10 Reasons I am Rocking Motherhood

I was recently tagged by Alicia at Adventures With My Littles to complete the Rocking Motherhood Challenge.  Thanks so much for tagging me, Alicia!

The idea behind the challenge is to encourage mothers to recognize and remember the things that make us great moms rather than focusing on the things we feel we might be failing at.  Motherhood is hard sometimes. It is so important that we celebrate the little things that make it worthwhile.

To keep the challenge going and to help some other moms celebrate motherhood, I am tagging mom bloggers Kayla at Virtuous Mama’s Corner, Jourdan at Time Out For Mommy,  Janice at Mami’s Time Out, Victoria at Jigsaw Heart, Jackie at The Granola Girl, Annie at Life as Annie P., Jennifer at Under Pressure, and Hannah at Home and Lifestyle of Hannah Beswick to post their own lists of how they are rocking motherhood.

My 10 Reasons I Am Rocking Motherhood

  1. I talk to my kids.
    With five kids running around, the laundry isn’t always done and the sink is full of dirty dishes but my kids don’t really care about those things.  What they do care about is that they have a mom who is interested in them and their lives.  I talk to them about what is going on at school and how their day was everyday. Communicating with your kids is so important and I’m rocking it!
  2. I encourage my kids to be involved.
    With five kids, life would be so much simpler if I didn’t allow my kids to play every sport they wanted to play.  However, I make every effort possible to let my kids be involved in everything they want to do.  Dance, soccer, baseball, football, and swim team takes up so much of our time and makes my life really hectic at times.  However, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for my children.
  3. I connect with my kids through their interests.
    I struggle with this one and I don’t always succeed but I make an attempt to connect with my kids through their own interests.  My oldest daughter, Emily, is a reader.  She always has a book with her. I try to read books that she recommends to me or tells me that she enjoyed.  We are then able to discuss the books and connect in that way.  My middle daughter, Lauren, is a little fashionista.  She loves clothes, shoes, and make-up.  She is my shopping partner and we do our “make-up” together in the mornings. I struggle with my son, Jackson, since I don’t play football or baseball.  Sometimes connecting with him just means that we lay on the bed and watch YouTube videos together.
  4. I am still nursing our youngest set of twins.
    With our first three kids, nursing was no big deal to me.  I was a stay-at-home mom and had all day to nurse on demand. I nursed all three of our oldest kids exclusively for more than a year. Fast forward seven years to this newest set of twins and things have changed.  I work full time and attend graduate school in the evenings.  My pump goes every where with me.  I feel like I spend most of my time either nursing my babies when they are with me or pumping when they are not.  Most days I am only able to pump just enough to get them through the next day at daycare.  There is no surplus.  I often want to give up but for now I’m hanging in there.  We’ve made it almost seven months.  I hope to make it until their first birthday!
  5. I’m learning to choose my battles.
    When my oldest child was born, I obsessed about doing everything perfectly.  She was breastfed.  She always had a hair bow and was perfectly groomed.  I’m almost positive the child probably wasn’t exposed to dirt for the first two years of her life.  And then she became a big sister…  Once that first set of twins arrived, I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to give up some control.  Sure, I don’t think leggings and a t-shirt is an appropriate outfit for school, but Lauren does.  I’m learning to choose my battles.  Hey, at least she is dressed…even if she doesn’t match.
  6. I’ve loosened up and calmed down.
    When my husband and I first started dating I was very uptight. I stuck to the rules and didn’t handle spontaneity well.  My husband is exactly the opposite.  After eleven years of marriage and five children, I loosened up so much.  I appreciate the chaos and fun that comes with motherhood now.  I am so much better at rolling with the punches and keeping my calm.
  7. I try to set an example and embrace a life outside of my kids.
    I am a firm believer that while motherhood is a very important part of a woman’s life, it is not the only thing that defines her.  I want my girls to enjoy a successful and fulfilling life. I hope that includes motherhood for them but I also want them to know that their careers and individual life away from their kids is also valuable.  I try my best to set that example for my kids.  I maintain a career and travel without my kids.  I attend graduate school and pursue my own ambitions.  While I love being a mother, I also want my kids to see that I am more than that.  I hope they’re proud of me and can recognize and embrace all that I am.  While I hope all my kids get to experience what it is like to be a parent, I don’t want any of them to feel defined by only parenthood.
  8. I love their father.
    It is so important that our kids know what a healthy relationship looks like.  I want all of my kids to develop relationships someday that they feel appreciated, safe, loved, and respected in.  The best way I know to impart that desire to my children is to model it. So, I love their father.  My husband and I do our best to demonstrate a healthy relationship in front of our kids.  We talk about important stuff in front of them.  We thank each other for various things, such as doing the dishes, so that our kids can hear it.  He and I both make an effort to help each other out and demonstrate a sense of respect for each other in front of our kids.  And, most importantly, we are affectionate in front of our kids.  Greeting each other with a kiss and a hug in front of our kids every day will hopefully help them see the value in these actions towards those we love.
  9. I let them help.
    Dinner definitely makes it to the table quicker without my kids’ help but I let them help anyway.  I want my kids to feel like they contribute to the family and that their contribution is valued.  When they offer to help with something, I almost always embrace that.  Most nights one of the girls usually wants to help me cook dinner.  Lauren sets the table quite often.  Jackson is a pro at putting laundry away.  It used to drive me crazy when one of them wouldn’t fold the towels the way I do but I have learned to let go and let them help anyway.
  10. My kids are happy and healthy.
    Things aren’t perfect at our house and they never will be.  I’m definitely not a perfect mother but I’ve managed to raise some pretty happy and healthy kids so far.  I consider that a success  and just another reason that I am rocking motherhood!

