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Mi Familia

In Blog, Mama, Mi Familia on
September 24, 2018

How to enjoy being a stay at home parent

If you aren’t a stay at home parent you might fantasize about how wonderful it would be to be the director of your days, to choose if you want to sit on the couch all day watching Netflix as your child plays quietly on the floor with their toys or to head off to the shops for a lovely afternoon. As a stay at home parent you know this is the opposite of the truth. Stay at home parenting is no joke- being woken up early, dressing someone, diapers, potty training, cooking, cleaning, feeding, holding, comforting, having someone demand almost every second of your time when they are awake, cleaning, breaking up fights, taking deep breaths when your child slaps you in the face, etc. you get it. Being a stay at home parent can feel incredibly mundane- day in and day out, the same. Some days it’s easy to want to roll back over in bed because you know exactly what to expect and you’re bored with stay at home parent life. Well, here are my 10 best tips for how to actually enjoy your days as a stay at home parent! As they say, the days are long but the years are short. Take advantage of this special time you get with your kids and make the most of it!

  1. Get out of the house at least once a day

This is the most helpful for me. I am the kind of person that cannot stay a whole day at home without feeling a little sad or wondering what the rest of the world is up to outside of my little home bubble. Also, keeping a little human occupied at home for a whole day is quite difficult. By the time naptime is over (if you are lucky enough to have one that naps) the kids have already played with every toy they own, read every book on the shelf, had snacks upon snacks, and now they are just whining out the wazoo. Ok. Let’s get out of the house! It could be as simple as a walk down your street, a trip to a store even if you don’t need anything, a park, the library, a friend’s house. The options are endless but getting out of the house even for an hour helps keep everyone sane!

  1. Get a hobby you can do at home

Having a hobby gives you something to look forward to when your littles are napping, or during those rare quiet moments when they are entertaining themselves. My main hobby is my Etsy shop. I make dried flower crowns and boutonnieres. It has become mindless work for me after 4 years of doing it but I genuinely enjoy sitting down to create whenever my little one is asleep. I also love cooking, blogging, working out, and reading. My hobbies help keep me sane and we all know mama needs to be sane to effectively raise a small human. Playing on your phone and watching TV should not be considered a hobby. Find a hobby that genuinely stirs your affections for life!

  1. Keep a clean house

Now,  I know everyone’s SAHP situation is different pending how many kids you have, if you have a spouse, if your spouse travels, if you homeschool, etc etc. BUT this tip goes out to all the people that are in a situation where they can handle this. Clean your house! Like actually keep it clean. Being a stay at home parent means you are likely at home a lot so why not keep it clean? I know for myself I feel yucky and more irritable when my house is dirty and unorganized. I have the time to keep things clean and organized and everyone is happier when it is kept well so that is what I do. Of course some days are busier than others and sometimes the dishes don’t get done or toys don’t get picked up, but as a rule of thumb, I do my best to keep a clean house and it is a positive thing for the whole family.

  1. Go on an adventure with your kids

You and your kid are forced to be together all day if you are a SAHP so why not make the most of it? Go on an adventure. Who cares that it is 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon, go find an orchard and pick apples, go find a beautiful trail to hike, go on a treasure hunt, or drive to the next town to have a special treat. Find an adventure and take advantage of the fact that you have the availability to go do something fun and make memories with your child whenever you want!

  1. Build friendships with people in your same season

We were not meant to do life alone! It is wonderful to have a spouse to share in the hard realities of parenting but you need to find a friend who is in the same season as you. As an adult I know it is hard to make new friends but suck it up and put yourself out there and get to know another parent who has a child that is a similar age to yours. It is so beneficial to spend time with someone who GETS it. Drink a cup of coffee while your kiddos play and share about the good, the bad, and the ugly of your days and I promise you will feel so much better knowing you are not alone.

