Tuesday, May 16, 2017

AR's 5th Birthday Party

My sweet baby girl is turning five this coming Thursday, I'll post about that later, but tonight we're focusing on her birthday party! We had it last Saturday at my work. It was really easy to put on, they ordered the cake, had the goodie bags, and we just showed up. My mom, the master storyteller, told a story to the kiddos where she told AR that she was a king of chickens, AR's reaction:

DSC_8340

The chickens had to lay eggs for the king, here's Nanny trying to lay an egg. 
DSC_8349

Nanny even asked the dads to come up and help lay eggs! Thanks, Dads, for being such a good sport!
DSC_8360

AR and the other kids thought this was hilarious!
DSC_8345

Then Rapunzel even came to the party!!!
DSC_8364

She loved her cake and having everyone sing to her!
DSC_8373

Happy birthday, sweet girl!
DSC_8374

AR took Rapunzel around the room and introduced her to all of her friends! 
DSC_8388

Matt and I celebrating our girl! 
DSC_8406

After cake, story, and Rapunzel, we headed to the pool! My sister and H got AR a mermaid tail that she absolutely LOVES! She's been asking for one since we saw one in January!
DSC_8439

Me and the birthday girl!
DSC_8457

This picture cracks me up! Doesn't look like any of us were too thrilled about the dumping buckets of water! 
DSC_8477
Unlike these two who loved it! Thank goodness H came to the party, it was great to have her help plus what five-year-old doesn't love being with her big cousin! 

DSC_8478

More pics of the mermaid tail, it was a hit with all the kiddos!
DSC_8502

I'll be carting this around to all the pools this summer!
DSC_8503

Her aunt got her some new heels and she was super pumped about that!
DSC_8508

We asked her friends to bring change to donate to the local humane society instead of gifts. We wound up with $246.50 to donate to the shelter. We're going to go on her birthday to give it to them.
DSC_8514
A big thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with us and who helped raise all this money for the humane society!!!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Today I celebrated my FIFTH Mother's Day with AR. Those five years have been a whirlwind of change, happiness, tears, love, fear, the unknown, and so much more, and you know what? I wouldn't change any of it for one minute. Every thing I've been through in the five years since I've had AR and all the years leading up to May 18, 2012 have made me the mother I am today. I'm not perfect, I'm not even close. I'm impatient. I'm demanding but I would do anything in the world for this girl. I love her and I love her hard. This little diva is my whole world, my best friend, my partner in crime, my biggest cheerleader, and she's stuck with me whether she likes it or not!

DSC_8520-1


I started the day off feeling awful, allergies, sinuses, and all that other gunk but I'm a single mom and even though it was Mother's Day, there was things to get done. AR and I headed outside where I mowed the yard and I'll be honest, I was feeling a little down because it was Mother's Day and I had to do laundry, mow the yard, wash dishes, pack lunch, etc... After I finished mowing, I decided I was going to tackle putting together the trampoline I got AR for her birthday. My girl came to help me and all my sadness was gone. Sure, I wasn't "getting the day off" but I had the best helper ever right there beside me. We may not have gotten it all done but we worked together and she was cheering me along the whole time.

DSC_8522


We were waiting around to see what Nanny wanted to do but she was having some people come over to help her unload the truck from Florida. So AR and I headed to Six Flags which I was still feeling pretty awful but we still had a good time. I introduced her to the Joker ride which she loves now. We didn't stay too long and then headed to Nanny's. After our showers, I remembered that we needed to take our annual Mother's Day photo which turned into an impromptu photoshoot.

DSC_8525


AR asked to take some pictures of me and I have to say this is now my favorite picture of myself because it's through the eyes of my daughter. No make-up, no professional photographer, just a girl taking a picture of her momma.

DSC_8529


Then our pictures from Mother's Day every year!

