Monday, September 30, 2013

Having nothing, but giving everything

I really didn't know how to approach this post without bringing up the hardships of my childhood. I never want to come across as though I am ungrateful or resentful toward my upbringing, regardless of how little we had or anything that may have occurred, because at the end of the day I had parents that loved me, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly.

But my childhood was far from perfect.

I feel as though I endured challenges at a young age, and as a result of those challenges, they impacted who I am today. For the better. I believe that I am the strong, hard-headed, stubborn individual because of my childhood. I belive I'm a better mother because of my childhood. I also believe that I have flaws, and negative characteristics because of my childhood.

How about I start from the beginning.

For starters, I don't know my real dad. I know him, but I don't know him. My parents were married. He was abusive to my mother, and obviously that never equates to anything positive, so a divorce was inevitable. My mom remarried, we moved to the United States {which my biological father had to give permission for}, and we never saw or spoke to him again. No phone calls. No birthday cards. No nothing. Am I bitter about it? No. I have never had any desire to meet him, get to know him, or have a realtionship with him. I think my life was fulfilled in other areas that I did not feel like something was missing. Nor do I now. However, that being said, I just cannot fathom any parent, mother or father, ever being okay to leave their child or children {regardless of who did the leaving}. How do you do that? How do you let go and get on with your life knowing they are out there somewhere? Something I will never understand, and something that, to me, is unforgivable.

The question is, how was living without my biological father impacted who I am today? I value motherhood so much more. I value every detail and every memory so much more. I savor these moments and I equally expect Andrew to as well. We are present in all aspects of their lives, involved, and want to make family traditions that our children grow up remembering. We also understand that being together as a unit is just as important. So as a result, we have to work on our own relationship and making it as successful as possible. After becoming a parent and realizing what my own father missed out, I realize how special this role is and how important it is in my life.

After moving to the United States, we faced many challenges of not having enough money, not knowing the language, the culture, and the people surrounding us, and having to adjust and rewire everything that we knew. For me though, I was just a kid. Seven actually. I think the bigger struggle was that within my parents. But as a child? You see that. You see the challenges, you notice their absence due to double shifts, you see the frustration and anger at times. I watched my parents work hard and for little. Plain and simple, it sucked.

As a result, I was put in a position where I, myself, and my brother included, had to kind of "grow up" a little faster.  I'd be pulled out of class at times so that I could watch my baby sister while my mom went to work a shift at the restaurant. There wasn't anyone present to help with my homework. Homework that my parents wouldn't be able to understand themselves. If I wanted to eat a lunch at school, I had to be the one that was responsible in packing a lunch, starting in Elementary school. Most days? It'd be an apple, a piece of bread, and anything else that I could throw in. Looking back at times, although I never realized this as a kid {nor did I feel like I was missing out on it}, but looking back as a parent today and thinking about some of these things really makes me reflect on the bigger lesson in life.

That hard work does pay off, and that you have to appreciate what you have, regardless of how much you have it.

It's true. I had a warm bed to sleep in, I had food to eat, for every meal of the day {even if I didn't like it, even if my parents never bought "snacks," even if it wasn't what every other kid my age was eating}, and I was taken care of.

The greatest part about my childhood was how I got to watch the positive outcomes of all the hardships. The day my dad bought my mom her first car. She was about 8 months pregnant with my sister at the time. Or even better, the day my parents bought their first house. The two story home that gave me, the 4th grader, my first very own bedroom. Gone were the days of sharing a room with my older brother. The day my parents became citizens of this country that we now called home. The day that we got to spend our first Christmas and unwrap presents under the tree. Graduating high school, then college. And then one day becoming a parent myself and having to reflect on these very same things that I do today. The value of hard work.

I know that often times I want to fulfill my children's childhood with so many loving, tender, family memories. I want them to see the world, experience fun things, and have lots of videos and pictures to show for it. "Look, you see, you had an amazing childhood." I gave you everything I could, and provided you with all the love that my heart could hold. All of my time, all of my resources, all of my hard work and sleepless nights, all so that my children never had to go hungry, feel unloved, or have fear in their eyes.

At the end of the day, I know that the only thing that will matter to our children is that they had us. That they had us and that we were present. That they knew what hard work simply by looking at what we had accomplished and what we had sacrificed in our lives, for them and our family.

Making our children proud is very important. I think being proud of my own parents is what made me an independent, hard-working woman that I am today.

No, I don't want the struggles for my children that I had. No, I don't want them to pack their own lunch, not be able to do sports or not attend a field trip because your their parents couldn't afford it. No, I don't want them to not see their parents for days or not have someone to tuck them in at night, every night.

But I also realize that having a childhood that has all the means to a "rich" life isn't one that necessarily equates to a positive one either. I think that children don't know any different, and that they only care about one thing and one thing only:

Feeling loved, accepted, and needed by the parents that raised them. And sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that we don't have to have it all, to give our all.

Complete list of topics here
Next week: How my childhood impacted who I am today

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Brides... I found your photographer!

