Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sweet Dreams, Little Man

Dragon tales and the water is wide
Pirate's sail and the lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

The rocket racers all tuckered out
Superman is in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless daddy and thanks for the stars
God hears "Amen," wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, littlte man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

Lyrics: Dixie Chicks

Monday, August 26, 2013

Liebster Award

I am beyond excited to have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Letters to Baby MC. Mama MC and I went to high school together in Belgium but have stayed connected (thanks Facebook!) over the years. She is a beautiful mama and superwoman with an amazing blog. Thanks for nominating me, you made my day!

Here are the rules!

Acknowledge the nominating blogger.

Share 11 random facts about yourself.

Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

List 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers (as best you can).

Post 11 questions for them to answer.

Let all bloggers know that they've been nominated!

11 Facts about Me:

I was born and raised in The Netherlands for 12 years. I lived in Italy for 1 year and then Belgium for 5 before moving to the U.S. for college.

Love me or hate me but I’m a Patriots/Red Sox/Bruins fan.

I ran the Marine Corps Marathon.

I am obsessed with calendars/planners. I used to buy at least 4 a year…until I discovered Erin Condren and Emily Ley! Now I'm down to 2 - one for me and one that keeps the whole family organized!

If I ever hit the lottery big time, I wouldn’t quit my job. But I would buy a lot of shoes. And bags. And party supplies. And crafts.

I love the smell of rain at the end of a hot summer day.

I like things to be in multiples of five. It really bothered me that my children were born on the 8th and 12th of the month not the 10th and 15th! (And it really bothers be that everything for Liebster is 11, not 10!)

Nuts added to baked goods really ruins it for me.

My closest family member lives several states away. The next closest (my parents) live in Germany. I hate it.

I love Ribs. And Country Music. I especially love tailgating at a country concert and eating ribs!

My dream is to be surprised with a trip to Bermuda one day (hint, hint, hubby!)

11 questions from Mama MC:

Why did you start and how long have you been blogging?

I created a website and starting blogging in 2010 when Addie Mae was born as a means of sharing pictures and special moments with our friends and family who live all over the U.S. and Europe. When Mason was born in January 2013 I changed my web host and made the blog available to the public as a means of reaching out and connecting with women and fellow bloggers to build community and support for one another. Blogging, to me, is fun and serves as a creative venue for me and I've connected with some amazing people.

What keeps you motivated to stay consistent in posting?

Blogging is one of my hobbies but I also want to see my blog continue to grow and expand to more and more readers. I have to be consistent with my posts if I want my readers to continue coming back.  There are times though when I have writer’s block so I always try to have a few posts written in advance that can be shared at any time.

What is your favorite thing to write about?

My sweet little loves, of course, and my experiences as a mama! But, I also love writing about and sharing pictures of fun parties, crafts and DIY projects. My blog isn’t just for moms.

Who is one person you are extremely thankful for right now?
My Peapod Pick-up man…he brings my pre-ordered groceries right to my car, puts them in my trunk and I drive away. My kiddos stay in their car seats and “shopping” is done in less than 5 minutes. It is a beautiful thing.

The book first or the movie first?

Most definitely the book.

What is your favorite sport (to watch or play)?

My husband has gotten me pretty hooked on hockey but my all time favorite is football. One of my favorite memories growing up was staying up super late to watch the Super Bowl with my dad (we lived overseas so kick-off was usually around midnight!).

What is your favorite high school memory?

Oh geez, just one? I’m breaking this rule and listing a few. I’d say running Cross Country & Track with the most amazing team ever, our senior class Hemingway trip to Paris, fries at the Pizza Bowl, and Mr. T’s psychology class!

M&M’s or Skittles?

Chocolate trumps all other types of candy.

What is one thing you would have on your bucket list?

Travel all 50 states (I've got Europe pretty much covered). 

What is your favorite part of the day?

I know the PC answer is when I am off work and picking up the kiddos. Those are the best hugs every! But, I'm not going to lie, I really enjoy the second I'm done with my workout. It feels good knowing that it is done and out of the way for the day. 

Describe yourself in two words.

