Do You Really Need a Birth Plan?

At the risk of alienating some of my readers I will say it…..why bother with a birth plan?

This is a three part series. I’ll talk about birth plans, epidurals and the stories of my children’s entrance into this world.

Part 1: “Do You Really Need a Birth Plan”

Part 2: “Emergency C-Section is Only the Beginning”

Part 3: “Epidural? Yes, Please”

In July I have a lot of opportunities to reflect with my birthday, my wedding anniversary and both my daughters’ birthdays.

Every year on Cassidy’s birthday I get a little emotional as I reflect on how exactly she entered this world and how I was very scared.

Luckily, with Amelia, I wasn’t scared, and I reflect on her birthday as a joyful and relaxed experience. Funny now if I had to describe my children as they are at this moment Cassidy would be the calm, relaxed one and Amelia would be the hyper, strong-willed one. Their births could not have been more different, and today their personalities could not be more different.

Why I’m glad I didn’t have a birth plan.

My doctor never suggested we have one.

Pinterest didn’t exist (coming on the scene months after she was born) which meant I didn’t yet realize that a child could not be born without one.

Quite honestly I was living in denial about how exactly that wonderful kicking little being was going to depart my body and enter the world.

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How We Celebrate Birthdays

how we celebrate birthdays title

Happy Birthday to you!

In our house, birthdays are a big deal.

It’s that one day of the year where everything gets to be about you.

I’m thinking I make it a bigger deal because having grown up as one of five children, I appreciate the attention of an entire day all about me.

Your birthday is your special day, and you don’t have to share it with anyone else. Luckily no one shares a birthday in our house, or this wouldn’t work. For the most part, the birthday girl (or boy) gets to decide everything we do for the day – within reason.

Fortunately, for the girls, they have summer birthdays, so they don’t have to worry about school. I was able to manage the last four years to take Cassidy and Amelia’s birthdays off of work to spend with them. Due to events at my previous job I was never able to take mine off until now. With my new job I get my birthday off – well okay I get the whole summer off.

Cassidy started deciding what to do on her special day when she turned three. That day consisted of donuts, a bike ride to the park, hot dogs and Cheetos for lunch and ice cream. Three-year-old dreams aren’t too exotic.

cassidy wall climbing for 3rd birthday

Cassidy 3rd birthday

Many times we can offer suggestions to the birthday girl, and sometimes we have to reign her in a bit.

Cassidy 6th birthday

Even a six-year-old can dream up a very expensive day.

This past year Amelia turned two, and she was a bit young to tell us what she wanted to do, so we helped her out a bit. That ended up working out well because Brian was home sick and we had to take him to the doctor as part of her special day. We did manage to coordinate some time at the splash pad near his doctor’s office and the park – swinging is her favorite thing to do. Then we went home and worked on decorating cakes because their joint birthday party was the next day.

Amelia 2nd birthday at splash padAmelia 2nd birthday swinging

Then on Cassidy’s birthday two days later we went to the local pool, we ate at her favorite restaurant- McDonald’s, and she and I went to the movies while the other two napped.

Cassidy 7th birthday at pool

Cassidy 7th birthday playing legos

Neither day was extravagant, but each was all about the birthday girl and her favorite things. I am confident that as my children get older, they will remember their special days and how it made them feel. They have been fortunate to get to spend a birthday or two in Disney World as well. I think those might go down as the most memorable birthdays. Regardless, even the simpler birthdays have been treasured by all because we spent time together honoring the birthday person. Further proof that experiences are far more important than things.

The special days aren’t just for the kids either. Both Brian and I get to decide what we want to do on our birthdays as well. Last year I went on a run, we went out for ice cream to my favorite place, we went out for dinner and visited Blackberry Farm. It was a very relaxed and fun birthday.

Brian's birthday donut

For Brian’s birthday we have gone golfing, he has had game days with his friends, and we’ve gone out to dinner, or I’ve made him his favorite meals.

Birthdays are the perfect time to focus on that one person and what their favorite things to do are.

What do you do for your birthday or your children’s birthday to make them special?

 

 

Check out these other posts about birthdays: “Birthday Letters of Love”  and “Secret Agent Birthday Party”

Coupon Clipping for the Ordinary Mom

simple couponingYou’re a busy woman with a lot on your plate, but you want to save money, right?!

