Tag Archives: reflections

A Blissdom Series: Blissdom vs. BlogHer

This weekend was life changing.

I feel like I’ve said this before, but I guess I say that after leaving a lot of conferences because when you choose the right one’s you leave feeling uplifted, inspired, and rejuvenated. And that’s the way I felt after leaving the Blissdom Conference this weekend. 

I have so much to process and think through (which I’ll share in later posts), and hopefully implement in the future! But for now, the one thing my brain wants to process first  . . .how does Blissdom compare to BlogHer? 

It’s so completely different . . .but similar at the same time! 

After working through some of my mental notes, I realized there are 4 major differences, and I’m not quite sure if those differences are good or bad. So you tell me! 

BlogHer and Blissdom both begin with registration and sponsor booths on Thursday with the actual conference kicking off on Friday and running through Saturday. 

Both start with a breakfast; although at BlogHer some of the breakfasts are “by invitation only” or for newcomers only. Blissdom provides breakfast on both days. 

BlogHer is very intense with sessions running back to back with very few breaks. There’s usually a short 30 minute break in the morning, a short break in the afternoon while they set up for the Closing Keynote, and of course a longer break for lunch (which is provided both days); however, there’s usually a notable keynote speaker during lunch so although you’re “resting” you’re still processing. 

Blissdom is the opposite of this. Blissdom classes only last an hour. With fewer, shorter sessions, they allow for longer and more frequent breaks. Meals are done on your own; with the exception of lunch on Friday.   

The benefit of Blissdom is there’s more time to visit the sponsor booths, meet new people and have conversations with other bloggers, and enjoy some down time before heading off to the next session or event. The downside is there can often be too many breaks. 

By the end of the day Saturday, the breaks seemed to get longer and longer; especially once all the sponsors had been visited. This might discourage people from staying as there was a lot of sitting around waiting for the final Keynote. 

BlogHer and Blissdom are very similar with how they run their sessions. Both have “tracks” that you can choose to follow. 

Blissdom has 4; Photography, Writing, Life Development, and Business. 

BlogHer gets a little more specific with The Personal, The Political, The Professional, The Technical, The Writing, and The Visual; plus a few other “personal” tracks like The Geek Bar and Room of Your Own. 

Both bring in experts of their fields to speak in these sessions; however, BlogHer chooses to use a panel of experts in most of the sessions rather than a solo speaker like Blissdom.

Blissdom offers time to process in each session with handouts and Q&A, where as BlogHer plans in Q&A, but length of content sometimes doesn’t allow for it. 

This is where I discovered the drastic difference between the two conferences. 

BlogHer attendees are very introverted. Although you’re among thousands of women who do the same thing you do, you’ll often find it difficult to meet other people. In my opinion, the atmosphere of BlogHer is every woman for herself. 

Blissdom is not this at all! From the moment I walked through the doors of the Newcomer Meet N’ Greet, I felt welcome. There were community leaders there to make me feel at home and wanted, and that lead the way to an amazing weekend. Women walked up to me to introduce themselves, and these women introduced me to others. 

During breaks as I was meeting new people, I felt that women were open and honest and supportive of my goal and saw the benefit of communicating with one another. 

After Hours

I’m sure you’ve heard about the parties of BlogHer! Well, what you’ve heard is true! BlogHer parties are hoppin’ . . .IF you’re invited to them

BlogHer after hours parties are all exclusive with the exception of the few parties that are hosted at the hotel/convention center by BlogHer. 

Huge brands like Hasbro, Mattel, Bravado, etc. will all rent out large facilities and event centers to host “by invitation only” breakfasts, cocktail hours, and dance parties where they’ll throw amazing swag at you; so much you’re expected to bring an extra suitcase to ship everything home. The more brand parties you’re invited to, the more popular of a blogger you are!

Blissdom, once again, does the opposite. They don’t believe in segregation. Brands throw parties . . .but they’re for everyone. Sponsors will have suites during Blissdom, but they’re not private. Everything is designed to make you feel like you’re important and not a nobody. 

In the End. . .
Both conferences are beneficial and helpful to bloggers, but what expectations you go in with are different. I, personally, was looking for in BlogHer what I found in Blissdom. 

If you want to attend a conference and be with some of the best in their “blogging fields”, BlogHer will get you there. With amazing and informative sessions lead by some great speakers, you won’t be disappointed in the knowledge you’ve gained. 