My husband just said I was passionate and uncompromising. I told him I'm just always right :)

 Bloggers I Nominate:

I tried my best to create a list of blogs that I follow that have less than 200 followers, according to Bloglovin. 

Team Kelly - A great blog started by one of my besties in honor of her brother who was KIA in Afghanistan.

Inked in Glitter - My friend Sam just posted her very first blog post the other day. She is so creative and stylish (I wish she could dress me up every day!). Show her some love!

My Love For Words - Emily and I recently connected after commenting on the same blog post. I was so excited to meet her and am looking forward to collaborating with her in the future. 

Birds & Lillies - I discovered this blog just the other day when the author started following me on Twitter. Her most recent post, "We've Got Time" really hit home.

One Beet - Zoe's blog is full of yummy recipes that are super healthy!

Tenaciously Sweet - A blog about living with diabetes. 

The Babbling Brooke - Great stories of motherhood. Brooke really writes from the heart. She is a beautiful mommy and amazing woman!

And two blogs I discovered today through a link up party: Gloriously Made and Enjoying the Life

11 Questions for Bloggers I Nominated:

1. What is one TV show that you absolutely cannot live without?

2. What is your favorite flavor ice cream? 

3. How many hours of sleep do you average per night?

4. If you won millions in the lottery what is the first thing you would buy?

5. What 3 wardrobe pieces are your favorite?

6. If you could choose a super power what would it be? 

7. What is your favorite memory from elementary school?

8. What would be your dream vacation?

9. What song is stuck in your head right now?

10. If you had to choose another first name, what would it be?

11. Do you prefer books or magazines? 

This was a lot of fun! I'm looking forward to seeing the answers from the bloggers I nominated should they choose to participate!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Balancing Act

 Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave
Part V: Balancing Act

"Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and 
paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some." 

Robert Fulghum

As if adjusting to having a little one in your life isn't enough now it is time to go back to work. Suddenly, you feel like your life has become one giant juggling act. 

Sean and I pre-babies. I had no idea at the time how EASY my days were!

I found that when I returned to work I was faced with having to pick & chose what I could & couldn't do. And that frustrated me to no end. I could cook dinner, get the house picked up and kids to bed but not get my workout in. When  I successfully made it to the gym that meant dinner probably ended up being a bowl of Cheerios and the laundry would sit in a pile unfolded. I was exhausted. Depressed. Eventually, though I did figure it all out and, if I do say so myself, I became an expert juggler. We're talking circus worthy juggler, folks! Don't be fooled though...I can juggle it all almost all of it, and I have found my balance, but that doesn't change the fact that my day is still a crazy circus routine! I still make "sacrifices" each day (sadly, I no longer go on Pinterest every day) but I also stick to my rituals and routines so that I have time for creating memories with my little loves. We've been known to break out in family dance parties at least three times a week, spontaneously swing by the craft store to pick up supplies to build a fairy house, and on occasion make breakfast (or serve ice cream) for dinner! And there are also nights where I throw it all out the window and we just snuggle on the couch. Dishes stay in the sink, teeth don't get brushed, and we all fall asleep together. I'm still exhausted most days, but my little loves are my motivation to do it all over again the next day. 

And like any great circus act there are days that don't go as planned. And that's okay. In fact, it's normal! Tomorrow is another "show." You get a do-over. It gets easier each day and eventually you will realize that you are your baby's super mom and you can do it all almost all of it! It's all about balance, rearrangement and prioritizing. You also have to give yourself time to adjust; mentally, physically and definitely emotionally!  

Sean and I with our crazy, goofy, chaotic, happy family. Wouldn't trade it for a thing!

It is important to find balance between home and work too. Personally, I have to give my family 100% when I'm home. At work, same thing. Otherwise, I would end up half you-know-what-ing both and that's not fair to my family or my job. I love them both too much to let either one down. When I have to bring work home I wait until my sweet babies are fast asleep. You have to find what works for you...your balance. Your priorities. 

I hope you were able to find something out of this series helpful - or at least comforting to know that you're not alone! Best of luck as you go back to work.  You got this mama. Just remember to Keep Calm & Mommy On!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daycare Drop Off

Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave
Part IV: Daycare Drop Off

The time has come. You've been dreading this day since your sweet little love was born. Whether you are dropping your baby off at daycare, you have a sitter/nanny, or a family member to leave them with, the first day apart is the worst. 

