It’s 9pm. Your husband’s still working. You finally sit down to breathe after putting your kids to bed. 9pm – this is actually early for you. A very newly found routine with your children to get them in bed by 7:45pm. The routine never really goes exactly as planned but it’s better than before, it’s better than no routine at all. (Cue the arguing with your 4 year old during teeth brushing – he doesn’t want to brush with any toothpaste tonight. He also doesn’t want to pee before bed (do you really want to wash those sheets one more time this week? Why is washing bedding a whole entire day process?). Reading 2 books while your boys kick each other in the bed because your youngest won’t scoot over to “his pillow,” then projecting the flashlight onto the ceiling to do puppet fingers before kissing them goodnight. You sit there until they fall asleep with a dead phone, in the darkness. Are they asleep? One pops up with the side eye to make sure you’re still sitting on the bed. Shhh. You sneak out quieter than Santa on Xmas, tip toeing every inch until you’re out of the room and in the clear…to breathe. You did it. They’re asleep (for now).

You go to sit down on the couch. Maybe you’ll binge watch Handsmaids Tales tonight. Only if Nick and June continue their love affair. Wait…there are 25 dishes in the sink from dinner. Shit. You can’t go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Bugs will get into the house. You don’t do bugs. Scrub a dub dub. Sink is spotless. Start the dishwasher and go sit down on the couch. Get comfy. Shit. Birth control – need to take that too. Gulp.

You realize need to shower. You may or may not smell – maybe from dinner. Maybe from the day. Who knows. You just know you need to shower.

Rewind to morning. You’ve been up since what feels like the crack of dawn when you’re kids came stampeding into your bed like a herd of elephants running away from prey. Oh wait, it was the crack of dawn.

You snooze your alarm because you want to lay there but your kids are yelling at you to get up. They’re hungry. Guess you’re getting up.

Breakfast. One picky eater, one becoming a picker eater. Options are so limited. You make them all options in hopes one will be devoured.

Boys – let’s get dressed. Argument – one doesn’t like any of their shoes. One doesn’t want to brush their hair today. Fighting over a lego toy car when there are 50 toy cars in the playroom. You’re stressed and yelling at 8am to share toys. Boys – you tell them go sit down or play while you make lunches.

Again, one picky eater. What the F* do you pack today? You’re on the struggle bus, this morning. Maybe every morning. Not sure, the days turn into blurs.

Lunches made, waters filled.

Boys – let’s go!

Off to school. You look 20% presentable. Gym clothes even though you have no intention of working out today. Hair in a messy bun.

You walk each into their preschool classrooms. No car pool line yet, not old enough. You kiss them goodbye and tell them to have an amazing day, you’ll see them later. On your way out. you pray that there are no sickos that shoot up your child’s school today. You hope that no little kid brings a weapon to school, we’ve all seen it on the news too many a times. You think how sick of a world it is that you’re worrying about the safety of your babies (literal babies).

You’re back home. (Or in an office). You start your work day. Shit, you need caffeine. You make your daily cup of coffee.

Start work. A stressful work day. Clients are maybe happy, maybe not. The focus is always on the fires you need to put out. Just like the bad reviews online. You only notice those.

Sleepiness sets in. 2nd cup of coffee time.

Meetings. Calls. You gaze at the clock.

Whew. You made it (through the first part of your work day). The 2nd half starts now.

Pick up the kids from school. It’s sweltering out. Why did you wear those tight black leggings in this heat?

Doesn’t matter now. Home.

The kids sprint towards the snack cabinet. Could only mean one thing. Yep, didn’t eat their lunch. You try to school them on why eating their food before snacks is important.

But you give in. Snack time.

Now, practicing writing (or homework). Holy frustrating – your child is stubborn. They don’t like being told they’re doing anything wrong and your patience is thin.

Dinner. Do you really have to think about food again? What are you making them? 2 different dinners because, picky.

Early bath time – you got this. Stick to the “routine” – one has eczema but you feel so bad not letting him play with the bath bubbles. Bubbles it is. Then cream, a lot of it. He cries, it burns his poor open skin but no creams or meds have helped thus far.

Pajamas. They want to wear the Batman pjs. Shit, those are in the wash. Sorry boys!

A work email. Another fire. You have to respond.

Your kids tell you to get off of your phone.

You put it down for a second but then someone’s irrelevant life catches your eye on Instagram. You gaze, losing track of time.

Movie or playtime boys!

Time for bed. Routine.

Husband comes home. The house is spotless. Work clothes washed. No idea that anything went down in the house today.

It’s tomorrow. Repeat.

-dedicated to the two littlest loves of my life. Mommy loves you more than all the stars in the sky ♥️

Many of us women long for the customary path of engagement, marriage, a good career, a “forever” home and babies, at least at some point in our lives. Some go on to have one or two of those things, others – all of them. Some do them out of order. Some have some of them and then lose them. Some can never have some of the ones they want.

Getting engaged younger than all of my friends was strange…Not in a “I don’t want to be engaged” kind of way but more of a “No one I’m friends with can relate to me at this phase of my life now” sort of strange.

