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SAVING FOR BABY AXEL’S FUTURE

February 18, 2018

I love the topic of finances. In college, I read Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and it changed my perspective on everything when it comes to money. My biggest takeaway from this book were that the money I earn is a gift from God. It’s really His money and I am the manager of it. He gave me the necessary skills and tools to earn the money. The phrase that was repeated over and over in the book was, “live like no one else so that you can live like no one else.” You might be scratching your head if you’ve never read the book. Basically, it means that it work your butt of now and put in the extra work then you can have financial freedom and be debt-free with no worries. I loved reading all of the real life stories of couples who were in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and how they implemented Ramsey’s strategies and became debt free. You just have to be willing to work hard and think outside the box.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I thought a lot about how I would save for his future. My husband and I had plenty of conversations of what we would give him and what we would make him work for. My husband and I have always been hard workers and we want our son to also work hard and not become entitled or spoiled. We decided to start with setting up a savings account that earned interest. I set up an automated transfer to it each week and I don’t plan on touching it until he is 18. Although my husband and I have separate finances, we both have emergency funds if needed. That way we don’t need to dip in to Axel’s savings.

Rewind back to before I had Axel. Andrew and I were slightly freaking out when we started looking at the cost of daycare and all the other costs that come with having a baby. We both have good jobs in IT but we were both feeling like we would have nothing left over to save! That’s when I started looking into starting a blog. I didn’t understand how blogs made money but I wanted to know more because it sounded like a good side income. I thought that maybe if I could earn even a little on the side I could start a savings fund for baby Axel. To my surprise (and I am honestly still shocked) I earned over $1000 within just a few months of entering the blogging world. Check out my recent post where I explain my blogging income sources.

Some bloggers post detailed monthly income reports. I think that’s great because I have enjoyed reading a lot of those myself. I was on the fence to whether or not I would share all of my details. I decided I would share every now and then when I felt it would be helpful to others. It seems a bit out of the norm for me to be so public with my finances but this feels a little different since I blog to share about my lifestyle and how to help others. December 2017, January 2018 and February 2018 were great earning months for my blog work. I have been able to start the savings plan for Axel and use the remaining earnings to start paying off debt – snowball style! The Snowball debt method is a strategy where you pay off your debts starting with the smallest balance you have. You do this because once you pay off one small debt it helps build momentum and encourage you to continue knocking out debt. I have a small loan remaining from grad school and my mortgage. Some people don’t consider their mortgage as part of their total debt but it is included for me.

Below is a screenshot of a savings scenario with final balance I got from an online savings calculator. If I continue to transfer over a portion of my side hustle income (from blogging and our Etsy shop) then by the time baby Axel graduates, I could have over $98k set aside for him and maybe his future younger sibling. We are still deciding if we want to have another child. We are in the dazed, tired phase of being new parents still! 🙂 This example just goes to show the importance of savings!

Now, when I shared this with my husband he was a little concerned about what an 18 year old would do with that kind of money. He said that if he would have received something like that when he was 18, he probably would have bought some cars. I don’t intend to just hand over a big chunk of cash to my boy. This gift will come with some guidelines. I want him to use it for college tuition, his wedding or maybe a first time home purchase so Mama might have to hold on to some of it for a little longer than 18 years. And who knows, maybe he will have a little brother or sister he has to share it with! 🙂

One thing I will totally own is that I have been told by my financial adviser and close friends that I “save to aggressively”.  Ha! I didn’t know that was a thing but it is. I do strongly feel that it is important to save and be prepared but I also want to find a good balance and make sure I am enjoying life too. I want to be sure I plan family vacations and fun activities in my budget and not obsess over saving every penny. It’s all about balance!

What are your savings plans for your little ones? Do you have a savings account, stocks or other investments intended for them? Maybe you want your kids to work and earn/save their own money. What are your thoughts? If you have kids and don’t have a savings plan setup yet – don’t worry. It isn’t a mandatory thing and if you’re thinking it’s something you may be interested in then just remember, it’s never to late to start!

Baby Compassion Family Motherhood Parenting

A LETTER TO MY BABY FOR GRADUATION DAY

February 5, 2018

My Baby,

As I write this letter, you are just seven months old. I feel like you were born just yesterday. Everything people told me is true – the time goes by so fast! I can’t believe you are already seven months old and crawling everywhere! You sure have kept us busy in these seven months. We are very tired but oh so happy to have you in our life. Right now, your dad and I both work at the same company in IT full time. Mama also started blogging to make some extra income to put in your savings account. We work hard for you and we want you to have the best life.

Your dad and I are very different. He is a bit more introverted and likes his quiet and alone time. He is extremely smart and can fix just about anything. He was scared when you were born. He didn’t tell me that, but I could see it in his eyes. Everything he knows how to do comes with a manual, but babies don’t. He was worried about knowing what to do when we brought you home from the hospital. He did a great job adjusting and he loves playing with you so much. His favorite thing to do after work or on the weekends is crawling around with you and making you laugh. He is so good at that. You just started saying your first word which is “Dada!” I was really hoping you would give me the honor of your first word. I even say “Mama” to you all the time but nope, you said “Dada” first!

I am more outgoing and love being social. I love to meet new people and talk a lot. I have been told I can be a bit dramatic and have lots of feelings. Your dad thinks you are going to be more like me. You seem to love daycare. You love playing with your friends and adore your teachers. You even have a few cute girlfriends. When Maria is in the room I don’t exist because you just stare at her. She is pretty cute though so I can’t be too sad about it. My hope for you is that you will be a little bit like both of us. I hope you inherit our best qualities and learn from our mistakes. One thing your dad and I both agree on is that we hope that you are hard-working, kind and considerate to others.

When I was pregnant with you, I imagined what it would be like meeting you and seeing your face for the first time. When that finally happened, you literally took my breath away. I couldn’t hardly breath or talk because I just couldn’t believe that I was finally holding you in my arms and you were so perfect. My life changed that day, June 18th, 2017. It was one of the best days of my life and you are such a gift. I am so lucky to be your mom and I hope your dad and I have showed you an abundance of patience and love over these last 18 years. I am sure I will remind you how much I love you quite often – you may even get annoyed by it 😊 Your dad isn’t as mushy as I am, so just know that he has loved you with all of his heart since Day 1.

I am so eager to see what hobbies and talents you have. You are so observant and aware of your surroundings. You love to explore and try new things. You are also quick to learn and almost always smiling. It’s exciting for me to think of the person you will become. If you ever feel like we are smothering you or being too nosey, it’s only because we care so much, and we want you to be safe and do the right thing. I know that sometimes I will have to let you make your own mistakes as that is the best way to learn.

