Feel Good Friday: (7/27)

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Fridays are dedicated to five things that made me feel good this week! I think finding some good in every day helps make the bad days not so bad after all. I challenge all of you to do the same! What made you feel good this week?

*ONE* ::: My husband was suppose to leave for Florida on August 1, we just found out yesterday that he won’t leave until the 8th, which means an extra week with my hubby and the kids get to see him before he goes! Whew, what a relief!

*TWO* ::: Since the kids were gone this week Sunday through Wednesday, Matt and I got to spend some quality time together. He ran some errands with me, we went out to lunch and dinner a couple nights and rented a movie or two to watch.

*THREE* ::: NASHVILLE! I’m in Nashville right now and it is everything I remembered and more. Country music is our thing and being able to go to the heart of country music land is something we’ve always wanted to do together. I honestly can’t wait to try all of the food. It’s a bit different then home, but who doesn’t love southern cooking?!

nashville

*FOUR* ::: The kids went to over night church camp this week and they had a BLAST! I went to church camp growing up and it was one of the best times of my life going. It makes my heart happy to hear how much they love going every year and seeing their love for God grow. There is nothing more amazing to see than a child who loves God.

*FIVE* ::: My essential oils saved my life this week. I am thankful for them beyond belief. I have severe acid reflux and I hate nothing more than having to take pills. My oils give me the relief I need without having to down an anti-acid pill every 12 hours. If you haven’t tried essential oils, I highly recommend you look into it. My family swears by them and the kids LOVE them!

essentialoils

Throwback Thursday: The Dark Side

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Thursdays are dedicated to previous posts or pictures with stories attached to them. Some serious, some happy and some funny — a little bit of everything!

The Dark Side

Every Spring Break (Easter Break) we take the kids down to Florida to visit Matt’s family. Some times extended family is there and some times they aren’t, but whatever the case may be we always have a great time together. A few of his family members all live in the same condominium complex, which makes it a lot easier for everyone to spend time together!

This past Spring Break we were down there the same time some of his family from Wisconsin was going to be there. Matt has one brother who is married and they have two young kids (my niece, just over a year old and nephew who is four). One night while Matt’s brother and sister-in-law were at work we were watching the kids over at their aunt and uncle’s condo. There was about eight adults and five kids ranging from baby to 8 years old. They were all settling down and busted out some Star Wars wash off tattoos. All the kids wanted one so we got them all tatted up. The only one missing a tattoo was my niece who is the baby. We all kind of joked around about putting one on her…then the joke turned into actually doing it. We picked out two pretty hilarious tattoos and popped them right on my niece who enjoyed every second of it.

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“The Dark Side” — we couldn’t stop laughing for a good 30 minutes. The kids all thought it was funny too, except Jordan. She actually cried and got very upset with us, telling us that Anna couldn’t defend herself so how would we know if she really wanted one or not?! I give her props for standing up for her little cousin, but this was more of a joke geared toward her aunt and uncle when they pick her up later that night.

Let’s just say we all had a good laugh about this and it’s a joke we still talk about with friends. This was probably hands down the funniest joke we’ve pulled on his brother. That’s what they get for getting the kid’s all those crazy toys for Christmas every year! LOL!

My Not So Average Week

My Not SoAverageWeek

I’ve had an emotional roller coaster of a week. I missed my Monday Morning Coffee post, and you know what, I’m okay with that. As I mentioned before, Matt is starting a new job which begins August 1 and for this new job he has to travel to Florida for training for two weeks. We didn’t know exactly when he would have to go to Florida, but we knew it would be in the middle of August sometime. Well, Wednesday morning he found out they want him to leave ON August 1.

A million things began to run through my head. The kids were going to over night church camp on the other side of the state this week and they wouldn’t be back to the house until the morning of August 1. Which means…the munchkins  wouldn’t see Matt for 3.5 weeks and they are leaving the house to go back to their mom’s house in a few hours. OH GREAT! This is just AWESOME. Tears began to fall down my face, none of us have ever gone that long without seeing each other. I had to go back to the bedroom to regroup so the kids wouldn’t see me crying which I know in return would make them cry.

