Monday, June 28, 2010

Letters to myself.

Dear Brandi (age 5):
Look at the blond girl sitting next to you. The one with pig tails and rainbow colored sandals. She's going to become family to you. Even though you will lose touch down the road, she is shaping who you are. You will not become who you are meant to be without her. You will be there with her as she starts dating her future husband, and you will stand next to her at her wedding. Trust her. And tell her when she hurts you.

Dear Brandi (age 12):
Jr High. This is a tough year. Know that everyone is feeling as insecure as you. You are pretty. You are good enough. You are smart. Embrace your awkward laugh and curly hair.
He does not matter. He is only trying to tear you down because it makes him feel more like a man. His actions do not determine your self worth. You will always remember those moments, but they don't have to control you. Not every man acts that way. It's ok to forgive. It's ok to remember. It's not ok to carry this fear with you into other relationships.

Dear Brandi (age 18):
Senior year of High School! All you want to do is "get out of this town!". You want to break free and see the world and experience everything. You are not ready. Stick around that sleepy little town for awhile longer. Spend as much time as you can with your friends. Drive around town with the windows down, and the music up, as often as you can. Soon you won't know anyone there and won't have a reason to go back. But you'll miss it.
The prom dress is a great idea. It's beautiful and you won't regret it when you look back on pictures later. The prom date was a good choice too. He will move on, and so will you, but you will remain friends.
Cherish every moment with your mom. You do not have much more time to enjoy her before her accident.
Wear a bikini as much as possible. After 2 back-to-back pregnancies you may never wear a bikini again. Enjoy it now! Embrace your youth. 

Dear Brandi (age 19):
He's not worth it. Let him fly. It's not about you. Nothing you can do will change the situation. It is easier to make a clean break, and to move on. He was only in your life for a season. He's not "the one". Your heart will be broken, and you will cry when it doesn't work out. It's ok to be sad. Someone is going to tell you the phrase "Truth and time tell all". Carry this with you. Its a constant reminder that everything will be revealed in time. Be patient. Mend your heart. Move on.
You are about to meet someone who will make your toes tingle.
Your mom will survive. She will make it. But she won't be the same. Do everything you can for her. Be there. Tell her you love her. Recovery will be a long road for her and she needs you. She will be able to walk again (though the DRs are unsure). Her brain stem injury will take over and change everything.
Continue to wear the bikini as much as possible.

Dear Brandi (age 21):
Yes. He's the one. You've been together long enough now that you know this is something special. He's your Prince Charming on a white horse. He will save you from yourself more often than you can imagine. He will step up to the plate and he will make a great husband. It's ok if everyone else thinks you are too young to have that ring on your finger. You know that this real. You know that he's amazing. Plan the wedding. Buy the dress. Mail the save the dates. You are making the right choice.
Don't buy the house. You will be stuck in a bad investment when the economy crashes. Rent for awhile. Save the money.

Dear Brandi (age 24):
You are about to be a mom. It's ok if you are nervous. It's ok to feel like you are not as prepared as you "should" be. You will be ok. The baby will be ok. Your life will be very different once he arrives. Right now you are thinking about all of the things you want to teach your children, and all of the things you want to do for them. You daydream and imagine what this baby in your belly will be like. Blond or Brown hair? Blue or Brown eyes? Tall or short? He's perfect. You have never known a love as true as the one you are about to know for your child. You will become a mama bear, and wear that badge with honor.
Try not to lose who you are when the baby arrives. You are still a wife, a woman, and a friend. It will be hard but make time for yourself.
Oh, and put that pizza down. Really. You'll be so glad you did.

Dear Brandi (age 26):
Life is good. Life is full of music, laughter, and love. That baby? He's almost a year old. He will be just shy of 18 months when the new baby arrives. 2 kids in less than a year and a half and a husband who offers unconditional love daily. You are very blessed and very loved. (And super busy!) Cherish those slobbery baby kisses. Cherish those first steps. Cherish the man who works hard to take such good care of you. Cherish the little one who will be in your arms soon. Life is too short not to cherish every moment.

To join in, please go HERE!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Winner! Winner! Winner! Part 2.

Since the last winner never claimed her prize, I had a "re-draw" this morning.

Congrats, Samantha!! (Sink or Swim) Send me an email and we'll work out the details.

