Achieving My Greatness

Okay, so I’m nine years removed from my days of sitting in a lecture hall full of twenty-something’s with aspirations of being the next CEO of some Fortune 500 company. I’m also two years removed from my “I’m going to be a mommy!” moment, and two babies into this gig.

I’ve always had dreams of greatness. Ever since I was young, my parents instilled the value of hard work. If I worked hard in school, sports and whatever activities I participated in, I would be great. “Always try your best, never give up, and you can do it,” were things I heard from my mom and dad on a daily basis.

After practicing what my parents preached, I was able to achieve things I’d always hoped to achieve. Those dreams of greatness as a child, and later as a college graduate shifted once I became a mom. Time has had this funny way of continuing to put numbers between myself and what my dreams once were. It’s nearly impossible now for me to even think of the dreams I once had. Why, you ask? Because there’s a two-year-old in front of me who is constantly asking questions. (For those of you wondering, Gia is in the “why” phase of toddlerhood.) There’s always a face to wipe, a diaper to change, discipline to enforce and a night of sleep interrupted.

The idea or thought of being something great comes to mind on a regular basis, asking me to believe that it’s true: I wanted to be something great and now I’m just a mom.

It’s not that I don’t love motherhood, because I truly love it, even the hard parts. Outside of a few hundred shared photos on Instagram, does anyone really see my motherhood?

I feel like my destiny of becoming something great is in this role as mom. But can I still be great if no one sees me?

The answer is yes, because it is how I define greatness. I don’t let someone else define it for me.

After spending countless hours in study hall during my college years, and stressing over papers, mid-terms and finals, I wish I could tell my college self a thing or two.

The work I did then was important and it helped me to learn and grow. The work I do now is invaluable because I am truly making a difference. I’m mostly treading water, but there are three other people in my life who I get a chance to serve everyday. And when I really start to think about it, my greatness doesn’t lie in what jobs I’ve held or what titles I have. My greatness lies solely in how much of myself I give away to others, to my family. I wanted to be something great, and my husband and daughters give me the chance to do that every single day that I have them.

A Different Kind Of Mom Bod

I’m supposed to say, I love my body. I made little humans. I really like the cellulite that showed up on my butt. Aren’t these the things I’m supposed to believe with all of the body positivity, motherhood vibes and girl power that I champion??

Postpartum feelings are confusing and after both of my pregnancies I haven’t felt how I thought I would. For the last three years or so I’ve given my body away in a pretty substantial way, by going through two pregnancies in a relatively short period of time. Truth be told, I still give my body away every single day. I nurse my almost three week old, I hoist my two year old into the car, I schlep the dog up the stairs, I wipe dirty little faces and I pick up an endless array of toys.

It might sound selfish (and it feels selfish) that I want my old body back. I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking, “Ashley, you’re not even three weeks postpartum. Let yourself heal. Give it time. It took months to make those beautiful babies, so allow yourself to take the time to get back to where you were.” I get it. I agree, but it’s not that easy.

Seeing your postpartum body for the first time can be a pretty big shock. It’s hard (and amazing) for any woman to see such a huge transformation. Being that I recently shared with all of you that I had history with an eating disorder, it feels even harder seeing this change in my body, especially for the second time.

The good thing is that I’ve been through this all once before and I know what my body is capable of. I know I will lose the baby weight, regain my strength and feel like some semblance of myself again. I just hate the waiting game. It’s uncomfortable, but life can be uncomfortable.

While I was pregnant with Gialina I worked out 5-6 days per week, ate a balanced diet and treated myself when it felt right. With Viviana I did the same routine. The only difference that I can think of is that with Gia I stuck with more cardio based workouts, and with Vivi I continued my weight training with my cardio.

I gained 43 pounds with Gia and 40 with Vivi. The only reason I tell you this is because I’m a firm believer that your body is programmed to gain a certain amount of weight while pregnant, regardless of what you do. I did everything “right” through both of my pregnancies, yet I still beat myself up for not gaining the recommended 25-35 pounds.

Obviously those numbers can’t apply to everyone. The woman who is 5’2″ will very likely gain differently than the woman who is 6’0″. We aren’t the same and neither are any of our pregnancies.

Trust the process. This is my own reminder to myself to do just that. Sometimes when you put things out in the universe (like sharing vulnerabilities) good things happen. Healing happens. Support is given. People feel less alone. That’s my intention here. I’m reminding myself that I will get where I want to be soon and if you’re in a similar season in your life, you will too.