I was pregnant shortly after our engagement at just 25 years old (may seem young to some, old to others) but for me, I felt insanely young. It had just been months before where my “boyfriend” and I were out at all hours of the night in Miami, having the time of our lives and now come to find out that a placenta would come out of my hoo-ha after the baby (they clearly don’t teach these things in sex ed). What? You deliver a baby and then something else comes out? I was horrified at the thought of the entire process.

Well, 2 kids later, I now know what a placenta looks like first hand thanks to my husband taking one picture and one picture only during the birth of our second son. I almost died looking at the picture he took (none of the birth, just the one placenta picture (ha!)) Do guys share placenta pics after birth like they share IG model pics with their bros? Ew, I’m getting grossed out, next topic.

It’s been all but easy raising 2 kids for the last 4.5 and almost 2 years.

We followed the customary order of operations (sort of)…engagement, pregnant, wedding, baby #1, house, started our careers….

Career meaning a 9-5er for me and my husband took the entrepreneur path.

The entrepreneur life is an interesting one y’all. It not only sucks the life out of the entrepreneur while they build the company up, it also eats the spouse alive too. Entrepreneurs eat, breath and sleep the business. You are the business. You start at 0 every month. Sink or swim. Ride or die. If you’ve never been one or been with one or know one, it’s not for the faint of heart if you don’t want to fail 2 years in. I think I’ll dedicate another blog post to this topic. Let’s move on.

Back to you and us, Mommas.

Life after kids has been anything but easy, I have to admit.

I love my sons with every last ounce of my heart and being but seriously, no amount of prep work, career work, homework, none of it can prepare you for the Mom life that comes after kids. There are different types of mom lives (the career moms, stay at home moms and a mix of the two moms).

I’m the mix of the two mom.

My days look a little like this: My youngest wakes at around 7am (which is usually in my bed). I’m normally already up because 1. My kids take up my entire bed (yes, I know – need to fix this ASAP) and 2. My internal body clock just says wake up at this point. The second he wakes up he says “eat eat.” Who in the world wants to eat the second they wake up 😂 I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m a foodie and love that he is but pancakes and a banana are certainly not on my mind 45 seconds after opening my eyeballs.

Get him dressed, teeth brushed, hair geled and shoes on. He’s easy, so lovable (most times) except for lately…those terrible 2 tantrums. Not sure what’s up but a storms brewing, inside of his tiny body…waiting to come out in the form of tantrums…at the drop of a hat…multiple times a day.

Prep breakfast, get him into the high chair and turn on the same episode of Mickey Clubhouse he requests every morning.

Next chore: waking my oldest up for school, which seems harder than life itself. I’m genuinely concerned about August, when he goes to Kindergarten. He’s been this way since he was born, super stubborn, loves sleeping, hates being disturbed while sleeping. We have videos at 2 years old of him saying the exact same thing! Looking back, it all makes sense now!

I have to carefully choose my words when waking this one up. It’s like a teenager crept into his little 4 year old brain 2 years ago and never left. “Luca, it’s time to wake up for school.” “eghhh no, get out, 5 more minutes, shut the light off (whining voice).” OMG! Then he’ll finally agree for me to carry him to the couch where he needs to lay on our velvet comfy blankets until he drinks his chocolate almond milk, eats 1 bite of a pancake and then whines some more about not wanting to get dressed. Finally, after I’ve asked, asked and then yelled 35 times to put his shoes on, brush his teeth and I’ve given up on letting me gel his hair so he doesn’t get head lice (ew), we’re ready to get out the door.

I also throw the lunches together (the struggle is real when you have a child who doesn’t like to eat anything but snacks). I love cooking but really despise making lunches – am I strange? Never mind, don’t answer that.

Somewhere in that timeframe I get dressed (not presentable, just well enough where I don’t look abysmal and can run them into school).

1.5 hours before my work day even starts feels like a lifetime. I’m mentally exhausted at this point.

I drop the kids at pre school (no car pool line so have to park, bring each into their respective classroom).

Whew, on my way home now…to work.

I work remotely. It seems nice in theory, maybe. The lines are blurred for me since I’ve been doing it this way for so long. You have to be very disciplined. I repeat, very! I’m trapped in my home office all day on conference calls, putting together massive excel sheet and PowerPoint reports, budgets, analysis… Am I thankful to provide monetarily? Yes, of course! I’m also human though and sometimes wish I was a SAHM.

After work, I rush out the door to get my kids, most times while still on a work conference call.

Grab the kids, come home. The fighting starts the second we walk in between my two kiddos. Oh and snacks, can’t walk in without immediately wanting a snack (but half of lunch wasn’t even eaten). I’m exhausted, I give in. “Yes, go get a snack.”

Almost dinner time. What to cook tonight? Oh yes, a gourmet meal because clearly I love torturing myself 😂 75 ingredients? No problem!

Also 2 other meals because my oldest doesn’t eat anything and my youngest is allergic to a bunch of stuff.

