Monday, June 23, 2014

My blog has moved!

please visit my NEW blog
As my life is finally getting settled and we are becoming situated in our new home, I'm trying to rediscover who *I* am, and in that I'm redefining my 'southern roots' and getting back to my relaxed country side. My blog will continue to be focused on being a single mother, but also on the changes I'm going through, both with my goals, my new home and my soul.
So visit this Country Mama at her new home over on Wordpress! Thanks for your support! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frozen's 'Let it Go' Sing-Along Performed at Walt Disney World Resort | ...

So I'm taking Princess to Disney this year and I could not be more excited. So I've been working on the plans for our trip and was randomly going through youtube looking for some videos and came across this and was just blown away by these kids who knew the words so well, and the motions and were singing with such pure happiness. Its exactly how Princess looks when she sings this song, and for some reason this made me a touch emo and made me tear up a little! Adorable!!

Our trip is in 55 days and believe me I'm counting down! It will be Princess's first trip, my 3rd I think. I'm so excited and have so many fun things planned out for us, including meeting Ann & Elsa!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

20 years

So my baby niece is graduating from high school tomorrow. I can't believe its already time. Seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the hospital waiting for her to be born or hosting a baby shower full of pink and giggling girls in the 'clubhouse' across from my house. Her mother and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember. Well, I can remember some of our first interactions. I want to say one was the day she was left at the mall while shopping for an outfit-that maybe was even our first time to meet. Another friend of ours introduced us, which I find hilarious considering her husband was my 2nd friend when I moved to our 'hometown' at the end of 9th grade. I almost think I knew him for almost a year before I became friends with her-maybe not a year, but at least it was through the summer into the new school year our sophomore year. This is all back in our high school days in Lil D. So about 20ish years ago.

My niece was one of the best things I could have hoped for. I loved that tiny person from the moment I held her the first time. Being a first time mommy is a struggle, but I knew she would be a wonderful mother. However, I had no idea she would turn that tiny curly haired big-eyed little baby into a gorgeous, talented, smart, and truly amazing young lady (who happens to be a mini version of her mother!). My niece has the power and intellect to control the world, and as she walks across that stage tomorrow, closing one chapter and preparing for a new one, I know I will be ugly crying, but the pride I have in her determination  will be shining through. She has picked a wonderful college to attend in the fall, and she had her choice of many top schools! Her smarts gave her several choices of colleges to accept, and I'm thrilled she won't be too far away from home, cause I know that makes her momma happy. I just have a new Texas school to cheer for I guess! She has been one of my own daughter's favorite people her whole 5 years on this planet, and has been a perfect person for her to look up to. She is the reflection of her mother, both in the size of her heart, her strength and her looks. I swear her senior photos look like they could have been taken 18 years ago of her mother. She has been raised by her parents with love and encouragement to be whatever she wants, and I know she will be successful and a positive influence on this Earth. Which is exactly what the world needs more of. Can you tell I'm proud of her? Can you also tell I'm crying as I write this? Its all passed too quickly.

This photo melts my heart every single time.
Over the last 20 years, my best friend has always been by my side at heart and in spirit. We have had our share of weird and random adventures. I have more memories with her than anyone else I can think of.  The surprise 18th birthday party she threw for me at the skating rink where younger boys kept knocking us down to peek down her shirt, the big cake fight (chocolate cake in the hair is really hard to clean out), our mornings before work stopping at Grandy's for the delicious (although it probably was actually gross) breakfast buffet before heading over to wait tables with all our college friends and my mom and all those random yet fun days working the EC. She set me up with a couple of guys, she covered for me, she supported me, she listened to me cry over boys, and shared my joy over making drill team even when she didn't. We danced together, taught kids together (Showtime!), we got stuck on the Cliffhanger together and managed to knock heads a few times on the Texas Giant at Six Flags. We coordinated Halloween costumes for several years. She always put our friendship first and though I don't think we ever had any fights, I knew she would always be there for me no matter what. And I for her-Monkey and Lil One (where did we get those names?!?!). Her friendship is exactly what I thought having a sister would be like.

Showtime recital 1995ish

We haven't been close in terms of distance over the last few years, but I know she will always be there for me. When I got pregnant expectantly she checked on me constantly, threw me a baby shower, and was in the delivery room with me when Princess was born. So alongside my mom, Aunt Winny was there to welcome Princess into the world. She has been the best person I could imagine to be Princess's aunt and I know Whit loves her as much as I love those kids of hers-all 3 of them! She is the ultimate Super Mom. She inspires me to be the creative, helpful, always on the go mom. When Princess started cheer I knew I wanted to be the kind of "Cheer Mom" that Whit is. She is always involved, always volunteering, always putting her kids first and making them proud of her. She is there for everyone, and because of that and her unselfish heart, others are always there for her. Its obvious how well loved she is because she truly is a good person. She is inspiring in every sense of the word. She's had rough times and I know if I'd been in her situation a few times I would have wanted to give up, but she never has. She has pushed through, fought like hell and every single time comes out the winner. There isn't anyone I would want by my side more than her.

Princess's Pirate Bday Party 2013
Best friend, you have always been there for me, you have always inspired me and without your friendship I wouldn't know the meaning of a true friend or of a sister. I love you with my whole heart and I am so proud of you and the incredible children you have raised. You are the perfect example of strength, character and heart. I will always be there for you, no matter what.

