How I Got Through College as a Single Parent

Hump day, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? This week has been dragging for me! I thought it was Wednesday yesterday and that has just thrown everything off. Boooooooo!!

You may or may not have noticed this about me yet, but I am kind of a type-A freakazoid. As such, I like to try to plan as many things out as possible so I can be prepared everything. Well knowing that we're moving in less than 5 weeks has me seriously trying to plan and get shit organized, because moving is so stressful and I'm hoping to make it as smooth as possible for everyone. However I'm also kind of in panic mode and feeling a lot of pressure about it too. There's just so much to do and really not very much time to do it all. I've actually started a spreadsheet with three columns labeled "Things to Do", "Things to Buy", "Things to Pack" - type-A right hurrrrrrrrrr!!

I'm not sure why I told you that other than to get it out and in the universe, maybe? Anyone have any tips to make this easier?

Also, I wanted to mention that Le Tote has another seriously awesome deal going on right now that I want to make sure to get out to you guys in case you're thinking about joining. Now through June 30, you can get 60% off the first month of a Le Tote subscription by using the code SAVEME60. This is not a joke...60% is a LOT of savings! So head on over and get signed up and try it out - don't miss out on this deal!

My last Le Tote box was FIRE and I love all four of the dresses, but I especially love this one. It's soooooo pretty and the pattern is unique and I think it's pretty flattering!

As always, I would never recommend you try anything that I myself don't use on the regs. I love Le Tote and it has saved my work wardrobe right now while I'm still in-between sizes trying to lose this baby weight. I am a part of an affiliate program with Le Tote, so if you decide to sign up using my link I will get a small commission as a thank you. Thanks for your support!

Today I wanted to talk to you about something that I happen to have a lot of experience with, but it is a huge challenge that may seem insurmountable to many people. 

I've mentioned this a few times in different posts and here, but to those who haven't been reading for a long time or may have missed it, I was a single mom to my son Justin for a very long time. My ex-husband and I separated when Justin was less than a year old and from that point forward, I was a single parent. Just in case you're not sure, I'd like to reiterate...

Being a single parent is really hard.

It's also extremely rewarding and can be lots of fun, but when it comes down to it, it's really, REALLY hard. As a single parent, you are completely responsible for the well-being of another human. That human is 100% reliant on you for everything and you have to make sure that you are able to provide that human with what they need in life AND give them love and support and all that good stuff. 

When I got divorced I was still in the Air Force but I knew I didn't want to make the military a career and as such, I separated as soon as I was able to and began my first semester of college pretty much immediately. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a nurse and enrolled in a local community college back home in Illinois. This leads me to my first two tips for successfully getting through college as a single parent. 

Join the military

First off, there are a few states out there that will give you 100% free tuition if you join the military and come back to that state once you separate. Illinois (and Texas...maybe Alaska and Connecticut) is one of those states and as such, I was able to use my GI Bill to cover some of my living expenses. Join the military and do your service. I am a huge advocate for the military because it gave me some seriously awesome experiences, some fantastic friends, insane work ethic and free mother effing college. 

It is possible to be in the military as a single parent - you'll need to make sure you have help and may want to look into the reserves or guard, but you can do it if you really want it!


Go to a community college

For some reason community colleges tend to get looked down on as not being as academically advanced as 4-year schools, but that was not my experience at all. Most of my favorite professors from my college career were in the community college I attended - they were more accessible and helpful than the professors at the university I transferred to after 2 years and they really seemed to care more about my future. Plus community college is exponentially cheaper than a 4-year school so you are able to get a degree for a much smaller cost.

I chose to get a 4-year degree in business (specifically marketing) after changing my mind on my major, but there are several 2-year degrees that you can get amazing jobs with - nursing, engineering, paralegals, etc. You can also always look into trade schools, however I'm not sure how grants/loans/scholarships work for those. 

Talk to a counselor and figure out your options and then go from there.

Take all the help you can get

This includes loans, grants, babysitting from family and friends, live at home, etc. - don't think you have to do it all on your own and I highly recommend you don't try to do it on your own. When we first moved back to Illinois Justin and I lived at my parent's house for over a year. I had a lot of debt when I got out of the Air Force, so I wasn't able to afford living on my own at that time. After about a year I moved in with a friend from high school and lived there for a little while before I found a really cute, cheap, and tiny apartment in the town where my 4-year university was located. That being said, I still needed help with babysitting and hugs from my mom on bad days, so we spent a lot of time hanging out at my mom's house or driving down to my dad's in St. Louis when we wanted a weekend away. 

Sometimes you just have to play giraffe football...a really weird game we made up one day at my mom's house when the power was out...

Another thing that I was lucky to have the option of having, was roommates. I actually lived with two different friends while I was in school and while having a roommate can obviously suck sometimes, it made it more financially feasible. Plus both of them were amazing and would hang out with Justin so I could run sometimes or when I had to go to the library to work on late-night group projects!

Financially there are a lot of resources for single parents. As a single parent you are able to qualify for a lot of grants, which are basically free money for school. Then there are always scholarship programs, especially for specific majors such as nursing, teaching, and social work. And there are always student loans, however I caution you against taking out too many student loans as they are a bitch to pay-off. I only had $25,000 in student loans when I left college and I've been out of school for 7 years and still have $16,000 left to pay. You will also want to be really careful about taking out student loans if you are majoring in something that doesn't pay very well or doesn't have a good job-outlook, since your loan payments can easily be $200-500 a month and that's a lot if you're only making $30,000 a year after school. Throw a kid or two in the mix and that's just not enough to live on.

Be careful with student loans!

Another thing you need to do is get over your pride and look into public assistance programs. As a single parent in college you will probably qualify for food stamps, free or reduced daycare, and possibly even housing assistance. There was a time in college when I did receive food stamps and I am not at all ashamed to admit it, because it helped me get through school and now I'm paying back into the system so others can do the same thing. I was also able to qualify for free or reduced child care the entire time I was in school, which helped a lot. 

Also make sure you're getting child support. Contact your local child support agency and have them open up a case for you if you aren't getting it. And if you are getting it but it's been a few years and you know the other parent is making substantially more money now, make sure you get it amended. It does take a little work, but you shouldn't have to do it on your own.

Do your research and don't hesitate to take every possible form of help you can get!

Now you may be wondering, how did I manage to get any studying done when I had a crazy 3-7 year old boy running around and being insane all the time? Let me tell you my secret...

Study at McDonalds or the park

We would spend hours at McDonalds or at the park on a regular basis - I'm talking 3-5 times a week. Obviously it needs to be a McDonalds with a playplace, but this is one of the biggest things I did that helped me graduate! Justin would run around like a crazy person for hours, making best friends and burning off energy, and I'd tune everything out and study, study, study. We would go to McDonalds when the weather was crappy or when I needed wifi (it's FREE!) and we'd go to the park whenever I needed to do some reading. And I always took breaks to run around and play with him, since life isn't fun without fun. Duh. 

Word of caution on this, you do want to always make sure you can see your child and that you've had several, maybe even hundreds of talks about not talking to strangers, bullies, and what to do if someone does try to take them (FIGHT AND SCREAM!). I always sat in the playplace and made sure I knew where Justin was and always kept him in my line of vision while at the park. 

Work your ass off

Going to college as a single parent is not easy...at all. I was lucky in that I had some money coming in with my GI Bill and qualified for grants and had my parents to help out with babysitting or small loans for bills that I always paid back immediately, however I still had to work my ass off. This includes a part time job, doing homework until 3 in the morning or waking up early to read, late night study and group sessions for projects, writing papers during vacations, etc. 