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is always bittersweet. I will never forget the struggle and heartache we endured trying to get pregnant. I'm beyond grateful to be a mother but I hate that so many of my friends are struggling to get their miracle. I pray for them every day that they get their own blessing like I did with my AR. So, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, women like moms, men like moms, moms-to-be, furbaby moms, moms to angels, waiting moms, and future moms, we all deserve to be celebrated!

P.S.
If you can't tell from how all over the place this post is, I'm suffering from a major headache and headed to bed now! Sorry for the rambling and randomness!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Small Stuff is Just Small Stuff

Last Sunday, AR and I were lucky enough to do a mother~daughter photoshoot with Melanie from Water to Sky Photography. We got to wear matching outfits, get our hair and makeup done, and AR was totally rockin' the part of creative director. She was coming up with different poses and places for us to take pictures, she was really getting into it! I was so proud of her for stepping up and sharing her ideas, not being afraid to share her opinion with the adults. It's the kind of woman I'm wanting her to grow up to be. It was just a really awesome afternoon that made me a proud momma.

Now, fast forward to today... AR had a crown put on her tooth so it was quite the experience for both of us. She was so brave, didn't cry, squeezed my hand every now and then, although I was probably squeezing hers harder than she was me, and once again, I was so proud of my girl. Again, this is the brave, young lady we want her to grow up and be.

After her appointment, we came home and rested for a bit. We skipped gymnastics because her "tooth was still asleep" and I was worried she might accidentally bite it so we just rescheduled for next week. I made dinner then we ran a few errands and came back home. As I was cleaning up the kitchen, I got out AR's medicine to take. Let me say that she HATES the last two meds she's had, just doesn't like the taste. Most of the time she takes it fine, just making a face afterward, but every now and then, it's a battle. Tonight, I gave it to her like I always do then she opened her mouth, making the ew face and it came pouring out. I moved her hand up to her mouth to try and catch it, doing the same with mine but that only encouraged her to spit it out even more. By the time this was all over, about ten seconds, there was medicine all over both of our hands, her shirt, my shirt, the Magic 8 Ball in her hand, the floor, and anywhere but her mouth, and then I had a Mommy meltdown.

I read an article once about how easy it is to clean up spilled milk but how hard it is to fix self-esteem. Here I was, freaking out because medicine was everywhere and she didn't even get any and blah blah blah stuff that doesn't matter. How long did it take me to clean up the floor? About ten seconds. She had to have a bath anyway so it's not like I did anything extra to clean the medicine off her and her clothes were going to be washed anyway. So in the big scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal, right? Yet here I was losing it and I don't even know why. Immediately I felt bad and took a few deep breaths but when I went to talk to AR, she was the one that told me it was alright and that she'd always love me. And then I almost lost it again...

I've been so stressed out lately and I know I've been short with AR. I've honestly just spread myself too thin between my FT job, writing, keeping us busy on the weekends, trying to socialize, and stay busy when I don't have AR and my sleep has been lacking. I've also been working out WAY more than I have in oh...forever which exhausts me too. Oh and I've been putting so much pressure on myself about if I'm making good parenting choices that it's only racking that stress level of mine up higher and higher. Long story short, I need to get more beauty rest!

So when I got online and saw this picture that Melanie posted from our shoot , I got tears in my eyes and I've wanted to cry all night long. I'm still upset at myself for getting upset with her over something so small. I'm so caught up in all these small things that in the end are just that, small. I need to chill out and let some of this stuff just roll off my back. I need to look at this picture every day and remind myself of the awesome relationship I have with my daughter. I have so many fears of what the future will be like, how she'll be that I'm not even enjoying today. It's moments like these that I need to cherish and make more of. I love my AR more than anything in the world and I really to focus on making sure she knows that. Tonight, I feel like a mom fail but then I look at this moment that was captured and know that I'm far from it, I just need to work harder to make more moments like these.

image

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let Baseball Season Begin!