P!nk Concert 2013

Wedding time! 199....??

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Graduation

So Princess has graduated from pre-k! Yes, they did a whole ceremony complete with cap and gown! The kids recited poems, sang a couple of songs, then they each walked up to get their 'diploma'. This was followed by the traditional tossing of the cap. Which lasted a lot longer than usual considering how much fun it was for 20 5 year olds to throw stuff in the air and not get yelled at!

While I wasn't really crazy about the school she was at, she did learn quite a bit and it helped her to grow. She truly is a very smart child, and I'm hoping that she always holds on to that desire to learn, or be nosey as I like to call it. She is now moving on to a new environment, staying with a couple of other kids at an in-home childcare with "Nana M". Its a totally new situation for her, as she's had nothing but corporate styled child care centers for her whole life. Structured and very scheduled, especially at this last school. Very learning focused, lots of workbook learning. Which is wonderful, but still, they are kids. They should have more art time, and playtime, and learning by DOING instead of just sitting at a desk doing worksheets. So, I think she is going to have a great time on this new adventure. Summertime is a time to play outside, enjoying the fresh air, having fun, and still learning but in a relaxed environment. I'm also excited that with the new friends she has made over the last few months through cheer and soccer that we can hopefully have some fun outings with over the summer! I have plans for the zoo, waterparks, Lego store, aquarium etc. Although its times like this I really wish I had a different career with more flexible time. I'd love to spend the whole summer doing fun stuff with Princess! Especially now that we are in a house and we have a big yard to play in.

It was such a mommy-moment to see her in that cap and gown. Especially with the realization that my niece is graduating from high school this week. Its such a shock how quickly it goes by. One day they are tiny babies who need your help for everything, then suddenly you look up and they are ready to move on to a new chapter of life. My niece has picked an exceptional college to attend this fall and I know she is going to do amazing things with her life. My best friend has done an excellent job raising her to be a smart, determined, and kind-hearted young woman and with those traits she is ready to take on the world. Everyday I wonder if I'm raising Princess right, doing the best I can to make sure that she is well prepared for her life, and quite honestly it sucks to do it alone. Most of the time I'm fine with her dad not being involved, but some days I just wish she had 2 parents there to support her. I want her to do amazing things, see everything she can, live fulfilled and happy. I don't want to say I have any regrets over my life,(though there are a few people I regret EVER being friends with!)  because everything I did got me to the happy place I'm at now, but I do wish I had fought harder to be in school and make a career I loved, and that I traveled more. I know I can still do that stuff now, but I really hope that Princess is able to do more with her life than I did. I will do anything I can to make sure she gets all the opportunities she can to study, travel, meet new people, and try new things. That's why I'm 'that mom' who wants to put her in every activity, so she can try it all to see what inspires her. How will she ever know what she is good at if she doesn't get to experience it?

I'm still dealing with the fact that she starts Kindergarten in just 2 and half months, and what a new world that will be (for both of us!) but I know its just another exciting step forward for her! I'm looking forward to our first school shopping, packing lunches, being part of the PTV, and all that comes with officially being a school-age kid. Its going to be busy, but I can't wait.  But for now we will enjoy every day of our summer surrounded by friends and family and lots of fun!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Dance Recital

I have not been that nervous in years...

I mentioned in past blog posts my love of dancing and how I used to make up tons of dances and dance around EVERYWHERE. But its been years since I did any of that in front of people. About 18 years I believe. I always had that nervous excitement before a performance, but never pure terror. Just excitement to show everyone what I could do. The product of hours of practice and sometimes pain (any idea how much your toes and the arch of your feet hurt after hours of dancing? or how your ankles and calf muscles feel like they are ready to explode?) But this past Saturday, that "nervous excitement" was more pure terror. Saturday morning I woke up excited to go to rehearsal and step on stage again. I sat through the usual guidelines of a recital and last minute schedules and watched each number practice on the stage. I went backstage to stretch and practice a couple of steps of our jazz dance to Shut Up & Drive. 4 months of learning choreography and a solid week of practice at the studio every night the week of the recital (I actually loved being in a studio every night practicing!), I felt good about my dance. And then I stepped up on that stage with my 4 fellow dancers and my stomach dropped. My feet wouldn't turn, the floor had no slickness for my jazz shoes to effortlessly turn as I had on that SAME floor in the studio just the day before. In fact, I had to change jazz shoes that week because it was TOO slick and my turns were out of control, but today oh no-the floor had no slickness, it was like turning in mud.  I stepped off the back of the stage once (giving me a mini heart attack) and had to do a leap off the side almost into the curtain. I missed several steps and felt paralyzed by the bright lights. That was a feeling I don't ever remember having before. I may not have always nailed my past dance routines perfectly but I got as close as possible. This was terrible. I wanted to cry at how much I messed up. WHY was I doing this?!?!

I went home and practice some more, over and over. I tried to relax and get ready, putting on my sparkly costume and tights with my lovely stage makeup. I tried to remind myself that "A bad rehearsal means a good performance!" I KNEW the steps, and I knew I could do it.  My stomach was in knots as I arrived back at the venue and counted down the dances in front of me. I lined up with my group again and that terror gripped me again. But also, that excitement was finally there. It was a tiny flame but it was there and with a deep breath I walked up the steps and took my place on the stage waiting for Rihanna to start her engine! I didn't fall off the stage, my shoes seemed to find the slick spots to make the turns and I made to the second to last 8 count before I missed one step but I quickly got my place back and managed to hit the final pose on the exact right spot. It was over and I had done it. Conquered my fear and got on that stage and gave a decent performance. And watching the video of the performance I realized I made every count right on and didn't miss anything except that one step. I am actually very proud of how well I did for not dancing for so many years (besides Zumba or dancing with my girlfriends at a club).