If you want to attend a conference to feel like you’re a part of a loving community, Blissdom is the place for you. You won’t have as focused tracks (or a suitcase of swag), but you’ll leave feeling inspired and important. 

Have you attended both BlogHer and Blissdom?
 What were your thoughts of the conferences? 

Lessons From A Toddler With A Cast

We did it! 
We survived! 

This morning, the cast came off and is now a distant memory with only a slight limp (and a smelly cast in a bag) to remember it by. 

When the Little Man broke his leg 4 weeks ago, I honestly thought my world was coming to an end. 

I can clearly remember sitting in the ER with my husband laughing almost uncontrollably as my eyes filled with tears. I knew I needed a lesson in “letting go, and letting God,” but had never expected for it to happen at 34 weeks pregnant. 

Trying to regain control of my world and my sanity when the unthinkable (almost unbelievable) happens, through no fault of his own, my son breaks his leg, and we end up with a cast for 4 weeks. 

Well, we’ve reached the end, and I can only say I came out the other side alive and a happier person for it. 

If you ever find yourself going through the same experience, I have a few pointers and tips on how to help you make it through. Little facts I learned along the way that you might never have thought of until you’re in the situation, but pointers I wish I knew. 

When it goes on. . .
If you find yourself with a child getting a cast, the typical application visit will look something like this:
1) An orthopedist will examine the ER x-rays and perform a brief physical to confirm the break, severity, and discuss a plan of action. (This will last 10-15 minutes)
2) The cast goes on by a cast technician and assistant. They’ll usually have a parent hold onto the child at the table or in your lap while they do the wrap. Most children’s hospitals will allow you to select a cast color or pattern. 

If you’re a fun parent and know a cast is inevitable, think ahead about your color and order a cast tattoo! It’s a fun way to make it more exciting for your child and can probably even arrive around the time your cast goes on!

The whole process should only take about 15 minutes. They’re fast and comforting if they specialize in pediatrics!

3) You’ll go in for another x-ray to confirm the cast was set in place correctly. 
4) If the doctor approves the x-ray, you go on your way! They almost never have to reset the cast due to the x-ray results. 

Check for the rough spots! 
If you find your child in a cast, make sure the moment they put it on they apply moleskin padding or gauze to any rough parts that come in contact with the skin; especially if it’s a part that will have a lot of friction. For example, the upper part of the cast that comes in contact with the thigh or bottom, or the part that comes in contact with the elbow or under arm.

Within 4 days, we were back at the hospital because this worried mom already saw signs of skin irritation and redness. If I’d known to ask for the gauze first, we would have avoided an unnecessary traumatizing trip back for this simple fix! 

Wetness Happens 
Although they tell you to avoid getting the cast wet like it’s the plague, it’s going to happen! We limited the number of sponge baths we gave him down to 1 a week, used a plastic bag as protection, and he’d still wind up with cast dampness. There’s no way to avoid it. 

You can try a blow drier on the cool setting (if your child will allow you to get it near them!). But we found that air drying was the best method. We simply left his pants off and let him run around in a diaper until we felt most of the moisture had gone away. Whatever you do, DON’T use baby or talcum powder in or near the cast! It doesn’t soak up the moisture; it’ll only cause irritation and make it more itchy. 

Smells Happen
Another unpleasant result from the leg cast was the smelliness due to sweat and urination. We never thought a cast “symptom” would be bed-wetting, but it was! 

Because the cast went up to his upper thigh, we often found with his nighttime movement, the cast would pull his diaper away from his skin and cause leaking. Almost every other night he’d wake up in a puddle or we’d discover he’d leaked through his pants the next morning. 

We slowly learned to check his bed before we went to bed and change his diaper if it was slightly full or even just lay a towel down if we noticed dampness. This would help with his nighttime wakings, but often there wasn’t anything we could do. 

If his cast was wet the next morning, again, we simply let it air dry, but no matter how hard we tried, the cast was going to end up smelling like urine (and the doctor confirmed it was common.). 

A lovely bonus to add to all the other “fun” aspects of having a cast! 

A New Weapon  
If you end up with a leg cast, don’t be surprised if your toddler begins to realize it can be a fun toy to swing or hit with.

