28 February 2015

The Saturday Morning Post

This week’s top 5 posts:

This Week’s Posts:

Highlights from the Week:
+Chickie was once again sick but this time with the dreaded stomach bug going around.
+I received my first sponsor for the blog! If you’re interested in sponsoring, you can get information here!
+Michael found out that an excerpt from his memoir, Share the Chameleon, was selected for ‘Best of the Net’ Anthology for 2015! (It’s like the Golden Globes of the writing world)
+My weight loss journey is still going steady and I’ve lost 3 more pounds.
+Overall, this week was filled with a lot of challenges. I’m hoping the weekend resets life and gets things back to “normal” next week.

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!

26 February 2015

Why I Love Being a Girl Mom

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew with all my being that I was having a boy. When Michael and I would go to look at clothing, or bedding or anything baby, I would gravitate towards the boy items. We talked about boy names and I researched everything boy.

Oh boy was I wrong.

When the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl, my head exploded. I just knew I was supposed to be having a boy, so much so that I asked her to check again. Sure enough, there was no dingle in my daughter’s anatomy. Our baby was indeed all girl and I was floored. My parents raised 3 girls – three. How either of them has any hair left on their heads to this day is beyond me and that’s all I could think of at the time – girls are drama. Girls are crazy chaotic. Girls will turn your life upside down.

Well, almost four years later, our life has indeed been turned upside down. It has definitely been crazy and chaotic. It has been filled with dramatic fits worthy of winning an Oscar. We’ve dealt with our little girl being completely fine one minute and a complete ranting, raving lunatic riding the waves of emotions the next {Hello mood swings!}. We’ve experienced so much in our short amount of time as girl parents…

And I’ve loved every minute of it. 

I try so hard to think back to my time of pregnancy and how I had my hopes set so high on a boy and it’s hard to do because I know with every fiber of my being that this little girl was made for me. The Lord crafted her, molded her and shaped her with His own hands. Every detail on her curious, funny and beautiful face was put there by the hand of the Master. He breathed His life into her and then gave her to me. Without me knowing it at the time, the Lord saved me in every way a person can be saved: with love, grace and the beauty and wonderment of one little girl. 

I could easily say that I love having a girl because of the cute clothes, her hair and all of those things and yes, all of that’s true but it’s more than that. It’s SO much more than all of that. Being a mom to a girl is special and unique in so many ways. 

A better appreciation for your own mom. From the moment your little girl is handed to you in the hospital and you lay eyes on her for the first time, you feel an overwhelming sense of pride and immediately begin to think of all the things you hope and wish for your daughter; success, finding pure joy in life, love, hope and happiness. You always want to be her biggest advocate but you know that she will have trials, face obstacles and have some really bad days – so you hold onto her a little tighter as long as you can and it isn’t too long after that you realize your mom feels the exact same way about you. #mindblown

The forming motherly instinct. I always felt like I lacked this growing up but when I look at my daughter and I see how she so carefully and lovingly puts her stuffed animals to sleep, feeds them and plays kitchen with them, it makes my heart burst. She’s already learning about compassion and taking care of others and it just fills my heart with joy. 

Raising the next generation of strong women leaders. In as much as my daughter loves to play house, I have the opportunity to raise a strong woman role model and a leader for our world. In a time where women still have to fight for their rightful place in our nation, it’s an amazing honor to have the opportunity to raise an independent, self-thinking, strong and courageous woman. Maddy will go into our world armed with the knowledge that she can do, or be, anything she chooses. Hopefully by the time she enters the real world, our society will be far more advanced in their thinking of a “woman’s place” in society but until then, it’s my job to teach her that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

She makes me a better woman and person. Having a girl makes you want to be a better person. You suddenly have the urge to think more of others and serve them in ways you never thought of before because your daughter is watching you and you want her to learn compassion and empathy. You find yourself letting go of being rigid and embracing goofy because it makes her laugh and you want her to be happy. You realize that while you look in the mirror or stand on the scale and belittle yourself, your daughter is watching so you shut it down and learn healthy habits because it’s important for your daughter to have a healthy self-image of herself. You push yourself harder with your own hobbies, talents and goals because you want her to know that she can do the same and succeed. In every way, my daughter has made me a better person and I am so eternally grateful for this life lesson.