I remember very specifically going on several vacations with my parents and watching everyone else drink beer all day without a care in the world while I sat back and wrote a paper or read school books. I know, #firstworldproblems at least I got vacations (thanks mom and dad!); I'm not complaining, just telling you how I made this work. There were also a few times that I had to scramble all over trying to find a restaurant with wifi while driving back from a trip so I could turn in an assignment on time. At one point we were driving back from Florida and I'm pretty sure we stopped by 3 or 4 restaurants in the mountains in Chattanooga before I found a place to turn my assignment in. Did it make my vacation less enjoyable? Sure! But I knew it's what I needed to do to get through school and that those small short-term sacrifices would pay off in a big way in the end. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed going on my first vacation after graduation to South Padre Island and just being able to relax on the beach with my mom and my son without having to do any homework.  

I also worked a lot of part-time jobs - waitress, bartender, barista...waitressing or bartending is a great way to get some extra cash if you have the personality for it. And I firmly believe everyone should work in the service industry at some point in their lives since it's really hard work and teaches you how to work hard and not be an asshole (always tip your server). There were many weekends where I would work Friday and Saturday nights (my mom would usually watch Justin) and would easily make $400-500. This went a long way towards paying bills, having food, and having fun...

Take time to have fun!

Fun doesn't have to cost anything. Justin and I went hiking a lot, would go down to my dad's house in St. Louis and explore the city there, we went to every playground we could find, the zoo, children's museums, canoeing/tubing on the river with friends and family, etc. We'd often pick up a $5 footlong from Subway to share (remember when they were $5?) and a lot of museums/parks/things to do have discounts for students/veterans so everything we did was cheap. 

Get creative

This includes finding ways to study, things to do, and ways to make money. I am actually a 6-time egg donor, which obviously helped a lot towards getting me cash for school/living/fun stuff to do, but that's not for everyone and there are risks involved so I don't recommend it to people. Figure out things you can do to make your life easier or to get money and do it! Babysit, pet-sit, walk dogs, wash cars, rent out your 2nd bedroom as an Airbnb....do what you have to do to get through college, because I promise you, it's worth it for you and for your kids in the end. 

Push through it

I have actually had several people tell me that their lives just aren't as easy as mine or that not everyone can work as hard as I do...WHAT?!?! First of all, my life has not been easy in the slightest and I have had to work and work hard for everything that I have - literally nothing has been given to me. There were many times while I was in school where I just wanted to cry and give up (and I did cry a lot, actually). But I never gave up because I knew it would be worth it in the end and it has definitely been worth it. Yes, I am a hard worker and driven internally to work my butt off now, but I firmly believe everyone can work as hard as I do because I haven't always been this way. I was the laziest teenager who ever lived. I slept until 3 all summer and on the weekends, I never worked out, was crap about helping out around the house, and I barely put any effort into school. It wasn't until I had Justin that I realized I needed to get my ass into gear and really start trying to make something of my life so I can give him the best life possible.

Find something that drives you and motivates you and focus on that. Use whatever that is to keep you going even when times are tough. As I mentioned above, I cried A LOT through this process because it is a really hard thing to do, however Justin seemed to always know when I was down and he'd wrap his sticky little arms around me and give me big hugs and kisses and this kept me going. I talk about other things I do to keep myself motivated here if you want to check it out for more ideas. And when you go through that hard time and pull through it, whether it's a bad grade, your car gets repossessed right before Easter and you have all of the Easter stuff for your son in your car (true story - I used to be really terrible with money) or you have finally graduated after 2-4 years of seriously hard work, be proud of yourself. Because you did it. And it's SO worth it!

And then once you get that degree and start a job, you can start looking into fun things like certifications or advanced degrees because you are absolutely insane like I am...or just enjoy this accomplishment, since it's a huge one!

Thanks for stopping by - I'll be back on Friday with more shenanigans and insanity!

Time for some Monday

And WHAT a Monday it is! My car is being dumb so I had to take it to the car shop where I'm sure they'll try to inflate everything that's wrong with it so they can get all of my money. And it's cloudy and rainy and just blaaaaaaaaaaah outside. This is the day where I wish I could call in and hang out at home while wearing my unicorn onesie pajamas, but I'm a responsible grown-up so I'll just go to work and be all responsible and stuff. So dumb. 

Plus, my vacation time doesn't renew until July, so I don't have any time to take anyway.

I obviously have a case of the Monday's today! It doesn't help that there is a huge wolf spider in Julianna's room. At least that's the last place I saw it. And that mother effer RAN at me when I tried to go in and kill it. So of course I ran from her room while screaming bloody murder and now I don't know where that asshole is. What I do know is that wherever it is, it's probably plotting to kill me in my sleep EVEN though it's not poisonous. It's so big that it will actually grab a knife from the kitchen and STAB me in my sleep. Yeah, not even exaggerating...

So today I'm going to do a weekly workout round-up/weekend happenings/what I'm doing this week for workouts post. 

Monday - P90X Chest & Back and Core

I don't remember ANYTHING about this workout, so it must have been fine. Actually, that's a lie...I do remember that I actually struggled more during pretty much all of my workouts last week until Friday. Like I had to do less reps with the same weight. Which is annoying. I'm assuming it's because I'm watching what I'm eating a bit more and not carb loading for a non-existent race like I have been the past 16 months (2 years...). Also, I look super puffy in the 2nd picture compared to the 1st...I'm swole??

Tuesday - Turbofire, HIIT, and Core

I may have mentioned this a million times in the past month or so, but Jules is sleeping terribly again. So she's been waking up between 4-5 and getting up with me for my workout, which usually is fine. I had hoped to run on Tuesday and Thursday this week, but it was thunderstorming both mornings and with Jules being awake that makes it a double-nope. So I subbed a 30 minute kickboxing workout and 10 minutes of HIIT on Tuesday, along with my core workout. 

Jules is also doing this thing where if I put her down for any period of time and leave the room she screams bloody murder. So this is how I have been able to get ready for work...

#nopantsclub #workingmomlife #idowhaticantomakeitallwork

Wednesday - P90X Shoulders & Arms & Core

I apparently only got a before workout picture...my bad! I'm sure we will all live without the after and don't worry, I have so many more to show you!

Thursday - Kickboxing & Core

See?!? More pictures! I couldn't run on Thursday as I mentioned above, so I did a 53 minute Turbofire workout and my core workout. And I mixed things up by taking my before and after workout pictures in our still clean bathroom mirror. Ooooooooooooooh!!!

Friday - P90X Legs & Back and Core

Oh man, that's a great before picture! Classic Jamie. Jules woke up midway through my workout on Friday and at one point I was doing these squat jump things and I knocked her down with my butt. To be fair, I didn't know she'd gotten off the couch.

Best. Mom. Ever.

Also, I love messy baby wake-up hair. She looks so cute all mussed and messy!

Saturday - RUN DAY

Awwwww...look how hopeful and smiley my before workout picture is!! Jason ended up picking up a shift Saturday morning so I had to run with the stroller, but I figured it wouldn't be a big deal since pretty much all of my long runs are with the stroller. We even ended up leaving an hour earlier than we left the week prior - it's gonna be a great run!!

1.5 miles in....

4 miles in....

It was SO EFFING HOT and humid out during this run. Oh my GOSH it was rough. I literally had sweat pouring off of me by the time I was done. And for some reason I decided to challenge myself and run the bridge, which I hit at 2.25 miles and 4.5 miles. I actually ended up walking once I hit the top of the bridge and going down it on the way back because I had zero gas left and still had 2 miles left to run. Also I didn't wear a hat for some reason...still not sure why. So all of the sweat went into my eyes and I didn't have protection from the sun at the end. 

But by the time I was done and stretched, I was actually pretty happy about the run because it was the furthest I've ran this year! I was supposed to do some sprint repeats at the end, but decided that was a horrible idea and just ran the 6 miles. 