Clean up time. Anyone else feel like it’s a job in itself cleaning the damn high chair, especially after giving them pasta with butter or sauce? Dishes galore, all piled into the dishwasher. My youngest apparently likes the feeling of running his greasy cheesy hands through his hair. I find bits of Parmesan cheese throughout the strands.

Bath time: If I didn’t force my kids out of the bath (tantrums included), they’d stay in for hours!

Pjs and teeth brushed, Time to watch a TV episode and bed (never goes as planned with 2 kiddos because “mom life”)

I’ve already been up for 14 hours at least at this point – it feels even longer than that.

In my head I’m thinking, will I get to shower tonight before I go lay in my clean bed smelling like a garlic clove? Will I get to watch my 2 hour stint of the Bachelor before my kids wake up and come strolling into my room?

Days are long, nights are long, weeks are long. Mom life is also not for the faint of heart, just like entrepreneurship. You have to be up for the challenge, except if you fail…well, that would be a lot bigger deal than with a business. We are our kids rock, their hero, their mentor, their supporters, their life lines, their biggest fans.

I wouldn’t change being a mom for anything but there are days where I am stressed, angry, tired and emotional, like I assume we all are at times! It helps that I have lots of other Mom friends who can relate on some level to what I’m going through.

While I’m normally feeling stressed out a good portion of the week, I love being a mom more than anything I’ve ever done before in my life. It gives me purpose. I’ve grown up with my kids over the last 4.5 and 2 years. I’ve learned about myself while helping them learn.

The next time you’re feeling stressed out, just remember. There are lots of us that can relate. I always try to remind myself, “things can always be worse” and it brings me back to reality!

Xo,

One stressed out mama to another!

I think I speak for the masses (well, those on social media) that have felt like we “know” someone because we see the 1% of their life they want us to see on social media. I’ve gone as far as calling people by their social media username vs their real name (wow, welcome to 2019). This is our generation, this is so me (now). I’ve gotten to experience life before social media, during its evolution and now (full blown social media addict).

The other 99% not shown on social media isn’t there for a reason. We want people to basically “eat with their eyes” so to speak. The more cheery, filtered and enticing the photo, the more “likes” and “engagement” we get. It’s just the name of the game, especially for those using social media to monetize their brand.

I’ve had messages come through to my account (and mind you, I feel like I do try to post some of how my kids actually act and behave), saying that they wish they could be like my family because we’re perfect.

Perfect?!

This stopped me in my tracks because I’ve actually thought the same before about other people’s accounts and this is NOT OKAY. Not at all, not 1%. One of our workers reminded me once “Don’t try to be like their outside when you have no idea what their inside is like.” We don’t, you don’t and I don’t. We don’t know what a person’s story is behind social media, how their upbringing was, what their day to day skeletons look like. It’s an ILLUSION of the masses!

Well, I thought I’d never blog about my actual personal life but I’m on a roll so here I go. Here’s the story of me. The next time you look at my social media account with yummy food pics (Where my kitchen was destroyed behind the scenes), smiling children (who were throwing a tantrum .5 seconds before) and my pretty scenic lake view (that we worked insanely hard to obtain), you’ll know that this is who I am at the core, how I became me and why. Everyone has a story, this is just mine (well, one of them).

It was a normal morning in Brooklyn, NY where I lived with my parents and younger sister. I was 3.5. We lived in an apartment in Brooklyn, which often times had fire alarms where we’d rush down what felt like a million flights of stairs since we couldn’t take the elevator. That’s besides the point. It was a cozy little apartment. I have many fun memories of Christmas and Santa Clause climbing in through our balcony (from VHS tapes and memory somehow). I always wondered growing up how my parents pulled off having the real Santa in our apartment each Christmas but it was every little kid’s dream and I remember it as such. We had a fabulous cleaning lady who also watched me from time to time. She’d let me play with all of the pots and pans under Mom’s kitchen sink.

My mom brought my sister and I down to the underground parking garage where we’d get into our car and she’d take me to school, just like every other day.

Except this day was different. It would change the course of the rest of our lives, all of us.

My mom walked us to our car, but oddly, there was a van parked in our 2nd parking spot, which seemed out of the ordinary.

She figured she’d tell my Dad that someone parked in their spot when she returned and that the van had no license plate, except we didn’t return that day.

The door van slid open. Men with guns jumped out, wearing full ski masks, grabbing us into the van. They left a note on the windshield of my Moms car and then sped off with us.

(Later on, it would be revealed that the building maintenance person was held at gun point prior to this ordeal where his keys and clicker to the building were stolen. This is how they gained entry. The codes and keys were never changed).

It was anyone’s worst nightmare, something you’d only know of on TV if it didn’t happen to you personally but it was happening right before our eyes.

The men didn’t know that I was a pretty smart almost 4 year old and my mom kept repeating for me to read the street signs as we drove. They eventually blindfolded her.

The men took us somewhere, destination unknown, walking us up what felt like metal steps, like a fire escape route.