Baseball season officially began for AR and I yesterday. We drove down to Springfield to watch the St. Louis Cardinals (the red team as AR called them) and the Springfield Cardinals (the white team) battle it out at Hammons Field. The Springfield Birds did pretty well, keeping the lead for the majority of the first part of the game. We got there when the gates open and went straight to the dugout by first base. That's Kolten Wong there on first base. 

image


We were down there for only a few minutes when we saw one of AR's favorites, Matt Adams. In her little girl voice, she shouted his name. Matt turned around, saw her, waved, picked up a ball and came straight to her. She got him to sign the ball for her and they chatted for awhile. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the two of them but she was pumped, that was her main goal of the game-to get Matt to sign her ball that he threw her last year!

image


She also yelled at Greg Garcia who waved while he was taking BP. When he got out in the field, he ran a ball over to her and signed it too.

image


The players were great, listening to her stories, and taking pictures with her. FYI-Greg's wife, Hannah, is pretty awesome. I follow her on IG and I think she's just a great role model for AR and little girls out there. And Greg is awesome, too!

image


Kolten Wong came over and signed for AR and took a pic.

image


Matheny came over and here are two great stories.

AR asked him very politely, "Could you please sign my ball?"
Matheny: "Yes and you have very good manners."
Me beaming proudly!
Teenager beside us to Matheny: "Dude, we were at the game in Memphis last night-"
Matheny stops signing and looks up: "Did you just call me 'dude'?"
Kid shrugs and doesn't answer
Me: "Didn't you just hear him comment on her manners? You shouldn't call adults 'dude.'"
Matheny: "Yeah, you should take some lessons from her."
As though I didn't love Matheny already, he made me one proud momma right then!

After that was over, AR looked at him and asked, "Do you get marker on your hands a lot?"
Matheny smiles and nods: "Yeah, I do."
AR: "Me, too, at school."

image


Then along came Fredbird and her world was bursting with excitement!!! He signed her ball, too.

image


Next came Jacob Wilson! Haley met him a few years ago at spring training and loves him. AR met him last year at spring training and he was super sweet to her. AR was also excited because he was #4 just like she is in soccer.

image


We got a TON of autographs from the Springfield Cardinals players then made our way to our seats. Not a bad view, huh?

image


And oh hey, look who we found sitting in front of us! H came down with our friend Lisa but we didn't buy our tickets together. Funny that we ended up being so close!

image


It got a little chilly but this little chica refused to wear her coat, only her gloves and hat.

image

Another one of her favorite parts of the game... Take Me Out to the Ballgame!



While she may not have been cold, I was freezing so I pulled her on my lap and we got some silly pics out of it while I tried to steal her body heat.
image

And I talked to her into one non-silly one to commemorate the first day of baseball season for us!


image

A huge thank you to all the players, mascots, and coaches that made the day so special for my girl! We look forward to seeing everyone play and I'm sure we'll see you all soon! Now... GO CARDS!!!


image

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our Village

I've started referencing "our village" here and there on the blog so I figured I'd explain it a bit. We've all heard the saying before, "It takes a village to raise a child." As a single mom, I depend heavily on "our village." Here's a run down of "our village" in no particular order...

Matt-This one seems a bit obvious as we are the parents of said child that we are raising. It's difficult enough to raise a child under the same roof, try doing it under two! We struggle, we aren't perfect, but we both understand the end goal that it's up to us to raise her to be a strong, independent woman.

Our Families-Luckily, we have family close by! Matt's mom takes her to school and picks her up most days for us so we don't have to pay childcare. Matt's sister is literally less than five minutes from us to help out in a jam. My mom is moving back to Missouri and will be about fifteen minutes from us so it'll be nice having that help, especially with my work schedule. My sister has driven forty minutes out of her way to help with AR. My dad is always a phone call away to answer any question I have. We have been blessed to have such loving and supportive families.

