Sunday, November 8, 2015

When parenting is illegal...

So many things race through my mind since becoming a parent for the second times. Some thoughts of worry and self doubt are the same. Others of sharing my time and love with another child are new. Either way, as any new mother will tell you, it is exhausting and challenging having a new baby. 
With the challenges come the decisions a parent has to make. We all make small, some what trivial ones all the time. Things like weather to give your child a bath everyday or the time of the bed time or even how much tv they can watch are pretty minor. But then there are the major decisions every parent has to make. The huge ones. The scary ones. The controversial ones.
In today's world so much info is thrown at parents on how to raise children. Every doctor, nurse, and grandmother has an opinion on if you ( or me) are doing this parenting thing correctly. 
The scary thing is that every parent has choices and options. Most people will tell you there is no "right" way to raise a baby or child since every kid, family and situation is different. Yet, according to the law, there sort of is...
Today, as everyone knows, every kid has to be in an approved car seat when in the car. This seems like common sense now, but 40- 50years ago the ideas of  car seats were pretty new. Kids just sat in cars and were fine. Babies were held in the front seat and that's the way it was. Obviously, car seats are for the child's safety and do help tremendously, but like with any seat belt regulation, why is it the governments business to tell parents a specific way to have their child in the car? I'm not saying I believe kids shouldn't ride in car seats, but when did it become not a parenting decision and a turned into a everyone else's problem? You may be rolling your eyes at this point but stay with me.
From the day your child is born, every mother is urged to breast feed, not co sleep, have their child sleep on their backs and not smoke. These are supposedly the things that help prevent SIDS. ( to be clear, I am not saying they do or don't as I am no expert). Yet, even if a parent does all these " correct " things, their child could still fall victim to this scary thing called SIDS. It is every parents worst night mare and I am so glad I don't have personal experience with it, yet I know people who have. Right now, all the things doctors tell you to do to prevent SIDS are suggestions. They can't make you breastfeed or not smoke around your child as neither one of those things are illegal. But will they be in the future? Parents choose to do "un suggested" things all the time that could put their baby at risk. If you choose to formula feed for whatever reason and your baby dies of SIDS will you be arrested for child endangerment in the future?  You knew the risk was higher, yet did it anyway. If you let your infant sleep on their stomach because they sleep much sounder and won't sleep on their backs will you have your child taken away from you if someone finds out? According to doctors, both of those things are risk factors in SIDS deaths so it would make sense that doing those would cause you to contribute to your child's death, thus leaving the law room to find you guilty of negligence? 
If you think that sounds far fetched, look at the whole "leaving kids in the car" issue that is such a hot topic these days. I don't know about you but me and my sisters spent some time alone in the car from time to time when we were kids. Not when it was hot and the windows were always down, but it wasn't a big deal when we were younger for us to stay in the car when my mom ran into the gas station to get some milk. Obviously, my mom considered this to be safe, and it was. It was her call to decide what was safe for us and what was not. She wouldn't have left us there all day in the heat, but you get what I am saying right? All over today you hear about parents getting arrested for leaving kids in cars,but there is not actual law saying "you may not leave a child in a car" if there was, it would have to be super specific. Like you can't leave a child in the car for X amount of minutes during whitch the outside tempurature has to be less than X amount. What about putting your kids in the car seat and running back inside the house to get something you forgot? Is that legal? If someone saw me do that ( or videoed it, since that's what people do now) would I get in trouble? Do I have to keep an eye on my child every single second of the day?
I read an article about a mom who left her 5 year old child in the car for 5 minutes, on a cool day to go get something in a store. The child was fine, nothing happened and all was ok until she got arrested several days later because someone had videoed her and sent it to the police and they got her license plate number... It's things like that make me wonder, wasn't that just the moms choice? She deemed itsafe, and her child is fine, so why wasn't it? It's the same thing when you consider how old a child can be to stay home alone. Some children may be ready at 10 years old, others may not be. Or when a child can play alone at a park or even walk home from school? But shouldn't it be your call as a parent to decide that?
It just get so confusing because obviously there are parents who abuse their kids, or put them in extremely unsafe environments, or neglect them completely and of course I think the law should be involved in those cases, but it just begs the question.
 Where is the line drawn?
When are the choices parent have to make every day going to become illegal? And who gets to decide the exact "right" way to raise your child?
To clear things up, I am not anti government control or against laws about car seats or things that keep kids safe. I just often wonder about how much parenting can be questioned now a days.  And it makes a bit wary having 2 kids and learning and trying to be the best parent I can be for them and myself.
Dare I bring it up, but the hugely controversial vaccines debate always brings this to my mind too. If a parent vaccinated their child and signs the form saying she knows the risks and benefits, but that child ends up dying from that vaccine ( apparently there is a teeny tiny chance that this can happen with any vaccine because of unknown reasons, read the fine print:) will that parent be blamed? She knew the risk, and decided, because of the benefits to go ahead and vaccinate, yet her child was ultimatly harmed. And the same can go for anti vacciners. If they don't vaccinate their child and he gets the measles and passes away, or even more gives it to another child and that child passes away, can the mother be charged with Manslaughther? 
For the record, I am pro vaccination, but I do understand there are risks involved in any choice I make as a parent.
I could talk about this forever. Things from drinking wine during pregnancy, ( or even eating sushi) to letting your kids ride their bikes around with no helmet all cross my mind from time to time. As parents we have to decide the best and safest way to raise our kids according to us. Isn't that part of the glory and fear of being parents? But when should it be left up to the parent and when shouldn't it? I don't know the answer... I wish I did. I guess it's just one more thing that will keep me up at night! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

