Category: Family Fun

On The Third Day of Service Make a Special Delivery

12 Days of Service

One of the easiest ways to show someone you care at Christmas is to make a delicious baked treat. Perhaps you have a specialty you make each year? Or, maybe you are of the Pillsbury persuasion? Either way sweet treats are a sweet way to show your appreciation!

Every year our local fire department drives through our neighborhood with Santa on a bright red fire engine, sirens blaring. Santa sits up high and waves to the kids below while the fire fighters walk alongside of the truck. Each fire fighter walks the length of our driveway to wish our kids Merry Christmas and presents them with a candy cane. It’s a small token of their generosity, but my kids look forward to it every year.

Besides running into a burning building to save lives (voluntarily) our local smoke jumpers do a lot to prepare the kids in our town for a fire emergency. They dedicate a lot of time to educating kids on fire safety and showing off their gear. This makes seeing a fire fighter less scary if ever faced with one in full turn out gear during a fire emergency. They try to prepare our young kids how to stay safe. It is such a valuable service many of them provide for free.

Home made cookies for our local police officers and fire fighters.
Home made cookies for our local police officers and fire fighters.

 

We can’t forget about our police officers! The officers in our small town do so much to help raise money for kid’s charities and give back to our community. They offer free bike safety programs, host car seat safety checks, show off their K9 partners and visit kids with McGruff the Crime Dog and obviously, put their lives on the line to keep our streets safe. I’ve also heard they are very kind when pulling over a stay at home mom who may or may not have a tail light out. *wink*

Everyone loves to get some love and appreciation from the community they serve. So bake up a few dozen of your favorite cookies! Call ahead to your local fire station or police station and ask when a good time to make a delivery is. You want to be sure you aren’t interrupting a scheduled training and that someone is there to accept your donation. Have the kids make some thank you cards and let them deliver in person with you. Dropping off a tray of cookies is an easy way to say thanks, and a casual way to introduce your kids to important community helpers.

Related posts: On The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive, On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

 

he Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

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On The Second Day of Service Host a Coat Drive

12 Days of Service

You’ll start to notice a pattern in these posts. I confess I didn’t leave my house for much the first few years after the twins were born, it was just too chaotic to do by myself. So, I had to get a little creative and figure out ways to streamline my community service without really leaving my house. I held a lot of drives in my home and delivered to one outside location. This made it much easier for me, we met the needs of people in our community and my toddlers could help right alongside of me.

Volunteering your home as a collection site for warm clothes is super easy. Start by contacting a local agency that you know is collecting items and arrange for a drop off date. Decide if you want to collect for one day, or collect over a longer time frame. Send out an email, text or Facebook event asking friends and family to bring their gently used/like new winter coats, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, snow boots and snow suites they are willing to donate. Put out a collection box and have everyone drop their items inside. That’s it! Once you have collected from your last volunteer you are ready to deliver the items on the scheduled drop off date!

Our coat collection during the girls' 4th birthday party.
Our coat collection during the girls’ 4th birthday party.

If you are not aware of any coat drives happening near you, you can contact your local department of social services and ask if they are collecting donations. Very often they collect for children in foster care who do not have enough winter wear. Most often children taken into foster care leave their homes in a hurry and there may not be enough time, or funds, to secure a coat or boots quick enough. Your donations will help fill that gap for them.

If you are feeling especially festive you can host a drive for an hour or two and put out some cookies and cocoa, or eggnog. (After all ’tis the season to celebrate!). Be sure to send a follow up thank you to everyone who donated. An email or Facebook update with a photo of you and the kids dropping off items makes for an excellent digital thank you card.

Related post: On The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

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On The First Day of Service Host a Food Drive

 

12 Days of Service

The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving is called “Giving Tuesday.” How fitting is it that I premier my 12 Days of Service starting on Giving Tuesday!? Why 12 days? Well, it’s a play on the 12 days of Christmas where instead of getting gifts we give gifts of service. You don’t have to serve on a soup line, or build a house to give back to your community. For the next 12 days I will share suggestions for easy yet effective ways to volunteer your time.

