Friday, February 28, 2014

Our letter to our Averiella

Our princess Averiella,

Five years ago we rushed off the hospital nervous but excited for all the changes that were going to come to our life when we brought you into it. When it comes to try to explain to you how much you mean to us, how much we love you, how much you've brought into our lives, words just aren't enough.

As strongly as I feel about the power of words and as much as I am a lover of words, there is much truth to the saying our actions speak louder than our words. I wish you could remember seeing the love that was clearly evident on your dad's face when he first saw you, how seeing you for the first time brought tears to my eyes. I hope somewhere deep in your memories you remember those soft snuggles in that rocking chair that I don't know how I'm ever going to part with once I no longer have babies as that rocking chair in the dark corner of both your nursery's beside the moonlit window is where I have always found the best way to slow down and freeze those precious moments with your infancy and toddler days.

I often wonder how far back your childhood memories will go. It seems like our school days are what we remember of our youth when we're older and turning five marks the beginning of those days for you. I wonder if you will remember your first date. You were almost three years old and your dad took you to see one of the latest Disney movies. Honestly at this point the two of you have gone on too many father/daughter movie dates for me to remember which one was your first.

I'm sure we'll have many mother/daughter shopping trips but at about four years old even though I'd leave your baby sister with your dad for a shopping trip I loved your company and so the trips together began. You'd try on clothes that didn't fit you just because you thought they were pretty and made you look like a princess. I remember the first time we went about year ago. How I wish I would have brought a recorder because now I don't remember what you said, but I remember how you had me laughing so much with your endless chatter.

Even though in five years we've taken you to more places than you'll remember, it's not so much the places I wish you could remember but the enjoyment we all found spending our days together on vacations to beaches, mountains, and family and on a variety of other day family field trips. We found so much joy in rediscovering the world through your eyes.

You remind us every day of life's beauty. Not because you're beautiful, which you are, but it's the beauty of your spirit and who you are on the inside already as just a little girl that reminds us of true beauty. Countless times you have just stopped us in our tracks with your actions, with your wonder, and your discoveries. Your love for people and the world around you is something I pray as you grow and learn more about the world never disappears. You have such a big heart, and even though I suspected it from the beginning, it became so apparent when we brought your little sister into our lives. You are such a great big sister and model to your little sister. You love people and love to help. Even from the very beginning you've been quite the social butterfly, luring people in with your big all seeing dark brown eyes and infectious smile.

Five years have gone in a blink. Even though we don't think of five as a milestone the same way we do 1, 13, and 16, I see it as one. It is the one where you leave behind the pre school years, where all your innocence resides, and move forward into the school years and the influences of the world  that exist outside the little bubble we've held you. This new world will enlighten you and open new possibilities to you. Your dad and I have studied too much psychology as educators but supposedly a person's personality traits are molded within them in the first six years of life so I hope your dad and I have done a good enough job molding and nurturing you these first five years of life that you're ready for the big world of kindergarten and beyond that awaits you.

We believe in you and you, our girl, are destined for great things.


Mommy and Daddy

     Six weeks old

                                                      Learning to love the Steelers
                                        Visit to PA to spend a Fall weekend with Daddy's family

Your first of several trips to the zoo. DC National Zoo here.

                                                             Wanting to celebrate St. Patty's Day
                                                    Getting ready for your first O's game
                                                            Your best bud, Bettis
                                                           Love helping daddy cook

                                                                The mischief look
                                                               The sweet and innocent look
                                                         Welcoming your baby sissy to the world.
                                                       Sisterly love from the beginning

                             One of my favorite of you and daddy in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

                                                                    Your face says it all
                                                            Carnival Rides
                            Definitely one of those just enjoying watching you kind of moments

                                                                Averi the performer

       So much happiness for life

                                 You and daddy on the pier over the Atlantic as a storm was coming in
                                             I hope you always continue to dance, daughter

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Ahead

I added some things to my sidebar and my top tabs I wanted to share and take the time to point out. But first, I wanted to reflect a little, mostly for myself. In another month or so I will be coming up on what I consider my one year blogaversary. This blog has existed for two years this coming May but it wasn't until last April that I actually started to reach out and find readers so to speak.  I haven't worked too hard on this. I love to write because one it's always been a hobby I love and second I have always found it to be great free therapy. In some ways this blog is me getting to live in my own little Ang world. However, what I have found that I didn't antcipate but absolutely love is the relationships it has allowed me to build and improve on because of the one common journey my readers and I have in common, the journey of motherhood. The thing that I love is it doesn't matter whether these readers and moms are working moms, stay at home moms, older moms with grown children, younger moms with young children like me, or moms of all variety of parenting choices and decisions, I feel like I have been able to connect with so many in so many different ways. That connection and your own stories and feedback has inspired me in so many different ways with my own motherhood journey so for that alone I thank you.