When the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl, I had no clue what to expect, but looking back, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Because of my daughter, I am better than I was yesterday and for this blessing, I am humbled.


25 February 2015

What I'd Do With Free Money and $50 CASH + FREE AD SPACE ON 4 BLOGS GIVEAWAY!

Growing up, I was one of those kids who really thought money grew on trees. I remember my dad picking me up from day care and I would ask what was for dinner and he would respond with something like, “Meatloaf” to which I would begin the negotiations:

“I’ll clean my room for a week if we can go out to eat.”
“I’ll get up on time in the morning if you guys take us out for pizza just this once!!”
“I promise I’ll feed the dog if we can eat anything but meatloaf.”

After many times of being told no {my father is a pro with the word no. Pretty sure he has his gold medal status} because he didn’t want to spend the money or because the budget was tight that month, I would finally declare, “Just write a check for it!!”

Uh huh.

Well, fast –forward some 30 years later and now that I have a family of my own with bills to pay, I get it. Money doesn’t just magically grow on trees nor will “Just writing a check” fly. Times are tight for everyone and most people I know are on a budget so when someone offers you the chance to have $50 in FREE CASH, you sit up and take notice. 

Here’s just a snippet of some things currently on my wish list for when I have a little extra money lying around {haha}:

Tennessee Apparel
I’ve had my eyes on some new UT items to add to my collection and with my boys ranked #2 in the SEC going into August, I must represent. Oh how I love my Vols!!

Coach Purse
I know MK is all the rage right now but in my humble opinion, Coach will always be my go-to purse of choice. I’ve always loved Coach – timeless, classic, and beautiful.

iPod Nano
Last year, my iPod was stolen so the only music I’ve had to listen to is Chickie’s renditions of “Summer” and “For the first time” from Frozen.

I know you’re jealous.

I would love to have a new iPod Nano to offset some of that beautiful signing.

Now, I know you have a wish list too, right? Well here’s where the FREE CASH comes in. 

I’m co-sponsoring a fabulous give-a-way with the lovely Courtney from A +Life and co-sponsors to put $50 free cash into your PayPal account for your hearts shopping delight. 

But that’s not all…

Each blogger co-hosting the the giveaway is also giving you FREE AD SPACES on their blog! Here are the pretty sweet offers from each blog: 

4 Amazing Ad Spaces On 4 Different Blogs!

The A+ Ad Space On  A + Life:

1 680x80 banner ad, placed at the bottom of every single post for 1 entire month! Includes social media promotion and the option to share a guest post!

Be My Guest On Wife Mommy Me:

1 200x200 banner, 10 social media mentions, and 1 interview style guest post/blog takeover for the day! Ad space runs for one month!

The Gab Space On The Gift Of Gab:

1 250x350 ad, 5 social media mentions, AND the option to guest post! Runs for 30 days.

The 1/4 Litre On Shiraz In My Sippy Cup:

1 200x200 ad, 10 social media mentions via FB & Twitter, 10 re-pins, and runs for TWO months!

Simply give us a little ‘Like’ and follow on our accounts below and for your trouble, we’ll enter you into a drawing for $50 moola and free ad space on 4 blogs, simple as that. Just enter in the Rafflecopter below and don’t forget to share with your friends. 

Giveaway runs until next Wednesday at midnight. Courtney from A + Life will verify the winner, and then email the winner to confirm your address for the PayPal payment. Each of her her co-sponsors will receive your information as well to contact you about your free ad space on each of our blogs.

Pretty damn awesome, right?!

Admit it – we just made you want to scream “Hump Dayyyyy!” like that camel, didn’t we?

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

24 February 2015

4 Ways to Keep Romance Alive After Becoming Parents

In October of 2012, Michael and I packed our bags, left Maddy with my parents and flew away to Colorado for a week of freedom. Maddy was 15 months old and it was our first time away together since she had been born. We had been on one date night in that whole 15 months and to say that we needed a break would be a huge understatement. 