One of the oldest ways that people saved money on the home front was through the use of coupons.

There were years that coupon clipping wasn’t “cool,” but then TLC introduced people to the world of Extreme Couponing in 2010.

On that show, cameras followed extreme couponers to see how many groceries and products they could get for little to no money. It was an interesting show to watch, but most people aren’t going to, nor do they need to coupon to that level.

I do not need a stockpile of hundreds of boxes of Hamburger Helper in my garage. In fact, I haven’t even eaten Hamburger Helper since I had kids.

There are a lot of great coupons that you can use to get products for free or deeply discounted; however, if you don’t have a good way of organizing your coupons you will never use them.

As a busy mom, it is even more important that my coupons are organized SIMPLY and can be found easily.

Time is a hot commodity in my life, and I need to make sure that the money saving methods that I use are a good return on my investment. Remember I’m the one who doesn’t even recommend having a garage sale to everyone.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

favorite things title

In honor of my birthday, I wanted to share with all my readers five of my favorite things right now. I plan to make this a more regular edition to the blog because I am always finding new things that I love.

And when I love something I want to share it with all of my friends.

In the past, I have just assumed that everyone else knew about the products that I love because I’m usually the last to know things. I am definitely not a trend setter.

Over time, I have realized that is not the case, and it would not be fair for me to keep my favorite things a secret.

This month I have five things that immediately came to mind that I knew I had to share. Here they are in no particular order.

Body Glide

If you have never heard of Body Glide and you live or travel anywhere that it ever gets hot, then you are seriously missing out. This product was introduced to me by my husband years ago when we were preparing for one of our trips to Disney World. Body Glide looks just like deodorant, but it is not. It is the perfect anti-chafing solution. I don’t care if you are big or not – if you have any part of your body that rubs together when you move – you need this.  I am “privileged” enough to have inner thighs that rub together. It is super awesome in the summer when it’s hot and muggy out when you’re wearing shorts or even a skirt. To prevent the uncomfortable rubbing together and chafing I simply rub on the body glide in the morning, and I’m good to go.

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Birthday Angst

birthday angst

Happy Birthday!

Or is it?

As a kid, we count down the months and days until our birthday for nearly six months before. We tell everyone we know our birthday is coming up even if “coming up” is still a month away. For some people, birthdays continue to be a time of excitement, joy, and celebration forever. For others, they can be challenging and sometimes depressing.

I distinctly remember my 20th birthday being very difficult for me. I can’t exactly pinpoint why it was. Perhaps it was the notion of leaving my teens and starting my twenties. I was very sad and melancholy around that birthday. It’s not like my life was depressing. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was dating a great {editor’s note:  amazing, wonderful, and handsome} guy who I would later marry. I had friends, a summer internship and overall life was good, but I struggled with that birthday.

birthay girl
20th Birthday. It was much harder than it looks.

I would have to say since that time the easiest most carefree and upbeat birthday I have had was my 25th birthday. On that birthday I was a week away from my wedding, I was celebrating my bachelorette party and life was great. I may just have been too busy to even focus on my birthday.

Fast forward to present day, and I still struggle with my birthday.

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Debt Snowball Progress – June 2017

debt snowballl progress june 2017

Is debt-free possible?

I’m starting to wonder.

We were doing so well for so long, and lately, we’ve really hit quite a few roadblocks.

Alright, probably not road blocks, but rather really tall hurdles.

Now I know being in a wedding, and our vacations are not exactly road blocks. We knew about these events and willingly entered into them knowing the financial implications.

wedding picture
We do clean up nice.

What we did not know about or plan for were all the medical emergencies.  I’m pretty sure it’s about time for our household to have a month off from any health issues.

If we could go a month without visiting the doctor, filling a prescription, or taking someone’s temperature, it would be cause for celebration.

I can’t count the number of times I said, “how is your throat,” “how do you feel,” “what’s your temperature.” I’ve charted medication consumption and body temperatures like an accountant tracks credits and debits.

health chart
Keep track of 10 day antibiotics on a chart on your refrigerator

We ended May with Amelia sick with strep and a reaction of sorts to one medication. This caused us to need two visits to the doctor, and two-copays, plus two prescriptions and countless doses of Motrin and Tylenol.