Banging sounds coming from his bed railing or wall was a frequent noise at bedtime, and small dents and paint scraps began to appear where he’d swing his leg before falling asleep. 

Never underestimate the power of a toddler in a cast! They quickly realize they feel no pain and find it to be a new and exciting toy! 

Over the last 4 weeks, my husband and I have had several almost broken noses, bruising, and I personally had a busted, bloody lip for 3 days as our son learned that swinging his 6 pound cast around was a new feeling! Eventually we learned to start covering our faces and using our strength to keep his leg down if we had to lay near him while he innocently experimented with the feeling. 

When it comes off. . .
This appointment is very similar to the first appointment only everything happens backwards. 
1)  The cast technician removes the cast using a cast saw. Don’t panic at the thought of a power tool near your child’s skin like I did! 

They place ear muffs on the child to help protect from the noise; although it’s not very loud if you’re not wearing them. 

The cast saw has a plastic safety that prevents the tech from cutting too deep, and they only cut the hard part of the cast which stops about 1/4″ away from the top and bottom. 

Then they use gauze scissors to cut the remaining pieces off, and then, in two sections it simply pops off! 

This is where I thought my son would flip out, but he was so fascinated by what they were doing, he barely moved once the sound of the saw started. Afterwards I realized he didn’t even have the ear muffs over his ears! (But I hear this isn’t typical! Don’t be surprised if you’re having to hold your child down as they’re freaking out. Sorry if this is you!) 

Again, this took maybe 5-8 minutes. 

2) The tech will look for any irregularities on the skin. 

In our case, she found a redness and borderline blistering on his heel, so she asked us to not let him walk until he’d been seen by the doctor.

3) You’ll have 1 more x-ray to determine if the break has healed. 

4) The doctor will examine the x-rays, followed by a 
visual exam to see any irregularities or skin issues. 

We were warned to avoid the urge to scrub his legs with a loofa or brush to get off the dead skin. The skin is extra sensitive and will only cause more irritation that way. Any type of lotion or moisturizer would be fine to use and helpful as itching is expected. 

The doctor will also try to get the child moving the limb to help them begin the process of reusing the muscles, and discuss what’s expected going forward. 

As long as everything healed properly, and there are no follow-up concerns. . .you’re done! 

With our morning appointment, we were in and out within 45 minutes! 

After Effects of a Leg Cast

We were told it would take about 5 weeks for him to back to 100% normalcy. There’d be a 2 week period where he might walk as if he were still in a cast and adjusting to using his muscles again. 

Knee-buckling, frequent falls, not bending his knee, throwing his leg around are all normal. 

After a few weeks, he’d probably still slightly walk with a limp as he’s trying to rebuild his hip muscles. 

But overall, toddlers are pretty resilient! He was almost walking on his own as we left the hospital, and only held our hand to help keep his balance.

And by the time we reached our car, it was like the whole thing never happened . . .

2012: A Year to Be Thankful (Pt. 2)

Did you miss January-June?

That was the good stuff! 

Make sure to catch up with part 1 here 
before moving on to the last 6 months. 

As I finished my 1st trimester, we took our first large family trip to Maui, Hawai’i!
However, it started terribly as we lost our 8 year old pug Cooper
And by the next weekend, we were jet-setting off to New York for my 1st BlogHer conference and last trip for sometime without children in tow.
This month, the Little Man also started his first day of Mother’s Day Out

From Balloon Festivals to 18 month birthday’s at the Arboretum, 
September was the month of family fun. 
We also discovered Baby #2 was going to be Baby Boy #2, and I took on a part-time job as Managing Editor for Dallas Moms Blog
My countdown to 30 ended as I completed my Thirty by 30 list on my birthday, 
and had our first Trick or Treating experience at Trunk or Treat

As the 3rd trimester hit, we found ourselves spending more time together as a family of 3 with a trip to Austin and the Gaylord Texan.
We also welcomed the arrival of our first niece & nephew, and little cousin for the Little Man. 

And how do we wrap up the year? 
Celebrating the holidays in a cast and 2 weeks left until Baby Boy arrives. 

And just in case you missed it, it’s difficult to not look back on 2012 without thinking about how much I’ve grown physically. . .

It’s been an amazing year full of exciting adventures! 
Although I’m sad to see 2012 leave, I’m SO happy to see what 2013 will bring. 