Do you SEE how freaking sweaty I am here?!? GROSS!! When I picked Jules up from her stroller she actually didn't want to touch me because I was so disgusting. Can't say I blame her!

The rest of Saturday was spent cleaning, errand running, and hanging out with some friends.

Walking the dog... 

Waiting out the rain before dashing into the grocery store...

Shoving a delicious poke bowl in my face hole...

Shenanigans...

Sunday - REST DAY

Which involved me taking a NAP with Jules from 10-12 because I was up past my bedtime hanging out with friends and watching Girls Saturday night and Sunday also involved cleaning/organizing for the move. 

Here you can see Jules is wearing a long-sleeved onesie and her Christmas dress from last year - both still fit her really well, so I think she'll be wearing them both again this year (just not at the same time). 

So now I have something important to ask you...

Do you know how to get rid of wolf spiders? I need to catch this killer death spider before it hunts me down and eats my face off. 

Also, how do you feel about the same Christmas dress 2 years in a row? I'm actually 100% into it because (1) it's cute and (2) she only wore it for like 4 hours...that's a waste of money and I'm a cheapskate!

As for my workouts this week, I actually only have one week left of P90X - time flies when you're having fun - BUT there's a new set of Shaun T workouts being released this week and I love him. So I'm putting P90X on hold for this week and doing Shaun T week and then I'll do my last week of P90X next week. So be sure to keep an eye out for my results/thoughts on both of those programs!

Here's to a great Monday, friends! 

Fri-YAY Fun Post (and am I crazy?)

Happy Friday to all of you, my friends! It's such a great day, isn't it? I love Friday. I know I've said this before, but I like Friday even more than the Saturday or Sunday because it's the day that starts the weekend and I'm always in a great mood knowing I have 2 days off coming up! 

Today's post is going to be all about the things that are making me say YAY! Some of them will be funny, some will be weird, some might be annoying for some of you, but whatever! It's my blog and I do what I want. 

Don't tell me how to live my liiiiiiiiiiiiife!! 

First and foremost, how many of you are like me and you eat well for a few days to a week and start looking at yourself like, have I lost all of the weight yet? Am I making progress? Am I skinnier yet?

This was me yesterday and I was feeling good. Like, oooooh I feel so good in this dress and my stomach is feeling flatter and YAYYYYYY. Then this morning I weigh-in and I've lost less than a pound in 2 weeks. Mother fucker. 

This weight loss stuff is so fucking frustrating and I hate how I can feel good one day and the next be so annoyed because the scale is a dumb whore. 

Am I the only one who goes through this? Am I insane? Please tell me I'm not crazy...at least not in this regard. 

Also, sorry about the language...I'll limit my French from here on out :-)

This is the other sunrise picture I took last week after my run when the sunrise was just so freaking pretty. No filter needed here, my friends!

How about some fun/ridiculous take-out pictures?

You know, these are the pictures that I deemed not worthy for other blog posts, but put in here because I have zero shame.  

Here's a series of the ridiculous faces I make when doing my pre/post-workout pictures. 

I am so photogenic. 

Speaking of photogenic...time for some BABY SELFIES!!

She gets it from her mama!

And her daddy too

I love how curly her hair is! I hope she keeps the curls and has beautiful, wavy, thick hair like her daddy. 

Just in case you're wondering where Justin is, he's been up in his room playing video games except for the times I order to him to come downstairs and hang out for an hour or two while I'm making/eating dinner or when I yell at him for not doing his chores. 

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Oh how I wish I had a summer break again. I've actually thought about getting my teaching certificate and becoming a teacher, but that would be a big problem for me because:

  1. I like money and things and that would be a huge pay-cut and homie don't play that
  2. I don't really like children very much. I mean, I like my kids and my friends kids and my nieces and nephews. But that's because they're all pretty well-behaved and not total assholes and have manners. It's the asshole kids without manners that I don't like to be around and I have the feeling teachers have to deal with a lot of those. 

So no being a teacher and having a summer break for me! Womp womp!

Would you like to hear about how crappy Jules has been sleeping?

There's apparently an 18 month sleep regression and I'm 99% sure Jules is going through it right now.

On top of that, toddlers apparently start having nightmares around her age and I'm pretty sure she's having those too. They can start around 18 months or earlier if the child has experienced some sort of trauma, which the poor little girl has definitely dealt with :-( 

So what we're dealing with right now is a toddler who wakes up at least once in the middle of the night and absolutely will not let me put her down. I've tried rocking her and putting her back down in her crib and patting her back, but she's absolutely not having it. And then I work full-time and can't miss out on the limited sleep I do get, so I'm lazy and put her in my bed with me. So now she's doing this super fun thing where she wakes up between 4:00-5:00 and thrashes around and flings herself all over the bed, waking me up repeatedly until we both finally get up when I workout. Then she sits on the couch or bed while I'm working out and whines/cries through most of it. 

Needless to say, she's killing me. I am so tired and find myself getting frustrated with her and then feeling horrible since I know she's just a growing toddler and this kind of behavior is to be expected. I am hesitant to do sleep training again, since I don't want to traumatize her any further, but I don't know how much longer I can live like this. 

Do any of you have any advice? Have you gone through this and found a way to help the situation? 

"That flash is so bright mom, don't take pictures this early!!"

And to that I say, "your foot is so strong and swift when it kicks me in the head at 4:30 in the morning...stop doing that and I'll stop taking pictures"

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DEAL????

(she's flailing around and fussing in that picture...send help...I'm going to lose my marbles)

You know how I have absolutely no shame and like to post horrendous pictures of myself for your enjoyment? Well here come some goodies!

I'm pretty sure I was trying to show how tired I was after my run in this picture, but all I'm getting from this picture is that I sweat a lot and make some INteresting faces. 

Of course I took more than one super unflattering pre-Jules jeans pictures! No shame in my game, folks! I need to just burn those dumb pants. BURN THEM!!!!!!!!

Except they're really nice jeans, so first I'm going to try to sell them to a thrift store. But then if they don't take them, I'm BURNING THEM!!

Speaking of flash...

That didn't work at all. But it does show that our bathroom is still pretty clean and organized and I'd like to give myself a pat on the back for that

*tries to pat self on back but remembers that I have no shoulder flexibility so I just scratch my neck instead*

Close enough.

Finally, I have some music recommendations for you guys! Do any of you even listen to any of my recommendations? If you don't, you should!

  • Reverend by Kings of Leon (late on the train for this one, but I love it!)
  • Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
  • Slide by Calvin Harris
  • Know No Better by Major Lazer with Travis Scott
  • Rollin by Calvin Harris

For tv stuff, I'm still watching Girls and currently in the last season. I really like this show and would recommend it to everyone! Lots of boobs and butts with some "V" thrown in as well, just so you're not thrown off guard when it pops up on the screen. 

I also started watching The Handmaid's Tale last weekend and can I just say, HOLY SHIT! This show actually stresses me out so much that I can only watch one episode at a time. And tv shows never have that effect on me. But it's SO GOOD! 

Finally, the new season of Orange is the New Black was released today! Woohoo!! I will probably wait a month or two before watching, which is what I always do...once I watch it, I have to wait another freaking year for more! So I like to wait and savor knowing that it's there to watch before I binge all of the season in one weekend. Anyone else do this?

That about sums things up for me! This weekend should be fairly low-key, but busy. We're taking Justin out for dinner tonight to get some Udon/Ramen because he made the honor roll. I have a 6 mile run with some sprints at the end planned for tomorrow morning and I'm going to do it without Jules, which should make things easier...however as things always happen with running, it'll probably end up being a total shit show instead. Or it'll rain like crazy the entire time like it's been doing all week and I won't run at all - I'll run if it's raining just a little, but it has been straight pouring/storming every morning this week. Then we're having some friends over Saturday night and I may or may not be painting my kitchen table on Sunday #norestforthewicked

How about you? Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?? I hope it's a great one for you!

