Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Evolution of a Person - Career

I started out life wanting to ALWAYS be a veterinarian. I was obsessed with animals and I've had just about furry or feathery animal as a pet, with an occasional scaly one. I started college as pre-vet and decided against that. The math and science was OUTRAGEOUS and I am not ashamed to admit, I'm just not that smart. So, I switched to Pharmacy (because I was working as a pharmacy tech) which also changed after a semester, because have I mentioned that math isn't my strong suit?

I started working as a teaching assistant because it fit around my school schedule and ended up loving it. I worked with first grade and those kids were AMAZING. I thought I can do theist. I'm really good at talking to people. I've always been a good listener. I have great empathy for others. I also can handle basic math! Bonus! I did actually finish my bachelors degree (my masters also, amazingly enough) and I taught for five years. I loved every.single.student. I've had. Even the ones that made me roll my eyes at their dramatics and think, "I hope my child never acts like that." 

A couple of huge things happened in those five years that made me walk away from teaching without any hesitation. Being an actual teacher I was able to get a closer look at the politics of education. Educational politics suck. There is no way around it. For the most part, education (in my opinion) is not about educating. The biggest reason why I was able to freely walk away was my kiddos. I had 2 little ones within a year and a day of each other. My priorities changed significantly after I had my own kids.  I wanted to be home with them. I was freaked out by someone I didn't know watching them. Even now, three years later - I have 2 people that I will leave them with without having any worries. I have a couple of other people that I will leave them with but call to check-in periodically. I know, I'm crazy. I accept this kind of crazy and to me, it's normal. Will I ever go back to teaching? I'm not sure. Would I love to use my masters degree and work with kids and adults that have special needs in some way? YES! Does it fit in my life right now? No. 

All this talk gets us to where I'm currently at on my 33rd birthday. Yes, it's today and 33 feels no different then 32. I actually thought I was already 33 until Nunna corrected me last week! 

I have ALWAYS loved photos. Who doesn't?! Photos can instantly transport you to another time in your life. They capture children's first moments, birthdays, holidays, bad hairdos and style. They are looked at in time of remembrance when a loved one is lost, to remind you of all the amazing times that were had. Photos are unique in the fact that it captures a time that we will never get back. I love photos so much the photographer (the amazing Mishelle Lamarand) for our wedding was the biggest thing of our wedding budget. Guess what? She was worth.every.penny. We have some beautiful photos. I look stunning, the Hubs looks hot and we are just normal people. She was able to pull out some amazing qualities that I didn't even know we had!

So, when one of the photographers that she hired out to help her photograph our wedding offered to sell us her camera I just right on that! I was hugely pregnant with Lilli and and what a great time to get an expensive camera to capture this little kids life. I still have that camera. I love that camera. (It's a Canon Rebel XT) Then we added kids and dogs to our family and we had over a year that I could not afford to go and get professional pictures done of my family. I was seriously depressed for a week as their 2nd and 3rd birthday passed without getting photos done. The next month, I started practicing more with my camera. I even got a 50 mm lens for Christmas! That was life changing. I've worked with my camera and new lens for 9 months now. I've also worked quite a bit with different editing programs.  In December my photos looked like this:
I used some editing tools in iPhoto and LOVED the results. To me at this point, these were as professional as going to JCPenny. I'm being serious. 

This is an example after I got my new lens:
This was taken in July of this year. Yes, a couple of months ago.

This is an example of something from last weekend with my new camera:

I've come so far in the last 9 months and it's incredible what you can do with Lightroom! 

So, when I read an article on how 'everyone' is trying to become a photographer, I got my feathers ruffled. Even the great photographers out there had to start somewhere. I've looked at others work and some people who have been doing photography on the side haven't improved. But, most have. You can see how their style and photos have evolved. Hell, I've evolved in the last 9 months. Can you imagine what my product will look like in a year from now? 

We are setting up an in-house studio in the next couple of months and I am excited to learn about studio lighting and buying backdrops. Of course I'm excited about props! I LOVE props! Wish us luck in the construction of it -I'm sure we will be fighting about something during the entire time. 

