Why even at 30, I still need my mom

Oh okay, 31. But who's counting?

My relationship with my mom has always been a cherished one. While it hasn't always been an easy one (ie: the teenage years) I hold her in the highest regard (and probably did then too but was too stubborn to admit it).

Growing up she often told me stories about her own mom - who died of cancer in her early 50s, just a bit shy of my mom finding out she was pregnant with my sister. Of course, then, I never knew my grandmother. She never met a single grandchild even after having 10 children of her own. It wasn't until I was in college that the I truly recognized what a void her absence must have been in my mom's life. Coincidentally, that is about the time that my mom became more of a friend - someone I needed and turned to rather than rebelled against as in years before.

Now, with every milestone in my life, I am reminded even more how difficult it must have been to experience adulthood without a mother. Our frequent conversations (often 5+ a day!) make me wonder who she turned to...who answered her silly questions or laughed at her kids off-the-cuff remarks?

So today, on her birthday, I wanted to let her know just how important she is to me...

  • She is my second brain - whenever I'm in doubt about ANYTHING, she is the first person I call. What to make for dinner? Which shoe to wear with an outfit? What to set the oven on for baked potatoes? Call mom. My husband laughs at me when I ask him a question first. He says "Just call your mommy, you know whatever she says will be what you do anyway". And he's usually right :)
  • She talks me off the ledge - when my kids are misbehaving or I've gotten myself into a tizzy with my seemingly unending list of things to do, I can always count on her to calm me down. She'll tell me to pour a glass of wine and just breathe. Then she'll tell me "now you know why I used to lock myself in my bedroom when you guys were little". 
  • She is my biggest fan - While she often finds it hard to put her emotions into words (something I must have inherited from my dad), she sends me cards every now and then "just because" and lets me know in all kinds of ways how proud she is of me. I remember getting upset one time as a tween when I heard her bragging about my sister..."My absolutely gorgeous daughter" and I knew she was talking about Lauren. Let's face it, my sis is beautiful (and in comparison to the awkward stage I was in at the time, hands down, she won). Of course I know my mom thinks I'm beautiful. But as an adult, I'm just as content knowing that she admires my ability to write or thinks I am a wonderful mom.
  • As a shopping buddy - without a doubt, there is nobody I'd rather spend the day shopping with than my mom. She can sniff out deals with the best of them and usually finds them for someone other than herself. And when that happens? She may even say "well I found this, so I'll buy it for you". Who am I to stop her from being so generous? ;)
  • She reminds me of all the good in the world - okay, actually that's not entirely true. In fact, with us much as she watches Dateline and 20/20, the exact opposite is true. She is not a cynic per say, just...careful. "Open the door with your sleeve and for God's sake don't touch the hotel remote controls" "Did you see that story about the new way people are hacking credit card numbers?" "I heard that airlines lose 30% more baggage in the month of December" Gee, thanks mom, for turning me into a paranoid germophobe! 
  • She ADORES her grandchildren - my mom would give just about anyone the food off her plate and the shirt off her back, but her grandkids? She takes it to the extreme. I've never been bothered by her spoiling my kids. In some ways I feel as though she's making up for what she wishes/knows her mom could/would have done for us. My kids know that their nana is an extension of the love I have for them. They LOVE spending time with her, always have. She is a fun-loving spirit who is always on the go and my kids think she is pretty much the coolest thing ever.
  • She gets me through the tough times - when I miscarried last year, my mom hopped on a plane and flew down here to hold my hand. When I had Aiden and she was hundreds of miles away in Florida, she cried with me, then told me it was going to be okay. When I get upset about something silly, she is the first to say "snap out of it" or "c'est la vie". She reminds me what's important and is there for me when it is.
As you can see, my mom and I are extremely close. I'll never know just how much not having a mom around as an adult impacted her - but I know that even with that being the case, she turned out to be an amazing mother herself. 

Thank you mom ~ Happy birthday ~ and I love you!

I just can't shake it

Grief is a stranger to nobody. We've all lost loved ones, dealt with emotional challenges and suffered traumas to some degree throughout our lives. As adults, we learn to rebuild with faith and move on with the grace of God. But the tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook on Friday seems almost too much to bear.

I've turned off the news. Haven't watched it since Friday when I couldn't stop watching it all day. I called my son's school that afternoon an hour and a half before pick up time and asked the secretary if it'd be silly for me to come get him early. Not out of fear, but for the simple reason that I wanted to hug him. See him. Know that he was alive.

Scrolling through my news feed yesterday I began seeing photos of those that lost their lives. It brought me back to 9/11 when I spent an entire afternoon looking at a website with pictures and names of each victim. It was as if I was searching for someone I knew - some reason that made the hurt in my heart seem justified. It's sometimes hard to remember that the grief felt during events like this, even when not experiencing it first hand is always justified. Such is the human condition. To feel. To be compassionate. To connect to others in times of need.

I sat in the nail salon yesterday after spending an "early Christmas" with my family and felt numb as holiday tunes trickled out of the speakers around me. I glanced up at the television, muted, but displaying headlines and captions, to see the father of one of the 1st graders get in front of the camera to talk about his daughter. I searched his face for emotion as the words popped up letter by letter. He described his little girl as "creative" and "imaginative" who always toted crayons with her wherever she went. She drew pictures for everyone for birthdays, when sick or just because. She was spirited and wise beyond her years. And I couldn't hold back my emotion any longer. He was not only describing his daughter...that was my Ethan. To a T.