First day back at daycare at Ms. Suzanne's after a nice summer vacation in 2011 
(There were no pictures taken on her first day in 2010 for obvious reasons!)

What? Did you expect me to sugar coat this? 

Expect lots of tears. Expect an unbearable pain in your heart. Expect moments of self-doubt. Expect the day to go by slow. Expect everyone you work with to ask the same three questions over, and over, and over again...

How is the baby?

Do you have pictures of the baby?

Where is the baby?

If your little one is home with a family member or sitter don't hesitate to call and check in as needed. Totally normal. As the days (or sometimes weeks) go by you'll get more comfortable with the distance. Until you are, do whatever you  need to do to make it through the day. If you are fortunate enough to have a job where you are close enough to visit your little one during your lunch break, go for it! If not, use Face Time or Skype. If your little one is at an in-home daycare or larger facility take comfort in the fact that your little one will be making so many great friends. Addie and her best bud Dylan met at just 3 months. Dylan's mama (Emily) and I are so sad that they will be going their separate ways next month for preschool & elementary school...but we're excited that they'll be back together again for middle and high school. We'll just have to plan a lot of play dates between now & then!   

Above: Addie & Dylan approx. 6 months old

Below: Addie & Dylan 3 years old

Sorry to say, but it doesn't get any easier with the second baby either. 

Bottom line, brace yourself. Pack lots of tissues and if possible connect with other moms (and dads!) at work who know what you are going through. You can do this! 

Moms - share your first day back at work story below or on Facebook! 

Join the Conversation:

Be sure to subscribe via email or Bloglovin (the heart icon) and you'll never miss a post. 
Stay tuned, there's more coming:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rituals & Routines

Going Back to Work after Maternity
Part III: Rituals & Routines

Going back to work whether it is after your first born, second born...or fourth, is a dramatic change in a woman's life. For someone like me who needs order and structure it was especially difficult to balance home and work until I was able to establish some daily rituals and routines. This doesn't work for everyone. Some mamas are the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. I admire you and your ability to make decisions as you go. But, if you are like me and function better with a "plan" then read on. 
rit . u . al 

noun: consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order

Establishing daily rituals during the work week allows me to have more quality time with my little loves. There are three that I stick to no matter what. 

1. Morning Ritual: Take at least five minutes for some snuggle time with your little one(s). It is the best way to start your day. There are mornings when snuggle time runs a little longer and cuts into getting ready for work, but that is okay (that is what the dry shampoo is for!). For my oldest morning snuggles also consists of talking about what is on the agenda for the day, "the plan" as we call it. I tell Addie that "mommy gets to go to work today" and "you get to play with your friends at Ms. Suzanne's!" Then I ask her what she'd like to do when I pick her and Mason up. Her typical response, "I want to come home and play with dolls with you." You got it kiddo! With Mason our snuggle time is also when I feed him and rub his baby head and sing him songs and whisper stories in his ear. I want to savor as many of his baby moments as I can. 

2. Afternoon Ritual: When I get home I quickly change out of my work clothes and give my undivided attention to Addie & Mason. I switch my phone on silent, ignore the pile of mail, and resist the urge to turn on the TV. For one whole hour I play. I roll around on the floor, dress up dolls, stack buckets and build with blocks. Everything else can and does wait. 

3. Evening Ritual: Tub time takes place immediately after dinner every night. Some mamas choose to bathe every other night or so. You'll have to find what works best for you. I put my kids in the tub every night but usually only wash hair etc. every other night. The warm water mixed with some lavender is calming and starts the process of getting ready for bed. Next up we put on PJs, brush teeth, and hop into bed with some stories. I let Addie pick 2 books every night and I pick 1 (she'll choose the same books every night for 2 weeks...I like to add a little variety!). We all snuggle up together and talk about our day. I love how Addie recaps what she spent the whole day doing. It usually entails what it was she ate for lunch and what she and her friend Dylan played with. Mason follows along with our conversation, his big blue eyes starting up at whoever is talking. After story time and some more snuggles it is lights out for the kiddos. (Side note: I'm usually feeding Mason while reading the stories to Addie). 
rou . tine

noun: a sequence of actions regularly followed

So how do you spend quality time with your children but also get everything crossed off of your to-do list? That is where your daily routine comes in. Again, every mama's routine is going to vary. Find what works for you but hopefully this is a good starting point.