As for the blogger me. The last year has found my site slowly growing. I probably started off with about 30 followers and am now around 300. My page view counts have probably tripled since I started, but I of course would still like to reach more readers. So sometimes I make goals and work on trying to join more networks to reach more readers, but I am the master of my own world in this little corner of cyberspace. I have children, a husband, parents, students and their parents, bosses, and someone it always seems like is demanding or needing something from me. I refused to let myself get on any mandated, planned, scheduled path or agenda with this blog. It is often recommended to me that I have a blogging schedule where I post on the same days every week or that I join Pinterest and every single social media network that exists in order to reach and maintain more readers. Again, I love that I am my own boss here and will do things in my own time in my own way, and I've found many loyal readers help things along by sharing their favorite posts or name dropping my blog on other sites. For that I am incredibly grateful and thank you.

I have been contacted through email several times recently about products and partnership type things with companies that I don't really know. Sure, I could possibly make a little (emphasize little) money with them by advertising or pushing their product on my site, but I would rather not. But here's what I hope to do instead. I have several close friends that have consulting businesses; businesses as mothers and women that I believe would be an interest to my readers because we all like our houses to smell good, like to decorate our walls, fill our cabinets with tupperware, and purchase body products that make us feel and look good. I would much rather advertise for the people who read and follow A & N, who I know and trust whether I know them personally or have gotten to know them through the blogging world. So you will start to see advertisement on my right sidebar. I hope you check them out when you visit, and I hope you find things you like. The two current advertisements are for my husband's photography site and my cousins home fragance company. Just click on each image and it will take you to their site to check them out. For any of my readers that would be interested in advertising with A & N please email me at Everyone gets a month of free advertisement.

Some readers are also part of or interested in particular foundations or charities that I'm sure could always use more awareness exposure. Again, I would be more than happy to write up a post free of charge sharing information and links to build awareness for any foundations or charities a reader would like me to promote. Use the again.

The last thing I want to mention is there is a tab on the top of the page that says contact and web publications. For the last four months I have been writing twice a month with a website called Mommy Hot Spot ; I have a partnership with them in which I write for them, and they will be helping me promote something I have coming later this spring. All my articles are linked there as well as all other publications I have with other sites. A personal essay of mine will also be featured in this spring's Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide. If you are interested in a signed copy feel free to email me at for further information on that.

Sharing and likeing our facebook page is great way to help me reach more readers. I also now have a facebook image on the right sidebar to click on to like our page to get updates on the latest posts. Thanks for all the support, readers! I wouldn't get to feel like some sort of writer without readers :)

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Unfortunate Serious Talks for Kindergarten

I'm sure we all knew there would be talks we would have to have with our children. I guess in my mind I was thinking of adolescent talks about drugs, drinking and driving, even sex. But I didn't imagine the serious talks I would have to have with my five year old soon to be kindergartener. I know we all like to think we'd prefer to keep them in some kind of bubble. But the world is out there, and it is a great place for our children to explore. But as a parent with our exposure through modern media sources to what seems like every horrible thing in our world, I am all too often reminded of what a scary place it can be for our children. However, I don't believe hiding from the world is the answer.
So before the age of even five I have had the following terrifying discussions with my daughter.

A school year no longer goes by without some sort of school shooting. It breaks my heart as a parent that we even have to feel slightly apprehensive about our daughter's safety at school. At times the "that won't happen here" thought enters my mind, and I try to tell myself I have nothing to worry about. But look at all the nice surburan places that parents should have felt safe in and then that didn't turn out to be the case. So at five years old, we have told our daughter if anyone ever had a gun in school or there was a shooting, she was to hide. Run and hide.

I know there's always been the stranger danger talk to young children but now with amber alerts filling our newsfeed frequently it is scary to realize how often children are abducted,especially little girls. Multiple times I have stressed to her that she DOES NOT go anywhere with anyone but mommmy and daddy. Sadly because of how many young girls that are abducted by neighbors, friends, teachers or coaches, people they know, we've stressed to her she doesn't go anywhere with anyone she even knows unless Mommy and Daddy put her in the car with them. Unfortunatley, we had this talk with her when she was three years old due to her super friendly attitude and the drunk neighbor that we lived next door to in the city. He never did anything to make me suspicous and was always nice to her, but we didn't really know him besides that he was a drunk and had the police over there frequently for domestic issues. We've also stressed to her if ever in a situation where she's unsure or scared to just scream and run for help. Don't listen to any threats they may issue.