I’m sure you may have heard the saying, “people only show their highlight reel” through social media outlets. A friend of mine reminded me of this the other day, and it’s so true. Of course we are all quick to share the great things in our lives, but I find it just as important to share our bumps in the road or messy moments. We are all so much more alike than we realize. The moment we stop pretending that we are better than one another or comparing our highlight reels, is the moment we will all feel more connected.

 This is about my entire self, about all the parts of me – more than just getting my body back. It’s about the parts that existed before two little people filled my arms and my heart, and the parts that will continue to exist long after those people have fully grown.

Share your experiences – good and maybe not so good. I having a sneaking suspicion that someone else will reach out in appreciation, creating a ripple effect. Pass on kindness, pay it forward and if comfortable, share your truth.

Xo

Prepping For Baby #2: Three Things I Wish I Had The First Time Around

As much as I’d like to think this second pregnancy thing is a cake walk, it’s isn’t. The “been there, done that” mentality is there, but only to a certain degree. I hate to say it, but the fact is my pregnancy symptoms have been totally different than with Gia. As far as resting goes….well there is no rest when you have a toddler!

For me, there’s more to this than just getting my body ready to have our next baby. I’ll be adjusting my social life once again, my home and preparing a two-year-old for the arrival of our new family member.

You would think that after giving birth only two years ago that I’d be pretty well versed on doing the whole newborn thing again. Truth is, mom brain is real and I’ve forgotten a lot about those early days. I know most of it will come back to me, but new babies bring on different challenges.

One thing I do know about being a second-time mom is there are a few items that I’ll be needing that I didn’t have with Gia. Two of the three things I need for this go-round are solely for baby #2 and one thing is for both children.

So what are they you ask?

#1: Dockatot

Dockatot is a multifunctional sleep aid for your babe. It’s like it’s own little bed that can also serve as a place to sit, do tummy time, play and snuggle. It’s also great for safe co-sleeping and you can bring it anywhere. I don’t plan on using it for co-sleeping, as we did not co-sleep with Gia, but never say never.

I like the idea that it will give the new baby that cuddled feeling while sleeping. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s amazing and helps babies sleep for longer durations.

Gia was in a bassinet that has been in my family for years. While I love the idea of continuing that tradition, I also want to do what I think works best for us and baby. Thankfully Gia was a good sleeper, so I pray this baby will be the same!

#2: Rock ‘n’ Play

The great thing about having a sister-in-law who had her second baby before me is that I can ask her tons of questions. One thing that she got for her second boy was a Rock ‘n’ Play. She used it all the time for her baby. If it weren’t for her encouraging me to get one I’m not sure I would have thought of it myself.

What I think I’ll use it for most is to have a free hand to help Gia. Eventually when I’m home alone with two kids, I will quickly need to figure out how to balance their needs. I’m sure a lot of Gia’s needs will require me to set the baby down in a safe, portable environment. What’s great is that I’ll be able to bring it outside while Gia is playing.

There are quite a few versions of the Rock ‘n’ Play out there. I was able to purchase one on Amazon Prime Day for $30 off the original price. Who doesn’t love a deal?!

#3: Double Stroller

Stroller shopping can be overwhelming because there are so many options. With Gia we bought a Peg Perego stroller and car seats. Naturally, since I loved them so much I immediately gravitated towards the brand’s Duette Piroet stroller.

The hardest part about deciding on what kind of double stroller to get was the side-by-side set up versus the tandem set up. Ultimately, after seeing both options from Peg Perego in person, Craig and I agreed the tandem version is what we prefer. My gut says it will be easier to maneuver and it will just work well with our lifestyle.

Beyond these items, I’m pretty much good to go. I have plenty of beautiful clothes that I’m excited to see our new girl in. We have all the toys and play accessories a baby could need. The last few things I need to do are along the lines of rewashing baby clothes, packing a hospital bag and making sure I have what I need for my own recovery.

I’m sure if we were to have a third child, I’d have a brand new blog post listing what I’d need for baby #3 that I didn’t have the first two times. There’s always new and amazing products, as well as things we think we just need to have.

For now, we are very happy to become a family of four and we’re planning on keeping it at that. Four has always seemed like the right number for us.