  1. Have structure to your day

Your days will be so much easier if everyone in the house has an idea of what they can expect for the day. Wake up at a similar time each day, do certain activities at a similar time each day, get out of the house at a similar time each day, eat your meals at the same time each day, and have nap and bedtime at the same time each day. Kids thrive when they can have a good idea of what the day will look like and when your kid is thriving your day is better too. Now I am not a planner and I don’t schedule playdoh at 9 am and blocks at 9:30 am, I simply mean have some sort of structure so that everyone can have a good idea of what the day to day looks like.

  1. Take advantage of all of the free activities in your community

Did you know that there are wonderful, free activities just about anywhere? I live up in the tippy top middle of nowhere upper peninsula of Michigan and guess what!? There are still plenty of free things I can find to do with my child. Library story time, playgrounds, safety days, free nature hikes, community festivals and fairs. Sometimes it takes some researching but there is always something you can put on your calendar to take your child to.

  1. Commit to a minimum of an hour a day to play with your child

You might be thinking well that is crappy to only give your child an hour of your time each day…Well that isn’t what I mean. If you are a stay at home parent you know that most all of your time is dedicated to your child in some shape or form each day, what I mean is for at least one hour a day put your phone away, turn away any distractions, get down on the floor with them and invest in them and how they want to play. Read books, build blocks, play outside, whatever- but give your child your full attention. I know I enjoy playing with my daughter so much more when I choose to turn away any other distractions and find the joy in the moment of truly spending time with her.

  1. Playing outside is good for the soul

When your kids are whining and you feel crazy, just let everyone loose outside! Go out with them of course unless you have older kids who can keep themselves safe (or go out with the big kids too and have fun). Whether you just sit and watch your kiddo play as you take some deep breaths of fresh outdoor air or get in on the action, there is something magical about getting outside. Blow some bubbles, dig in the dirt, play in the sand, go down the slide for heaven’s sake, don’t take yourself too seriously. I know my daughter and I feel 10x better after spending even just 20 minutes outside. We are able to come back inside with fresh minds as we get on to the next thing.

  1. Playdates for the win!

Invite friends over to play! If you haven’t made good friends yet be the brave one to be the first to invite them over. The kids will hopefully entertain each other and wear each other out while you can bond with a fellow parent who is also in need of some adult conversation. Again, we are not meant to do life alone and being a stay at home parent can sure as heck be lonely. Build friendship, build community, go play at other people’s house, and be brave and invite other people to your home.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Life as a stay at home parent can be enjoyable, so make the most of it! Don’t ever undervalue the incredibly difficult job you have raising your child up to be the best person they can be. You rock!

In Cancer, Infertility, Mama, Mi Familia on
March 25, 2018

When you get the best of the worst: that time I had cancer pt. 1

Hello dear friends. It’s that time, that time where I sit down and tell you all about my unexpected cancer diagnosis in the last month. That time where I sit down and tell you about my journey through hearing those three little words “you have cancer.” That time where I tell you why I chose joy through the whirlwind of shocking news. That time where I tell you about my God who answered prayers and performed miracles. Wow. Wow. Wow. I put off writing this post for a while because honestly I have been kind of at a loss for words for all that has happened in the past month. I sat down with the intention of this being all in one post but I quickly realized I have a lot of words on this to share, so I am going to break it up into three separate blog posts. Part one (which is this post here) will be about my symptoms and everything that happened before seeing a doctor. Part two will be from the time I saw a doctor, to getting surgery, up to before my cancer diagnosis. Part three will be from the time I was diagnosed with cancer to now. This series of posts might come across a little more dry than my typical writing style because I am sharing a lot of facts. My hope is to share my story for a multitude of reasons some being- I would like to share my signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, to encourage you to see a doctor if you are having obvious concerning issues, to share how and why I could choose joy in a crappy situation, and just because stories are powerful and maybe this will mean something to someone.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I have PCOS and a history of developing less than ideal lady issues like painful ovarian cysts and uterine polyps and I have had surgery twice in the past for these things. Well, in November of 2017 I noticed every time I would pee I would have a super intense crampy feeling, it was always quick and momentary so I ignored it for a while but after a few weeks I told my husband about it and scheduled a doctor appointment. We prayed over it and guess what, it went away. Like immediately. For the next few weeks I didn’t get this crampy feeling anymore so I canceled my appointment in faith that God had healed me. I’ll explain in the next paragraph why I was so quick to cancel my doctor appointment. I didn’t continue to have this symptom but a couple of weeks later I started having intense cramping again off and on but not related to peeing, it would just randomly happen. I felt pretty discouraged because we had prayed and God had taken away the pee cramping, why was I experiencing this new pain? So yet again, we pray, I am fine the next day.