In the end, that really didn’t matter because they both ended up crying once James did the math in his head how long it would be until they see their dad again. So many thoughts were rushing through my head, all the things I was going to have to do alone with them and not be able to tag someone else in. I texted their mom Stephanie to tell her about what was going on so she had a heads up as to why they might be a little emotional or talking about Matt leaving. First off, let me say she was awesome and offered to some how get the kids to us this week after church camp so Matt could see them, but we already have our Nashville plans for the end of this week. In the end our schedule stayed the same, but everyone was on board about what was going on. (another co-parenting communication win!)

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A few hours later Steph sent me a text that said “Are you gonna be ok?”

Let’s stop here. This is something I wanted someone to ask me. This was the most caring question I have received about this situation thus far, and it came from my husband’s ex wife.

I told her how doing this alone with the kids is going to be tough for me, because the older they have got, the more they realize they can gang up on me when Matt’s not here. I mean, I can keep them in check, but they are getting smarter and smarter and some times I forget that. After I sent send, I thought, “Well shit, that was a really stupid thing to say to a woman who was a single mom to those two kids for almost a year.” — Which she responded with some encouraging words that she knows I CAN do this, but she was really wondering about the time when I’m alone….without the kids.

I began to cry, because that was a thought I was trying my best not to think about. I’m not the kind of person who likes to be alone. I don’t MIND being alone, it’s nice to be able to reflect on my thoughts and feelings from time to time, but I’m a people person. I LOVE being around people. My husband is my best friend. He’s my go to guy. If something really exciting happened, he is the first person I call. We’ve been together for six years and I’m still head over heels in love with him. Yeah, yeah, I know. Mushy gushy stuff, so cliche, I know, but it’s true.

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I told Stephanie how I was freaking out about how fast it was coming up, and she said to me, “OK, you’ll be OK. If you need me, I’m here.” Those two sentences gave me a sense of peace. This woman would straight up tell me if she thought she was worried about me being alone while Matt was gone, but she’s not. She believes in me just like some where deep down in me, I believe in myself.

So the past few days I have been spending with Matt, just the two of us hanging out and doing things together. I told myself it was OKAY if I didn’t blog every day this week, because well, to me, my family comes first. This morning he left to go fishing for a few hours so I decided I’d catch up on my blogging and explain my different blogging schedule for this week.

I know things could be worse and this is actually a really positive situation, so that is what I have been trying to focus on. This will benefit our family and this will strengthen our marriage. The longest I’ve gone without seeing my husband is three days — so this will be a true test, and I have no doubt that we will pass with flying colors.

mattandi
Before the Wild Beasts Wild Wine night at the Detroit Zoo Friday night! Such a blast with great friends!

Feel Good Friday: (7/22)

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Happy Friday! Friday is dedicated to the five things that made me feel good this week!

Let me start off by saying that this week was a really tough week. It felt like every day there was something else to add to my “This Sucks” list, BUT I kept thinking about my Feel Good Friday list and told myself “find some good in every day, even if it’s something small.”

*ONE* ::: My husband got a new job and he is beyond thrilled about it, which in return makes me feel good too. He has worked his butt off for YEARS and I’m so proud of him.

*TWO* ::: Today is the Wild Beasts Wild Wine night at the Detroit Zoo! I’m so excited to get a little dressed up and have a night on the town with Matt and one of our favorite married couples.

*THREE* ::: The kids were extra funny this week. Here is a little snippet of a conversation we had in the car discussing dinner:

Matt – “Do you guys want Five Guys and Fries for dinner?”

Jordan – “I’ve never been there.”

James – “Yes you have, Jordan!”

Jordan – “No I haven’t, JAMES! I’m not a guy and I’ve never been with four other guys so I can’t go in there!”

I almost had to pull the car over I was laughing so hard.

*FOUR* ::: Matt has a surprise in store for him and I next week. I mentioned this before and said he didn’t tell me where we were going, well last night he told me. We are headed to Nashville, Tennessee! Country Music capital of the United States! Honky tonks, line dancing and fried bologna sandwiches! THIS mama is so excited! We haven’t been anywhere just the two of us since we went on our honeymoon to Punta Cana three years ago. This is a much needed getaway!

*FIVE* ::: Two of my cousins, who are sisters, both got pregnant within weeks of each other and one of their baby showers is this weekend. I love getting together with family to celebrate, especially celebrating new little family members!

What made you feel good this week?

Throwback Thursday: The Letter to the Tooth Fairy

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Throwback Thursday is dedicated to posts I have written in the past or maybe a picture of something from awhile back with a story attached to it! 