1. Morning Routine: There isn't one. Accept it. Embrace it. Move on. My kiddos each wake up at different times on different days. Every now and then I luck out, they both sleep in, and I am able to shower, do my hair & eat breakfast before they wake up. Usually, one of them is waking me up and I'm trying to keep that one quiet and contained while simultaneously getting myself ready. The one thing I try and do each day is squeeze in my workout before they both wake-up. I'd say 3 or 4 days out of the work week I luck out. The other 1 or 2, well, like I said...accept it. Embrace it. Move on. 

2. Afternoon Routine: Once our afternoon ritual (minimum one hour uninterrupted playtime) is over both kiddos are usually pretty content and will play or entertain themselves independently. This is a very small golden window of opportunity! Seize it! This is when I make dinner, sort mail, check messages and take care of the small to-do items on my list. 

3. Evening Routine: I don't even attempt to do dishes, laundry, or start my cleaning regimen until both kiddos are fast asleep. Remember, from Monday - Friday its all about maximizing quality time with your sweet little ones. The most important part of my evening routine is packing my lunch (and breakfast!) for the next day, setting out my clothes, and loading my car with my work bag, kids daycare bag, etc. Second most important part of my evening routine? A glass of wine, my laptop and perhaps a show off my DVR. 

Having rituals keeps me grounded and provides quality time with my kiddos during the work week. I remain functioning and still manage to keep the house clean, get dinner on the table, pay bills, blog and enjoy some time to myself with my routines

Let's be realistic though. No matter what you've established as your daily rituals and routines there will always be a day or two, or more that you have to throw your plan out the window and just tend to your little one. That is okay. Tomorrow is a new day. Keep calm & mommy on. 

What are your rituals & routines? New mama, veteran mamas, working mamas or stay at home mamas...spill the beans and share your secrets in the comments below.

Join the Conversation:

Be sure to subscribe via email or Bloglovin (the heart icon) and you'll never miss a post. 
Stay tuned, there's more coming:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Working Mama Essentials

Going Back to Work after Maternity
Part II: Working Mama Essentials 

You've probably got enough baby gear to last you a lifetime. But do you have everything you need before going back to work? Here are a few things that I cannot live without:

1. A travel mug for your morning mojo like this one from Crate & Barrel.

2. No one will ever know you've been up all night with Benefit's Erase Paste. A small dab under my eyes in the morning literally erase the bags away! 

3. Invest in a frame (or two, or three) to put pictures of your little love in to take to work with you. Target has tons to choose from at reasonable prices.

4. I keep a neutral colored cardigan at work that will work with just about any outfit. Between the time you leave the house in the morning, drop off the babe at daycare and get to work you are bound to get spit up on you at some point. Cardigans, like this one from The Loft, make great cover ups. 

5. Dry Shampoo will become your best friend. Some mornings will seem easy-peasy and others will be so overwhelmingly frantic that cutting out a 15-30 minute (or more) hair routine will get you to work on time while still looking fabulous. My favorites are Beyond the Zone (available here) and Batiste, recommended to me by my friend Sam (available here). 

6. Invest in a nice pair of flats (like these) that you can slip into before and after work. I find it is much easier to balance the kiddos, bags, travel mugs and more when I have two level feet on the ground. I actually keep my heels at work. In the winter time my flats change to boots. 

7. Splurge a little and buy yourself something pretty to hang up at work that serves as a reminder at how amazing you are as a woman and a mama, like this print from Pearls & Pastries. I just ordered the "Let's Always Be Fancy" and "I love you more than Target & Starbucks" print...couldn't be more appropriate for me! Thanks again, Sam, for sharing this fabulous Etsy shop with me!

What products or supplies are essential for you? Leave a comment and share!

