SUMMER LOVIN'

Wow, it's finally the last week of summer before school officially begins over here!
Where did our summer go?! I didn't realize how busy we were until it was time to finally start buying school supplies this past weekend. I guess time sure flies by when you're having fun! Our family went on a road trip to California, where we spent a couple of weeks there with family. It was sure an adventure, especially traveling through the beauty that is Colorado (seriously I can not stop gushing about the Rocky Mountains), but a vacation for the books.
So many other fun memories were made this summer, but in general, it's been a relaxing one for all of us! But this mom is ready for three bored children to head back to school.. I *might* also be ready for the holidays already! ;)
Enjoy some photos from our trip!
Hope you all had a wonderful summer vacation!
<3

WHAT'S HAPPENING: MAKING MOM FRIENDS



The end of my children's school year is quickly approaching, which means I can no longer ignore my PTA duties as the final activities pop up. I actually don't mind volunteering at their school, thanks to it being a smaller school it feels like one big family there. Also, I'm totally one of those moms who likes to know who my children's friends are to make sure I actually know who they are talking about when they tell these crazy stories. But there are other aspects to volunteering that I actually hate.

LIFE LATELY

Life has been a bit busy for us lately.
When I go back and think of the past month it seems as if we haven't been doing much, but somehow we have managed to stay extremely busy. . . Life with three little ones manages to do that I suppose.
After a rough few months, I've finally reached the end of the tunnel and feel more like myself as the days continue to pass. I know everyone always says it takes time to move on from pain and heartbreak, and at the time it always feels as if that person just doesn't understand.. But the truth is that it does take time. You just have to take it one day at a time and try your hardest to discover the love for the new you. Now that all the pain and anger have passed, I feel nothing but grateful for these last few months. I'm thankful that I can take all that my father's passing taught me and be a better version of who I was before, which brings me back to where we are in our lives now.
I've allowed myself to simplify a bit.

THE LAST TIME

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This year will be the last time I send a kid off for their first day of Kindergarten.
My youngest will be starting summer school to help with his transition into class in the fall. Although I am thankful that our school district offers this. . . I just wish my baby could stay home for a little bit longer.

THIS IS ME



"My identity is me, but it is also my family.
Now, as a mom, I feel like I'm experiencing a part of my own life that I can't remember."


I saw the above quote while scrolling through Facebook yesterday, and I wish I could find where it came from but I couldn't. So, I'm sorry that I couldn't link it back to the correct source..

It's such a cliche to tell you how much I love quotes, but it's true. When I find a quote I truly relate to and understand, there is a sense of hope that surrounds me.. and this particular quote hit home with me. I've written a post in the past about how being a mother has always been enough for me, and for the most part I still feel that way. As I'm getting older and my children are becoming more independent there is a part of me that is becoming more of my own person though. I'm not just living in my children's shadows anymore.

For the past seven years all I've done is raised three small children - back to back - and felt as if that was all I'd ever do in my life. I didn't think I'd have the time or the energy to truly discover who I was. I didn't even have the time or energy to care what others thought about me anymore, or have the strength to be someone I wasn't, or have time to put care into relationships that were already broken. All of that showed me just how much I wore a mask on top of who I truly was and I didn't even realize it. I never realized how becoming a mother had stripped me of that mask, and allowed me to become more of myself without me even noticing. I guess I always thought I had to go to college and get drunk and make mistakes to find myself, but was I wrong. . .

Now - my children are older, doing more things on their own, and I feel like I'm meeting someone within for the very first time.

Becoming a mother has allowed me to remember the little girl I once was, before life became complicated and painful. The girl who was full of hopes and dreams. The girl who thought the world was such a magical world to live in. I see myself in my children every day and it is something special. I see how driven they are and how they just love life. The biggest compliment I have ever received was from my daughter's teacher, she told me how much she enjoyed how she loved life, how she shows up every day ready to tackle whatever comes her way in a positive way. I almost cried.. And that is what is so great about being surrounded by kids. They remind us of how great our lives can be. Being surrounded by this every day allowed me to find my own happiness. It allowed me to revisit someone I said good-bye to a long time ago, and bring forth that girl who had those dreams and wonder about her.