A dark cold apartment (freezing actually). No furniture, not one piece. Garbage bags covered all of the windows. My mom had no idea where we were – it was a far drive from our parking garage in Brooklyn. I remember they fed us freezing cold food and let my sister and I play with dice while my mom had us in her lap on the floor trying to mitigate any of us getting hurt by these men unknown. I suppose they could have let us starved. Reading the reports back are heart breaking now as a mother myself. “All I kept thinking was if this would be my kids last meal and if the pillows in the room were going to be used to muffle the sounds of gun shots while killing us.”

My mom bundled us tight while my sister started crying. The men kept telling her to shut the baby up. She thought they’d kill us if my sister kept crying. She was also trying to keep her 3 year old occupied and calm on her lap – now that I have one of my own, I know that must’ve been pretty damn difficult (in the freezing, pitch black). The gun man disappeared into the darkness of the barren room.

There are a plethora of other details in our ordeal but about 14 hours later, the gunmen told my mom to pack up our stuff after they were notified my dad had called the cops after finding a ransom note on the windshield of the car in the parking garage. They blindfolded her and walked us down the metal stairs again. They sped off in a car.

Not knowing what to do and thinking they’d come back to shoot us, she ran with us and hid between two cars.

After a while, we ran to a traffic light where my mom found a cop car and tried explaining what had happened.

We were interrogated. The cops took me for hours (alone) driving around the city we’d been taken to by the kidnappers, thinking I’d be able to identify where we were being held hostage but I wasn’t. Unbeknownst to us, 45 cops, detectives and others had been searching for us since the time the ransom note had been found earlier in the day.

The ransom note had threats…to us, our family members. My parents took the kidnappers advice and moved us out of NY.

So here I am, in Florida, 26 years later and that’s why. That’s my story (well, a small part of it.)

The next time you see beautiful pictures on social media, just remember, it’s solely a glimpse into the 1% that person chooses to share with the world. Their life now may not be what is was before or what it was before may not really be what it is now. We’ll never know.

Everyone has their story.

Dedicated to my Mama – she’s one badass mom.

Xo,

Jo

We All Have This One Thing In Common With Mr. Christian Grey

Let me start this off by saying I had never watched the 50 Shades Of Grey Movies when they debuted and I had only read the first book when it was released (but woah, all the feels when I read the book – did anyone else want to immediately go immediately find their husband, wife or significant other 😂? ) Okay, let’s keep this PG-13. No specific reason for not seeing the movies – I’m just not a huge movie person in general (cannot tell you the last movie I saw in an actual movie theatre) and I was pretty side tracked with my toddler (then) and new baby on the way.

Fast forward to a few years after “50 Shades Of Grey” and “50 Shades Darker” had been released. I was home alone one night while my hub was working, with only Luca at this point (Landon wasn’t born yet) and decided to watch the first movie after I had put him to sleep.

Well, that spiraled quickly and before I knew it, it was 3am and I had watched both the first and second movie, pretty much obsessed at this point….not in the fact that he was a sadist but at the romance, fiery passion, luxurious lifestyle and this one sentence Christian mentioned in the first movie that pretty much became engrained into my head for eternity.

Christian Grey:
“To what do I owe my success?

Anastasia Steele:
[nervously] Yep.

Christian Grey:
Seriously?

Anastasia Steele:
Yes.

Christian Grey:
Business is about people and I’ve always been good at people. What motivates them. What inspires them.

Anastasia Steele:
Maybe you’re just lucky.

Christian Grey:
I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have. The key to my success has been in identifying talented individuals and harnessing their efforts.”

BOOM – like a freight train, this one liner struck me hard. This one little sentence has stuck with me from that night I decided to first indulge in the fantasy life of Mr, Christian Grey himself.

—“I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”

——-

To me though, this doesn’t only apply to work as in your monetary income stream. This applies in all facets of life.

It may seem like such a simplistic thought, maybe even common sense.

I think we can all agree that adulthood is difficult, not only for the fact that you are discovering your self, your career path, seeking your significant other to do life with, having children, figuring out how to care and nurture those children in the best way possible, trying to keep your friendships alive, all while trying to ensure you make a teeny tiny little bit of extra time for yourself in the process.

1. Work

—“I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”

This one liner applies to work in the sense that there are no hand outs (unless you’re a trust fund baby (or win the lotto) and if that’s the case, I applaud you and maybe envy you just a tad)). That’s certainly not the case for me (or us). The harder and smarter you work, the more success you’ll have, in most cases, not all…but majority. (I feel like I need disclaimers on my writing for the .0005% who will have something negative to say). You work harder at your job and you may see a pay raise. You work harder building your client pipeline and you may see an increase in demand and sales. You work harder at getting positive feedback and the larger your word of mouth/referral base becomes. The harder you work to train your team, the more productive they become.

2. Friendships

—“I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have (in my friendships).”