Go out into the world and do wonderful things. Be kind and courteous to others and put others first before yourself. You may have heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder”. Well forget that, Mama is telling you to work smarter AND harder. That’s what your dad and I have always done and we have been rewarded for that. There is always a smarter more efficient way of doing things but don’t cut corners and always be honest. Whatever job you have, work at it as if you were the business owner. Don’t settle for ANYTHING. We want the best for you in all aspects of your life. If you are unhappy at your job – then go find something else that you love. Set your goals and expectations high because I know you can reach them. If I don’t like they way something is – I fix it or change it. Don’t ever tell yourself, “oh, I will be happy when I can make this much money” – be happy always, in every moment. Life is too short. Enjoy each day, each milestone, each year. Love your life every day. I love you so much my baby Axel. Happy Graduation Day.

Family Health & Wellness Marriage Parenting Romance

A UNIQUE VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT FOR A UNIQUE PERSON

February 3, 2018

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

My husband and I have been married for almost four years. For so long, we were that annoying couple that never fought and seemed to be in the honeymoon phase forever. This last year has been life-changing for the both of us. We recently had our first child, baby boy Axel, and it has been wonderful and also a lot of change.

I wrote a post a few months ago about how having a child impacted our marriage. I am happy to say that we have come a long way since then and we are starting to become a really great team. Before we had a child, we had stereotypical gender roles going on in our house and separate checking accounts – and it worked just fine. When you have a child, every aspect of your life changes so we had to reset the expectations and get on the same page. Communication is KEY!

Then Comes Baby…

Having a child has been life changing. It has helped us become better communicators and even stronger in our relationship. I was experiencing some signs of postpartum depression and anxiety and finally admitted I needed some help. I didn’t want to admit that – I wanted to be the super mom that my mom was and still is. Invincible, always going way above and beyond, making sure everyone was taken care of, just “Mamazing”. But I didn’t feel like that person. I felt very tired and anxious. I felt like I had this new never-ending to do list and when was I supposed to have time to just relax and enjoy some playtime with baby boy? I finally got the help I needed from my doctor and I was honest with my husband. I finally asked for more help and he was very receptive. He didn’t mind at all and it felt like I should have just asked him for more help sooner – so silly!

Today, all the baby responsibilities are shared. We divvy up bath time, washing bottles, changing diapers – all that good stuff. We play with baby Axel TOGETHER. For weeks we were doing almost a baton hand-off style of parenting. One of us would watch the baby and the other would scurry around trying to get chores done and then we would switch off. It was just not enjoyable and even though we live/commute/work together – I felt like I hardly spent any time with my husband. I missed him and he missed me – which made us argue, again – so silly. He felt more like my roommate then my husband. We have come to a point where we prioritize relaxing and playing with the baby together. This way, we can visit with each other, talk about our work day and laugh at all the silly new things Axel is doing! I know we will need to adapt once again if we add another baby to the mix, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it 😊

A Little Extra Effort Goes a Long Way…

I always heard people talk about how marriage and relationships can be hard and “take work”. My first few married years with Andrew felt so easy – almost too good to be true. I never knew what people meant by that until we had a child. It does take some “work” or extra effort to be intentional about showing your spouse you care. When I am so exhausted from working full time and my new 24/7 Mama gig, when do I have time to give my husband some much-needed affection?

I do a lot of the night shift stuff with the baby because it’s easier for me to just conviently nurse him. One night as I was crawling back into bed after I laid the baby back in the crib, my husband rolled over and put his hand on my back and said, “Good job Mama.” Such a simple thing but it meant the world to me. And I told him that the next day! I told him how good those simple words made me feel.

After we agreed that we were starting to feel more like roommates, I knew that I needed to change things otherwise we were going to be one of those couples that just lived separate lives in the same house. I started thinking of small ways of showing Andrew I cared for him. My list consisted of packing him good snacks and lunches for work, making him a hot breakfast every once in a while, rubbing his shoulders, and simply giving him a hug. Those little things make a huge difference. Once your spouse sees that even though you are tired, you are still putting forth effort – they want to reciprocate! I was also brainstorming of thoughtful gift ideas. Something that really showed him I was thinking of him. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what I came up with!

The Things That Make My Husband Unique Are The Things I Appreciate Most

One thing that my husband and I love to do together is watch a good show or movie when baby goes to bed. It is a great way to wind down for the evening and we can usually find something good that we both want to watch. We recently watched the Netflix series, Atypical. It’s a great comedy about a young man with autism who is trying to make his way through life. He is high functioning (has a good tech job, does well in school and has a girlfriend). As I was watching the show, I couldn’t help but notice so many similarities between the main character and my husband. What gave me more goosebumps is when he gets a girlfriend who is bubbly, talkative and a bit quirky – just like me!

I never intended to bring it up but my husband turned to me during one of the episodes and said, “oh my gosh, do I have autism?!” He said it with a slight chuckle and I just chuckled back because I didn’t know enough about it to answer. Days after we finished the series I couldn’t stop thinking about it and started researching. I ended up finding a credible quiz online to help diagnose these traits in adults. He agreed to take it and scored within the range of strong signs of autistic traits or asperbergers. Here are some of the signs or traits that my husband shows from the autism spectrum:

  • OCD – very detailed and meticulous about maintenance/cleaning
  • Gifted – very smart! Can fix or solve most issues in such a creative way!
  • Fascinated by facts more so than people/feelings
  • Mild sensory issues with noise
  • Avoids social settings
  • VERY HONEST 😊

So, what does this mean for us? Not much because, in my opinion, there is nothing to “fix”. I view it more as something to be aware of and understand. Sure, there are times where my husband’s honesty can come across as rude to people that don’t know him but as far as our relationship goes – we’re going strong and we make a good team! It’s true – opposites attract! If anything, learning this about him has helped me to better understand how he operates and what I can do to be the best support for him.

My husband sometimes feels discouraged by these traits and his behavior. His OCD when it comes to cleaning and details sometimes even annoys him. He sometimes feels like most people don’t understand him or want to listen to him. He is smart ways of doing things and offers advice but people sometimes mistake this for being arrogant or condescending, even when he has the best intentions. There are times when he will make comments when I am cleaning something a certain way. His comments are honest advice but I explain to him how it can hurt my feelings at times. He has come a long way and I have told him that if he isn’t sure how somebody is going to take his comment or advice to just consider keeping it to himself.

These traits have impacted our relationship in many ways. I am spontaneous and easy-going. I can “go-with-the-flow” and make the best out of situations. Andrew needs to have a plan and know all the details. And when I say have a plan, I mean like – if we are going to go out to dinner, he wants to know about a week in advance, make a reservation (when it’s the least busy), look up where to park and the best route to get there. So with the two of us being so different in that regard, it has taken some compromising on both ends.