It's no secret that I have a special place in my heart for photography. Better yet, for wedding photography. Often times, I find myself rummaging through the images of my own wedding just 4 years ago, and I am constantly reminded of how important it is to find the right photographer. One that is able to capture the unique special memories of one of the best days of your lives, and tell a story through a series of pictures.

Your wedding day is a story. The first chapter of your book as husband and wife.

I love Sarah's work, and I love her style. Whenever she posts new weddings that she has done, I just sit at my computer and look through all the images. And smile. I love that wedding pictures have that affect on people.

The great thing about Sarah is that she travels! TRAVELS! So brides... getting engaged, got engaged, know someone that is engaged? Check out Sarah and I guarantee you won't be disappointed! She also added a discount for all readers, so be sure to email her with the code below! 

A word from Sarah:

Shortly after having my daughter I realized just how important captured memories are. Because once the moment is over and the memories have faded it's the photos that help you relive the laughter, emotions, and events again and again. As a Lifestyle and Wedding photographer I get to be part of the most important moments in my clients lives. I get create more then just professional relationships with my brides, but I get to become friends, and share in their big day. When it comes to wedding photography I believe there is a place for formal photos, but that the emphasis should be placed on capturing the emotion, and creating a storybook of images that will retell that day over again in years to come. The jitters of a bride before making her grand entrance, the tears running down a daddy's cheek as he gives his little girl away, the look on a mothers face as she dances with her son. The captured memories are the ones that shouldn't be forgotten. 

While SMP is based in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, we are ready to pack our bags and fly to wherever your wedding is taking place, and offer fantastic travel rates! Visit our website to view rates, and packages.

Book your 2014/ early 2015 wedding with SMP and mention "MRSTOMAMA" and receive an amazing wedding package discount valued over $800.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sleep problems, marital problems, deals, and other stuff that makes sense. Or not.

It's been a while since I participated in a link up, and I thought the 5 on Friday on Darci's blog would be a fun way for me to dump my brain out on the computer screen. I've been doing that a lot lately.

Brain dumping.


Sleep problems. I wrote a post on this {what else is new}, and I don't even know when I scheduled it for {probably in 2 years}, so I might as well just mention it here. Sleep sucks around here. The toddler is finally much better at night {we had waking up problems for a while there when Graham was first born}, and now it's the baby boy that is not sleeping well. We are talking every two hours type business. I know it's teeth. I blame the teeth, but it is a whole new world {of teething} for us, and we are just ready for some more consistent sleeping. I already don't get enough sleep as it is pulling the night shift 3 nights a week...

He's lucky he is so darn cute when he wakes up, and sissy is still sleeping, and I get to do this with him: just be us.


Shutterfly deals . Just because I love you guys and I equally love deals, I thought I would share with you an awesome one going on now on Shutterfly. You can get 50% off photobooks, get free shipping, and on top of that an extra 20% off. Use codes: earlybird and ship30. 

Yes, you can use more than one code! Get your baby books done ladies!


Mama of three business. I watched E's best bud the other day for 3.5 hours for my friend and it was all sorts of fun. We painted, we did flashcards, we went on a walk, and played outside. It was for real the fasted 3.5 hours of my life. Made me really think about what life with 3 would be like.

But overall? It was great, easy {thanks to her being an absolute angel}, and not to mention... E absolutely loved having her friend over for that long.

And I was stressed about the dirty paint brushes....ha.


Marital problems. Well, not really. It sounds like it would be worth reading though, right? Well, the problem is I can't text my husband. At all. Actually, I can text him, but he can't text me back. Actually, he can, but I can't see it. Thanks to the new, lovely, iphone update that I refuse to get. Not to mention my phone is shattered.

My husband's solution is that I just go and get a new phone {we were up for upgrade back in February}.

My solution: email me.


Make money shopping. If you are shopping online {EVER} and not using Ebates while doing so, then you are missing out on FREE money. Plus you get a free $10 gift card when you sign up! It tracks your online orders on the websites that you are going to be shopping on anyway, and then gives you money back. And then refer your family and friends {like I am doing here}, and make even more money. We're talking $500 checks!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh my sweetness, how did this day come so soon, 9 month Graham


The sweetest boy I ever did see. My go go go child. My happy child. My lover of mama child. My into everything child. And at that, I have successfully described both my children. But although you and your sister are very similar, you are your own person and you have such special unique characteristics that I will cherish forever.

It has been the best 9 months of our lives, and as parents, we could not be anymore proud of you and all your little accomplishments. Even if those accomplishments seem like no big deal to the typical stranger. They are very much a big deal to us.

Graham, we hope you always know how proud we are to be your parents. You light up the room with your smile, you have absolutely no fear, and you are ambitious and driven to do things beyond your age. I have a feeling those qualities will stick around, and we are excited to see you grow into a little boy. Excited for all the many milestones and achievements to come.

So, about this month. What have we been up to?

You're a well traveled boy. You've been to the zoo, children's museum, toddler time, parks, and anywhere else more times than I could ever count. In fact, you've been going to toddler time with your sissy since you were just a couple weeks old. Every week {most times multiple times a week}. You are great company everywhere we go, and I never have that fear like I had with your sister when she was your age. About causing a scene.