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Volunteering has always had a special place in my life. My mother used to take me along with her to volunteer when I was a kid. As a teenager I was a candy stripe at our hospital and served meals in our local soup kitchen. I love the instant gratification of putting a smile on someone’s face. As a mom I want to give my kids the gift of volunteerism. But, the logistics of getting all three of us out of the house and onto the soup line is just too much. So, I found ways to volunteer with my kids without leaving home. 

www.thewhatevermom.com
www.thewhatevermom.com

Our very first service project together was collecting canned goods for our local food pantry. For the twins second birthday party we asked guests to help us collect items. On our invitations we offered suggestions for donation. At the party we put out a box to collect all of the items in.  Having party goers bring their donations to our house was easier than trying to collect from several different locations. At the end of the party my kids helped me bag up the items and deliver to the collection basket at our church. Even though my kids were just turning two it was a super easy way for them to get involved.

www.thewhatevermom.com
www.thewhatevermom.com

With all the holiday gatherings coming up why not ask each of your friends and family to bring along a contribution of one canned good, or a box of pasta? Find out where your local food pantry is located and call or email to ask for what their biggest need is right now. Your kids can help make the final delivery and see the pantry in action. If you are strapped for extras this year because of holiday spending, food pantries are always in need. People tend to be very generous during the Christmas season; while donations tend to dry up the rest of the year (about 40% of food pantry annual donations are received around Christmas time). If you can’t swing it this holiday, why not host a Souper Bowl party asking for canned soups during the big game, or ask for food donations in July (and then you can call it Christmas in July!).

You do whatever works for you and your family and enjoy getting the kids involved! Kids of any age can help collect food items, sort and deliver. It’s never too early to help kids learn to give back!

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

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Friday Favorites – Start a Friendsgiving Tradition!

 

Happy Friendsgiving No Kid Hungry

It’s the start of the thankful season. Everyone is posting their daily gratitude on social media to express what they are thankful for. Here is what I am thankful for- food. I am really thankful my kids have enough to eat (and even throw away). I’m also thankful for organizations like Share Our Strength which helps feed hungry families every where. No Kid Hungry.org helps connect thousands of kids around the country to food resources. They educate struggling families how to to prepare low cost, healthy meals.

Anytime this November you can host a pot luck, or gathering in your  own home with friends and ask everyone to give a financial donation (or, they can donate online at any time). What a great way to connect with friends and family before the busy holiday season starts! Plus, you can help bring Thanksgiving to other families who cannot afford a meal on their own. Spending time with your friends AND giving to a good cause makes “Friendsgiving” a win-win!

To host your own FriendsGiving event visit the No Kids Hungry  website and start a fund raising page. Register your event, send out invites and check out the resource center for tips on how to host a successful event! Super easy!!

There are also incentives for raising the most funds! Check out the No Kid Hungry blog for details. Why not make this an annual event and start a new tradition with your friends and family? Or, get your school involved and encourage your kids to help give!

No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength

 

Remember sharing is caring! Please feel free to share this blog post on Twitter or Facebook with the hash tags: #FRIENDSGIVINGNKH #FRIENDSGIVING

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here, Find her two party Body Beautiful project here and here. 

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

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Happy I Love You Day!

Happy I Love You Day!

My daughter keeps asking me for breakfast in bed. I have no idea where this idea of hers comes from since none of us eat breakfast in bed. I can only think about the mess it will make, and wonder what can a kid even eat in bed that isn’t going to be sticky or drippy?

Just as I am mulling over the messy possibilities, I read the email from my dear friend telling me she has Stage IV breast cancer. Out of the blue. Just like that. No warning. My heart stops mid read and I fall to my couch like someone just punched me in the gut. My friend is so full of energy and enthusiasm. She is the definition of living life unconditionally. I have learned a lot of lessons from her about how to enjoy life- how to truly savor a moment. That’s when I realize my kids deserve breakfast in bed. I don’t want there to be a day we don’t celebrate the moment, or the pure luxury of today. I just want to start our day off with love, and excitement for the possibilities of where the day might lead us.

I immediately run to the store to buy their favorite chocolate chip muffins and a carnation flower in their favorite color. As I serve each of them their breakfast (and special flower) in bed I am so swept up in the thought of their excitement, I hear myself sing-song saying, “Happy I Love You Day!” Their eyes open wide and their smiles even wider. It is such a special moment to get caught up in their joy. The crumbs did not matter. Just their chocolaty grins and sheer delight of eating breakfast in bed.

Their jubilation prompts us to ignore our chores and skip making the beds. Today is our adventure! The kids decide where we go. First, a family fun day carnival. They play every game at least 20 times, get their faces painted and we take a family photo at the photo booth. We win a gift certificate to a local pizzeria and decide that is our next stop! It is heart warming to hear my kids rehash their favorite parts of their adventure so far. They decide our next stop is the animal adoption clinic they spot on our way home. It is amazing to see my girls love of the moment bubble over and spill into each next adventure.

