Finding Balance as an Overwhelmed Mom (My debut piece on!)

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Summertime for stay-at-home moms across the world can sometimes be panic-inducing. For 10 months, children have been out of the house for more than 7 hours every day and then bam...that reprieve is yanked out from under you. But with lots of preparation, some deep breathing and a huge dose of positivity, chaos does not have to ensue. Head over to to read my take on keeping life balanced in this season of motherhood. And be sure to take a look around their site for more great content on life, health and motherhood.

Upright and Steady: Finding Balance as an Overwhelmed Mom on

My New Year's Resolution Theme: TIME

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Happy New Year!!! I'm back...I blew the dust off my Blogger page today and opened a fresh blank screen to start my new year off right. Yes, I'm in "New year, new me" mode - reflecting on 2015 and thinking ahead to what 2016 might have in store. What do I want to change? Well, that's simple. A lot. As I started to think through the long list, I noticed a theme: TIME.


  1. Less TIME on my phone.
    My 8 year old snuggled up to us in bed this morning and we all exchanged Happy New Years hugs. A few minutes later, without prompting, he said "Mommy, daddy, I know what your resolution can be this year." "Oh yeah, bud? What's that" "Spend less time on your phones." Wow. That was a hard dose of perspective. In this fast-paced world of social media and over-sharing, we sometimes forget that our kids need us to be present. Really there. Not with our nose in our phone updating instagram with the adorable photo we just half-staged 10 minutes ago. It's been one of those things I chide myself for now and then. "Mommy look!" as I hurriedly type a text that I have (without thinking) deemed more important than the somersault or other equally adorable feat my child has just so proudly mastered. The message I'm sending - and not the one on my phone - is that I'm too busy to care. Too focused on things and people other than those I'm with at that moment. So when Ethan called us out on it this morning, it was like a kick to the gut. Ricky and I both agreed that was something we would work on.

  2. Make TIME for my children individually.
    The same child who pointed out the disportionate amount of time we spend on our phones, also has mentioned several times that he wishes he could spend more one-on-one time with us. This day and age, 4 kids is usually referred to as a "big" family (although with my mom from a family of 10 kids and my from 6, I still find this notion silly). I guess what it comes down to is we are over-committed these days. Each kid plays a sport, does an afterschool activity, is involved in church, invited to parties...all wonderful things, but it often leaves very little time to just spend together doing nothing. We have always tried to have a family game night each week, but as schedules change or a day gets overbooked and we are overtired, it is usually the first thing we cut from our list of to-dos. Hearing Ethan (definitely our most sensitive hearted child) say through tears that he never gets to spend time alone with either one of us anymore broke my heart. I definitely want to make it a priority this year to carve out that special time for each child. You know, while they still want to!

  3. Find TIME for myself and my passions.
    Not just to take bubble baths or run to Target alone (both amazing things, no doubt), but to really refocus what is important to me. Writing, for instance, definitely took a backseat in 2015. I don't write for the stats or pageviews. I don't write to make $ (although I wish I did make $ from this blog). I write because it is a form of therapy for me. It helps me in numerous ways. Sharpens my creativity, clarifies my thoughts, allows me to vent.  Working on helping others through my nonprofit apertOWL and growing Louisville It Mom, the small-business/blog I started with a friend this year are also things that energize me. When I'm doing things I love it pumps adrenaline through my veins and truly puts a positive spin on my day and my attitude.

  4. It is TIME to finally lose this weight!
    I logged back into My Fitness Pal this morning to find that I hadn't done so in almost a year. Yikes. According to the app, I am 9 pounds lighter than I was last year at this time, which some would say "that's great!" but I find it kind of disappointing. It is definitely not anywhere near the goal I had set for myself for 2015. I'm getting older and it is getting harder to shed the lbs, so I now know I really have to push myself to achieve it. Yes it's January, a time when everyone is resolving to "lose weight" and get to the gym. At the same time, there is no better time than now to refresh my thinking. I've done a lot of research on food and our bodies this past year so I feel like I have all the tools to really understand the best things to do to get healthy. Now I just have to DO it.

  5. Don't take TIME for granted.
    I've seen a lot of friends and family members lose loved ones this year. I've watched as they learn how to heal, learn how to live again through their heartache. Loss is all around us everyday -- our soldiers, innocent people losing their lives at the hands of terrorists, mentally ill individuals deciding to shoot up movie theaters or shopping malls. The weight of all the loss can often feel so heavy that our hearts don't know how to process it. Instinctively we hold our loved ones near and remind ourselves how precious life truly is. Nobody knows when your last day on earth will be. And despite that truth we can sometimes forget to take in all the good. Breathe it in every day. Be grateful. Be present. Don't take a single second of this crazy journey for granted.