To the First Time Mom

Ok, So... ( I feel like I start out a lot of my blogs like that) .... anyway, as many of you know and have heard, once you have a child or are expecting one, every mother on the planet will bombard you advice and suggestions on everything from getting your child to sleep, what is the best formula and even tips on how basically how to have the perfect baby. Every mom (myself included) it seems, can't wait to share her opinion on how to raise your child. Every mother is insistent that her way is best. I remember it being way over whelming when I was pregnant with Max. So much so that I didn't even look up or google things, I stopped asking people questions about labor, newborns and the whole child thing in general. I heard so much advice that I didn't know where to turn. I was confused and went with the ideal that I would just figure out this "MOM" thing as I go. After all, people had been doing it for years so how hard can it be? Although I did hear the advice many times that I should just follow my "Mommy Gut" when it came to making decisions for my child, and I gotta tell ya, as a first time mom, I honestly just thought this so called mothers instinct would kick in like people said and I would just know what to do all the time, because duh, I had  a child now, I knew what I was doing.
Well, I found out quick that I absolutely did not know what to do at all. That so called Mom's instinct was very slight, and I mostly doubted it. I didn't know how to trust myself with this new role I had been given. I was lost.
I started looking into that ever-annoying baby advice that I had so easily cast off while I was pregnant. I searched for anything that could help. It was embarrassing for me to ask for help/advice. It was like I was admitting I was failing at the "most natural job" on earth. Fortunately for me, I have some very honest sisters and a mom who tell all tell me the cold hard truth about raising babies. I am so thankful for that because so many times did I hear the words from acquaintances like " Being a Mom is hard, but it is so worth it!" or " Babies are amazing, you will just be so happy all the time!". Seriously. Hearing vague words like that about babies when you are struggling to not cry all the time because you don't know what the freak you are doing as a mom is.. well... less than helpful...

 Hearing HONEST, TRUE, REAL LIFE ADVICE is one the main things that helped me through the hard times. Not some, Hallmark version of motherhood, but the real stuff. The stuff that sucks to hear, the stuff that only a true best friend, a sister or a mom will admit to you... motherhood is not always pretty, it can be downright depressing.

So, in an attempt to reach other first time moms who may be struggling but afraid to ask in fear of getting a thousand mixed answers or the glossed over version. I asked a few mom friends I know (on a Mothers With Questions Facebook page that my sister and I started so we could go and ask the tough mom questions) what HONEST advice they would give to first time moms or moms struggling with the job. So, if you aren't worn out from endless mom advice here are a few tips I wish I had known before giving birth and hopefully will help realize you are not alone!

Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. You feel like you should be able to "do it all" and know what to do. The reality is mommy does need a break and get some rest to be able to function (although it's a lot less than you thought possible). Also even if you have several children, everyone is different. It always helps to have some mom friends that you trust for advice. You don't have to take any of it, but a fresh perspective is always helpful.
 For first time moms I buy some variation of the following "must haves" depending on budget: Tylenol, motrin, baby q-tips, baby toothbrush, Aquaphor (for chapped cheeks), saline, pedialyte, mylocon or gripe water, mam pacifiers, homedics sound spa, and a nose frida. I also like to buy "On the Night You Were Born". Such a sweet book.

I also tell moms that when they take baby's blood in the hospital to have them use a heating pack on their heel. This makes the process SO much easier. The first person that took my daughter's blood didn't use it and she screamed and screamed and ended up with a bruised heel. The next day another nurse came in and used a heating pack - not a peep. I felt so awful for day one.

