Life in the Kids’ Lane

Pro-Tip: Never let the the kids run amok.

This is NOT a sponsored post, I’m just sharing some awesome info. I did not get paid for my opinions or get any kickbacks.

Things have been extremely busy since I started on the freelance journey with three kids. School has started, for two of the kids and myself, work has been increasing, and of course my attempts to stay sane have been successful some days and futile the next.

I recently had one of my pieces posted on a site called Mom Fuel Empire. I found out about the site through a networking group, and I’m so glad that I did. They gave me a platform to discuss what it’s like to parent with IBS-D, share some tips, and learn tips to keep myself calm so stress and anxiety don’t wreak havoc on my tummy. You can read my post here.

If you get stressed out or need tips, Amy from Mom Fuel Empire has set up a very affordable course ($25!) to help other moms cope with holiday anxiety. She’s set up the course in three sections that will help you to come up with a plan to utilize your time, so you don’t stress about the holiday prep. And two other sections that cover coping with family, in-laws, gifts, etc. without losing your marbles.

In the future, I plan to post more actual blogs here, but sometimes life gets in the way. School, work, kids, and crying in the shower occasionally take precedent over my ability to blog. However, I’m coming up with a new organization system for myself that will allow me some more personal writing time.

With that said, it’s time to get back to school and work. Oh and prep for Halloween!

Mental Health, Parenting, Stressed, Uncategorized

Scary Mommy: How Learning to Ask for Help Saved My Life

Scary Mommy

I’m really excited to share this on my page. An article that I wrote, that I wasn’t sure anyone would want, was picked up my Scary Mommy. It just went live, and I wanted to share it here with all of you.

This was not an easy piece to write, nor was it easy to share all of this openly, especially on the internet. But I knew I had to do it. I needed to let other moms know that they’re not alone, and that we need to feel open to discuss our struggles and ask for help.

You can read the piece here:

How Learning to Ask for Help Saved My Life

Don't Judge, Parenting, Stressed

I’m Sorry

This kid is two seconds away from making every single adult in the building judge your parenting.

Mom Shame: noun The feeling that arises when a mom is in public with her children, and someone makes that mother feel inadequate, embarrassed, or judged.

Going in public as a mother, or parent in general, can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Outings with children are filled with so many opportunities for a mom to be judged, that sometimes we decide to stay home more often than we should, just to avoid potential conflict. 

There’s the possibility that if you breastfeed your baby, you’ll have to explain to an ill-informed patron that, yes it is perfectly legal to breastfeed in public. No, a cover is not required, and no you are definitely NOT trying to steal anyone’s husband. Because let’s be honest, breastfeeding is definitely not the latest strategy for man-eating homewreckers. 

If it’s not the breastfeeding, there’s always the diaper changing that could cause the ire of a passerby. Many restrooms are not equipped with diaper changing stations. I’m still perplexed by this, especially when it happens at family establishments. And without a diaper changing station, we have to find other places to change the diaper. Sometimes, we have to use a bench or booth. The number of people offended by this is insane. Diapers have to be changed. It’s worth a few glares or snide remarks to avoid a diaper rash.

This past weekend, something happened that shocked and mortified me. We were visiting my sister and took the kids on an outing to the mall. The alluring fall scents coming out of a shop* sucked us into the shop, where I had no choice but to spend too much money on a candle that smelled of childhood, gadgets to make my car smell like what I’d imagine Elsa’s castle would smell like, and shea socks. But that wasn’t what mortified me, though $24.50 for a candle that smelled like a Kansas pumpkin patch should have. No, the problem was at check out. 

The store was loud since they had construction in process, and my husband and I had been trading off pushing our teething and cranky 18-month-old son around the shop to keep him happy. During the transaction, I could hear my son’s cries and the woman checking me out, let’s call her Karen, said something along the lines of, “Would somebody just tell that kid to shut up.” I was stunned. I knew it was my son. But I didn’t know what to say, and that’s why I love my sister who said, “That’s her son.” 