This applies to friendships in the sense that in reality, a friendship is a job in itself, just like your monetary income stream job. Your friendships require work to keep alive. If you neglect your friendships, never call, never see the person or make any conscious effort, your friendship will likely wither away and like Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank says “you’re dead to me.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what will happen to your friendships if you don’t work at them. The more effort you apply (let me say that this applies to “healthy” friendships only, not the toxic ones that should be goners anyways), the more “luck” you’ll have with keeping them alive and flourishing.

3. Relationships (significant others):

—“I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have (in relationships).”

This applies in your romantic relationships as well. Let’s face it. No relationship is perfect (maybe on social media) (I mean if you think yours is, great and I want to meet you ASAP…but mainly they’re not)…not to sound depressing or dull. The harder you work at your relationship, the less likely it is to fail. Yes, fail. It happens all of the time. I’m 13 years deep into mine and my hubs relationship and it is nowhere close to perfect. I like that saying “perfectly imperfect” because everyone has a different definition of perfect. Be realistic with yourself and your partner. We all have imperfections, faults…but we also all have strengths and unique characteristics that make us first like or fall in love with our significant other. (Disclaimer: I am not a marriage counselor, psychiatrist or doctor…these are my personal opinions based on 30 years of life experience).

4. Parenting

—“I’ve always found that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have (in being a parent).”

Parenting is HARD. We all face ups, downs and everything in between. The harder I seem to work on bettering MYSELF, the more luck I have with parenting. You may be asking “but isn’t this solely about the harder you work on parenting, the better you’ll become at parenting? NO. I’ve found that at times I’m not my best self (whether that’s because of work stress or marital stress or monetary stress). If I’m not my best self, how can I be my best version of a parent to my kids (who don’t know any better?) They deserve the best version of me, so I strive to try to work on myself to improve in this category when I feel like I’m slacking.

Gosh, Christian Grey. You’ve taught us mighty well. Thank you for your wisdom and forever being stuck in my mind.

Xo,

Jo

Movie quote source: https://www.quotes.net/mquote/1004266

Backtracking to this past Tuesday since mom life has delayed my posting (better late than never, right?)

My day sucked (or at least I thought it did before so stumbled across something that snapped me back to reality).

I tried for 3 hours last night to put my kids to bed. First, I went into Landon’s room (my almost 2 year old) and laid down in his new big boy bed, next to him, where he usually falls asleep quite fast. Only this time, he would doze off and each of the 3 times I tried to sneak out, he woke up crying “mommy mommy.” – I finally put him in my bed, he started to fall asleep and then I moved on to Luca, my 4 year old. I turned his TV off and he started crying that he wanted to watch more (what is with kids and YouTube? I think I need to take it off of his TV once and for all). Anyways, I tried to sneak out of his room after he cried that he needed to watch more TV, it was too dark in the room even with a nightlight, he was cold, hot, didn’t want a blanket, didn’t want to sleep alone)…the whole nine. 5 minutes later he showed up in my bedroom saying he didn’t want to sleep in his room.

Okay, no biggie. This is nothing new to me. But neither would stop fidgeting, hitting each other (boys) and Luca was tattling every 30 seconds “my brother hit me, Landon’s kicking, Landon’s talking”). In my head I’m thinking of the book my best friend got me as a joke a few years back called “Go the Fuck to Sleep,” wishing it would be my reality right now!

Fast forward to the morning, I’m exhausted as Landon starts rubbing my face at 6:45am “mommy mommy” in his cute little voice.

Okay, I’m up. Let’s start the day.

My husband worked until 4am so not atypical, I’m on my own in the mornings. I got both boys up (mind you, Luca is impossible in the mornings – it’s like someone stuck a 15 year olds brain into my 4 year old child’s body). “I’m tired, I want to sleep 5 more minutes, I don’t want breakfast, that shirt isn’t comfy, don’t let Landon touch me”..the list goes on. I got them dressed, fed them, made lunches, cleaned up and got them out the door and on their way to school. I walked both boys in and got back in my car to head home.

Wednesday’s are when I have the most client calls so from the second I wake up until the time I get back from dropping the boys, I’m already in a mass panic sorting out in my head which reports I need to review, what items I need to put into my call agendas, etc.

Fast forward to about the time I go to get the boys (survived my 2 client calls at this point). I get a message from our Digital team that we had an issue with one of our accounts.

Great news to end the day…so I dealt with that and then got my boys from school.

I truly don’t understand the amount of energy my kids have upon arriving home from school. The second we walk in they run (and I’m not joking), maybe even sprint would be the correct word to our pantry where the snacks are kept. My 1 year old will just repeat over and over “nack nack nack.” (I have to laugh while writing this because I get mad but it’s somewhat funny lol). My oldest climbs onto a little stool we keep under the desk part of the counter in the kitchen to unlock the lock from our pantry (guys, I have to keep a lock on our pantry…if this isn’t mom life, I don’t know what is). They’d be getting snacks out of the cabinet 100 times a day instead of 20 if I didn’t have it. They then proceed to ride on their little cars around the house popping wheelies and making insane car noises (I think they both have secure future careers as voice over professionals for Dodge in making the HellCat rev up sound, not exaggerating).