 I wish someone told me it was ok to tell people no. So many people wanted me to go places to show them Baby and then people wanted to come over all the time and it was so over whelming to me to try to plan things out I just wanted to be left alone and get used to my new life and get settled in but I felt so guilty like all these people want to see the baby and I'm being selfish not letting them. If I had to go somewhere I literally cried because it stressed me out so much. That only lasted a few weeks but I felt really bad. I wish someone would have told me just say no maybe in a few weeks. And also I learned this quick not to stress out when baby cries. I realize it's a hard one. But I just felt like if he was fed and full. Clean. And there was nothing wrong sometimes babies just cry. So if I knew he was ok I would just hold him and read my book while he cried or put him in his pack and play. I really felt like he cried more when I stressed out. But could be just me. Oh and breastfeeding is really hard! But worth it. But really stupid hard!
     I would say that there are going to be things that don't go as you hoped or planned. There will be curve balls that are frustrating and scary. But that Gods plans and vision for you as a parent are so much bigger than your own. You may not be able to have the all natural birth you hoped for or breastfeeding as long as you wanted. There are lots of little things that seem big in the scheme of things. They will pass, and all that matters is that you love your child unconditionally and do your best. I'm still a newbie and learning every day that I can't be perfect and that there is grace when I'm not!.
  •  Sometimes your instinct as a mom is better than any people around you advice and books you read- trust your gut! Be flexible! It WILL be hard at times, you will break down and cry often but it's normal(even if you look around and it 'appears' all the moms around you have it together), it's worth it, and focus on all the awesome moments that far outweigh the tough ones! You are strong, beautiful, and capable!
  • I felt totally inadequate as a mom when Baby 1 was born and throughout his first year. Definitely fell victim to comparing myself to the "super mom" that exists only in my imagination and on Pinterest. The Lord spoke to that lie of inadequacy a lot during my pregnancy with my second through friends and my time with him. So I'd tell a first time mom that though she won't be a perfect person (because who is?) she will be the perfect mother for that baby. Regardless of how much she enjoys or doesn't enjoy throwing huge birthday parties, or her stance on vaccination, or if she breastfeeds, or if she gives them a LOT of peanut butter and jelly instead of well rounded organic meals... (we go thru an insane amount of peanut butter at our house)... All of these things are not what make you a "good mom." A good mom is someone who loves her children well, and that looks really different for each person because all kids and all mothers are really different. That's what I'd say! Oh and I second breastfeeding being stupid hard
  •  The only thing I can think to add is to not overshop. We ended up with way more clothes than he needed and an annoying amount of toys and stuffed animals. All of the baby gear sounds necessary, but you can probably do without most if the budget is tight. We had a cute jumperoo that Baby only used for about 2 weeks.
  •  Be prepared to throw all your plans in the trash.  Babies are unpredictable and change all plans you may have also if she's going to bf then be prepared for hourly feeding the first week or two. .. It's normal!
  • New moms-look into belly binding. I really wish I would have. (I have 3 kids, ages 4, 2, and 9 months). And have a split in my abdominal muscles that I'm still trying to heal. If you have a "mummy tummy" look into Diastasis Recti, might help you

  •  When my daughter was born I planned to breastfeed. That first week though was hell. I seriously was considering giving it up but both my mom and my doctor kept telling me that if I could just make it through that first week it would get so much better. They were right. And, don't hesitate to utilize a lactation consultant. I do say this even though my lactation consultant wasn't really good. I ended up learning a lot through La Leche League (can just Google it). They had some great videos online so I guess if you can't get a lactation consultant or you have a crappy one like mine there's always that.....
  • Yes, ask for help with boobie feeding. Its hard and it can really suck and be painful. If it wasn't for the lactation consultants, I never would have made it as far as I did. But on the same side, don't fear formula, your doing just fine if that's what needs to happen or if you make that decision. Your sanity is whats most important... speaking of sanity, don't be afraid to ask for help for yourself. The baby blues and Post Partum Depression are scary and can come on super quick. We all react in different ways to childbirth and that little thing is a blessing but can give massive stress too. You aren't failing as a mom, it takes help to get through those rough patches... they will pass, everything does, but it can seem like the end of the world at the time...
  • My biggest piece of advice is to not let everything you read and hear in trying to do things "right" get so loud in your head that it overwhelms your ability to find your instinct. Yes, it's helpful to listen to advice from mothers who have been there,done that, and consult them when you have questions - but you ultimately get to make the decisions and you will not always know what's right and often times you just have to give it your best guess.
    But the sooner you become in-tune to your "mommy gut" the better off you'll be and the easier all those choices and decisions will be for you. Because ultimately, YOU get to make the choices that work not only for your child, but also work best for YOU.
    The sooner you learn to own the choices you make for yourself and your family, the more confident you'll become about your mothering ability
     I'd say to not get offended when people offer advice and suggestions. If you like what they have to say, cool; learn something from it. If you don't agree with what they have to say, then just say thanks for the suggestion and let it roll off. There's no time to get "offended" by other people disagreeing with your mothering choices. Who cares what they think? I mean, there's no need to be rude to people offering suggestions either (most have good intentions and are just trying to help), but don't yourself get bent out of shape if you disagree either

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015

    Just about Max!

    Just decide to write a quick blog about Max. Not sure if anyone cares, but here is what he has been up to lately:)
    He is a funny kid who really likes to identify things. He points out things he sees all the time! He will go to someone new house and go around and point out the fridge and the microwave and couch and TV. He is really into flags recently and he and Jeffrey go over flag of the world every night, he has a flag poster in his bedroom and loves to point out all the flag he knows. Which, for the record, is more flags than I know. He knows nearly all the European flags... It's actually pretty impressive. 

