Seasonal Allergies + Essential Oils 

This is a piece I wrote for Exhalenow.com — they approached me for a paid piece and it was a blast to do! 


 

I live in the Midwest and the weather has a tendency of saying, “Oh, you think you can’t have all four seasons in one week? Here – hold my beer!” When those times occur our allergies are hit full force. Over the years I’ve researched more organic/homeopathic ways of controlling our seasonal allergies. Then I discovered essential oils (Young Living) and they changed my entire family’s life during allergy season.

Essential oils have been used for ages. They date back to biblical times and were seen and used as the treasures they truly are. It takes 22 minutes for a 100% therapeutic grade essential oil to process through every cell in your body. That’s just insane. I was skeptic at first but after a great deal of research and finding the right brand for my family, I took the dive and invested in an entire line of essential oils.

Along with me and my husband, both of our kids suffer from seasonal allergies. We’ve taken different types of allergy medicines throughout our lives, but just taking a pill won’t make the symptoms go away. We needed to change something else; we needed the extra support and boost to be able to survive the wrath of the Midwest seasons.

What I am about to say is only based off my experience with the brand Young Living, this is very important to know because all essential oil brands are different. There are three different ways you can use essential oils. You can diffuse them in a home diffuser, apply them topically, or ingest them. There are four oils that are key to allergy support; Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, and RC. Here are two of my favorite ways to use these oils:

Diffusing

• Add three drops of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint to your home diffuser. Diffusing the EO’s (essential oils) will fill the house with their organic aroma. This will benefit everyone in the whole house who is breathing in the air. Boom! Two birds with one stone!

• You can also boil water, add the three EO’s, put a small towel over your head, and inhale the oils. This works really well when your allergies are getting pretty rough. The towel traps the moisture, heat, and oils. This helps with releasing sinus pressure and opening up the chest and nasal passages.

Topically

• Essential oils are applied to your pressure points, such as your temples, wrists, bottom of feet, neck, and behind your ears. These points are the fastest way for the oils to enter your system.

• Roller balls are the best thing ever for essential oils! They are super easy to make and very kid friendly! If you are making a roller ball for allergies or applying them topically you will need a carrier oil. Carrier oils dilute essential oils, which is what you want for your kiddos! Add about seven drops of each oil in a 10ML roller ball and then fill the rest with a carrier oil (grapeseed, almond, rose hip, or coconut oil).

 

 

If your allergies are becoming intense and congested I suggest using the essential oil blend RC by Young Living. I swear by this oil. It is part of my “First Aid Kit”. RC stands for Respiratory Congestion. The oils blend contains Marjoram for warming, Lavender for calming, Cypress for circulation, Peppermint for invigorating, Spruce, Eucalyptus, and Pine for respiratory support, and Myrtle for fighting infections. I put about three drops of that in my hands with a carrier oil and rub it all over my chest like a name brand vapor rub.

Essential oils can support you through the tough seasons of allergies, without all the toxins from the over the counter stuff that has things in it we can’t even pronounce. I have seen it firsthand. It’s important to keep your kids involved when teaching them about how to use these oils and what they can do to support your body, because just like everything else in their lives, we want them to be educated in what they are putting into their bodies. Now both of my kids have their very own roller balls tucked away in their back packs for whenever they feel their allergies coming on. You might win with the weather Midwest, but we are now prepared for your wrath.

 

Reblog: Why I Can Never Show My Face at the Gym Pool Again.

Katey is a hilarious mommy blogger who wrote this horrific yet humorous post! Check her out! I’m really loving The Mother Octopus!

The Mother Octopus

I’m warning you. It’sa true story and it’s pretty gross.

I’d pretty much blocked out this entire incident until a friend asked for some info about my gym, including a question about the pool. And then I remembered. That pool. That goddamn pool.