The only thing that bugs me about his traits are that he sometimes feels discouraged and like an outcast. It makes me sad when he asks, “is there something wrong with me? or when he says, “I hope our son is more like you.” I don’t want him to think that way. I want to live himself for who he is as much as I love him. If you are reading this and you know someone with similar traits, please share anything you know that can help! This is new territory for us and we are learning by research and meeting with a specialist. My ultimate goal is that Andrew accepts himself for who he is and is happy.

A Unique Gift for a Unique Person

So, of course, this Valentine’s day I needed to get something as unique as my unique, lumberjack husband. I got him this stunning, luxury watch (pictured below). This came in a beautiful wooden box that smelled like cedar. We also received oil and cloth with our box so that we can keep the watch looking nice! Andrew loves maintenance so that’s perfect! They had all kinds of different styles and woods to choose from. I wanted to make sure my husband LOVED it so I let him help pick it out before I ordered. Usually he is quick to make decisions like this but he had such a fun time browsing Jord’s variety. As I was helping him browse I realized that they also make gorgeous watches for women and I feel like Mama deserves one too! I might have to pick one out and treat myself. I have been eyeing up this Purpleheart beauty. 😊

As new parents, it is so nice to enjoy an accessory other than baby spitup and boogers! There was something about Andrew putting on the watch that made me go back to our dating days where we were so enamored with each other and always wanted to look nice for each other. This has inspired us to plan an upcoming date night and I requested that Andrew wear his new Jord watch and a splash of beard oil!

If you are tired parents or have been married for so long that you don’t “do Valentine’s day” anymore…well stop it because that’s lame! Keep the flame alive and invest in each other! Yes, it’s true that orchestrating a date night once you have kids takes extra work, but it is so important to continuously work on your relationship. Get your special someone a beautiful watch from Jord. They even do customized engraving, so you can make it extra special. Engravable watches make a perfect, thoughtful gift for any occasion.

Jord Watches – The Perfect Gift!

As I mentioned before, Jord has an enormous variety of personalized watches for both men and women. They have exotic woods to choose from such as purpleheart, bamboo, zebrawood and more! When you browse their website, you can chat with REAL humans who will help you with your shopping! They can help guide you to what you are looking for and what you need to decide before placing your order. How great is that kind of service? They also offer free shipping worldwide and they make it easy to get help with exchanges or repairs. Some companies make it SO hard to contact them for help, but they have a help tab right on their website and it is super user friendly! So, if you are browsing for unique men’s watches, look no further because Jord has you covered.

GIVEAWAY

Check out my giveaway where you could win $100 credit to Jord Watches! All entries will receive a special discount code.

I always love to learn a little more about how a company got started and what they are all about. I will leave you with this inspiring quote from their About page:

TELLING MORE THAN TIME

“The value of a watch is not in being able to tell how much time has passed, but in being aware of the need to make that time count. Moments are bigger than minutes and your watch should tell more than time.”

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you love birds!

Wooden Wrist Watch

Baby Compassion Family Health & Wellness Motherhood

EVEN THE HAPPIEST OF MOMS CAN STRUGGLE WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION & ANXIETY

December 17, 2017

I wanted to write this post while I was at my lowest point and feeling all the weight of symptoms of postpartum depression weighing heavy on my heart. I simply couldn’t bring myself to do it at that time because I didn’t want to do anything. Not even the things I loved.

I am not writing this post as a cry for help. I am now taking the steps to get myself help. I am writing this post for two reasons:

  1. To remind myself to not be stubborn and know when to seek help.
  2. To show others that it is okay if you need help. You are not weak and you are not alone. If I can help even one mom be brave and admit they need help then I’ve done my job.

As I write this post now, I am back to my happy, normal self. Thinking back to the days I was struggling still makes me cringe. I didn’t know what was wrong with me at the time. I felt out of control. The best way I can describe it is…I didn’t feel like me. For those that know me well, I am a very positive and happy person. I am quick to make friends and get along with all types of personalities. For me to think I may have been struggling with postpartum depression was hard to swallow. I still haven’t said it out loud to anyone and it even feels hard to type the words.

“…I didn’t feel like me.”

Once I started looking up the symptoms I was feeling and it pointed to postpartum depression I felt ashamed. I felt like a weak person and a weak mom. I had so much to be happy about and thankful for so why am I feeling like this? I started to pray to God for help because I didn’t know who to talk to or who would understand. My first thoughts were my husband or my mom but I couldn’t bring myself to have the conversation. I will have that conversation before I post this. It’s not that they wouldn’t support me or try to help me because they definitely would. It’s more that I felt embarrassed and scared about it.

As I continued to research, I found that this can be caused by a hormone imbalance. There were streaks were I was getting little to no sleep caring for sick baby Axel. I was worried about his health and I wasn’t taking care of myself in a lot of ways. I think the combination of that and other factors is what caused me to not feel like me.

I have learned there is postpartum depression and baby blues. The two get confused quite often. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was dealing so I could figure out how to help myself. I found this helpful chart from a maternal mental health specialist, Rachel Rabinor. After reading the article and reviewing the symptoms from the chart, I realized I had experienced every single symptom on the postpartum depression side.

The worst symptoms are the insomnia and excessive worrying. I have thoughts throughout the day and bad dreams at night about baby Axel’s safety and well-being. My heart hurts in my chest as I separate from him when I go to work. I want to enjoy these milestones and moments with Axel not waste them with constant worry! I try to re-focus my thoughts and train my brain but I keep reverting back to the worry and anxiousness.

So You Think You Have PPD, Now What?

The breaking point where I knew something was wrong was when I was feeling very thin and decided to weigh myself. I thought maybe I was thin from being sick and power pumping to get a good milky stockpile for Axel. When I saw the scale I felt scared. I had lost 13 pounds from my already pre-pregnancy weight. I realized I weighed less than I did in high school. Again, I didn’t tell anyone (except my mom) because nobody wants to hear a skinny girl’s problems. I was also so exhausted to the point where I couldn’t think straight or sleep which sounds silly. I couldn’t sleep because I was so anxious and worried about Axel. He had been to the doctor three times in a week for a number of things such as ear infection, thrush, pink eye, etc. How could I sleep when my baby is miserable?

I vaguely remember calling my mom with a shaky voice and trying to talk through tears. I just felt out of control and like I couldn’t even make a decision for myself. I have never felt like that before. Part of the problem may be related to comparing myself to the amazing moms in my life. My own mom raised four kids and just – did it all. My younger sister has two kids and always seems calm and together. I have one sweet, easy baby so why do I feel like I am falling apart at times?! Comparing yourself to others is never a good thing because what you may perceive might not be reality. I mean, yes, these moms are awesome but they had their struggles too! After the pep talk with my mom, I finally got some much needed sleep and by the next day I was feeling well rested and like myself again.