Road Trippin' - my tips to make it work with kids!

Happy HUMMMMP DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! 

(Now fake like I am right next to you and I sang it to you like an opera singer...fun, right?)

I hope your week is going fantastically and your Friday comes quickly. We're so effing busy with work and with life right now that my days are all flying by. I actually wouldn't mind if they slowed down a little bit - I only have a little over 5 weeks left here and I'd like to savor them (and as many poke bowls as possible). 

And just in case you're worried, because I'm SURE you are...I've already found several poke restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that are totally in driving distance from where we'll be living. Me being the crazy person I am, I have no issues driving 3 hours for a day trip somewhere...it's just the way I was raised! More on that in a minute, but first...

Also, Jules is back to her usual shenanigans...

She is walking/running pretty well now. She still has a bit of a limp and walks kind of wobbly and her balance is way off - the doctor says it will take some time for her to get full mobility back into her joint - but as most toddlers do, she has adapted and is up and running. Literally.

And walking the dog as much as she can. You can tell by the look in Jax's face how much he loves it when Jules walks him. But like I said before, ever since figuring out Jules will feed him anything she's eating he's become much more tolerant of her. 

As mentioned above, I will drive 3 hours for a day trip...one way. That's 6 total hours in one day. But if it's for something super fun and worth it, like a trip to the beach or an awesome amusement park, why wouldn't I?

I'm pretty sure this sense of adventure and doing stuff is something that runs in our genes or something. My entire family, mother's side and father's side, are a bunch of traveling/adventuring fools. My Gran moved to the U.S. after a childhood in Nazi-occupied Norway and my dad's mom moved to Boston with her husband where she didn't know anyone and my other grandma has traveled literally all over the world. As I was growing up, we would go on trips everywhere, usually by driving. My Gran and Granther drove my brother and I from Illinois to California to see family twice in my childhood - once when I was 8 and another time when I was 12. That's a long-ass drive to take with 2 kids! And we'd regularly drive from Illinois to Florida with my mom and step-dad, grandparents, and my siblings. It's just what we do!

Needless to say, after having Justin I wasn't about to stop traveling and road tripping everywhere - it's the absolute best way to see the country and it's fun! 

(please ignore the straps on Justin's carseat - I obviously didn't know 12 years ago how to strap him in properly...pretty sure no one knew that 12 years ago).

Having children makes the whole thing a bit more complicated, however don't fret - it's totally doable! Justin was a champ at the whole road trip thing practically from birth and Jules...well Jules was a bit more difficult since she hated her carseat and would scream whenever she was in it, however we still managed to drive up to Virginia and back for a spring break vacation last year when she was 8 weeks old and that's a 12 hour drive!

Without further ado, here are my top tips to successfully road trip with kids:

This post will include some affiliate links - these are things that I have personally bought and found really useful in regards to this topic. Should you choose to buy an item based on my recommendation, I will get a very small commission from Amazon as a thank you. See my full disclosure here

Bring stuff for them to do. 

This may seem obvious, but don't expect your kids to just sit in the back quietly without anything to do. For an older kid like Justin, it's easy enough to bring his phone and a charger, headphones, and a book or two. That's all he needs. However when Justin was younger, we always brought crayons and drawing paper, some Legos in a small tin, mad libs (LOVE mad libs), and the iPad/computer so he could watch a movie or two. 

It's a bit more difficult to keep a toddler entertained, however it's doable! First and foremost, I highly recommend getting them something new to play with. We bought this for Jules a couple of months ago and she loves it, and I'm planning on getting this for her for our huge impending road trip/vacation/relocation up North. It's a good idea to give them something new (or something they haven't seen for awhile) for the trip so they are really interested and play with it for awhile. 

I also have absolutely zero issues with screen time for a road trip (or really anytime...pick your battles, people). So we always bring an iPad so Jules can watch movies/tv shows. We have Netflix, so we're able to download movies on our iPad - her favorite right now is Secret Life of Pets and she still loves Moana. While I hope to one day have one of those fancy schmancy cars with the built-in entertainment system, right now we don't have that. So how does my toddler watch movies without throwing/breaking/killing my iPad (or phone when the movies didn't download on the iPad and we have to leave right now...aka the last time we went to the beach)? I got this on Amazon a few months ago and we've used it several times. It is extremely easy to set-up and you can put pretty much anything in it. We bought it primarily for the iPad but we've used our phones as well and it keeps them in place well enough AND Jules can't reach whatever we've put in there to mess with it. I wish I had a picture of it in my car, but I suck. Sorry.

Bring plenty of snacks/drinks

We always bring fun snacks/drinks for everyone whenever we drive anywhere over an hour. I know some people are anti-eating-in-the-car, but it's insane to expect your toddler not to have a snack when you're driving anywhere long-distance. Same for drinks. Plus, how fair would it be for me to be eating cheddar cracker Combos (my road trip snack) and not let the kids eat? Bring a sippy cup and plenty of bottled water for everyone (we don't drink soda) and make sure someone is sitting in the back with your toddler while they're eating to ensure they don't choke - and don't give them anything super crunchy or hard so you eliminate most of the choking hazard. Jules only eats soft foods like cereal bars or bananas in the car to eliminate the choking risk. Yes, I do usually end up with my car being covered in food, but I honestly don't care if it helps to ensure a happy road trip. It also leads to more bathroom breaks, but that leads me to my next point which is...

Take plenty of breaks

I know this may seem insane to some of you and my husband is still getting used to it, but when I drive long-distance I never go for longer than 2.5 hours without stopping. Part of this has to do with me being terrified of getting a blood clot and you should be too, especially if you're on birth control. But it's also just a good thing to get up and walk around for a few minutes, especially when driving with kids. We love a rest area when it's daytime and if there are a lot of other people there. When I drive long-distance without my husband and without any other adults, I only stop at rest areas under those conditions for safety reasons. So if it's dark or the rest area is mostly deserted, we'll wait and stop at a big gas station or a McDonalds or even a playground if I can find one. Get out of the car, change diapers, everyone goes to the bathroom even if they say they don't need to, we usually get another snack, walk around and shake our limbs, get some fresh air, and then jump back in for another few hours before doing it again. 

I also do lots of research every time I drive/do anything and try to find things we can do along our route that can give us a break from the monotony of the drive. And if you're really lucky, Niagara Falls will be pretty close to where you're driving and you can pull off and see it. It ended up adding about 2 hours to our drive, but it was totally worth it.

Don't try to do it in one shot and be flexible

If you have a 12-16 hour drive planned (or more) and you're doing it with kids, don't try to do it all at once. That's insane. If they're older kids it's more doable, but when you have kids under 5 you're just asking for a hell of a drive. When we start our relocation/vacation road trip in July, I'll be driving the first half of the trip by myself, with Justin and Jules and our two cats. We'll be stopping at my dad's house which is north of Tennessee for a couple of days before heading up to my mom's house and that's a 12 hour drive. I'm not going to do it in one day - I probably could, but it would be awful for everyone involved. Instead, I'm going to leave Friday afternoon and drive as far as possible before stopping for the night around 9. Then we'll only have a 6-8 hour drive left the next day.

Additionally, be flexible. When we drove back from Virginia when Jules was only 2 months old, we originally planned on driving straight through. Then Jules completely lost her shit in Georgia and we decided to stop for the night in Savannah instead of trying to push it through, because that would have been miserable for everyone.

Helpful hint for you: 90% of the time when we stop on a road trip we have some sort of pet with us, so we always stay at Red Roof Inn. They allow pets and don't charge any type of pet fee, and a lot of their motels have been completely remodeled with wood floors so they're a lot nicer than I think they used to be. I try to do some research prior to leaving and find hotels along our route with good ratings that we can stay at should we need to stop and have never had to stay in a total crap hotel. 