The most concerning symptom started becoming obvious around mid December. I work out a lot and like to stretch, and also like to lay on my stomach on the floor and I started to notice it felt like something hard was in there. I was also having a hard time bending over to put on my shoes without feeling out of breath and I noticed my pants weren’t fitting well. My first thought was could I possibly be pregnant…? Likely not knowing my infertility history but I needed to rule that out so off I went to buy a pregnancy test. Sure enough, it was negative. That was fine. I was not sad, I have processed, accepted, and come to peace with my infertility story. So now I knew I wasn’t pregnant so why in the actual heck did I have this weird hard feeling in my abdomen? This is not a normal thing. Well friends, we are in this stage of life where we are kinda pretty poor, (but we are rockin it and making it work) my husband is back in school and I am working part time to stay home with baby girl. Instead of doing the wise thing and scheduling a doctor appointment with this obviously concerning issue I decided I would wait until my annual appointment in March so that I wouldn’t have to pay for it. Well, in hindsight I would do that differently knowing what was really going on (yikes).

Ok, fast forward to the end of January. The feeling in my abdomen is becoming more and more weird and obvious. I even felt like I was starting to actually look pregnant too and I worried I was just gaining weight and I was super frustrated about this. Well the straw that broke the camel’s back finally happened- I went to work out on a Friday morning at 5 am. At the end of the class we were cooling down and laying on our backs and the instructor told us to pull our knees into our chest and clasp our arms around them. Y’all, I used to be a dancer- this is something I have done thousands of times. Well, I could barely even touch my fingers together, I was so uncomfortable, and so out of breath. I came home confused and kind of worried. I laid down on the ground on my back and had my husband come look at my stomach and push around on it. He immediately felt something hard and from that moment on I went into panic mode. I felt like I was dying, I felt like I had a monster inside of me, I wanted it out right that very second. It felt like YEARS waiting for 8 am to roll around so that I could call my doctor’s office to get an appointment ASAP.

Not a pregnant belly..

To be continued.

In Adoption, Blog, Foster care, Infertility, Mama, Mi Familia on
February 4, 2018

Adoptive/foster mama, you are not a second rate mom

I’ve heard you talk about it, I’ve felt it myself. The feeling like you or others consider you “less of a mom” because you did not birth your children. I’ve heard you share the hurt of no one offering a baby shower for you when you have announced you are adopting/fostering, or no one starting a meal train for you when you finally get to bring your baby home or after a caseworker drops off your child at a random hour of the night. I see you being left out of the pregnant belly pictures all of your friends take together. The people who consider hand me downs a better option for your foster or adopted child instead of a nice new outfit like your friend who is about to give birth might receive for her child. It’s so frustrating. It hurts. Why can’t you be celebrated in the same way your pregnant friends are being celebrated if in fact you too are just as much of a mom as they are?

Well mama, you are not second rate. Some people might say things that make you feel as such and you might even tell yourself at times you aren’t as much of a mom because you didn’t give birth to your child  or because you didn’t get to nurse your child or maybe you missed months or even years of your child’s life. But guess what- you are just as much of a mom as anyone.

Adoptive mama, you fought hard to bring your child home. You might not have conceived your child, spent 9 or so months growing them, and birthed them but you spent months and possibly years preparing for your child. You prayed about it countless hours, you had difficult conversations with your spouse and family members. You sat through hours and hours and hours of classes. You went through piles of paperwork. You sat through meeting after meeting exposing every tiny and embarrassing part of your life and finances so that someone could judge if you were “good” enough to foster or adopt a child. You prayed fervently for the health and safety of your child and how they would come to you when you didn’t even have the slightest idea of who they were or where they were coming from. Everything about you worked so hard to become a mom and it was all a choice. You didn’t have to do it. But you chose this path and you did it because you are an amazing mom. You are a first rate mom.

