The Time I Flashed A Beach

These people are in no danger of doing what I did.
Photo by Just Name on

This is a story of one of the most embarrassing times of my life. It’s a writing exercise that called for me to be more honest than I would like. So here I am, being honest.

Being a teenager comes with its naturally awkward moments. Bodies change – sometimes overnight. Sometimes the person wishes they changed more in certain places than in others. Up until I was 15, I had prayed that I would grow breasts. Every birthday wish and wish upon a star was to have the Boob Fairy visit and bless me with Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s body. This ridiculous wish was fueled by the fact that a boy I liked at school had told all of our friends that I was “too flat chested” to date. Naturally, instead of telling him to sod off, I did what any teenage girl with low self-esteem and on the verge of an eating disorder would do: pray for my body to change. And change it did. Suddenly, I went from nothing to, “What do I do with these things?!”

What to do with those things really depends on the situation. Running? Strap them down. Flirting? Maybe push them together. Attacked by baby jellyfish? There’s not really an S.O.P. for that one. Which brings us to one of the most embarrassing moments of my teenage years.

It was the fall of 2000. My family was on a trip to Houston, TX for my cousin’s wedding, and after a very convincing PR campaign (see: creative nagging), my parents had decided to take a day trip to Galveston and rent a surfboard so I could go surfing. I was a weird kid. I was a landlocked Kansas girl who was obsessed with surfing. I could give you all of the stats of the competitions, and tell you who the best was and why. My locker was filled with photos of Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. This was my chance to FINALLY surf. In my mind, I would be amazing.

We got to the beach, with the nine foot long antique wooden Hansen surfboard my parents had rented (why my parents didn’t opt for fiberglass was beyond me, they were probably afraid I would be too good at surfing on it, and they’d have no choice but to give into my dreams) and I breathed in the salt air. I lugged the beast to the shoreline, waxed up, attached my leash, and paddled out, the salt water stinging my eyes. Slowly, I turned the cruise ship of a surfboard around. I was ready. This was my chance to prove to my parents that we should pack up our home, move to California, where I would inevitably become a surfing prodigy and join the ranks of Layne Beachley and Rochelle Ballard.

As I dug my hands into the murky gulf, I felt a slight stinging up my arms. I ignored it and kept paddling, I popped up, and very quickly wiped out. As soon as I was submerged in the water, my entire body felt the tiny stings that had been on my arms. But I didn’t care. I wiped the water from my eyes, slicked back my hair, and climbed back onto the board. I paddled back out. Surfing was my destiny, regardless of what was in the water, I would master it.

With each stroke, the stinging increased. Before I knew it, my body was on fire. I looked down at the board and saw itty bitty sea creatures. The board and my arms were covered in them. I paddled to catch what would be my final wave of the day. I rode it into the beach, but I was too distracted by the fire that was consuming my limbs and my swimming suit top to enjoy it. This wasn’t the joy of surfing, this was the scourge of the Gulf!

I called – no, I screamed for my mother. She rushed over and I cried out in panic and showed her what was consuming me. The tiny creatures were all over. She helped me to wipe them off of my arms and legs, then I screamed, “THEY’RE IN MY TOP! IT HURTS!!!!” And it did. If felt like 1,000 Tetanus shots were being injected into me. And there, on a beach in Galveston, Texas, I ripped off my bikini top for the world to see. There was no logic. There was only pain. Pain that as soon as the baby jellyfish were gone, quickly morphed into embarrassment. Suddenly, I realized what I had done to escape the torture. Mouths were agape, passersby saw it all. Luckily, my father and brother were further down the beach and missed the spectacle. My mother quickly threw a towel over me to hide my cash and prizes. But the damage had been done.

Needless to say, my parents didn’t pack up our house to move to California, and I never did win an ASP title (now WSL).


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. 

breastfeeding, Don't Judge, Lists, Parenting, Pumping, Stressed

8 Things NOT To Worry About as a Parent

It will all be okay. Unless it’s grape juice on a white carpet. Then you should worry about why you chose white carpet when you have kids.