Co-Workers-These people deserve an award! They get to hear it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. They've passed on clothes to AR, which are always in tip top shape then my kid wears something once and it's stained for life-they're like ninja moms when it comes to that. They've helped me through my darkest times, they've calmed my nerves when there was a lice outbreak at school, and they make sure to let me know I'm not alone... ever.

Friends-When life gets hard, your true friends shine through, everything from simple texts to see how we're doing, to inviting us over when our weekend ends up free due to a cancelled flight thanks to a hurricane, to coming over for dance parties in ice storms with salt for our driveway, brand new shoes for AR, playdates in a pinch, and the list goes on! There is no way I would be able to make it without the amazing friends in our lives that are more like family.

Strangers-What? How can strangers be part of our village? I have said it before and I will say it again and again every time it's proven to be true... people are placed in our lives, on our paths at the exact time for a reason. Whether it be the Yankees fan that sat next to us at spring training and gave us his Cardinals popcorn helmet that turned into our Easter egg basket at the hotel the next morning or the random grandparents and their granddaughter that we met over our spring break trip, they were placed in our lives for a reason and they are part of our village.

Raising a child is tough, especially when said child is a sassy four-year-old going on fourteen, but when we have a village like ours, I know we're on the right track. To those of you in our village, saying thank you will never be enough for the impact you've had on our lives, but thank you nonetheless. To those not in our village, I'm sure our paths will cross when they are supposed to and so, I'll say thank you in advance.

#lovemyAR #ourvillage

village

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Our Spring Break Trip to Fun City!

This weekend kicked off the start of AR's spring break! Originally, I had big plans in the fall for us to go to Florida for part of this week but life happens, things changed, and we're not going to Florida in hopes of taking a different trip this summer in the complete opposite direction! So, I did what I do best, worked my magic, and planned us something just as fun a little closer to home.

The weekend started off with a drive to Rock Island, IL where Lyssa Layne had a signing. AR was my mini-PA for the day, dressed the part and all. She found another author's daughter and the two were immediately besties. After the signing, we drove to Burlington, Iowa and stayed at the Pzazz Resort.

image


I didn't tell AR anything at all about the hotel or what they had there so she literally thought all there was to do was a regular hotel pool. Boy was her mind blown! At the Pzazz, they have a place called Fun City which has an indoor and outdoor water park, go carts, arcade, bowling, ball pit/ballground, laser tag, and probably a whole lot of other stuff I'm leaving out!

Overall, we had a great time time and my girl is WORE out. I'll give you a run down of what all we did, the pros and cons, and share some sweet pics, too. For the price of what it cost to stay at a chain hotel, we got our hotel room, indoor water park, and $20 on a game card. I paid $10 extra for Ballocity, the ball pit/playground, and the Sky Tykes which I thought was a pretty sweet deal. Your hotel room includes four passes to the indoor water park but since it was just the two of us, they gave us the $20 game card and we got a coupon for half off Ballocity.

Saturday, we checked in around 5PM, and I'll be honest, the place was insane! There was almost no parking and there were people everywhere. Immediately, I was beginning to wonder how this was going to be. I guess with it being spring break and the only local attraction in the rural Midwest, the place was a nuthouse! We saw at least four birthday parties going on in addition to guests staying at the hotel/resort and people that came and just paid daily admission.

We took our time unloading the car and getting to our room but of course, some little girl was in a hurry to get to the pool! This picture was taken on Sunday morning, nothing at all like what we walked into on Saturday. I will say that I have talked to two other families that went here in January and February and said it was NOTHING like what we experienced with so many people so I guess it just depends on when you go. Anyway, we walk in and again, insanity! The recreation professional in me was having a panic attack because there was only two lifeguards working, both in the lazy river area, and easily a hundred plus people in this pool. AR got to swimming in the kid area here, she loved the slide and she is so her mother's child as she was telling kids that "slides are for going down, not up" as child after child tried to climb up the slide and she waited for them to move. We were barely there for fifteen minutes when someone pooped in the kid area and everyone had to get out. It was a blessing in disguise as it cleared out a lot of people but it was still pretty full.