    He also really loves his trains. He will play with them more than any other toy and loves him Thomas movies! He always wants someone to play with him. He loves doing puzzles and playing with cars and planes. He makes the sound affects for them and it is so cute! He likes to build things. Mostly he is into mazes and car washes and garges. He likes Jeffrey and I to build them too and then he likes to destroy them. He laughs a lot! I am so thankful I have such an easy to please kid. 

    He loves the moon and tries to find it every time we go outside, day or night. He loves watching the stop lights as we drive and tell me what each light means and when I need to stop or go.
    He absolutely loves to play at parks, playgrounds and play places more than anything else! Once he sees one it is impossible to not let him play on it. He could actually play for hours and if other kids are playing too, it make it even better, he loves playing with other kids! He is a little bit of a climber and always finds wierd way to climb on things. He is not shy kid at all and loves to give " big hugs" and kisses! He talks to everyone and likes to tell people random things. Whenever he sees babies he pats them on the head and says"nice baby" , and then leaves them alone. 

    He is very loud and likes to make noises of all kinds. He knows how to fake cry too and it's actually pretty hilarious. He is doing pretty well at potty training, mostly trained during the day. And it's nice not using diapers anymore. He does like to talk about his poop and pee though and he hasn't mastered always getting pee in the toilet. He talks a lot and is always listening to us even when we think he isn't. He remembers so much and can repeat things back all the time.  

    He knows a lot of Spanish words. Jeffrey has been reading to him in Spanish since he was a baby and max asks me all time who to say something in Spanish and I have to say " uh, we have to ask dada when he gets home". 

    He is super ticklish and loves having his back scratched. He loves the song " wheels on the bus" and I have to sing it to him every night before bed. Although he will never sing it for me when I ask, I often hear him singing to himself while he lays in bed at night. It is the cutest thing! 

    He also loves playing with the iPad. We have to set timers for him and every time the timer goes off he looks up at me and smiles, like he's trying to get away with still playing even when his time is up. He really likes watching you tube videos of car washes and kids playing with Thomas the train. 

    He is still a picky eater. Foods he loves are chicken nuggets, all types of cheese, yogurt, French fries, grapes, blueberries, crackers, hummus, ice cream, cupcakes, green beans, bananas, mandarin oranges , goldfish, food pouches, spaghetti, bread, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, fish sticks, macaroni, and Popsicles!
    Food he hates and I cannot get him to eat are hot dogs, any kind of beef, any new type of veggie, or basically anything new at all. It is so hard to get him to try new things,  it once he does he usally likes it. 

    He is a pretty decent sleeper  most of the time, but likes to play during nap time and doesn't always sleep. He has to have his Lovey to sleep and still has to listen to the waves on his sound machine.

    I love my little boy so much more than I ever thought possible! He is a super funny kid and does wierd things sometimes! I thank God for my little 2 1/2 year old boy every day!

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Getting older, and looking it

    As with most of my blog posts, I have been wanting to write this one for a while. I have been thinking about this topic for the past 6 months, just wondering how to put it into words with out sounding completely lame, well I don't think I can, so I am just going to write about it anyway.

    So I am 28 years old
    While I am not dumb enough to call this age actually "old" I also have to admit that is not exactly "young" in the most general use of the word. For some reason or another, turning and being 28 has felt pretty hard on me. Now, I know some of you who are older will just role your eyes and say ' Oh, Please!" but just bare with me, It has been hard on me in the fact that this is the first age where I have actually said to myself " Wow, you can't really be young and dumb anymore". Up until this age I never gave age that much thought. I would simply reassure myself that
     "Oh, I am just in my early 20's, or mid 20's, plenty of people this age are still figuring out life and you have plenty of time to figure out yours" 

    When your a teenager all you want to do is grow up and be the ever glorified 21! It seems like this amazing age and time to be free and young, and it really is! Than after that, age isn't nearly as exciting, but even so there are alot of things I was looking forward to at that age. I graduated college at 22, got married at 23 and still felt young enough not to have any pressure to have kids anytime soon. I was looking forward to starting a career and being a cool young adult. I remember even wanting to be a few years older, because a lot of people in the working world didn't take a young 20 something very seriously. I wanted to not be seen as some young kid anymore. Turning 25 was an awesome time for me! I had lost some weight and was doing good in my job and felt great! I was still young , but old enough too! Although my dad had always said that age 25 is the last age where you are at the peak of your life (physically) after that starts the slow decline into old age haha. So I was determined to make that age count, and I did. Ultimately, I got pregnant at 25 and had Max at 26 years old. For me, that age was perfect timing. I didn't feel too old, or too young to have a baby. Age wise, my life was turning out the way I always thought it would. And after I had Max I was way too overwhelmed and stressed to even worry about aging or anything else (which is and has been the topic of many other blogs :)  But then all of sudden I was turning 28!\