Looking at the big beautiful eyes of that little girl I didn't know, my heart felt unbearably heavy. Those kids. Those families. Why? Why? WHY???

My grief is wound up tightly in the realities these families are facing and the unsaid moments of that Friday morning. I imagine a frustrated mother who fought with a stubborn 1st grader about what she wanted to wear, arguing over shoes or headbands or bows. I imagine a child who complained of a tummy ache but in the absence of a fever and childcare, his parents decided to send him to school anyway that fateful morning. I imagine the stay-at-home moms who hurried their little ones off to school, looking forward to a few moments of quiet in their day. I imagine the parent who scheduled an afternoon dentist appointment, not wanting their child to miss any school.

Those are the moments that will haunt these families. The "why didn't I" and the "what if's". And I guess my ability to empathize in that way is a blessing and a curse. I AM that parent. I've HAD those trivial arguments and anxious-to-get-them-out-the-door feelings. I'm constantly questioning every decision I make.

Life is precious - we never know what tomorrow holds. And yes, these tragic events have made me pause, hug and squeeze my kids and husband more often, more intently. But the truth is there is NO WAY to protect ourselves, our hearts, from pain and suffering. It's a part of life. We simply cannot control the actions of others - we cannot predict evil.

I don't care so much to hear about the gun-wielding boy who entered the school that morning. I don't seek to understand WHY he did what he did. That answer is evident. His life had ended far before he took his own - he stopped existing when he concocted this plan. That is how I have to see it anyway. Anyone who could walk into an elementary school devoid of emotion and take the lives of 26 people inside must not have had a heart beating in his chest. And while I'm confident his soul is burning in Hell, it is no consolation to the innocence that was stolen from that sleepy Connecticut town.

How? How can those families go on? It makes me want to vomit thinking about facing the hand-drawn pictures on the fridge. The closet full of hidden presents ready to unwrap at Christmas. The home videos that live on their computers, phones, DVDs. How does someone learn to put one foot in front of the other after losing a child? It has brought me to tears over and over.

Each night, I pray for the families. I pray for the children, staff and loved ones who survived. For the police and EMTs who were the first to the scene. And, I pray, perhaps selfishly, that this grief that I feel in my heart is never compounded by ever experiencing it first hand.

5 Years of Blogging...what say you?

In just a few short months I will have been blogging for FIVE years! That seems crazy to me. As I have said before, this space was started to keep friends and family informed about Aiden's medical issues. I was able to answer questions and share photos as he progressed from the NICU to home and through his many surgeries.

{ More Skees Please blog headers through the years }

As someone who has always loved to write, it quickly became an outlet for me as well, giving me someplace to vent, to delve a little deeper into my emotions. That was scary, sure - sharing that side of myself with the few who were reading my blog. However soon, I started to connect with other families who could relate not only to having a child with a medical condition, but also to the thoughts and feelings I was putting out there as well.

And a funny thing happened...I started to heal. I cycled through my phases of grief, literally pouring it all out on the pages of More Skees Please. People responded. Offered encouragement or empathy. Prayed for our family. Friendships blossomed with other craniofacial families and I was given a whole new circle of support beyond my amazing family and friends.

All because I started a blog.

It's pretty amazing, don't you think?

Now, it has taken on a whole new life. While the majority of the content is centered around our little family and the challenges of just being a mom in general, I have started to branch out and discover more ways to take this "hobby" to the next level. I've gotten involved in local blogging groups, learned a great deal about social media, and have even taught myself how to tweak HTML to add my own personal touches to this space (how? A LOT of Googling...)

While I do not make a significant amount of money from this endeavor (in fact, hardly anything at all), I am slowly learning the ropes and hope to one day earn a somewhat steady income. In the meantime, I'm setting new goals each day for More Skees Please. I'm excited to continue to build relationships with brands and be able to offer product discounts and/or reviews that appeal to my readers. However I am NOT wanting this space to turn into a giveaway/review/deal site by any means. The content of this blog will always, first and foremost, be about my family. But if presented with opportunities that allow me to meld the two together in a genuine way, I will definitely take advantage of it.

So...now, I want to hear from YOU. I want to know:

  • How interested are you in the sponsored-type posts I've written in the past. (Like this and this). 
  • Would you continue to read if I included more of these in the future or do you prefer to read only our family updates?
  • Are there specific types of deals, reviews or brands that you'd be interested in seeing here on More Skees Please?
  • Would you prefer that these types of posts be kept separate from the regular feed (like maybe I could create a "Deals/Reviews" link in the main navigation that you can visit when you choose)
  • What could I do to improve More Skees Please? (more regular posting schedule, navigation suggestions, better comment system, design, etc.)

I LOVE hearing your feedback and I value your input. 
Leave a comment here or on the link to this post on the MSP Facebook page 
answering one or all of the above questions by Friday, December 14th @ 9am EST,
and one lucky person will win a $10 Starbucks gift card!

Thank you SO much!