You're just chill like that.

Loves mama. Loves loves loves mama. It's like the minute I walk into the room, nothing else matters. It's funny because you play so great with anyone else. Your papa? Grandma? You don't mind. You can play with toys for hours. With mama? It's about 5-10 minute stretches of playing with toys and that's it. You'd much rather be climbing up my leg and into my arms.

But you're not a cuddler. Not one bit. You love to be held and in my arms, but none of that put your head on my chest and snuggle business. I mean, really, it breaks my heart. But as soon as you see something you want to touch, you are basically launching out of my arms. Especially if it has wheels on it.

Little Tike car, bikes, strollers, trucks, trains, and cars... anything with wheels. Your eyes get big. You also love sticks and balls. And you love to bang stuff. Also? The dog bowl. So intriguing to you.

You said mama and papa. Papa was only heard by grandma so far, but mama is said all day every day. "Mama, mama, mama, mama." Just like that. And boy do I hear it if I even dare leave you for one second.

You started waving hellow which is the cutest thing ever. You won't do it on command, but will just randomly start shaking your hand and smiling. Real big like you're so proud of yourself. Clearly, we are too.

We switched you to cloth diapers this past month and I have to say that mama really likes them a lot. You obviously don't care either way, and your papa is coming around. So when you get older, you can tell all your friends that your mama was crazy.

Loves to play with hair. Mama's hair. Sister's hair. Papa's hair. Anyone's hair. When you nurse, you always want to pull on my hair, and when your papa is holding you, you place your hand on the back of his head and pull his little hairs. Sissy? You have to be in mama's arms and then you kneel down when she is standing and pull. You think it's quite humorous as well.

Still obsessed with cars, trucks, trains, and anything else with wheels. Balls and sticks are your other favorite. You love to bang and smack things. Including your mama.

Walks everywhere with the walker toy that you push. You have gotten so good at it that you are taking laps. And now we have caught you standing for a couple seconds with no assistance! Again, I'm thinking sometime in month 10 you will be walking. Which? I'm not entirely sure I am ready for.

If I have the fridge open, you love love love to play in it. Taking the milk jug out, opening drawers, and banging. You love to bang!

Continues to be obsessed with climbing up the stairs. And thinking it's funny that it is against mama and papa's rules. As soon as you hear us coming, you crawl faster and giggle. Turn your head and giggle at us. You mischievious little thing.

As far as eating goes, still nursing every 2-4 hours during the day, on demand. At night, about 1 or 2 feedings.
NO TEETH. Man, really? I was so sure they were coming this month. I see the whites. I see the swelling. But they just won't pop through. Mama aint happy. Because the past week? You've been up every couple of hours.

Let's talk about sleep while we are on the topic. Man. You go to bed great. 730pm. But then it's like you wake up and you realize I'm not there, so you sit up in your crib and you cry the most pitiful of all cries out there. I scoop you up, nurse you, and back to sleep you go. We have been doing this anywhere from 2-4 times a night this past month. Again, I'm thinking teeth.

Back to eating. You had your first big boy meal with turkey meatballs and noodles and you loved. We have been doing more and more real solids {big people} bites, and you are adjusting so well! No more gagging and spitting up like you used to. We still do the homemade pureed pouches as a quick snack here and there, and you have your favorites. So far you have eaten: carrots, sweet potato, avacodo, tomatos, clementines, peaches, nectarines, bananas, turkey meatballs, eggs, spinach, kale, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, peas, and whatever else I failed to mention.

You eat, most importantly.

For weight, you are a solid 20 pounds. Length? I have not the slightest idea. I think right on track, as you fit in the 9-12 month clothes. Our well visit is next week.

I know I can't possibly list here every little detail of your past month, but just know that we have cherished every bit of it. Every bit of you. Every bit of change and development that has come our way. We are so thankful and you are so loved my sweet boy.

Forever, and ever, to the moon and back,,

Mama, Papa, and big Sis

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When all you want is a baby and to be a mom- Leah.

Leah. What can I tell you ladies about this lovely mama? For one, she's beautiful. She has a kind soul. She is an amazing mama. And she is quite a story to tell you. Through miscarriage and yearning to become a mother, to now all the challenges and blessings that motherhood entails.

I’m an {almost} 30 year old wife to my {very patient} husband and mama to our miracle baby girl.  I was a former teacher turned work at home mom.  I have an unhealthy obsession with Starbucks, Pinterest, everything pumpkin and all things Christmas.  I am a daily list maker,  always wishing there was more time in the day to get everything crossed off. I love life and strive to get the most out of each and everyday.   You can read more about me here.  

I started my blog just after the husband and I were married to keep our family up to date on our lives and as a keepsake for our future. Something our children would always have to look back on and cherish forever.   Over the years it’s turned into more than I could have imagined.  Blogging is something I truly enjoy.  It is where I come to share pieces of my life, the celebrations along with the challenges.  It’s where you’ll learn about my adventures in marriage and motherhood, how I try to turn everything I see into a DIY project and try to organize (and reorganize) my life day in and out.  I share my favorite recipes, the parties I go overboard planning and too many pictures of my little lady.  Recently, my family moved from FL to TX, leaving all we’ve ever known.  Come follow along as we adjust to our new normal in the lone star state.  