As parents we'd all like to think we don't have to talk about sex until at least puberty, but as someone who has worked in early childcare, trust me as a parent you want to have this talk now. Unfortunately, kids see things they shouldn't or even worse experience something they shouldn't. They then think it is okay to attempt or talk their friends in school into something sexual. It really is not too early to stress the importance that no one should touch them there-friend or even worse an adult.

The other talk is one that again I think is getting much more attention with this generation and that is bullying. I've stressed to her the importance of being nice to everyone, especially to the kid that no one seems to be nice to. I often stress the importance of being a leader and not a follower. Just as adults are drawn to her with her very outgoing, friendly personality so are her own peers. Even at five years old I stress to her the importance of using that in the right way by leading by example by being friendly with everyone and to be the one to stand up for someone that needs it.

She's not even five years old and to me these are pretty big conversations to be having with her, but I also know she's incredibly smart and she remembers everything. Is this the kind of conversations I imagined as a parent having with a kindergartener? No, it never really crossed my mind. But each year she gets a little more outside the bubble, and as much as we want to shield them from the world it is out there. I know there will be many more important talks to have as she gets older, and again I don't plan on putting them off no matter how much I don't want to have them or how uncomfortable they make me feel.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sometimes Momma's Give a Damn Button is Broken

I know as moms we like to post and share all the "perfect" moments with our children. Does social media have you convinced everyone else's children must be such "perfect" children? I know I'm guilty of wanting to share my girls' so called perfect moments. Hopefully I throw enough of their mischief moments in to keep you from getting too fooled. For a moment occasionally they fool me too and I think "awe, aren't they so perfect" and feel the need to share this little glimpse of their miniscule moment of perfection. But let me tell you there are a bunch of other mom moments that I like to think we all hide, not just myself. I call them the "Momma's Give a Damn Button is Broken" kind of moments.

These are the moments when one of them gets out of bed for the umpteenth time and demands something to drink. It's when they come up to me for the fifth time in what seems like five minutes complaining about the other one for hitting them or not sharing their toy. It's when I sit one of them in timeout for not listening or doing as they're told and the little one starts to cry. Okay, my "might give a damn button" starts flashing at that time. I can't handle the big sad eyes very well. Or when Averi tells me "You hurt my feelings," when I discipline her for something. That causes my "might give a damn" button to start flashing too.

But when Averi says "don't throw that away," when hours later we are STILL cleaning up the disaster of the playroom, I just realy don't care. At this point I'm considering throwing all the toys away. When my husband complains at the end of a long day about laundry, dirty dishes, or something with the house, my give a damn button is definitely broken. And this is probably when I seriously look at him and say, "Do you really think I give a shit right now?" Sometimes I'm just flippin tired and feel like the maid and when one more person asks something of me I just want to say, "Momma don't care right now!"

Don't get me wrong. As anyone that knows me well, knows I love my children more than anything. To me they are perfect little imperfected people. I love to share and showcase all their fantastic, fun moments, but I like to think as much as we all share the feelings of overwhelming love for our children, I'm not alone in having these momma don't care moments.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Oh Shit It's Going to Snow AGAIN List

I don't think it really matters where you live in the US this winter it's been a cold, snowy winter. Even the south has been hit with snow several times! At this point in mid February I imagine most of us are done with the excitement of snow and just ready for spring to hurry up and get here.

I've got it set in my head that we're going to get hit with this foot of snow Thursday and it's going to be an out with a bang last of the season winter storm here. We're going to break 60 degrees here soon and winter will just be a distant memory. But before I can enjoy spring yet there's this possible last winter storm to get through. As we all know when big storms are coming we all rush to the store so we have all the supplies for our tiolet paper sandwiches with our glass of milk that we'll all be eating in the dark. Here is my snowmageddon shopping list.