It’s a little crazy to think that this time next year, we’ll be planning the first birthday of Baby #2 and the 3rd birthday for the Little Man. . .who won’t be so little anymore. What an exciting year it will be! 

Goodbye to 2012 
a Warm Welcome to 2013!

2012: A Year to Be Thankful! (Pt.1)

2011 was a rough year. 

Leaving a job. A husband who traveled weekly. The birth of a baby and emotional tides that come with that new experience. Looking back and reading my blog post on December 31, 2011, I can hear in my writing that I was struggling to be positive. 

2012 has been a welcome change!

Looking back on this year, I know there were some really low points, but overall, I feeling really good about how 2012 is ending. 

Again, life hasn’t been amazing all the time. There have definitely been times of sadness, frustration, and anger, but what would life be without those moments too?  

I spent some time tonight reminiscing and looking over old photographs. I couldn’t believe how much has changed in just 12 short months!

The facts of our family situation has changed big time. . . .
My husband stopped traveling back in April, and although has been driving back and forth between Las Colinas, will start 2013 back in his normal office in Uptown. It seems like we’re finally settling in to a “normal” work routine. We’re also expecting a new addition soon which hasn’t drastically changed our current situation, but it’s made for an interesting year as I’ve slowly gotten bigger. And even with a broken leg, my Little Man has been really fun the last few weeks (which is a rarity between all the 2 year old teething and sleep training)! 

Then there’s the photos. . .
In my “old” life, photos of Tim and I didn’t change much from January to December. My hair may have gotten shorter or longer, but overall not much would change. Having children completely changes that perspective. I probably said at least 10 times, “Look how little he was!” or “That was just  ______ months ago!” 

Here’s a glance at some of my favorite moments over the last 12 months: 

The Little Man was just starting to stand on his own! 

This was a big month! 
The Little Man took his first steps. 
We took our first solo flight to North Carolina to welcome home my brother from Afghanistan.
I started writing for Dallas Moms Blog

We celebrated the Little Man’s 1st Birthday
and I learned a lesson from Pinterest

In April, we lost both my grandmother and Tim’s grandmother.

We learned we were expecting #2

We celebrated the summer with lots of outdoor adventures

And the year continues here.
(Although I’m sure you could easily find out how the year ends if you wanted to!)

Are You Passionate About Your Job?

Lately I’ve been feeling like my job has come under fire.

I’d like to say it’s as much other people, 
but in reality, it’s mostly because of myself. 

Just like in the workforce, everyone needs regular reviews and evaluations, 
and about every quarter I harshly criticize and review myself as a mom and a person.

I almost always snap out of the negativity, but typically when this happens, I actually walk away feeling better about my career and position.

Up until this point I’ve found my career fairly easy to manage with simple tasks like balancing and maintaining the budget to administrative duties, but lately, my job has required some special training and professional development with every new position that I take on. Just this morning, I was learning all about growth opportunities and project management. 

Now, I might not be getting paid what I should in the form of money, but I do get bonuses and perks that make up for all the hard aspects of my position. 

I have to work late most nights, and when I can wrap up early, I often lose sleep over stress about the upcoming day. 

And let’s not even get into the toll it’s taken on my body. Who has time for workouts when you’re required to be at work by 7am and usually don’t wrap up until 8pm? 

I often find myself feeling extremely under appreciated and thinking terrible thoughts about my co-workers incompetence or lack of understanding of the tasks at hand, but I have to keep in mind that they’re usually only considered part-time at best and have other priorities at their other jobs to think about. 

And don’t even get me started on my subordinates! I mean, how juvenile can they be??

Travel is not an exception, but the rule. Often times the travel is local, but I still see this as a perk since I get to visit new places and meet new people on a regular basis. This helps break up all the mundane days where I’m stuck in the office. 

I also get to see progress and completion on projects first hand! Whereas I know in most businesses, you complete your part and it gets past along to the next team.  

And in my career, you don’t have to worry about your future! You might also like to know that my retirement will be taken care of if I investments properly. 

What’s my career?  

Well. . .I’m a mom. 

I know what you’re thinking, and I promise it’s actually a career! 

According to Dictionary.com



an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework: He sought a career as lawyer.
a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking: His career as a soldier ended with the armistice.
success in a profession, occupation, etc.