Happy 2016!!! Make it the best yet!!!

What are your resolutions this year?

Post-vacation pounds and Plexus (A 34 by 34 update)

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Oh Punta Cana, you couldn't have been any better. It was the kind of vacation we have been dreaming of for quite some time and it was as amazing as we had imagined. No major travel hiccups, the food was better than I hoped, the weather was great and the sun was hot. I was sad when it was finally over...but I know that my mom was not.


My parents had quite a houseful with my 4 kids and my sister-in-law and her 4 kids in from Florida. On the first night we were away, we awoke to a text from my parents at 4am saying they were taking Hudson to the ER. I had instructed them over and over about what to do if Hudson accidentally ingested something with eggs, to which he has a life-threatening allergy. Benadryl at the first sign of coughing. Epi-pen immediately if vomiting.

So when he began throwing up they worried. He hadn't eaten anything (to their knowledge). He didn't have any other signs (they thought). But they wanted to be on the safe side and weren't sure what else to do.

It turns out he just had a stomach virus, thank goodness! BUT...said virus then made it's way through the household occupants, knocking them out cold one by one. Naturally Ricky and I felt awful about the situation back home (while we sipped our Pina Colada's on the beach in the sun)...

After returning to Clorox and Purell headquarters we made a quick pit-stop in Kentucky for a night before the boys and I hit the road once again to go to Michigan. It's one of my favorite places to be and seeing my kids enjoy it up there as much as I did when I was little is just so so cool. Ricky even surprised us at the end of the week to celebrate the 4th of July with us! we are home. The only good thing about being home after 2 weeks is sleeping in my own bed. Time to get back into a routine for the rest of the summer.

Some of you may remember that a few weeks before vacation I began using some products from Plexus, specifically the TriPlex (Plexus Slim, ProBio5 and BioCleanse). Each of these products works differently to help you feel your best. Plexus Slim works by naturally lowering your blood sugar which lowers your insulin level. Insulin makes your body store fat cells and also makes you hungry. The ProBio works by getting rid of the Candida overgrowth in your system. It is a pro-biotic that actually has an enzyme blend that penetrates the exoskeleton of the Candida and the 5 different strains of healthy bacteria. Candida overgrowth is caused by antibiotics and processed sugary foods. It's a yeast in our system that then grows roots in our intestinal track and colon causing what is called Leaky Gut syndrome. Candida also causes you to have those sugar and carb cravings! When you heal your gut and toxins stop leaking into your blood stream your body balances back out the way it is meant to be. The BioCleanse works to move everything out of your system.

Having had much success on a (mostly) Paleo diet for several months, I was looking for something that would help me maintain my weight-loss and continue my trend of feeling great. I'm never one to jump in to anythings - especially when it comes to taking any kind of supplement - but after a lot of research and question asking, I determined that the science behind it made sense and I would give it a shot.

The verdict? I loved it. I will admit I was both a little skeptical and nervous about taking the products. The instructions for quantities to take and time of day to take them were all different across the 4 products I had and I was a bit overwhelmed at first. However after speaking to the brand ambassador, she gave me some specific tips that helped me develop a good plan that worked for me.

Because I have taken other supplements before, I was expecting to feel a little jittery. When I didn't, I worried they weren't doing anything at all. The thing is, Plexus products are all-natural and actually complement a Paleo lifestyle very well by helping to clean the gut. So the lack of jitters just meant that it isn't a caffeine-based supplement like the ones I had tried in the past.

In the beginning, I had a headache first thing in the morning for several days in a row. Then on the 3rd day I felt nauseous no matter what I ate or drank. I reached out to my Plexus ambassador and she said those were normal symptoms associated with the Candida die-off. She gave me some more information about that which put my mind at ease. She also said I would likely start to feel a whole lot better very soon. And she was right!

I was sleeping more soundly. I was focusing a bit better throughout the day. And I was getting things done around the house. My tummy bloat diminshed. I already had very few food cravings as a benefit of my Paleo diet, but I found that I could make it meal to meal without even giving what I was going to eat next a second thought. Paleo had me feeling great already, but taking the Plexus products made me feel AMAZING!

So how much weight did I lose? Prior to Plexus, I dropped 17 lbs since the start of the year. 12 of that was after I began eating Paleo. I only lost 2 pounds after starting Plexus, however I had been told that the way it made me feel and a loss of inches was going to be a better measure of my success so I expected that.