Now I just need to stick out eight more weeks of being hot and uncomfortable. We can’t wait to meet our newest girl. Gia is especially excited….for now! 😉

Xo

Two Books To Help Me With My Independent (almost) Two-Year Old

Scores and scores of moms, and parents in general, are overcome with stress.  Although at times we can see humor in stressful times, insight and occasionally find a practical solution to our stress, there’s still that serene lifestyle that is out of reach.  Yes, when you have adult responsibilities such as a career, children, running a household,  and financial commitments, stress is just part of the everyday norm.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself and totally transparent, my source of stress right now is my almost two-year old and the worries that most other parents face.  Most days, Gia is my little shadow – she’s eager to please me, mimics everything I do and is an overall very happy and well-mannered child.  Like any toddler, she has her moments and now those moments come around a little bit more often as she is tasting what it’s like to be an independent big girl.

The last week or two has brought about new behaviors that are usually directed towards me, mommy.  After all, I am with her everyday, all day, so it’s only natural that she would show defiance and resistance to me more than daddy or grandparents.  We all want to raise respectful, well-behaved kids who make good choices, but it’s not so easy at this age.

About two weeks ago when I took Gia to use the potty she was adamant about not going (because she was very busy playing) but it had been far too long without her taking a potty break.  Most of the time if she says “no” to going potty, I honor her request but keep a very close eye on her because she usually refuses to go only to exert her power.  This particular time I wasn’t going to bend because we were out in public and business needed to be handled before getting in the car.  The short of it is that she smacked me right on the head because she didn’t want to go.  This was a brand new behavior that was kind of shocking to me.  I’m sure she’s seen other kids do this at our gym daycare, but I was still emotionally hurt by it.

This week, after an activity packed visit to San Diego to see her cousins, Gia has had more frequent outbursts that are quite obviously the “terrible twos.”  I’ve always kind of hated that term, but it’s now truly starting to rear it’s ugly head just a couple weeks before her second birthday.

Learning to discipline such young child who is obviously very bright can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least.  There are so many methods of discipline and ways to parent, and everyone who has their opinions about it.  Craig and I are approaching this new phase of toddlerhood with as much patience as possible and with open minds.

I think that the hardest part about all of this for me is that I expect so much of Gia.  I don’t expect perfection by any means, because I expect that of no one.  It’s just difficult to remind myself that she still is quite young.  Just because she’s grasped so many things at such a young age makes me forget that she’s still not quite two years old.  Her mind is still developing and the concept of discipline is hard at this age.  I mean, really, what kid her age will sit in time-out, even if just for one minute?!  (If your kid does this, my hat is off to you and you can message me immediately about how you make that happen!)

What I’m getting at is that these little humans are evolving every single day and sometimes that means the days feel a little bit longer.  I like to share these normal hiccups and challenges because as parents we ALL go through it but don’t always share about it.  Sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate, simply to know that you aren’t alone!

As a result of our opinionated and independent girl developing new habits, we are slowing down and taking the time to explain things at her level.  She has such empathy for her age and knows when people are hurt or even if feelings are hurt.  If she hears me say to another adult that I was upset she immediately tells me, “Mommy, don’t worry.”  The fact that she tells me this means we’re doing something very right.

We are just continuing to plow through and prepare her for life the best way we know how.  We’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but we’re all just winging it anyway!

In case any of you are going through this phase of toddlerhood, I’d like to share two books that I just ordered through Amazon to help me out:  “Hands Are Not For Hitting” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.”

I know that people laugh about these kinds of books because they weren’t accessible to parents of earlier generations and their kids “turned out fine.”  While that may be true, just because there’s new knowledge and support in the world doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we can’t be open to it.

Happy Friday my friends!

xo

Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day: Both Are Important!

Regardless of your views and beliefs about religion, Christmas is easily one of the most recognized holidays across the globe.  So why is it that Easter, another very important religious holiday, can’t compete with the month-long extravaganza that is Christmas?  Easter is clearly the runner-up to Christmas, whether we want to admit it or not.

Likewise, retailers and bloggers have done their best to whip shoppers into a frenzied state prior to this Father’s Day weekend.  Despite these efforts, Father’s Day seems to be treated with far less reverence than Mother’s Day.  It’s no secret that Mother’s Day gets a lot of attention, but I’ll argue that Father’s Day doesn’t typically receive the same level of interest.  Why is that???

When May rolls around each year, florists, chocolatiers and the trendiest brunch joints extol the importance of showing profound gratitude for all mothers.  The way Father’s Day is marketed and treated with far less seriousness.  Even though I shouldn’t be complaining, this kind bugs me.