So off we went. We enjoyed a week of sleeping in, quiet and intimate dinners, time with friends and the care-free life of togetherness - just the two of us. We promised each other that we would make time to get away more often whether that meant more trips, date nights or time away in general and that we wouldn't slip back into our hurried routine of life to only forget about each other and our own personal needs as individuals and as a couple.

It's pretty easy to make promises when you’re fully rested and enjoying vacation as a care-free couple. It's also very easy to put said promises on the back burner when the reality of life comes calling again. The realities of life are also called monotony...and it can slowly kill your marriage or relationship.

Four years after meeting and having a child together, we are still each other's best friend and favorite person most days. We miss each other when we're apart and can't wait to be home with each other and our little Chickie. Usually. However, we also let jobs, piles of laundry, cleaning up messes, household chores, parenting disputes, bills - you know, life - come between us. 

Having said all of this, we still strive to do our best to maintain a hot relationship. I can picture it very clearly in my mind when I think about it. I see him when he gets out of the shower, skin glistening with his hair all wet and I think, "Hmmmm..." I look at him with our daughter; they laugh, they play, they watch movies, and they snuggle together and to me, when I see him with her, there's nothing sexier. 

But then in the midst of my sexy daydreaming, I burn dinner, the cat throws up a hair ball on my foot and Maddy is in the process of toilet papering the house. Michael is taking care of the dog's daily needs while attempting to juggle the needs of his paying job while trying to devote time to us, his school work and his writing commitments. The cats are fighting, Maddy is screeching like a wild hyena for snacks and dinners and most days, we're left to feel like the keepers at the damn zoo. After all of this, the memory of the hot guy in the shower has long since left my mind.

We have lived through every season in our relationship; the cold months filled with contempt and resentment. The lukewarm fall filled with idle days and nights with stagnant affection. The blossoms of spring when everything seems fresh and new again. But by far, our favorite relationship season are the hot, hot summer months.

Marriage and relationships are hard work, bottom line. There's no way possible to kick up your feet and still expect to ride the waves of hot monogamy. Even on the hard days, it takes faithful, committed, selfless habit forming work to spice up our daily routines. The old adage is that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I dare each of you to try the following habits that I work on to have a hotter marriage/relationship.

1 :: Touch every day. Find a way to make the conscience effort to touch his hand, play footsie under the dinner table, rub her back or simply touch each other's arm as you pass in the hallway. A quick smack on the butt on the way out the door is also pretty fun too.

2 :: Find a way to make little things big. Michael is great about bringing me little gifts "Just because." He's also very thoughtful about sending me sweet little text messages during the day to ask how my day is going or to say he's thinking of me. He also surprises me at work to take me to lunch. For me, these small actions let me know he's thinking of me when we're not together. Making these small connections is a big way to say "I love you" while stoking the flames of love.

3 :: Be quick to forgive. It's inevitable - disagreements and arguments are going to happen even between the strongest, most committed couples. When your spouse makes the effort to apologize, be quick to forgive. I firmly believe that it takes a lot of character and strength to admit when we're wrong, especially in relationships. If your partner is willing to admit when they've made a mistake, be willing to accept the apology and move on. Wouldn't you want the same consideration if the roles were reversed?

4 :: Take the time to complement each other. When we're dating, we go out of our way to make the other person we love feel special with our words. Why should this stop once we're in a committed relationship? It may sound silly but 1,000 people can complement me on a new outfit or hairstyle but none of those compliments mean as much as his. Your influence over your spouse is powerful - use it for their betterment and to bless them. 

So there's my list. Even I have to admit that I have to remind myself to keep these things in mind on a daily basis but when I do and put them into action, our relationship is better for it. 

We're by no means the perfect couple. We have our good days and our bad ones but we never give up and I think that's the key. When we work to keep our partners feeling loved and special, that makes for a hot marriage/relationship after becoming parents.

What are some of your tips for keeping the fires burning?

Special thanks to Stephanie over at Wife Mommy Me for hosting today's link-up, Mom Talk Tuesdays. This link-up is a wonderful way for moms from all different walks of life to come together to talk honestly about the challenges we face as parents while sharing positive solutions and offering advice. If you want or need support in a judgment free zone with several different topics, I urge you to join in on the conversations, friendships and camaraderie happening through this link-up and share your story!