Be sure to subscribe via email or Bloglovin (the heart icon) and you'll never miss a post. 
Stay tuned, there's more coming up this weekend:

Preparing for the Inevitable

Going Back to Work after Maternity Leave
Part I: Preparing for the Inevitable

Part I of this series is all about preparing to go back to work. For both of my little loves it was an emotional and physically daunting experience. Every mom's experience is different because our babies are different, our bodies are different, our jobs are different and our circumstances are different. Hopefully my experience, and that of other moms who choose to comment and share their insight on the blog, will help another mama who is getting ready to go back to work herself. There are five mamas in particular that I am thinking about as I write this post - all of whom are going back to work this month. Not a mama? Share this with a special woman in your life that might appreciate the discussion or pin it for yourself for later! 

3-6 Months Before Going Back to Work

You'll want to start planning and making arrangements for who is going to provide care for your little love while you are at work. This is usually a conversation you begin to have while still expecting. If your partner or family member is unable to provide care you'll want to start researching daycare (both facilities & in-home) and/or nannies. Aside from finding someone that you trust your sweet baby with the next big factor is cost. Where do you start? Ask other mom's that you are connected with either through work or friends where they take their kiddos and you're guaranteed to get a few great leads. How do you know if it is the right fit? You know how they say you know which wedding dress is "the one" when you try it on.? Well, for me, it was the same way with daycare. I went with the woman whom I immediately felt a connection with and who I knew would love my baby as much as I do.

The only other thing you should be doing during this time is soaking up every available minute you have with that sweet baby of yours. Let work go. You have a more important job now. 

1 Month Before Going Back to Work

Most of my maternity leaves were spent in yoga pants, a nursing tank and sloppy bun on top of my head. Once you've got the clearance from your doctor you'll want to start thinking about making exercise a part of your daily routine. Trying to workout once you are back at work is challenging. However, if you are already in the habit of working out before you return to your place of business you are more likely to stick with it and keep up with your routine. I did a great job of this with Addison. Not so much with Mason. But, I'm using the more relaxed schedule I have during the summer time to kick-start my fit routine so that once the school year is in full swing I"m already committed to working out. 

If you are nursing and haven't already done so you'll want to invest in a breast pump if you are going to continue to nurse while working. Before you purchase one check with your insurance company as many of them will cover the expense. I registered for one and received it at my baby shower for Addison but I also elected to get the one insurance covered from the hospital. I left one at home and one at the office. That helped make it less of a production each day. Instead of adding a backpack to my work bags I just put clean bottle and parts needed in a little ditty bag. 

Now is also a good time to start setting aside the money you'll need each week for daycare. Pretend like you have to pay it and put into a different account, such as savings, or take the cash out and keep in an envelope at home. This will a) get you used to the change in your finances and b) allow you to have a "slush fund" for a rainy day. Paying for daycare is a huge adjustment for many families. Having a little bit set aside ahead of time solely for this purpose will ensure that you never miss a payment for daycare. 

2 Weeks Before Going Back to Work

If you are in fact going to continue nursing you'll want to start working on building up your supply of frozen milk. Try pumping a little after each feeding. Remember those tatas work on supply & demand so don't worry about "running out" of milk for your little one. Be sure to label the milk with the date pumped and store in the back of your freezer (not the door). 

It was also helpful for me to start pumping during the hours that I would be at work. It helped me figure out a schedule of times that I knew I would have to pump and to determine how much my little loves would need while I was away. 

5-7 Days Before Going Back to Work

Check in with your employer. You don't want to walk in the first day and be in over your head so take an hour or two to either call or stop by to catch up on the latest so you are ready to go when you get back. Bringing the baby in is an added bonus because everyone loves a babe (plus then you have an excuse to leave and won't get roped in for too long!). This would be a good time, if nursing, to discuss with your employer when you'll need to be excused to pump. If you are uncomfortable approaching your boss with this topic try talking to the next female in line (that's me for the ladies I work with) or just saying something along the lines of, "I'm going to continue nursing when I return to work. I'll need to be away from my desk/phone/classroom/counter/etc from time to time." If you're truly that uncomfortable discussing it I think it is perfectly acceptable to do so via email. Just make sure you know you're rights! And, no pumping in the bathroom!