Yes, Gia’s dad, Craig, is a lovable buffoon at times, but he is by no means a dimwitted figure who couldn’t possibly be expected to be bothered with feeding or bathing our daughter without first being issued step-by-step instructions.  (I am guilty of leaving him detailed lists of what to do with Gia, as well as checking in on them when they’re alone, but part of that is me just being me.)

It’s 2018 people.  Men are more involved than ever in the day-to-day caring of their kids.  There are countless mornings when I’m on my way to the gym, with Gia in tow and I see the neighborhood elementary school yard filled with fathers.  They’re making sure their kids don’t jump into the street, holding backpacks and giving hugs and kisses before seeing their little ones off to school.  My local parks overflow with dads who seem especially doting.

Just yesterday as I walked into my gym, a member who I’m friendly with asked, “Where’s the baby?”  I kindly said that she was with daddy having fun until I got home and it was his turn to head to the gym for his workout.  What I wanted to say was, “She’s home alone watching TV and making sure the house doesn’t burn down.”  Come on – where do you think she is??  Why are fathers seen as the “babysitters” and moms are seen as the “real” parent?

In my humble opinion, it’s insulting to all moms and dads.  Yes, there may or may not be more pressure and unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, but this message we are sending is that fathers are less devoted.  That’s simply not the case.  Dad’s are not an afterthought and it’s time we start acting like Father’s Day is just as important as Mother’s Day – because it is!

I’m sure all of us want the father figures in our lives to feel special on Father’s Day each and every year.  In my family, the fathers are probably okay without a purchased gift, but I enjoy shopping for the occasion anyway.  For some, Father’s Day may be more challenging to shop for than Mother’s Day, but remember, it’s not about the gift.  Just like mom, dad wants to feel appreciated and be told that he’s doing a good job.

I am not the sole nurturer of my child because my husband plays a huge role in that as well.  Craig, if you’re reading this, you are a fantastic father.  Expressing my thanks publicly like this for all of your unconditional love will never be enough.  Your contributions to this family exceed all expectations.  You are our provider, protector and a strong individual that we all should try to emulate.  Thank you for never shying away from wiping a dirty baby bum, or putting our daughter to sleep.  I appreciate the selfless care and protection you provide to us on a daily basis.  We love you beyond measure.

Here’s to all of the fathers out there.  May all your days with your family be filled with love, but especially so this Father’s Day.

xo

The Skin I’m In: Thoughts About Body Image During Pregnancy & Beyond

Some mornings I stand in the buff and look at my pregnant body with so much admiration. I’m creating another life and my body knows exactly how to do it. Organs, little ears and tiny limbs are all being made by me – and I guess my husband helped a little too. 😉

Then there are mornings that turn into entire days where I look at myself in the harshest light. Yes, I know I’m pregnant and yes, I know my body is not mine right now, but I still feel bad about it. I feel horrible even writing that, because it doesn’t reflect how excited I am to have another child. I feel guilt just thinking that!

Obviously pregnancy stimulates a wide range of feelings about the body. Those who have been pregnant and are pregnant know exactly what I mean. Our culture, especially among certain social classes, makes no secret of how very important it is that women “get their bodies back” instantaneously. Too little attention is paid to why our bodies morph the way they do during pregnancy. We hold onto the baby weight for a reason, because it serves both the baby and mother.

Body shame in our world today is prolific and it leaves women (pregnant or not) feeling stymied. Pregnancy can be especially disorienting in so many ways. I for one, have felt an immense amount of anxiety and at times, depression about how I’m coping with my growing pregnant body.

After receiving a heartfelt and thoughtful DM from a childhood friend this morning, I felt inspired to write on this topic. My friend is pregnant with her first child and is feeling a lot of the things I felt while pregnant with Gia and how I feel now.

The other day my friend who DM’d me posted a photo to her Instagram page. The photo was a shot of her and her beautiful growing bump. She told me that when she was posting the picture she was so scared of what people would think about how she looked. She also went on to say how awful she felt for feeling that way because she was doing something amazing, growing her baby.

Like me, my friend has maintained a healthy routine through her pregnancy by working out, eating healthfully, while still allowing herself a splurge sometimes. Balance right?? Regardless of her efforts and mine to treat our bodies with kindness during this time, we have both beat ourselves up over our weight gain.

After messaging her back, we were both in agreement that we are doing the right thing for ourselves and our growing babes, but regardless of all that, our bodies are going to do what they’re going to do. For my friend that means more weight in her lower half than she’s used to or prefers. For me, that means having a cup size to rival any Victoria’s Secret hottie, as well as a growing lower half.