How are you rocking motherhood?

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on January 12, 2015.

Like much of the country, I recently found myself sucked into the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.  It ended up being one of those series that my husband and I binge-watched and really enjoyed.  After we finished the second

Orange Is the New Black
Orange Is the New Black

season of the Netflix series, I decided to pick up Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which inspired the Netflix series.

Like the Netflix series, I really enjoyed Kerman’s memoir.  Her writing flows very well which made this book a pretty quick and easy read.  I found it easy to connect many of the characters from the book with the Netflix series even though the character names were changed for the series.  Kerman’s book was definitely not as action packed as the series but that is to be expected since this book is Kerman’s memoir and not written for ratings.

Kerman does a very good job in this book highlighting the problems with the prison system and showing what many of the people in prison go through.  I often think that middle-class Americans do not always recognize the struggles that many people in low socioeconomic situations go through and I think that Kerman did a wonderful job of putting some of that into words.  This book left me with a lot to think about.

Overall, I gave this book three stars.  While it is well-written and shines a spotlight on the plight of women in the prison system, it was a bit slow at times.  I also found Kerman to be a bit repetitive throughout this book.  If you haven’t watched the Netflix series yet, I would suggest reading the book first.  If you have watched the series, be aware that the events in the series are exaggerated greatly.

3 Star Rating

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

What I Learned When I Traveled to Europe While Pregnant With Twins

This time last year I was getting ready to head to England and France for Spring Break.  The trip had been planned and paid for long before I knew I was pregnant with Harrison and Katherine.  When I saw that first positive pregnancy test at the end of December, I experienced a moment of panic. I reminded myself that people travel while pregnant all the time.  In mid-January, we found out that we were expecting twins and I, once again, got a little bit nervous about traveling.  Two separate doctors gave me the okay to travel while pregnant with twins. At a little over 16 weeks pregnant, I hopped on a plane and took off.  It was an awesome experience but I did learn a few things about traveling while pregnant.

What I Learned About Traveling While Pregnant

  1. Get the okay from your doctor.

    As long as you are healthy, haven’t experienced any complications in your pregnancy, and aren’t too far along, your doctor probably won’t have any problem with you traveling.  However, it is still best to have that discussion with your doctor.  According to the two doctors that I talked with, it is perfectly fine to travel well into the third trimester.  If you are pregnant with twins or have had complications in your pregnancy, your doctor may recommend no traveling after 26 to 28 weeks.  Only you and your doctor can make that decision so it is important to have that conversation.