Our Amazing Aiden: An Update

It's been a long while since I've posted about Aiden - probably because we have been lucky to avoid any major medical issues since his last surgery back in May. Because Aiden is the reason I created this blog, and because I have so many new blog readers and Facebook fans (thanks for following our story!), I thought I'd take a moment to provide some links giving some insight into our Amazing Aiden for those who may not already know.
Aiden - Apert syndrome
Photo credit: Brandie Lynn Photography
Our sweet Aiden was born in 2008 with Apert Syndrome - a craniofacial condition that includes congenital anomalies of his hands, feet and skull. Apert Syndrome only occurs in about 1 in 160,000 births. In our case, it was a spontaneous genetic mutation. [To read more about Apert Syndrome, click here]. 
We did not know about his condition during my pregnancy. Rather, at birth, we noticed that his hands looked as if he had no fingers and his toes were webbed. The condition also includes premature fusion of sutures in the skull, called craniosynostosis. The open spaces in a baby's skull that make up the "soft spots" and allow room for the brain to grow as the child develops are not normal in a child with Apert Syndrome. Instead, those spaces are made up of skull bone that has already fused together, making it difficult for the head to expand as the brain grows. 
Aiden has already had several surgeries and will need more during the next few years of his life. If you want to read more about his medical journey, click hereThese surgeries have given Aiden a chance at a normal life. He uses his fingers well, despite the fact that he is missing one of the joints on each finger. There isn't anything he has not been able to figure out and adapt to doing on his own and is performing at the appropriate developmental levels for his age. 
While Aiden may look a little different from the average child, it is important to understand that he is just like anyone else. He loves to play, run, jump and adores his big brother, Ethan and little brother Hudson. He deserves to be treated kindly and it is my goal as his mother to educate others so that his differences do not inhibit his social acceptance. Please take a few moments to talk about Aiden with your child/family as I do believe that awareness is key! 
I know that children and adults might have questions and I always welcome the opportunity to answer them. I am always happy to talk about my amazing little guy. Feel free to contact me by email: moreskeesplease[at]gmail.com if you would like to chat.  
For an in depth, personal account of Aiden's first couple of years, watch  Aiden's Journey: Awareness and Hope - a short film documentary that provides a glimpse into our life. You can also view photos, join the discussion on Facebook and learn how to obtain a copy of the full DVD by visiting: www.aidensjourneythefilm.com

Currently, Aiden is doing fantastic. He recently started speech therapy through the school system and receives articulation instruction every Tuesday and Thursday. He loves attending these special classes - mostly because he gets to ride "the big yellow school bus" :)

There are no planned surgeries on the horizon - although I always "knock on wood" each time I say that because, well, you just never know. He will undergo his normal medical work up (MRI, sleep study, anthropology measurements, photos, etc.) every 18 months, the next time being November of 2013. Unless, of course, anything should happen between now and then that might require us to move it up.

What we know for sure? He will need another cranial vault surgery (maybe mulitple) in order to give his brain adequate space to expand as he grows. And in the next 3-4 years, we will be facing his mid-face advancement - a procedure that entails surgically attaching a rigid external distraction device to his skull. Over an 8-week period we will slowly turn screws on either side of the device to pull his mid-face forward. Why? The area from the brow bone down to the upper jaw grows at a significantly slower rate than the rest of the face, which can cause breathing difficulties and other medical issues.

Brody, a friend of ours, wearing the RED device
*Photo used with permission from his parents*

Recently, I've heard of so many kids with Apert syndrome having surgery complications or even gaining their angel wings entirely too soon. To say this makes my heart ache is an understatement. I pray each night that Aiden stays *healthy* and continues to learn and grow and I feel so blessed for each day God gives me with my special little boy.

As always, our family appreciates all the prayers and support from our friends, family and even those we've never met, but who read our story here on More Skees Please. For us, the below quote rings true:

“I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” ~ Mae West

Family photo on canvas from Printcopia

For the past two years in Texas, local Austin area photographer, Brandie Lynn Photography, has helped us mark family milestones with beautiful photos. She captured our first family shots as Texans back in 2011 and just recently shot our first official photo as a family of five.

In 2010 and 2011, I had our photos printed on canvas. I tried two different companies using one of those deal-type coupons for each. I was happy with the first order, but last year's canvas print was not up to par. I consider myself a loyal shopper, however I am always eager to try something new in order to find the best option available, so I was excited when I found out about Printcopia.


When I logged on to their website to check them out, I was first struck by how easy it was to navigate. The product options are very clear - they offer basic photo prints as well as more customized gallery pieces like canvas prints, photos printed on acrylic, and framing options. It only took me a few minutes to upload our new family photo and choose my canvas options and voila, it was in my cart and ready to be processed.

A few minutes later I received my order notification and just 24 hours after that, another email letting my know my order had shipped! This was MUCH faster than I had anticipated as the site said to expect 3-5 days before the canvas would ship. The package arrived less than 48 hours after placing the order...and during the holiday mail rush too. Impressive.

Happy to report I am very pleased with the quality of the product. The image is crisp, the colors are spot-on and the canvas itself is thick with a durable wood mount. It came ready to be hung with a small picture hanger already attached. 

All-in-all, I would definitely recommend ordering any of your family prints from Printcopia! And with their quick turnaround time, you could order holiday gifts as well! Additionally, if your printing needs go beyond standard sizes, they offer custom banner designs on their sister site BuildASign too!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary 16x20 canvas print from Printcopia. All opinions about the product are honest and my own.

Bump? What bump?