Karen looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry. If I had known, I wouldn’t have said anything.” All I could say was, “You shouldn’t have said it at all.” I got through my transaction as quickly as I could. My eyes started to sting with the tears welling up, and I just had to get away as quickly as I could before I cried. As I made my way to the front of the shop, I started to cry. I hate crying, even though I seem to do it a lot now I especially hate to cry in public. Sure, Karen was sorry, and I do forgive her. I can’t imagine what it would be like to work in a construction zone all day and have to hear my son’s shrieks. I’m his mother, and I hate them. But in that moment, she forgot that my son was also experiencing the horrible sounds of the construction, she didn’t know he’s teething, and she didn’t realize the only way he can communicate his discomfort is to scream (of course, I think screaming is also just his favorite thing to do on certain days).

From my experiences, I feel like we as a society have cast aside understanding and empathy, not only to parents of young kids but to everyone in general. In the moment with Karen, I felt like a horrible mother. My son was screaming, I wasn’t doing anything to make him stop since he was with his dad, and by proxy, I was bothering everyone. 

Since then, I’ve had another experience with another Karen that’s made me feel like I should never leave my home ever again. This time, it was my little throwing his pacifier on the ground while he was in his stroller. I didn’t see it happen since I was turned and talking to the girls. An older woman walked up to me, handed me his paci, with a glare. I told her thank you, and all she could say was, “It was on the ground.” And scoffed, glared, and walked off. I just stood stunned, once again. I’m sorry…?

At this point, I feel like I should wear a shirt that says:

I am a mother of three young children.

I am sorry if they cry, drop things, 

or do something else to offend.

Please remember that we are also human. 

Please be kind, because I am one tantrum or rude 

stranger away from losing my mind.

I just ask of you, the next time you’re in public and you hear a child losing their mind, or see a mother struggling, please remember: We are all human. We are doing our best. We are probably one more shriek away from a mental breakdown. And we hate the screams as much as you.

*After publishing I was contacted by the company, and I didn’t feel it would be fair to keep them on blast after that phone call. They were kind and made things right. They did not request for me to remove the name, I did that of my own accord.

Parenting, Stressed

Can We Be Honest?

“I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”
– Bob from What About Bob

“Motherhood is a blessing.”

“Enjoy these moments.”

“You’ll miss the messes.”

And on, and on, and on. 

These are the things that we moms hear oh so often when we’re in the midst of trying to maintain our sanity. And you know what? I hate it, and I’m sure many of you do too. It completely undercuts our emotions and plants a tiny seed of guilt for being honest with ourselves when we say: MOTHERHOOD IS HARD. We can love our children and the stage of life we’re in and still be able to say what a struggle it is! Why do we have to feel guilty for looking forward to a day when our kids can wipe their own bottoms or get their own snacks? I don’t think anyone has ever said, “I miss blow-outs and teething so much! My favorite stage was the 18+ months of sleepless nights! I really miss only getting two hours of sleep a night.” Want to know why? BECAUSE IT’S HARD!

The other day I was out alone with the kids. I was wearing my youngest in the Ergo, and I was trying to maintain a grip with my 3-year-old’s hand, while pulling my 5-year-old’s hand, since she was getting distracted by a pretty cloud in the parking lot. An older woman approached me and said, “It’s so hard. I know, I had five.” And for the first time in FOREVER someone was actually honest and understanding. She didn’t try to sugarcoat how difficult this stage of life can be, or make the mood worse by telling me how much harder it gets when they’re teenagers. She was just honest about this exact moment: having young children is a challenge. She did tell me the ages of her kids and how they do quickly grow up, but she kept reiterating how challenging young kids could be. Her words were like a cold glass of water on a hot day; they were welcoming and refreshing. 

We need to stop lying about this. We are allowed to ugly cry over a glass of wine about our struggles. It doesn’t make us any less grateful for the gift of motherhood. And it sure as heck doesn’t mean we don’t love our children! It just means we’re being real just like the beautiful capeless emotional hero in my story. I’m not sure when it became en vogue to plaster a smile across our faces, but I’m sure it was around the same time the first canon was shot during the Mom Wars, and suburbanites started downing ADHD meds just to keep up with the Joneses. It’s unhealthy, it’s counterproductive, and Karen, WE KNOW YOU’RE HAVING A HARD TIME! We all hear the tantrums little Stevie throws! Just be honest with us: THIS STAGE IS HARD!