That exhilaration of performing is still in my soul. I love dance so much, and I've missed it these past several years. I'm so happy I have found a place to dance in my little town and can't wait to continue this fall. I had so much support and encouragement from my friends and family and without that support I don't know if I could have made it. But I did. And I loved every single terrifying second of it and can't wait to be in the studio again this fall.  I even got some beautiful roses afterwards from 2 friends! This summer I need to get back into yoga, continue to stretch and condition to be even better this fall. The love of dance is still there and is ready to grow again. I have a goal and I'm working towards it with every day in the studio, every moment I stretch and every exercise I do to strengthen my body to leap and turn. You are never too old to reach for a new dream or stir up an old one. I'm proud of my dedication to reach my dream later in life. I will keep working towards being a better dancer and teaching dance one day.

Post dance with my biggest fan! you can see a bit of my sparkly costume peeking out

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The new house...

I can't believe it's finally happened. Sweet Princess and I (and kitty) have a house!!! We have a huge yard, a big beautiful back deck, and a lovely front porch with a porch swing. Wood floors, tons of windows and that 'old house' smell. Its just amazing, and suits us just right from every room. The calming teal room is ideal for the Princess and the soft gray of my room is soothing and peaceful. Laying in my bed looking out one of the many windows into my backyard is going to be a huge help for falling asleep. Curling up on my sofa with my front door open as the cool breeze comes through the screen door has already become a favorite past time, and how I spent many hours my first day home. The floors creak softly and the chirping of the birds is carried on the breeze coming through one of several windows. The house is surrounded by trees and shade with enough sunlight to put a container of tea out to brew. I can't wait to fill the yard with the sounds of 4 and 5 year olds squealing and playing happily. Even better is the fact 2 friends live within walking distance!

The front porch swing has become the designated spot for Princess to grab a book or her tablet and relax and swing. She can't wait to find lizards and snails hidden among the many trees, bushes and flowers alongside the house. And her favorite thing right now is checking the mail! Although this morning she was truly mesmerized by the birds and squirrels playing in the yard, and even said she's never seen the birds so close. I have a feeling our yard will be put to very good use! I'm already imagining sitting on the back deck with my friends with a glass of wine as the sunsets watching little girls chasing bugs through the yard. And summer days with popsicles, watermelon, and suntanned kids playing with water balloons and in the sprinklers. (I'm very focused on this summer fun as you can tell!)

First time checking the mail!

Its a simple, small, charming old home that holds many memories of the laughter that came before us. I'm looking forward to filling it with more laughter and friends. I can't wait to have a 'housewarming' party and have all our friends come join us for a cold drink and great times. My wish was always to have a house that was open to friends coming by to visit just because. And we finally have it.

Its a little strange to get used to the quiet and no neighbors stomping above us (and the darkness! Holy cow its dark in there at night!!), but I'm sure as soon as its all put together (its close thanks to my mom and grandmother!) and cozy it will be comfortable fast! I can't believe how quickly my life is falling into a very happy and content rhythm. So many things are falling perfectly into place. I don't think I've ever been as happy as I am now with the town, our home, my beautiful little girl who is growing so fast and the amazing and supportive friends I'm surrounded by. I could not be any happier with my life.

Home Sweet Home

Monday, May 19, 2014

The new cheer season!

Well the new season of cheer has started! We had tryouts a couple of weeks ago and my little Sparkler has moved UP to become a Firecracker! She has moved from Tiny Show to Mini Show which means nothing much except age. But to her its very exciting because she feels like she is a 'big girl'. And the best part is her "cheer sis" K is one of the helpers for this season and I know with her mentoring the Firecrackers that Princess will grow even more.

I can't stress enough how happy I am I found this amazing gym. We have made several very good friends, we have had another friend join the team with us. Princess has started to grow in her skills. We have started a tumbling class and she is getting very close to that back walkover and the perfect cartwheel. It helps so much to have a friend in the class with her, as well as a great coach who she just adores. And I admit, I love sitting up there watching all the amazing athletes at our gym. We have some truly dedicated coaches and kids who have a very obvious passion for what they do on that mat.

Being there watching the coaches and dance instructor has sparked my desire to dance again. Which prompted me to enroll in an adult dance class that has been fantastic and that I'm actually participating in the recital for this weekend! Yep - me, jazz shoes, a sparkly dress and tights. Not to be missed of course. Anyway. This gym has truly become a blessing for my little family as its brought me great new friends, and  re-ignited my own passions of dance and working with kids. Watching the coaches and seeing the determination of the athletes, even in the little tiny team has made me realize how much I miss being involved in something like that. I'd love to coach,  choreograph, organize etc. Its made me miss the dream I had to have my own studio and be the one making the costume choices, and choosing the music, choreographing the dance, picking the competitions etc. Oh how I used to dream about doing all of that. Can it still happen? Perhaps someday. For now I'm focusing on our upcoming season that has some great competitions (yay for the BEACH!), making more new friends and just loving our new found sport that we can both enjoy (supposedly there will be a parent team and of COURSE I want to try out for it!!). I absolutely love being a cheer mom. Its something I'm not sure I ever really thought I would get to do, but I'm loving being a team mom, getting to know the new parents, getting to be a part of a family that backs each team up and supports our gym like they do. Its something so fun to be a part of and not at all dramatic like you see on some of the TV shows.