If you didn't win, you still have another chance! Head on over to The Crunchy Baby and enter again! I know you love FREE, so what are you waiting for?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A new cuddly blanket. & A new friend.

Y'all. I have been working with the sweetest blonde designer. I asked her if she thought she could make a blanket for Sweet Cheeks.... And, well, a couple of months later, here were are.

This blanket is amazing! It is so soft, and cuddly. Easy to wash. (A must!). Cool in this Midwest heat. And FUN!

Plus, I made a new friend in the design process. Meet Coconut Robot. She makes the most adorable baby items. I'm already eyeing the little boots for baby #2. She is great to work with, sweet as honey, and very creative. If you want something, she can make it happen. Right now she's working on Sweet Cheeks 1st birthday attire. And trust me, it's going to be dynamite. She is my new "go-to" lady for anything I need custom made.

To hear more about how the blanket came to be, (Or to order one! ) check out her BLOG.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Winner! Winner! Winner!

Congrats to Britt! You've won The Green Bird giveaway!

Please contact me within 24 hours to claim your prize...

There's still good news for those of you who didn't win... If you would like to place an order with The green bird, just mention that you are a "Life with Sweet Cheeks" reader in the comments section of the order form and recieve FREE shipping on your purchase!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last Chance!!

Today is your last day to enter the GIVEAWAY! :)

I know you love free stuff, so check it out!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guest Blog: The Crunchy Baby

Welcome Jenny from The Crunchy Baby! Jenny is an Eco-friendly, Whole foods shopping mama to the very handsome Lucas. She struggled to conceive with PCOS for awhile, but finally got pregnant last year! Lucas is now 9 months old and cute as can be. She is also an Etsy shop owner. Stop by and visit her shop... she has some amazing items! **P.S. Don't forget about the giveaway that ends TOMORROW!**

The Crunchy Baby

When Brandi first asked me to guest blog, tons of ideas ran through my head. But nothing I stopped on was quite what I was looking for. The realizations that come with being a mother? Old and tired. Blogs about breastfeeding versus formula feeding? Been there, done that. You get the picture.
But then I landed upon something that I am constantly thinking about and struggling with. FOOD. If you read my blog you know that I’ve been struggling so much lately with this. Do I eat dairy? Give up gluten? Give up animal products? What do I feel my son? Do I want to live on just vegetables alone? More importantly, CAN I stick a vegan, mostly raw diet for long? (The answer to that one is no, not for more than a couple days, so really what good does it do me?)

Yup, something that simple. FOOD. Is it the enemy or is it our ticket to health?

For so long I wasn’t sure.

I wasn’t always fat. I actually used to be the “tiny one” among my group of friends. I still am if you go by height. But weight? Ha. That’s another story. Even during my pregnancy I didn’t feel fat until the very end. I gained weight like I was supposed to (and was all belly) up until around my 3rd trimester when all of a sudden my body packed on those pounds. I couldn’t even blame it on the baby. At 38 weeks I delivered a 4.5 lb little boy.

Yet here I am, 9 months later, and still about 40 lbs over the weight I should be and 30 lbs over my pre pregnancy weight. The saddest part? With the exception of a few random shots when he was first born (in which it’s okay to look fat and ugly, I guess?) I have absolutely ZERO photos of my son and me together. Heartbreaking.

In the past (when I thought I was overweight, ha!) I tried a variety of diets. Which is funny because I am the first to say, “diets don’t work” and “you should just eat healthy and make a lifestyle change”. But what the hell does that mean?

I thought I accomplished that “lifestyle change” when I learned more about whole foods and organic foods over the past few years. (Yeah, I am that girl… “eat organic!!!”) But I recently came to the realization that while eating as much organic food as you can is great, I’m not doing myself any favors by the constant cheating. A little here and a little there adds up. And I don’t just mean eating something that isn’t organic, because, let’s be real, it’s very hard to do that 100% of the time and I don’t think we absolutely need to. But eating fried foods, processed/white carbs, etc. was easily sneaking into my diet as well.

Take ‘Qdoba Tuesday’. My husband and I, for the past year or so, have been eating Qdoba every Tuesday night because you get double points on your card on Tuesdays and end up with a lot of free meals. But are they free? What price was I paying for them? And telling myself, “well at least it’s not McDonald’s” wasn’t helping either. Let’s take a look at my beloved Qdoba burrito, shall we?