It brought me right back to Spring 2010. My son was about 5 weeks old and I joined the local Gold’s Gym to train for a half marathonI’d signed up for that fall. I figured it’d be a great way to burn off the 40 lbs I put on while pregnant. It was a new gym, close to home, with daycare. Sign me up.

giphy Oh yay. I love exercise. Not an avid swimmer, I had no real intention of ever using that goddamn pool. I could swim as a means to NOT DROWN but there was no actual technique or grace involved. Regardless,a couple of weeks into…

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Sunday Dinners at Dads

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My cover picture is from our wedding. We got married in my dad and stepmom’s back yard with 70 of our closest friends and family. Just about every Sunday we go to my parent’s house for dinner. It’s usually one of the first questions the kids ask when they come over Sunday afternoon. “Are we going to Papa Grande’s house for dinner!?” And most of the time the answer is yes.

Ever since the kids were little they have always known that Papa Grande and Marilyn’s house is a safe place. A place where they can be goofy, silly, but most of all, safe. The munchkins were learning to live in two separate houses and watching their family grow in size. Double the parents, double the siblings, double the grandparents, you catch my drift. Well, with all that “newness” my dad wanted the kids to know that they were safe there and Papa Grande and Marilyn’s house was meant for fun, love, and family. So over the years they have made themselves right at home at the house that sits on top of Fairhill Drive.

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Be still my heart. Back when Jordan had two tiny pig tails and James was becoming a non-stop talker.

Sundays are probably my most favorite day of the week. The kids come back over and we all get to have a family dinner together at Papa Grandes. James and Jordan usually bust through the back door in the house announcing themselves as they enter. The next stop they make are their hugs and then they go straight for the snacks that my parents set out. Fruits, veggies, crackers, and different cheeses. Over the past six years both of the kids have tried new and interesting foods while expanding their tiny palates, and I credit my parents for that.

My dad is from the western Kentucky countryside, a real southern gent 😉 , but he’s a suit and tie man every day of the week (he’s a banker). If you are ever over at the house, you will most likely find my dad outside doing something in the yard. The kids have grown to love the outdoors with him. Walking around the yard, making secret paths, and learning about composting (LOL). Whatever the case may be, a walk around the yard with Papa Grande is always a highlight of the trip.

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At a wedding. What you can’t see is my little brother to the left of my dad and my husband standing behind me. Photographers are known to capture amazing candids of us

This past Sunday it was just the kids and I over at the house. It has started to get dark earlier, so by 6:00 the sun had already set. My dad, the kids, and I were outside walking around and we decided to play a game of “hide and sneak”– James is a pro at this game. I never knew he could be so quiet and hold so very still. I felt like a kid again by the end of the game, and it was just what I needed after being sick all weekend, I think it was something we all needed because smiles beamed from everyone’s faces.

My dad reads my blog. I’m pretty sure he reads every post I write. Not a lot of people I know in my day to day life read my blog, but I know my dad does. He will send me a quick text giving me a compliment or call me with tears of joy of how proud he is of me and the woman/mother I have become. He has told me on many occasions “You are a far better parent then I ever was.”. Hearing your father tell you those words–I cannot even begin to explain the overwhelming feeling of love I get, because I know he means it. So here’s to you Daddy! Thank you for our Sunday Dinners. Thank you for loving us all the way you do. We really wouldn’t know what to do without Papa Grande in our life.

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At one of the friends and family night for the opening of World of Beer.

The Way We Speak to Our Children

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I had a very interesting revelation the other day when picking the munchkins up from school.

Our daughter is in 2nd grade (ages 7-8) and I was standing outside of her classroom door picking her up. The kids started filing out one by one and we started heading towards her brother’s classroom. The mom next to me has a set of twins in 2nd grade and she started talking to them about their day. Completely normal to do with your kids, but the WAY she was talking to them was shocking to me. She was talking to them like they were babies in a high pitched voice. Like they weren’t old enough to be talked to like she would speak to another adult.

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This mom isn’t the only mom who does this at the school either. I see it day after day at drop off and pick up. It blows my mind. I was guilty of talking to them like this when they were babies — but that’s about it.

I don’t think school aged kids, especially in 2nd grade, should still be talked to like they are infants. They are free thinking, independent learning, mini adults. They are at school for seven hours a day with a lot of expectations out of them from their teachers. It makes me think these parents don’t take their kids seriously, like they don’t think they are smart enough to understand them if they just talked to them like a normal human being.