If you go back and read through my job description, you might find that my responsibilities are very similar to yours in the workforce. The only difference is I’m self-employeed, but also an employee. I have the difficult task of working with family members under stressful situations.  Although my career might not be found on Monster.com or theLadders.com, and it was definitely one I just fell into rather than applied for, it doesn’t make it any less legitimate. It’s one I have to be truly passionate about to continue because unlike your job where the money justifies the work, I don’t get paid a dime. 

So as I’m approaching 30, and I have those thoughts that cross my mind like “I left my job for this?” or have other people that make me feel like what I do isn’t a “real job” but a duty or just a stage of life. . . And for all those times, I’ve felt embarrassed about saying “I’m a stay at home mom” because I’m afraid you’ll judge me and think it simply means I’m lazy. I can now laugh because I know the truth.
I’ll now get off my soapbox now. 

Thank you for listening. 

Sorry if I offended anyone. 

A New Design; A Fresh Start (+ A Giveaway!)

It’s Friday night around 10:45pm, and I was laying awake in bed tossing and turning. I’ll blame it on the fact that I’m 24 weeks along and no longer able to get comfortable. Of course, it could also be the Iced Tea I had at dinner. . .or the 2 hour nap I had today. 

Either way, my brain is swimming and I can’t sleep. 

All I’ve been able to think about for the last 30 minutes is a reflection on my week; and boy has it been a rough one. For whatever reason, it always seems like when meetings need to be set or events are taking place they all pile up in one week. Last week, not a thing on our schedule…this week, we had 1 free night to ourselves. Between Tim working late, Mom’s Night Out strategy meetings, and Book Club, our house was a little chaotic after 6pm. 

Then on top of trying to keep the house clean for guests and racking my brain to plan dinners, my son has decided he’s ready to hit the “terrible two’s.” Long gone are the days when I could easily distract him for 30-40 minutes while I prepped a meal or cleaned a room. Instead, I’m now constantly being yelled at or asked with arms held high to “holdit” (which translated means “Hold Me”). One minute we can be laughing and giggling on the floor and 10 seconds later, I’m listening to the worst tantrum in the world because I put a hat on my head sideways instead of forward like he oh so clearly told me to do. (Can you believe the First World Problems a toddler has to face on a daily basis?)  

So, fast forward a week of going, going, going, and having to be challenged at every turn, and by today (Friday), I’m exhausted. There’s no more fight left in me. It will be donuts for breakfast and a Dr. Pepper for mommy to help me make it through the day. 

And to make matters worse, we’ve come to the morning I’ve been dreading all week. . .MOPS.

I absolutely love MOPS, but since our return from Hawai’i, my son decided he wants nothing to do with it! I spent 3 leadership meetings this summer rescuing him rescuing the workers from him at each meeting. At one point, I left a mandatory meeting in tears after they had to call me down to come and get him after only 15 minutes! So you can imagine, our first day back and I’m a nervous wreck! All week, I’ve been dreading what my Friday morning would look like. Would I even be able to attend? Would I have to leave my first meeting and head home? 

I wish I could tell you how relieved I was when I looked down at my watch and noticed it’d been 30 minutes since I dropped him off. But with every person that walked by, I just knew they were coming to tap me on the shoulder to ask me to come and get my son. Even as Pastor Gary Brandenburg began to speak, I found it hard to focus. 

But, it’s truly amazing how God puts you in the right spot at the right time because not only did the Little Man make it long enough for me to hear all of today’s message, but it allowed me to participate and feel a sense of rejuvenation after such a draining week. I feel like He knew what I needed to hear and worked wonders on the Little Man to help me do so. 

Walking away this morning, I felt alive and re-purposed as a mom. I’ve been struggling for awhile to survive the day in and day out’s, and after hearing God’s message, I once again felt clear and focused. I was reminded of my higher calling as mother and of ways to look past the tantrums. I feel as if I was given a fresh start and helped to see my days as a stay-at-home mom as more than just survival, but as being given a reason for being; to help cherish the moments we’ve been given and the memories we’re making. 

You may have noticed a couple of changes. This blog redesign couldn’t have come at a better time! 

I’ve been working closely with Erin Lauray Studios this week to come up with a new blog design that does a better job of representing me in this stage of life, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.  I LOVE, LOVE the new design!!

I’m hoping this renewed, fresh spirit will last at least until my next MOPS meeting when I can get recharged again, but in the meantime, I only hope that each time I look at my updated blog I can be reminded of my updated self. 