If I’m being honest, this picture makes me look smaller than I think I really look.  Again, I was also hesitant in even sharing this photo.  These pants are doing their damnedest to keep my bulging body parts in, but this is my version of six months pregnant.

We are all different people and all have different pregnancies. Sometimes it’s hard for me to not look at other pregnant women and be envious of their seemingly perfect bumpin’ belly and looking so petite everywhere else. I need to remind myself that those women and myself are totally different. I am a six foot tall athlete. I have been athletic my entire life. I’m going to look very different than a woman who is 5’4 and who has never played collegiate sports.

This weekend I even found myself comparing my six months pregnant body to a petite woman who was 15 months postpartum. How ridiculous is that?! First of all, I’M PREGNANT. Second, I was almost a foot taller than her with a totally different body type.

I really had to reel my thoughts back in this weekend. I also am constantly reminding myself that being pregnant is hard in so many ways. I’ve had an especially challenging time navigating my thoughts on body image through my last pregnancy and this one. I’ve mentioned briefly in a previous post that I did have an eating disorder towards the end of college.  I was in the thick of under eating and over exercising.  Because of all that, my last year I was unable to continue to play softball due to so much weight loss.  Everything important to me, including my identity, was taken away so abruptly. (At some point I’ll share the full story about this, but that’s a post for another day!)

I am fully recovered from that dark time in my life, but it’s a constant battle to silence the negative and disordered thinking that I practiced for so long. I know that it will be something I need to be mindful of for my whole life, and that’s especially true right now, even while pregnant.

I think what I really want to say is we all have a struggle. Many times that struggle is silent and we feel very alone. This post proves that I’m not alone in my complicated feelings about my pregnant body, and neither is the friend who reached out to me. We both worked hard for our healthy pre-pregnancy bodies and we will both work hard to have healthy postpartum bodies.

We all need to give ourselves some grace and remember we have one body. Be kind to it, fuel it properly, appreciate all that it is capable of and be grateful.

After having Gia I’ve realized that life just goes by faster with each passing year. I can’t get hung up on putting pressure on myself to lose baby weight from this second pregnancy by a certain time. I should be more concerned with maintaining my good health to raise equally as healthy daughters, who I hope will one day love their bodies unconditionally. Like I’ve always said, God has given me girls so I never slip back into disordered eating and so I can teach them how their bodies are strong and perfect exactly how they are.

My tips to anyone who is struggling with body image during pregnancy:

Acknowledging You’re Body is Being Borrowed – Your body is in a major transformation process. Perhaps the negative feelings you have about your pregnant body may be about something other than the actual body surface, or in addition to it. Investigate your feelings and acknowledge them. Remember pregnancy is not permanent and is such a small blip of time in your whole life. Try and look at the good during this time.

Notice Self Talk And Feedback From Others – Comparison is the thief of joy and shame based internal chatter is a recipe for unhappiness. There will always be unsolicited comments about your pregnant state. Try just accept the comment and not think too far into it. Opinions from others about your bump are truly irrelevant, unless coming from your doctor. Keep doing YOU and say “screw those people!” (And I say that in the nicest possible way! Lol!)

Acceptance – Acceptance, especially body acceptance, during a time where you’re scared that your body will forever be enlarged is tough. Here’s what I’ve realized through both of my pregnancies….worrying does not modify what may or may not happen to my body through these wondrous months. Preoccupation with my body has never brought anything fruitful and steals joy from the present moment. It’s not fair to me or my family. Keep your eye on the prize – that end result, your baby!

Focus On Being A Role Model – Being gentle on myself as I navigate body image concerns serves as an ideal template for me to parent from. I don’t want Gia and her little sister to ever treat their bodies the way I have treated mine. I’ve been cruel to myself in the past and don’t want to teach that. As I journey through motherhood, modeling what it means to be a strong woman is what’s most important.


This little girl and her growing sister are the ones that I do all of this for.  They make me stronger, happy and oh so proud.  Little eyes are always watching.

And that’s all I’ve got! I think this post serves me more than others. It’s something I should reference back to when I’m feeling not so great about myself. I need to practice what I preach, and by writing it for all of you to read I’m holding myself responsible for following through with my words.

Hopefully someone who reads this can relate in some way. Remember we are all made perfectly the way we are and that’s what’s truly beautiful.