Sit in the back

This obviously won't work if you're driving by yourself with one kid, but if you have another child or adult with you, have them sit in the back to help with your baby/toddler. I'll probably get crucified for saying this, but there have been times when we've been driving somewhere and Justin started in the front seat and jumped in the back at a stop light because Jules was losing her shit. Now we usually just plan to have him sit in the back if we're driving anywhere remotely long distance so he can keep her happy/fed/watered if she needs it. Or to nap in solidarity with her...

Make sure the temperature is comfortable

This is especially relevant when you live somewhere with hot temperatures or in the summer and have a baby/toddler. When you have a child in a rear-facing carseat, the recommendation now is to keep them rear-facing until they're 2 and even longer if possible (35-40 pounds, which for our little peanut will be until she's like 5). It's a lot safer for them and protects them better in the event you're involved in a car accident. With that said, when they're facing backwards they're not getting the benefit of the air conditioning like everyone else in the back who's facing forward. I'm pretty sure a lot of the reason Jules constantly lost her shit in the car seat was because she was hot. So now I always make sure two of the vents in my car are angled to hit the backseat and let them run a lot cooler than I personally need so she can stay comfortable. And if you have a car with a/c vents in the backseat, I'm jealous of you and you thought this out way better than I did :-)

I hope you've been able to find something helpful out of these tips on how to have a successful road trip with kids, but my #1 piece of advice is just do it. I've seen a lot of comments/posts here and there about people who are too scared to travel with their kids and in my opinion, you're doing yourself and your kids a disservice by not getting out there! The country/world is so big and the more we see, the more we can appreciate it! I know it sucks when you have to stay in a hotel/motel/tent and their sleep/nap/meal schedule gets thrown off, but I promise it's worth it! I mean, I have been dragging Justin all over this great country of ours (and he's been to Europe several times to see his dad) and he is such an independent and laid-back kid who has been a total joy to raise and I promise you we never had any type of nap/sleep/meal schedule. So don't let your fear of the trip stop you - just do it! 

Have any of you reading done any crazy road trips with your family? Either when you were a kid or with your kids now? I actually hate flying (control issues) and would drive everywhere if I could! I'm lucky my husband loves me because he's the total opposite, but he goes along for the ride...literally. HA, PUNNY!! 

And I almost forgot...I have another Le Tote coupon and this is a really good one! I am still 100% subscribing and absolutely loved the box I got last week so I still highly recommend, especially if you're between sizes! Click below and make sure you use the coupon code FIRST50 and you'll get 50% off your first month!

Thanks for stopping by :-)

WIIW - Stuff & Things

Happy hump day!! It's all downhill to Friday from here! Holla!!

How's your week going so far? Mine is pretty good! I actually got a little bit of sleep last night - still not enough and Jules was up once around 1am, however it's better than it has been!

Today I'm going to do another round of What it is Wednesday and then tomorrow I'll post a deep Topic Thursday of some sort (I have to alliterate in my titles...can't help it...sorry, not sorry). 

First and foremost... 

Don't mind his goober face on the right (he was half asleep), can we marvel at how much he has grown and how BIG he is now?!? If you look at where his ears are on the door, he has seriously grown like 4 inches. I can't handle it...time can slow down now. They aren't even kidding when they say you need to cherish the time you have because it flies by - I have an 8th grader. It's been several years since he has asked me to pick him up (and since I've been able to physically hold him since he's way bigger than me now). Before I know it, he will be in college somewhere eating pizza all day every day and never putting pants on...which honestly isn't that much different than where we are now. 

So the entire point of this is, do try to cherish the time you have with your kids because it does fly by and they're all grown up before you know it. Even when they're being assholes, because let's be real...kids are assholes a lot of the time (you know it's true). 

Mirror update...it is CLEAN!

I deep cleaned the entire bathroom this weekend and organized some crap and it looks so great. And I can see myself in the mirror without any embarrassing stuff all over it. I mean, I didn't really care all that much, but it was kind of gross. 

Guess what my first thought was when I saw this picture my husband took of Jules and I playing at the splash pad? "Uuuugggghhhh...why is my stomach so pushy-outy, I look so..." and then I stopped myself and thought (1) look at how happy Jules and you both are!! (2) Jason actually took a picture of you so stop your bitching and post the damn picture!

Also my hamstrings look awesome, so shut up critical inner voice! 

More splash pad fun...

Such great pictures of all of them <3 

Jules is walking so much better - she still has a limp that I am calling her pimp walk...judge away. But she's able to pretty much run now and is obviously loving having her mobility back. 

She even got to walk her dog this weekend, which made all of us happy...except Jax. He's not really a fan, but he tolerates it. He's become even more tolerant since he's figured out Jules will feed him anything she's eating if he's patient and sits next to her. Smart dog!

No filter necessary for the sunrise during my run yesterday. Seriously makes getting up worth it!

This picture was taken on Sunday. It's super cute, right? Now scroll up and look at the first picture I posted from Justin's last day of school on Friday...same shirt. I'm 99% sure he wore it the entire weekend and I'm also 99% sure those are the same pants. 

Teenagers are so gross. 

This picture is still cute though.

Jason worked extra duty at MegaCon this weekend, which is a huge comic book/tv show/movie/nerd fest and he was able to get us some free tickets so we went for a little bit on Saturday. First off, I saw some famous people from across the room - so cool (it's the simple things for me). Also I was pretty impressed by the amount of dedication these people have for their costumes and it makes me want to come up with a cool cosplay outfit for myself...except I'm lazy and don't care enough to spend that much money on a costume/outfit. HOWEVER we do still have our Halloween costumes from this year and since we'll be up by Massachusetts I think we'll need to go to Salem in October dressed as the Sanderson sisters (from Hocus Pocus) and Marti is totally going to fly up and join us, RIGHT MARTI?!? :-)

Now I have some super fun food/music/tv/movie recommendations, because what would a WIIW post be without those??

Favorite Recipes Right Now

These firecracker meatballs are so effing good. I urge you to plan on making them asap - we've had them 2 or three weeks in a row now and I might make them next week too...that's how good they are. We usually eat them with some white rice and broccoli or whatever your veggie of choice is and I seriously struggle not to get seconds...or thirds. DO IT!

Then I made these chicken thighs last night and MAN they are good! It is a bit of work for a weekday meal, but we ended up having 4 of them leftover so they'll be great for dinner tonight too. Of course I served them with white rice and sauteed some zucchini and summer squash for sides. Yummmmmmmm. And super cheap too; since the recipe calls for skin and bone-in chicken thighs they were only $0.99/pound at Aldi. 

Favorite Songs Right Now

I'm still obsessed with that Ra Ra Riot song I talked about in an earlier post - pretty sure I listen to it every day. Then I'm also still into the Hamilton soundtrack and have been jamming to that as well (when I say jamming I mean bopping in my car with jazz hands and faking like I can sing). However I also have some new favorites that I'm just going to admit to and get it over with...

Malibu by Miley Cyrus

The Cure by Lady Gaga

Sweet Creature by Harry Styles

So yep...that pop explosion just happened. I do find that I go in waves with the music I'm listening to based on the weather/time of the year. Here's how it usually goes...

January - early March: crazy, ratchet rap music. I need to get crunk after listening to Christmas music for a month and a half or so

March - May: I always go through a Dave Matthews phase when the weather starts warming up and lots and lots of alt rock

May - August: Summer always calls for lots of pop music, classic rock, and random musicals for road trips

September - October: I usually go back to alt rock/classic rock with some seriously hard rock/metal throw in for whatever race I'm training for. I love running to Slipknot. 