My mom said: “take advice from someone who was tired for 30 years. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to take time for myself.” 

The days following that I had ups and downs. Some days I feel on top of the world. I feel like super mom like I can conquer anything and so happy. Other days I begin to feel down and overwhelmed. Axel’s smile gets me through the hard times. Luckily, the good days outweigh the bad. I have only had a small handful of bad days.

The moment I realized I may need some professional help was when the girls at work told me I looked very thin and my pants were baggy. My response probably sounded flustered and defensive because I didn’t want to admit there might be anything wrong. These girls know me too well and finally flat out asked if I was okay. I admitted I was struggling and they encouraged me to make an appointment with my doctor and I did. Sometimes it just takes talking out loud with someone who cares about you for you to realize you need some help.

I have my appointment coming up tomorrow and I feel comfortable telling my doctor everything. She was with me throughout my whole pregnancy and delivery so she knows me well. One of my friends at work also told me our employer provides free counseling sessions for dealing with stuff like this which I plan on taking advantage of.

Even the happiest of moms can struggle with postpartum depression. I consider myself a positive and happy person. I have great, supportive people in my life and so much to be thankful for. Despite that, I am feeling these symptoms and now I know I need some help. I now understand that I’m not a weak person and I’m not a bad mom. I’m going to get the help I need so I can be the best mom I can be. I finally had the conversation with my husband and it went much better than I thought. I showed him the chart and let him read my symptoms. He is glad I am going to talk to my doctor and get the help I need. He also stepped up tremendously and helped me out with some of my chores which makes me feel less overwhelmed. I should have told him how I felt sooner! I just didn’t want him to think I felt this way because of him because that’s not the case at all.

One good thing this has taught me is that I am never going to pretend like I have it all together. When I first became a mom I wanted to maintain a spotless house, homemade dinner every night and always be positive and on top of everything. This may be reality for some, but it definitely is not my reality and I have come to terms with that. I take each day at a time and try not to get frustrated with my to-do list that I can never seem to tackle. My family comes first and my chores and need for achievement can wait.

Depression was an unknown territory to me. Sadly, I have had people I know end their lives because of this and it was something I could never fathom. I have never had suicidal thoughts but I feel I understand this at a level I never did before. If you feel you are struggling with baby blues, postpartum depression or any form of depression please talk to someone. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed like I did. Seek the help you need. You are not a weak person for seeking help.

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Baby Family Motherhood Parenting Product Reviews

EatSmart Products Precision Baby Check Scale – Product Review

December 16, 2017

My husband and I became new parents this year. Sweet baby boy Axel was born this summer on Father’s Day so it was extra special for my husband. Before baby was born, my husband and I went shopping at a local baby store. We did one big loop and left with an empty cart. We were so overwhelmed. We had no idea what we really needed or what we even wanted!

On the way out, a cashier noticed the discouraged looks on our faces. She gave us a little pep talk and told us not to worry. She suggested just getting through my baby showers and then making a list of items I still need. That was the problem. I had read tons of articles and didn’t know where to even start because there are so many different opinions. I reached out to my younger sister and begged for help. I asked her what I really need now and what can wait until after baby comes. She is a mom of two and seems to always have it together! Yes, younger sisters can be role models too.

She emailed me an awesome, thorough list and included brands she loved. She shared with me the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. I have been a mom for six months now and I have been putting together a list of awesome items to have that nobody thinks to tell you. One item on my list is a baby scale! You wouldn’t think of this right away but there are so many reasons why this item comes in handy.

Where Can I Get a Quality Baby Scale?

You can get an amazing baby scale online of course! Thank goodness for Amazon! Check out EatSmart Products Precision Baby Check Scale, 9 Pound. We recently received our EatSmart Precision Baby Check Digital Scale and it’s amazing. It’s one of those items I wouldn’t have thought of but now that I have one, I recommend it to my fellow Mamas! It is reassuring to know that my little guy is growing at a healthy weight and it is fun to do weight checks at home. My husband and I have fun guessing how much he weighs each week. I thought for sure he would have gained some good weight after his calorie-rich Thanksgiving milk 😊

My mom loves the fact that baby Axel has his own scale because when I was a baby I would thin out quickly if I was ill because I had a crazy metabolism. My mom said she wishes she would have had a scale to make sure I wasn’t losing an unhealthy amount of weight in a short period of time. I am pretty sure Axel has the same metabolism as me because he has a big appetite and when he’s hungry, he lets everyone know. It is also fun to see the look on the nurse’s face when we take Axel in for his check-ups and we can guess exactly what his weight is down to the ounce. They are always very impressed and we never tell them how we know!

Why EatSmart?

Here are some of the many reasons why I love the EatSmart scale:

    • No assembly required
    • Batteries Included
    • The scale is light weight
    • One of the most user-friendly instructions manual I’ve ever seen
      • Includes guide that shows all functions with pictures
      • Troubleshooting section
      • Warranty and contact information
    • Digital easy to read
    • Easy to clean
    • Hold feature records weight
    • Easily converts from kg to lb
    • Accurate (matches Axel’s weight from doctor appts)
    • Available on Amazon, EatSmart Products Precision Baby Check Scale, 9 Pound
    • 2 year guarantee
    • Can be used for other purposes (weighing pets) 44 lbs capacity

I hate puzzles and dislike anything that takes thought putting together. My husband, on the other hand, loves assembly. When we received our EatSmart Baby Scale in the mail, I was pleased to open the box and find all I had to do was put the batteries in! The batteries that were INCLUDED I might add. Nobody likes to get a new, fun item and realize they have to make an extra trip to the store for batteries. This mom doesn’t have time or energy for that. Plus, I would probably go to the store and forget why I went due to severe case of mom brain lately.

My husband is a big advocate for reading and saving manuals. I have maybe looked at five manuals in my life. I started using our EatSmart Baby Scale before reading the manual because that’s how user friendly it is. I did read the manual afterwards to make sure I wasn’t missing any cool features and I am glad I did! There is a function where you can record and save weight and also a weight compare function.

This scale is light weight and has a sleek design that’s easy to store. EatSmart stands behind their products so if there is any sort of defect (other than damage caused by misuse) they will work with you to service/replace the scale.

It can also be used to weigh items or even pets under 44 lbs. Unfortunately, we will not be weighing our Great Dane, Quinn, as she weighs in at a whopping 120 lbs. I am very excited to use this scale for my online business as well. We sell a variety of handmade and vintage items on Etsy and it helps my customers get a better idea of the item they are receiving when I include the weight. I can also use it to package items and estimate shipping costs by weight before heading to the local post office.