So, I agree with the above quote.
My identity is me, but it is also very much my own family and what they bring out in me.
Which I think we are all a part of the things in our lives, whether they are good or bad, and it's about what we choose to do with everything that makes us who we are. Becoming a mother at a young age may have been hard for me, but now I see how good it was for me. I don't wonder about the 'what ifs' in my life anymore and I have my family to thank for allowing me to let go, and say hello again.


xxo


THE BITTERSWEET STAGE



My children are growing older.
I have to admit that everyone who told me, "enjoy the days they are little because it goes by so fast," were not joking. Time has managed to go by quickly. When I go back to look at old photos/videos I can't believe my children were even that little!

I just enrolled my last baby in Kindergarten.
I remember writing about how hard it was for me to enroll and begin letting go of my oldest. Two years later - here I am finding it even harder to let go of my youngest. I even asked my boyfriend if we could let him stay home another year.. I lost that argument.
And losing that argument helped me realize that I probably should just let go of my need to control everything in my life. There is no way of avoiding the inevitable.

Of course my children still need me.
They don't need me as much as they always have though..
The other week I realized that my oldest daughter doesn't like how I style her hair anymore. I style her hair the way I would wear it. I never thought to ask her how she likes it. Then I began to notice that she would come home from school with her hair styled a little differently every day. It wasn't a huge change, but I saw more of her than me when I looked at her. This probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most people, but I felt a little sad seeing this. It made me cry because she's becoming her own person all on her own.

It's scary.
As a parent I just want to protect my children for as long as I can.
I don't want them to see the evil in our world.
I don't want them to get hurt.
I just want so much for them - all of the good things our world offers.

Watching them grow up is scary because I know with them becoming their own people, they are bound to make mistakes and I won't always be there to help them. The other day I had to tell my oldest that she had to figure out a way to fix her mistake, and even when it broke my heart to tell her this, there wasn't much I could do to help her.
My children are still young, but they make those little mistakes while at school - like telling their friends something mean. That's where I can't do much but tell them what I would do, so that's what I do now and hope that they make the right decision on how to fix their mistakes. Luckily my kids have been making the right decisions when it comes to solving their own problems.. and that warms my heart.

So, as you can tell this whole stage in my life is incredibly bittersweet.
I'm not with my children holding their hands during the day anymore, and it's scary for me to let go of this. I have to say that watching them grow up to become better people than I will ever be is something really special though.. And that is what makes this bittersweet stage in my life worth all the scary parts.


xxo


PROVING MYSELF



The other morning I was at the dentist office with my daughter, and I was feeling blessed in that moment because I wasn't stressed or worried like I once would've been during appointments like these. A young mother walked in along with her son and her own mother. After being told that her insurance expired, I saw how she instantly became lost and stressed by turning to her mother for advice on the situation. In that moment all I wanted was to pull her aside and tell her that it will get better.. It will get easier.

I'm a young mother.
I had my oldest daughter when I was 19 years old - right after high school. I had no idea how to be a parent because I never thought that kids would be in my future. That's the thing about becoming a parent so young, you never expect it to be you. You never expect to be the one who gets pregnant after high school and staring parenthood straight in the face. It happened to me though, and no I wouldn't change a thing about my life, but there are a lot of things I wish I could go back and tell my younger self.

I had a lot of challenges to face within myself as a young mother.
The big challenge I faced every day was how to look like I had my life together. How to come off as a perfect parent. I was consumed by this perfect picture in my head of how the perfect parent was supposed to look. Do you see what my problem was? I was trying too hard to look like the perfect parent, and I wasn't trying hard enough to actually be the perfect parent.
Now, I don't think that I was a bad parent in the beginning but I don't think I was ever present with my children. I was miserable constantly taking pictures just to gain approval of a life I never felt like I was living - it was just passing by.

I was being unfair to my children, I know that now.
I was selfish then.
At the time - proving myself to the people around me was the thing that stayed constant in my life. From learning how to take care of myself to learning how to take care of 2 people - the only thing that didn't change was my self-esteem, and how I needed approval from others to validate my life. You know how crazy that sounds? Super crazy. We don't need approval from others to validate our own lives. It took me awhile to see this, but there was a point where I saw that everyone was going on with their own lives without seeing me at all. No one was ever paying attention to how I was becoming a parent when they were busy trying to grow up, too.