Remember how I posted about the bump on Hudson's head back in September? Well, a lot has changed since then...

As it continued to grow daily, I became more and more concerned about the proximity to his eye structures. I decided to use the "just in case we wanted to" referral from our pediatrician to take Hudson to a pediatric dermatologist who specializes in vascular birthmarks.

We felt even more at ease about the situation after visiting with Dr. H. While she couldn't predict how large it would grow or how long it would take to get to the point where it would start to shrink on it's own, she was 100% certain that it was in fact a hemangioma. She even said that the fact that the more significant growth was happening under the skin (rather than the red part growing on top of the skin) was a good thing because typically what remains after the hemangioma goes away is much less noticeable in that scenario. Apparently the skin on the head/face can stretch quite a bit without causing any damage, but if the red part of his mark grew larger and puffed out more, that could cause some permanent loose skin after it shrinks in size.

I couldn't help but feel a little silly for wanting to have him checked out by a specialist. After all, we have had our fair share of specialist appointments for more complicated things than a growing birth mark. And it was funny because almost every nurse that we saw prior to our appointments with Dr. H must have assumed I was a scared new mom blowing things out of proportion. "Is this your first baby?" they'd politely yet semi-patronizingly ask as if they already knew the answer. Each time, they seemed surprised when I said it was actually my 3rd.

I don't know, maybe we are MORE cautious and cognizant of the small things with all of the big things we've been accustomed to dealing with. Either way, we left our initial visit with Dr. H with some reassurance, but another "wait and see" plan in place.

A month later we revisited Dr. H for our follow up. She was surprised to see how much the bump had grown. She agreed at this visit that with it encroaching more and more on the eye area, perhaps we should consider a a course of treatment rather than just letting it continue to grow and go away on its own. We had mixed emotions about this -- sure, we wanted to see this getting-larger-by-the-minute bump go away, especially if it was beginning to make his eyelid droop a bit, but the medication that Dr. H proposed seemed kind of risky. Propranolol is a prescription used in adults to lower blood pressure. During the usage of this medication, medical professionals noticed that when given to patients who happened to have hemangiomas as well, the size of their marks decreased dramatically. While it is currently not an FDA approved use of the medication, propranolol is given to dermatological patients with hemangiomas requiring treatment.

We considered the risks and the benefits and decided to move forward with giving Hudson the medicine. In order to do so, he had to have an EKG to check for any heart issues and will need blood pressure and blood sugar monitoring monthly during his course of treatment. Because the medicine is designed to lower blood pressure, infants and children are given a minimal dose to start with and have their pressure and sugar checked 2 weeks after the first dose. Once it is seen to be normal, the doses gradually increase.

As you can imagine we were paranoid about side effects so Ricky and I watched Hudson like a hawk. Every little wince or cry or if he had cold hands immediately made us question if it was the medicine. We did have a scare which sent us to the hospital, but luckily(?) it turned out to be RSV and not related to the propronolol.

Fast forward 6 weeks. Hudson has been taking the med twice daily since the end of October with amazing results. In the first 48 hours(!) the size of the hemangioma shrunk significantly. We could hardly believe it. Now, what was once the size of a golf ball is barely noticeable at all. Not only has the bump decreased to next to nothing, but the red mark that had gotten to be a very dark shade of maroon is now the same dusty pink we saw in his newborn photos.

We had another follow-up appointment on Tuesday and Dr. H is extremely pleased with the results. Hudson's shown no evidence of any side effects to the med and his blood pressure/sugar levels remain normal. He will continue to take propranolol for another 4-5 months or so, or until it is clear that the growth process has stopped and the body's natural involution process has begun.

We are so happy with the results and glad we made the decision to go forward with treatment!

Body after Baby: Weeks 11 and 12

I'm way behind on these posts but as I sit here making my grocery list and reviewing recipes for Thursday, I wanted to make sure to get this update out there before the season of gluttony begins and my weight loss efforts get derailed (maybe? maybe not?)

Since my last post, I have officially reached my "pre-Hudson-pregnancy" weight. Yippee! I am now just 16 lbs from my goal weight (which is my "pre-ALL-pregnancy" weight). In other words, I'm currently holding steady at 161 and I want to get down to 145.

I feel great and I've noticed that my habits have changed quite a bit. For instance, I no longer CRAVE candy as I once did. Sure I might snag a piece here or there, but I'm not stocking up on all my favorites to have on hand whenever I decide I need a fix (Sour Patch Kids, Mike and Ikes, Nerds...to name a few).

Horrible-for-you foods also don't sound as good as they used to. When my kids wanted McDonald's, I'd happily oblige and use it as an excuse to grab myself a hamburger and fry. Now, I offer alternate choices to them like Sandella's or Subway so I can eat something healthier. And you know what? They request these places now too! I love it :)

Those will-power tests that I started at the beginning? They served their purpose and I'm happy to report that it is MUCH easier for me to pass up the random chocolate in the candy dish at the doctor's office, birthday cake at the party or my kids leftover corn dog. Will power is in tact.

BUT here are my concerns going forward...

1) Thanksgiving

We are doing Thanksgiving here on our own this year. Which means I will be cooking my first Thanksgiving meal by myself. While I don't care to cook, I am excited about this feat. I'm NOT going to "healthify" the recipes...I'm using the good stuff. Butter. Cream. Full-fat dinner rolls. Because anything else would just be wrong.