Interested in learning more about EatSmart products? Visit their website at Eatsmartproducts.com and be sure to check out their blog! You can also follow them on their social media platforms. They are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Thank you so much EatSmart, we love our scale!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Family Holiday Spirit

HOW TO OVERCOME HOLIDAY STRESS

December 1, 2017

Some of my subscribers recently reached out to me and suggested I write about this topic and I thought it was a great idea. The holidays are supposed to be fun, festive and full of family but unfortunately, that can come with a lot of stress! There are so many factors that can add to the stress. I am going to talk about some of those stressors and ways to overcome them.

Major Holiday Stressors

  1. Gift Giving
  2. Holiday Shopping
  3. Family
  4. Hosting

Gift Giving

Gift giving has always brought a little stress to my life. I LOVE giving gifts. It’s so much fun to watch someone open a gift from me and I know they love it! The hard part is, some people are hard to shop for. I have no idea what to get them. To me, gift giving is about putting effort and thought into the gift and showing that person you know them and care for them. In the past, my family has sent out links to exactly what each person wants. That isn’t as fun for me because I like the element of surprise. Check out my recent post on why I am not getting my family any material gifts for Christmas this year. If you have a special person in your life but it’s so hard to pick something out for them then try this:

  • Pay close attention throughout the year as you spend time with this person. Listen to see if they mention any new hobbies or interests and jot them down so you have some good ideas for the holidays. Don’t wait until the last minute and panic otherwise you will probably end up getting them a giftcard. (which is fine, but not as fun)
  • Ask yourself if you should actually be getting them a gift. Not to sound harsh, but maybe this is the type of person that says, “Don’t get me anything!” and they actually mean it. I know some people like that.

Another thing that I have heard people gripe about is, “Ugh, I have to get them something because they got me something.” Is that really true? Shouldn’t we always be giving with a cheerful heart? You work hard to earn money and you are going to go spend it on some random gift for a person you don’t want to give it to anyway? Seems odd to me! I guess I have never really been put in a situation where I receive gifts from people and feel obligated to return the favor but don’t want to. Please comment if you have a good story or suggestion about this!

Gift giving can be stressful if you have financial burdens. This year was very different for us because we had our first child. Along with a precious child comes endless expenses. A good percentage of our income now goes to daycare and we are still paying off hospital bills from Axel’s birth. It finally feels like we are getting caught up again and now the holidays are here! I was really stressed about it so I sat down with my husband and we started looking at our budget and figured out what was acceptable to spend this season. We have separate checking accounts but we do talk about these things together, a lot!

If you are starting to feel stressed about your holiday spending then stop and take a step back. Get a pen and paper or use Excel and write down your income and expenses for the next month. You may already have a budget but make a holiday specific budget. The end of the year is always a little different because you are likely spending more but you also may be receiving a holiday bonus. Come up with a spending amount you feel comfortable with, make your list of people to shop for and stay within the budget. Friends and family won’t get mad at you for not spending enough on them – at least they shouldn’t! If you have a significant other, discuss with them and come to an agreement.

Holiday Shopping

Don’t let holiday shopping crowds stress you out. The lines, parking lots, traffic and crowds are all nonsense. I either do a lot of my holiday shopping throughout the year or do a lot of online shopping. Don’t wait until the last minute and worry if your package will ship on time. Most shipping mistakes happen in December because of the high volume. It’s only December 1st and we already had two delayed packages this week (due to Cyber Monday madness).

Family

Family is another holiday stressor. Most everyone has their annoying family drama or that one person they don’t quite get along with. I recently asked one of my good friends how she handles family drama. She is my mentor at work and pretty much my all-around life mentor as well. She said, “I simply focus on the positive and enjoyable moments. I do my best to ignore the negative and not focus on that.” Now that is good advice!

It’s not always that simple. If you have a toxic family member that makes you feel insane then it is best to try to avoid being in that situation altogether. I have also heard from a couple friends that they gave their family a break for a few months because it was getting unbearable. Sometimes that separation is good and healthy. It can put things into perspective and actually bring you closer together.

I have a lot of feelings (my family is probably laughing as they read those words) and I am an over-communicator. If there is tension or conflict I want to address it and get it out of the way so everyone can move forward. That’s not always easy to do when people aren’t receptive. My advice to you is don’t let it build up and definitely don’t let it make you blow up over the holidays. You will end up looking like the crazy person. Always ask yourself if you could be doing something more to help the situation. Don’t always blame others!

My husband and I love our families. Sure, there can be a little drama at times but nothing we can’t overcome. We live a few hours from them which works well for us. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to be close but we are both independent creatures and we like our space. We like that we made this new city we live in, OUR home. My husband’s favorite thing to do is be at home relaxing with no plans. I love to make plans, see family and host. Not an issue. We compromise. During the holidays, we take some time at home to just relax with baby boy and the other time is spent with family. It’s a good balance and it works for us.

Holiday family time changes into something much different when children become adults and start having children of their own. My mom recently shared with me that she is so happy when all of her kids and grandkids are able to be together. This is hard to do when you are splitting the time between your family and your spouse’s family. It becomes difficult to coordinate a time that works for everyone. I sometimes worry if I am splitting my time fairly. This is a good lesson for me as a new mother. I will cherish all of my holidays with baby Axel because one day it won’t be the same but that’s okay. The time spent together and even the traditions change over the years, but one thing that remains constant is family. It’s okay to start new traditions. Don’t dwell on the fact that Christmas “just isn’t the same”. Enjoy the new moments you have and reminisce on the good memories you once had.

Hosting

There are lots of inconvenient things that can happen with hosting. I LOVE hosting! My husband doesn’t feel the same. But like I said, we compromise. Please be kind to your host and make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  1. Don’t show up unannounced – hosts do A LOT of planning to make it a pleasant time for their guests. Don’t stress them out by showing up last minute and making them feel like they may not have enough food and drinks
  2. Offer to bring something or help in some way
  3. Be respectful of their home – obviously
  4. Think before you speak – before you announce that the figgy pudding is too bland, don’t. That’s rude and your host put a lot of work into preparing the get together
  5. Don’t overstay your welcome like Uncle Eddie

Stress Remedies

As you go into this holiday season, remember what this time is all about and what it means to you. A little stress and chaos is bound to happen. Make sure you take some time to take care of yourself. Here are some easy and natural ways that help me to relax:

  • Take a bath with salts and lavender essential oil
  • Do some yoga or your favorite workout
  • Try some breathing exercises – deep/slow inhale and exhale
  • Listen to your favorite music (I love a good Christmas music station)
  • Do things that make YOU happy! This is not selfish. Many people have a busy holiday and find themselves trying to run around pleasing everyone. Sometimes it’s okay to do what you want to do. Check out my recent post on my MOM’S DAY OFF.
  • Make healthy eating decisions – it’s easy to overeat around the holidays which makes you feel lethargic. It’s okay to have some delicious cookies but limit yourself
  • Get good sleep so that you have energy and patience for the holiday chaos that awaits

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Family Holiday Spirit Shopping

CYBER MONDAY DEALS 2017

November 24, 2017

If you are worn out from the Black Friday maddness and you need some downtime then sit back and relax because Cyber Monday is right around the corner and you can continue your holiday shopping from the comfort of your couch. No crowds, no lines, no chaos. Just your favorite jammies and a warm cup of coffee.