There are times where I still feel like I'm trying to prove myself.
I find myself wanting to be friends with the parents at my children's school, so naturally I think that they won't like me if I'm not coming off as a good parent.. but as soon as I see myself being distant from the parent I've grown to be, I just stop trying to prove to be someone I'm not.
I'm not a bad parent.
I'm not the perfect parent either.
I'm the type of parent who just gives it their all every day and hopes that's enough.

So, if I could've reached out to that young mom the other day I would've told her how I've been there. I've been lost, scared, and stressed. I've been the parent who turns to her older relatives for constant help. I've been the parent trying to give the best to my children, but not knowing exactly how to do it. We all make mistakes. Our mistakes help us grow into a better person, and they especially help us grow into a more understanding parent. It'll get easier. You'll find your way by learning from this moment. There will be more moments like this one, too.. and it'll be okay.

I don't think it matters how old we are.
We all face challenges within ourselves as parents, especially when there are a million people telling us how to parent. It's important to know that it's okay to make mistakes, or not try everything you see on Pinterest. As long as your present and doing the best you can for your children then I think you're doing just fine.

Don't try to prove yourself to others.
Just do good for you.
Be better for your children.


xxo


ZOO ADVENTURES

I've been a little busy lately, and I haven't been able to share these pictures from our trip to the zoo last month. We usually try to go to the zoo at least once a year because the kids love it so much.
We didn't make is last year though, so we all had fun going this year.
There were a lot of new additions, including penguins!
It was the perfect day - nice weather and just the right amount of people there for us to enjoy ourselves without having to rush or skip certain attractions.




xxo


TO ALL WHO JUDGE ME



Let me start off by letting you all know that I'm not writing this post looking for reassurance that I'm a good mother. I'm not writing this to attack anyone, because I'm talking about myself as well. My hopes are to open all of our eyes to how easily we judge each other and how easily it can hurt - especially when it's parents against parents.

So, this post is for all the people who have judged me without even knowing me.
Especially you.
A couple of weeks ago, you saw my family and complimented how beautiful my three children were. After getting a good look at our faces, I knew you immediately noticed how young we are - your mood completely shifted without you even noticing. You were selling a vacation getaway to Branson, Missouri - which you then assumed I had no idea where it was, just by the way you asked me. After telling you that I did know where Branson was, and how I've been there - you brightened. I decided to talk to you even after you clearly didn't think I was worthy of the time, and that's when you started to ask me more personal questions. How old I was, if we owned a home - nothing that had to do with what you were selling - and once you realized how young we really are, and how we rent not own a home.. You hurt me. Hurt me so much that I'm still thinking about your words to me.
This person was judging us by the way we looked and a basic conversation.
How did they come up with the fact that we probably didn't have any money to take our children on a vacation? How did she come up with the assumption that we would never visit this place with our kids? Just because I'm 25 and we rent our home?

A part of me realizes where all these assumptions led to that conclusion in their mind.
I was a hairstylist. I've cut a huge diverse of client's hair.
I'm just naturally a nice person, so I was nice to everyone who sat in my chair. One thing I taught myself as a hairstylist was to never judge anyone by the way they looked, or even the way they responded to your conversation. I never assumed if they had/didn't have money based on their dirty clothes or nice suit. This method worked well for me, because most of the people who only appeared to be standoffish ended up being friendly and tipping me a lot.. while the others who, on the outside, appeared to be worth the extra time on their hair for a big tip ended up tipping me $1. So, it doesn't matter how someone looks or how they converse with you. You can never know someone's story based on the basics. So why do we spend our time judging each other so easily?

Especially as parents..
The judging never stops - from social media to walking our kids to school.
We can never catch a break.

I make a lot of mistakes - I'm not perfect.
I might send my kid in shorts to school because I didn't check the weather on time.
I might pack my kids chips and ham for lunch all week because we ran out of fruit.
I'm still learning how to be a parent every day.. & learning how to be a parent is hard.
It doesn't matter if you are old or young. Last year, I wrote a post about the struggles I face as a young mother, and the response I got was mind blowing. My eyes were open to all the struggles parents face - whether they are young or old, whether they have one child or more, whether they were single or married. Writing that post taught me how different all of us are, too.
We are all so different as individuals, which makes us different when it comes to parenting our children. So, why does everyone expect us to parent our children the exact way?
Isn't the fact that we are so different the beauty of our world?
We need to learn and grow from each other.
Maybe the way your potty training technique isn't working for your child and your fed up, well guess what? There's so many other parents with different techniques in this world, that you are bound to find at least one person to help you out with a new method.