Xo

My Week Long Social Media Detox

I’m pretty sure that from the beginning, technology was meant to serve us in a positive way. Social media is supposed to make our lives better by allowing us to have more time and connection to others in our already limited schedules. But are the likes of Instagram and Twitter really adding value to our lives?

I will certainly admit that there are times where I feel like a slave to the social media machine. It’s sometimes hard to totally “log off,” especially when our jobs and lives almost require us to be online. I catch myself scrolling through my Instagram sometimes before even hopping out of bed in the morning, and for what?

Of course social media can be a good thing, but even too much of a good thing can be harmful. For this reason, I decided to take a little break from all things social media for one week. Some of you may scoff and say, “One week is nothing!” While that may be true, at least I’ve remained true to my word for the last week by going completely cold turkey. For me, the main culprit of addiction is Instagram. I use Facebook as well, but Instagram is something that I feel more invested in, for whatever reason.

On day 2 of my detox from the online world, I realized just how much I casually visited Instagram. Day 1 was easy to go without, but the second morning I found my fingers twitching to click that little icon on my phone. Thoughtless Instagram scrolling sometimes serves as a little mommy getaway during nap time or when Gia is happily watching an episode of Sesame Street. But what was it that I was really longing for? Nothing on Instagram that I was “missing” was going to change my life, or make it better for that matter.

On Day 6 of my little detox, I realized I wasn’t even thinking about social media. With this newfound sense of “freedom” I found myself using short bursts of time for more useful things than online scrolling. I’m a pretty productive person, but this past week I’ve been more motivated to just get things done. I’m not sure if it has everything to do with not being so online, but I’ll take it.

During the past week I’ve accomplished a lot – Gia’s big girl bed is in her new room, bedding for it has been ordered, I’ve had family over for dinner, I’ve taken family to appointments and planted in the yard, just to name a few. Along with these to-do’s I’ve also felt more mental clarity. I know that sounds a little wacky, but it’s true. No trying to keep up with the Joneses, less feelings of inadequacy and more pride in the things that I have accomplished. If I can attribute these feelings to less social media usage than I may very well make this a regular thing.

We all know that social media sells a false reality, which can be especially toxic for women. We all usually post our best pictures – many times showing us on our latest adventure, silently proclaiming (with or without intention) how great our life is. Herein lies the comparison problem. It’s extremely difficult to remind ourselves that people post what they want others to see. If you say you don’t, you’re probably lying.

When I first looked at my Instagram feed after not seeing it for a week there was a couple things I noticed. I realized that I didn’t miss much of anything and I immediately had a negative thought creep into my head. After seeing a pregnancy Instagram account post a photo of a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant, I found myself comparing my pregnancy size to her. First off, I’m a couple days shy of 23 weeks, and second – it doesn’t matter! Everything I’ve been trying to stop doing the past week came racing back. I’m just pleased I was able to instantly realize how irrational and ridiculous I was being for thinking I should look like that woman.

The thing about comparing our lives to each other through social media is that it’s completely unfair. Nobody’s profile is perfect – it’s all filtered and sterilized! So why do you and I keep feeling a twinge of despair for not having as many likes and followers as the next person? Here’s where I insert a friendly reminder: Comparison is the thief of joy. A flower doesn’t think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. Lions don’t concern themselves with the opinions of sheep either. Wish I could say I came up with those quotes, but I didn’t. They are just words I try to remember when I catch myself feeling inadequate after looking at the hottest blogger’s Instagram feed, or my mom friend who seems to always have her stuff together.

One of 30 newly planted friends in my front yard – my beautiful hydrangea:

I understand that we live in a day and age where social media is truly a big part of all of our lives. There’s lots of tangible benefits too – keeping us connected with friends and family from all over, and augmenting our social lives, rather than replacing them.

My biggest takeaway from this personal experiment was that there is so much more to life than meets the eye. My perspectives have been shifted and I’ve been reminded of what’s most important in life – our family, health and happiness.

I read an article prior to going offline for the week about a man who takes a month long break from social media every December. I thought this was a really great idea and would be something that I could benefit from. If I implement this same practice the only thing I will miss are sharing photos of my daughter. (Soon I’ll be saying daughters! Crazy!) Other than that, it sounds like I need to pick my month of the year to go on my vacation from the online world.

Have any of you taken a deliberate break from social media before? I’m curious to hear what it did for you. Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts about what the app addiction is doing to our world.

