Life After Zoey

It’s been almost two months since we lost our Zo-doggie.

I didn’t go into detail in my memorial post, and I still don’t feel its time to re-live and share with the world the events of the day. I will say that she was ran over and had to be put down. And it was the absolute hardest decision my husband and I have ever had to make.

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She was a daddy’s dog. I had never seen my strong, rock of a husband so broken. He is not one to show his emotions easily, but there was no denying he was hurting. His emotions were clear when he had called me with the bad news. The boys were asleep when he got home and I knew it was my turn to be there for him. This man has always been my rock. When I had a miscarriage, when I had our babies, when Laken was hospitalized as a newborn for bronchialitis, and any other time I’ve needed a shoulder to cry on.

In a weird way, I look at his vulnerability as her gift to me. He may not like for me to go into too much detail. But seeing him emotional and being able to support him in a way I’ve never had the chance to, was a beautiful thing and I believe it was good for our relationship. Thank you, Zoey.

The days that followed her passing were filled with tears and memories. When Clint was feeling better, I let my own emotions go and spent the majority of a day crying.

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The Memorial keepsake from the vet: Her pawprint and a clipping from her tail. We added the collar.

You wouldn’t expect her absence to make such a difference in our lives. She was tiny, we didn’t take her for walks and she was generally low maintenance. But every time we let Pepper out and she didn’t follow, every time we had to only fill one bowl of food, every time we called for Pepper and didn’t have to call for both. Not hearing the jingle of her collar or the sound of her bark. She barked at everything. Pepper is more quiet. When the garbage truck comes and I don’t have to yell at the dogs to stop barking, I miss her. It took some time for Clint and I to feel normal again. For days, we cried at bed time, missing having her snuggled up with us. That was one of the hardest times for him.

Zane is a different story. When Clint told him her story, he didn’t cry. He almost did. He made the scrunchy sad face. But the tears never came. We told him she’s in heaven and she’s not hurting anymore. We told him she won’t be coming back. Which is something we’ve had to tell him many times since. For days, he asked if Zoey was coming back. He also liked to tell people, “Dad’s dog got run over by that big metal truck,” which sounds sad and awful but the way he said it was really quite comical. I’d ask him if he was sad about her, and he always said no. But when asked if he loves and misses her, he always said yes. I feel like he accepted it and knows she’s okay. He still talks about her sometimes. Just the other day, I took a picture of all of us, including Pepper, and I said “Look Zane, we’ve got the whole family.” His reply: “But not Zoey.”

Laken, of course, is too young to really understand or even attempt to explain it to. He was generally unaffected by her absence. But, if we point to a family picture and say, “Where’s Zoey?” he points right to her.

Pepper spent a few days moping around. Poor thing. I don’t know if she understands. She saw that Zoey was hurt. Did she figure it out when she didn’t come home after a few days? I don’t know. But she was definitely sad for a few days, even with all the extra love she was getting. But she’s perked back up and his her happy, playful self again. I’d say she enjoys being our only dog, but she takes our leaving way more seriously. She had never shown any separation anxiety, but every time she’s left alone- even if just for a few minutes- she is whining, crying, jumping and excited when we get back.

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Our Zoey memorial display.

I’ve been surprised at our talks about getting another dog. There’s no plans yet, but I think it will be sooner than I would have imagined. If we see a dog that seems like a fit for us, we will surely take her. Pepper needs a buddy.

We have Zoey’s remains, memorial keepsake from the vet, and condolence cards on display in our living room. We still tell her goodnight. When we buy a house someday, we plan to plant a tree and mix her ashes into the soil.

The Hardest Phase

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself, “this has to be the hardest phase.” And it always seems to be true. Every phase of parenting, since having Laken, has felt like the hardest. I feel like, at some point, it has to get easier.