2) I'm weaning Hudson

There goes that extra 500 calories burned a day doing pretty much nothing. Looks like I better pick up my exercise efforts a bit.

3) Christmas

The ultimate will-power test. And one I repeatedly fail every year. First there's Christmas Eve at Ricky's parent's house: spinach and artichoke dip with King Hawaiian bread, cheese ball, meat and cheese trays, chips and ranch dip, desserts, etc. Then, Christmas morning brunch at my parents with sausage and egg casserole, Irish soda bread, fruit, and more. And shortly after brunch is cleared from the table, snack stuff replaces it on the counter. More cheese ball, mini quiches, cheese and crackers. This is followed by a traditional dinner of ham and/or turkey, potatoes, veggies, rolls...

Diet. Fail.

4) Traveling

Because something about stepping foot in an airport says "It's okay to eat crap and not care". Add to it the fact that while you are staying at someone else's house your usual food routine is just thrown out the window, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

5) Alcoholic beverages

Since I couldn't really partake in them when breastfeeding, I *might* be looking forward to the occasional bottle glass of wine. Or spiced rum and apple cider. Or whatever holiday cocktail I find on Pinterest and create an excuse to make (ugly Christmas sweater party last year was entirely planned around the fact that I wanted to entertain and make "Jingle Juice"). True story.

So, while I'd really like to get below 160 before my trip back home at the end of December, I am not making any guarantees. I'm not going to just give up and let loose for the next month or two. But at the same time I'm not going to stress out about all things weight-loss either.

I may not write a Body after Baby blog post each week due to our crazy busy holiday schedules and traveling, but I am going to hold myself accountable and at the very least will still post my weekly weigh-in on the More Skees Please Facebook page.

Week 12} 161.6

Week 11: 161.8
Week 10: 164.4
Week 9: 166.4
Week 8: 168.2
Week 7: 168.6
Week 6: 168.6
Week 5: 172.6
Week 4: 171.6
Week 3: 170.6
Week 2: 172.2
Week 1: 173.5


Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Source: weheartit.com via Taryn on Pinterest

Family = Love

I had an amazing childhood. One filled with love, tons of laughter and many opportunities and experiences some never have. To say I was fortunate in that regard is an understatement but I try not to take any of it for granted.

Looking back, my best memories are all centered around time spent with family. My mom is one of 10 children and my dad is one of 6 so our family functions were never small - the rooms were always filled to the brim with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and branches extending out beyond the ones I ever even recognized or knew first-hand. I hardly remember ever being bored.

It is true that we lived in a much different time. One where where electronics were rarely turned on and computers in the home didn't really exist (and when they did, they were certainly not loaded with games...MS dos anyone?) We played outside until dark and sometimes even later without our parents worrying too much about kidnappers and other child predators. We used our imaginations abundantly, had dinner as a family every night and played board games like Boggle and Life on any given Friday evening. My, how things changed.

Despite the fact that I have more electronic gadgets than I can count (of which my kids ages 4 and 5 can use better than most adults in my parents generation) and that I am too afraid to ever let my children out of my sight even to play in the front yard, there is one major thing that remains a constant.


What I hope to accomplish as a mother - after all is said and done - is for my children to one day look back on their childhood, as I do mine...and smile. I want them to have known love in its greatest form. To have memories that guide them into adulthood and give them goals for their futures. I want their relationships with their siblings to be unwavering. As we all know, family is forever. We didn't get to choose ours, God chose them for us.

Thanks to the folks at Alphabet Photography, this beautiful piece of artwork recently became a centerpiece in our home. It is the perfect reminder of the ties that bind.

I started by choosing the word, then got to customize every individual letter from a gallery of photographs taken of everyday objects that resemble letters of the alphabet.

It came ready to be hung in a 3" solid wood frame and museum quality double mat with a V groove. Valued at $169.95, the piece is a hand-made original signed and dated by the author.

Once the artwork was hung, we used it as an opportunity to talk with the boys about how family is so important now and always. This high-quality piece will be a constant reminder of just that, and something we will cherish for years to come.

Are you looking for a unique home accent or gift for the holidays? Then create yours today at Alphabet Photography!

The perfect customized gift that includes photographs from
all over the world, this is the original Alphabet Photography
Celebrity owners include: Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate, 
Tyra Banks, Ryan Seacrest, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 
John Schneider, Nelly Furtado, and many more!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of
Alphabet Photography. The opinions and text are all mine.

We won!

Who said big brothers are only good for fetching baby binkies and burp cloths? With their sweet smiles and photogenic personalities, Ethan and Aiden have helped earn their keep!

Thanks to all of you who voted in the MetroMoms - Austin Pumpkin Patch Photo Contest. The boys photo had the 2nd highest number of votes...and the TOP 2 got to choose an amazing prize.

I am so excited that we are now the proud owners of a super safe Britax Advocate car seat {retail value $320!} Nothing like using Ethan and Aiden to win a prize for their baby brother...well done boys ;)

Britax Advocate
Image source: www.britaxusa.com

We really should go out and buy a lottery ticket. Last week we won a $100 gas gift card in a neighborhood drawing (courtesy of Keller Williams realtor Jason Taylor) AND a Joovy Bicycoo while at the Touch-A-Truck event on Saturday!
Image source: www.joovy.com
Feeling extremely lucky and very blessed!!!