Xo

Why We Are Having Another Child

As parents, it seems like Craig and I have finally fully adjusted to life with a little one and now we are adding a little sister to the mix.  Yes, we know we will have to referee many backseat battles and likely have to buy two of everything when it comes to toys – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course!  But what we are most excited for is to witness Gialina and her little sister play with one another and embrace each other in warm hugs.

When Gia was born I realized I would do anything to protect her.  I hope and pray that Gia will experience a similar feeling growing up with a younger sibling.  When baby girl number two comes along and starts to become more independent, our children will learn how to split the last chocolate chip cookie that I made, and hopefully learn how to divide TV time when their favorite show is on.  Obviously these little lessons will take time and there will be bumps in the road, but they will come in handy when they are in school.

Craig and I both grew up with siblings and we couldn’t imagine not giving Gia that same gift.  She might not see it that way in the beginning, but as already experienced by Craig and I, having a built in “playmate” and lifelong friend is wonderful.  There won’t be an urgent need to schedule playdates when Gia’s best friend is in the next room.  I know that some of this talk of being best friends can be wishful thinking on my part.  I am fully aware that siblings fight and sometimes they fight a lot.  I’m also keen to the idea that we are going to raise our children with a strong moral compass, so with that, we believe that our children will love and respect one another for a lifetime.  It’s all about setting a good example and instilling proper values.

In Gia’s almost two years of life, we’ve witnessed such empathy, compassion, humor and intelligence on the daily.  Whether it’s mastering a puzzle or learning to hit a plastic golf ball, we know that Gia will teach her younger sister so many things.  In the same regard, as an older sibling she will learn a lot of patience from our new addition.

As I’ve gotten older, I share so many of my thoughts and problems with my younger brother, Zach.  I hope that Gia and her sister will turn to each other for guidance, just as their funky Unkie and I do.


Pictured here is my brother Zach explaining the finer points of surfing to Gia.  I can’t wait for her to know the bond siblings can share.

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As sister’s they will celebrate so much together – from birthdays to a walk down the aisle, I hope they stand by each other’s side through all of life’s monumental moments.  With those good times also comes tough times – bruised knees, a less than perfect grade, a broken heart.  No matter the problem, siblings should be there to dry each other’s tears and act as a shoulder to lean on.

(Thinking about this next part makes me emotional and teary eyed.) Above all else, we are making our family a family of four because we want Gia to have someone to grow old with.  Friends come and go, but family is forever.  Unfortunately our parents aren’t able to physically be around forever, so having another sibling ensures that Gia will have a blood connection long after Craig and I are gone.

I’m aware that not everyone wants another child, let alone one child.  (I’ve addressed that in my blog before.)  I try to be sensitive to the fact that everyone is free to live their life exactly how they wish, with child or without.  I also know that those who want kids may have difficulty conceiving and may never experience what Craig and I have.  I feel great pain for those who want kids but are unable, and I have great respect  for those who choose to live their life without children, as these are very personal things.  All I know for myself is that I would absolutely regret not having a second child.  I feel like I would be robbing Gia of something that I know is so amazing.  This is why we are adding another girl to our gang.


Soon Gia will be picking flowers with her built in bestie.

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Sidenote:  I know my blog invites opinions of others, but I want to remind everyone to be kind.  By no means do you need to agree with any of my opinions, let’s just be respectful of one another.

I’d love to hear from friends and strangers alike – Why have you decided to have a another child?  Feel free to comment here and don’t forget to follow more of my adventures on my Instagram page, @mrsbennigson.

xo

Not So Frequent Flyer

For those of you who follow my Instagram account, @mrsbennigson, you already know that Gia and I took off for a weekend adventure.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wanting to head to Newport Beach to visit my brother. We don’t get to see him all the time and in turn, he doesn’t get to see Gia on the regular. We do what we can with technology and FaceTime, but the real deal is always our first choice.

Initially this trip was just going to be my mom coming down to visit Zach – I always have her for Mother’s Day, so Zach was long over due to have some mom time with her. I thought this would also be a good chance to visit Zach with Gia before baby #2 gets here, because Lord knows that we won’t be hopping on a plane with a toddler and newborn right away.

First of all, my hat is off to parents who regularly travel by air with their little ones. Flying can be stressful with or without kids – delays and being surrounded by loads of people means we aren’t really in full control.

Now, I know a flight from Oakland to Orange County is nothing compared to a transcontinental or international flight, but we had to start somewhere! Thankfully our flight was just over an hour and I armed myself to the teeth to make sure Gia and I would be prepared.