Some people question why I choose cheer for my child (although she still does dance and soccer as well). Because if you know anything about the sport and the people who do it (all star is completely different from sideline) you know the amount of time, determination, dedication, and heart it takes to perfect these routines for your 2:30 on the mat. The pain of pushing through your tumbling, being dropped in a stunt, being so tired but knowing you need to keep going until you hit it perfect every time. It teaches you focus, pride, team work, and passion. These young athletes are so dedicated, so proud, so supportive. Its an incredible environment to be in and to watch a child grow up in. I hope that Princess becomes passionate, if not about cheer then something else. Something she will learn being with these kids. Her cheer family. Along side these dedicated kids at our beloved gym. If you don't know, you should take a look inside. Its spectacular to see. And I'm thrilled that we are a part of it. BleedBlue.

Tryouts! 2014-2015 Season

Professional Photos by B.Photography

Professional Photos by B.Photography

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheer season is over!

I can't believe our first season of cheer is over. We had our last competition yesterday and boy was that insane. Cowboys stadium is nice inside but the most ridiculous policies. However they do put on a great competition and Princess enjoyed meeting the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and watching the big screen.

We competed (technically Show Team doesn't compete, they perform and get a trophy) in 4 competitions this past year. Most early in the morning (1 VERY early) which has meant being UP early (5 am in an Oklahoma hotel room!)  doing ringlet curls, teasing hair, applying countless layers of red lipstick and trying to keep up with bows, warm ups, good luck charms etc. Packing for competitions takes some work, and making sure mommy has her blinged out mom shirt, necklace and shiny blue paw print has been fun! But its been absolutely worth it. The bonding time while getting her ready has been wonderful and fun.  And with the exception of the very first comp where she ended up on the wrong side of the mat (and she kept trying to tell her coach it was wrong, but wasn't sure how to fix it) she has been right on with her routine and smile, never showing a bit of shyness or fear. She even got to be the flyer for the center stunt for one competition! I'm so proud of how good she has done at her competitions! I was worried she would be that one child who is too afraid or shy to even move, but she has rocked out her routine every single time perfectly!

December 2013 NCA Christmas Classic

This has been a very busy year for us, with her first year of competitive cheer along with throwing some gymnastics, cheer and now soccer in there. And while some days she is less enthusiastic or cooperative at practice overall she has enjoyed making her new friends, she loves her coaches and absolutely loves the excitement of the competitions. Being able to put on that sparkly special uniform and the makeup and curling her hair makes her feel like one of the 'big girls' that she looks up to.

April 2014 Final Comp
And I will admit, I love the experience I've had as well. I've made some new friends, and its so nice to be part of a 'family' environment, even though we are still the newbies. I've made some good friends that I've been able to spend some time with outside of cheer related activities, and watching these young dedicated athletes has been inspiring, I just hope that Princess can use these role models to become a passionate and dedicated young lady too. To see the determination in their eyes and their love for their gym and each other is the kind of environment I want Princess to grow up in. To understand that if you want something you have to practice and commit to it-not just cheer but that is something I want her to learn and develop for any activity she pursues-art, music, sports, etc. I'm not pushing her into any one activity, I want to make sure she is able to try out anything she has a passion for and find what she loves the most. Right now her main love is still dance I think, so I can't wait til she can get back into it (soccer is taking our dance class time). We are going to stick to cheer for at least 1 more year (I have the uniform, need to get the use out of it!) because she truly loves being at the gym and I love all the friends we have made there, and once soccer is over we can go back to dance there as well. I just want her to be able to enjoy everything she possibly can to see what inspires her. You won't know where your talent lies until you test yourself, and I hope she continues to thrive in everything she tries out. Which by the way is so hard as a single mom-time consuming and stressful trying to juggle her schedule with a full time working one. But I am determined to make it work!

Its sad to see our first year end and know that many of her teammates will possibly be moving up/off the team but we know what to expect even more now for next year and can't wait for the new season to begin!

Guns Up!

Heading to our first competition of the season!

Heading to our last competition of the season

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Princess!

I can't believe it. She's 5. How did it go by so quickly? There is something about 5 that seems to make her seem more grown up. I guess because now she is 'school age'. She will start Kindergarten this fall and I am so freaked out over it. I know she will love it, she loves learning, but this mommy is having major anxiety. But that's another post for another day.

This is all about the celebration from baby to big kid. Theres just something about 5 that makes you realize your baby isn't a baby anymore. They can sit in a different style carseat, they can eat basically anything they want (I mean, most probably can/did before, but mine seems much more open now), they can do so many more things on their own now. Learning to read, tying shoes, doing math, playing sports. Riding a bike. That was her birthday gift yesterday. A new bike. Oh how she loved it. We spent almost an hour outside yesterday riding up and down the sidewalk. She looked so sweet with the streamers, the little basket, her baby strapped in the back and her cute Ariel helmet (safety first!).