I hope one day we can all stop judging each other so much, even for myself.
When you see another parent having a hard time with their screaming child at a restaurant - don't roll your eyes, just give them a hopeful smile because I know we've all been there one way or another.
Let's stick together.
Our children can only gain from it, right?


xxo


FAMILY TRADITIONS

Our town's fall festival was this past weekend.
We've gone every year since the kids were born.
It always becomes more fun as the kids grow older, they are able to enjoy more of the festival as the years go by. I always feel myself reflecting on our life when it comes to our family traditions, and this year wasn't any different. It's kind of crazy to think about how much we have grown as a family from only a year ago. I see how all 3 of my children are growing to become better than both me and my boyfriend. I've noticed how much my boyfriend and I have grown up together, since first being together in high school. I feel how much I've grown as an individual, and have become more of who I really am. All our hard times, all the trials we have gone through have made us better people.. and I am just grateful.




Here is to many more family traditions this holiday season.


xxo


TO KISS IS TO PROMISE



I always find it awkward when old friends tell me that I ended up 'okay' in my life. I guess somewhere along the line they believed I would either fail or do something spectacular in my lifetime, but I've somehow ended up just doing okay.

I'm not sure where I see myself - whether it's doing well, okay, or horrible.
I know that I'm happy. I know that I feel incredibly lucky.
There's a lot to consider when I think about it.. The biggest thing I consider as I ask myself - How have I ended up in my life?.. Is am I a good mother?
My children are growing up in a loving home, and lucky for them they continue to be grossed out by their parents kissing. I know how blessed I am with all the things I have in my life.
But - Am I a good mother? Being called a good mother makes me feel uncomfortable because there are many times where I don't believe it, no matter how great things are.

I can be selfish.
I'm lazy.
I freak out over little things.
I obsess over cleaning.
I am a crazy person when I'm hungry.
I have so many flaws that affect my children.

I am constantly worrying over every little thing I do after I actually do them.
I wonder if my children will remember me laying in bed an extra 10 minutes before getting up and making them breakfast.
I wonder how my laziness will affect my children as they grow up.
I am constantly stressing over the fact that my flaws may make my children feel the need to harm themselves or others in the future.
I wonder if by buying them that toy to make up for not going somewhere will somehow make them believe they can just buy themselves out of every situation.
..& then the reading. I continue to read every article that is telling me that I am doing everything wrong - Why did I let my 3 year old watch Jurassic Park, did I just ruin his future?!

I have no idea what I'm doing.
It drives me crazy.
Is this how all parents feel?

I make a lot of mistakes.
I'm positive I'll continue to make mistakes. I don't think that I will ever stop obsessing over these mistakes either. All my sleepless nights where I obsess and obsess, I know that I learn from each of these mistakes and that is what helps me continue to be a better mom the next day.




I guess this is how motherhood is going to be for me.
I'm okay with that.
So, as I ask myself - How have I ended up in my life? I think I'll just consider myself happy - whether I'm a good mom or a bad mom that day. I'm happy, I'm not sure if that justifies me doing just okay in my life or not - but I'm okay with that, too.

So -
Next time you think about your life and wonder whether you are doing well or horrible.. I hope that if you are like me, and take all your flaws into consideration, that you don't let your thoughts define you. Here's my secret - I take a deep breath and I kiss the ones that I love, the ones who make me who I am. Every time I kiss my children - especially those goodnight kisses - those are my promises to them. That's all I have. My promise to always be a good mother to them, I will never let them down as their mother. I will always love them, and that is what helps me remember that it doesn't matter if I'm doing just 'okay' in my life - We're happy and that is what matters.
A kiss is as good as a promise.


xxo


MONDAY THOUGHTS // REFLECTION

Our summer has been busy.
Between going through some personal struggles at the beginning of our summer, to balancing a new schedule for all of us - I barely noticed that it will soon be July in just a few days.


| DANCE RECITAL |


This was the second year my oldest daughter danced for our local dance studio, and the first year my youngest daughter danced for them. They always end their dance year with a huge recital - and it's always so much fun. Just like last year, I was full of emotions. I don't know if my girls will continue dancing, but I'm extremely proud of how hard they work and perform in front of hundreds of people.