-Monster size white flour tortilla

-white rice (with God knows what added to flavor it)

-grilled non organic chicken (what seasonings are on that? What kind of oil?)

-non organic beans, possibly coming from a can containing BPA

-salsas which include things like non organic tomatoes and also corn which is not only not organic, but almost definitely genetically modified

-non organic cheese (would you like some added hormones with your burrito?)

There it is. My “healthy” eating out.

Really? REALLY? What was I thinking?

I could say I knew it all along, but it’s really sunk in since I began reading Jillian Michaels’ book, Master Your Metabolism. (I know, I don’t like the gimmick of it either and though “what the hell does she know about proper nutrition”after watching what they push on The Biggest Loser. But really, she gets it. She’s looked at the research. She believes that all the crap in our food is hurting us). The “diet” is really quite simple. Get rid of all the crap we eat and then eat real, whole, organic whenever possible (esp meat and dairy) foods. Everything else is totally effing with our hormones. Two things (among MANY diseases and issues) that can happen from having your hormones out of whack? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Auto Immune Diseases. Guess who has both?

So how about I start being honest with myself? The $200 trip to Whole Foods purchasing a cart full of organic foods does nothing while rotting in my fridge while I go out to eat at Qdoba and other various ways still continuing to eat. I will admit it, I threw away about $20 worth of organic chicken a couple weeks ago because we didn’t get around to making it or freezing it time, most likely due to ordering in or eating out somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think a splurge every now and then is going to kill me or make me pack these 40 lbs back on once I lose them, but multiple times a week? Not good.

The food companies have us addicted to things like trans fats, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners (oh yeah, I am a recovering Diet Coke addict – about 6 years clean) and other artificial chemical additives and colors. We have to say no! We have to realize that it’s not the extra fat in an avocado that’s hurting us, but the fake foods and fake crap added to foods with think are healthy. Foods that shouldn’t even be considered food anymore. We’ve been so fooled.

I used to be really jealous of those girls who stayed naturally skinny while stuffing their face full of complete junk (I won’t lie, hearing that ‘pop’ of a can of Diet Coke opening makes my mouth water most times and walking past Cheetos at Target is akin to some sick form of torture) and okay, and maybe I still am a little jealous of their perfect looking bodies, but maybe I should be thankful I have a body that forces me to eat healthy. Maybe my son will grow up without all of these chemical in his body and avoid disease. Maybe in the long run I will be better off because I stopped putting junk in my body and started treating it right? And I don’t mean buying my organic veggies and then stopping at Qdoba on the way home for dinner.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Guest Blog: Mrs Chandler

Welcome, Mrs Chandler from Charmingly Chandler! Mrs Chandler is a military wife and mama to a pretty little girl named Sophia. She's a stay at home mom who recently started a weight loss journey. (Check it out every Monday) Today she's going to talk about that juggling act we call motherhood.


Women. Mothers. Sisters. Daughters.

We manage to be a bigger enemy to ourselves than other are to us. We feel like we never measure up fully. We aren't funny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, multi-taskable enough. I haven't done the research, but I think it's safe to say that we buy more self-help books than guys. We want to be better cooks, better girlfriends, better friends, better at work....and we stress about it. We dwell on it. We obsess about it. Once we become mothers all of this own-worst-enemy business gets about a trillion times worse. We are then responsible for a whole new life. We have a billion new things that we have to measure up on. And with all the Mommy Judgement out there, it is NO shocker that we feel the need to balance perfection.

I'd like to brag about how I'm above it, how I can't be bothered with such pettiness as trying to achieve woman perfection. But I am in the thick of it. I am a constant thread of thoughts. For every judgment women pass on each other there's about 10 more that a woman judges herself on. Things we don't even take note of on each other.

The things that keep me from buying out the entire self-help section of the local book store? My friends. The friends that don't have to listen, but do. The friends that openly share their war stories. The ones that don't brag about the three course meal they made for their family, while mentioning in an after-thought how they polished the silver too. It comes down to surrounding yourself with good people. Not the haters, the braggers, the negative Nancy's. I do my best to avoid the people that have a herds of drama llamas follow them everywhere they go (llamas are herds right? I don't want to just go with it). It was a hard lesson to learn, but the constant internal dialog that tells me I'm not measuring up is so much worse when the people to my left and right are talking trash about the girl who just can't keep up with life.