We started out our day with breakfast at IHOP to have her favorite mini-pancakes, then headed to get her big girl haircut. She was so still and so sweet while getting it cut. Her past 3 haircuts have given her some anxiety but she was so happy about this one-even without the bribe of a sucker! Guess it helps to actually have a sweet person doing the haircut for once! We headed to TRU to pick out her new bike, walked around outside for a bit enjoying the sunny, yet cold, weather and played at the play land before getting her first pair of (pink of course!) soccer cleats since her first game is coming up! We went to WalMart for the helmet, joined a friend for her favorite frozen yogurt and topped it off with a night reading books in bed. It could not have been a better more relaxed birthday! This has been the easiest birthday year in terms of work I've had to do, but its by far been the most emotional with the exception of her first birthday. Its like I suddenly realized I have a KID. Not this little baby I have to do everything for, but a kid who can do quite a bit for herself. And believe me, there is so much she WANTS to do by herself without my help. Just another sign of how quickly she is growing up. I admit some days I want her to be older so she is more self sufficient, but as the days go by and she needs me less and less it makes me sad. I'm enjoying most of the younger ages, she can still throw some serious fits and get too stubborn at times as well as distracted easily. But now that I see her around her soccer friends who are the same age I believe its more of the age than just the Irish blood ;)

Princess-You are growing up into such a beautiful young girl. Sweet, friendly, and with a huge heart. Although you are incredibly stubborn at times (thanks Irish blood), and want to do what YOU want to do when YOU want to do it (most of the time), you are always loving and kind to anyone who is around. I know that stubbornness will just become strength and independence. You are an amazing child and I'm so lucky you are my daughter. I can't wait to see what this new chapter brings with cheer, sports, friends, and school. I know you will continue to grow strong and independent, and I could not want more for you than being a confident, friendly, compassionate child. And I will do everything I can to guide you to the right path and grow up strong. I love you sweet pooh-pie!!!

Always supporting her cheer family with the 'Cheerleader Face'

Monday, March 10, 2014

Best birthday party....

EVER! I'm still struggling with the fact that Princess will be turning 5 soon, but we had her party this past weekend at Build a Bear Workshop. And I even managed to keep it a surprise from her! Yay mommy! This was the best and easiest party I've done so far. I usually stress and overthink on her parties and end up having ZERO fun because I'm doing so much work. This year, it was GREAT!

For starters the only food I had was cupcakes! I did the cutest set up for them. I think they turned out adorable. I used small 8 oz cups and added Dessert Skittles to the bottom to set the cupcakes a little higher. Then I added some pink frosted cupcakes, put another 8 oz cup over the top and cupcake tape (found in the scrapbooking section of Walmart!) to keep it closed! They traveled fine!

Everything I needed for our My Little Pony(ish) Party I found at Walmart!

Clear 8 oz cups
Dessert Skittles-softer colors to match the ponies, found in the regular candy aisle
Cupcake Tape-found in the scrapbooking aisle-lots of different designs!
Vanilla Cupcakes with pink/white peaked frosting

Put a layer of skittles, drop in the cupcake and place another cup over the top and tape. Make sure the tape goes under the bottom on each side. These traveled very well and looked pretty cute in my opinion!

Dessert Skittles and cupcake tape!

For the goody bags I did cheap and simple! Pink Zebra plastic bags from Walmart with bubbles, a ring pop, a lip gloss,  a sheet of My Little Pony Stickers, and a little 'grab bag' MLP from Walmart-you don't know which one you get til you open it! (only $2.37!). I also put the mini bottle of water inside the bag. Easy to transport. I folded down the top and taped with more cupcake tape, punched a hole in the top and added a home made MLP thank you card! Done!

"Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me! You are one of my best pony pals!"

Bubbles, Lip Gloss, Ring Pop, Stickers, and MLP grab bag. Perfect for the princesses!

Pink zebra duct tape, found in the craft or hardware dept of WalMart/Target helped add a nice touch to the mini water bottles!

We started our party at Build A Bear where Princess got to ring a bell and have a sweet ceremony with her friends to bless the heart of their new friend. So now she is able to carry around 6 hearts all loved on by her friends.  I admit, I cried. I'm a softie. They got to fill the stuffer, wash their stuffed friend, and then we sang to Princess. Afterwards we headed to the food court to sing happy birthday, open presents and thank our friends for joining us. We even had a stranger passing by who asked who's birthday it was and handed her a $5 bill and told her to enjoy her birthday. Yes, I cried. It was a nice reminder that there are still kind people in the world.

It was one of the easiest and least stressful parties I've ever put on. I managed to successfully surprise my kid, and the look on her face when I told her all her friends where there to celebrate her birthday was priceless! I fully recommend BaB for a birthday party as it is simple to execute and there is something for every kid! Each of our 7 kids got something completely different.

Photo of all her friends with their new stuffed friend!
Princess and her puppy Cutie.

I still can't believe this sweet baby girl will be 5 on Wednesday. How quickly it goes by....

Thursday, March 06, 2014

When did weight become....

Such an open topic for discussion? When did it become acceptable to discuss a person’s weight outside of a fitness activity or doctors office? When did it become ok to judge someone based on their size? And when did that acceptable size become a stick and bones size 0? I’m by no means a fat girl. I’m ‘fluffy’ as I like to put it. I’ve got more fluff than I’d like right now. BUT I’m actively changing it. I'm sure as hell not changing it so that people can judge me solely on my size.  I’m not changing it to be skinny.  Im actually ok with being a little bit bigger. It took a long time, but it doesn't bother me to NOT be skinny because I know my weight is not WHO I AM. I’m changing it to be more fit and healthier. But what if I weighed the same as I do right now but it was all muscle? Is that better? Is it the number on the scale, the waist of the pants or the look of a person that you have to judge?