The Letter to the Tooth Fairy

Over the past couple years the kid’s teeth have been falling out like crazy. Seriously, for awhile it felt like every other day at least ONE of them was losing a tooth. And it wasn’t like they were falling out at home, they were losing them at school. I have a nice little collection of those plastic tooth holders they send kids home with now a days. Anyways, one day Jordan comes galloping out of school with a smile plastered from ear to ear with an extra hole missing in her mouth. “Ahh..another tooth bites the dust huh?” — Without skipping a beat she told me all about how it fell out and yada yada. “Well, looks like the Tooth Fairy will be making a stop at our house tonight!” As I’m saying this I’m digging through my purse to make sure I had a dollar handy, and I do, score.

We get home and the kids get their folders out and Jordan hands me the plastic tooth holder from her backpack. “Here it is!” she said to me with another one of her big smiles. I opened up the container — and there wasn’t a tooth in there. She began to panic. “If I don’t have a tooth for the Tooth Fairy how will she know to stop here tonight?!” I told her to calm down and to retrace her steps and double check her backpack. After doing all of those things and still no tooth she sat on the couch with disappointment for a few minutes then got up and went to her room.

I felt horrible for her, but what was I going to say? “Hold on Jo, I have a few spare baby teeth you could maybe reuse with tooth holders to go with? And no I’m not the Tooth Fairy?!” — As I’m finishing up dinner Jordan walked into the kitchen and said, “Mom, I figured out what to do about the Tooth Fairy.” and she handed me this letter:

tooth

Now, I don’t know about you, but I was impressed. This clever little six year old (at the time) came up with a solution to her problem all on her own, but none the less, it was hilarious to read. “but can I please still have something” — at least she didn’t say “can I have some money still?” AND she said please. How could the Tooth Fairy turn that down?

The next morning she woke up, came running out of her room, waving the dollar in her hand shouting, “IT WORKED!”

Moral of the story: When it doubt, write the Tooth Fairy a letter and make sure you use your manners.

Two Thumbs Up Tuesday (7/19)

Two thumbs up tuesday

Two Thumbs Up Tuesday is dedicated to blogs I have come across over the past week that I want to share with all of you! 

The Corner Office – We are Broken:  I love seeing Emily’s posts show up in my reader in the morning. Emily wrote this powerful peace about the recent attacks in France and Dallas and how the United States has the Presidential Election coming up in November. Emily made me stop and think with this post and I’m looking forward to more of her views and opinions of this election over then next four months!

A Kinder Way – Kind Thought Of The Day: I told you last week Nikki is an inspiration and I’m not kidding! Her posts resonate with me more and more every time I read them. She’s honest, real and raw. These are emotions and feelings everyone feels, but not a lot of people talk about them. In this post Nikki talks about “following through”.

Half Baked In Paradise – Good God (or The Devil) is in the detail: Osyth (as she goes by) is one of the first people who told me not too give up on blogging and that my voice was being heard. She’s a wonderful blogger who has a magical way with words. Osyth’s heart is always with France, her stories are always so detailed you feel like you were there with her. In this post she writes about some of her thoughts on Nice, France and an experience she had with her stepson and husband. Both very powerful stories.

Life of a Busy Dad – How You Can Be a Better Dad Series: This busy dad of four kids is one of my favorite dad bloggers out there! He doing this awesome series about how you can be a better dad. It’s not just for dads either, moms can use the same advice too! Usually after I am done reading his posts, I will pass them on to my husband to read!

Tales from the Cabbage Patch – old is new again or, as I like to say, the good, the bad and the ugly: This post by Linda made me giggle. I’ve worked in the medical field for a few years as a medical assistant and the things I’ve heard patients say are seriously jaw dropping at times. Looks like Linda’s “new” job will be quite eventful with the good, the bad and the “uglies”.

Thank you again bloggers for sharing these wonderful posts over the past week! I enjoyed reading them and I hope everyone else takes a minute to click and explore these phenomenal bloggers.

Monday Morning Coffee (7/18)

La maison (1)

What a week. Last week I wrote about all the fun things my husband has planned for us next week. Thank goodness I did because I wrote down the wrong dates the kids were going to be at church camp and Steph saw my post so she was able to remind me! So it looks like we won’t be going to Cedar Point with the kids, but we didn’t tell them about it – so no one was sad or had tears!