Am I ever going to be able to balance the housework, the play time, the social life, the errands, the cooking, the hobbies, and raising children the way I imagine Mrs. Perfect SAHM/HW does? Ha! Am I always going to think 'If there were just 3 more hours today, I'd be able to get it all done'? Probably. But am I working hard to be a better cheerleader for myself and less of an enemy? ABSO-Freaking-LUTELY.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Guest Blog: The Mother

Welcome, The Mother from Little Boy Green! TM is an Eco-friendly, cloth diapering, happily married, mom to Little Boy Green. (LBG) Here's her journey into the world of cloth diapers...

Little Boy Green

Blindly Making the Leap!

The years leading up to being pregnant and the whole time I was growing rounder by the minute I was 100% against cloth diapers. I liked the idea of them. They come in all sorts of cute varieties, too. I just couldn’t get past the poop. Luckily for me The Father of my sweet little boy was against them, too. There was no discussion needed… just the way I like things.

Small side note: TF works an hour away and is away from the house more than he is here. Not to mention he occasionally has to travel.

Ok, back to the point. There would be days when we’d be low on diapers and I didn’t want to take LBG out to buy more. I’d wait all day for TF to come home and instead of cooking dinner, showering, or even getting a few minutes of sleep; I’d be in the car headed to Target to buy diapers.

With the price of formula quickly adding up and the beau coup bucks we spend in gas for TF to go to work we needed to think of a way to cut back some expenses. Not to mention we realized how many diapers were ending up in the landfill from our son alone!

I slowly warmed up to the idea of trying cloth and I made the decision that if I could convince TF that we should give it a go. I’d get over the last of my reservations and just go with it. I’d been visiting various message boards and websites on the subject and came across a great link that I knew would convince him. You can try it out here.

I can’t remember the exact numbers for us, but it came out to something like we’d spend a little over 2 arms and 3 legs if we used disposable diapers until LBG was 2. I wish I’d written everything down. Whatever the figures were, TF was sold. He wanted me to look into buy a few diapers, but didn’t want to spend too much money.

As luck would have it, someone was selling her entire diaper stash! We negotiated a great price and I waltzed away with a huge smile on my face! In about 15 minutes, I’d bought enough diapers to last us until LBG is using the potty full time.

Fast forward to now. LBG has had a fluffy bum for 5 months and we haven’t looked back! Not even once! TF has even tried to convince friends and co-workers that cloth is the way to go. We’ve even decided that kidlet number 2 will be in cloth from the get-go. Instead of making a quick run to the store for diapers or wipes (those are cloth now, too!) I get to spend the evening relaxing while folding a few prefolds and stuffing a pocket or two.

If you are wondering how the numbers have added up here is the run down:

In 5 months, we’ve spent a total of $12 in detergent because we make our own and our water bill has only increased by $5 per month. We’ve spent a total of $200 in diaper purchases and are trying to sell a few of the originals and bought a few more of our favorites.

Not a bad deal, is it?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guest Blog: Mrs M

Welcome Mrs. M from Kibble 'n Dribble! Mrs M is an animal lover, soon-to-be mom of 2 under 2. She's close (just a few more months!) to having 2 gorgeous little girls. She also opens her door to 3 dogs and a cat. (rescue animals!) Sit back and relax as Mrs M talks about the wild ride of having 2 children under the age of 2.


I get asked frequently about what it is like to be pregnant and be the mother of an infant. I will offer this pearl of wisdom: It isn’t easy. Being a parent is not an easy job. Great benefits, sure, but you’re on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and quite frankly, the boss doesn’t cut any slack for sick days. And especially not for fatigue or, God-forbid, you want to work on the nursery for the other. But, with that said, it isn’t always hard either.
I was petrified when I found out I was pregnant again so quickly after the first. I mean it: outright, deer-in-headlights shock and terror. This quickly gave way to excitement, awe, and misty-eyed joy, but those first days of depression were still there. I will admit it. I didn’t think we could do it. I didn’t think I could do it, physically or emotionally. My hyperemesis didn’t help me. I felt I was spending these precious first months with my daughter hugging my toilet. I thought our life was over, and we had already failed before we even got to try.