  2. Have your doctor provide you with a letter giving you medical clearance to fly.  

    Most airlines do not put any restrictions on pregnant passengers that are less than 28 weeks pregnant.  However, once you hit 28 weeks (or look like you are 28 weeks) you may start getting some questions from airline staff.  When you discuss your travel plans for your doctor ask for a letter that states how far along you are in your pregnancy, when you exact due date is, and that you are medically sound to fly.  I requested a letter just like this even though I was only 16 and 17 weeks during my trip last year.  Since I was carrying twins, I obviously looked like I was much farther along than that so I wanted to be sure that I had proof with me if any airline staff questioned me.

  3. Be familiar with your airline’s policy for pregnant passengers. 

    Here’s the deal.  There is no consistency to the restrictions that airlines place on pregnant passengers.  Most airlines will let you travel without any questions or restrictions until 28 weeks.  However, after that point, every airline has a different policy.  Some airlines won’t let you travel past 32 weeks while others require a letter of clearance from your doctor after 36 weeks.  Make sure you check the website for the airline you will be using to see what their policy is before you go.

  4. Take nausea medication with you…even if you think you don’t need it.

    With my first set of twins, I threw up all day every day for the entire pregnancy.  Our second set of twins proved to be much kinder to me.  I had very little morning sickness with Harrison and Katherine.  Because I hadn’t really been sick, I didn’t think I would need any medication for travel sickness.  Boy, was I wrong!  I ended up feeling very nauseated on several of my flights and finally got sick in Paris.  I highly recommend taking something with you whether it is a prescription medication from your doctor or an over-the-counter medication.  Even if you don’t need it, it is better to have it on you just in case.

  5. Move.  

    Pregnancy puts you at a higher risk for developing blood clots when flying.  One of the best ways to prevent this is to make sure that you move regularly.  If you are on a long flight, make sure that you get up at least once an hour and walk the aisle.  Take a trip to the bathroom (you’re probably going to need to go anyway).  Flex your feet and ankles while you are sitting.  Use your feet to write the alphabet while sitting in your seat.  I also recommend buying compression socks.  These also helping with preventing the development of clots while flying.  I bought and used these compression socks and loved them.  They worked really well for me.

  6. Be prepared to swell.

    I always swell a bit when I travel but I wasn’t prepared for how swollen my feet were by the end of my trip.  The compression socks that I mentioned earlier will help with swelling too.  I also recommend taking shoes that are a bit forgiving such as canvas shoes or flip flops, weather permitting.  I lived in a pair of the classic canvas TOMS on my trip last year.  The canvas was forgiving enough that when my feet would swell my shoes didn’t cut into my feet.  Also, make sure you have some room in your itinerary where you can stop and rest if your legs are too swollen.

  7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

    Any time you travel you need make sure that you stay hydrated but it is especially important when you are pregnant.  Drinking an adequate amount of water will help with travel sickness and swelling.  One of the best ways to ensure that you are staying hydrated is by keeping water with you.  I recommend this Camelbak water bottle.  I like these because they come with a straw which makes it easy to drink out of without tilting the bottle up and  they are also spill proof.  The way the lid is designed on the Camelbak also allows me to use a carabiner to attach it to my back pack which is really helpful while traveling.

  8. Grab a snack to go.  

    I am not a breakfast eater.  Never have been but I really can’t stomach eating in the mornings when I’m pregnant.  While traveling last year, I tried to force myself to eat breakfast every morning because I knew it could be a while before I got a chance to eat again.  Forcing myself to eat breakfast when it is not something I usually do probably contributed to the nausea that I experienced in Paris.  After spending a day vomiting and feeling terrible, I vowed not to make myself eat breakfast if I didn’t feel like it for the rest of the trip.  That ended up being a great idea.  However, I often found myself hungry before it was time for the next meal so I learned to keep some food in my purse.  Grab some granola bars or another portable snack to keep with you at all times.  Crackers are good options and can help if you feel nauseated.