So, as of right now - I've taken a hobby of mine and turned it into something that I see me doing part-time for the rest of my life. I only work a couple of days a month. I'm able to leave my kids with people that I have known my entire life or with my husband. Will I ever do weddings? Not right now. I'm not ready for that. I don't even try to kid myself about that. I need time to learn my camera and perfect this craft. Is my work good enough to charge people an honest fee to take their family portraits? Yes. Do I charge an arm and leg? No. Will I ever? No. I know the feeling of wanting professional pictures of my kids and not being able to afford it. Will I give more images then other photographers. Yes, I can't stomach the thought of a picture of my own child just sitting on someone's hard drive. Will my work be crappy? No. It's no where near the skill set that others who have been doing this for years but my skills are better then using a point and shoot.

I'm not doing this to get rich. I'm doing this because I love photography and I love people. 

Off my soap box..on to birthday cinnamon rolls and syncing my fitbit…yeah - those 2 don't usually go together but it's my birthday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Potty Training Thing #2 (22 Days Before Giving Birth to Thing #3)

I will be delivering Thing #3 in 22 days or less, depending on blood pressure and if I am preclamptic or not. (Yes, preclamptic isn't a word - I just made that shit up) So far this pregnancy has been great health wise. I've only gained 1 lb and my blood pressure has been beautiful. 

On January 5th - Thing #1 told me that she wanted to wear underwear and we tested it out and she was potty trained in 5 days! Easiest thing we've ever done. Granted we tried 3 times before the and were VERY unsuccessful. So, I told myself I would let Thing #2 decide on when she was ready. I didn't care if she was 3 1/2, I just wanted it to be just as easy as Thing #1.

Today, 22 days before my scheduled c-section Thing #2 looked at me and screamed, "NO DIEPEE!" I laughed and figured we'd give it a shot but if her ass ended up pissing on the couch or beds then it was back to the diepee. I'm too freaking round for this right now. (Sidenote: I've been dreaming of this time - the time where your allowed to not do anything besides cook the child inside of you. NOT attempting to potty train a 2 1/2 year old with the unlimited loads of laundry and Clorox Clean-up with Papertowel  that trails behind her!)

I know not to compare children. Thing #1 & #2 couldn't be more polar opposite. However, by the 2nd hour into this day she had already had 4 accidents and NO peeing or pooping on the toilet at all. I looked back at Lilli's chart (yes, I kept that shit because she was AMAZING at potty training!) and she only had 4 accidents the entire day on day #1. I had to remind myself that Thing #2 really knows what to do but that she's trying to gain some control over using the potty and just hoped for the energy to get through this day. (Daddy is off tomorro, so I will be bossing his ass back and forth to the potty with Thing #2 while I lounge in bed or on the couch!)

Now we are half way through the day and she's went pee 3 times in the big potty. I can't even mention the phrase, "Do you have to go potty?" Because she screams in a high pitch voice, "NOOOOOO!" I just sit her on it and she concentrates, pushes, and goes. She has started peeing in her underwear twice but stopped herself, screamed "PEE", and we made it to the bathroom for her to finish on the potty. I am going to chalk this shit up to a success. It might not be 5 days to perfection. It might be more like 5 months, but we're going to try it. I am hoping that the desire to be just like Thing #1 is too much for her to resist. That and getting to pick out her own underwear, not to mention the unlimited amount of suckers that will be at her disposal!

Wish us luck!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Time slipping by...

Life has a way of getting away from you. One minute you are holding your head while sobbing, "Isn't it bedtime yet?"The next, you are up at 6:30 a.m. with just the dogs cleaning, making breakfast and dinner (in the crockpot), and thinking you only have 23 more days until chaos completely erupts and when you welcome your last child into the world. Really? Where the hell has the last year go?!

I try to picture our lives 3 months from now and I can see a some what organized disorganization going on. I see 30 minute gymnastic classes taking all day preparation for kid drop off at Nunna and Papa's to make it on time for that small amount of time where my kid gets to do some structured sport. Then comes the gymnastics day that does not include drop off at Nunna and Papa's. Yeah - that day where I take the 2 youngest ones with me for the oldest ones 30 minute class. That days going to be hectic - but I hope that will just make it fly by.

I picture lots of crying and screaming over toys, while I am "shhhhhhing" in my loudest whisper because Lucy is sleeping and if they wake her up I am going to just kill them. (More like give them something to watch or paint because Mama ain't got time for all that drama.)

I picture me actually having 45 minutes of me time when I can get back to running. This will be my refuge. Being just by my lonesome and pounding the pavement to help me keep up with these 3 monsters that will be controlling my life.