Then I had a thought — these moms must be the helicopter moms I have heard about. The moms who are constantly doing everything for their child and probably won’t let them do anything for themselves. It makes you wonder, how does this effect the kid in the long run?

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I know I probably sound insensitive, like I treat our children like little soldiers, but I don’t. I treat them with respect and talk to them like I would want them to talk to me. You know what, I think that doing that not only benefited them as growing little people, but it helped our communication as a family.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you think I’m crazy for thinking we as parents shouldn’t talk to our kids like infants at age 7 and 8? Have you witnessed this with fellow mom or dad friends?

Let’s Talk About Sibling Arguments

Nothing like a jog down memory lane to trigger some memories. I was talking with my mom yesterday about how the kids were bickering in the car the other day the whole way home from their mom’s house. “Well why didn’t you tell them to stop arguing?” she asked me. That is a great question mom, let me explain to you why I don’t interrupt their arguing every time.

When they were probably three and four, James and Jordan use to fight every. single. day. No joke, they would find SOMETHING to be pissed off about and just pick at each other until one of them whacks the other one. I would have to follow them around and break up arguments for what felt like, the entire day. I’m serious, by 7 o’clock at night I am literally melted into the couch from having flames shooting out of my ears with anger all day. My husband wasn’t too thrilled on their attitudes either and he would just lose his cool after the third time we would hear, “Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmessss!” It was exhausting having to do that and I got to a point where I said, ENOUGH!

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These aren’t my kids, but boy have I seen this scenario played out before in my house!

I began to let them fight it out. Not physically, but verbally. They needed to learn how to solve problems without one of us adults being there to break it up and explain what they are doing wrong every time. At first, they would look at me as they were arguing. Then they would get a little louder, pause and look at me as if they were waiting for me to tell them to cut it out,  but I didn’t. Was it nerve racking at first? Oh you bet it was, but it worked! They began figuring out ways to solve their problems all on their own! Some times it takes a few minutes, but the negotiating with each other will eventually kick in and they find a solution without having to decapitate each other.

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My husband didn’t like this idea at first, but I asked him, “Aren’t you exhausted breaking up their petty fights all the time? Because I sure am!” and I would explain how this is helping their future social skills. If you ask either one of the kids now, “How do we solve problems at our house?” they will (hopefully) answer with, “We communicate with each other.” — That is something we have always said since day one with them, in hopes that it will be embedded in their brains for eternity.

They will always argue, I know that. I have two younger brothers who STILL get under my skin and they are 26 and 24 with hundreds of miles in between us, but the munchkins needed to learn a hard lesson of figuring out their own problems with each other. Those are kid problems that should be solved by kids, at least that’s my view on that. What do you think?

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The Fear of the Big Girl Bike

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Yesterday was the 4th of July and we were all home as a family. We all got up and got things around the house done, then headed to the soccer and baseball fields down the street. Jordan got to work on her soccer skills and James was able to work on his baseball technique with his Dad. After a few hours at the fields we headed home for some lunch and got ready for a bike ride.

Jordan got a new bike for her birthday in April. It’s a real deal big girl mountain bike, and it’s truly just her size. It has a kick stand, gears, breaks that are on the handlebars and of course it is a girly purplish-pink color . When she first jumped on the bike a few months ago and realized this bike was a big girl bike, she froze. She kept saying she didn’t want to try it just yet because it scared her. This shocked me. Jordan is fearless. I have seen this girl conquer fear after fear the past 6 years and this bike is the first thing I’ve seen stand in her way.

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I put on her knee pads and helmet and looked over at her fear stricken face. Matt told James and I to head off down the street and that they would catch up to us. I hesitated at first, but we headed down the drive way and down the street. About 10 minutes go by and Jordan still hasn’t moved from the spot on the drive way with Matt. James and I looped back around and I looked over at him and said ,”Well, I gave Dad some time to get her going, think I should go give it a shot now?” He laughed and said “Yeah, good luck!”