We end our day snuggling in mommy and daddy’s bed watching a movie. The happy side effect is the kids aren’t whining as much, they aren’t arguing and they even decide to do everything together. That means camping out in their room and sleeping side by side. (They haven’t slept so close since they were babies). Watching them live so fully in the moment makes my heart skip a beat. I’ll always remember this day, and this special lesson from my beautiful friend! #HeadonHeartStrong

 

Have you ever shared a spontaneous day with your family or loved ones? Let’s hear what you did for fun!

 

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

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To Grandmother’s House We Go!

To Grandmother's House

As soon as summer arrives the girls and I hit the open road. We make several road trips each summer to see our family and friends. This weekend we traveled home to see Nana (their grandma). The girls were so excited they started packing two days in advance. Of course all they packed were pajamas and stuffed animals, but hey they were motivated!

On a typical trip home, or an outing anywhere, I pack up individual activity bags for each of my girls. This time I decided to go with one basket of activities. This will save me from having to reload two different bags and keeping track of what items belong in each bag.

Road trip activity basket

I re-purposed a broken picnic basket I had set aside for the trash. (A small child in my care put their foot through the top while using it as a step stool. No names are given to protect the identity of the evil doer). I simply removed the hinges holding the top to the basket- viola! A perfectly usable basket!

Road Trip Activity Basket

My mom has a low tech household, which is fine because we do to. So, I packed activities they could do with grandma: side walk chalk, bubbles, card games, story books, and crayons and coloring books. I even packed our calming bottles just in case we needed to get through a tantrum while at Nana’s (thankfully they were really, really well behaved).

Road Trip Activity Basket

This basket was especially helpful during our drive! I left it in my passenger seat so any time the girls wanted a new book I could easily reach for one and pass it back to them.

The basket idea was a big hit for the girls and worked great for me!

 

What kind of activities do you keep on hand while traveling with kids?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

 

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I Said I’d Never Do —>THIS!

Potty Fairies

I remember watching the Pull Ups commercial where the little girl is sometimes a “potty super hero, and sometimes she’s a potty princess” and I thought, “yeah that’s not gonna happen!” I am not going to make potty training this magical fun fest that never goes away. You have to pee, you put it in the potty end of discussion.

Well, fast forward to age four and a half and my little lovies are still fearful of using the big potty for more than the business of #1. We still have issues with #2 (To my child’s future therapist, I am not sharing this to humiliate my child as she will claim, but it is to help OTHER MOMS know they are not the only ones who do these crazy things in the name of helping their child “grow”).

Ya’ll… I willingly sprinkled glitter (a.k.a. magical fairy dust) all over my house to convince my children they had been visited by the potty fairy. What is the purpose of this potty fairy? Well, each child gets their own personal fairy who will go with them to the potty and keep them safe. I assured my innocent little cherubs that these fairies will give them the confidence they need to be successful little poopers. These magic fairies report back to Fairy Godmother who will grant them prizes based on their success. I said I’d never make the potty a magical place. And, now I hang my head in shame and share with the world the biggest, fattest lie I have ever told my children. And why? Because I am just trying to make it through ONE day without having to clean up you know. . . p-o-o-p.

We are on day two of the magic and so far one kid has lost her stupid little fairy, and the other is insisting her fairy will be making the poops for her, so she never has to sit on the potty again. *Sigh* I tried moms. I tried.

The most useful parenting advice I ever received: “all those things you said  you’ll never do- you will do them ALL!” So, fess up moms! What have you done that you said you would NEVER DO?

 

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Dreams of Chicory and Powdered Sugar on A Winters Day

bignet

Here’s a #TBT for ya! (That’s a Throw Back Thursday). My husband was kind enough to surprise me with a trip to New Orleans for my 30th birthday! (Many years ago). It was a dream come true to spend a week in the beautiful Crescent city. One of my favorite memories from that vacation is our breakfast trip to Cafe du mond. A small little slice of local life mixed with bustling tourism. The beignets and chicory coffee are amazing! Before leaving NOLA I vow to make them once a year and add chicory to my coffee forever!

That ambition didn’t pan out. But, the memory still remains.

I remember these little pillows from heaven during this weeks snow storm. We spent the day inside wearing our pajamas and snuggling on the couch. The snow coming down in powdery fluffs- my kids asked me if we are in a snow globe. Watching the feathery precipitation pile up reminds me of the snowy mounds of powdered sugar on those delicious biegnets. I quickly Google a recipe to see if I even have the ingredients for them. Of course not. But, I DO have frozen bread dough!

Even before my favorable memories of biegnets and chicory coffee, I have even more delightful memories of making “Pizza frite.” I am not sure why my family calls fried dough “fried pizza,” but I think it is because we shape the dough into small little pizzas before we fry them. We spent many, many, Saturday mornings making these together! I am happy to pass this tradition down to my girls!