In January, at a birthday party, I told a couple who were expecting their second, that “this has been the hardest year of my life.” I don’t want to sugar coat and make them think it’s all rainbows and sunshine. Having two children is hard. At that time, Zane was three and a half and Laken was two. That had been a really tough year, with Laken gaining mobility and all of a sudden being able to get into Zane’s toys. Zane wasn’t happy about this… “No Laken that’s mine! Moooooom Laken took my toy!” I’d have to try to make Zane understand that Laken was little and didn’t understand, and that he needs to learn to share his toys. For the longest time, I let Laken get away with a lot, and Zane probably didn’t really understand.

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Now, Laken is 20 months and we haven’t been allowing him to get away with so much. It’s still a constant challenge. And it goes both ways. Neither of them can have what they want when they want it. They still fight a lot, and when they’re not fighting (or sleeping), they’re being wild crazy boys. They climb on me. They wrestle. They run around. And eventually someone gets hurt. I can’t put into words how wild they can be.

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Zane is a moody four year old. He has his own expectations and desires. He wants to do things his own way and in his own time, and that can be a struggle, when we want things done “now.” We need to learn to give him space to be his own person, while also being a respectful, polite and honest young boy. He wants time with his family but he also wants time to himself. He wants us to play with him in his room. He wants to be the boss. He wants to do everything I do. He wants to be Batman.

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Laken is finally learning more words. Not many words that actually help us figure out what he wants, unfortunately. (But I’m LOVING his expanding vocabulary!!) He will just cry and scream. When Zane makes him mad or hurts him, he points and Zane and screams. But that doesn’t tell us what actually happened. I guess the hardest thing with him is the lack of communication. Also the fact that he is just so darn cute, it’s almost impossible to be mad at him. He does something wrong, and I go to scold him, and he looks up at me with those beautiful blue eyes and that big smile. How can I be mad at that?

So… this is the hardest phase. Six months ago was the hardest phase. And I’m willing to bet six months from now will be… the hardest phase.

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I believe it will get better, easier. Its got to eventually, right?

You tell me: What’s been the hardest phase of parenting for you?

A New Venture

Who loves LuLaRoe?

No, I’m not about to start selling it. I’m not a salesperson. I just can’t commit to direct sales, trying to convince people they need this or that.

But I have purchased my fair share of Lula. The sizing though… Size up in this, size down in that. So confusing! Then there’s the “hacks,” ie various ways to wear a single shirt, dress or skirt. But will those hacks look good on my plus size body? Do I really need to size down in a Perfect Tee even though I’m a bigger girl. Should I order it and potentially have to deal with a return? I had all these thoughts recently when I hosted an online popup. My wonderful consultant is thin, so she can easily and comfortably wear all the clothes she sells, and all the hacks look amazing on her (seriously, love her styling!). But I have a very different body, so I took to YouTube to see if I could find some more insight.

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LulaRoe Maxi Skirt, as a dress, on the 4th of July.

And I found Amos Trombetto. She has a body similar to mine. I can relate to her. Her videos were so helpful. She shows how the different materials stretch and move. She shows how different sizes look on her body. Which helped me see how things would look on my body. I have never really been one to turn to YouTube videos (except for a hair tutorial once), but she was so helpful! I’ve watched many of her videos since, and have started watching Stitch Fix and Gwynnie Bee unboxings, as well as some try-ons from various stores.

I look for the women who seem to have my kind of style and/or my kind of body. I am a more casual dresser. I am not eccentric. I don’t know how to do makeup and I don’t have good hair. I try to look nice, but I’m definitely not like many of the YouTube ladies I have found. I have a hard time finding someone “like me.”

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Top and vest: Rue 21, Shorts: Maurices

So I have been thinking I may have found my niche. I am planning to start doing some type of clothing reviews, probably both on YouTube and on here. I just signed up for Birchbox (because maybe I’ll learn a little about makeup and skin care) and will do an unboxing when it arrives.

I’m not sure how to pull it off. Time, children, lighting, where to shoot, equipment. So I will play around with different things and it will probably take some time for me to get my first video up. But I’ll do it!