I’m all about being completely honest with the kids when they have legit fears. I walked up to Jordan who was still stone cold frozen on her bike next to her Dad. “What’s going on?” I asked her. “I’m really scared. I don’t want to fall and get hurt. What if I break and go flying forward and hit my head?” —

“Well…you’re probably going to fall, but everyone falls when learning. If you don’t try, how are you ever going to know? You have your helmet and knee pads on to protect you. You went on almost EVERY roller coaster last year at Worlds of Fun. YOU are in control of this bike. YOU are bigger then this bike. YOU show the bike who is boss. I believe in you, I know it’s scary, but if you can ride all of those scary roller coasters, I know you can show this bike who is in charge! You are a Valentino and Valentino’s never give up! But you have to at least TRY.”

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She looked at me, wiped her tears and we headed off down the  drive way….and she was showing that bike who was the boss! “I’m doing it! You gave me the best pep talk! Dad, why didn’t you just say everything Jess said, she obviously gives the best pep talks. I’ll just go to her next time.” LOL Oh poor Matt….he just shook his head and laughed.

I was just straight up honest with her. I told her yeah, you might fall, not gonna lie to you sweetheart, it could happen. But it’s all about how you will get back up and show the world that you won’t let it knock you down and get away with it. I’m proud of her. I’m proud of her for facing her fear of this big girl bike with all of its gadgets. She’s a Valentino and she proved to us that Valentino’s really never do give up!

Sunday Morning Sunshine

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At 8 AM this morning, I was up and alert, ready to start my day. THAT is a statement you will rarely hear me say with a smile on my face, but today was one of those rare days. I am NOT a morning person, at all. Not even a little bit, not even for just a few days a week. I just plain and simple HATE the early morning, and to me that means anything before 10 AM.

People assume because I’m a mom and have kids that I am a morning person. Like some fairy magic was sprinkled over me the day I became a mom and I was all of a sudden a cheery bubbly morning person. Well, unfortunately that’s not how it works and I’m still miserable every time I have to get up early.

There is ONE huge reason I have hated waking up early most of my entire adult life and that is because I have severe acid reflux. I wake up every morning in pain. I have tried sleeping in different positions, different kinds of pillows at different angles, not eating certain foods, drinking tons of water, not as much wine (that was a heart breaker for me), not eating late and tons of different anti-acid pills –but low and behold I’m still miserable.

I use to LOVE drinking coffee in the morning. Coffee is what got me through my early mornings with an 18 month, 2 year old and a husband who only would get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. The acid in the coffee began to make the mornings even worse so I cut that out as well because it just wasn’t worth the pain anymore.

But this morning here I am. I woke up at 8 AM with no pain or oncoming acid reflux. I woke up to a quiet house, with the summer sun shining through the curtains. I made a cup of coffee and sat here on the couch. For the first time in years I am enjoying a lovely Sunday morning with a cup of coffee. Acid reflux, you did not win today!

I’ve been working on ideas for my blog the last few weeks. My favorite month of blogging was in April for the A-to-Z Challenge, I enjoyed knowing what I was going to write about each day of the week. I have been playing around with different daily prompt ideas for the week and I think I have them all set.

Now I’m off to get things all set up for our day of friends, family, bbq, pool and fireworks!

Who Gets to Keep the Pictures?

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I would say in the past six or so years, social media has really blown up with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Shutterfly. Pictures are much easier to access now. Sending a picture of your child to family members around the world is as easy as a few clicks of a button (and a filter of course). But what about the families who separated or divorced before this big technology boom? What happens to all of the baby pictures? Who gets to keep them?

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This past spring break my mother-in-law asked me about the kid’s baby photos. She was going through some old photos herself and the topic just kind of came up. I froze and said, “…I don’t think we have any pictures of the kids from when they were babies. When Matt got divorced I think she might of kept them all.” I asked Matt about it and he said a similar version of what I said along with he had a few pictures on his phone that he uploaded to the computer. He gave me a little shrug as to say ‘it is what it is’ and the conversation moved on and that was that about pictures.