November - December: All Christmas music, all the time. Not even kidding - ask my husband. He loves it. When I say I'm basic, I mean I'm basic. 

Moving onto my favorite show right now...

I realize I'm super late to the game on this, but I've been binge-watching Girls for the past month or so and I really like it. However it makes me cringe constantly. I'm pretty sure that's the entire point of the show, but I literally cringe several times each episode. 

Finally, what I'm still all about right now...

No, not my disgusting and messy car...I'm talking about the empty carseat with my purse in the back. I'm still 100% putting my purse in the back whenever I put Jules in the car so I always have to walk around and grab it. In doing so, I ensure that I will never leave her in her carseat on accident. This is super simple, but I urge you to adopt something similar if you have a kid(s) in carseats so we can prevent any further tragedies with the hot weather this summer. 

So now I want to know some stuff about you! Do you go through random phases with your music? One music I never go through phases with is country - I can't stand it. I mean, I liked the Dixie Chicks in high school like every other chick who graduated in 2001, but everything else country is so not my jam. Also have you watched Girls and does it make you cringe as much as me? Hannah is just sooooooooo cringe-y and entitled and it drives me insane. 

I hope your hump day is humptastic!!

Tuesday Catch-Up and Randomosity!

Happy not-Monday! It's always so much nicer when it's not a Monday, am I right? Today has me getting back into the swing of things, going back to work, and hopefully getting into a routine again. Which I think our entire family desperately needs!

Is anyone else a total creature of habit? I do love to do things spontaneously here and there - spontaneous beach trip, unplanned lobster dinner, winning the lottery (that would be nice...) - but for the most part, I do really well when I'm able to stick to my schedule.

Here's an example of my usual weekday schedule: 

5:00am - wake-up and convince myself to roll out of bed and work-out

5:30ish-6:40 - workout

6:40-8:00 - shower, get ready for work, get Jules ready for daycare, wake Justin up multiple times and remind him to shower/eat/brush his teeth/wear deodorant, run around like a chicken with its head cut off, make breakfast, run out the door 5-10 minutes behind schedule and rush to daycare/work

8:45-5:30 or so - #girlboss

6:00-7:30 - make dinner, clean up after dinner, try to play with Jules and talk to Justin before Jules has a tired-toddler melt-down, give her a bath, read story, put to bed, take a deep breath. 

8:00-9:30 - clean up more, prep meal for lunch the next day, eff around on Facebook/Snapchat/the 'gram, talk to my husband if he's not working, collapse into bed and hopefully fall asleep hardcore-style before waking up at 5 the next day and doing it all over again. 

I actually hope to do a day-in-the-life post once we get back into our normal schedule/routine and Jules is doing better, but you get the idea for now. Needless to say, being in the hospital and in and out of doctor's offices for the past week and half has really thrown our schedule for a loop. We were in the actual hospital for 3 nights and 4 days so my workouts and eating have not been where they normally would (and obviously I am okay with this since we had much more important things to worry about).

I think there are two types of people when it comes to dealing with stress - those who don't eat at all and lose weight and those who stress eat everything in sight and end up gaining weight. I'm the person who stress eats everything (especially carbs/cereal/chips) and even though the scale and I had broken up, I decided to check out the damage this morning to see where I am...let's just say that I now have 12 pounds of weight to get back down to pre-Jules weight instead of 7. Womp womp. 

Again, I'm not really super upset about it since we had so much more important things to worry about, but with my weight inching up and knowing in the back of my mind that I have issues with my blood pressure being close to the high-end of normal along with borderline pre-diabetic blood sugar, this is not really something I can just ignore. This isn't really so much about vanity and wanting to look good as it is about being healthy long-term so I can be around for a long-long time and not have any crazy health issues. So I am jumping back onto the workout train and trying to chill out on my eating/drinking and will hopefully be able to lose what I've gained in the past week and a half pretty quickly and then continue to chip away at the rest of it. Like I've said before, it's not that I'm obsessed with the number itself, but I am obsessed with getting my overall health itself back to normal/excellent. Too bad being able to do a million burpees isn't a health factor that doctor's look at because I am awesome at that. 

Moving on from that tangent, why don't we talk about other random crap that we've been up to outside of being in the hospital? The last time we really caught up was in my Fri-yay before Mother's Day post, which seems like it happened months ago!

Mother's Day weekend was a pretty nice weekend. Jules obviously wasn't feeling 100% so it was pretty low-key, but we did a lot of relaxing and goofing off, which is two of our favorite things to do!

All the cool kids wear bowls on their heads.

I obviously had to get a poke bowl...because duh. 

And I had to eat my Mother's Day cake - which I devoured over the course of the weekend. With a baby fork. While standing at the counter #icantimaginewhyicantlosethebabyweight

On actual Mother's Day, all I really wanted was to go for a run, have mimosas, take a long bath, and not have to cook any food myself. Which ended up happening pretty much 100% and it was GLORIOUS!

Jules and I woke up and went for my longest run since December. It was slow and hot and super sweaty with the humidity, but it was still a great run. 

Don't worry...Jules had sunblock slathered all over her little feet so they didn't get burnt - it was just too warm to have her in socks or cover her with a blanket and her ankle was swollen and tender at this point so I didn't want her to wear shoes or anything. Whenever we run I always give her a snack and water and she usually eats and drinks all of it and then takes a nap until we stop - easy peasy!

Then I came home to this...

And Jason made me an awesome breakfast. Then I was able to take a nice and relaxing bath before hanging out with Jules and watching movies on the couch for most of the afternoon. Finally Jason prepared some awesome steaks and crab legs for dinner that I scarfed down before meeting my BFF at the airport to bring her car seats and a stroller, since she was in town for the week on a Disney/beach vacation. 

Monday morning I woke up a bit later than usual and did my workout as planned...

Then I noticed Jules ankle was warm to the touch and we all know what happened then. 

We got home from the hospital early evening on Thursday and I did manage to fit in a couple of workouts on Friday and Sunday - just the strength training stuff; I wasn't in the mood for cardio. 

On a sidenote...here's where you can typically find our cats when they're not sleeping in a sliver of sunlight somewhere. They like to chirp at the birds/lizards that are outside on our patio. Sometimes a lizard will jump onto the door and the cats go nuts trying to chase them all over through the glass. It's insane. 

And that about sums up all of the non-illness/hospital related stuff we've been up to the past week and a half. It's not a lot, because the illness and getting Jules better has taken precedence and been at the forefront of everything, however I think I'm starting to see a light at the end of this tunnel. Jules is slowly putting more weight on her foot and was standing without support quite a bit yesterday, but she's still very timid and hesitant to take any steps. We had an appointment with the infectious disease doctor yesterday afternoon and he said it seems that she's responding to the antibiotics really well and we may even be able to stop them at two weeks instead of three, which would be amazing!

Cross your fingers that she'll be back to running around like a crazy toddler in the next couple of days! I'll be back tomorrow with another What it is Wednesday, since I actually have some fun stuff to talk about that I think you should know about!

Now I want to know, are you a stress eater and weight gainer like me, or are you one of the stress weight losers? I find that I turn to comfort food and all of the carbs whenever I am stressed. It's kind of crazy because when I look at the pictures from my workout on Monday compared to Friday, I can really tell a difference in my arm definition - I'm a lot more puffy in the pictures from Friday. But I know it will go away and I honestly just don't care that much at this point. I'm just extra swole and was carb-loading for the race...that I don't have scheduled. Or planned. It's just an excuse. Whatever. :-)

I'm at a Loss

Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend? I hope it was an awesome one for you. 