So that’s my new venture. I will certainly keep you updated and hope to have your support!

(I’ll have to do something about my adorable little photo bombers. 😉 )

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Top: Rue 21, Shorts: Maurices

Can’t Stop The Talent

Last week was Talent Week at Zane’s summer camp. It ended with a talent show. We parents found out on Monday afternoon and the show was on Thursday morning.

Zane had chose to sing. The options he had in mind were his favorite songs: “Straight Outta Cold Beer,” “Dirt On My Boots,” “Can’t Stop the Feelin’,” and “Everything Is Awesome.” He already knew more words to “Can’t Stop the Feelin'” and Justin Timberlake is mommy’s favorite, so that’s what we went with.

For two and a half days, we listened to the song. In our downtime, we sang the song without music. I really wanted him to do well. I was so excited about the idea of a talent show for my 4 year old. In practices, he sometimes whispered, sometimes yelled and sometimes changed some of the words to “butt” or “poop.” I was afraid he’d get the microphone and just freeze. I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

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So Thursday morning comes along and there are so many kids! I guess I didn’t realize how many were in the summer program, and it was ages 3-12 I believe (most were under 8, I’d say).

The show got started and there were all kinds of acts. An adorable little ballerina who you could tell rehearsed and she did so well! A few magicians (some repeat tricks even). Some singers, some dancers. The little girl who sang an original song which had no words and it sounded like she was just mimicking a ballad, but it was so cute the way she sang her heart out. Some got shy and decided to just twirl instead of sing. There was a magician who made his assistant disappear and you could see her walk out of sight. It was so fun to watch.

Then there was my son. I was so excited as he walked up there in his little fedora. He got the microphone and started singing as soon as the music started- even before JT. But you could hear him. I was afraid he wouldn’t sing or he would whisper so this was encouraging. When the song really started, Zane began singing again and I couldn’t believe how well he did. He wasn’t taking the practices seriously, but it was sinking in. He didn’t get every single word, of course, but he was impressive. I was one proud mama.

I’m still proud. I’ve watched the video so many times, and now I’m sharing it here. I hope you enjoy it! (Little brother pulled on my arm at one point causing some turbulance. My apologies.)

Zoey

We recently lost our beloved dog, Zoey. She lived eight wonderful years and losing her was devastating. She was our baby before we had babies. She was special, never just a dog to us.

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When my husband came home from the emergency vet, both boys were asleep. We sat in silence together, staring at the paw print he brought home from the vet, with a clipping of hair from her tail. I stated that I don’t know how we’re going to tell Zane. He said “I do. I’m gonna tell him her story.”

“Her story?” I asked.

“Yeah. Why we got her, how much we loved her, the things we’ve done with her…”

The story of her life. Not the story of her death.

So that’s how I’m going to tell it here. Her life was cut short, and it was fairly traumatic (a story I may tell at a later date), and that’s not how we want to remember her. Her life was beautiful and full of love, and she made us so happy.

(This will get lengthy, and it will be image heavy. Just a warning.)

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Top right: On the way home from adopting her. ❤

When Clint and I got married in June 2009, we knew we wanted a puppy and a baby. The puppy came first and much more easily. We found an ad for chihuahua lhasa-poo puppies on the bulletin board of a groomer. This sounded about right. We met the lady in a Walgreens parking lot. She brought the two females she had available. One was black with coarse chihuahua-like fur. The other was white with black and a little brown and fluffy as can be. Both were shy. The furball stole our heart and we brought her home that day. She rode home up on my shoulder most of the way. This became a thing for her.

It took a few days to find the right name, and “Zoey” seemed to fit. The first week or so she wasn’t sure about us. She didn’t go out of her way to snuggle with us and didn’t seem to care if we were around or not. But once she decided we were good people, boy did she love us. Coming home to our excited little ball of fluff was the best! She would greet us at the door, whining and jumping at us. She waited outside the shower for us, whining the whole time. She didn’t like being away from us. This definitely set the tone for our co-dependant doggie. As she got older, she always hated when we left. She would always scratch and bark at the door. Our door shows it.