I picture actually being able to hug my hot, sexy husband because I won't have a basketball in the way!! I can't wait for sexy time!!!! (sorry, mom)

I picture lots of first, seconds, and oh, Lord! not agains. Ex: Lucy rolling over, me yelling at the girls for trying to roll on top of Lucy, the girls asking for the 1,456 time, "Mama can I see Lucy's poop?"

I picture Rascal herding yet another one of our family members where he wants them to be, while rolling his eyes at how dumb we are.

I picture Charlie being sweet as pie with our girls. Still scared of Miguel. And loving me every bit she can.

I picture lots of sleepless nights. Tons.

The one thing I can't picture is being unhappy with this crazy life we've built. I have things I've never dreamt about.

I can picture myself becoming so emotional I break into tears all the time (I blame that on the Jerry Wrobel gene.)

As I hold Thing #2, who just woke up crying but instantly fell asleep on my shoulder

 I feel the pain of my body screaming - stop holding a 25 lb kid when you have a 6 lb kid in your belly! But I feel the love that spirals from their bodies to mine. Wait, maybe that's gas….Whatever it is - it feels good. The type of good you can get addicted to.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Your bigger then you know...

I have many amazing friends. Friends that listen to me bitch and complain about all the problems in my life. Friends that I trust to watch my kids. Friends that lift me up when I feel like I am going to pull my damn hair out. Friends that make me laugh so hard I pee. Friends who understand and love me. It's an glorious feeling to have these people in my life.

One friend in particular has given me strength that she doesn't even know about. When I feel like I am down to my last straw after a few hours of sleep, lots of temper tantrums, fighting with the Hubbs about his snoring, worrying about paying the bills - I stop and thinking of this amazing friend of mine. She has 2 beautiful children. Her second (the sweetest baby girl ever) was born with some special needs.

They knew before she was even born that they would have a battle to fight. There were many tears shared between text and phone calls. I would think in my head - I have no idea what I would do. I mean I know you make the best of every situation that the Lord puts you in - you have to…these are kids we are talking about. Not losing a job. Not losing a car to a wreck. These are little human beings that you held inside of you for 9 months. You changed your diet, lost sleep, threw up, had no energy, and changed your whole life since finding out they were going to be yours.

I never had a doubt in my mind that she would be able to handle this little girl with such care that she would thrive to such great extents that my friend would come out on top. My friend, who just so happens to be a nurse, has grown so much in such a short time. She lives on the opposite side of the state from me - but I see her through Facebook. Her beautiful family growing. I hear from her every couple of days when we check in with each other to see if we are both still just holding on by a thread.

She's already given life to her child, twice. She gave birth to her then had to breath life into her when she stopped breathing and turned blue due to her special needs. I can't even imagine. I think I cried for 2 days when she told me about it. Everything that happens in my life I think of that moment. Nothing could be worse. No one could be more amazing. At least, in my opinion.

We talk to each other when we are at our darkest moments and think we can't do this job that is so taxing. This job of motherhood. Neither one of us thinks we are doing our best (even though we are doing amazing), we both think we should do more, the doubts of motherhood are endless. Seriously. If you aren't a mother - you have no idea. If you are a mother of older children you might have forgotten - but parenting small children is NOT easy. It's rewarding as all get out. They make you laugh then smack their sibling then you want to kill them.

I have her to talk to when my husband is being a tool because her husband can be a tool too. All men are. It's part of their jobs as our husbands to make life difficult at times so that when life is good we realize what amazing men we have in our lives. What the hell would we ever do without them?

What in the hell would we do without each other? I have known this woman almost my entire life. We lived 2 doors away from each other and were as thick as thieves when we were smaller. We lost touch after high school when her parents moved from my street. But - through the grace of God we found each other again. Right when we needed each other the most. Right at the beginning of motherhood. When I was pregnant with #2 and she had the biggest baby in all of Michigan. :) That kid is going to play football for a major college…I know it!

Now she has the beautiful gift of raising the cutest girl ever with the craziest hair. With a special need that after a many surgeries will (I am hoping) be just a thing of their past. I pray that they will be able to think back on her infancy and go - Lord how did we get through that?