    At this point things had settled down enough with Max and I was back to my normal self, which sadly had some age damage. I started noticing people my own age looking "rough" seeing photos on Facebook or even in real like of people I hadn't seen in years and being able to tell how they aged was a real shocker to me, Before this age, People, women specifically tend to get better looking, but at this age, most of us have hit our PEAK and have started the decline, Some men, on the other hand, tend to get better looking even into their 40's, sorry ladies, its just the way it is. Now, I know in 10, 5 years or even  1 year I will read back on this blog and role my own eyes and think how good I looked then compared to now haha, but this is just to mark my first year int he realization and effect of aging. I started looking at actresses in their late 20s and early 30s to see how the best of women are aging. I recently started watching the show "Once Upon A Time" and the main character on there, Emma is supposed to be 28 years old, when I saw that I kept saying to Jeff, "No way is she 28, she looks so much older!" Don't get me wrong she is still pretty and looks good, but just looked older than 28 to me, That's when the realization hit me that 28 isn't really that young and I was scared people say that about me, So I gave in and IMDB'd her. Jennifer Morrison,
    the actress, turned out to be about 30 when she made the first season back in 2011. So, yes, she was older than 28, but not by much and that made me have a little bit of a reality.

    Anyway looking at people roughly the same age as me I could really tell who had taken care of themselves and who hadn't. Sorry, but you can tell the ones who tanned and don't wear sunscreen. You can tell the ones who take care of themselves and try to keep up with fashion trends, you can tell the ones who have completely fallen into the "mom world" and sort of given up. Some of us look worse for wear at only age 28.This is just the first year I have been able to actually SEE this aging happening and it kind of through me a little. 

    I have been aware of wrinkles and people looking older when I was in high school because of the kids moms I used to see. Let me explain, when I was maybe in second grade there was this kid's mom who used to come in and help out a lot in the classroom. I would see her a lot, she was nice and I always thought she was pretty. Fast forward to high school when I hadn't seen this mom in a about 8 years, I suddenly see her again and was shocked! I distinctly remember seeing the extra wrinkles on her face and the way she just "seemed' older. It was really wierd for me. Now, I really don't know how old she was, maybe mid 40s? But I just couldn't believe how much she had changed (or my perception of her) had changed just a few years. Since that time and when I spotted my first forehead wrinkle at the age of 17, I have been concerned about looking too old. Its just one thing that young people tend to take advantage of and not realize will always be there. 
    You can ask my little sisters, I bug them about always taking off their makeup at night, especially eye makeup! Using moisturizer, putting sunscreen on and so forth. Sorry girls, but I think you will thank me later:)

    Overall, I just wasn't feeling my best at age 28. I just felt like I looked older, and it was making me feel a bit down. The dark circles under my eyes looked deeper, the crows feet by my eyes were getting more noticeable and even my teeth looked less white. Even people who have amazing diets, work out all the time and only drink water, still age in the face. Its true to say. 

    Not only was I looking older, but feeling older too, not physically, but emotionally Nearing age 30 make me feel like I should have my life figured out. Mainly with kids. So many of my friends with kids Max's age are pregnant again, or already have another child. I feel like I should know when/if we want to have another kid, because I feel like the biological clock is starting to tick if we want more than one more.  I should know if I ever want to go back to work, I should have my freaking student loan paid off. I should be able to enjoy cooking and be able to be an awesome Mom who cooks for her husband and kids, So many things I thought I would be be this age and not only do I not know, its showing on the lines on my face.

    In conclusion, this ended up being a very long, disorganized blog with a lot of typos. 

    I'm not really sure how I want to end this blog either....if you made it this far reading you are probably hoping for a big positive finish or something to make that long read worth while. Well, I may disappoint you. 

    The truth is....aging is a part of life. A part most young people don't think about. We will not stay young and in our prime forever. Life goes faster the older you get and your body shows your years. Taking care of yourself is important, but just because we look older, doesn't mean we are any worse. 

    There will always be someone skinnier, younger, and richer than you no matter what

    I still struggle with looking older and often wish I could have my pre- baby 17 year old body and pre wrinkled skin back, but I can't. And as my mom always reminds me, we aren't getting any younger than you are right this second. so  flaunt what you have and be proud of what you have done in your life. My mom is always proud of her age and never was ashamed to admit how old she was. When I was younger I didn't really think much of it, but I can see the merit in that now and it inspires me to try to and be proud of my age and what I look like. Yes, I look older at age 28 then I did at 21 and I will still look older with every passing year, but that is just a fact of life.

    Aging doesn't have to be a bad thing. Like everything in life. It is what we make it!

    My Mom and I after she convinced me to wear this crop top dress after I was feeling self conscious about it being too "young and edgy" for me. She said "Wear it now because you look amazing and you're only this young now. Don't have regrets because your only going to get older and then you wont get the chance".
    Thanks Mom!

    -Oh, I want to add that I think women can look fabulous at any age! I am not trying to say we only get uglier as we get older, just that we look older. Beauty is the person, not the age. It is what we make it!