Here are some of my favorite and most popular posts. 
{1} 10 Things I live For 

{2} Pregnancy after Miscarriage 

{3} When all you want is a baby and to be a mom

{4} It won’t be like this for long

{5} One Piece of Mommy Advice

If you came over for some coffee {and cookies}...My 10 Minute Capture

Driving up, you'd first see that there are two large what looks to be pieces of paper taped to our windows. The windows that face the road. Yes, your eyes aren't mistaken. You see, we love to paint around here, and we have found that taping the paper to the windows is easiest. And leaving it up for days for us to admire? Is totally okay too.

This might also help to explain the crayon and paint that has stained those curtains on those windows. We get a little excited around here, and we are 2 by the way.

Walking in, you will most likely be greeted by my overly obnoxious and hyperactive boston terrier beagle mix dog that weighs approximately 20 pounds, but will attach you [I mean jump on you] as though he is 100. He means no harm, truly. It will take him a good 20 minutes to get used to you.

In the meantime, take a look at my two kiddos. E & G. They grew overnight. Into these grown children that I barely recognize, instead of the 7 pound babies that I remember bringing home from the hospital.

These days? E loves to run around the house, talk in low voices, and read library books over and over and over again. Most days? She's in a shirt and underwear. We dont' really like to wear pants around here.

And G? G is still a toothless little nugget, but there are whites there. They're there... we see them... we sure know about them... but they are taking their sweet time. He's crawling everywhere, walking everywhere with anything that he can hold onto, and babbling up a storm. Loves his mama {looooves}, adores the sight of his papa, and tries to sprint for the stairs at every opportunity available.

I'd then put you on the couch, bring that coffee that you came for, and show you my phone. You know, the one that is shattered from top to bottom. Because I dropped it a month ago. At this time, your mouth will surely drop open and you will say something around the lines of..."well why don't you get a new one." I'd then tell you... it's on the list.

The to-do list. Which also has things such as:
Print Elliana's birthday invites {she's turning 3! THREE}
Print large portraits of G {because there are none in the house...aside from the nursery, bad mom}
Put up pictures on wall up the stairway {I have 4 canvases under my bed with dust on them}
Order G's album {it's in the making}
Get garage sale ready {must I?!}

Speaking of point number 1 on the list {birthday party}, I'd probably try to coax you into coming to help me. It's in a little over a month. A month.

I'd go on to tell you about having the next 4 days off work. Meaning that all that laundry, deep cleaning, dust and all, will finally have a little of my attention. I say a little because I have other plans for the kids as well.

I'd tell you that Graham had his very first real big boy meal. Turkey meatballs and noodles. And he ate it all. Almost as much as his bigger sister. Coming from someone who has been so picky with solids, mama was pretty pleased. Looks like we will be having lots of fun with dinners from here on out.

When it's time for you to go, I'd walk you out the door, point to the fall decor {that I finally put up this week}, and tell you to come back again.

Next time? Maybe i'll have something better than coffee.

Like bud light lime.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Goodbye summer, hello fall.

As I was going on a walk with the kids yesterday {weird, I say kids now because I have two... but the word "kid" just sounds so... old}, I began to think about this summer ending and fall beginning. With every season that passes, I seem to find myself reminiscing of the past, and in a way trying to identify the future. What it will bring. What we plan to do. Where we plan to go, people to see, and milestones to achieve. Especially after having already gone through the baby stages with E, I find myself rummaging in my head through the past to dig out what to expect next.

So while I thought about all these different things, I thought about summer. And fall.

Saying goodbye to summer means that we are saying goodbye to G's first summer. Outside the belly. His first time going on a family vacation. His first time stepping foot on a sandy beach. His first time in water, the zoo, the splash pad, and more. A lot of firsts this little guy, and come next summer? It will just be recreating memories all over again. And making new ones as well.

It means that we are saying goodbye to the hot weather. The sun-kissed skin. The shorts, tanks, and dresses. The need for sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. The stickiness, the love for A/C, and the need to be in water.

Saying hello to fall means that we get to experience the first fall with G. The first time we get to go apple picking. The first time we get to pick out pumpkins. The first hay ride. Sip of apple cider. And fall crafts that lie ahead. Fall means that our baby will be in his last season of the year. Before he turns... the big one. Fall means that we get to soak up these last "baby" stages and prepare for the next milestones and stages.

Fall means cooler weather. Weather that allows us to be outside for hours on end. Weather that means we get to put more clothes on, and yet not have to bundle up with thick layers. Just yet. Weather that brings back the afternoon walks around the neighborhood that we always enjoy. Taking our "learning" lessons outside. And eating lunch and dinner on the front porch.

Fall also means that winter comes next and we all know my love for winter. Not the weather... oh no not the cold weather. But Christmas time and our families coming together.

And this year we get to add just one more thing to that list.