I just wanted to let this friend of mine know what great strength she's given to me. When I think that I can't do this motherhood thing one minute longer, when I think I am doing it all wrong - I think of her. All the things she's done in the last 5 months. How freaking amazing she is. If she can do all these freaking amazing things…then I can to. I can get through anything because she can do it. I hope she knows how much I love and respect her. God has this amazing ability to put people in your lives when you need them the most. She's someone I needed that one day when I was five and my best friend had just moved 45 minutes away. I walked into the moving truck saw her mom and said, "Hi, I'm Jennifer do you have any kids?" She's someone that I need in my life now at thirty-two when I am learning how to be the best mother I can for all 3 of our girls. She's basically just someone I need :) I am glad I have a friend like that. I'm glad the Lord has blessed me with many friends. Friends that I can count on and know no matter what - they are always my friend.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken

I seriously don't know why I never thought of this sooner, but it is something that I will be making either every week or every other week. I cook a lot. I mean A LOT. It saves us tons of money and though by husband would love to eat out everyday with only one income it's just not financially possible. I love making recipes from scratch - not super complicated ones.

We eat tons of chicken. Chicken chop suey, Crescent Chicken, Salad with chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken. There have been many nights in a row that I do the same thing. I thaw out 1 or 2 chicken breasts cut them up and cook them in the pan. The same FREAKING WAY. Why in the hell didn't I think to make a big batch of chicken one time a week and use it throughout is beyond me.

It all started with this recipe from David Venable of QVC for chicken pitas. It called for already cooked rotisserie chicken and I happen to buy some herb pitas that week. So I stuck 2 frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot for 3 hours on high with Adobo and Rotisserie seasoning and made my own! This Sunday I bought a family pack of chicken at Meijer and cooked the whole entire pack with the same seasoning for 3 hours on high. It came out PERFECT! Now I have a half of gallon bag of chicken that is already to go. I have already had a chicken salad sandwich (I am a little obsessed with them right now) and we will be having chicken salads and crescent chicken this week. If I have some left I am going to make chicken soup too! I don't know why in the world it's taken me 8 years of cooking on my own to do this but it has!

Sorry I don't have any pictures but it's kinda self explanatory!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Burt's Bees Review

Oh my WORD! I have fallen in love with a body wash!

I have been at war with myself of buying better quality products - partly because of money issues; and partly because we've always used Softsoap. Well - those days are over. I will be officially paying 8.00 for body wash from now on.

I got a sample pack of Burt's Bees Peppermint and Rosemary Body Wash. I thought, it's free I'll try it.

Little did I know how awesome this product is!

Here is the website description:
There’s nothing like a shower to get you going. That’s why you’re gonna love the energizing, minty-fresh feeling of this body wash. Made with natural Peppermint and Rosemary, this gentle plant-based cleansing formula is the perfect start to any day of your week.
Read more at http://www.burtsbees.com/Fabulously-Fresh-Peppermint-Rosemary-Body-Wash/00112-00,default,pd.html#puj68dG6dx8O3gyi.99
The consistency of the body wash is more fluid then others. It has to the peppermint oil in it that makes the texture the way it is. A little goes a LONG way! The smell is AH-mazing. It wakes you up and cleans your sinuses! BONUS! There is no Parabens, Phthalates, or Petrochemicals in it either. Which I think adds to the fact that my skin has NOT been dry since I have been using it. This winter + this pregnancy has made my skin miserable! I am dry and itchy all the time. However, when I started using this my skin changed dramatically in only a few uses. I do have to say I miss the bubbles but I LOVE the silky texture that it has. I have to keep reminding myself bubbles not necessarily mean clean - but they for sure mean DRY SKIN! 

So, if you in the market for a new body wash - give it a try. I think I might jump into trying their shampoo and conditioner too, now that I have an almost buzz cut!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Paci Blues

It's been a rough 29 hours in this house. Yesterday, we laid the pacifiers to rest. I had no problem with the girls having them until they were around 4 (when they start preschool), however, as of late they have NOT been using them the way they have been intended. I have done a lot of research on the usage of pacifiers and it's main goal is to soothe. They do their job - believe me. I would not have had a moment of sleep (not that I get a lot) in the last 3 years without them.

However, my girls have started chewing on them and ripping them apart. This is one way you can tell that your child physically is ready to give up the pacifier. This has been going on for a couple of months and I started having to replace them. It's not that they break the bank - but really? Chewing on it? You have all your FREAKING teeth. Why are you chewing on them?