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This girl of ours had all our love. I quit my job to stay home (for other reasons) shortly after we got her. I would get up with her every few hours to make sure she didn’t pee in our bed. My mommy instincts kicked in and I was aware every time Clint moved, to make sure he didn’t roll onto her. We brought her with us everywhere we could. We took her on little trips to drive-throughs and pet stores… any place where pets were allowed. Before she was a year old, I took her to a Bark For Life event and she one 2nd cutest dog.

Through her first winter, we kept her hair long. I wanted to see what it would do, how it would look as it got long. But coming home from a visit with friends a couple hours away on a warm April day, I realized she was hot with all that fur and we began keeping her hair short. She had some funny haircuts when we tried to do it ourselves. We were terrible.

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We took Zoey on our first anniversary trip to Sedona. We planned the whole thing around her, not wanting to put her in a kennel or have to ask someone else to check in on her. We couldn’t leave our co-dependent girl! We had dinner on the patio of a restaurant my mom used to take my brother and I to as kids; We played in the creek at Red Rock Crossing.

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And let me tell you, my husband wasn’t just going along with bringing her places for me. Oh no. That dog stole his heart. He loved her so much. He’s a manly man with a great big soft spot for this tiny little girl.

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Time went on. She comforted me when my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. She was with us as we relocated to where we live now, she traveled with us when we visited family and friends, she endured many days spent alone while we both worked. She played with many children and many dogs, big and small. Sometimes we thought she must believe she was 10 times the size she was. She only weighed about eight pounds but she would chase the big dogs down the street. Most cats were bigger than our girl, but she never hesitated to give them the boot from our yard.

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Our Zo-doggie was never a fan of water.

Oh and this girl could jump so high. She could leap over our four foot fence with no problem… Well it was sometimes a problem for us. But we found that she didn’t want to leave the yard unless we did. If we left her outside, home alone, chances are she would jump over and try to find us. But as long as we were in the yard, so was she (except for the occasional chasing of a cat or dog, of course). She wanted to be where we were. Well, who am I kidding, she wanted to be where Dad was. She loved him so.

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Lake Life.

She may have hated the water, but she loved going on adventures with us. We took her on many camping trips where she’d explore as far as we’d let her go. She’d get over her water issues to try to get the ducks. She’d get the best meals of hamburgers and steaks. She would dig in the sand looking for cooler ground. She would lay in the sun and just enjoy her sweet life.

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We couldn’t believe she jumped off the dock to get them ducks!

Zoey was with me through my first successful pregnancy. She went on our baby-moon with us to San Francisco. Another trip we planned around her. I did so much research to make sure we had plenty of pet-friendly restaurant options. Traveling with a dog means getting up and dressed when she starts whining to let her out. This was usually Clint’s job if it was close to time to get up. It was usually my job in the middle of the night (this was foreshadowing motherhood, I just realized).

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I was on bed rest the last few weeks of my pregnancy and I had my Zoey by my side as I laid on the couch playing Farm Town and watching TV. She actually liked to lay on the side of my big ol baby belly.

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We welcomed Zane in June 2013.

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This was an adjustment for Zoey. She gravitated even more toward Clint as I always had the baby on my lap or in my arms. The spot on my legs where she used to lay now belonged to Zane. She fought for her spot for a while but ultimately gave it up. But still she had a happy life and a warm spot in our bed. She usually slept up on our pillows by our heads. Often when I’d get up in the middle of the night, I’d come back to bed to find her on my pillow. But I never moved her. I’d lay my head on the corner of my pillow and let her be comfortable. Most nights of her life, she was carried to bed by one of us. Spoiled.