I'm going to be completely honest here and let you know that I am really struggling right now. I have always been so good in a crisis. I remember this time when I was an idiotic 15 year old and was hanging out with some other idiotic teenagers and we were doing some things that we shouldn't have been doing and driving around the backroads on Spring Break. I was sitting in the middle of the front seat (we called that "riding bitch" and I still have a hard time not calling it that, even when it's Justin who has to sit in the middle #bestmomever *eye roll*). I didn't have my seat belt on because again, I was an idiot teenager, and we ended up getting in a pretty horrific car accident. I was the person who was the most injured but I remember being extremely calm and helping everyone out of the car and taking charge of the situation. Once we were at the hospital the doctors and nurses kept raving to my parents about how calm and mature I was, especially considering my age. 

Well that's something that I've always prided myself on. I am a very strong and composed person when I need to be, and this past week has been that type of a week. I sat and listened to everything the doctors and nurses said and did and remembered all of it so I could do research when they left so I could be better informed about everything that was going on. I couldn't cry and let myself feel my emotions while my daughter was thrashing about in pain and fear because if I did, who would take care of business?

This is all great for the crisis situation but now that we're out of it, I feel just completely drained and almost fragile like I might break or something. But I still can't break down and let myself go because if I do, who's going to take care of everything else? Jules still needs antibiotics 3 times a day for the next 2.5 weeks, has lots of dr appointments, has an open and oozing wound on her ankle that I have to dress and ensure we aren't having additional problems with, and she is extra clingy and tired and won't let me put her down even to go to the bathroom. On top of that, I have a 13 year old son who has been amazing throughout all of this, but he still needs me to be his mom. And then I have a husband who leaves every night to run into crazy and stressful situations and needs me to support him in that. 

So I am struggling a bit on the inside right now. I teeter between being so grateful that we seem to be getting out of the woods with Julianna right now and then trying not to cry because I haven't been able to get that out yet and probably won't until I eventually break down in the bathroom alone or something. 

I go back to work tomorrow (my mom is still here and will help with Jules) and then Jules will go back to daycare probably on Thursday as long as her incision site is scabbed up. I think getting  back into our routine is going to help me shake this feeling of almost being numb on the inside a lot and I'm actually really looking forward to it. I have also been able to work out almost every day since coming home from the hospital and that seems to help a lot as well.

However while I was trying to come up with a blog post for today I was really struggling and didn't really know what to put. I'm not feeling particularly funny or clever right now and I know that's probably what most of you have come to expect from my posts. So instead I'm just being honest and putting it out there that I'm kind of at a loss. 

I do think that it will start getting better tomorrow so let's all cross our fingers and hope that tomorrow's post is filled with all sorts of shenanigans and ridiculousness because I hate feeling this way just as much as you probably don't enjoy reading it!

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here are some fun pictures of stuff we did this weekend. Jules spirits have really been up and she's getting back to her crazy, silly self. 

She's still not walking at all, but I think it will probably happen in the next day or so. Today she actually put full weight on her left leg and kind of shuffled over the my iPad, so we're almost there! Instead of walking she's just crawling everywhere or "walking" on her knees when she wants to use her hands. Or she's just having me carry her everywhere since she won't let me put her down.

We've obviously been taking it pretty easy 90% of the time, but decided to get out of the house and go for a short hike on Saturday morning, which ended up being a really great time. We were all able to work up a bit of a sweat and Jules really enjoyed being outside. As we were walking (I obviously wore her the entire time), she kept pointing and saying "that" to everything, meaning she wanted to know what it was. And then she kept wanting to touch the trees and point at all of the wildlife. 

For wildlife we ended up seeing a pretty big alligator, a baby alligator chasing a bird, and baby raccoon that was super effing cute. It climbed up a tree to get away from us and Jules kept pointing at it and saying "dog". No, not dog...don't pet. 

Justin was happy to be done with the hike when we got back to the end of the trail though...

2 miles is way too much for this kid. I think it's worth noting he's wearing a grumpy cat shirt and grumpy cat socks #fashionista

Other than that short adventure, we've been doing a lot of laying around and playing with blocks and changing multiple awful diapers that are due to the crazy antibiotics she's on. 

I hope to be back tomorrow with something super fun and exciting, but no promises. 

I hope you all have an amazing day and week. 

Trust Your Instincts (with an awesome deal at the end!)

Hel-looooooo friends! It's been so long and I hate that I wasn't able to at least drop in once this week to say hi and let you all know what's going on, but I had some serious mom business to take care of. 

My sweet Princess Jules has been in the hospital since Monday afternoon. If you've been reading regularly then you know that Jules has been sick for a couple of weeks. At first we thought it was hand, foot, and mouth, but then she was diagnosed with croup. Croup sucks, but we've dealt with it once before and we assumed it would be a quick round of steroids, she'd feel crappy for a week, and then be up and running before we could catch our breath. 

On Thursday I noticed she was limping and favoring her left leg. Eventually she stopped walking completely and I knew that wasn't okay and took her to her pediatrician who said it was very likely transient synovitis and not a concern. On Saturday I noticed her ankle was really swollen so we took her to the urgent care where they took x-rays and said nothing was broken and she wasn't acting "sick" so it wasn't an infection and she should be fine in a day or two. By this point my mommy-powers were kicking in and I knew something was wrong, even though everyone else kept insisting she was fine. 

"She got stepped on - it's a hairline fracture"

"Maybe she fell at daycare and has a small toddler fracture"

"It's just transient synovitis and she'll be back to running around by Monday"

Monday morning rolled around and Jules still wasn't herself...

Per our normal routine, I woke up early and was ready to work out - Jules woke up with me and watched an entire movie on the couch, which is not normal for her; she's usually good for 15-45 minutes before she ends up on the floor crawling all over me while I try to finish my workout. On top of not acting like herself, she still wasn't walking and refused to put any weight on her foot or let me touch it. Then I noticed her ankle was discolored and warm to the touch and the warning bells went off in my head. 

Something is wrong here. 

I called her doctor and they got her in immediately that morning - by this point she was running a low-grade fever as well. Her pediatrician became concerned, especially since the fever was a new symptom and referred us to a pediatric orthopedic doctor across town. The orthopedic doctor ordered some additional x-rays and confirmed there weren't any breaks, but she was concerned about the fever and the fact that Julianna's ankle was warm to the touch.

She explained she needed us to go to the hospital and admit Jules so they could do an MRI of her ankle, since she was worried about an infection of the joint at this point and wanted to rule it out. 

Hospitals are not conducive to good pictures - I'm sure you understand.

I'm not going to get into all of the details of the hospital stay - Jules had an MRI which was inconclusive and then ended up having surgery to drain fluid from her ankle to run tests. They did find some significant infectious liquid in Julianna's joint and started her on antibiotics with an official diagnosis of septic arthritis, which is a very scary thing to read about on Google. Luckily the doctor said there shouldn't be any long-term effects or damage because we caught it so early. 

Needless to say, this has been an emotionally exhausting and trying week. Not only was my daughter in the hospital for 3 nights and 4 days, my 13 year old son was on his own for a lot of time 45 minutes across town. We had a cousin who came and stayed with him for two of the nights, but Justin was on his own to get ready for school and make dinner and pick up after himself - my heart and mind were all over the place with my daughter in the hospital and my son at home. I had to hold my daughter down on the table while they placed an IV in her arm multiple times due to the ports closing up and hold her while they put her under anesthesia and then put on my other hat and Facetime Justin to make sure he walked the dog and did his homework. 

We're so lucky to have the friends and family we have - everyone was happy to help us where we needed it and my mom flew down on Wednesday and is staying a week to help us out. Which we especially need considering I haven't slept more than an hour or two consecutively in days and while Justin did a great job being home mostly alone for 4 days, our house has seen better days. My mom is currently cuddling with Jules on the couch so I can get this up for you guys. 