As parents, we can’t help but worry about our adorable little bundles of joy. The amazing part is that for many of us the worrying starts before they’re outside of the womb. It’s as though the mere act of becoming pregnant sets off an instinct to worry about our children all of the time. It doesn’t help that social media is loaded with horror stories from parents. After three kids, I’ve spent A LOT of time worrying, and A LOT of time learning that I didn’t actually need to worry about certain things. So, here’s a list of eight things that I worried about, that I didn’t need to worry about! 

  1. Pumping Too Early and Your Supply: If you’re a breastfeeding mom, I’m sure you’ve heard this one, “You don’t want to pump too soon, because it could ruin your supply. But waiting too long could cause issues as well!”  So, when should you start to pump? Should you wait the rumored week postpartum? According to Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC, a mom can start pumping within six hours, if her baby doesn’t immediately nurse. In fact, according to her article on Kelly Mom, the early pumping helps with the milk supply. So, don’t worry about pumping too soon! Make sure your baby is fed and start building that stash of liquid gold!

  2. Needing to Supplement with a Bottle: Yes, we all know, “Breast is best.” But the problem with that saying is that it makes moms feel like they’ve failed if their baby isn’t fully breastfed. While the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, the fact is that it’s more important for your baby to be fed than for you to be able to say that your baby was exclusively breastfed. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a particular box; just feed your baby! The best mom isn’t the one who strictly breastfeeds, the best mom is the one who does  what’s best for her babies. Besides, nobody can tell once your kids are grown up whether or not they were breastfed! If you are finding that you’re having a hard time with your breastfeeding journey, you can always speak with a certified lactation consultant. La Leche League is also a great resource for help on your journey.

  3. Why Hasn’t My Baby Rolled Over: I remember worrying so much with my first when she would roll over, and then worrying about when she’d crawl, or when she’d walk. It turns out the age milestones are more of a guideline than anything! There’s a full range of when babies should gain their different levels of mobility. And once I had my second and third babies, I was in absolutely no rush to teach them how to gain mobility. Now, if you have concerns, you can always speak to your pediatrician.

  4. Why Doesn’t My Baby Have Teeth Yet: Did you know that some babies don’t get their teeth until they’re 18-months-old? I was shocked when I saw that! Teeth, just like the mobility milestones, come in at different times for each child. Granted, there is a time range when most babies start to cut teeth. Once my babies started to get teeth, I realized how silly I was to worry. There’s nothing quite like breastfeeding a teething baby.

  5. My Baby Isn’t Eating Solids Yet: There’s a lot of talk about when the proper time is to start your baby on solids. Some say you can introduce purées as early as 4 months, and others say to wait until 6 months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you can start to introduce solids around 6 months of age. My middle child loved food the moment it was introduced, while my youngest had no interest until he was almost 9 months old. Each child is different. Don’t panic if your baby isn’t a fan of strained carrots, new textures take some getting used to. If you’re thinking about solids, definitely talk to your doctor first, just to make sure they’re on board with the introduction!

  6. Eating Dirt and Other Things: I remember when my eldest was born, I was extremely concerned about germs. Everyone had to sanitize their hands up to their elbows before they could hold her. That faded over time, but once she got mobile and started to put stuff in her mouth, the germ-phobia came back. I was worried she’d eat dirt, or anything off of the floor and get sick. The logical side of my brain completely ignored the fact that germs actually help to increase the immune system. One day while she was crawling around, she ate a ladybug. I panicked and called Poison Control. The operator giggled and let me know there was nothing to worry about. After the ladybug incident, my fear of her eating things calmed down a bit. Granted, if your child eats something you’re not sure of, it’s always okay to call Poison Control or your doctor!

  7. The Mom Wars: You know what I’m talking about, the constant desire some moms have to outdo other moms, their children are always perfect, always sleep through the night, have never screamed, or thrown tantrums? The odds are they’ll also “choose” to go to Stanford over Harvard or Princeton. They’ll ask you about your child and may try to make you feel inferior, but you know what? Don’t let them. As moms, we should help each other and provide one another with a village of support. We don’t need to compare! Her child never cries? Good for her! Her kid is always the best? Fantastic!  Even if you don’t believe it, just smile and nod. Do not engage. I used to worry about what other moms thought, and then I realized what mattered was how I was doing with my kids. As long as my children are growing into well-adjusted people, that’s what matters.