That being celebrating G's first birthday. The day after Christmas. My MIL recently said to me "that's the worst birthday" out there. She meant no harm by it, and I smiled and nodded. But really? I think it's the best birthday out there.

I think that we get so excited for Christmas and then it comes, and then it goes, and then we are in a state of... "Well what's next." And just like that we are ready for the next season of our lives. However, for us, that day will be different. That day after Christmas will be more exciting than ever before. That day after Christmas we will celebrate one of the greatest blessings in our lives. Each day on the 26th of December. Every year. So although, yes, we are always anticipating the close of one chapter and the beginning of another, the end of one season to the start of another, there is always that opportunity to reflect.

Saying goodbye to summer is bittersweet. I will miss the sunshine, the warmth, and the memories, but I so look forward to the beautiful parts of fall as well.

More so now than ever before. And when fall ends? I'll be ready. Sad, but ready.

I think about what it would be like to live in a place where it was always summer, year round. My favorite holiday, every day of the year. And although, at first thought, it sounds nice, I think I much prefer having all the different seasons to go through. All the different anticipations. All the different traditions, holidays, and birthdays.

So although I'll miss you summer, I'm even happier to see you Fall.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Best Canvas Deal Ever

Get an 8x10 canvas for only $12 with FREE shipping. Honestly? I've never seen a deal this good. Great Christmas gift present if you like to plan ahead like


A letter to my 16 year old self

Dear Becky,

Happy birthday. Today you turn 16. It's a wonderful age, I'm sure. That's what you're thinking anyway. Now you get to drive your own car, by yourself. You get an extended curfew, what 10 now? Maybe 9? And you are just a couple years away from being called an adult. I know you may think that you are old and big and mature now. Trust me when I say this... you are not.

You will make some foolish decisions in the next few years, think you are living the life, and be clueless about everything else and everyone else around you. And I'm here to tell you all about it.

You know what you will also do? Make some really really good decisions. Like meeting your now to be handsome, amazing husband. Oh yes, that I will save for later on in the story. For now let me tell you what the next 10 years will look like for you.

First, you'll spend a lot of time with your core group of girlfriends. There are, what, 5 of you? Yes. They are your best friends. Your life. You just cannot imagine parting ways with them. I'll tell you something though, 10 years from now? You'll barely know them. One, you will continue to work with. Another will move to another country. And the other two? Different states. You'll keep in contact shortly after you graduate college, but then your life gets a little busy, their life gets a little busy, and those friends you begin to lose contact with. Slowly, but surely. You'll have days where you miss them. You'll have days where you cry thinking about the one in the other country and how much you miss her. And you'll even have a day where one of those friends? Completely cuts all ties with you. And yes, it will hurt. And yes, you will be shocked. But just understand that not all relationships are meant to last forever. That sometimes? They come in and out of your lives for a reason.

You'll go to college and you'll swear that your intent is to go to medical school. That nursing school is there for just a degree and for you to get through the four years. Except, you'll have a little too much fun your first semester. You'll sit at the computer and "aim" with every new college student that you have encountered with, and you'll be busy writing down in your calendar each and every new frat party to attend during the week. Every day of the week. And when you are thinking of actually doing something else besides that? Well then, you'll be too busy sleeping rather than going to class. You're a smart kid you say to yourself. You graduated high school with a 3.875, and you don't need class to teach you anything. You'll ace those tests and that will be that. Except, you forget to study for those tests. And ace them? Ha, that you won't do. You'll come home with a gpa of 1.75 and swear that nursing school is just too boring for you. Good thing for that counselor that talked you out of quitting when you marched in that office with a new game plan.

No worries, you wised up and ended up making up for those terrible grades, finished on time, and graduated with a 3.4 cumulative GPA. But class? Boy, you still missed that more often than you should have.

So that second semester? That second semester you room with a new girl {long story, your roommate will date a psycho who ends up stalking you... police involved and all}, and end up meeting the love of your life, husband to be. You two end up being inseparable, and literally spend every day together. You'll quit your sorority a week before you were supposed to move in, and get an apartment, where just a couple months later you end up purchasing a dog. A dog that you swear is your baby, that you miss after only being a few hours apart {during those classes that you should have attended more often than not}, and one that will later be replaced by babies.

Oh yes, that's right, you will have babies. Lets fast forward. We know you graduate. You get a job. Oh yes, you get engaged to that prince charming the last semester of college and after planning a big grand wedding, you decide to throw all those plans out the window and book a wedding package in Maui. For two. Leave it to you to not follow the rules and do things your way.

You get married. You get a big girl job. You put an offer in on a house in Cincinnati {where your husband attends grad school}, and then end up backing out {good thing}, and moving back in with your parents to continue the house search. You later find out your are pregnant, which speeds up said house search, and in no time you two buy the house that you swore would be the one during an online search. You were right.

And in those next couple of years not only do you bring your first daughter home, but you also bring home your first son. You create many memories together, as a family of three, and later a family of four. You soon realize how important life is. How important parenting is. How important raising these little babies is. The right way. To lead them down the healthy route, so that one day they can be contributing, successful, members of society. And success? Success being measured through happiness. You will want nothing else in this world but true happiness for these babies. And from the day they are born? You'll fight for that happiness.