Fast forward again to dinner, which is always a struggle with my oldest. I’m considering food therapy, recommended by our pediatrician. My youngest is pretty easy when it comes to eating – he’s a variety is the spice of life kind of guy and will generally eat whatever I made if it’s not too over the top lavish.

Bath time and then bed routine (I use the word routine very openly because it’s not a strict down to the minute routine).

I went to lay down and put Landon to bed (same deal as last night) while Luca was in his room watching TV. Another night of Landon popping up every 5 minutes to see if I was still next to him. I think I need to hire a sleep trainer (some of my friends have had success with it). An hour went by…now I’m really annoyed telling Landon to go to sleep but angrily, like he was a 10 year old who knew what I was even talking about.

I was on the verge of tears. All I wanted to do was sit my butt down on my couch or in bed, catch up on a few shows (I haven’t even gotten to turn my TV on this week, that’s how hectic it’s been) and type up a blog post (this one!)

I almost called my husband to complain how stressed I was (while he was out working).

Before I hit the call button, I was just scrolling scrolling on my phone on Instagram hoping he would finally fall asleep and then

.BAM.

I stopped scrolling when I came across a few popular baby clothing brands I follow who had re-posted a story about a beautiful baby girl who had experienced a seizure a few months back, later to be diagnosed with brain cancer. The parents were so hopeful with radiation treatment and their long hospital stay that their baby was improving (months in the hospital – they had pretty much readjusted their lives and were living in a hospital). The little girl pictured is so beautiful and innocent. A few days ago they found out the cancer had spread to her spine and the hospital sent them home for her to be on hospice, to be made as comfortable as possible in her final few weeks.

I have the chills all over my body writing this and tears in my eye. If you’re a parent, you understand.

I can’t even fathom what this family is going through. You bring a baby into this world praying and hoping for the best life for them.

My thoughts about calling my husband to complain about our kids not sleeping evaporated into thin air. I started crying reading the post about this little beautiful girl whose life is going to be cut short, taken from her family at a way too young age. My thoughts about my kids not sleeping seemed so irrelevant at this point.

All I kept thinking was, my kids are here, home, with me, safe, healthy. Are they annoying sometimes? Without a doubt. Am I probably a little too jumpy at times? Absolutely.

It’s in that moment that I realized I needed a kick in the butt from an Instagram post of someone else’s sick child to realize mine were right in front of me. In that moment, I felt peace and content (but also heartbreak for the little girl’s family) .

My heart goes out to the family of this little girl. Lots of people are thinking about you right now during this tough time.

-Jo

It’s true. 4.5 years isn’t a whole lot of “Mom-ing” in the larger scope of a typical lifespan but it sure feels like I’ve learned a great deal about motherhood, myself, my marriage, my friendships and my career during this time. Lots of firsts, lots of milestones achieved, lots of questions, lots of tears, obstacles, challenges, adventures, pictures, laughs, comparisons, thoughts and growth. Just because we are new at something, doesn’t mean we aren’t evolving. Am I an expert? Furthest thing from it. Different stages of our children’s lives requires different evolution. Infancy requires physical nurturing. Toddler-hood requires patience and hands-on learning. Teenager stage (as I once was one) requires more mental contribution as your child preps for high school/college and figures out who they are and what their life purpose will be. Here are 3 things I’ve learned as a mom in my 4.5 years of being one.

  1. Don’t get upset when the extra guests you invited to your kid’s birthday party sell out.

Seems silly right? It is, sort of…but not really when you take a closer look at what this may teach. As a new mom, our child’s first birthday is something most of us don’t take lightly. If you’re anything like me, the party went something like this. 75 person guest list, rented out the club house, first child of ours, first grandchild on both sides, exquisite catered food, professional designer, insanely pretty cake (and a smash cake) and a real Mickey came to visit… Why? Because it is special when your child hits 1 and you want everyone to be there to celebrate. You invite the family, your close friends, the Mom’s you’ve met at playgroups, Mom’s you’ve met through other moms, through friends, the neighbors, everyone. And soon you’ll realize, ding ding…the sound of your phone’s text noise on party day as cancellations start to roll in. It happens, it’s inevitable. I remember getting ready for my son’s party, already rushing and stressed and then getting cancellation texts the morning of. Was I upset? Yes. What did I learn? As time went on and we had our second child, I started to realize the ones who cancelled were almost always the “extras” on the list. They were the acquaintances. The guests you wanted to invite to be nice but not necessarily your family or very close friends. I started to realize that I didn’t need to impress “acquaintance” friends , invite them to parties, or get upset when they cancelled. My parties shrunk and so did my stress. Keep only the people around who want to be involved in yours and your children’s lives. Legitimate excuse to cancel? Fine. But the rest, you learn to weed out and with it, a magical weight is lifted off of your shoulders.

  • It’s okay if your friends are sleep training masters and you’re a hot mess with no schedule.

