My nurses were great and kept trying to support me, "Yes you can, you're doing great! Yes you can." And then I said "I need an epidural."

It was amazing how quickly those nurses got things going, because my anesthesiologist was in the room within a couple of minutes, didn't ask me ten million questions, and could see that I was in excruciating pain with little relief in between.

He got it. On one stick. Unlike the last time where it took 4-5. And he was able to do it in between my 1.5 minute apart contractions. My hero in that moment in time.

But the pain. Oh the pain, I said. I still feel it. He gave me a boost. And another boost. And then finally, it was like the angels were singing in my room and I was a completely new person. I felt like I could actually breath again, and I believe I finally did just that.

I opened my eyes and I could tell that everyone was just staring at me with the next contraction on the screen, waiting to see what I would do/say next. Apparently, I didn't even know I was having one.

The ice was broken when my anesthesiologist says,

"Well, good to see you aren't cursing anymore!" And everyone laughs. Oops, I don't deal with pain well obviously.

2:45 Now that my epidural was working, all questions and procedures were completed, and there was nothing left to do but to have a baby, everyone left and there was finally peace and quiet in my room with just me, my thoughts, and a sleeping husband next to me. With my pain completely dissipated, I was able to quickly text a few people, snap a picture, and post an update to FB/instagram.

"It was time" I said.

3:20 The nurse comes in to check me. The last time I was checked was when I arrived in triage and I was a 5. The first nurse checks me and says she thinks I'm an 8, but wanted her preceptor to double check. The other nurse checks and says, "Oh she's further than that." I'm over here thinking, only 2 numbers left so 9 or 10? The doctor then comes in to check and says I'm in between 9-10, and it's time to call the doctor.

When I hear those words, I immediately ask if we could have the anesthesiologist come back and turn down my epidural so I can feel my contractions to push. They make a call in, and it was decided to just completely turn it off.

4:25 The head doctor comes in and decides to check the baby one more time. At that point, he discovers that the baby is positioned posterior, meaning the back of P's head was against my back. He stated how he couldn't believe that I rapidly progressed with her being positioned posterior. He decided to go ahead and try to turn her head with me pushing during a contraction.

My nurse looks at me and asks, "You feel like you can do this?"

The adrenaline was starting to rush through me. This is the part of labor that I looked forward to. This is what I dreamed about. "Yes! I could feel my legs, I could push."

So I grabbed my legs, and with the coaching of my wonderful nurse and doctor during a contraction I pushed in three 10 second increments.

"Stop stop stop!" The doctor says. "I need to gown up, she's coming out."

And he hurries to the table, while the other doctor helps tie him up, and the nurse hurries to try to get my mirror in front of me, but we wouldn't get it in time, because with the next contraction I push, and there she is. She comes out so quick, that I almost don't even realize what happened.

She cries so loud, and so strong, and she is finally actually here.

4:29 a.m. Sweet Polina Jane is officially born.

She's placed on my chest, and Andrew and I kiss her. Another child for us to call as our own. Another blessing from the Lord. She's here, early, and healthy, and we are completely, utterly, smitten by her. 



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