My husband and I chose to go out and do a little Black Friday shopping at a reasonable hour since we have baby Axel this year and we didn’t want to disrupt his sleep schedule that we have been working so hard to get him on! I did miss going out Black Friday shopping with my mom and sisters. They live a few hours away so it didn’t work out this year but maybe next year. I have been thinking about Black Friday shopping at a deeper level lately as it seems the stores are getting a little out of control with the hours they are opened. It seems to be disrupting Thanksgiving family time.

Below is a list I compiled by category on some of the hottest Cyber Monday deals this season. These are items we own, our families own or items we intend on buying this holiday season. These are all found on Amazon. I did some price comparison with some other retailers that carry these items but they didn’t compare to Amazon. The next best thing I can think of is Kohls because you get all that lovely Kohls cash but the lines there around this time of year wear me out.

This list is organized by category which includes electronics, kitchen, baby, and pets. Everything has great reviews. I will continue to add to this list as I find more deals. Happy shopping!

Electronics

  1. Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White
  2. All-new Echo (2nd Generation) with improved sound, powered by Dolby, and a new design – Charcoal Fabric
  3. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player
  4. Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Black, Large (US Version)
  5. All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB, Black – with Special Offers
  6. Black Friday And Cyber Monday Clearance Sale & Deals Day 2017-Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug Outlet,Works with Alexa,No Hub Required,WiFi Smart Socket Outlet Remote Control, 2-Pack (Smart Plug 2 Pack)

Kitchen

Baby

  1. Graco Glider LX Gliding Swing, Affinia
  2. Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat, Coda
  3. Graco Roomfor2 Click Connect Stand and Ride Stroller, Gotham
  4. Graco Duetsoothe Swing + Rocker, Sapphire
  5. Graco Pack ‘n Play Sport Playard, Parkside

Pet

  1. The Original Elevated Pet Bed By Coolaroo – Large Brunswick Green
  2. Milliard 20in x 12in Pet Bed Warmer with Power Indicator On/Off Switch – Great for Keeping your Pets Warm
  3. BarksBar Original Pet Seat Cover for Cars – Black, WaterProof & Hammock Convertible (Standard, Black)
  4. MidWest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen, 24″W x 36″H
  5. Pawbo Life Wi-Fi Pet Camera: 720p HD Video, 2-Way Audio, Video Recording, Treat Dispenser, and Laser Game

I hope you all are having a stress free and wonderful holiday season so far. I am one of those crazy people that begged my husband to put up the Christmas lights already and I have been playing Christmas music. I am getting in the holiday spirit. Don’t stress about gift giving! Make a list of people to shop for and set a budget. Sometimes giving the gift of time is more than enough. Check out why I am not getting my family any gifts this Christmas.

When I think back of all the holiday family time, I don’t think about the gifts I received. I think about baking with my mom, funny memories with my siblings and always seeing my dad’s reaction when we opened a gift “from him”. He always seemed surprised because my mom (AKA Santa) did all the shopping. 😊

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Baby Family Motherhood Parenting Product Reviews

Wawita Baby Bottle – Product Review

November 21, 2017

I am very excited to share with all my fellow Mamas out there this new baby bottle I got from Wawita Baby Products. I am a first time mom and my little guy is five months old. He is just starting to hold up his bottle on his own during feedings, what a big boy! I am still nursing and just starting to add a tiny bit of rice cereal to his bottles because he has a good appetite.

When I was in the market for baby products, I was overwhelmed. There are so many products out there. What is safe and right for my baby? I remember standing in the bottle aisle at Target for several minutes with a blank stare. I was kind of hoping another mom would walk by and help me. I ended up doing some research and ordering a set of glass bottles online. These were nice but our daycare center told us it is a safety hazard if they were to drop and shatter. Boo.

Product Overview

It was like Christmas morning came early when I received our Wawita baby bottle in the mail! Keep in mind that I only promote products that I personally use and/or believe in. If I wouldn’t recommend the product to my family or bestie, then I am not going to recommend it to my readers. These bottles come in a variety of fun colors and you can choose the nipple flow. Funny story, I just learned about nipple flow sizes a few weeks ago when daycare told me Axel was spending a long time trying to finish his bottle. Poor baby had the smallest size. I had no idea that was a thing.

While I was on maternity leave I didn’t even want to think about bottles because I wanted to be the one that fed baby boy. I also thought that if he got used to a bottle then he wouldn’t want to nurse. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and having bottles available allows Daddy to do some feedings. This is good father/baby bonding time. Let Daddy help whenever he can and make sure to encourage him in his efforts. Daddy goes through a lot of new changes too!

Why Wawita Baby Products?

So, what makes Wawita baby bottles stand out among the rest? Here are a few reasons why you should snag one:

  • Made of shatterproof glass
  • Hot fluid technology – changes color if contents is too hot
  • BPA free
  • Wide neck nipple – anti colic system
  • Vacuum-free which simulates breastfeeding
  • Safe, lightweight & comfortable for baby or parent to hold
  • Leakproof – cap and lid secure tightly
  • Awesome color variety
  • Different nipple flow options available
  • GREAT PRICE
  • Available on Amazon Prime, yay!
  • They have a 5 star rating and fast shipping

Why does shatterproof glass matter? Some daycare providers won’t allow glass bottles as this can be a safety hazard. My daycare center will let me bring this Wawa bottle in since it is made from shatterproof, borosilicate material. I also appreciate the shatterproof aspect because my morning routine is a little chaotic these days and I am constantly dropping things. Being a mom has made me a bit clumsy. It’s not easy to get myself ready, eat breakfast, pack my work bag and breast pump, get Axel fed and ready for daycare, and leave the house all by 6:30am!

This hot fluid technology is AMAZING. I actually thought about this the first time I gave Axel a bath at home. I didn’t know how hot the water was supposed to be! I remember thinking, it would be cool if there was some color changing toy or device to help me know. So cool that they have this technology in a bottle!