With that little rant out of the way, I’m going to say this: It took TWO hours today to walk a mile with my three kids. And during that walk, my daughters had roughly 647 arguments about whether or not they should hold hands, who could walk the fastest, and whether or not it was a good idea to pretend a wall was a balance beam (yes for the 5-year-old, no for the 3-year-old). And the baby? He’s teething. Everything’s fine. This is great #blessed. 

Today is a tough one. But being honest about it sure is freeing. 


Rejection of a Writer

I’ve been freelance writing for nearly five years. The problem is, most of my work has come from referrals or through content mills. This means, I have very little experience with the pitching process. That all changed recently. I decided that I needed to take myself and my work seriously, to truly work for myself as a freelance writer. This meant no more sitting back and thumbing through projects on a content site that paid pennies per word, but to truly go out there, send off pitches, submit pieces for publication, and see what would happen. It was exhilarating to look at what jobs were available and to develop pitch ideas. I enjoyed finding sites and researching what they wanted. And I had more fun going through and creating articles that I thought some of these sites would like. THIS is what writers do, I thought. Writers write and try to sell their words. Writers hope that someone out there will read their words and think they’re good enough to pay for them. And writers also face rejection. 

Rejection is exactly what I’ve been dealing with lately. This week, I have received two rejection letters and numerous response deadlines have passed. Many writers will know, the passed deadlines are a rejection letter of their own, but instead of a nice letter encouraging another future submission, it’s silence. A silence that fills you with questioning doubt. Was my writing so bad they couldn’t even draft a letter? Am I worth it? Why am I doing this?

 Rejection is an inevitability of this business. Not everyone will want to buy your words. It’s true, just as I don’t want to buy everybody else’s words (though my bookshelves might make you think otherwise). Writers know that rejection will come. But there’s still something about rejection that rips at your soul. It’s not the actual rejection that is so terrible, it’s the feeling of rejection that tears you apart. The feeling of rejection is a grotesque sticky ball of ink that tries to reach inside the writer to convince them they’re not good enough to be a writer. It goes hand in hand with Fear. Fear is what keeps us writers away from finishing a project, submitting a pitch, or sending off a final draft. Fear can be so bad that it can keep a writer from even starting a project. It makes us question our worth and efforts, “Can I even write what I want to write?” We fear the feeling of rejection, and allow that fear to keep us from our dreams.

I have decided that I’m going to look at rejection differently. I will not let it win. Instead, I will look at rejection as a victory. Each letter is a trophy showing that I have overcome Fear and allowed my words to be sent off  somewhere to be read, regardless of the outcome. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I took a chance. And that rejection letter is far more character building than sitting around daydreaming of being a writer. Each rejection letter is proof that I AM a writer. In Stephen King’s On Writing he has a story of the massive number of rejection letters he received, and look at where he is now. If a prolific writer such as King was able to collect his rejections and carry on without giving up, then so can I.

I will keep on writing. I will keep submitting projects. And I will be victorious.  

family vacation, Lists, Parenting, personal finance, savings tips and tricks, vacation

How to Budget for a Vacation When a Vacation Isn’t in the Budget

This post contains affiliate links for rebate programs.

The thought of taking the family on vacation isn’t something a lot of people who live on a budget might think is possible, unless it’s a quick trip to a local campground or lake. However, with a few lifestyle tweaks and some money-saving tips, your dream vacation might seem less like a dream and more like a reality. 

The first thing you’ll want to do when getting ready to save your vacation is to have a destination in mind. This destination will help you to estimate exactly how much you should save. After all, a family vacation to Ireland won’t cost the same as a family vacation to Destin. Once you have your destination in mind, it’s time to estimate how much your trip will cost. You can get an idea on airfare by going to any of the airfare sites and research different times of year to travel to your dream destination. You might discover that you would be okay shifting your plans from a June vacation to a September vacation to help save on your ticket costs. You can also use the same strategy to estimate the cost of lodging. Don’t forget to add in some money for food and a car rental if you’re planning to go somewhere that requires a vehicle. 