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    Being Thrifty.

    So it's been over 6 months since I last blogged! Yikes! I guess I have had a lot of other stuff to do, or I haven't thought anything was interesting enoug to blog about, either way, I am going to try and be better about that.

    So this blog, about being thrifty, is something I have wanted to write for a long time, but I know people get weird when talking about money. I am not sure why, but it makes people feel uncomfortable, anxious and sometimes, down right upset when talking about money. I have never been one of these people. To me, money is money. You need it to survive, some people have a lot, some people don't. But as long as you do the best you can with what you have, why should you embarrassed of that? Idk, today, I consider myself a part of the  middle class America, when it comes to family income. Although, when you google salary of middle class American salary it tells you something way higher than what we have, so maybe I'm a lot poorer than I thought? 

    Anyway, I feel like it's okay to talk about money, because if have hardly had any before. In college, and immediately after,  I worked several jobs just to make payments. I recall several times where I put 50 cents- 1$ of gas in my car so I could make it work without running out of gas,just so I could use all the tips is made that night into a tank of gas. I used to go to laundramats and not use dyer sheets, because it didn't want to pay 5$ for them. Back in the days when people didn't have passwords on their wifi, I knew every place in the house that I could sit to steal the neighbors wifi. I would eat a left over baked potato from work every night for dinner, because that was the only food they would have to throw out at the end of have nights and I could get it for free:) Now, I wasn't destitute or anything, I just learned how to live life REALLy cheap! I saved where I could so I could occasionally afford the things I wanted to. 
    Although, I don't have to scrimp anymore, I still really like to save money where I can. It gives me a thrill to know I paid way less than someone else for an item. I love it when someone compliments my outfit and asks when I got it and I say "the thrift store!" . I love admitting to someone that I scored an awesome deal on something, or that I got it used. I am not ashamed of being cheap At All! Now, I do spend money on things, but saving the small stuff makes me feel better about spending on the important things. So, here is a list of ways I save money, and please comment on this blog if you have any other great money saving ideas!

    1. Like mentioned above, go to thrift stores! I really do like to shop, and when I really feel like buying something I just visit my local thrift stores. Yes, sometimes there is just a bunch of junk in them, but searching for good stuff is part of the fun! More often then not, you can find a great deal on everything! Plus, most thrift stores/ second hand stores profits go towards some sort of charity. So not only are spending way less, you are helping someone else out too. Plus there are some awesome thrift store apps I use to buy clothes for Max and myself. My favorite one is called thredUP. It has lots of womens and kids clothes for great deals!

    2. Facebook yard sale pages. These are great because you can request that you are looking for something specific, or you can just browse around. Plus, you can negotiate on pricing. Being a military spouse, pretty much EVERY single base has at least 1 Facebook resale page, it is super easy, plus I know every community or city/ town has them too, just search for your town and I'm sure you'll find a ton! These aren't just good for buying, but also for selling any used item you have that you are not longer using. Take advantage of these sites people!

    3. Do your research. If I am looking for a specific item, I always look around online first. The search up always starts with for me. I scour reviews from other buyers and the when I decide the item will work for me, I immediately browse around online to find if I can buy it anywhere cheaper. Usually Amazon wins out as the cheapest, but not always. Speaking of Amazon, if you are a frequent buyer (like me) sing up for Amazon prime. It is a yearly subscription that allows free shipping on a lot of items! Really worth it if you buy even just a few things a year! Also on Amazon, (can you tell how much I LOVE Amazon!) they have an option called "subscribe and save" where items that you usually purchase on a regular basis can be automatically shipped to you with a pretty good discount. This is an awesome service for things like diapers, vitamins, or food that you buy all the time. Cheaper and it just come to you in the mail as often as you want! If there is something you get often, check it out on Amazon subscribe and save! So I could go on and on about Amazon and their services....I just love them!

    4. Coupon. Ok so I am not a crazy couponer. I don't have a stockpile or get most of my groceries for free. I do however, think saving a few bucks every week at the grocery store really adds up. It can be difficult to get started and I'm not always the best couponer, but I work at it. For me, I only use coupons for things I would regularly buy anyway. Maybe I'll switch a brand name here and there if it's a good deal. On average, I save about 10-15$ bucks a grocery store run, so maybe 35ish$ a month that I saved. That's 420$ a year! That's your MOT and ROAD TAX for the year if you love in the UK!  Coupons rules vary per store and state, and getting coupons is different too. If you're interested in couponing just google it for your area and I'm sure you'll find tons of info of how to save!