We had a great time at our friend’s house on Saturday night. It was nice to be able to get together, talk and catch up on things we have missed over the past 3.5 years. Which we missed a lot, her two pregnancies, our wedding and how we are working on growing our family. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw a little version of her running around their house calling her mommy. It’s amazing to think we were just two middle school girls and now we are moms with kids.

I woke up in the middle of the night after we got home and was sick for hours. I think I got a total of 3 hours of sleep throughout the entire night. I was miserable yesterday and was thankful the munchkins were understanding and helpful. My dad called me after both kids were at the house and invited us over for dinner. What a life saver because it was just what I needed. My parents hung out with the kids playing catch and corn hole while I relaxed and Matt was at work.

So thinking I’m in the clear today — here comes the lovely monthly reminder that; I Am Woman. Hear Me Roar. (I’m sure you all know what I mean) So I am laid up yet again on the couch while my wonderful kids do their chores, play together nicely and share their chapter books that they both have.

Today I am thankful for our well behaved children, Midol and heating pads.

We have a pretty routine week this week at the Valentino house, with the exception Matt and I are going to the Wild Beasts Wild Wine this weekend. It’s an event put on every year at the Detroit Zoo and local wineries come and you get to walk around trying out the new Michigan wines. MMMmm wine. Is it Friday yet?

Reblog of a Facebook Find

Scrolling through Facebook and I stumbled across this post from a mother of five. I ended up in tears sobbing by the end of the post. Times like these make me hug my munchkins a little tighter and let go of the things that aren’t really that important. 

Here is Ashley Grimm’s story:
As some of you know, I have gone through every mother’s worst fear. On June 2nd, I lost my youngest son in a horrible car accident. I was driving. I had pulled away from a gas station, checking each buckle, and I began to drive the curvy, mountainous road to my family’s house. My son was notorious for doing everything he could to unbuckle in the car (“The Flash doesn’t wear a seatbelt, and I’m the Flash, mama”) We tried five point harness seats, boosters, I believe even zip ties at one point (probably not safe either) but he always viewed it as a superhero challenge. He was a superhero because he always succeeded. On average, I would usually pull over three or four times on any given trip to firmly make him buckle up again.  We were only five minutes out when a large rock rolled into my lane. I had three choices: try to straddle the rock, move to the oncoming lane which was a double line large curve with an angry river at the other side. Rock, head on collision, river. I chose the rock. I chose wrong. And yes, he had already unbuckled along with his 8 year old brother. (They were switching spots and I didn’t know.) The rock hit my axle, and sent us plummeting into the side of a cliff. Our 13 passenger van rolled and my son was instantly gone. Our lives were instantly ripped apart. The little boy who had been my pride and joy was cruelly taken from me in a matter of seconds. I remember being smashed between my console (no airbag engaged) and our three ton van. I had blood everywhere. I fought and fought and then blacked out. When I awoke, I was unbuckling my baby from her car seat (she was upside down) and working to get each child (5 of my children were with me) out of the van. When I came to Titus I worked with all my might to lift the heavy van off his tiny body. My 8 year old son was trying to help me. I could only see the lower half of his body. I rubbed his tummy and tried gentle compressions. But he was already gone. It was instantaneous, which only brings me comfort because I know he felt no pain. What followed was a blur. I refused treatment from the paramedics until they let me hold my dead son. All my children were whipped away and taken to an ambulance to be cared for. I was life flighted and sedated, for the shock made me inconsolable. It was two days later that I saw it all over Facebook. A news report reporting the death of my child as if they were reporting that the weather might change, or a new planet had been discovered. I was thankful they reported that no drugs or alcohol had been a factor. But that’s not what hurt. The readers commented the cruelest things about how horrible of a mother I was. How I deserved it. How my children should be taken from me. I wanted to punch them, shake them. Tell them how close we were, how hard I fought to keep him safe. How we had a special good night kiss and a designated McDonald’s date each week. I wanted to scream that he always told me he wanted to marry me, that I was the best mama ever. That he built me Lego ships, took naps in my bed while holding my hand with his dimpled little fingers. 
But no one would have listened anyway. I feel led to write this to all you Mamas because I have a longing to look each of you in the eyes and tell you this: “Hold your babies tight”. That’s all I want to shout to the world. 
I’m not who I once was; death and loss changes a person from the inside out. 
I have held my dead sons body in the middle of a highway while I rocked him and screamed – no ordered God to bring him back.
-I have chosen a funeral plot for my four year old boy as I contemplated jumping from the cliff the cemetery overlooks just so I could be where he is. 
-I have purchased a 200 dollars superhero outfit for my son to wear as he decomposes in the earth. 
-I have kissed a corpse over and over and wept as I traced over every feature of his ice cold face and held his still dimpled, but lifeless hands. 
-I have slept in a cemetery just to try and take one more nap with him. I talk to the dirt. To the ground where he lies with his lovey blanket and his avengers outfit. 
And what I want to say (if you’ve read this far, you’re so patient and so kind) is this. And you can share it with any mama you know. 
– maybe finishing broccoli at dinner isn’t as important as we might think. Watch how your children eat, soak in their hatred for corn (oh how Titus hated corn). Maybe they can still have ice cream – even just sometimes – while those veggies still sit on their plate. 
-learn to pretend. Get into their world. Learn to play the Xbox with them. Embrace their beautiful, fleeting imagination. Let them really believe that they are Captain America or Queen Elsa. Get in their mind, see how they tick. The dishes will still be there. 
– take every hug and kiss they bring you – even the twenty fifth one they use just to get out of bed at night. And really squeeze them. 
-stop and look at the bugs, the rocks, the sticks, the sunset. Slow down mama, slow down. 
– tell them you love them. But look in their eyes and say it like you mean it. Tell them they can do anything – anything they set their mind to. 
-yes, we must hold them accountable but sometimes- maybe grace is the answer. Maybe, just maybe, they won’t end up ruined if we let some things slide. 
-never judge another mama. We don’t know the whole story, we don’t know. We just don’t know. 
-Go hug your babies right now. Soak in their smell, look at the innocent sparkle in their eyes that is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Really feel how they squeeze you. Set down your phone and see them through the lens of your eyes not only the lens of your camera. Remember the feeling of their head on your shoulder, their hand in yours, their sloppy kisses on your cheeks. Nurse them one more time. Sleep is overrated. Listen five minutes longer about Star Wars, minecraft and Disney princesses. 