16 year old Becky, you have a lot of wonderful things ahead. I'm not sure where the story goes after the first couple years of having babies, but I can tell you that you have an amazing husband and two blessings that need you in their life. Be safe, be strong, be independent and wild {er, maybe not wild}, but always remember that there are good things ahead. That even if you may not know it, even if you may not see it, there is a plan for you.

And that plan looks beautiful.

Now, stop daydreaming about boys, quit with the parties, and go to class why don't you. And don't forget to wear a seat belt. Yes, it's made to save lives. Use it.

Love always,
Your 27 year old version of you. The much smarter and wiser one.

Complete list of topics here
Next week: How my childhood impacted who I am today

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Best

When you open up your photo library on your phone to find 20+ selfies that your daughter recently took.

Finding money in the back pocket of your jeans. Cash that you seldom carry. More reason to go to the park with the carasoul with the kids.

Jumping in puddles. And your kid squealing with excitement at 8 in the morning. The other one? Smiling from ear to ear from watching.

Getting called off work unexpectedly. One of the most pleasant of all surprises.

When you hear loud giggling from the other room and walk in to see your kids rolling around on the ground laughing at each other and glowing. Just glowing with happiness.

Finding a love note in your "love jar" from your husband. One that makes you laugh and brings you back to 7 years prior and the dating life. Knowing he still makes you laugh like that.

Someone complimenting you on being a mom. Whether it's your mom, your niehgbor, your friend, or a complete stranger. It always makes you feel good inside. My philosophy? We should say it more often.

Deciding that you don't want to cook dinner tonight, and having the husband pick up pizza on his way home from work. And beer.

Nap time. Bed time. Kids that actually sleep. Better yet, at the same time. Sleep in general {when you can get it} is the best.

Feeling teeth coming through {finally} on the baby that has been screaming bloody murder for what feels like months. Teething is a whole new world for us {as we never experienced it with E}, and so we feel like we are first-time parents all over again.

Reuniting with a friend and patching things up. While dancing. While celebrating a marriage. It feels good.

A steak and shake milkshake. 

Your baby saying "Mama" for the very first time.

Cute dresses such as this one from Lil Sweetie Designs that has my daughter's initials on them. For whatever reason it makes her look like such a big girl. I love the great quality of the of the material that won't just easily rip like some of our other dresses.  Also, if you love all this monogrammed... then this is the shop for you! They have everything under the sun and moon, including blankets, bloomers, onesies, rompers, shirts, dresses, and more! And all monogramming is included in the price with each item!

Even though it is white, I have had no issues with washing it, and E twirled around in it and said "Mama I love it." I mean, what more do I need?  Use code :mrsten to get 15% off through Monday!

Knowing it's Friday and you have the whole weekend to enjoy the cooler fall weather with your family. 

Yup, that's the best.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Important Message Behind a Cup of Coffee+ A Keurig Giveaway

There are two things that I wanted to achieve when I became a mom. One, to learn how to live a healthier and smarter lifestyle. And two, to become a coffee drinker. Let me explain.

First, becoming a coffee drinker. Well this is an easy one to explain. Being a mom {more importantly, a mom of 2} means that we live very busy lives. Always on the go. Never ahead of the game. And our attention is needed in all directions of life: our home, our children, work, appointments, classes, and more. Being a mom has taught me that sometimes it is necessary to run on little sleep, and sometimes that means I need a little boost-me-up to get going. Thus, I needed to become a coffee drinker.

It was not until I purchased Andrew his first Keurig that I finally joined the coffee drinking club. It's amazing how the whole process of eliminating steps {coffee filters, pouring, and so forth} made me all of a sudden love coffee that much more. Remember, moms don't like to waste time; and with a Keurig® Brewing System, it did not get much simpler than that. Now we own two, and I cannot start the day without my favorite choice of K-cup packs, The Green Mountain Coffee® Nantucket Blend.

Moving along to my second goal in motherhood, living a healthier lifestyle, is something that I have been, and will continue to, work on in my life. I'm continuously learning new ways to help the environment, new products for my family to invest our money into, and new opportunities for us to help the society and those behind the scenes doing all the hard work such as helping farmers. And in this case, coffee farmers.

Andrew and I have been drinking the Green Mountain K-Cup packs for years now, but after learning about the story behind the company, we made sure to buy them more often than any other k-cup packs out there. Green Mountain Coffee® has been Fair Trade certified since 2000 and one of the largest selections of Fair Trade Certified™ coffees in the U.S. What does this mean? It means that by purchasing Fair Trade Certified™ Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup packs that we are also contributing in helping coffee farmers receive a fair price for their beans. This results in better quality of life for those smaller scale farmers, which keeps their children in school and allows women to support their families as well. How do you and I benefit from this? As a result, we get a better tasting coffee.