1. Yards upon yards of tiolet paper
2. A cow full of milk or at least enough gallons to equivelent to that amount
3. Dozens of batteries- at least enough to get us through the last five weeks of winter at this rate
4. A stash of chocolate and then another hidden stash on top of that
5. Alcholol-lots of alcohol
6. A good supply of medicine that will make children sleepy to administer as soon as they sneeze, cough, cry in any way that I could say implied they weren't feeling well
7. Tropical magazines in the hopes that if we all envision summer together it will come
8. A refill on patience- see #5
9. A restock of condoms if not on birth control- what else is there to do when you're stuck inside for days on end
10. Then I guess there's the important stuff like food and water, maybe books and movies, but really don't we want to be able to tell our grandkids one day "when I was your age I had to walk in a foot of snow to get food to survive." (since we can't use the walk to school line anymore since they close for the talk of snow these days)


Monday, February 10, 2014

Social Media and Prayers

I don't watch the news much anymore because if it's not because I don't have time with two kids, it's because I find it a depressing reminder of how dark and scary the world can be out there outside my little bubble I live in with my family.

 But now there's social media in which we "like" pages asking for our support and prayers. We are reminder again the world is a frightening place and nothing is guaranteed in this life. I find myself following the stories of several parents and their battles to save their children from devasting illnesses or injuries or the stories of parents as they move on after the passing of their child. I look for their updates, hoping for positive news, go to bed praying for them at night, and toss and turn for the umimaginable devastation they must be going through.

 These are every day people, like you and me, who through modern day communication has found their way into our hearts and minds. Their stories break our hearts. But this is also where I see the beautiful power of social media. I see people who care, who offer their prayers, their words of encouragement, and along with all of that a little piece of their heart. Thousands upon thousands of people "follow" these people's journeys even though they don't personally know them. When their battles get tough, thousands of people that they've never met but are awed by the strength they've shown through their journey are on their knees, praying for strength and comfort and whatever the request is.

As dark and scary as following their journeys and stories can be, there is light. Light in the hope that comes from the thousands that pray for them every day, light in the hope of how people come together and support each other in their most needed times, hope in the out pouring of so much love coming from strangers.

 I don't know whose stories and journeys you follow that have made their way into your heart, but one is especially heavy on my own heart tonight. If you're a praying person, please say a prayer tonight for peace and comfort for those parents and their children that are fighting battles that no child or their parent should ever have to face.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How do You Let Them Go?

I started working on Averi's five year photo album. As I'm pulling all these pictures of her from the last year to put into the book, I keep catching myself smiling or laughing and even holding back a few tears of joy. Five! Five years old! How did this happen? One minute it seems like she was just born yesterday and another it seems like she's been a part of us forever.

As any parent knows once they're in our life, we can't imagine it being any different. To be their mother or their father is really such a gift and even though birthdays are for them sometimes it's about us, their moms or their dads. It marks the day we were entrusted to nuture and raise them in this sometimes crazy world we live in. No matter what mischief she's been up to lately, those big brown eyes, gentle heart, and smile remind us every day we are so incredibly blessed that we get to call her ours.

I kept saying five might hit me kind of harder than the other birthdays. We will enroll her in kindergarten shortly after her fifth birthday. She will always be ours but each day she grows up a little more. She gets a little more independent and self sufficient each day, which in some ways is great, but with each birthday she's closer to who she'll become. Each birthday brings her closer to the one where she will look at us and head out to make her own way in this world.

As the old saying goes, we only hold their hands for a little while, and I'm seeing now it's so much harder to let go as the parent than it was as the child ready to seek her independence. I remember wanting to tell my parents to let me go, let me make my own path. I didn't understand the resistance. I was just a young kid, thinking I was grown, and it shouldn't be so hard for them to understand and let me go. Oh, but I understand now. I love watching her grow and seeing who she's becoming but this time is so fleeting.  Five years has been such a quick flash in time. Before I know it she'll be fifteen and not too long after that eighteen and think she's ready to take on the world.

Why is childhood so short? Why can't we spend more of our lifetime lost in the innocence of childhood? As children ourselves we're in such a hurry to grow up, and now as a parent I wish it would all just slow down. I don't mind holding their hands a little longer.

I have years and years to go until mine are ready to leave the nest. I'm sure I won't handle it well but here is a poem I wrote over ten years ago when I left my reluctant parents. I wonder in just another ten years or so from now how different the one I will write will be as the parent rather than the child.