    5. Spend money on things that count. For me. I'll spend a good amount of money on things you are going to use for years! I will always pay good money for a good pair of jeans. How often do you and will you wear a pair of jeans? A lot! How often do you wear that cute 40$ tank top? Maybe a few times? No comparison. It's the same with kids stuff, which we all know can cost an arm and a leg. Spend a money of a good quality car seat that you can use for many years, don't spend 100$ on a brand new baby swing that you will maybe use for 4 months. Those are the things you can buy used. Send money on things that are important to you. For me, I get my hair cut and colored often. I mean I get my hair cut every 6-8 weeks and colored every other time. For some women that seems like a lot, and it does add up with costs. However, my sister used to say, "Your hair is the only accessory you carry every single day, so take care of it". I like splurging on my hair, and because I save else where, it makes it ok. Now, I am sure everyone else has things that are important to them to spend money on and that's ok too. Just think about what is most important to you to spend money on, and go down the list. The bottom stuff you can either go without, or buy used. It's pretty simple:)

    Well, that's my basic list, thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing other ways to save!

    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    European Discoveries

    So one of the reasons I started this blog, nearly 2 years ago, was to tell all my friends and family, who are an ocean away, about my life in Europe. Well, looking at all my previous blog posts, it hasn't really been used for those purposes. It has been mostly filled with new mom struggles and high lights . Well, what can I say, that has basically been my life while I lived here, so  I didn't have too much time to enjoy and discover my surroundings. But now that Max is nearing the big TWO, and I feel like I have a little bit of a handle on this "mom" thing. I have recently been able to do and learn a lot more about this amazing country/continent that I live in!
     I have a huge, jam packed,and  fun filled summer planned as I do intend to blog about our trips and keep everyone updated about those places! I can't wait to get out more and explore this amazing place while I can!
    So basically, this blog will serve as a compacted, random overview of what I have learned, experienced and discovered about Europe thus far.

    - I feel like this a little random to start out with, but something I have really noticed about British people, at least the people in the area that I live, will travel far but not near. Travel to other countries is much more prevalent here. It seems like with any chance to take a holiday (vacation), the people here jump at it and go. They will travel to Spain, Greece, and other far away places, but they won't travel to a city a few hours away. For example, the girl who does my hair, who happens to be the same age as me, said she hadn't been to London in over 20 years... and she has lived in this same place( which is about 2 hours away from London) her whole life. What? I have found that that is not uncommon for Brits. They will explore other countries, but won't travel to other cities within England. I am not sure why this is, but thought it was interesting.
    Oh, and when I am talking to random Brits, most all of them have been to the US before. And when I ask which part, the majority say.....Florida. I still think this is weird, as I always thought it would be New York , Los Angeles, or even Las Vegas, but apparently, Florida is the most popular US destination. (from the people I have talked with)

    -I have learned so much more about geography! So I am not sure if you saw that link floating around Facebook a while ago about random Europeans trying to name the US states, but everyone thought it was hilarious.  Here it is- However, I thought they did really good considering, you give that same map to the average American adult and see if they can do much better. Or even worse, try and get the average American to name the European countries! . Anyway, I am proud to say I can name the location of the majority of European countries and actually know the locations of the major England cities. I have to admit that before I came here, I didn't even have any idea where in England, London was located. (go a head you try and find it on a blank map of England!) Plus, I can now determine the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England... They are different, but also the same, it is very confusing, but I think I have it now:)

    - I really like milk in my black tea now. I never would have considered putting milk in my tea back home, but I find myself loving a good British  tea with milk and sugar around 2pm....aww just love it! I have a feeling it will be one of the things I take back to the states with me.

    - People are the same, and yet completely different from Americans. When looking at it broadly, British families are just the same as American families. They take their kids to the park, enjoy dinners together, go out to with friends, hang out and so much more. All in all, we do the same things, just differently. Houses and pantries are tiny here, so no one bulk grocery shops! They buy enough groceries for a few days and then head back to the store a few days later.

    -Even small things, that I noticed are different. For example, outdoor swimming pools in England are almost non existent! I did some research and found like 4 in the entire country. Back in the US, even colder states have outdoor swimming pools at least open for a few months. I truly miss swimming with the sun beating down on me.

    -Another thing, people really don't wear shorts...I mean they do sometimes, but its not a staple of clothing. it just doesn't get warm enough, and along the clothing line. It is true that Brits dress way nicer than Americans. I honestly have never seen sweat pants and a hug baggy t-shirts on Brits. Never would they ever be seen in pajama pants! And thank goodness, I do wish Americans would take some note of this and realize it doesn't hurt you to throw on a tad nicer clothing...

    -A thing I have enjoyed about living here is the random words they have that are different from America. Learning to say "crisps" when talking about potato chips and saying "chips" when talking about french fries are some of the small things that are fun about being here. More things than you think, have different names here in England and despite popular belief in the US, most people call the bathroom the "toilet" not the "loo". I have only seen the toilet labeled the "loo" once since being here and I remember it distinctly.

    - Something that does bug me about here is that everything closes so early! Malls and stores close at 5 or 6 on weekdays and usually earlier on weekends and it is hard to find open stores at all on Sundays. I often wonder when the working person has time to go to these stores. All it would take is for one store to stay open late, even until 8pm and they would see how awesome it it for business lol. Idk, maybe there is a law against open hours (they do have some strange rules like that) .