I reached out to every person I knew that had ever been in my situation. I even reached out to people I didn’t know. I needed to know Cat wouldn’t grow up with a complex. I needed to know I would still have time to bond with my husband. I needed to be reassured that it would be okay, that we would all be okay.

A good support system helped me realize the following. My children will grow up loved. My husband will grow old with me and know he is loved. I can love D, and Cat, and Minnie. There is not a set time line for reproduction that guarantees or denies love. That’s an inside job. I have a lot of love to give. As a wife and a mother, that is the most important thing I needed to know and realize to be able to move on with my pregnancy with my head up. That is the number one piece of advice I will give any second time mother while she struggles in her head with how she will do it all.

Being at peace with my pregnancy doesn’t mean other people don’t pass judgment. They do so especially when you are a young mother with your infant in tow and you happen to forget your wedding rings at home. I see their eyes go from my wee one, to my bump, to my ring ringer. I see them whisper to their friends. Some will even ask me how old Cat is under the guise of innocent curiosity. Unlike when I was pregnant with my first, though, they do not ask how far along I am. I could, after all, very well just be overweight from the first one. Even people I know wonder if I am capable of handling a second child, they wonder if the baby was planned, and they do ask personal details about the circumstances behind the second child’s conception. But I don’t let this bother me.

I cannot be bothered by other people’s judgments, because I have already judged myself. I am, at times, overwhelmed with “mommy guilt.” I want to cry when I even think of spending less time with Cat. I sometimes feel like I am cheating on her. I feel enormous guilt when I shop for new baby furniture and when I plan out the Minnie’s nursery. I get upset when I want to do things I didn’t do with Cat, such as maternity pictures. I have to remind myself, every step of the way, that I can love two babies just as much as I love one.

I’m also just not as excited, which does feed into the guilt. The anticipation for the second does not compare to the first, especially because it feels like I just did this. Like, last year. I don’t follow the baby book day to day wondering what new body part is forming. I don’t know the exact fruit comparison stage my baby is at now. I’m not as Gun-ho about decorating the nursery. And I’m not really excited about the newborn phase all over again so soon, even though I get misty eyed when I hear newborn baby cries. But this is perfectly normal. Every little kick makes me love her more and I know I will overflow with gushy, mama love when she arrives in the world. The pregnancy is flying by, even though I really just want time to slow down as every day that passes Cat is a day older. And getting closer, and closer to not being my little, tiny baby anymore.

Remember how I said it wasn’t always hard? It’s not. I promise. Now that I have stopped vomiting every day, I usually hardly even feel pregnant. There is nothing that I can’t do with Cat due to my pregnancy. I still take her everywhere with me, and provide her all the experiences that I have dreamed of offering her as an infant. If anything, I have thrown myself more into these early months, as I know this is the only time I will have with just her. Although, tiny sweet kicks that grow stronger every day remind me that there is three of us partaking in all of our activities.

I am very fortunate in that I am able to be a stay at home mother and soak up my time with her. I’m also lucky that she is a fantastic sleeper, and enables me to have 8 hours of sleep a night. I have a lot of family around me to provide support and babysitters. Really, we are in an ideal situation to have two children under the age of two.

The truth is, it’s less the physical requirements that make being pregnant while mothering an infant difficult. It’s the mental battle that drains you at times. Every time I catch myself feeling anxious about my ability (or even, in moments of depression, my desire) to mother two children, I remind myself of how sweet my daughter is. How when I look at her smiling up at me and I just want to live in that moment forever. I think of when she takes a tumble and sits on the floor with a tear streaked face with her arms reaching up to me, whining “ma, ma, ma,” because my arms are a place of comfort for her. I catch myself watching my husband toss her up in the air while she grins and laughs with her drool soaked fingers in her mouth. I see and I feel the love, the sweetest love there is, every single day. And then I think, in every moment I catch my breath in awe of my daughter, that soon I will have two of them. Double the love, double the laughs, double the smiles, and double the moments that take my breath away.

Yes, being a mother is hard, whether its one or two or three, but it’s also the easiest and most natural job in the world. It’s a paradox that only a mother could love.

And I wouldn’t want things any other way.