A few weeks later I was at my dad’s house one evening having dinner. I found a picture of us when I was a little girl. I had taken a picture of it with my phone and showed my dad. He had tears in his eyes and asked me where I got the picture from. I told him I had a tub of them in my basement at home that my mom gave to me awhile back. He told me that my mom had all of the pictures of my brothers and I after the divorce, and he didn’t have but only a few from our younger years. He got pretty choked up about it. I don’t really blame him because I couldn’t imagine what that might feel like when you want to look back at pictures of your children and you can’t. I asked him if he ever asked for any of them and he gave a look as to say, ‘I didn’t want to start a fight.’.

Two very important men in my life were without pictures of their children after their divorces. It broke my heart. Neither one of them wanted to bring up the conversation with their ex because they didn’t want to upset them. A very noble thing to do, but dad’s have feelings and emotions too. They were there and helped raise the baby too. They deserve to have baby pictures, just like the mothers deserve them. It took both of them to bring beautiful children in the world, so I think everyone should be able to look back at the photo memories of those times.

I know if Matt asked Stephanie for some baby pictures she would be more than happy to do so. I honestly in my heart know that and I know Matt knows that too. We are in a place now that I think those kind of conversations wouldn’t stir up angst or hurt. That within itself is a small victory in our co-parenting lives. *insert victory dance*

Matt’s parents were just in town and my mother-in-law handed me two heavy blue envelopes. I opened them up and in four smaller blue envelopes were over 150 pictures of the kids when they were babies. I had tears streaming down and a smile plastered across my face. There, right before my eyes, were pictures of James and Jo as tiny itty bitty babies. I came into their lives when they were 18 months and 2 years old, so we do have a good amount of toddler age pictures, but the baby ones…those were breath taking. I’ve never been able to really look at baby pictures then look at the person older and tell they are the same person. With the kid’s pictures I looked in their eyes, studied their smiles and could see exactly who they were. What an amazing gift my MIL gave us.

 

Pictures are pictures and memories last a lifetime, but for some of us pictures mean more than words, or even memories. Pictures are a snapshot in that moment, a moment frozen in time and saved on a glossy 4×6 card. I went through my old pictures and have a bin set aside for my dad. I know it’s not much, but seeing the joy and tears in Matt’s eyes when he saw the kid’s baby pictures…I knew it was the right thing to do.

Has this issue ever happened with other blended families? I’m curious to see how other step families or divorced parents have handled situations like this one.

 

 

Jordan’s Dance Recital With Her Moms

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Stephanie’s View

Jessica’s View 

Our daughter Jordan’s dance recital was Thursday night.

About 2 months ago we found out that she was the 32nd act in the show.  This meant that she was 9th after the intermission.  She has never been this late in the show before.  Always in the first part of the show, so we can all cut out sometime before intermission!
Well…this meant that we were going to be in for the long haul.  As soon as I found this out, I text Jess to let her know.  I believe this was before we were “friends” but, I was still well aware of how she “loved” the dance stuff just as much as I do!
I remember when Stephanie told me about the dance recital date and how we can do what we did last year. Last year Matt and I went to Stephanie’s house and I helped Jo with her hair and make up. I love doing hair and make up, especially on Jordan. She just loves getting all dolled up for her recital and I am happy to be her personal make up artist.
A few weeks after letting Jess know about this years recital, we got James’ baseball schedule, low and behold he had a baseball game scheduled for that same night.  Which meant we had to figure how who was doing what.  It seemed easiest and most obvious to just split it down the middle.  Boys go to the game and girls go to the recital.
Matt was pretty upset at first when he saw a baseball game was at the same time as the dance recital. He was actually pretty close to saying he wasn’t going to go to the game because he wanted to watch his daughter dance on stage. I’m not gonna lie. I was pretty shocked he got that worked up about it. “She has one recital a year. I don’t want to let her down.” After talking it over for a few days and telling Jordan that I would video tape her rehearsal so Daddy could watch it, everyone was okay with the decision of who was going where and that no one was letting anyone down.

 

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Buying tickets for the dance recital is seriously like going on Ticketmaster to buy tickets for a JT concert.  They sell out within like 12 minutes!!  I am always on right at 10 to purchase them like a good Mom and I scored Jess, Jordan and I three seats in the front.