And in honor of my blog redesign and memories I’ll be making, I’ve been working with Hallmark to bring you a way to make your own memories with your children through a little giveaway
Remember how much my son and husband loved this new Interactive Storybook Buddy? Well, one lucky reader is going to win a Christopher Can’t Sleep Interactive Story Buddy of your very own (a $34.95 value)!

To enter, all you have to do is leave me a separate comment telling me that you did each of the following: 
For 2 bonus entries, 
watch the following Hallmark video, 
and leave me a comment and “Tell Me” what you need to hear.

On Friday, October 5, I’ll use Random.org to draw one winner’s name that will be announced on Facebook at 12pm CST. 

Best of luck! 

*Hallmark has not paid me for this giveaway, but is covering the cost of the the Interactive Story Buddy prize. Winner will be contacted by email on Friday, October 5th. Winner must respond within 24 hours of receiving email and reply with an address of where they’d like the prize shipped. Open to US Residents only.*

I Reject My Reality

Today is one of those days where I want to run away. I woke up this morning with a cloud just hanging over my head and feeling defeated by life. 

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with finding my identity and feeling claustrophobic with the world around me . As early as 10 years old, I remember feeling worn out from so many moves and struggling to make friends, that I’d decided that running away to California to become a famous actress would solve all my problems. By 14, it wasn’t California, but New York and I was going to become a successful Marketing professional working in the Empire State Building or World Trade Center. I wasn’t going to marry until I was in my 30’s and then, IF I had kids, I’d have enough money to hire a full time cook, housekeeper, and nanny! 

In high school, I was constantly changing my identity to try and fit in. Literally, I’d be wearing black pleather pants and listening to alternative music one day and putting on my high heels with tight Capri pants the next. My hair was always going from long to short to long again with bangs and no bangs. I wanted to fit in with the crowd that didn’t care and never showered, but was always trying to impress the preps of the band. High School was a disaster for me as I struggled with who my parents wanted me to be and who I wanted to be.

Which is why when I turned 18 I ran away to Oklahoma State University where I was hundreds of miles from anyone I knew. I so desperately wanted college to be the high school experience I never had, and discover who I truly was. But instead of reinventing myself and breaking out of my shell, I made the mistake of going potluck and found myself stuck with an ultra popular cheerleader roommate who was from Oklahoma and came to school with a million friends. Once again, I was that shy little girl, lost in the crowd. . . 

Fortunately, it wasn’t too long into my Freshman year that Tim and I started dating, and I discovered the me that was comfortable in my own skin. And what I found was that I was a shy, caring person who loved t-shirts and jeans. I was confident with myself and where I was going. I began succeeding in school and even graduated Magna Cum Laude. At 22, I was a college graduate, married to my best friend, and starting a career in teaching. I felt like I’d finally become the person I’d always wanted to be. My life was laid out in front of me. 

Then the unexpected happened, after 3 years and some major emotional breakdowns, I realized the path I’d chosen wasn’t for me. I once again ran away in a completely opposite direction. Through a series of random events, I landed in a job I loved, and once again, remembered what it was like to be happy. 

Most of you know what happens next, this is where my blog started. After 2 years of discovering new talents and skills at a job I loved, I felt God calling me to be a stay at home mom. I was having to leave that security and comfort and reinvent myself once again. 

Flash forward 18 months later. . . .

As I started going over our budget last night, it hit me. . . I’m turning 30 next month, living in the middle of suburbia, and contemplating a minivan. I’m 20 weeks pregnant, and currently mothering a toddler who thinks he’s hit the terrible 2’s. My once wonderful life of work responsibilities, travel, (practically) unlimited spending, and free weekends is a memory that is still painfully fresh. Where am I?? Who am I?? 

It was as if the walls were closing in around me and I felt stuck. And in my head, I couldn’t help but wonder what life would be like if I just . . .ran away. 

Well, for starters, I’d be a single mother come January. But besides that, it caused me to want to really think about who I’ve become and how I got here. 

I’m not the perfect mother who can miraculously pull amazing learning experiences from a hat. I’m not the successful working woman I’ve always wanted to be. Instead, I often feel like I’m a mediocre wife and mother just going through life; surviving one day at a time, but not really living or taking advantage of the life God has given me. 