 Answer-none of it. No wonder there is so much bullying these days. So many people are fixated on the size of a person’s belly rather than on the size of their heart and personality. A friend of mine posted on facebook the other day a rude comment made about her size from a former acquaintance and that literally made my fists clench and my temper flare. How dare some judgemental BULLY comment first on the fact that she had gained weight instead of something like “good to see you again” or the such. Why on earth did he think it was ok to even say the words ‘wow you used to be so skinny’. As if the size of her body is anyway a determinate of her personality. You see so many celebs in magazines talking about their weight and so many slammed for not being ‘thin’. Why? Why do you HAVE to be a size 0 to have a part on a tv show? I adore Rebel Wilson, especially in Pitch Perfect when she says “ I cant believe they let my sexy fat ass in”. She embraced her size. I read about a pact that her and Melissa McCarthy made to not lose weight-basically saying they were happy in the skin they are in and don’t feel like they need to change to be accepted. And people love them. Their personalities are funny and sweet and THAT is what makes them both beautiful.

Being overweight certainly can cause health issues and I’m a strong supporter of having a healthy body, but when did healthy ONLY equal skinny? How many of those skinny girls are struggling with eating disorders? Or working out TOO much (yes there is such a thing!) and damaging their body? I’m not a doctor, I haven’t claimed to be so that's not what this is about. But I have some common sense (usually) and what upsets me is the emotional pain so many people get by being judged simply by how they look. I believe in being active and eating well, and I do my best to do both of those things, not just for me but as a good example for my daughter. She is in activities and I try to make sure she drinks lots of water (she's never had a drop of tea or soda!) and has good food around. I actually love to work out. Shocking right? But I do. I enjoy Camp Gladiator when I was able to do it, I love going to Zumba, and I love my current dance class. I want to get back into yoga, and start the Barre fitness classes. Besides the fact that its FUN, its a great way to meet new people and do something good for your body. I get that so many people are overworked and stressed out, but squeezing in that workout helps boost your mood, and surprisingly your energy. Sadly though, so many people can't afford the 'healthy' food or the workouts. But get a group of friends together to go for a walk (time change is coming so that's what I plan to do!), find some friends to play something like soccer or volleyball, try out a new sport, or just start by cutting one or two bad things from your diet. Start small. Find something you enjoy and do it more often and it will be less like 'working' out and more like having fun. Its very simple to start, and easy to continue if you find something you enjoy about it.
I just wish that people could take a moment and think of how their words affect others. And that a person's weight is not a definition of who they are. Look at their heart and their soul before you judge them solely on weight. And again, when did it become acceptable to comment on a persons weight? I'm now around a lot of young girls with my Princess being in all star cheer, dance, and soccer and I hate to think that any of these beautiful young athletes feel they are judged on how they look. Its just not fair. My dream job was always to have my own dance studio, but these days I'd love to get involved in a healthy school program-activity programs and healthy lunches. If we teach our kids the value of their health and wellness then that's something they can hold on to forever and maybe it will help with the judgments and bullying over things like weight. But to also teach them that a person is a person no matter their size. We have no right to judge or taunt them based on their waistline.
My hope for my child and all her friends-that they grow healthy and happy and realize that people deserve kindness and compassion no matter what.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

My Birth Story (5 years later)

I can't believe my little baby is going to be 5 in one week. It still feels like I just left the hospital. I never wrote out my birth story so as I reflect on the days my life changed forever, here it is. Mostly just in print for myself to always remember, but if any of my pregnant friends are interested, well there it is! Apparently sharing birth stories is a 'thing'. I'm not cool so I never did it. Til now. Modified at least for the public.

Not gonna lie, I had a pretty miserable pregnancy. In fact so bad that I tell people don't do it. But anyhow. I had very high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and my face and feet swelled so much I had to buy new shoes! I also had constant morning sickness that was so bad I couldn't keep anything down. Not even water. Looking at my notes from my OB I only gained 19 pounds total, that's how bad it was. I mostly lost weight, especially in the beginning. The only things I wanted to eat were pineapple, mangos, salad and Mexican food. Almost everything else made me sicker than I already was. I don't remember being overly emotional, but I do remember a few instances of driving my very short (thank goodness) drive to work and crying at the homeless people lining the street. I did lots of singing to my belly. How weird is that. I remember singing lots of Staind and Taylor Swift's Love Story. Don't ask why. I was weird when pregnant (and just in general I suppose however I hate that song now).

I had this super adorable little one bedroom apartment in the swanky "Medical District" of my big city. It was cute but loud. Construction was going on all around it. I didn't sleep well anyhow, so the noise didn't exactly keep me up but it was irritating. And everything irritated me. Still does actually. I was pretty bitchy while I was pregnant, but considering I wasn't expecting to even BE pregnant and her dad wasn't around at all I think I deserved to be bitchy. I was also throwing up EVERY.FIVE.MINUTES. Literally. I would have to pull over in a parking lot to throw up. That's how bad that 'morning' (lies) sickness was. So that made me pretty irritable as well. Once I got farther along and Princess started growing to add to my constant pain and discomfort she decided her sweet precious little FOOT needed to reside in my rib cage. Basically the last month was her using my rib cage as a xylophone with her feet. And she still has some serious strength in those legs! But watching her move around in my belly was really cool, after you get over the freakiness of watching an elbow pass under your skin.