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When Zane was less than a month old, my husband was up late one night and Zoey was outside and got sprayed by a skunk at about two in the morning. This is where Clint’s love for her really shined, I love this story… I did what I could to help, but I had a newborn to care for. I couldn’t get skunk spray on me, nor could she get in bed with us that night. He gave her a bath with the hose and did everything he could do at that time of night to help her and get rid of the smell. Being new parents, we weren’t sure it was okay to bring her to bed, so this man of mine grabbed a couple blankets and they slept outside together. The next morning we took her to town (over an hour away) to a groomer for a de-skunking and a haircut. She still smelled a little like skunk, and even when it went away, it came back when she was wet.

Our Z babies, as we called them, spent the next couple years together. As a family of four, we traveled to Oregon to visit my mom and step dad, and to Arkansas to visit my family there. To visit Clint’s parents six hours away, to the pumpkin patch each October, to the 4th of July festivities, to the park and to birthday parties. We still took our girl with us when we could. Between Clint and I, we could handle the two of them.

During the years, she rarely got sick. I can only think of one time she needed antibiotics, when she got hay fever. She saw a groomer regularly. She was a healthy happy girl.

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When your best friend is a photographer, you get to try your silly ideas for photos of your baby and his best doggie friend.

Then came Pepper. In August of 2015, I was about halfway through my pregnancy with Laken and a friend of mine had a dog she needed to rehome. Her busy family schedule just didn’t allow much time for Pepper the pug. So we decided to take this two year old girl in. We had been saying for quite some time that Zoey needed a buddy. Someone to be with her when we couldn’t be. Zoey wasn’t sure about Pepper at first, but once they warmed up to each other, it was a great fit. Pepper is a solid kid dog. Zane was able to play with her in the rough way that toddlers do, and it didn’t phase Pepper, whereas Zoey would usually find a high spot to hide. (Pepper also brought out Zoey’s inner lesbian, but this isn’t that kind of blog).

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With the addition of Pepper, it became more difficult for us to take the dogs places. So they got left home more often. We didn’t take them to birthday parties or most day trips anymore. It was hard to wrangle a toddler and two small dogs. We still always took them on long trips though, anything over night. If we couldn’t take them, they stayed with Clint’s sister.

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In November 2015, we welcomed Laken into the world. We were a family of six, and we were complete.

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The biggest change for Zoey now that Laken was born was that Clint often had a toddler on him now that I had the baby on me. She got less attention than she was used to, but she still got carried to bed most nights, and she still had a spot in our bed, and she still had a big piece of our hearts.

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Zoey had a good life. A life out of a cage, a life surrounded by love, happiness, laughter and family.

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Zoey was like our first child. We loved her so much, and we miss her every day. It’s taken me weeks to get this post together, to find all the pictures and make all the collages. I wanted to honor her in the right way. A way that would make my husband proud, a way that showed just how loved she was, and will always be.

Rest in peace, you beautiful girl. ❤

Happy Birthday Zane!

Four years ago today, I became a mother.

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Photo by: Jennifer Rice Photography

I think I was a mother in my heart for a long time before that. And I’ve been a kick-ass aunt for almost 13 years…

But I officially became a mother on June 20, 2013. Today, Zane turns four!

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Too excited to smile for the camera…

We already had a big party for him, which was a lot of fun! It was a Batman theme with the most amazing and delicious cake made by a friend of ours. We had a slip & slide and a pool, both ended up a dirty mess, but that’s okay. There were probably 50 people here, including about 25 kids. He got some wonderful gifts and had the best time playing with his friends and cousins.

I have a strange love for these big parties… They take a lot of work before, during and after. I had to clean my house and yard top to bottom. My husband smoked the most delicious pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches over night the night before. All the setup and decorating. During the party it’s a blur of kids wanting this or that, directing guests to the bathroom, finding towels, etc etc etc. Afterwards, of course, the cleanup. All that effort we put into getting everything looking good beforehand, and its all torn up (the outside anyway) in just a few hours.