The long and short of it...

My hair that is.

I am notorious for saying I want to grow my hair out long, then I get about half-way there and decide it's taking too long so I cut it short. And as soon as I do, I am on a mission to grow my hair back out. I can never make up my mind. 

This is where you come in. Help me figure out what to do with my hair! Here are some pics at every stage:

While I may not know which hair length looks best on me, looking at these pictures does tell me a few things...

1. I love being a blonde. I will always be a blonde from here on out. Gray is so much easier to cover when you are blonde. :)

2. Of the four photos, I'm definitely heaviest in the "Medium-long hair" pic. Don't let that sway your decision on which length looks best.

3. I tilt my head EXACTLY the same way in almost every picture I take. I really need to learn how to mix it up a bit.

4. Speaking of mixing it up...my bangs are also almost EXACTLY the same in these pics. While I've done the no bangs thing a few times, I'm convinced it's not a good look for me. Feel free to weigh in.

5. I miss Hawaii. Aside from our honeymoon {click for pics}, this was one of the BEST vacations we've ever taken. I spent about an hour reliving said vacation through pictures {click for pics}. Note to newlyweds: go on vacations as often as possible before you have kids because even though you say you will, once they come along, you won't.

If looking at those honeymoon and Hawaii pictures
doesn't reinforce my desire to lose this last 20 pounds,
I don't know what will!

Anyway - at this moment, my hair is somewhere in between the medium-short and the medium-long lengths. Which might explain why I'm suddenly torn on what to do.

Sooooo...Should I keep growing it long OR should I chop it off???

Body after Baby: Week 10

I'm making progress and it feels great! The boot camp is definitely a huge factor in helping me tone up and slim down. I only have 2 more classes, but I'm motivated more than ever so I plan to continue my workouts on my own at the Y...BodyPump anyone?

The photos reflect a little bit, but, more importantly, the way I feel and how my clothes fit say so much more. Now I just have to keep out of the boys' Halloween candy if I want to continue to lose!

I'm a third of the way to my goal. Woo-hoo!

Week 10} 164.4

Week 9: 166.4
Week 8: 168.2
Week 7: 168.6
Week 6: 168.6
Week 5: 172.6
Week 4: 171.6
Week 3: 170.6
Week 2: 172.2
Week 1: 173.5

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS =  10.2 lbs.

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Tricks and Treats

This year, Halloween started out with several "tricks" and I wondered if we would even make it to the "treats"...

Aiden goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but when holiday activities land on an "off" day, I try to take him up to his class to participate then bring him home. For weeks he begged me to take him to the annual costume parade that his school was putting on. He couldn't wait to gear up in his jockey get-up and show his friends and teachers. All morning he asked "Is it time yet? Is it time yet?" I wasn't feeling well and if he hadn't have been so excited about it, I probably would have skipped it all together. But, being the good mom that I am ;) I took a shower, fed Hudson, got him dressed, got Aiden ready and loaded up the car headed for his school. 

When we got there, Hudson was crying and Aiden refused to participate. I stood in the hallway for a good 10 minutes trying to coax Aiden into doing what we came to do - I mean I TOOK A SHOWER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD - but alas, he threw a fit and we looked like idiots. I was a frazzled sweaty mess (so much for the shower) so we turned right back around and drove home. Awesome start to the day.

As the day wore on (and I wore out) Hudson was extremely fussy. He wasn't his happy, easy-going self so I decided last minute to try to get him in to the doctor. The only appointment available was at 4:00 and knowing that it usually takes FOREVER, I was unsure if I'd be back in time to get everything ready for trick-or-treating. But we had to take the chance - and I'm glad we did. Turned out that Hudson had a double ear infection. Poor guy.

While at the doctor, I glanced at my phone to see 5 missed calls from Ricky. Uh-oh. That's never a good sign. I called him back and he told me that Aiden threw a toy at Ethan leaving him with what was sure to be a pretty good shiner. He was okay but the only problem is our family pictures are Friday... Oh well!

I zoomed home after grabbing Hudson's Rx at the pharmacy and raced around trying to get things ready. Ricky had already done most of it so I focused on getting Hudson fed and our costumes on. We were ready just in time and luckily, the rest of the evening was perfect.

Ethan has been really into Star Wars lately and wanted to be a Boba Fet(?). I've never seen any of the movies so I couldn't tell you what the heck that is, but he was happy with the store-bought costume from Target so I was too. Aiden, on the other hand, picks more original costumes which means I get to get creative. Last year he was a "motorcycle dude" (Ethan was a dragon). This year, per his request, he wanted to be a jockey. My dad has owned a couple race horses and Aiden has loved every aspect of the sport so this didn't come as a surprise.

My wheels got turning and I started looking up ideas online. I could have bought a jockey costume for $49.99 but decided I'd rather do it myself. Growing up, my mom made most of our costumes and I loved that, so I am excited to give my boys some of the same memories (as long as they'll let me anyway!)

I'm so happy with how Aiden's costume turned out. I did have to buy the "horse" he was riding on - and I think it really made it all come together - but the rest was hand made. Keep in mind, I DO NOT/CAN NOT sew worth anything so everything was either fused together with glue, staples or "Wunder Under" fabric adhesive. Worked like a charm!