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1 Trick to Achieve Your Goals

goalsYou have a dream, a goal, a plan, but how will you achieve it?

Whether you want to start up a successful business, run a marathon, climb Mount Everest, or learn to cook a 7-course gourmet meal, there is one surefire way to improve your likelihood of success. And it’s not difficult.

You MUST learn how to time block.

Time blocking is simply the process of setting aside time in your day and week for specific activities to happen at specific times.

I have found this trick to be absolutely imperative to my success in juggling my full-time job along with my side hustles, blogging, and teaching.

Advantages to Time Blocking:

Increased Focus: When your most important work is scheduled into your calendar you can focus on one thing at a time. You don’t have to worry about emails while you are playing with your children because you have blocked a specific time in your day to handle emails. Time blocking will allow you better focus in all areas of your life.

focused child

Increased Productivity: When you have a specific time blocked for a specific activity, barring any true emergencies, you will be more productive. You will not be distracted and your productive increases. Additionally, you will be able to schedule certain activities at certain times of the day to reflect your most productive times. For example, I know it takes less mental energy for me to respond to emails, yet for years, that is how I would start my day. My most productive time of day is in the morning so to give that time up to an activity that doesn’t require as much mental energy was not good planning. Now, I schedule my content writing for the earlier hours of the day when I am most alert and focused. Emails can come later at night or during my afternoon slump.

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Multi-tasking Myth

multi-tasking myth

I am more productive because I multi-task.

 

LIE

 

Why multi-tasking doesn’t work

 

I am a great multi-tasker.

 

Not a badge of honor

 

The ability to multi-task used to be a great attribute that employers were looking for in their employees. Now we are finding out that people are not, in fact, more productive when they multitask. In fact, research has found that people are less productive when they multitask.

For years people, myself included, have touted themselves as being able to multi-task. It was seen as a great attribute because you could get more done than people who couldn’t multi-task.

What research has proven is that you can actually only multitask two things at one time and to do so one must involve the body and one the mind. For instance, you can run and plan your grocery list in your head or clean your house and listen to a podcast, but you cannot listen to a podcast and plan your grocery list. Well, you can, but it will take you longer than if you had planned your grocery list when you weren’t doing another activity that requires mental energy.

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BRAVERY: A lesson learned from my daughter

bravery title

My nearly eight-year-old daughter has taught me more about being brave than I have learned in nearly 37 years of life.

I’ve heard the phrase, “do it scared” before, but I didn’t fully appreciate what that meant, and the power of doing it scared until now.

Back in January, Cassidy brought home the list of after school specials for spring. We went through as always to decide which ones she could attend. The last one on the sheet was a try-out for the school talent show. Cassidy insisted she wanted to sign up for that one as well.

I asked what her talent would be, and she didn’t know, but she wanted to sign up for it. We decided to let her sign up and knew we had four months for her to figure out an act or back out of the event. Honestly, I didn’t think there was any chance she would do the try-out when it came time to do it.

I am by no means saying my daughter is not talented because she most certainly is. However, her talents are not the sort that can be easily demonstrated on a stage.

We talked about a few options she could do, but I had concerns with all of them. Cassidy is a very sensitive child. She doesn’t mind the attention, but her feelings can get hurt very easily. She just feels so strongly. It makes her the most empathetic person I know, which is great. However, as a mom, I’m constantly trying to protect her feelings. You can’t even tell a funny story that involves her because she thinks you’re laughing at her instead of at the situation or circumstances.  She has a hard time differentiating laughter with her versus at her.

As a mom, my concern was how she would do being on stage in front of her whole school and what if people laughed. I wanted to protect her. Then she and Brian started to work on her routine.

You’ll never guess what it was going to be.

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Open Letter to: Night Shift Police Wives

police in uniform saluting

To the other night shift police wives*,

You are not alone.

Somewhere there is another first responder’s wife feeling the same way you are. She wonders just how she’ll make it through – just like you are.

We’re all trying to navigate this crazy life we were given and to support our husbands. All of that while taking care of our families. It’s not always easy.

Sometimes you feel on top of the world like you can handle anything on the home front and the dangers of his job don’t worry you one bit. Sometimes you feel like you’re cracking at the seams and you fear for his safety every hour of his shift.

It’s normal, and you’re not alone.

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