By now you're really starting to feel sad, anxious, maybe even a little apprehensive, about your maternity leave coming to an end. Totally normal. It is also normal if part of you is a  little excited to be going back to work. I know that with Mason part of me was really looking forward to adult interaction, daily showers and wearing my heels! This is a good time to do a "test run" with your daycare or sitter. Pick a date and time that works for both of you and drop your sweet one off for a few hours. Take that time to get a mani/pedi, buy a new back to work outfit (you deserve it), or just use the time to clean up the house and get yourself organized. Whatever you do, make sure it is special YOU time. 

2-3 Days Before Going Back to Work

The day is getting closer and closer. With both of my babies I found it really helpful to start setting my alarm a few days before I had to be back at work. I set it for the time I thought I needed to rise & shine to get ready in time for work. You'll want a few practice runs so that you can get the timing down right  - although always be prepared for anything. As you know, babies are unpredictable! Practicing for a few days ahead of time will cut down on the chaos for when you officially make your return. 

If your baby isn't staying at home be sure to swing by daycare with a supply of diapers, ointment & wipes, frozen breast milk and/or formula, 2-3 change of clothes and any other supplies or items that your baby will need or is required of you. This will save you from having to lug it all out to your car on your first day back. 

My other suggestion is to do a big grocery shopping trip and make about 3-5 meals that freeze well. Trust me, these will come in handy on those days/nights that you just don't have the time to make a meal. (When your frozen meal supply drops to 1, time to make some more!). Pinterest is a great source of freezer friendly  meals that are also satisfying and healthy! 

The Day Before Going Back to Work

The laundry will still be there when you get home tomorrow. Pack your lunch (unless you eat out & buy) and pack your work bag first thing in the morning so that all you have to do tomorrow is grab it and go. If you are taking your baby somewhere for daycare you'll want to make sure all of their essentials are packed and ready to go to. Text your best work buddy and ask him/her to be ready with a box of tissues. Seriously. And finally, spend the rest of the day with your family. Snuggle all day long. 

The Night Before Going Back to Work

Lay out your outfit for the next day then go and stare at your baby while he or she sleeps. Soak it all in. Then, remind yourself that you are an amazing mama who is working hard to provide for your family. You are a role model. You are that little love's super hero. 

For you mamas who have done this all too, what helped you? What would you suggest? What didn't help? Leave your support in the comment section on the blog.

Liked this post? There's more to come! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Going Back to Work

The joy and excitement of motherhood can come to a screeching halt when you wake up one morning with your little love lying next to you and realize that in just a few more days you'll have to get up and go back to work. For me it was the biggest challenge as a new mom - both emotionally as well as physically. 

Addison was an early June baby and I was still teaching at the time so I was fortunate enough to have three full months off with her before I had to go back to work. With Mason I could only take 10 weeks off. I can't even imagine how you mamas with only 6 weeks (or less, yikes!) did it. 

Join me for a 5 part series on going back to work after maternity leave. To make sure you don't miss a post make sure you subscribe via email on the blog or through Bloglovin (click the heart icon on the homepage) and please share with your mama friends! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lucky No. 7

I am happy to report that I am on time with this month's picture shoot! Mason is officially a sitter and a crawler. I'm in trouble! Addie didn't start crawling until about 10 1/2 months and even then it was only a little butt scoot & slide motion that didn't really get her too far. She was walking on her own around 13 1/2 months. I have a feeling that this little man is going to give me a run for my money and will be walking by Thanksgiving! 

I am falling more and more in love with my sweet little man every day. He is such a little snuggle bug and starting and ending my day with Mason cuddles are simply the best! 

Outfit Details: Elephant & Top Hat T-Shirt from Children's Place / Dungarees from Children's Place

Outfit Details: White Onesie from Carters / Blue & Green Rhino Shorts from Carters (Similar Here)  
"Oh Sew Handsome" Monthly Belly Stickers from Buy Buy Baby 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cancer Sucks. This Mom Rocks!