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I’ve promised myself I will at least make a banner for each party. I am pretty happy with how this turned out!

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But the laughter… oh how I love the laughter! I’ll never forget Zane’s second birthday party, which was the first we had here at our house, when I was able to pause for a moment and look around my yard at all the children running around and laughing, just enjoying themselves at this party that I’ve put together. A yard full of children laughing. That’s my goal for all these parties. And I get it every time.

We don’t do games anymore. It’s too hard to get all the kids together. We do a pinata, and that’s it, and that’s plenty.

So all in all it was a great party! And today, on his actual birthday, we are taking him to see Cars 3. We’re dropping Laken off with his aunt to avoid another movie fiasco. I’m looking forward to having some quality time with him without having to worry about them fighting or any of that.

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Our Anniversary Getaway

We have been married eight years!

This year, we decided to take a family friendly mini-vacation. By “mini” I mean overnight, of course.

I found a hotel in Laughlin, NV (which is about 2.5 hours from us) that is off of the main strip and had all the amenities we were looking for and more!

We got to town and had a nice lunch first (when I say “nice” I mean “delicious, but kids and restaurants don’t mix”). We got to the resort and after finding that I’d made a mistake with the reservation (I had booked it for the previous night. Thankfully it got refunded and worked out), we got checked in and went to our room.

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View from our third floor room. 

We got changed as quickly as possible with two small children, and made our way to the beach! The boys had so much fun playing in the sand and water with their shovels and buckets. Another family had built a big “tub” in the sand and once they left, our little Laken loved sitting in it while Zane poured buckets of water in it. They enjoyed seeing the ducks and birds that came to say “hi.”  Hubby and I had fun too! It was more relaxing than we had expected. The boys were being so good, not getting in too deep or bothering anyone else. We got to bask in the sun for a good two hours and it was amazing.

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We had sand in some places, let me tell ya! So we all got showered before heading to dinner. There were a few restaurants in the resort. We picked the one that looked most kid-friendly. Again, a restaurant. I think I give up on restaurants until my little guy can chill out. He was under the table and all over the place, making (happy) noise, being a general pain. I did not appreciate the old man staring at us from his table. He actually made me really uncomfortable. I guess when you travel with children, you’re just not supposed to eat. Anyway. We enjoyed our meal as quickly as possible and got the heck out of there, leaving a mess (rice everywhere) and a good tip behind. 20170601_194848_wm

Now here’s the amazing part… This place has child care! Being our anniversary, we needed a little alone time. It was nice to be able to break away from the kids for a couple hours. I actually got Laken to sleep first and he slept there for them the entire time. Zane played video games and made some friends, and had a good time but was missing us by the end of it. He was tired. While kid-free, we did a little gambling and drinking. We didn’t win anything, but they keep the drinks coming if you’re at least pretending to gamble. We may have made a trip to our room, but this isn’t that kind of blog. 😉

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We all slept great. There’s something about hotel beds. So comfy!

We were dying to check out their beautiful pool area! There was one great big pool and a smaller 2 foot pool. That one was perfect for us (although the big one was really neat, with shallow areas with chairs in them. I’d love to be able to just lay out someday). Zane was all about that little pool. He had an absolute blast and even found a water squirter to play with. Laken was less enthused about the pool but he splashed around a little and enjoyed the music.

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And then it was time to check out of our room and head home. Mini-vacation over. But we had a really great time, and I’m really glad we took the time to do this and make it special, and make it a family thing.

Oh, and a bonus? The boys slept the entire way home. It made for such a peaceful drive. And we didn’t stop for lunch, having already learned our lesson…

Five Signs We Travel With Children

Every time we travel with our children, I imagine the housekeeping staff seeing the little clues. Do they wonder why things are in such disarray or do they just laugh, knowing we must have had small children with us?