Last May was my very first mother’s day. I was 6 or so months into this “momming” gig and I was so excited and grateful to finally get to be recognized as a mom on mother’s day. Six months I had spent keeping my tiny human alive. Feeding her, bathing her, changing her diaper, taking care of blowouts, taking 8,000 photos of her, scheduling dr. appointments, scheduling caseworker visits, cleaning my house from top to bottom for every one of those caseworker visits, buying clothes, going to play dates, YOU GET IT I “mommed” like every other mom out there. Well friends, can I tell you on my very first mother’s day I had someone ask me “so are you celebrating mother’s day today or no…since you aren’t technically a mom?” Wow. Major punch to the gut. For those reading this who aren’t adoptive/foster parents if anything, please take away from this post- don’t do that. Don’t you dare question how much of a mom someone is because their story looks different from yours or what you would expect.

Adoptive mama, you are an amazing mom. God chose such a beautiful path to motherhood for you. It was a hard path to motherhood but you deserve to be celebrated. You are doing the same job as every other mom on the planet. I hope you never doubt how much of a mom you are.

 

In Adoption, Foster care, Mama, Mi Familia on
January 4, 2018

To my daughter’s birth mom

You don’t know anything about me, not even my name. But I know a lot about you.

We are the same age but oh were we dealt different hands.

It’s easy for me to be angry at you.

It is easy for me to point a finger at you and say that you harmed your babies and put them in danger.

But if I sit and think about it, it is also easy for me to lower my finger and want to hug you because the world was not kind to you.

I know I don’t know everything about you but I do know you have had a hard life.

My heart hurts for you because you are doing the only thing you know how to when it comes to coping.

I wish I could tell you that your daughter is safe, that she is healthy, thriving, and incredibly opinionated even only at 15 months old, that she loves being outside, eating , hugging her stuffed animals, seeing dogs and kitty cats, and dancing to music.

There are many times I think about reaching out to you anonymously but I just don’t know if that is a good idea or not.

I want you to know that I think of you often.

I want you to know that when Evy asks about you one day, she will know as much as she wants to and as much as is age appropriate.

I printed off a picture I found of you. It is tucked away and if Evy ever asks for it, I will give it to her.

You are not a secret.

As hard as all of this is, the fact that you got pregnant, endangered your child, and had her taken away, I am grateful. It seems twisted and unfair but the fact that despite every negative choice you made, you chose to bring a beautiful life into this world. That life is my daughter. She is going to make a difference in this world in the best way possible.

I’m sure it might anger you that your greatest heartbreak is my greatest joy.

I care about you. I want you to start making better decisions. I pray for you often. In a weird way I feel close to you.

As a foster and adoptive mom I am not in the business of taking away someone’s precious treasure. After much prayer I signed up to be a safe place, a parent to a child in need. Your child was in need, you were in need, you and I both know you were not in a place to take care of your child. So there I was. Not because I am any better than you. Life is hard and doesn’t always make sense.

You are capable of finding healing. You are worthy of love from your Creator, from your family, from those around you.

It starts with surrendering your hurts, apologizing to those you have hurt because you were hurt first, and with accepting love from others. Much easier said, than done but you can do it. I bet you are stronger than you think.

Your daughter is safe. She is healthy. She is happy.

I pray these things for you as well.

In DIY, Mama, Mi Familia on
December 5, 2017

Evy’s First Birthday

I’ve been waiting to do this post until after the adoption was final so that I could show our sweet girl’s face. So here it is! Evy’s first birthday party! It was such a lovely day. This is the kind of day I dreamed about for so long- planning my baby’s first birthday party. When you go through infertility you wonder if you will ever get the chance to put all of your dreams and cute little ideas for milestones together one day or if it will only be something you have to file away in your head as something you won’t ever get to do. God’s goodness to us in giving us our daughter still blows me away daily. What did I do to deserve this gift? Well, I didn’t do anything, it is all God’s grace in my life that I would get to be this girl’s mama.