    I know I have more to share, but that is all that is coming into my head now, keep a look out for more European based blogs though!

    ****Some of the things we have planned coming up are:  Horse Races at Newmarket Races in 2 weeks,  Glamping (glamorous camping) in Wales  for my birthday weekend, also a  long Memorials Day weekend in Cornwall (most southern part of England with beaches). Also Jeffrey is going to Normandy for a long ruck march and to view the battlefields for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day (Max and I haven't decided if we will be joining yet), but lastly we have a Paris trip planned in July to of course visit all around Paris and Paris Disney!


    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Living is a Calculated Risk

    So, everyday that I scroll through my Facebook page (which, lets face it, is several time every single day) I am flooded with news articles that have been shared by my friends. The ones that always pop out to me are the articles about a new certain type of miracle food that helps prevent cancer, or will make you live longer. Everyday sometime new is apparently "discovered" that is "proven" to keep you healthier. One day doctors (well, the doctors that are always quoted on these circulating articles) are telling us to get some sun because it contains vitamin D, which is good for your health, but wait, not too much, make sure you wear sunscreen, or wait, sunscreen is toxic, don't wear it, its evil, but don't get sunburned either, you could get melanoma, but wait still get sun on you or you will get a deficiency, and get sick....

    It seems like now-a-days there is an article "proving" everything you wish to believe. I have seen article after article shared on Facebook about so many terrible things you can do from articles about how Ipad's can melt your childs brain to how no one should use shampoo because it gives you brain cancer, to how eating even one helping of french fries from Mcdonalds will make you die earlier....Now, the majority of these articles make some sense, and I know people share them because they generally are trying to help and raise awareness for things they believe can be prevented. But, so many people love to glorify their way of life and health, that I can't help but be reminded that we don't have any control over how or when we die.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying to do whatever you want because in the end it doesn't matter, I am not endorsing un-healthy lifestyles, nor am I endorsing super healthy lifestyles. I think people should do whatever makes them happy and realize that everything we do in our lives is simply a calculated risk.
     In reality, if you wanted to live the longest and be the healthiest person, if that is your goal, you could work out all day, eat only home grown fruits and vegetables, raw milk and sleep exactly 8 hours every single night. Never sit around and watch TV, don't ever call anyone on the phone (cell phones can give you brain caner too, haven't you heard?), don't drive anywhere to meet anyone (car accidents are one of the most likely way people die) never take public transportation (OMG have you seen all those reports about how germ filled the subway is? you could get sick!) Maybe you could sit and learn things on your computer (Oh wait, no, that screen will make you go blind) Maybe you could read, an actual book that is, (is that still safe?).

    Does anyone live like that? Maybe a select paranoid few, but really the majority of us take these risks everyday. Why? so we can live a full and  happy life. Everyone needs to do what they think is best for themselves and their own family or course, but I can't help but wonder about when everyone got so worked up about safety? Again, I am not saying safety is bad and we shouldn't do anything to protect ourselves from the dangers of this world, but lets face it, you can't protect yourself from everything if you want to actually live life.

    I guess this topic has been in my mind since becoming a parent. Even before Max was born I did and looked up everything about how to keep my baby safe. Tiny things from like what type of non- toxic detergent to use on his clothes to plastic toys he shouldn't touch. I was determined to have a perfectly safe child. However, a year and half into this parenting thing, I have realized that I can't prevent everything, as scary as that sounds, its true. We can do our best to keep drawers locked, chocking hazards at unreachable levels, and to offer healthy foods. I could keep him locked inside and never let him ride a bike or eat ice cream or even watch kid movies, I could protect him from so many things that I think harmful, but should I? If I let him ride a bike, he will probably fall off at some point, scrape up his leg, maybe even break his arm....I could prevent him from having this pain by simply not letting him ride a bike....but is it worth taking away the pain and also taking away the joy that comes with bike riding? This topic, like so many deserves a healthy balance of acceptance that we can't control everything, with the fact that we can prevent only a little.

    To reiterate for the third time, I think my friends that live super healthy and safe lives are great, and if that is what makes their lives full and happy, then good for them, but I personally have accepted that I don't really control my life. God does. I will do my best to raise my child up in a happy healthy environment, but I have also accepted that there are many things I can't control. Am I going to worry that my child will end up obese because we eat fast food once a week? No. Am I going to worry that my flight might crash when I fly home to visit my family? No. I have decided some risks are worth taking to live my life to the fullest, the way I think God intended all of us to do. I know that there is the chance that something bad could always happen, but if we focus on that all the time, then we have no time to focus on the good or happy parts of life. We all are going to die one day, no matter how green you eat, how many time a week you work out, or how much you protect yourself. So, might as well life you life to the fullest every day and not worry about the bad things that inevitably will happen at some point. We only have one life to live, make the most of it!

    -Sorry, this blog is a bit unorganized, but it was just my thoughts for the day so take it or leave it:)