| SUMMER SCHOOL |


Our school district offers a month long summer school - I like to think of it more like a summer camp, they do special activities that they wouldn't do during a normal school day. I love this program because my children get extremely restless during the summer, so it's perfect for us.
My oldest daughter loved being with her friends, it began about a week after school ended and all of them acted like it had been years since they last saw each other - so funny! My youngest daughter is officially a Kindergartner. I was nervous that first week - but of course, I had nothing to worry about and she enjoyed school just as much as I hoped she would.




| IT FEELS A LOT LIKE SPRING |


There has been SO much rain and very little sunshine.
One great thing about rainy days are the beautiful sunsets.




| LAKE DAYS |

We have only been able to head to the lake once this summer - so far. I didn't like being too far away from the girls while they are at school, and like I said it's been raining like crazy. There is so much water in the lake, even the benches and signs are in the water!




| READING |


On those rainy days - being home with just my little one - I've been able to read.
One of my favorite summer reads has been Me and Earl and The Dying Girl - it's such a hilarious, coming of age story. I would definitely recommend checking this one out!




It's been a busy summer for us over here.
I hope July is full of a lot of family time making memories before school starts back in August.
Have a great week.


xxo


TO MY CHILDREN



TO MY CHILDREN -


I know this day will always be spent on you thanking me for being your mother.
But -
I want to thank you.

There are a lot of tough days that come when you're a mother of 3 little ones, so close in age. You've seen me raise my voice, you've seen me cry, and you've seen all my moments of feeling completely lost on trying to understand how to be a mother. The thing you don't see.. is the moments where I see you. I catch your worry in these moments, I see your love, and how much you care. In all the moments where my mind allows my selfishness to creep back up - you remind me to be better.

You won't remember all these tiny details of our life right now.
All the tough days won't be in your memories.
But -
They'll always be in mine.
I will remember every moment you forgave me.
I will remember how you turned a selfish and very flawed 19 year old girl into a more caring, considerate, and loving woman. I will remember every moment that made me a better person.

I see everything.
The toys you love, your favorite foods, the movies that make you sad, the songs that bring a smile to your face, the friends that care about you, the teachers who help you grow - everything.
All these things open up my heart just a little bit more.
With you I wear my heart on my sleeve. You are the only ones who know when I'm sad, when I'm happy, and how much I can truly love - because I love you so much that it hurts. I never thought a day would come where I would know what love really was - I didn't think I would know how to love so deeply and be loved so strongly.

I will love you no matter where life takes you.
I will be there for you even when you don't need me - just like you were for me.
You will never need to beg me for forgiveness - I will always forgive you, because you forgive me.
I will always help you to see the good that's inside of you.
If everything else fails around me - I know that I will never fail with you.
As you grow older and have tougher days -
I will remind you of all the things you reminded me of.
I will show you all that life is always worth fighting for.

So -
Thank you.
You have given me the gift of being your mother every day, and allowing me to be a better person.
You have given me so much to fight for, because I know you'll need me forever - and I will always be here.

I love you.
Today - we celebrate all of us.
Our family.


MOM


xxo

FLYING KITES

The time has come for me to finally come out of hibernation.
It has been so beautiful here in the midwest. There's been lots of playing outside for this family.

My kids have been so bored with regular learning activities, so it was about time to come up with a craft for them to make. I decided on a super easy kite - and I used stuff we already had around the house for this craft - bonus!


Here's what you'll need -
White Construction Paper
Paint + Paint Brushes
1 Paper Towel Tube
Scissors
String


So -
Have the kids paint, whatever they wish, on white construction paper.
While they are painting - Cut the paper towel tube equally. I cut our tube into 6 pieces, leaving 3 small pieces for each of them - then, they painted on those as well.




Take the white construction paper and cut out any shape - We used a diamond shape.
Poke holes in the paper and each piece of tube. I just used the scissors for this, poking one hole through each tube - if you think it needs more than one, go for it.
Finally, pull string through each item. Make sure to tie each off before moving to the next hole.




These kites were a simple craft, but I wanted to share it because the kids loved it.
Well, they love anything that has to do with painting!
We went to the park to attempt to fly these kits and failed.
It wasn't that windy out today, but the kids ran around and made the best of it!
We'll be saving these for a more windy day!


xxo