I am so honored today to be able to introduce you to supermom Heather Von St James. When her sweet daughter, Lily, was just a few months old Heather was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Leaving her newborn baby with her parents she flew across the country to Boston for treatment at the Brigham and Women's Hospital. She went through an insanely intense treatment while here in Beantown but returned home healthy & cancer free! Her story is one of hope, inspiration and determination. Cancer sucks. There's no other way to describe it. It has affected us all in some capacity or another. But after getting to know Heather I find I have more faith and more hope. Faith in finding a cure. Hope that the ones we love will continue to have the strength to fight the fight and beat cancer. 

Heather is a symbol of strength & determination to all of us mamas. It is so easy to get discouraged and downhearted. Hey, no one said being a mama was easy! Read her story and explore her blog. I think you'll agree that you'll find all the strength, support and motivation you need to get through your own battle - be it big or small. Remember, keep calm & mommy on!

Here is Heather's story and message of hope, in her own words:

“At last, I finally felt ready to become a mother. When I found out I was pregnant, I was determined that there would be no surprises.  Therefore, I prepared myself through reading all the books I could find, ate the right foods, and saw the right doctors. I dreamt about how my life would soon revolve around my new baby. After nine months of patiently waiting, Lily was born and I truly believed that I was the luckiest mother in the world.

Nothing could have prepared me for the news I received just 3 ½ months after giving birth to Lily.  My doctor diagnosed me with pleural mesothelioma. The fact that it was a cancer diagnosis was bad enough, but what really hit hard was the mesothelioma prognosis.  In my mind it was a death sentence. My doctor advised me that without immediate treatment, I might only have 15 months left to live. I was determined to do whatever it took to beat this and raise my daughter.

My husband and I settled on Boston as a source of great medical care for mesothelioma treatment. That meant that I had to leave my baby 1200 miles behind during treatment for an entire month where doctors removed my lung as well as the lining of my heart and diaphragm. The rest of my treatment, chemotherapy and radiation, took up the remainder of Lily's first year. My parents provided Lily with some normalcy while I was fighting for my life. Luckily, I was blessed with a caring husband who supported me in the greatest time of need.

When I finally got back home, Lily and I took walks together and played outside. We went to the park and had mother-daughter dates when I had the energy. It was a special time as we reconnected, shared our love and enjoyed our time together. I realized just how lucky I really was to have someone like her in my life.

It has been eight years since our daughter was born and it feels as though nothing has changed. Our love still continues to grow everyday. Cam and I consider us to be the luckiest parents in the world. Lily is growing into a beautiful, intelligent girl brimming with optimism and full of joy. She knows what we as a family endured and knows we love her dearly. Although she may not remember her first year, I will never forget that time.

In retrospect, my experience with mesothelioma cancer was a frightening experience but we are now able to see all the positives that came of such a dire situation. We have drawn closer together as a family and never take anything for granted. I hope that by sharing my story, it will inspire those in need of hope and let them know that you are not alone.”


To learn more about Mesothelioma and Heather's journey go here

If you, or someone you know, is a rocking super mom send an email to keepcalmmommyon(at)gmail(dot)com for a chance to be featured. I've already got some ideas brewing for a monthly gig! (And by the way - if you are a mom, then you're a rocking super mom. No other qualifications needed!)

Monday, August 5, 2013

6 Months Old

How is it that half of a year has already gone by since my sweet baby boy was born? I'm a little late posting these (put they were taken on time!) seeing as he is almost 7 months - but that just means less time until the next photo shoot is up!

And you know how much I love baby feet...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Playroom Tent

I am really loving the latest addition to the playroom scene that I keep seeing all over Pinterest. I have been thinking of making my own but can't decide whether or not to do a gender neutral one for both kiddos down in the playroom or a girly-girl one for Addie's room that can double as a reading nook (another trend I've been eyeballing on Pinterest). Here are a few from Pinterest that have really caught my eye:

It's the lucky child that has this room.

teepee and globe lights

pink teepee

tee pee idea- not as fancy though!


I really like the added affect of the white string lights on the last photo. I've seen sewing patterns in the local fabric store but I'm thinking I can probably just whip something up on my own. Looks like another project in the near future!