I was hesitant to put our stuff down because there were so many people there but I found a nice man who let us share their table. AR and I got in the lazy river and other pool area and chatted with his wife and granddaughter. Turns out that their neighbor is a lady I work with for one of the author signings! Their granddaughter and AR were the same age so the girls had a blast playing together and in typical preschool behavior, the girls had made us a dinner date before the swimming was over! We swam for a long time with them then everyone changed and we ate dinner with them at the restaurant in the hotel. We split a pizza and it was sooo good! Even better, the girls got to dance on the dance floor and had a blast playing together. We might even see them again in July! I've said it before and I'll say it again but I strongly believe people are placed in our paths at the right time for the right reasons.

image


Now, while the kid pool was closed, they shocked the pool which is proper protocol but there was no lifeguard on duty so kids kept getting into it. Again, the recreation professional in me was having palpitations especially as one of the lifeguards in the lazy river left their post to tell kids to get out. I've just been around pools too long to notice that kind of stuff because no one else seemed to notice. It was a good pool so long as you watched your own children and like all pools, don't depend on the lifeguards to "babysit" your kids for you. Way too overcrowded but it sounded like it wasn't normally like that. AR had a great time so really, that's all that matters?

image

After swimming, we had dinner with our new friends. Again, the pizza was delish! They had a twenty-eight inch pizza-it was insane the size of that thing!!! When our bellies were full, we told our new friends goodbye then headed over to the arcade. We played a few games but AR really wanted to do the go-carts. It was later Saturday night but we still waited in line over thirty minutes to ride these babies! I'm glad we did because it was my favorite part of the night! 


image

The inside turns were a little tricky but I got the hang of them pretty fast and I'm happy to say that I didn't crash us! After the go-carts, we played out the rest of the money on our arcade cards and traded in our tickets for trinkety stuff that I'm sure will be lost before Wednesday.

image


We slept in on Sunday which was nice but no worries, we were the first ones in line for Ballocity! It was basically a giant playground with tons of balls inside it. They had a few different slides which was AR's favorite. I gave her my phone and told her to take some pics for me to post on the blog. This was the first pic she took.

image


I told her that was a great pic, very creative, and I would totally use it but I said, go take more. She always wants to use my phone to take pictures and the one time I ask her to, she brings me back one! Well, she took my phone but I didn't get any more pics... I got videos! They're pretty awesome though...





This was the giant tub of balls that randomly rained down on the kids!

image


You can see AR in the left side of the pic trying to dodge the rain of balls.

image


And this is the outside view of Ballocity.

image

This was AR's favorite shooter but you had to go to the first floor to carry balls up to the second floor so she could only take a handful at a time. 

image


I hadn't planned on her doing the Sky Tykes but it was right next to Ballocity and she really wanted to do it. Since I'd only paid half-price for Ballocity, I figured why not. She really wanted to do the big kids one but you had to be 48 inches so she had to do the smaller one. You get 15 minutes which at first I thought wasn't long enough but after 10 minutes, she was bored and ready to be done.

image


Here's just one of the obstacles that they could do.



She mastered it pretty quickly so then I would tell her to run or bunny hop to mix it up a little bit. She enjoyed it though although the allure of it wore off pretty quickly.

image


Like I said above, it was a great little weekend getaway trip for spring break. Our room was supposed to be non-smoking but the bathroom reeked of smoke. We weren't in the room much though so it didn't bother us too much. It was only about three hours from St. Louis so the drive wasn't bad. I feel like we did a lot and there was a huge variety. I think if we'd gone on another weekend that wasn't so busy, it would've been better but all the people didn't slow AR down. She had an awesome weekend and I can hear her snoring from her room! It was the perfect start for our little spring break staycation!