Why should you care about BPA free? BPA stands for Bisphenol-A which is a chemical used in plastic manufacturing. This chemical very closely resembles the hormone estrogen and is not good for our system or baby’s system! Try to avoid it as much as you can.

The fact that they strategically designed this bottle to imitate breastfeeding makes me happy. As I mentioned earlier, I fear the day that baby boy no longer wants to nurse. I love feeding him and it’s our special bonding time. I don’t want him to get confused by using a bottle that is a much different feel and then he doesn’t want to come back to nursing. The less confusion the better! I am happy to say that Axel loves his new bottle and still loves nursing too – win!

All the other reasons I love this bottle speak for themselves. I even went to Amazon and read all the customer reviews. I even read that some people tried several of the big name bottle products out there and their little one loved Wawita the most.

FAQ

  • How do I know which nipple flow my baby needs?
  • Where are these products manufactured?
    • These are made offshore but are carefully inspected and packaged in the US to ensure safety and quality.

Other Happy Customers Share Why They Love Wawita:

This is the first glass bottle I have bought for my baby and I am very pleased with my purchase. The bottle is very easy to take apart and wash. I enjoy the feature that tells the temperature of the formula when is too hot because that way I can leave it on the counter for a few minutes and check on it after. Overall very satisfied with this bottle.” – Sara (October 24, 2017)

“I bought this bottle for my nephew and he loves it. He looks really cute with his blue bottle :). I like the design and the technology behind it. I would definitely recommend this bottle to friends and family.” – Kayla (October 16, 2017)

“I bought this baby bottle for my friend’s baby as a gift because I like that it is made out of glass and the color is really cute! My friend loves the feel of the bottle and says it is light weight and very easy to handle.” – RR (October 13, 2017)

“My wife and my son love this bottle. My little one is 16 months old and has been using Dr. Brown’s since he was born. We were tired of cleaning the extra parts so we decided to give this a try and we are glad we did. They are easy to clean, they don’t leak and I don’t need any extra parts when traveling. And the best of all is that is glass!” – Francis (October 16, 2017)

“This bottle is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been using plastic bottles for far too long and wanted to make the switch to glass but was worried that the weight would be too heavy for the baby. Pleasantly surprised with how light the bottle is. The nipple worked great for the flow of the formula and the bottle changes color when the formula is too hot for my baby, what a nice feature! I’m very happy with my purchase and will be making Wawa bottles my glass baby bottle preference.” – Michelle (October 13, 2017)

Check out more reviews here!

Interested in learning more about Wawita Baby Products?

Follow them on Instagram at wawitababyproducts

Check them out on Amazon:

 

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Family Holiday Spirit

IS BLACK FRIDAY INTERRUPTING THANKSGIVING FAMILY TIME?

November 19, 2017

I’ve been going out Black Friday shopping for years with my mom and sisters. We don’t care that much about the stuff. It’s more about a fun tradition to go out in the middle of the night, laugh at everything because we are way overtired and then go out for breakfast when the sun comes up. Over the last few years I have noticed a drastic shift in Black Friday.

I still remember years ago (2011) when Wal-Mart and a few other big retailers announced they would be opening their Black Friday deals starting at midnight. I thought to myself, wow that is technically still Thanksgiving Day – can they do that? Sure they can. After that, other big-name retailers wanted to compete. If they are selling the same hot items and getting customers in their store first, they are likely to make more sales. We always have a plan of making our rounds to at least five stores and give up after two because we are so tired!

In 2014, stores started opening around 5 or 6pm on Thanksgiving evening. That is when you are supposed to be taking your turkey nap! Avid shoppers will plan out their route according to what they want to get. Shoppers will gather all the flyers and make their game plan based on what they want and when the stores open. So as retailers compete with one another and try to meet consumer demand, this eventually brought us to stores opening Thanksgiving Day! This has negative impacts on both the consumers and retailers.

  1. Thanksgiving is already a busy day filled with family and feasts. If consumers are looking to snag that hot deal of the year they are likely to go out to wait in line which cuts into family time.
  2. Retail employees are bummed out because they have to work during this holiday madness instead of eating pumpkin pie! If the store opens at 5pm, they likely have to go in way earlier than that to make sure shelves are stocked and everything is ready for the mad rush.

Yes, I know that consumers have the choice and can/should prioritize family. And yes, retail employees can get different jobs with better hours. But the reality is parents want to get their kids that awesome new toy and somebody has to work the retail jobs.

So what can we do to change things?

  • Give Cyber Monday a try
  • Shop online
  • Don’t train your kids to expect the latest and greatest
  • Enjoy the Black Friday shopping during reasonable hours

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a newer concept within recent years. I’m not sure where it originated from but it seems like something Amazon created. This occurs the Monday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27th this year) and allows the online shoppers to snag all the hot deals. People who hate Black Friday and/or shopping in general, love this concept. It seems all the big retailers are getting on board with this and you will likely see commercials or emails very soon on the big upcoming deals.

Shop Online

I do not like shopping. It kind of exhausts me. With working full time, blogging part time and being a new mom, I am tired and the last thing I want to do is go out to the store. That’s why I LOVE online shopping all year round. Check out my recent post on 10 random and ridiculous gag gifts on Amazon. Online shopping is especially nice during the holidays because you can avoid the big holiday crowds and compare prices and items all from the comfort of your own home! If the number of consumers making online purchases continues to grow, there will be less of a need for retailers to be open on Thanksgiving day if there are very few customers coming in.

Avoid Excessive Materialism

If you buy your family the latest and greatest every Christmas, they will expect the same next year. Of course it’s a great feeling to see the huge smile on your child’s face as they open gifts but don’t over do it. Kids don’t need name brand everything. I remember getting teased when I was younger because I had some knock off brand tennis shoes and some kids pointed out to me that they weren’t the real Adidas tennis shoes. I remember thinking – why does it matter? It didn’t bother me too much. My parents raised me with lots of confidence. Help your children learn the value of money at a young age and help understand what really matters. My parents had me at a young age and I grew up with very little and I was one of the happiest kids around. My sister, who is a big time minimalist, keeps very little in her house and her two year daughter is always so content and full of joy. It goes to show that kids don’t need endless amounts of toys and things! What they really want is love, patience and attention. Sounds corny, but so true. Check out my post on why I’m not getting my family any Christmas gifts this year.