Lucky for me I have everything I need to make beignet knock offs:

  • Frozen bread dough
  • Coconut Oil
  • Powdered sugar (or granular sugar and cinnamon)
  • Paper lunch sacks
Mardiblog 003
Ingredients for a delicious snowy morning.

 

Simply follow thawing instructions on the back of the package and allow bread to rise.

Heat 1/4 cup of coconut oil in large skillet or frying pan. (Coconut oil is pretty much a health food- so you are really doing everyone a favor by frying your dough in it).

Mardiblog 005
Little hands love working the dough!

 

Once the dough is ready, pull off small pieces to roll into a ball. Using your fingers begin to flatted the dough, keeping it in round circles.

Mardiblog 006
The shapes aren’t perfect when you let the kids help. But, it all cooks the same!

 

You will know the dough is ready to flip when the outer edges of the dough start to brown and thicken. The edges loose their “sheen” and you may see air bubbles. (Similar to cooking a pancake).

Once you flip the dough allow your pizza frite to cook completely on the other side (approx. another 3 minutes).

Mardiblog 008
Doughy goodness before adding the sweet stuff.

 

Dough should be golden, light and fluffy.

Next add powdered sugar, or sugar and cinnamon into a paper lunch sack.

Mardiblog 007
Personal preference on which type of sugar to use.

 

Little hands LOVE to put the dough in the sack and shake it all up! Watch out! This could get messy!!

Mardiblog 009
Covering the dough in sugar is the best part!

 

If you have ever had a beignet you will know these are not exactly the same. But, they will do with a cup of sweet coffee on a white washed wintry day in NY.

Mardiblog 010
Beignet Knock-offs

 

Cheers! (My other favorite vacation memory includes martini’s in the oldest cigar bar in NOLA).

30Rox
Toasting to 30 at the French 75

 

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Love Letters That Last A Lifetime

Give more than chocolates on Valentine's Day
Give more than chocolates on Valentine’s Day

Let’s talk Valentine’s day. I’m sure by now you already have your Pintrest board all pinned and ready to go. So, I won’t bore you with another crafty hand print to hang on the fridge, or to mail off to grandma. Instead I want to share with you my most favorite tradition of all. It’s so simple and will only cost pennies to make. Are you ready? Write your kids a love letter.

Growing up my mom struggled to make ends meet as a single mom working three jobs. My siblings and I really didn’t get to see her often. My mom didn’t get to attend my soccer games, or school pageants because she was always working. I know this wore on her and it was not easy missing out on so much. But, every Valentine’s day we could count on two things: 1. a heart shaped box of chocolates and 2. a love letter. I remember rushing down the stairs to find both left at my place on the dining room table.

Valentine's blog 010

Write a letter for every birthday and holiday to tuck away for your child.

 

I loved opening the envelop to see her pretty penmanship float across the page in precise circles and loops. It was almost comforting to see my name written in her script. Every year she said all the things she didn’t have time to say to me on a daily basis. How proud she was of me, how much she loved me. I still have my letters tied in a ribbon, tucked away in an old box my mother decorated for me. It is one of my most cherished childhood possessions.

Write the date and holiday on the envelop.
Be sure to include the date!

I love this tradition so much I started doing it with my own kids. I know they are only four and can’t read yet, but I have purchased a card every year since they were born. I have written to each of them how much I love them. I seal the envelop, write the year on it and tuck it away in their keepsake box. Now, I purchase a card for every major holiday and I write in it how we spent our holiday, what they were into at that time, what milestones they hit, or something personal about how I feel about being their mom.

Our box of keepsakes and love letters.
Our box of keepsakes and love letters.

One day I’ll hand over the box and hopefully they’ll allow me to open it with them.

 

Tips for writing a love letter to your child:

1. Tell them how much you love them. You may say it every day, but writing it down allows them to revisit it any time they need to.

2. Share your favorite times with them. Maybe you took a special hike, or played a new game together. Maybe you love that time you danced in the rain together, or how much you love rocking them to sleep at night. Reading your perspective from those special events really deepens their understanding of your bond.

3. Tell them how it feels to be their parent. We all get so busy with life. Our kids need to hear how happy it makes us feel to be their parent. (You know in between all the commands for “get your shoes on!” “hurry up let’s go!”).

4. Tell them what you are proud of them for. Not just “great game,” but how about “I love that you enjoy sports so much. It makes me proud to cheer you on every week.”

5. Share your dreams for them. Encourage your child to be anything they want to be. Teenagers especially need to hear this; busy teens need to know how much their parents are invested in their happiness. Trust me it will be worth all that eye rolling.