This October, Green Mountain Coffee will be celebrating Fair Trade month by participating in the "Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade" campaign. You know who else will be teaming up with Green Mountain Coffee for this campaign? The one and only Kelly Clarkson. She will share her own personal experience of visiting a coffee farmer in Peru and importance behind Fair Trade.

You know how I will continue to participate and promote Green Mountain Coffee and its voice in the Fair Trade community? By drinking a cup of my personal favorite a day. By continuing to live a healthier lifestyle and investing money in a cause that will in the end help support other men, women, and children out there. By providing a better quality of life for those farmers. And while doing so? I get to be that coffee {great tasting one at that} drinker that I knew I wanted to be.


Better yet, one of you ladies {or gentlemen} will have the opportunity to win a Keurig® Brewing System and a Green Mountain Coffee® gift basket. At the end of the sweepstakes, a winner will be chosen at random by the BlogHer team, and you will be notified via email your prize!

Rules are easy:

1. Simply watch a video of Kelly Clarkson's visit to Peru and learn more about Fair Trade.

2. Answer this question in the comments below: "Are you a coffee drinker, and if so, would you consider buying fair trade coffee?"

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 09/19/13-10/31/13.

Want more information on what Fair Trade means and how Green Mountain remains a big part of helping coffee farmers? Visit

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

10 things I'll laugh at... 20 years from now. Or tomorrow.

10. I spent the night at my parent's on my birthday {with the whole fam-dam}. That night I forgot to pack underwear. I opened up my drawer's in my room {that I grew up in}, only to find clothes upon clothes that belong to my nephew. I'm not kidding all three drawers.  Lucky the last drawer contained underwear... but the size 4 kind. You know... I'm 4 years old. That kind. They were the little boy shorts kind. So?

  I managed to make it work.

9. I cracked my phone. In the garage at my work. I did a fast turn to face my car where I happened to forget my bag... and out slipped my phone from my hands. I thought about getting one of those jank regular phones. You know, not the "smart" ones. Andrew says that I need a smartphone for email and that. I say... I don't. My brother tells me that they don't even sell those kind of phones anymore.

 I'm stuck with a cracked phone until I decide what I want to do.

8. A lady at the grocery story commented on how cute another lady's little girl was. The mom with the child then went on to tell her..."yeah, she looked even cuter with shoes on. Oh but you know, she just felt like throwing those out the window while we were driving." Ha. I laughed out loud in the grocery store.

That child is awesome.

7. That same grocery? I checked out with a kit-kat. Okay like 8 of those snack size ones in a package. I cannot tell you the last time I did that.... check out and bought a candy bar {or 8}.  It has probably been a year {or more}.

Needless to say, I ate all 8, except for 2. All before leaving the parking lot.

6. Andrew and I stayed up last night cracking up to this video. I mean. This. This is our kind of humor. This is why we get each other. Because stuff like this gets us belly laughing.

5. Our new painted shutters have finally gone up. Finally. Well, all but one set. Which means, yes, we are still that house with a pair of shutters missing. How long has it been?... Too long to admit.

8 months.

4. Obama being president. I'll actually probably be crying because the effects of obamacare will be full force and since I work in the healthcare... I have bad bad terrible feelings about this. So I hope I'm laughing about it... unfortunately, it's scary to think about.

3. I asked Andrew to put up a letter holder on the wall. Requiring to nails. Bang bang and be done with. Five minute task. He was tired... but gave me the whole look.. "don't you think of doing it." I didn't. I didn't do it. I resisted the urge. Until day 4... the hammer and two nails {different sizes came out}. I whipped out my trusty measuring tool... my eyes... and went at it.

Let's just say it didn't quite work out.

1. I never did share the funniest picture ever. For us at least. The family. Andrew thought it was hilarious. I laugh every time I look at it. And in all? It completely represents these three. Completely.

I mean, that picture is worth 2 numbers.

So that's that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ice cream never hurt....nobody.

I think my most favorite time to gather my thoughts and think about life and all that it entails is when I'm driving. I've said that before. I drive and blog. Except, you know, I don't actually write. Anyways, lately, I have felt like life has been too busy for me to have the opportunity to organize these thoughts. But today? Today, I thought about so many different things that I tried to make a mental "to-write" list for when I got home. All while on our way to toddler time.

Man, am I ever so happy for toddler time. And its return. It was off for a month {for re-vamping of the program purposes}, and boy did we miss it. A lot. Elliana was just as excited as ever before the minute we pulled into the parking lot and we got right back into the swing of things when we entered the doors. As though it was never gone.

I like routine. I like knowing that we have something scheduled for specific days of the week, and it allows us to be more productive and keep things in order if you will. I mean, order and babies? That is almost laughable. But, somehow... it works.

Anyways, back to my thoughts.

I was thinking about a couple weeks ago. About a specific night when we had friends over and their baby girl {E's best best friend}, and how that night put some things in perspective for me.

Picture this. Four adults outside grilling. Food scattered all across the table. Sweet potato fries. Caprese salad. Chicken hot dogs. Turkey burgers. Watermelon. And more. A baby crawling around on a blanket on the deck with toys scattered everywhere. Two toddlers sitting at a little table laughing {and screaming... just because}. And food all over the ground. Because lets face it... toddlers have this way of dropping food on the ground. I can't seem to put my finger on it.