Maybe I’ll get mom shamed for this by the Schedule Sally’s of the world but I have friends from all ends of the spectrum. I have the new mom friends who tell me they hired a sleep coach because they have post partum and their kid won’t sleep. The new moms who after 6 months of sleep training their infant want to start a sleep training company because they are that invested in this method. Me? I think I’m somewhere in the middle leaning more towards the hot mess, no schedule. Do I try? Absolutely. Does it always work perfectly? Yeah right. I have one child who semi loves routine and one whose brain never shuts off…no off switch, at all…ever. You’d think a child who wakes up at 7:30am, is at school all day, jiu jitsu, running outside…nope, 11pm still not asleep sometimes. I work full time and do pretty much all of the kid stuff each day on my own as my husband works a crazy amount of hours – getting the kids dressed, breakfast, making lunches, driving to school, getting from school, sports, dinner, bathe, clean dishes. It’s HARD (at least for me it is…I know there are some super moms out there who may not think so). Do I think I’m a failure because I’m leaning into that hot mess zone? Not really. We’re all different and need to relax with the comparisons. Your method may not be my right method and vice versa. What works for me may not work for you….and that is A-OKAY.

  • Working Moms Envy SAHM and SAHM Envy Working Moms

As a career woman and full time working mom, I can tell you that I’ve dreamt of being a stay at home mom since conceiving our first child. With the lifestyle we’d adopted prior to getting pregnant (which was based on 2 pretty decent incomes), it just wasn’t in the plan to be able to stay home. Did I at one point start to think I wish I didn’t make as much money so I could stay home with my baby? YES. Is that crazy? I don’t know, maybe? Do I like contributing monetarily for our children’s security and future? Absolutely. Would I stay home if I could? Probably for 2 months until I yearned to talk to to adults and go to Homegoods/Target to frivolously buy pretty house decor! In all seriousness, I’m torn but usually lean towards envying my stay at home mom friends. You’re HOME with your CHILDREN. You get to teach them all of their “firsts” and make sure they’re safe, loved, learning the right things. Yet on the other hand, my stay at home mom friends tell me they’d go to work if they could make enough where it would be worth it. They want to talk to adults. I want to just talk to my kids (or at least in my mind it sounds good). Will anyone ever be 100% satisfied with their situation? No, probably not. It’s okay to want what you can’t have if you come back to reality and know the pros/cons and of your situation. It’s whatever works best for you and your family.

Mom-ing definitely has its ups and downs but there are so many of us just trying to figure out life and motherhood as we go along. It’s normal! Learning is a part of the Mom-ing journey and it’s a never ending evolution. What have you learned as a Mom that’s made you into a stronger/better person?

Random Thoughts

You know when they ask you in elementary school, middle school, high school and college what you want to be when you grow up? That whole progression of life, the cycle that takes you into a career path from college? Yeah, that one.  It’s hard for me to understand why I am the way I am but when I think about that one simple question, I get a little more clarity.  Why am I so non-complacent? Why don’t I like stagnancy? Why do I always want more? Why am I so emotional about it? Why can’t I be like other people who are just permanently happy with their jobs and lives? Well, for one, because permanently happy people don’t exist (only on social media with filtered AF photos) and 2. The fallacy of going from college into your forever career field unless you’re truly in a niche vertical is pretty much non existent.  All of that to say that at 30, if someone asked me the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I’d say, I truly have no idea.  Because I don’t.  And I think it’s okay.  As long as you’re constantly evolving and learning, why stop at the “comfortable” zone? We’re all so alike but so different in so many ways.  My quote in the year book, I’ll never forget. “In a world of Cheerios, be a fruitloop” 😹 I still stand by it, no matter how far that takes you away from the herd.  Be a job hopper if that increases your knowledge and self worth (this isn’t a statement saying go get fired and job hop so don’t go to that place 😹). Explore your options, whether that means failed attempts.  It only takes one successful one.  Ergo (my favorite essay word…if you don’t know it Google it and you’re welcome), don’t settle.  Your journey doesn’t have to have a “stopping” point because life’s fucking short and we all need to live a little.

Just Call Me Mrs. Flores

I always knew I was meant to write.  For who, that’s still sort of TBD.

There’s a certain fire that ignites inside of me when I get the itch to write…the kind that makes me stay awake most hours of the night in thought, pondering the shoulda woulda coulda scenarios of my life and wondering what will be in the future.  

It’s the kind of fire that makes you think deep, like really deep.  A digging into the depths of your soul sort of deep.  Writing is expression, it’s an out to words that don’t verbally flow as smoothly or naturally.  For me, it’s a platform.  I’ve held back far too long.  

Sometimes at night, I’ll pop up from my bed and jot down notes of things I want to write about in my iPhone notepad (with one eye open – only normal being I’m half asleep at this point), hoping I’ll have time to continue that thought at a later time, which rarely ever comes to fruition.  Like now. 12:16am.

I knew I was meant to write from the day I submitted poems in middle school that were published into a large poetry book.  They had asked me to come read the poem aloud from the book but too shy, I turned down the opportunity.  I sometimes think back and wonder what would’ve happened if I pursued it. 