Enjoy Black Friday during reasonable hours

If we opt out of the Thanksgiving Day shopping, we can send a message to stores that we don’t accept this. If there aren’t enough customers coming through during these hours then they don’t have a reason to be open. You could think – oh, I’m just one person, it won’t make a difference. Take a close look at the items stocked at your local grocery store. Do you notice any difference from just a couple years ago? There are TONS of non-GMO and organic items on the shelf now, yay! This is because consumers became more knowledgeable about food and how it impacts our bodies. The consumer demand shifted and change happened. Companies that thrive pay attention to what their customers want.

Do you have any great Black Friday stories to share? I know I’ve shared this in other posts but my all-time favorite Black Friday shopping story: Many years ago, the remote-control Hummer was the big item. My mom directed my cousin, Katie, to go grab a couple while we stood in line for something else. For some reason, Katie grabbed from the bottom of the stack. All of a sudden we hear a huge crashing sound. Katie had single-handedly taken down the entire Hummer display – there had to have been over 50 of them. I remember laughing hysterically. She looked slightly embarrassed and yelled, “Jenga!” The employees weren’t too happy with us but it’s such a great story and it still makes me laugh.

If you are participating in Black Friday shopping this year, please be kind! Be nice to the employees and be considerate to fellow shoppers! Nobody needs to be tackled over the last door buster coffee maker. Calm down people, just have fun! 🙂

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Compassion Family

MY HERO WAS A HERO TO MANY – IN HONOR OF A GREAT VETERAN, MY FATHER

November 7, 2017

MUSHY FAMILY STUFF

I was a daddy’s girl growing up. My dad was always super fun and was always coming up with new games to play. He encouraged me to read and always be creative. At a young age, I remember saying only boring people get bored. My dad had a way of making everything so fun and I couldn’t understand when I would hear other kids say they were bored. I remember thinking there is never a reason to be bored and you can always find ways to have fun. He taught me that.

I felt like I could tell him anything. I asked him about God and I even asked him in 7th grade when I could start kissing boys. He went out and bought me a promise ring that week. On my wedding day, I kept it together the whole ceremony. I was relieved to make it to the reception without needing to touch up my makeup from crying. During the father daughter dance – I lost it. I was crying like a big baby. I lost it while we were dancing when he said, “You don’t need me anymore.” I cried because at the time I didn’t have an answer for him and part of me was wondering if he was right. Three years into marriage I can say with confidence that I don’t need him in the same ways that I used to but I will always need him in my life.

In everything I do I try to make him and my mom proud. The things he taught me growing up, I still use in my everyday life. He used to tell us not to use the words impossible or I can’t. I focused on that while I was in labor with my first child this year. I was so scared and feeling discouraged after hours of pushing. I finally started to focus my mind and told myself I can do this. And I did. Yes, it is true I now have another hero in my life – my husband. But a husband never replaces a dad.  I have room for two heroes.

MY DAD’S BACKGROUND

My dad enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1987. He was 18 years old and a newlywed. He had his first of four children two years after enlisting – me. My mother was a teenager, a newlywed, and a new mother, in a foreign country (Germany). She was all on her own while my dad was deployed. His assignments have taken him to Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Serbia. He remained on active duty until the late 90s and then transitioned into the National Guard and the US Army Reserves.

He has 25 years of service with the U.S. Army as a soldier and Army civilian. His other assignments have included:

  • Nuclear weapons guard
  • Police Officer
  • Sniper
  • SWAT Commander
  • Hostage Negotiator
  • Interrogator
  • Intelligence
  • Physical Security Inspector
  • Surveillance Specialist
  • Police Captain
  • Antiterrorism Officer

Some of his career highlights include:

  • Serving in Germany during the fall of the Berlin wall
  • Hunting war criminals in former Yugoslavia
  • Providing antiterrorism training to over 30,000 soldiers
  • Earning Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Earning master’s in Business Administration

Although this may seem like an “exciting” life, if you asked him what his greatest accomplishments are he would say the almost 30 years of marriage and his children and grandchildren.

A MESSAGE FROM BOSNIA

Last year, my mom received a message from a young woman in Bosnia. She was asking if she knew my father. My mom found it odd at first and was hesitant to respond but did.

The young woman responded with this:

“Hi there, This may sound extremely strange to you but I was wondering if your ( I’m assuming) husband was deployed to Bosnia ( camp McGovern) in 1996/1997? I am from Bosnia and I grew up there during the war. When Americans came for the peacekeeping mission my family and I met this soldier who would come and visit us with his buddies and an interpreter once in a while. If that was your husband I just wanted to thank him for restoring our faith in humanity and for protecting the very fragile peace in my country. He has left such an impression on my family and myself back then ( I was 13 years old.) Because of him as well as the other American soldiers I was once again able to walk the streets of my hometown without running for cover from sniper fire or mortars landing around me. For some reason, whenever the soldiers would come to visit my family we felt protected. We haven’t felt safe or protected for years before that. I have no idea what kind of an impression my country made on him, I hope it wasn’t all bad. I really hope I am not coming off as strange or insulting. I just wanted to say thanks to a soldier who made a difference.”

– Irma

When I heard about this, it brought me to tears. To know that my dad, my hero, made such an impact in peoples’ lives. It made me think about everything he has gone through and the huge sacrifices he has made, not just for our family, but for our country. What an amazing thing that he brought some level of peace and comfort to innocent people who don’t feel safe in their own villages or countries. What an astounding thing that decades later, this woman is still thinking about the kind things the soldiers did for them. Incredible. I wish there were more of these stories on the news.

This message gives me goosebumps every time I read it. Just the words she uses about restoring our faith in humanity makes me emotional. With so much terror and hate in the world – those are big words to use. To think my dad, the silly and fun guy that raised me, left that kind of impression and this woman took the time to reach out so many years later is unbelievable. I’m sure this is one of many impacts he made.

I was old enough to remember the times he was deployed. I remember being very sad and missing him. My mom would help me write him letters. At one point, he was gone for a full year. That’s hard on a family. To me, this message from Bosnia makes it all worth it. I can share my hero.

THANK A VETERAN

When you thank the Veteran’s this week, please take a moment to try and comprehend how much they really do and how these sacrifices affect them. For 27 years, I didn’t really think too much into the details (I was scared to go there). But this letter from Bosnia made me think and gave me a deep appreciation. These are some of the things I thought about:

  • Being deployed and away from your spouse and children for MONTHS
  • Being in dangerous situations and risking your life
  • The added stress of everything
  • The physical toll on the body – many are permanently impacted
  • Mental impacts – PTSD and Depression
  • Career after the military? What does that look like?

This Veteran’s day, and every day, I would like to honor all of the men and women who make these sacrifices for our country. Thank you for all that you do.

And to my favorite Veteran, my dad, thank you for the sacrifices you have made for this country, for our family and for me. People like you make this country a great place to live and you will always be my hero.

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