  8. What Your Child Wears:  I used to be very concerned about the outfits my daughter would wear. I had the cutest little boutique outfits and bows all ready to go. And then one day she asked if she could dress herself, which she did with pride. She picked out the most garish ensemble you could imagine. Bright orange, purple, yellow, green. All of the colors of the rainbow and it was a sight. At first, I tried to ease her into another outfit but decided to let her keep wearing her special outfit of choice. I was afraid people might stare and think I was a horrible parent for letting her wear that. But then I realized something: who cares? She’s proud of her outfit. She likes experimenting with different pieces, and it gives her a sense of autonomy. When so many things in our children’s lives are regimented and controlled with very little say from them, it’s important for them to be able to have complete freedom (within reason) in at least one area. Granted, I won’t let her wear shorts and flip-flops in the snow, but anything that doesn’t endanger her health is allowed.

Parenting can be challenging and nerve-wracking. There are times when you should worry, but there are plenty of other times when you don’t need to. Hopefully, this list has helped quell some of your fears and concerns. Just remember, do the best you can and if you’re ever worried about your baby’s health or development, call your pediatrician! That’s what they’re there for. And one more thing, resist the urge to click on the sad news stories about anyone’s kids on Facebook. You’ll worry less and feel better!


Church, Don't Judge, Parenting, Stressed

Forgive Me Father…

Going to mass/church with babies and young children can be tricky. You’re supposed to go to mass, sit, focus on God, all while pretending that you’re not going to lose your mind trying to wrangle your little angels.

The fact is, mass wasn’t designed to keep the attention of young children. Kids want to run, babies want to wiggle and crawl, and you just want your kids to stop fighting over the Cheerios you brought in an attempt to keep them distracted long enough for you to get through saying the Our Father or singing a prayer without having to make this face and angry whisper at them to behave.

What makes it worse is that you can feel not only the eyes of God upon you, but the eyes of all of the parishioners staring at you as well. It’s horrible, you think that they’re judging your parenting. You think that they’re wishing you’d JUST TAKE THE KIDS TO THE BACK OF THE CHURCH. You think that they’re saying, “Did you see her just point her finger! Ohhh she’s mad!” And then you’re thinking about them judging you, and you’re judging them for judging you IN CHURCH! But the odds are you’re wrong. The odds are that the majority of the parishioners have been in the EXACT same situation as you. In fact, some of them are in the exact situation as you WHILE you’re trying to get the kids to behave.

Yesterday at mass, my kids were going nuts in the pews. My youngest was squirmy, trying to nurse, then do alligator rolls in my arms, while the two eldest were arguing over Cheerios, telling me they were bored, and arguing over who would get to “guggle Mommy” after the baby was done nursing. It was embarrassing, and I whisper yelled A LOT. I won’t even talk about when Max dropped his pacifier and went forward and between the legs of the man in front of us on the kneeler. Or the part when both the girls decided they needed to go to the bathroom at the same time, and on our way back to the pew decided to RUN up the aisle. I mean, sure run to God with your hearts, but DO NOT RUN TO THE PEW!

It was a struggle. It was over an hour of thinking, “The Lord is testing me.” But guess what? After mass ended a woman from two pews back said to me, “Your family is beautiful! And it does get easier!” And then her husband also said, “Your family is beautiful.” I almost cried when they said that. Not everyone in the pews probably appreciates it screaming and the noise, but the fact is this: WHO CARES!? Children deserve to go to mass and be given a chance to develop a relationship with God.

Most days when my kids get rambunctious at church I have a few things I do with them to try to calm them. Here are my church survival tactics:

  1. Walk around the perimeter of the church with them – We walk up and down the side aisles and the back of the church A LOT. If they’re old enough to walk, this tires them out and can calm them down.
  2. Speaking of walking a lot, distract them while carrying them on these walks by looking at the stained glass and letting them touch the stained glass.
  3. Point out any pictures or statues in the church – You can make this into a fun game, “Where’s Mary? Where’s Jesus?” You can try to count how many images of Mary or Jesus are in the church. You can count how many crosses there are as well.
  4. Flip through the prayer books/hymnals with them – They can turn pages, you can try to find all of the alphabet on the pages together.

And when all else fails, you can try not to cry and just remember even Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14