Now that you have an idea on the cost of your trip, it’s time to start saving! It’s this part that can seem a bit daunting to many. But the truth is, it’s much easier than expected. The trick is to start simple and save a little over time. If you’re flexible on your time frame for the trip, it will make the saving part much easier. 

Eating Out

When you want to save money, it’s time to cut back on the unnecessary spending. Many people don’t realize how much money they spend each month when it comes to eating out or grabbing a Starbucks in the morning. If you want to go on this dream trip, it’s time to start making coffee at home and packing your work lunches. Take the money that you would usually spend on those items and put it into your vacation fund. This step leads us to the next point.

Meal and Snack Prep

To make it easier to cut back on eating out, it’s essential to plan your meals for the week. If you know every day what you’re going to eat, it makes it a lot harder to have an excuse to eat out. To help you plan your meals for the week, look at the store sales flyers for your area. Plan your meals around what’s on sale and what you already have in your fridge.

Once you’ve shopped, load up your fridge with easy to grab and go snacks and lunches. Did you know that you can premake sandwiches to stash in your fridge and freezer? Cut up some fruits and veggies to have in baggies or reusable containers to toss in your lunch bag. When you make dinner, double the recipe so you can have another meal later in the week. The more you plan, the easier it will be to stay on track.

Save that Change

It’s time to start saving those pennies, nickels, and dimes-literally. Any time you see a piece of change on the ground, pick it up and put it in your jar. If you use cash to buy something, keep the change and throw it in your jar. That money will add up over time, and before you know it, you could have a couple hundred dollars in change to help you pay for your trip.

Gift Cards

Depending on where you’re planning to go on vacation, you might be able to start saving with gift cards. Places like Disney allow patrons to pay for their vacations using their branded gift cards. You can slowly begin to stash them up over time to help spread out the cost of your holiday. During your trip to Target, if you suddenly feel like buying the cute llama shaped planter, put it back and opt for an airline gift card in the same amount. Spend the money on memories instead of clutter.

Savings Account

Maybe you’re going somewhere that won’t allow you to pay with gift cards, or you’re not sure which airline you’ll be flying, so a gift card isn’t an option. That’s okay! Set up a savings account to start stashing that cash in. The interest rates aren’t always great, but a little something is better than nothing. Some banks run specials that will award you with money for setting up an account. Shop around to find out if any of your local banks have promos going on that could help you save more money for your trip!

Wish List

When your family or significant other asks you what you’d like for any of the gift-giving holidays, tell them your plan and ask for gift cards or cash in lieu of objects to help you save up. Be sure to take note of the gift so you can send a postcard from your destination! The same goes for the kids. If grandparents ask what the kids want, tell them that Visa or AmEx gift cards would be great for them to have as spending money on the trip. Then, take a picture of the kids buying items with the gift so the kids can put it in their thank you cards.

Get Those Rebates!

If you’re looking for a way to earn money while you do your shopping, then you need to sign up for some rebate apps (if you click the links for the apps within this post, I might earn a referral bonus)! Apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Receipt Hog allow you to earn money back on your shopping trips. If you’re shopping online, then you should definitely have an Ebates account to help you earn money! Any time you cash out on those apps, you can save it for your trip! It’s extra money you wouldn’t normally be getting, so it’s perfect for that vacation fund.

It’s not always fun to save, especially when you put off the immediate gratification you could get from spending money on an impulse buy. You just have to remember what you’re doing it for and know that someday soon, you’ll be somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. When you begin to implement these tips into your life, your vacation will become more attainable. Just remember, nobody has the money for a vacation until they make money work for their vacation.

If you have any tips that I didn’t include, please feel free to share them below! Or if any of these sound like something you’ll use, let me know in the comments!

Parenting, Uncategorized

To Cloth or Not to Cloth

When I got pregnant with my first baby, I wanted to make sure that I was well-versed in all there was to know about being a mom and doing the best for my child. I learned about breastfeeding, making my own baby food, natural cleansers for the baby, which carriers would be best for me and my little nugget, and of course cloth diapering. 