When Stephanie told me where our seats were I was pretty excited. We haven’t been this close before, and I kinda felt like we were VIP walking down the aisle to the 2nd row. And she’s not joking about how quickly those tickets sell out – these dance moms don’t mess around. 

Well about a week or so after the tickets went on sale, Jess contacted me to tell me that her in-laws (Jordan’s grandparents) were coming up from Florida for a surprise trip.  They were going to be here over the recital date, did I think I could get tickets?  I told Jess right away that I was so sorry, but that the tickets sell out super fast.
Matt’s parents called us up one morning and said they were planning a trip up to Michigan to surprise the kids for Jo’s dance recital and a couple of James’s games. I was SO excited that they were coming. They haven’t seen one of her dance recitals before and it’s been 3 years since they saw James play baseball (which was T-ball the last time they watched). Then I thought, “Crap. Stephanie and I already made plans, I know those tickets sell out fast, and there is NO way there are any extra tickets floating around anywhere.” I decided to ask her anyways and I was scared to death to even MENTION it to her. She had already bought our tickets and we already set up how the night was going to go. I know she’s not big on changing plans that were already set in stone, but I know how much this would mean to Jordan. Steph didn’t get upset with me, she didn’t yell at me, and she didn’t make me feel like an idiot for asking her for extra tickets. I know we’ve been on WAY better terms lately, but certain situations can trigger people to get upset, and I didn’t want this to be one of those situations. But it wasn’t, not even a little bit!
I felt badly about this for the last month.  I knew that this may be their only opportunity to see Jo in a dance recital and it made me sad that there weren’t any tickets for them.  Well…it turns out that didn’t much matter. They had told Jess that they would show up at the venue and “figure it out.”
I told my in-laws about the ticket situation and they told me “It’s fine. We will just be recital crashers and sneak in at intermission.” LOL. They are seriously that awesome. While Stephanie was on her way back from vacation she texted me about the recital, “Hey, I’ve been thinking…if you want to take Ann to the recital with my ticket, I’m okay with that. I think it would make Jo happy to have Ann there more than she would be disappointed about me missing it.” — What a selfless act, which of course made me cry. I told her no way she was coming with me and Matt’s parents will figure it out! Jordan was going to have BOTH of her moms there, we already had plans and we weren’t changing them! 
They sure did figure it out.  At intermission Jess and I walked Jo up the aisle to go to the bathroom and get her in the staging area.  As we made our way out, her grandparents were there and she was so happy!!!  They said that they had been there and just watched from the back.  After intermission they scouted out seats (more than likely where others like us in years prior had scooted out as soon as their child’s act was done).  
Jordan danced beautifully.  Jess and I both got tears in our eyes as she led her class in their routine.  Even with a special hand wave shout out to the both of us in the beginning.
 I cried like a baby watching her dance. I was THAT mom. I never thought I would be THAT mom, but I was, and I wasn’t ashamed. We watched our tiny dancer on stage with a smile on her face. Twirling, spinning and prancing like a pro. This year was unlike all the other years. These girls knew their dance and they were mostly all in sync. I was so proud. So proud of our little girl. She has worked her butt off since the beginning of the school year on this dance and the day finally arrived where she could show off all of her hard work. She was showered with flowers, kisses and an abundance of love. After the recital we all chatted for a bit outside. Matt’s dad told us ladies to get in a group picture. Stephanie stepped to the side and he told her “You too Steph, get in there!” – “Are you sure?” she said, and we all said “Yes! Come on in!” — We took our first photo together. As mom and stepmom. Supporting our daughter and showing her what the power of love and co-parenting can do.
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It was a really fun night that Jess and I were able to spend together with Jordan.  Just the girls.  Just the special girl and her Moms.

Happily Breaking Routine

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What an eventful week at the Valentino household! We broke our normal routine and Stephanie kept the kids until Friday last week. Why break routine you ask? – Stephanie and her husband went on vacation this past Saturday to Wednesday – so  Matt and I not only kept James and Jordan, but Noah (Steph and Paul’s son) too!