Obviously, I won’t run away. I love my husband and I love my son. I also couldn’t be more excited (and scared) about this miracle that’s about it come into our lives, but I need to find a way to once again discover who I am. But this time, I have to find out who I am with all these limitations. How do you discover talents and skills when you don’t have the time to learn a new craft? How do you learn new interests or hobbies when there’s a child tagging along with you everywhere you go? 

Or is that the point of being a mother? Giving up your self for the life of others. . .no interests, no talents, no time.

I don’t think I can accept that. 

A Special Day to Remember

8 years ago today. . . 

Saddam Hussein was awaiting trial.

The opening ceremony to the Summer Olympics took place in Athens, Greece.

Google stock began trading at around $100 per share.

Kobe Bryant is sued for sexual harrassment and $75,000 in damages.

Only 249 people across the country had been affected by West Nile. 

Terry Nichols is spared the death penalty from the ’95 Oklahoma City Bombings. 

And most importantly. . .

I married my husband. 

At 22 & 23, we were only kids getting started on our journey through life. 

And what a journey it has been!

From scraping by on less than $25,000 a year to living our own personal dream, 
we’ve been side by side through it all. 

So, here we are 8 years later,
and at least 50 more to go!

Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband!

Hawai’i: Lessons Learned

With our second trip to Hawai’i over and done, I can look back with a little reflection and experience. Having been to 3 of the Islands, I can say that Hawai’i is truly one of the more beautiful places I’ve been, and look forward to one day returning to experience Kauai and Lanai. But until then, there’s a few things I’ve learned that I hope to remember when (and if) we’re able to vacation back to Hawai’i. 

Lesson #1: The Reality of Traveling with Children

Looking back on this vacation, I learned a lot about my new life as a parent and setting expectations. I wish I could say that the trip went so much better than we expected, but it pretty much matched what I thought would happen.

Originally when we were planning our family vacation, it was decided we’d try something big and exotic since it would be the last time it would be convenient for the whole family to travel together. Ideas of foreign countries were thrown around, and we were smart enough to veto taking a toddler out of the country for common parenting and traveling fears, but when Tim and I suggested Hawai’i almost 8 months ago, we had no idea how enormous an undertaking even staying in the US would be. 

I had visions in my head of laying on the beach while the Little Man sat \next to me running his fingers through the sand and playing with toys. Relaxing by the water and occasionally running along as the tide came in and out getting our feet wet. 

HA! HA! HA! 

Instead, we had a child who screamed every time he saw water and wasn’t able to go running in head first. With or without a lifejacket, clothing or no clothing, he was going to get in that water even if mommy and daddy had to go running in after him. And that relaxing on the beach…wasn’t going to happen with a toddler around. Our vacation was work; 24/7. 

Now that we’re home and on firm ground, we’re able to look back and are happy we made the trip as a whole family since we know how important it is to spend time together. And we’re DEFINITELY glad we attempted Hawai’i with grandparents because we can only imagine how much of a surprise it would have been if we’d gone alone. But. . .

For 7 years, we traveled as a couple to destinations around the world. 2 weeks in Germany. Long weekends in Mexico. Car trips up and down the East Coast. Couple trips to Vegas. But never have we vacationed with a child in tow, and after this trip, it will probably be some time before we choose to do it again. 

As we talked on our way home from Hana, Tim and I decided on two things: 
1) Our next vacation will NOT involve children, and
 2) no more traveling across three or more time zones with children. 

Lesson #2: Hawai’i is expensive!

I knew from our first trip that everything is just more expensive in Hawai’i due to the cost of importing goods and supply and demand. After all, it’s a vacation destination so hotels will cost more and restaurants charge more. I remember at one of our “nicer” restaurants on The Big Island, I paid almost $25 for an Applebee’s quality steak. If you plan on eating out a lot when you’re there, you can expect those prices to add up quickly. Not to mention if you rent a car expect to pay almost $4.20 for a gallon of gas! Since most of Hawai’i is seen from the road this too can get expensive. 

This time around we rented a home and tried to prepare our own meals as much as possible. What we didn’t expect were the grocery prices to be inflated too. Throughout the trip we had to change our mind on dishes several times due to cost. 

For example, if you’re planning on heating up some queso expect to pay as much as $8 for a block of Velveeta. Making hot dogs? Try $4.50 for a regular can of Wolf Brand Chili. 