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Insanity of Living with The Toddlerazzi

I found this Facebook post I wrote on November 15, 2012- just weeks before my twins turned two.

Day in the life of a SAHM

November 15, 2012 at 2:17pm

Many people ask me (on a near daily basis) is it hard having twins? My reply is usually “depends on the day.”

I thought I’d share a little glimpse into one of those days:

Thursday November 15, 2012

5:44 a.m. wide awake

6:00 roll out of bed to tackle dishes, laundry, breakfast and get dinner in the crock pot.

6:22 alerted by shrieking child who isn’t due to awaken for another hour. Quickly calculate approx. how long I can let her cry it out while I take a shower.

6:23 hop in shower while drinking coffee

6:24 get dressed while brushing teeth

6:25 walk in to get girls who are angrily emptying their crib in protest to my delay

6:30 give girls bowl of rice crispies and cup of milk

6:32 on hands and knees cleaning rice crispies off of floor

7:00 chase first child and tackle her into outfit & do her hair.

7:22 chase second child and tackle her into outfit & do her hair.

7:30 engage in philosophical debate about why we wear clothes.

7:32 give up and let them run naked.

8:00 attempt to finish dishes while the kids empty dirty laundry from basket and scatter about the house.

8:10 pick up scattered laundry while the girls hunt for mischievous projects

8:15 pick up box full of dried pasta dumped onto kitchen floor while demanding, “don’t eat that!”

8:30 diaper change goes awry x 2.

8:45 Someone frees the kitchen drawer from captivity. I clean up the mess and kiss non-existent boo-boo.

8:50 attempt to make 2nd pot of coffee with a toddler attached to each leg.

9:00 Blue’s Clues TAKE ME AWAY!

9:15 Blue’s Clues is not working- spend next 10 minutes breaking up fist fight over who gets to be in mommy’s lap.

9:30 realize I didn’t eat yet. Quickly make scrambled eggs.

9:35 endure hostile take over of my breakfast.

9:36 begin cursing every person who’s ever asked me, “are you going to have another?”

10:00 both girls start rummaging in the cupboard and argue with me that the gallon sized vinegar bottle is in fact juice. Go ahead try it- I DARE ya!

10:03 attempted unauthorized potty break, assaulted by the toddlerazzi invading my privacy.

10:15 begin the great diaper chase

10:40 children mock my attempts to build with blocks by kicking over my tower and laughing.

10:50 drift off and quickly awakened by someone slapping me and yelling, “mommymommymommyyyyyyyyyyy!”

11:00 turn on Blue’s Clues and forced to participate in ritualistic wailing for mail.

11:15 held captive on the couch and forced to watch as Blue finds every stinking last clue.

12:00 prepared a lovely meal for the floor to enjoy.

12:30 on hands and knees again to clean up floor.

12:45 play let’s make a deal- if you let me change your diaper you can have a cookie!

1:00 toss children in crib with cookie… stick a fork in me cuz I’m DONE!

That’s only HALF MY DAY!!

This post made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now. When I was in the thick of the insanity of taking care of two toddlers alone I didn’t always find the humor. It felt like those struggles were going to stick around for a long time. The good news is it is two years later and we have all survived and moved on to different dramas!

I wasn’t the most patient parent, and sometimes I put way too much pressure on myself to make everyone happy (friends, family, kids, hubby) and forgot about myself. I really hated when people said, “you will miss these days.” The last thing I thought I’d miss is the nonstop screaming and crying and lack of shower time. I still don’t miss that part, but what I miss most is each unique little age and stage. I feel like I just didn’t get enough time to enjoy each kid during particular stages. It was just the three of us and not enough of me to go around. I felt rushed to get them through their milestones so I could check them off my parental to-do list.

Now that they are four, things are calming down in many ways. My girls are still a handful, and we still have our intense moments of battling wills. But it has only taken me the past four years to understand what it means to slow down, relax and don’t sweat the small stuff. The house is a little messier, the crafts get set aside and I’m happier to just sit down and hold my girls close. This is our last year together before they spring board into being a “big kid”: kids with their own opinions and mom just gets a little less cool each day. I already miss the spunky little toddlers they used to be with their chubby little bodies bobbing through the house, their tiny little giggles and the sweetness of their tiny head tucked under my chin.

Even though people warned me to slow down, take it easy and don’t rush- I just couldn’t understand it until I walked that path myself. I am not one to loiter with mom guilt, but there are days I feel completely guilty for wanting to hurry us through the roughest parts. I didn’t realize that would also hurry us through the sweetest parts too.

Enjoy the insanity- it doesn’t last as long as you think. And, one day when it is over you really will miss it!

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