Let Me Go
I know you've always feared this day
When I'd be grown and going my own way
I'm ready to strike out on my own
To try something I've never known
Please, Mom, don't cry, don't be sad
Dad, I'd never disappoint you, please, don't be mad
I know how much you care
Your love by far is rare
I know you'll always be there if I happen to fall
If I need you, I'll be sure to call
You've taught me right from wrong
You've taught me how to stand strong
You've always been my guide, my light
I just don't want to go in a fight
I will always be your strong willed daughter
whether I succeed or falter
I hope you'll always be there
For that is my biggest fear
I love you with all my heart
And all the miles could never keep us apart

My sweet baby girl

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Deep Breaths

I'm reminded frequently that parenting requires lots of deep breaths. Sometimes it's when my youngest daughter sounds like a broken record, "Milkie, Mommy. Milkie, Mommy!" At other times it might be instances like today when Averi decides she's mad at her sister and yells, "I'm not your big sister anymore!" Or maybe it's when they get out of bed for the umpteenth time. It's times they've decided to cover their face in diaper cream or cut their sister's hair. There's the way they can flip a newly cleaned up room upside down in record time. Or it's like tonight when my youngest one gets upset and holds her breath only to pass out hard on the hard wood floor. Other times it's when I walk in the bathroom to find my make up all over the floor or better yet recently when I walked into my bedroom to find it covered in feathers.

A few Friday nights ago, we let the girls lay in our bed to watch TV for a bit at bedtime. Of course there was the usual giggling and laughing that we hear most nights. However, it wasn't until my husband walked in to check on them and tell them it was time to settle down that the phrase, "Oh, my God, what have you girls done?" I knew from the tone of his voice I didn't even want to go see. I walked into find our bed and bedroom covered in a mass amount of white feathers. They had found a hole in our down comforter and discovered when they shook it that feathers just fell down around them like snowflakes, hence all the little girl giggling I had heard. Even though I cleaned it up, we still woke up with feathers in our hair and I'm still finding feathers in my room.

I have no doubt these two will test  our patience in the years to come. Even though they are not unfamiliar with the mommy or daddy, "oh, no, I think we might be in trouble," voice, there have been many times the take deep breaths and count to ten exercise has been my go to verse the alternative of having my own version of a kicking and screaming temper tantrum.

When I thought of having two I always thought of how one would look out for the other; primarily I guess the older one looking out for the younger one. I didn't know I was giving her a partner in crime. One as a baby was an escape artist and the other so headstrong about getting her own way, she throws such fits she forgets to breathe which occasionally leads to her passing out. Together they get into quite the mischief. I often wonder which one I am going to have to worry about more as she gets older or which one will be the ring leader to all the trouble I'm sure they'll occasionally find themselves in as they navigate their childhood and adolescence. A friend of mine who knows them pretty well I think figured it out pretty well. Ave will be the mastermind with all the crazy ideas and Kenz will be the one doing all the dirty work to carry them out. I'm sure I will have lots of deep breathing exercises in my future. I just hope they're a little smarter and safer with their decisions than their parents were.

I know most of us do stupid stuff as kids, and these two already have me worried for their adolescent years just based on the curiousity and their occasional no fear love for mischief that they already exhibit as just little girls.

                                                                 No fear! Look at me!
                                                       We're going to do this together!
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Existing or Living?

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of my favorite writers of all time is Ralph Waldo Emerson. This past week for introducing transcendentalism to my class, my intern played a video for the class that I just couldn't help but to love and steal myself. I have the video attached below for those interested in viewing it but it closes with the question are we living or simply existing our life?

I have recently read a few things, mostly from other moms, who feel overwhelmed, defeated, exhausted, possibly depressed and a little lost. It is easy in our busy lives to just keep going through the motions. Work, chores, routines, wash, rinse, and repeat. I have found myself lost in these motions at different times in my own journey; I also feel that they're the same points where I start to feel down, depressed, and doubtful. But way before I ever saw this video the question of living or existing has existed in my mind for as far back as I can remember. People's lives are cut short every day. I don't understand it and I can't change it, but we can all  honor their short lives by living rather than existing in our own.

Here my personal principles of living my life rather than just existing in it:

Make up my own rules and live by them

Don't take myself too seriously

Listen to music as much as possible

Travel, travel, and travel some more

Explore the beauty of nature as much as I possibly can

Turn the music up and randomly dance often

Do a job I enjoy but don't let it run my life

See family as often as possible

Spend time with good friends

Get outside every chance I get

Read a good book often

Write for me or my girls or whoever

Sleep under the stars

Take risks and don't be afraid of failure

Do something even when maybe I shouldn't

Act like a kid as often as possible

Even when I'm too old for something do it anyway

Laugh and love every day with my family

Fall in love and later in life fall in love with each other all over again

What would be your principles for living your life rather than just existing? Put them in the comments. I'm sure I'll probably steal some for my own principles for living life list.

Living or Existing Video

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