Oddly enough, bananas grow on trees all throughout the island, but if you go to the store and purchase Dole brand bananas, you’ll pay as much as $1.50 a pound! 

Lesson #3: Fresh is always better.
Renting a house created all new experiences for me such as being able to take advantage of the land. The homeowners used the back of their property to grow fruit trees, and as renters we were able to pick as much as we wanted. At any point if we wanted fresh limes, all we had to do was walk out back and pick from among a dozen lime trees. Dragon fruit, papaya, bananas and guava grew throughout the neighborhood. Passion fruit vines and pineapple were just a pick away if you knew where to look. Want coconut milk? With a little effort (and a sharp, sharp knife) you can pull one from a tree and crack one open. 

Fruits grew as organic as you can get and for this reason they tasted better too! Our neighbors sold fresh pineapple each day, and I’ve never had one that tasted so sweet. We were picking limes by the dozens and they were as green and plump as I’ve ever seen in the store. 

After this trip, I’m slowly starting to become convinced that buying fresh, organic produce is the way to go! 

Lesson #4: Toddlers + Airplanes = Crying Parents

Now, I know a lot of you have probably had great experiences with babies and toddlers on an airplane, but you have to admit, no matter how successful the flight actually ends up being, there’s still moments of panic and worry! This happened to me on the way. The flight was relatively calm for both legs and went as smoothly as possible; however it didn’t stop me from nearly having a panic attack before boarding. 

You just naturally assume people are going to judge you and become annoyed with you for having a little one. And you never want to be “those” parents!

I wish I could say the flight home went just as smoothly, but it was a disaster! The first leg wore us out just simply by trying to entertain him for 5 1/2 hours, and by the time we landed in Seattle at 9:30pm, we didn’t have much energy left. We could also tell by the way he reacted the last hour of the flight, he was done too.

Then everything that could possibly go wrong did. From a dirty diaper 5 minutes before boarding to throwing up milk and an hour of crying (him, not me!) uncontrollably in the terminal right up until we boarded. As we sat in our seats, we’d already been identified as the couple with the out of control child, and one passenger even told us so. I was doing everything I could to hold back tears, and had he started crying one more time, my poor husband would have to be trying to console two people on that plane. Fortunately, it was right after take off around midnight that he passed out for the rest of the trip home. 

So. . .that was our family vacation to Maui, Hawai’i! 
And I promise not to post about it anymore! 

If you missed any of it (and are really bored), 
you can go back and read about our week in order: 

Thanks for letting me take you with us on our adventure!

A Memorial Day Tribute

On Monday, May 28, 2012 our country will celebrate Memorial Day. 

I used to consider this holiday as a marker for the first real weekend of Summer. 

Through out my childhood, we’d get together with friends and family to go boating out on the lake or hang out at my parents’ house by the pool and BBQ . As I became a teacher, this was literally the sign that summer was beginning since it was usually the last week of school and the start of summer break. 

This all changed for me 5 years ago when my brother became a Marine

Although he wouldn’t be shipped overseas for 4 years, throughout his service we were prepared for him to be deployed at any moment. One week he’d be working on base in North Carolina, and the next he might be in some of the most dangerous countries in the world; Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

As we anticipated his leave, I began to notice more and more stories on the news that I’d never paid attention to. “Arkansas Soldier dies in Afghanistan,” “North Texas Soldier Dies In Afghanistan,” NATO Soldier dies in Afghan Shooting, “Soldier Dies While on Skype with Wife,” “Soldier from Mesquite Killed in Iraq” and the stories go on and on. 

For me, Memorial Day was no longer that Celebrate Summer 3 day weekend, it was a day to remember my brother and the service he was doing for his country.

There are lots of blogs that can do a better job of pulling at your heart strings and help you to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day (like this one Kidd Kraddick – My Memorial Day). Many of these blogs might make you feel overly patriotic or even slightly guilty, but I’m not going to do that. 

My brother is one of the majority who went overseas, served his country, and came home. So, just like you, on Memorial Day, I’m eager to celebrate the summer season that God has given us and celebrate a wonderful life with family and friends. 

But I urge you. . .

For just a brief moment on Monday to honor those who didn’t make it home. 

Soldiers like
Those brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and friends who aren’t able to enjoy a hot dog and beer with their loved ones. 

Remember on Memorial Day.