After reading about cloth diapering, I was convinced it was the way to go. Cloth diapers don’t have the chemicals that disposables do, they supposedly help toddlers potty train faster, they’re good for the environment, and of course, they are far cheaper in the long run than disposables. All of these points sounded great. I was ready to jump on that bandwagon. I started to build my stash and defend my stance to anyone who doubted cloth diapering. Any time somebody asked me what they could gift us for the new baby, I asked for cloth diapers or gift cards to buy cloth diapers. I even forced my husband to sit through a cloth diapering class with me. We were ready, or so we thought.

When Madeline was born, I begrudgingly put her in the “evil” disposable Pampers that the hospital provided. After all, nobody wants to clean meconium from cloth. As soon as we got home though, it was all about the cloth. We had all-in-ones, pockets, fitteds, prefolds, and flats. They ranged from newborn to larger sizes. This was going to work. It had to work, after all, I had studied, talked to friends, gone to classes, watched videos, and built an amazing stash of varying brands. I was saving the environment and money one stinky soaked diaper at a time. Except, it didn’t work like it was supposed to.

During the cloth diapering class, we learned how to put the diapers on properly. You were supposed to get a snug fit, secure the diaper, and be on your way. The snug fit of the cloth diapers supposedly meant fewer blow-outs. This was not our experience. Almost every poopy diaper was a blow-out. At first, I was convinced it was my husband; he wasn’t doing it right. I took over cloth diaper duty and ended up with the same result: blow-out after blow-out, leaky diaper after leaky diaper. How was this possible? We had done the classes, watched the videos, practiced on the teddy bears. I switched around the brands, sizes, and kinds, still to no avail. A week after delivery, and a pack or two of disposables later, we loaded up the baby and drove to the diaper store for some help. The owner informed us that our baby had small legs, and that could make it harder to get a good fit. She changed M’s diaper and showed us “the right way” to get a fit. And we left. When we got home, we were greeted with another blow-out and a car seat cover that needed to be laundered.

I was extremely stubborn and unwilling to admit defeat. I had been adamant; this was the way, and disposable diapers were evil. My husband wasn’t as convinced. My sister gave us an Honest diaper cake, and we started to mix those disposables into the mix, especially at night. I was more willing to use those diapers since they were the “natural” and “less harmful” alternative to cloth. Their cute prints also helped. As she grew, her little thighs started to get bigger, and I was convinced the blow-outs and leaks would stop. They did get fewer, so instead of every diaper leaking or blowing out, it was every-other diaper. It was a struggle. And it wasn’t just the leaking issue that became problematic for us; it was also the laundry.

Before I had any experience, I thought it would be fine to toss the diapers in the wash and move onto the next chore. The diaper laundry would be no big deal. Once again, I was wrong. The diaper laundry was horrendous. Having to rinse every diaper, and smell the horrid smells was not for the faint of heart. And it was mainly my husband who was doing the laundry since the washing machine was right next to his little man cave. 

We slowly started to ease into more disposables, to the point that she was probably in disposables 95% of the time. Finally, one day my husband came in and said to me, “Can we just stop with the cloth diapers? It is worth $80 per month for me to not have to wash another diaper.” That was the day I signed up for the Honest diaper service. Which eventually turned into Pampers, then Huggies, and now we use Luvs with our third baby. I did try cloth with our second baby, but the results weren’t much better. 

We can all start with the best of intentions: save the earth on diaper at a time. But sometimes those plans don’t work out, and you have to be okay with making changes. I know there are people out there who detest disposable diapers, and I understand that. But for us, it didn’t work. It was not worth the headache of diaper laundry and massive blow-outs or constant leaks. If you’re thinking of cloth diapering, I hope it works out for you. They have cute prints and gadgets to help with the journey. If you plan on using disposables, I hope you find a brand that you like and your baby likes. The real point is to find something that works for you and your family and not worry about what other people think. Just be happy with the choices you make and love your baby with all of your heart.

If you’re looking into cloth diapering and want some good resources, there are plenty. There are several groups on Facebook dedicated to the cause that are full of information. The webiste is also good starting place.

For disposable diapers, you can get samples from different brands if you go onto their sites. You can also buy trial/travel size packs to try them out to see which work best for your baby. We had good luck with Honest, Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs. Each brand had their benefits. I especially liked the way Honest fit our newborns. They were the best fitting around their tiny thighs. You may have to experiment with a couple of different brands, but something will work.