If you know me at all, you know that I love flowers and nothing too over the top so I wanted that to come through in how I planned Evy’s party. My absolute favorite was making her flower crown. She looked like such a little angel.

We had cheese and crackers, mini spinach and veggie quiches, bruschetta, rice crispy treats, and of course, cake.

My mom and I made the big cake for everyone- it was a spice cake with cinnamon buttercream frosting and I made Evy’s smash cake. In an effort to keep her away from refined sugar as much as possible I made a cake that was sweetened with apple sauce and banana. For her frosting I made whipped coconut milk.

I think we can all agree that the best part of a one year old’s birthday party is watching them tear into the cake and oh did she do just that! This girl loved the cake and as you can see she just ended up picking up the whole thing and going to town.

I made these little rice crispy treats with This cookie cutter from Amazon and coated the bottoms with soft pink dyed white chocolate.

I had so much fun planning this sweet day and I know our girl felt loved! Thank you to everyone who came and made Evy feel special. It’s fun (and sassy) to be one!

In Blog, Mi Familia on
November 5, 2017

Ode to TJ

What a week. It has been such a week. Monday was incredibly hard. I was sitting down just now to post a recipe and I just felt like I couldn’t do that without first posting about TJ. He was a part of our little familia and life is weird without him.

Monday. I got baby girl up from a nap, I called the dogs over, I got leashes on them, got baby in the stroller, and off we went. Down the street. A gorgeous day. Perfect weather. We walked all the time. Our neighborhood who most everyone in our town refers to as “the hood” and my husband and I roll our eyes because it is just a neighborhood full of people. People as real as anyone else.

Baby girl has gotten into this new wonderful phase where she is obsessed with dogs and cats. She gets so excited when she sees them. As we were walking, I knew we were about to pass a house where a Rottweiler is always tied up in the front yard. We have walked by many times and there has never been an issue.  I was not nervous. I was not nervous until that dog came running out at us. It broke the wire it was tied up with and ran straight at us. My first instinct was to push the stroller as far away from it as possible. As I did this I looked back and saw it had my TJ.

I will spare the details because it is not pretty. In fact it is one of the most traumatic, horrible things I have had to witness. Life was a blur the next few hours. It involved screaming and yelling for help, language barriers with the owner as I cried and hovered over my dog’s very still body, a ride with a stranger to the pet hospital, lots of crying, a stressful baby who didn’t understand what was happening, waiting for over an hour to know the fate of my dog, husband rushing home from work on his bike to grab our car and meet us at the hospital with our other dog, Sadie, getting the news, seeing the x-ray images, hearing the severity of what that dog did to ours, saying goodbye, anger, riding home with his tiny body in a cardboard box, watching my husband dig a hole in the backyard, coming together and putting the tiny box in the hole, some words were said, and then it was over. How did this all happen in a span of hours? It’s crazy how different life can be literally from one minute to the next.

TJ. I had him for almost 13 years. He was quirky as they come but definitely one of the cutest little creatures I have ever laid my eyes on. Just seeing his little face brought me so much joy. He is the dog I begged my parents for for years. Things I will never forget about him are the way he would “sneak” ever so gently under low surfaces such as chairs or dressers, rubbing back and forth slowly because he liked how it tickled his fur. The way he loved hiking trails and could keep up with the best of them even though he was a 9 pound yorkie. His name was the first word our daughter said. No joke. We went to get her up from a nap one day, he came trailing in behind, and she said “TJ!” as clear and happy as ever. The way he would know if I was sad and would sit next to me until I felt better. He was just there. He was there for almost 13 years of my life. Life just isn’t the same without his presence but I know we will find our new normal. I am so thankful for all the time we got with him. Cheers to you, TJ Bear Wookie Pants Bulldozer Stelly.