What really made up the decision was when Lilli (3 years old) started trying to talk with it in her mouth. Now, she already has a speech issues. She doesn't place her tongue correctly on a lot of words and she has a little lisp. (I know that this will change over time.) Add having her tongue shaped into a "U" to hold on to her pacifier to that lisp/wrong tongue placement. It's a recipe for disaster. For real - it's hard enough sometimes to translate her foreign language!

So yesterday, when Lucy in the Womb woke me up for the day, I decided that we would lay the pacifiers to rest and hope for the best. Man - I did not know what I was in for!

Isabella (2 years old) was okay without it until nap time. When nap time came. She cried like someone was cutting off her fingers one at a time for 8 minutes. ONLY 8 minutes. I was expecting at least 30 minutes. That got my hopes up. At bedtime she only cried for 5 minutes! Such success in only 2 sleeps. She did ask for it twice during the day - but I was able to side track her with food. (She could use gaining a couple of pounds.) *She did wake up at 1:30 and cry but she fell back asleep after a minute or two. (I got to stay up for about 45 minutes listening to the Hubbs snore.) Day 2 nap time was HORRIBLE! She cried for 4 minutes then was quiet. I was silently cheering. Then 3 minutes later she started back up. It took her 25 minutes of crying on and off to finally pass out!

Lilli is a completely different story. This girl LOVES her pacifier. I knew it was going to be a struggle. She asked for it about 4 times throughout the day. Each time I told her that she was a big girl and didn't need it anymore. Then I started bribing her. "You want a new toy? You don't need the paci then!" Nap time was easier then I thought. it took her about 15 minutes of whimpering for her to pass out. Bedtime like living in HELL! She cried hard - snotty nose running down lip, tears down the cheeks, red scrunched up face, gonna make you throw up kind of crying hard. After 40 minutes - yes I let her go that long - I went in her room and laid down with her. She wanted to go and sit in the living room, but I just rubbed her back. She was out in less then 5 minutes. So far, she hasn't asked for it today. I am hoping that nap time goes just like yesterday and that bedtime will be at least half the time it took last night.

Now, let me tell you the things that could have screwed with my success rate here….

1) I didn't read them any kind of story about why we were giving it up - we just quit cold turkey. I don't think Isabella would have understood and I think that Lilli just thinks I am a bitch, but it might have helped.

2) They both went to bed LATE. Lilli went to bed extremely late. Over an hour late, because I wanted to let her see her dad. I should know better! Over tired children = Hot ass messes!

3) Day 2 issues - they both went to the doctor for checkups and each got one shot. What the hell was I thinking?!

Now - this evening we will be over to see my mom so Isabella might be a little late for bedtime. I try to keep her up until 9 but she's in bed by 8:30 most of the time. Some people may think this is late, but the chick only needs 8 hours of sleep. Her peepers open up at 6:20 every morning. Totally crazy! At 9:15 Lilli will be laying in bed relaxing with her choice of book, iPad, or toy. Last night we just threw her in bed at 10:30 and hoped for the best. I think that nap time was successful with her yesterday because she laid in bed for  a little while before she was told she had to take a nap. Who knows if any of this will help. I will might be rubbing her back at 9:45 until she falls asleep. But those pacifiers will not be making a reappearance until April when Lucy gets here!

I was able to go to Meijer yesterday without frantically looking for 2 pacifiers and making sure everyone had their blanket. It's funny because they don't seem so attached to their blankets now. We have made 2 trips out of the house without either item. It has been fun and carefree and I don't miss swearing over losing a pacifier! You know those times. When you are looking frantically under couches, beds, and in the bottom of toy boxes. When they wake up during the night that first year and you blindly search for it in the crib to it in their mouths so that you might be able to get 2 more hours of sleep. Remember that first child? The one that would lay the paci down and you would run and wash it then sterilize it? Yeah that one - that one was a bitch! Now it's a rinse and dip. You rinse it off and then dip into their mouths. Yes, I just admitted that and you might think that's unsanitary but bite me. Just bite me. Unless you are living my crazy life - you have NO freaking idea what it's like.

So, to all you parents who have loved, hated, and wanted to kill the makers of the pacifier. I salute you! It's a hard habit to break. For your kids and you!