As for Hudson, I had seen the cutest idea on Pinterest for a newborn costume and since my creative juices were already flowing, I decided to tackle it as well. All it took was felt, real popped popcorn hand-sewn onto a little white hat, a red bow-tie and A LOT of time. And seriously???? I could not have been more excited about how it came out.

There were about 8-10 kiddos that went trick-or-treating together (with parents of course) and afterwards, everyone gathered on our driveway for grilled hot dogs, freshly popped popcorn, pizza and lots of other snacks. Oh, and to keep up with my "holiday drink" tradition, we made "Halloweenie-tinis" :) YUM!

Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays, but I absolutely loved every part of it this year. As the boys get older, I have a feeling I am going to love it more and more!

Every little boy's dream

This weekend Ethan and Aiden will get to do something that every little boy dreams of...they will get to climb into real life firetrucks, police cars, ambulances, limousines and more!
They are so excited to go to the 2nd Annual Touch-A-Truck event presented by Gorgeous Millie and, quite frankly, so am I! The event benefits the Austin Children's Shelter and will take place at Valley View Elementary School this Saturday, November 3rd from 10am-3pm. 

In addition to experiencing the vehicles first-hand, there will be food, bouncy houses, a petting zoo and all kinds of fun family activities! {For those with sensitive ears there will be a horn-free hour from 2-3pm.}

Tickets are just $4 in advance and can be purchased online by visiting the Touch-A-Truck website, or at the door for $5.

{For more information check out these links:}

Sweet pun'kins

So you know those super annoying requests that fill up your Facebook feed or your inbox from friends and family asking you to "vote for my super cute kid/cat/puppy" in this super annoying contest thingy? Yep, that's where this is headed.

I'll make this short and sweet: I'd love for y'all to do me a HUGE favor and vote for my boys' picture in a local Pumpkin Patch Photo Contest. 

I mean, really, how could you NOT?

So please, just follow THIS LINK, then click the "VOTE" button (NOT the Facebook "like" button) to make sure your vote is counted. It will only take 2 minutes of your time, I promise. The contest ends on Friday, Nov 2nd at midnight so I won't be bugging you about this for long. And as of today we are behind by 10 votes!!!!

What's in it for me? 
I could win some brand new baby gear like a jogging stroller or a Britax car seat.

But more importantly, what's in it for you? 
A very sincere "thank you" from the one and only More Skees Please :) Oh, and a promise to return the favor for all your kids/cats/puppies needing a vote too!

Body after Baby: Week 9

I have successfully completed 4 boot camp classes. That is two weeks of Tuesday/Thursday 9am classes where I've managed to juggle getting the boys up and ready for school, feeding Hudson at just the right time and bringing him along with me while I work out. He is SO good and usually sleeps next to my mat snuggled in his car seat stroller throughout the entire class. How? I have no idea because our trainer pumps super loud music just 10 feet away from him. I guess he is used to the noise with his two big brothers at home :)

Yesterday morning the weather app on my phone showed it was supposed to be overcast and possibly rainy. I didn't sleep very well that night and the timing was off for Hudson's normal feeding schedule so I REALLY did not want to go to class. I thought for sure he would want to eat smack dab in the middle of it and I'd have to leave. I decided I'd rather stay in my pj's and cuddle with him all morning.

Then, a funny thing happened. I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that I was "skipping" class. I felt guilty. I texted my friend Melissa (who is the reason I signed up for this boot camp in the first place) to see if she was gonna go. Knowing that she'd say yes, I hoped she would encourage me to go too and that it would be the kick I needed. Sure enough, it was. (Thanks Melissa :)) Oh, and by the way, Hudson was perfect this time too. Was awake for a while, then conked out the last half.

I was really proud for making myself go. Even more so afterwards when I had made it through and felt energized for the rest of the day. It's truly amazing how a good work out can make such a difference in how you feel about yourself.

What's even more exciting is seeing the numbers drop on the scale. Down almost 2 pounds this week! Just 5 pounds to go until I reach  my pre-pregnancy weight and 20 until my goal!

Week 9} 166.4
Week 8: 168.2
Week 7: 168.6
Week 6: 168.6
Week 5: 172.6
Week 4: 171.6
Week 3: 170.6
Week 2: 172.2
Week 1: 173.5
Starting Point: 174.6


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Three Months

Who knew 3 months could fly by so quickly? If I didn't have a calendar telling me it was already the end of October, I simply wouldn't believe it.

The tiny little pieces of clothing that I carefully washed with Dreft and tucked neatly into Hudson's nursery drawer are beginning to pile up in a bin marked "Newborn/0-3 Months" as he outgrows something else everyday.

He is smiling more and more. When I peek over him as he wakes in the morning. When I tickle all the best spots (under his neck seems to be his weakness). When I play patty cake and sing silly songs. I would imagine I am not the only parent who feels this way - but when my babies smile, it seems as if my heart could actually explode out of my chest. There is nothing better in the world.

This little baby is the epitome of sweetness. He has such a go-with-the-flow disposition which is perfect because we are definitely on the go more and more these days. He loves his brothers and watches every move they make. I won't be at all surprised if his first words are "Ethan" and "Aiden", not "mommy" or "daddy".

And oh.my.goodness do those boys love their baby brother just the same. They have taken all of the changes in stride - helping fetch burp cloths, pacis and blankies at any given moment. They want to hold him all the time. If they aren't holding him they want to talk to him, kiss him and try to make him smile.