Back in November, Stephanie asked us about keeping the kids while they go on vacation – Noah too. My first instinct was to say “Yes!”, because Noah is hilarious, adorable and always welcomed at our house. This was also seven months ago – before Stephanie and I became friends. I was actually shocked and honored that she asked us. I talked it over with Matt and he had no problem with it, so we set the date and the day finally arrived this past week.

The responses I got from some people about Noah staying with us weren’t shocking to me. I know it might sound like a crazy idea, but it’s really not. Noah is 3 years old. To the best of my knowledge I don’t think he has stayed with anyone else besides family in his entire life, let alone be away from both of his parents for longer than an over night stay. Stephanie trusted us. She trusts us with James and Jordan and I know she felt that he would be taken care of so she wouldn’t have to worry as much. All three of her kids would be under the same roof. It only made sense to have him stay with us in my mind and I’m so happy he did!

Saturday morning we all woke up and Matt made pancakes and eggs. The kids and I packed lunches for our “adventure day” that I had planned at the park later. Matt left for work and the four of us headed out to the park. We live near a place where there are 10 jungle gyms in a 5-mile radius. We went to about four different parks and ate our lunch in the warm afternoon sun. When we left to head back to the house for Noah’s nap, all three kids passed out in the back seat. Mission accomplished!

I’m pretty sure we did almost everything on Noah’s list of things he wanted to do:

  • Go to a lot of parks (we went to 10!)
  • Play outside  (they played for hours outside with each other and the neighbor kids)
  • Get slurpees (we made a special stop after dinner one night)
  • Go to Taco Bell 
  • Watch Goosebumps (Noah’s favorite movie of all time – so he says)
  • Play in the water (they played in the rain, what kid doesn’t love that?)
  • Eat Donuts for breakfast (we went to our local bakery Sunday morning and the kids picked out their favorite donuts)
  • Build a fort (right in front of the TV on a rainy night with popcorn)

The only thing I can think we missed was going to Witches Hat Brewery. Noah informed us he LOVES going to Witches Hat and it is one of his favorite places to go. LOL The boy can recognize a good brewery, gotta give him props for that!

I’ve missed hearing tiny voices in the house, the toddler giggles and pitter patter of little feet. Our babies aren’t babies anymore. The munchkins are growing up so fast, right before our eyes – I swear it was just the other day I was chasing their naked little bodies around the house after bath time. Now it’s all about dance recitals and baseball games. So many memories came flooding back to me throughout the week and I also realized I didn’t lose my touch on being able to decipher toddler language. I still got it!

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Watching James with Noah has actually made me a little emotional. James is an amazing big brother, I’ve always known that, but how he is with Noah – just blows me away. The kindness, compassion and over all love those two have for each other is a bond that could never be broken. James has grown up so much and seeing him in this role has really showed me that. Noah loves James and Jordan, but James and him have a different connection, a deeper one.

Seeing Matt with little kids always makes me smile. Kids LOVE this man. They must sense his inner child. When I walked out of the bedroom on Saturday morning, I found Noah and Matt laughing hysterically in the kitchen while James and Jordan looked at them like they were nuts. All this just reassures me I’ve truly met my match and reminds me the very reason I feel in love with this man in the first place. He’s a phenomenal father and the kids are lucky to have a dad who loves being goofy just as much as they do.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is what adding another child to the mix might be like. I have had a lot of flash backs of the kids since Noah has been here. I forgot how silly a 3 year old could be. I’ve missed those years and Matt agrees. This has made us even more confident in our decision in growing our family.

Monday, Matt was home from work. He took the two older kids to school, then Noah, Matt and I headed out to more parks. We played freeze tag and hide-n-seek until it was time for lunch. We went to a nice downtown area with little shops and pubs and sat outside on their patio, while enjoying the gorgeous Michigan weather.

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Our five days with Noah has came to an end and everyone kept telling me by the end I will be singing a different tune about having Noah over, but I’m not and neither is Matt. This little 3 year old has so many people in his life he can depend on and I hope he knows he is ALWAYS welcome at Jess and Matt’s house. Even though he isn’t one of ours, he is apart of our huge, crazy, blended family. His laugh, his smile and all of his silliness is what makes him one kick ass kid, and I’m proud James and Jordan get to have him as a brother.