  9. Listen to your body.Remember to take it easy as needed.  Listen to your body and rest if you need to.  If yout fret are swelling and you’re exhausted, make sure that you squeeze some time in to rest.
  10. Relax.You’re on vacation!  Remember to slow down and relax.  Traveling while pregnant is safe the majority of the time so relax and have fun!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

March Madness

Starting Out Rough

I had really high hopes that March would be a bit easier on us than January and February. However, that is not proving to be true so far.  Just four days into March and we have sick kids…again.  Poor Lauren has had a headache and congestion all week.  I’m pretty sure that it is a pretty terrible sinus infection.  Early Friday morning, Emily woke Daniel and I up to let us know that she had thrown up in her bed.  Daniel got her cleaned up and her bedding changed while I nursed Katherine.  About fifteen minutes after we all were back in bed, Jackson came to our room to let us know that he had thrown up in his bed also.  Needless to say, all five kids got to stay home from school with Dad on Friday.

Grad School Blues

Graduate school is officially kicking my rear.  I started this degree in June of 2015 and plowed through every semester without feeling too stressed about any of this.  This semester, however, has been awful.  I have absolutely no motivation and I’m finding it difficult to get anything done.  I have never struggled this much with any classes and I am barely getting anything read or done.  Forget doing the research I desperately need to do.   I have already checked out when it comes to grad school.

This week I received the information for my comprehensive exams that I will have to take (and pass) in April in order to be eligible for graduation. It was some overwhelming information.  The test will end up being a seven hour commitment and it is pass or fail.  It can cover ANYTHING from my coursework…two years of work.  I’m not even sure how to prepare for this.  Just praying to survive the rest of this semester.  69 days until graduation!

The Silver Lining

There is a little silver lining for March and the rest of this school year.  First, I leave for Italy in 12 days!  What?!?  I seriously can’t wait.  I need some travel time.  Sometimes I feel trapped at home and traveling is such a breath of fresh air for me.  Seeing how big the world is always makes me realize how insignificant most of my problems are.  With everything weighing me down right now, I really need that perspective. Plus, there is cheese, pasta, and gelato.  I may never come home.

Second, we signed Emily and Jackson up for soccer last week.  Baseball sign-ups started this past Thursday and we signed Jackson up to play that as well.  With the exception of football in the fall, I really love spring and summer sports.  I look forward to baseball and swim team as much as the kids do.  Jackson’s a bit nervous about baseball this year.  He is moving up from t-ball to coach-pitch and he is terrified that he is going to get hit with the ball.  Daniel has promised to practice with him a ton.  Hopefully, it will be a good season for him.

The girls are wrapping up dance classes.  Their recital will be in May.  I honestly can’t wait.  I usually really enjoy dance but with grad school it has felt really overwhelming this year.  Three nights a week the girls are at the dance studio.  I am so ready for a break from dance.  Once the recital is over, we won’t have any dance related activities until August!  Praise the Lord!

How’s your March going so far?  What are you looking forward to this spring?

 

 

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner

This book review was originally published on The Wordy Nerd Books on December 9, 2014.

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner is the first book in the Maze Runner series.  It is one of those books that has been hanging out on my “to-read” list for a long time.  The movie is currently in theaters and I have heard a lot of good things about it so it prompted me to finally pick this book up and read it.

Thomas doesn’t remember anything prior to waking up in an empty box in the Glade.  He doesn’t remember where he came from or who he is.  The Glade is filled with boys who arrived in the same fashion as Thomas and also do not remember anything.  Thomas must quickly learn to navigate life in the Glade and something about this place seems vaguely familiar to Thomas but he can’t remember why.  And then, everything changes.  The next box to arrive doesn’t contain a boy.  Instead, the Gladers find the first girl to ever be sent to the Glade.  Things quickly change and Thomas soon realizes that he holds the key to the maze and many of the problems at the Glade…if only he could remember his past.

One of my students recently told me that James Dashner was one of his favorite authors.  I have to agree with that student.  Dashner definitely seems to be an author that I am going to enjoy reading more books from.  His writing is smooth and flows well.  He also kept his chapters engaging.  Every chapter ended in a way that made me want to just keep reading,

The Maze Runner is the first book in series and ended accordingly.  Dashner leaves the reader with only partial answers to most of the problems in the book.  I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

This is a book that I think fans of the dystopian genre will really enjoy.  It is also considered a young adult book so it will appeal to younger readers.  Overall, I rated this book four out of five stars.  You can grab a copy here and check it out!

4 Star Rating

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).