The next important question did I feel after I stopped taking Plexus? As vacation approached, I had forgotten to re-order my products so I went without for the 2 weeks I was gone. Granted I also gave up Paleo during that time as well (we were on an all-inclusive vacation for goodness sakes...we ate and drank WHATEVER we wanted all. day. long.) And I figured why not just continue my "cheat" well into my Michigan vacation? I indulged in THE best blueberry donuts from our favorite farm market, ate easy go-to meals like pizza and pasta and gave-in to snacking by the pool. Needless to say, when I stepped on the scale my first morning at home I almost broke down in tears.

In just 2 weeks I had almost undone HALF of what I had worked so hard to lose since January. EEEEKKKK. I feel sluggish. Unmotivated. Bloated. Within 24 hours of returning from vacation I was messaging my Plexus contact to help me get started once again.

Tonight, I am back to meal-planning and Paleo-recipe searching. I will be placing my next order of Plexus products this week and CAN.NOT.WAIT to get that package in the mail. I'm ready to feel amazing again and drop the weight I put back on.

PS -- I'm so excited about the part that Plexus will play in my health journey that I have decided to become an Ambassador myself! Message me if you want to learn more about how you can begin cleaning your gut and feeling great. Thank you Vanessa Garcia for introducing me to this wonderful product!

Loved you then, love you still. Always have, always will.

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I just posted on Facebook today that I was taking a little break from blogging for the next few weeks, but...then I got an email with the finished photos from our vow renewal ceremony. So of course I had to share, and also tell how I pulled off the ultimate surprise for my impossible-to-surprise hubby :)

On May 20 we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. What a ride it has been! So much is different from the life we had imagined in our heads as we said "I do", and quite honestly, it's better than we could have dreamed! We have 4 beautiful children, a warm and cozy home, wonderful friends and a lot of family who have supported us, cheered us on, helped us out and loved us from the start.

I enlisted the help of a few special people at our church, set a date, and made a few secret trips to Hobby Lobby for supplies. Because I have been doing presentations for the last few months, it wasn't a stretch when I told Ricky we had been asked to come in and speak to the congregation as a family. It was going to be on a Sunday, between masses, on Memorial Day weekend. We were having a neighborhood get-together that same afternoon and Ricky had promised to smoke a pork shoulder for the party. For those that know about smoking meat, it is an all-day process to perfect it, so he was not too happy that we had to interrupt said process to do a presentation but he asked a friend (who knew what the deal was) to come and babysit the smoker while we were gone. Oh, and because I wanted Ricky to dress up really nice (a suit, and not just pants and a polo), I also threw in there that there was a Bishop visiting our church this week who wanted to sit in on the presentation. It felt a little weird telling lies about a religious event but I figured God knew the reason and would forgive ;)

As we were heading out the door I got a text from my friend Audrey (my maid-of-honor from our wedding day), who made the trek from Owensboro to be there for this special occasion. "You need to stall. Mass not over yet!" The entire family was already in the car so I sent Ricky a text from inside saying I would be a few minutes because my stomach was hurting. I kept getting updates from church telling me to delay and simultaneous "hurry up" texts from Ricky, afraid we were going to be late for our "presentation".

I stalled as long as I could and we were on our way, heart pounding inside my chest, in shock that I was actually going to pull this off.

When we got into the narthex we were met by our friend Debbie who, as she and I had planned, pulled us into a little classroom. I had told the boys just prior to leaving what we were actually going to church for - careful to keep it a secret for as long as possible so as to not give them too much time to ruin it. So they knew to stay put (instead of follow me like they normally do...everywhere) when I excused myself to use the restroom. That was Debbie's cue to send Ricky into the church. Meanwhile I changed into a pretty white sundress and my headpiece from our wedding day.

As he entered he wondered why there were so few people there for this big important presentation. Then, as he got closer to the front, he realized that the people in the pews were our family. His parents, my parents and the maid and matron of honor (best man Tom Q was not able to make it). Audrey pinned a rose on Ricky's lapel and shortly after, Aiden and Hudson emerged carrying a handmade sign that read "Loved you then, Love you still". Behind them came Ethan and Nolan with "Always have, Always will."

Finally, the doors swung open and I walked down the aisle holding a small bundle of peonies, the same flower used in my wedding bouquet. The look on his face was priceless, although without the trumpet of music to coordinate things, Father Terry didn't realize I was making my way down the aisle. He continued to chat with Ricky, back to me, until Ricky interrupted him saying "I'm sorry, I'm a little distracted," as he gestured to me.

The rest was pretty much amazing. I was overcome with emotion - both from pulling off such a special surprise for Ricky, and from just thinking about the journey we have been on these past 10 years culminating in an opportunity to say I Do all over again with our four boys there to witness.

It really was such an amazing day!

Photo credit: Caroline Couture Photography

A letter to the NICU nurses who were there when Aiden was born

Last week we celebrated Aiden's birthday with 7 candles on the cake. As most parents do, each year I say, where did the time go? The first couple years of Aiden's life were some of the toughest. But these last few? Nothing short of amazing.