Mamas, hold your children tight. How blessed you are to have been entrusted with such unique, beautiful, tiny humans. 
From my heart to yours, 

Ashley

Feel Good Friday: 7/15

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Happy Friday! Fridays are dedicated to five things that made me feel good this week!

 *ONE* ::: My first week of blogging every day has been a success! It was enjoyable and I look forward to the weeks ahead. It also helped spark some ideas for other blog posts! I knew I was capable of doing this and there are some tweaks I will make over time, but over all I feel really good about the direction my blog is headed!

*TWO* ::: Celebrating my husband’s birthday is always a lot of fun, especially when the kids are involved. They love being able to make Matt cards or pick out the silliest one at the store. We had a blast making the fishing cupcakes for him and he got a real kick out of it. Matt’s ideal kind of birthday is one spent playing with the kids. Seriously. I asked him what he wanted to do for weeks and his constant response was, “Just play and be with you and the kids. That’s all I want to do.” Hearing him say that made me feel good and knowing he got just what he wanted made me feel even better.

 *THREE* ::: Our neighborhood has been “in repairs” for the most part of the past four months. Tearing up the sidewalks and yards to repair old gas lines. It is what it is, and I’m thankful they are repairing them, but it does put a damper on bike rides when sidewalks are missing sections of cement. Well, Wednesday they filled the sidewalks with new cement for the entire street. Once they were gone I asked the kids if they wanted to carve their initials in the new slab of cement in front of the house. Their jaws dropped and they sprinted outside. Watching how giddy yet very precise they were made me feel good. Here is our rebel masterpiece.

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*FOUR* :::   Matt and I are having dinner with old friends this weekend. Friends we haven’t hung out with in probably three years. I’m nervous yet excited to see my old friend, she’s had two babies since I’ve seen her, so this makes me feel good that I finally get to meet them!

*FIVE* ::: I finally got to see Finding Dory. It has been a crazy summer since the kids got out of school, but Tuesday we found time out of our day as a family to go see it. The kids brought along the Dory stuffed animal we have and we enjoyed an hour and 45 minutes of Ellen as a blue tang. It was wonderful and I was sobbing by the end of the movie. I swear, they really get the parents at the end of these Disney and Pixar movies now-a-days. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, GO, but bring the tissues!