I have to say, we had it pretty easy when it came to luggage and necessities. My mom opted to drive down a day ahead of us because that’s just how it worked out. Luckily enough, I sent the stroller, car seat and our luggage with her. Yes to semi-free hands in the airport! All I needed to concern myself with was the little umbrella stroller and backpack with extra undies, snacks and books for Gia.

I think my biggest worry was the whole potty situation and not being able to get up on the plane during takeoff and landing. Fortunately, Gia was awesome about using the potty exactly when I needed her to.

I tried to think ahead and reserved our seat close to the lavatory. (My pregnant brain/mom brain didn’t fail me with that idea!) Once we boarded the plane Gia just hung on to me so she could snuggle, which is a rarity these days. Right after takeoff she dozed off and later woke before our decent. I offered her some crackers and we took a potty break before getting ready to land. Success!

Once we deplaned we were promptly greeted by my mom, or Gagi (gah-ghee), as Gia likes to call her. Needless to say, I was so proud of Gia while she was at the airport and on the plane. I think she must have been proud of herself too.

Anytime we try something new and unfamiliar it has the potential to be a little nerve wracking. I knew we would ultimately do fine on our first flight (and without daddy), but we all want things to go smoothly, especially with tots in tow.

As I’ve said on my blog many times before, just go for it. Don’t let your nerves or fears stop you from anything! Take the flight, apply for that dream job, go on the date, follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. Once you do it you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wonder what your hang up was in the first place.

Maybe I’m a little preemptive in this post, as my flight home isn’t until Monday, but in the spirit of positivity, I’m sure we will do just fine on the way home too. I realize not all flying experiences go as planned, so I’m sure I’ll have more travel stories to share in the future – good and bad!

Happy travels and wishing all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Xo

Raising Strong, Confident Daughters

One thing I’ve already begun to realize over the last year and a half, or so, is that bringing up daughters is complicated: Messages of empowerment and achievement are everywhere, yet depression and anxiety plague so many.

I know these things because I am still a daughter even though I’m now also a mother. I know these things because I never want Gialina and her sister to go through the hard things that I went through. I want to raise my girls to be their best, well-rounded selves despite so many negative outside influences in our world.

During a routine morning not long ago, I was looking in our downstairs mirror. I lifted my shirt to look at my stomach – I’d recently found out I was pregnant with Gia’s sister. I was checking for any signs of a growing baby in my stomach and caught myself feeling a little bit upset. I was upset because I selfishly thought about how hard it will be to watch my body grow through another pregnancy. Although the creation of life is truly an amazing miracle, it can really do a number on a woman’s mindset and body confidence. In my case, I suffered from an eating disorder during my early twenties and although I am healthy today, the negative voices are still there and will always need to be tamped down.

After checking myself out for a quick moment I realized that my daughter Gia had been watching my every move, as she always does. To my surprise and slight horror, she walked over to where I was standing and proceeded to lift her shirt to show her tummy. She clearly was just mimicking mommy, but this instance just goes to show you that your children are always watching, listening and learning from you.

I love having a daughter and I am thrilled to be a girl-mom once again, but nothing annoys me more than when someone says, “Oooh, two girls! You sure are in for it!”

I feel like I was born to parent girls because of the challenges I overcame that tend to overwhelmingly affect women. God gave me not only one, but two girls so that I could teach them to love themselves as much as I should have been loving myself through my eating disorder. I’m excited to be raising two strong little girls, but even this early on it can feel like walking a tightrope.

Part of me is so excited for their future. There are so many female role models out there for them to aspire to be like. Unfortunately, there are also things like stress, anxiety and depression that come with high achievement. When my girls grow up and are doing everything possible to be all that they can, I want them to enjoy it. Like any parent, I want my girls to have boundless opportunity, but more than that, I want them to be happy. The bigger part of that is making sure they are ready for whatever challenges they will someday face.

Know the impact you will have on your child – celebrate their uniqueness, praise their imperfections and instill social confidence.

I know that I will always try to raise strong, confident daughters, but I also realize that they will be who they will be. I can’t make my daughters be something they weren’t meant to be. I just hope and pray that I continue to be the best parent that I can be through their challenging teen years and young adult lives.

Looking at Gia sitting beside me right now also makes me relish the simplicity of toddlerhood. She is completely unfiltered and totally herself in this moment. In a couple of years she will be more aware of the opinions of others, but I hope she holds on to her own opinions while remaining kind, strong-willed and unique.

Xo