Each of my doc appts I went to my great OB would ask me 'Are you taking it easy? Do I need to give you a note for bed rest?' and of course I always said no. And she would look at my BP and tell me to slow down or she would make the decision anyway.

Well I finally pushed her limit I guess and she put me on bed rest around the beginning of March. Princess was due March 30. My doc finally decided that with my high blood pressure that she wanted to induce me on March 16th. I had my final baby shower at work thanks to the work bestie on Tuesday March 10 and my water broke at 11:57 pm on Wednesday March 11. I had a chicken enchilada type thing from Taco Bell and watched Dancing with the Stars in my bed. I remember getting up to go pee for the zillionth time and as I laid back down and tried in vain to find a comfortable position to fall back asleep in I felt what could only be described as a (watch for the TMI here) a water balloon popping in your crotch.  I got up and went in the bathroom and distinctly remember saying out loud 'are you kidding me child?' I waddled to the living room where my mother was peacefully sleeping while dialing the after hour number for my OB and saying 'hey, we need to leave'. I'm pretty sure she didn't believe me at first. I was thrilled when I called and found out my OB was actually on call that night since I went to an office with 4 docs (3 female 1 male-I hate male doctors). My mom probably made the hardest drive of her life driving my Kia Sportage that she had never driven before at night through a somewhat unfamiliar place while I tried to figure out WTF was going to happen next. I don't remember being panicked, just uncomfortable and thinking 'I'm ruining my seat here'. I had a pillow and a towel. I don't think I even had an overnight bag. Oops.

At the hospital I was put in a room with an IV, a catheter, and a blood pressure monitor. The nurses were friendly and told me to rest. Yeah right. The BP cuff was set to take my BP every 15 mins so I'd just start to relax and the stupid thing would go off. As it turns out my wonderful OB was OFF HER ROTATION AT MIDNIGHT. So the next doc would be delivering my child. The male doc. Hey buddy, I've only met you once but go ahead and get up close and personal with my girly regions. That's not awkward at all. Nope. But it turned out he was pretty freakin awesome. And the nurses were pretty great too, in fact as I was lying there contracting and deciding on an epidural and trying to NOT freak out that a tiny human was about to be squeezed out of me, the nurse, my mom and my best friend of a zillion years were discussing apps to make your iPhone have a flash. Yeah I remember that. A few friends stopped in to keep us company, the long time bestie Whit, the short time bestie JL (who very lovingly agreed to be in the delivery room with me even though she might faint. I generously let her leave), and the work bestie D.

I managed to hold out on the epidural until the nurse finally said if I didn't get it then more than likely I would miss the window. It wasn't as bad as I expected although I'd spent the last 7 months being so miserable that I just think I gave up on the pain getting to me. I think I started pushing at about 2:30 pm and 4 short pushes at 2:47 pm on Thursday March 12 2009 Princess was here! All 10 fingers and all 10 toes were perfect. My mom and my bestie Whit were in the room by my side to welcome her into the world.

The rest of the stay was a blur of a private room that I desperately wanted sleep in (and a Dr. Pepper which is the first thing my mom brought me!). It was cold and raining and the weekend of the big St. Pats parade. I went home that Saturday. My little brother came to pick us up and drive me and the Princess home and I'm pretty sure he only drove 10 mph the whole way.

The few days after that were a blur of sleepless nights, crying (her and me), bottles, trying to find a cozy position to sleep in (a big blanket on the floor of the living room worked well). Oh those first days. Terror at being responsible for this teeny little thing that you feel you would break just touching. But the enormous amount of love that fills your heart can't be measured or even described.

And now, this precious little thing is about to turn 5.

I love you sweet Princess, even with your craziness and drama I could not be any happier or more proud of the lovely, sweet, and kind hearted little girl you are. I love your curiosity, your imagination, how generous you are with the hand drawn pictures you love to pass out and your ability to always share, and most of all that crazy giggle that always makes me laugh no matter how mad I might be. You brighten every day my little princess.

Monday, February 03, 2014

A new chapter starts today....

I still can't believe that it's February. This year is already going by way too quickly. Its been a crazy year already, only 1 month in! Something happened recently that reminded me that life will change in just a moment. Just one decision by someone else can turn your entire world upside down. People you love can disappear in an instant. Whether by choice or by chance, by accident or on purpose. Someone new can come into your life in a way you never expected and bring good or bad. You can't let a day go by without stopping for a moment to be thankful for everything you have, even for everything you may have lost because at one time, it meant something, no matter how small. Be thankful for the friends who are by your side and even for the ones who have left that taught you something valuable. Don't let anything stop you from being happy and living your life the best way you can.

As I said, I was reminded that life can change in an instant. So why would I choose to live any less than happily and with a full soul? There is nothing in the world stopping me from pursuing what I want to do. Except my own fear. And I'm ready to overcome that fear and reach for my goals. Will I be the best at what I want to do? No, most likely not. But I'm not trying to be better than anyone other than myself. I want to be happy and set an example for Princess. So I'm starting a new challenge today. I'm going back to dance class! I'm ridiculously excited about it, and a little bit scared. The scared may get bigger as it gets closer to 8 pm! I bought my first pair of dance shoes in AGES yesterday. I admit, I put them on and did a little chasse in the aisle of the shoe store-luckily no one saw that. Its been so long since I've had dance shoes on my feet. That small thing brought me so much excitement. I'm literally counting down the hours til its time for me to go to class. I'm terrified of walking into a studio again-I'll admit it. A little worried that I'll be dancing next to younger and more talented dancers, with my short legs and fluffy belly and old aching joints that desperately need some yoga (my next new class) and some strengthening. But I have to start somewhere right? Even as a 30-something out of shape ex-dancer.