Here are some of the ways it’s obvious we travel with small children:

  • The phone is unplugged. That’s the first thing we do when we walk into the room. A lesson we learned the hard way when my oldest was little. We’re not sure who he called because we hung up while it was still ringing. Hopefully it was an empty room.
  • The toilet paper and tissues are up on the counter. I seriously hate the tissue dispensers. We never think of it until there are several tissues on the floor.
  • The hand prints all over the full length mirror. This is surely a dead giveaway.
  • Trash cans on tables and counters. I don’t know why toddlers think trash cans are fun, but they do…
  • The contents of the trash cans. Diapers, applesauce pouches, and food that didn’t get eaten.

I’m sure there is more to add to this list. What would you add? Is there anything that drives you crazy about staying in hotels?

Just A Quick Note…

I just wanted to pop in and say that I have several posts in my head, I just haven’t been able to get to my computer and type them up. Maybe I’ll end up doing them from my phone.

It’s been pretty busy here lately with our anniversary trip, getting ready for my son’s birthday party and some awful news. So many ups and downs.

Stay tuned, I hope to get a few posts out soon!

Mom Reflections

I found myself doing some reflecting today.

Maybe it was because of the semi-negative post that I made last night.

Maybe it was because my kids drove me crazy today and I decided they will spend some time in daycare next week. I feel like it’s kinda sad that I can’t go two weeks without daycare.

So I was thinking about who I used to be.

Five years ago, I wanted nothing more than to be a mother. We had some difficulty conceiving and during that time of TTC (trying to conceive) I had so many thoughts about what motherhood would be like, how I would be, and how I would appreciate the hell out of my kids and never take them for granted. I’d always remember that having a children isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. There are so many men and women that want children but are unable to have them.

So here I am now with two handsome, funny, smart little boys. Half the time I want to pull my damn hair out. I want them to be just a little bit older, a little more independent. I want them to stop climbing all over me, to go play in their room. I spend way more time yelling at them than I ever imagined. Eat your food. Be nice to your brother. Stop splashing. Pick up your toys. Don’t throw rocks. Be quiet. So much yelling. A lot of it unnecessary, because I’m just tired, because I just want to relax, I just want to be able to cook dinner and clean my house without two little monkeys at my feet.

If TTC Me could see Mom Me she’d be rolling her eyes, thinking “appreciate your kids! You’re lucky to have them, they’re perfect.”

I hate when I’m feeling that way… unappreciative. Those boys are my world, they’re my heart. Life without the chaos they bring would be empty. I want to spend my entire day with them, loving them, appreciating every little thing thing they say and do, every look they give me.

And sometimes, of course, I do that. This evening, after dinner (since it’s this perfect time of year when it’s beautiful out after dinner), we went outside to play. They played while I cleaned up, then I went out to watch them. They were playing in dirt, throwing it on their own backs, getting along. They were playing the “run away” game, as I was told it’s called. Basically they were racing. Well really Zane was running and Laken was following him, laughing the whole way. I was sitting at the start/finish line. Zane told me what to say: “Whoever wins gets the run away trophy! On your mark, get set, go!” So we did that a few times. After that, we played a fairly pathetic game of hide & seek, with Zane telling me where to hide, and him hiding out in the open. Then I watched them as they went down their slide a few times. Laken likes to give Zane a little push. Zane likes to jump from the top and yell “Cannonball!” I love those moments.

These boys are amazing. They pick flowers for me. They give me hugs. They tell me they love me (okay so Laken doesn’t talk yet, but his eyes say it). Just tonight, Zane brought Laken and I each a blanket while we were on the couch as Laken was falling asleep. They’re funny as hell. The things Zane says, the clumsy way Laken walks through life.

These boys are my life, my heart, my future. 

It may seem as though I don’t appreciate them sometimes. Sometimes I need a break. If I could talk to TTC Me I’d tell her not to cast judgement on something she knows nothing about. I’d tell her that having children isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s not all smiles and laughter. It’s so much more. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, its… well, it’s manic and magical.