I knew I was meant to write when in high school, the teachers would use my essays an examples in front the whole class.  I’d feel myself turning beat red on the outside but inside…well, inside it felt good to be praised. 

I knew I was meant to write from the days when I would write my Dad poems in jail.  My Mom would mail them for me via snail mail (yes snail mail was and still exists people).  That’s a story for another time.  

I knew I was meant to write when I’d play certain songs over and over again repeating the lyrics in my head to figure out what story they were telling with their words.  It always intrigued my how artists could piece words together so beautifully but then sound even more harmonious verbally as they recited their own lyrics. 

I knew (but now I know) with certainty that it’s my time to write.  About all things.  My life.  My kids.  My recipes. For you, for anyone who wants to read it.

My voice on paper is infinite, endless thoughts in my mind.  Here I am, it’s my time to let it all out.

Confessions of a Working Mom

Hi friends! Very exciting stuff happening in the world of Pretty Little Pretzel! If you love my brutal honesty, sarcasm and wittiness, please read my new blog post as part of a “Guest Feature” project on The World of Motherhood.   Please check it out HERE 🙂  Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share if you share the same Confessions!

Return of the Good Ole’ Days

If you are anything like me, you might hate reading literature but love reading useless stories on Facebook about how fabulous us 90’s kids had it with smelly dry erase markers, capture the flag, inflatable neon chairs, Limited Too, Tomagatchi’s and Furbys.  Those were the days…care free.  Nothing to worry about besides whether our Tomagatchi died a terrible ‘death by poop’ after we neglected to clean up the mound off of the screen.

This brings me to current time where my entire life seems to revolve around technology, specifically my 2nd child, “my never leave the house without it child,” “treat it with respect and care and love child”…my iPhone.  Maybe I am exaggerating a little but seriously, I am sure you can agree that this “thing,” this rectangle device that keeps getting larger on each new version release, is like a piece of us.  It might as well be built into our DNA – wait, I don’t want to jinx this.  Humanity has evolved and has become addicted to technology.  It’s crazy to think that just 15 years ago nothing close to this even existed on the market for purchase.  Us late twenty somethings were probably outside playing hide and seek with our friends, getting PHYSICAL activity after our AOL got stuck on the 2nd load screen for 10 minutes with dreadfully slow DSL and our beepers just weren’t high tech enough to keep us occupied for more than one beep!

What changed?  We did, humanity did.  We now solely rely on technology for basically everything.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t use Google maps to get from location A to location B.  I can’t remember the last time I looked at hand written recipes to make banana bread or chicken marsala versus going on Pinterest.  I can’t remember the last time I ordered delivery and didn’t have the option to swipe my credit card on a small white square connected to the actual device.  Sadly, I can’t even remember the last time I was without my phone.

Until now…hence the point of my story.  Hang tight, I’m getting there.

Saturday day – I made my husband take a trip to Target with Luca and I…you know, that store where you go in to buy shampoo and leave with $350 worth of crap you didn’t need whatsoever?  Yes, that store.  Never fails.  I of course bought food since I was going to cook that night, we paid at checkout and walked to the car.  It was so dreadfully hot out – the kind of day that makes you wonder why in the world you live in Florida kind of hot out.  We got to the car and Danny put Luca into his car seat while I loaded up the front seat with the packages.  I went to go put the last bag in and had my phone in my other hand when in slow motion I saw my phone slowly trickle and smash face first onto the concrete.  I mean, I’ll be honest – I have dropped it before and it was fine but this was a no brainer.  I picked up the phone and it was shattered into a thousand pieces, glass falling off from every crevice possible.  I was so upset.  This never happens to me.  I ALWAYS have a case.  I had bought a $35 phone screen protector at the mall which lasted 2 days before it cracked and with the phone case the guy sold me, it didn’t allow my charger to fit with the case on it to charge.  #Firstworldproblems. I know.

It was a blessing in disguise.  It reminded me of those care free days when I could enjoy life without lurking other people’s on social media.  My mind was clear for a few hours, phone-less, Instagram-less, Facebook-less.  It felt good, really good, I must say.  I enjoyed a day with family in the pool tanning, eating, drinking and laughing without giving any thought to what Joe Shmoe was doing on his Sunday while I was doing mine.  I sometimes wish it was the good ole’ days again where we didn’t take everything for granted.  Sometimes I just wish my husband and I would eat dinner without staring at our phones for half of our meal.  I sometimes wish that I used my real camera instead of having my son’s life on a black holed photo realm called Instagram.  Thank goodness for my mom who prints his pictures and places each month of his life into a physical photo album for us. He will have all of his memories bundled up in tangible albums for when he is older so he can know what it was like to use those album things us old people used to have growing up.

When I think about Darwin’s Survival of the fittest, I can’t help but think in today’s time it’s really Survival of the most technological.  Technology always wins these days.  It’s our evil but also our advocate.  I’m sure as we advance over the next few decades, technology really will become one with humanity.  For now, I will cherish the few hours of quiet and my shattered iphone.

Tamagotchi_blue

Image courtesy of:  tamagotchi.wikia.com