We are finally getting a bit of a routine down as far as bedtime goes. He usually eats around 7pm, sleeps for a few hours, then eats again around 9:30-10. We've transitioned him from a bassinet in our room to sleeping in his crib. Our master bedroom is on the main floor which makes it harder to get to him when he cries and we don't want to risk waking the boys so because I'm still nursing and he still wakes up once or twice to eat, I've been sleeping upstairs in the guest bedroom. When he sleeps longer than 4 hours at night, I will finally sleep back in my own bed... Any day now Hudson!!!

This week we are getting a new family photo taken. Our first "official" picture as a family of five. This is going to be such a special and bittersweet moment for me. Last year, on the day we had our first family pics taken here in Texas, Ricky and I told the boys that we were expecting a baby. I miscarried just a week and a half later. As much as I loved how those photos turned out, every time I looked at them it reminded me of what we didn't have.

Photo credit: Brandie Lynn Photography

But now, here we are with a beautiful baby boy to capture new memories with. So much has changed in just a year's time. We are incredibly blessed.

Body after Baby: Week 8

I've totally been slacking on the blogging thing lately. It's a result of all the running around and having very little energy. I'm  in a really good mommy groove with this three kid thing and it feels great - but the late night/early morning feedings for little Mr. leaves me so drained that by the end of the night, before I start it all over again, all I want to do is post up on the couch with a glass of wine. Or go to bed at 8:30pm. Yep, totally do.

Therefore my computer is collecting dust on my desk. And not for lack of topics to write about. I have plenty. Perhaps the task of getting through them all is enough to keep me from sitting down and actually DOING it already.

But on to this fitness thing. I've been at this for 8 weeks already?!?! Craziness. I was hoping to be down 12 lbs at this point (1.5/week) and yet I've only accomplished half of that goal. Could be because the past two weeks I've been losing steam...

I'm hopeful that this Camp Gladiator boot camp will get me going again. The first class I went to was run by trainer Rob who looked as if he'd been ripped from the front cover from Men's Health magazine. As I was struggling to hide my apprehension (and just struggling. period.) he was bouncing around yelling all sorts of "You can do it" annoyingness that made me want to punch him in the face. Seriously.

However by the end of the class, when I had that work-out glow and my endorphins were running high, I was actually thankful for his energy and enthusiasm. He was patient with my out-of-shapeness and encouraging just the same. When I could hardly lift my head off the mat for my modified crunches he would remind me gently, "Remember you just had a baby. And you're here. That's awesome!" (Not sure if 3 months ago still counts as just...but so be it).

By Tuesday morning I could tell that my body was screaming "What did you DO to me?" HOLY MUSCLE SORENESS people. Every step I took reminded me of muscles that have not been paid attention to in quite awhile. Day 2 post-workout was even worse...as it usually goes.

Then, I had to get ready to do it all over again. Thursday's class was with trainer Carole. This woman is seriously fit. And she's a grandma. My self-esteem plummeted a bit at that realization.

I give Carole a ton of credit for making the class fun while also whipping us into shape. It started with a short run (which might as well have been a full marathon to me). Then we played "golf", Camp Gladiator style. Think Bozo buckets meets scavenger hunt. There were 9 cones labeled with exercises about 30 yards from where we had to attempt to make balls into buckets. If it was a par 3, we had three chances to make it in; par 4, four chances, etc. However many balls it took to make the bucket was the number of reps we had to complete on the coordinating cone. Once we made a ball (or when we missed them all) we had to run to the cone, see what the exercise was, then run back and do the appropriate number of reps by our mat. We did this 9 times.

Thankfully I was pretty good at the game part. Or I'd probably still be at the park finishing up my workout.

While I've got a LOT of work to do in order to get where I want to be physically, it says a lot that I'm actually looking forward to the next boot-camp class. Group workouts with someone there shouting at motivating me is obviously what I need.

After all that, I only lost about a half a pound. Hopefully it will start to gradually fall off as the weeks go on.

Again, sorry about the lack of pictures. I've decided that for every 2 lbs lost I will include them. Otherwise it seems kind of a pointless comparison.

Week 8} 168.2
Week 7: 168.6
Week 6: 168.6
Week 5: 172.6
Week 4: 171.6
Week 3: 170.6
Week 2: 172.2
Week 1: 173.5
Starting Point: 174.6


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Body after Baby: Week 7

Not much new to report. I lost a total of 0 pounds since last week. I kinda figured that would happen since I was down so much the week before. 

I start my "boot camp" fitness class this coming week and I'm not gonna lie, I'm totally dreading it. I feel like I'm so out of shape. I used to be such an active person - I was a competitive gymnast, swimmer, diver and cheerleader. I ran track and cross country (for a short time). Now, I hate running and just feel much older than I am. My knees crack when I bend down. My arm muscles get sore after folding laundry. It's pathetic.

So, while I know that doing this boot camp is a step in the right direction, I also know that the first few classes are only going to remind me just how out of shape I am. 

But you've got to start somewhere, right?

Week 7 } 168.6
Week 6: 168.6
Week 5: 172.6
Week 4: 171.6
Week 3: 170.6
Week 2: 172.2
Week 1: 173.5
Starting Point: 174.6


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to read all of the Body after Baby posts.