If you haven't followed our story from the beginning, below are some of my first posts ever, as he was the reason I started this blog.

Aiden's Birth Story
He's Home!
More Great News

Not in the reading mood? Below is the trailer to a short film created for us several years ago about the start of Aiden's journey with Apert syndrome. (Shout out to Tommy Nolan of Creative Video Solutions!)

As I reminisce about the roller coaster ride, I'm often transported over and over again to the delivery room. The hushed doctors, the dim lights, the beeping machines. Aiden was whisked away to the NICU where he spent the next 2 weeks, while Ricky and I wrestled our emotions within the quaint concrete walls of the Ronald McDonald House Family Room housed in the lower level of the same hospital. I walked those halls - back and forth, upstairs and down - for 14 days. Delirious. Dazed. Grieving. And although I knew nobody could make it better - make him better - I came to appreciate the tenderness of the nurses who tried to help our boy as we wondered how to heal our hearts.

Dear NICU nurses who were there when our boy was born,

It's been 7 years, so this "thank you" has been a long-time coming. The early days left little to be thankful for as our assumption of a healthy 2nd baby boy was abruptly replaced with shock, fear and anger. A sterile stay in the NICU is probably not how most families expect to start their journey with a new baby, so I'm sure you are used to the flux of emotions that come from our end of things. Looking back now though, I am able to truly grasp the gratitude I hold in my heart.

Thank you for being there for my son. While my hands were shaky, trembling with fear, your warm and steady touch reassured him when I could not. You see, I was too scared. It sounds crazy, too scared to touch my own son, but with wires and leads and tubes attached to him in various places, I was terrified that I'd do him more harm than good if I stroked his belly wrong or made him wiggle too much.

Thank you for your tenderness. You saw that we were scared. Scrubbing your hands and arms up to your elbows for a strict 3 minutes might be commonplace to you, but doing so before being allowed in to see our baby was definitely new to us. The first time around, we had the freedom to scoop up our infant as he slept within arms reach. We heard him breath all night long without buzzing machines and dinging bells. We felt like parents, not like visitors. When we stood outside the NICU doors with tear stained cheeks and bleary eyes, you stopped what you were doing to welcome us in. When just about everyone else met us with frowns and uncertain emotion, you didn't. Even though I couldn't see behind your protective mask, I could tell from your eyes that you were smiling. You walked us to our son's isolette, decorated with a big construction paper heart with his name, and reminded us that this home of his was temporary. You gave us hope when we had none.

Thank you for your respect. You spoke to us in direct terms that we could mostly understand. And if by chance we didn't, you never made us feel silly for asking questions. When I was too nervous to give my own son his first bath, you walked me through it step by step. When I voiced my concerns, you listened. Even when we sometimes felt like it, you never treated us like victims. We were Aiden's mommy and daddy, plain and simple. You never made us feel small - and that helped to build our confidence.

Thank you for your patience. Every night we made a list of questions. We made you stand there answering each one while we crossed them off our list. Sometimes, when we couldn't sleep, we came up at 3 or 4 in the morning to ask them again just so we could spin the answers around in our head and give our minds something to focus on. When I couldn't hear your responses through my heaving sobs, you gave me a moment to collect myself and simply tended to my child's needs. If I argued or got angry or demanded something of you, you understood it as raw emotions and didn't dish it back to me even when I may have deserved it. I promise I wasn't trying to be rude. I was just scared. Thank you for letting me be scared.

Thank you for your encouragement. I was told many scary things about my son in those first few days. I watched as doctor after doctor came in to shuttle him from test to test. Talk of brain bleeds, organ problems, breathing issues, severe mental delays - I was flooded with so many negatives that my entire existence was shaken to its core. I searched for normal. And even though they said I would not be able to nurse my boy because of the anatomy of his mouth, something inside of me made me want to. When he was no longer intubated, you let me try. You showed me latching tricks and pulled up a rocking chair and shooed visitors when I was getting frustrated. You probably don't know this but I successfully nursed Aiden for 4 months. Had you told me no like everyone else had, I would have missed out on an invaluable lesson on perseverance. Something we have carried on into every aspect of Aiden's life.

Please let this long overdue thank you letter serve as reminder on those really tough days - when you let the fear and misguided emotions from scared and tired parents make you doubt your very important role. We certainly didn't find hope from the doctors with their rushed search for answers, confusing big-words and "prepare for the worst" attitude. Without you, we would not have survived. HE would not have survived. We will be forever grateful.

Every year on his birthday, I think of you. And I'm finally getting around to letting you know.

A NICU mom