And I'm finally beginning to understand that what other people think doesn't matter. I'm confident in myself and my passion and as long as I hold on to that as I dance then I will be proud of myself. Wow. Proud of myself. I'm not sure when the last time I said that was. I can't remember the last time I was proud of ME . Just me. I'm never going to be the thinnest, most graceful, most talented or most loved person in any room and I know that. I accept that. But I'm going to be the best version of me that I can be. I'm an over thinker, a dreamer, dramatic, irrational, awkward, but also passionate and full of love for those who mean something to me. As long as the people who accept that about me can stand by my side and support me then I'll be ok. I'm going to be proud of what I can and will do even though it won't be perfect. The people who matter will be the ones standing next to me cheering me on and those who judge me or laugh at me have problems that have nothing to do with me, and I need to remember that. I have some of the most amazing friends and family, who's strength and hearts have shined through the last week, and I'm so incredibly lucky to have them by my side and to see how deeply they care for each other, me included. They are the ones who matter. Their opinions, positive and constructive, are what I need to help me grow as a person. And its through their support and encouragement that I'm ready to start taking these steps toward my own passions.

I know that this year will be tough for many people, but I guess its about starting over. Beginning the 'new normal' as my beautiful best friend said the other day. Things have been hard already this year, but you have to face the pain and move forward. Find new inspiration and passions. It won't be easy but in the end, what will you have to show for your life? Do you want to say you lived it as fully as you could and have no regrets? Absolutely. Why settle for anything less than a life full of love, humor, and friendship. The money and the things and the status don't matter. They aren't the memories that fill your heart and make you smile out of the blue.

I'm ready. I'm ready for a new chapter.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

What to do with my so-called life

So many dreams running through my head. Where were they all when I was in my 20s and spending too much time bartending and having fun? Oh yeah, I was, well, having fun being in my 20s. There isn't anything wrong with that, but I wish I'd had the focus I have now. But are there many 20 year olds who are worried about what direction to take? Which path to follow? Well of course there are, but I wasn't one of them. My goals back in my 20s were to work as a corporate trainer for a restaurant corporation. To travel and implement training programs that *I* created myself. And I did it on a small scale. But my true dreams of dancing were pushed to the side when I didn't pursue school or dancing and that new goal (not a dream, just a goal-a career path) replaced it.

So now in my 30s as a single mother who is inspired everyday by my little mini-me, I have these new dreams come back. I've always had such a vivid imagination. I picture full scenarios in my head, make believe lives, future plans and more. In fact its part of what makes my insomnia so bad. That I get one of these scenarios stuck in my head and think about it all night long. But....I'm a single mom. I don't have the time, energy or really the right to go after my dreams, I just need to push my child's dreams only. Right? Well. NO. NO NO NO.

So in my head these days are these ideas of what to DO with my life. I don't feel fulfilled. I have these passions inside me for things I enjoy doing and want to be able to do more of. Like this blog. Like dancing. Like singing. Like traveling. I realize that a single mother working a 50 hour a week job makes doing some of those things a little difficult, but if I can make it work why shouldn't I do it? No of course its unrealistic to think I can do EVERYTHING I want to. And I'm sure people will think I'm 'spoiling' my child if I let her do every activity she wants-BUT, and here's the big thing for me-what if I say no to something she wants to do and it ends up being something she could have excelled at or had a great passion for? Why can't I let her try out just about everything that's out there for her and see what works? We tried soccer-she hated it. Ok got it. We tried dance-LOVES IT. Now we are trying cheer and she likes it (not loves, not yet really). She wants to try horseback riding and basketball and soccer again. If I can make the time and afford it why can't I put her in everything to see where her talent lies? I CAN. So why can't I do that for me?

So many times people say "I'm too old" or that old saying "Can't teach an old dog new tricks". Well guess what...*I* am not going to let that stand in my way. You are only as old as you feel, and my daughter makes me feel young and able to do more. So I'm going to. Maybe I can be a singer, or maybe a famous blogger, or maybe just a local studio dance teacher. But they are my passions and as long as I get to indulge in them every day of my life then that's all that matters to me. I want to be able to look back and say "I had a good life and I did almost everything I wanted to". I was so stuck in this idea that since I'm a single mother that my life was over and I couldn't do ANYTHING for me anymore. Why? Why do people think that? I'm done thinking that. I'm done and ready to begin. I emailed the local dance studio to find out info on her adult class and I started a Twitter for my blog so I can start encouraging myself to post more. I love reading blogs and getting new advice on everything. I also enjoy giving feedback on things, things that work, things that suck, ideas you may not have thought of-why can't I write about that? If ONE person gets something useful from my blog then I will feel like it matters. That's it. I just want it to help someone else. They way so many blogs out there helped me.

Being a single mother does NOT mean your life is over. I want to set the example for my daughter that she can be anything she wants, if she sees me doing nothing how do I convince her she can anything? Simple, I cant. Lead by example.