Then came the ice cream. My friend brought ice cream for the girls because it was her daughter's 2nd birthday. We sang her the birthday song, and then she handed each of the girls their own ice cream sandwich. It was huge. And if I'm being completely honest here? E has never had a whole ice cream before. Normally we share, and I eat about 75% of it, and she eats the other 25%. Not because I was trying to cheat her out of ice cream, but because she always seemed to be satisfied with just a little. 

So yeah, she had the whole bar. And I let her. And the next few minutes is when a reality check dawned on me.

The girls had ice cream all over their hands. Then their dresses. My friend took her daughter's clothes off and let her run around in a diaper, and next thing you know, they had ice cream all over their entire bodies. And they started running around the backyard, and proceeded to run to my neighbor's deck where they were sitting enjoying their dinner.

And we all laughed. My heart got all warm inside. Fuzzy. Stupid fuzzy like I was about to cry. But I didn't. Because my friends were there and you know... they'd totally make fun of me. 

This. This is what being a kid is all about. This is what letting go is all about. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself not caring about what other people thought. About how my child had food all over her. About her not being completely dressed. About eating an entire thing of ice cream. And better yet... making noise. 

Her happiness was and is much more important to me than anyone's thoughts and judgements. I will never please everyone. There will always be people that judge no matter what you or I do. But I've just learned that you have to learn to enjoy the now and think of the future.

Will you care what someone else thinks 20 years from now? Or would you rather think back and remember a night where you kept the kids up way past their bedtime, let them eat more sweets than you should have, and maybe even disturbed the peace and quiet of the outdoors for a few minutes while they ran around chasing after one another with not a single care in the world.

My children have taught me so much in their short little lives. They've made me such a better person, and sometimes it's moments like these where I am reminded of who I was back then in comparison to who I am today. 

The pre-baby me would have judged hard of that evening. Of every little thing. 

The mom me? 

She's pretty darn proud of where she is today. 

A great cause and an even greater recipe {Strawberry Cheesecake Bites}

One of the statements that was made by my pastor this past weekend at church talked about the value of giving. "We are put on this Earth to impact it, to change a life, and to serve those in need." He went on to talk about how important it is for us to give back, as much as we can, and to do so whole-heartedly. That we need not be rich, successful, or efluential to make an impact. You don't have to be rich, successful, or efluential. Those words really impacted me.

I had to think about this.

You see, you don't have to be religious, go to church, or even believe in a higher power to be impacted by such words. You just have to believe that there is a need for good, that there is a need for help and healing, and there is a need for giving. Yes, I believe that, but often times I find myself wondering what exactly I could do to give back. How I could impact someone's life or change a little piece of the world. I'm quick to judge myself. Criticize. And bring down. Will this little amount do anything? What do I have that I can give? What areas are more important than others? Do I really make a difference?

Read the rest here where I also share a pretty delicious recipe.

Monday, September 16, 2013

High School Back Then

Always started the day with a strawberry poptart every morning in the commons. Oh the commons. The place where you just never knew what you were going to get. Either a school fight or people breaking down into a dance. There was never a dull moment.

Sleeping in until noon on the weekends. One time I slept for 23 hours straight. I slept through an entire day. Because my girlfriends and I thought it would be a brilliant idea the night before to stay up all night in a hotel {with parent}. So my teenage body took a beating and slept from 8am one day until 9 am the next. And the only reason I even got up at 9 that next day was because I had to work.

Making our own shirts for the football games. The glitter. The colorful glue. The bandanas. And not to mention the face paint.

Leaving study hall to go to Panera bread. Senior year was one of my favorite years. Actually probably THE most favorite year and one of the things we loved to do was go to Panera during study period.

Euchre games during math class. We'd turn our chairs {chairs/tables} and make a little square and go at it. I was a bit obsessed and if you were my partner and made a terrible mistake? It was not pretty.

Getting your license just so you had the excuse to drive. To nowhere. Driving around aimlessly just because... you had a license now.

Hair problems. From bright blonde. To black. Then red. Then black to blonde. And the cycle went one. For all 4 years.

Nokia cell phones. Everyone owned one. Kind of like the i-phone today, except... not.

Speaking of cell phones, remember when texting was the obsession. It had just came out and all you would hear about is how Johnny racked up a $500 bill texting, and Sue was grounded because hers was 1,000. Oh cell phone companies...

Wearing a wedding dress to prom was totally okay. I mean, really.

And for some reason, it was totally acceptable to wear bright blue, pink, and purple skin tight bell bottom pants. The same kind that every other girl in school owned.

Everyone was on AIM after homework was done. Everyone. And you had about 10 different conversations going on at once. Your computer looked like it was infested with sticky notes.

You begged your parents to get your belly button pierced. You even bargained with your grades. "If I get all A's... can I?" You did. Now do you wish you had?

The best news you could ever hear was snow day. Two hour delays. Three. Or full days of staying home from school. 

Next Week: High School Back Then
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