This mom-ing business is hard stuff, but when it comes down to it, trust your instincts and you'll do what you need to do to be a great mom. And after this week I am even more into the mindset of try not to sweat the small stuff. Because let's be real - eating macaroni and cheese for dinner a few times a week or having messy floors all the time isn't really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things (or so I will continue to tell myself).

And even if two doctors tell you everything is fine but your gut feeling is that something is wrong, trust your intuition. If you feel like something is wrong with your child don't stop until you get an answer - your gut knows what's up!

Lastly, toddlers are amazingly hearty people. Jules went almost 18 hours without eating or drinking anything due to her surgery and she was still dancing to Moana songs and playing with toys up until they took her for her surgery. Her ankle had to hurt horribly, but she was still crawling around and playing ball with us in her room while laughing maniacally. And now that we're home, she has started "walking" on her knees to get from place to place while still being able to use her hands because while I'm okay with dirty floors, she's really not and likes to pick things up and throw them away. 

I know if the roles were reversed I would probably be crying on the couch asking for my mommy (and I still may do that because dang has this been trying). 

Now to the deal - while we were in the hospital I got an email from Le Tote with a coupon code for 25% off of your first month. This is a seriously awesome deal and I almost made a post about this alone so you wouldn't miss out, but really couldn't brain the entire time we were there. This deal ends tomorrow, so if you're thinking about joining, now is the time time try it out! 

Go to Le Tote here and fill out your profile. The more items you save and more details you put in your style profile,  the better your totes will be.  The coupon code is MAY25 and it's only good through tomorrow, so don't hesitate if you're thinking about trying it out - again I'm sorry I didn't get it out sooner, but I just couldn't even think about that while we were in the hospital. Give it a shot for a month and see if you like it - like I mentioned in this post, I have been using it for almost 2 years and I love it! Especially since I'm still between sizes (and to be completely honest, probably closer to the bigger size now after stress eating everything while we were in the hospital). 

I'd like to end with a huge thank you to everyone who helped or offered help throughout this week. We appreciate you all so much

I'll hopefully be back for more shenanigans Monday morning - have a great weekend everyone!

Take-Out Thursday

Happy Friday Eve! We're almost there! 

I'm starting to feel like crap, which makes me think I've probably picked up whatever Jules had/has, which is not a good thing. Because I literally do not have the time to be sick. 

A quick Jules update for you - she is doing mostly better. She's still clingy and cranky once I get her from daycare (she went back on Wednesday). She's also developed this fun new cry that sounds how I'd imagine a pterodactyl with a smoking problem would sound. It's absolutely ridiculous and drives me nuts; I'm guessing she got a reaction she wanted while doing it when she was sick so now it's her new cry. Yayyyyyyy...

Today I'm going to do a Take-out Thursday, since it's been awhile since I've done one. These are basically the pictures I deemed unworthy for a regular blog post that I've decided to share anyway, for one reason or another. So here we goooooooooooo!!

Sick, miserable Jules picture from Monday afternoon. I was like, I can't put that on my blog...that makes me a shitty mom. But now I'm like, whatever...it doesn't make me a shitty mom and it makes me more relatable because I'm sure most of us do it.

Did you know that apparently relatable isn't a word? I mean, I know it is, but I'm getting a spelling error and I know I spelled it right because I googled it. Weird. 

Anywho, moving on...

Other than the fact that I have melasma, my skin is pretty good...I rarely break out and if I do, they're usually itty bitty little zits. Not this week! I had this giant honker on my forehead yesterday and of course I had to share it with you guys! You're welcome!

Some outtakes from our run on Saturday. We're so photogenic and don't you forget it!

Jason was so excited about the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert a couple of weeks ago. Can you tell?? (He might kill me for putting this picture up, but that's the whole point of this post - crappy, outtake pictures!)

Jules really, really, really, really, REALLY loves breadsticks. Don't worry, I made her finish it before we took off. She's not allowed to eat back there by herself yet since I'm a psychopath and am terrified she'll choke. 

I made caprese salad on Sunday, which is one of my favorite summer dishes. I'm lazy and like to keep things simple, so I just buy the mozzarella pearls that can be found in any deli, cut up some tomatoes, some basil, salt, and olive oil. 

Get in muh bellay!!!

Not our good sides. 

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That's Julianna's "sup, brah" face. 

How about some fun outtakes from our beach trip?

First off, Justin is an amazing photographer...

About half the time I ask him to take a picture he zooms in and tries to make it ridiculous. And it's usually awful. Like up my nose or something.  #eyeroll

Being photogenic and working our angles runs in the family. 

I love how much Justin loves Jules (and she obviously adores him). I've talked about this a few times already and went into depth about my gap kids and their bond here, but it makes my heart so happy <3 He's been a huge help this week since Jules has been so clingy and won't let me put her down; they've watched all of the Toy Story movies together and he's helped her with snacks and tried to calm her down every time she'd lose her shit while I was trying to make dinner. I really loved when I took Jules upstairs to go to bed and Justin was still watching Toy Story when I came back down - he's a good teenager. 

I wanted to prove I have my priorities straight...

That's the pile of laundry in the corner of my bedroom that really needs to be folded and I was going to do it last night...but I decided to paint my toenails instead. To be fair, my toes were looking ratchet AF - it had been a solid month since I've painted them and instead I was just putting an extra coat on anytime one chipped. So yeah. Not cute. But now they're super cute! 

#priorities

Finally I wanted to share the sunrise from my morning run with you, because it was so beautiful.

No filter needed. 

Seriously, if you really want to get into a good workout routine/schedule start forcing yourself to do it in the morning. Yes, it sucks for the first few weeks and when Jules doesn't sleep well, but I am always so happy to see the sunrise after an awesome workout. Give it a shot!

That's all I have for today and I hope you enjoyed my random picture outtakes and musings. Are you a naturally photogenic person or are you like me, and you always look like a troll if you're caught in a picture unexpected. Seriously...I am only photogenic if I'm prepared. Otherwise, WATCH OUT...it'll be funny, but your picture will be ruined. 

Have a great Thursday!

Hand, Foot, and I'm Going to Cry

What a weekend we had in our house. Not that it was really eventful because it wasn't, it was just not a relaxing one in any way, shape, or form.

Jules is sick. There is a kid in her classroom at daycare who was diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth and I'm pretty sure that's what she has. She's been running fevers (up to 102) on and off since Thursday afternoon and has been completely miserable, other than a few short moments of levity, pretty much all weekend. She has been extra super clingy, meaning I couldn't get anything done and I feel terrible for her because I can tell something hurts, but she can't tell me what. 

She actually woke me up around 3:30 this morning and thrashed and whined in my bed for another hour and a half before I finally gave up and went downstairs with her. I put Moana on and she watched that and fell asleep for a bit while I did some yoga and got my food ready for lunch, but then she woke up right before I was getting ready to jump into the shower. And she cried...and cried...and cried. She does not want me to put her down and she doesn't want anyone but me right now...and I have to work today. So I got ready like this.  

I'm talking I did my makeup, blow-dried my hair, and got my breakfast ready like that. And on the inside I just wanted to lay-down and cry alongside Jules because I am exhausted and my back hurts and I feel bad for her. Then Jason came home from work and took her to the doctor so I can go to work for a half-day before going home and putting my mom hat back on so he can get some sleep because he worked all night. These are the times when I hate being a working mom and wish I could just be home with my poor, sick baby. 

However I'm not even going to lie and fake like it won't be nice to not have a feverish, whiny, snotty toddler draped all over me for 4 hours today though. I hope that doesn't make me a shitty mom, but it's exhausting and it's been happening for 3 days now! 

Today's post will be a quick workout round-up from last week, since my brain is completely dunzo and I don't know that I can think of anything super clever or witty to write about. 

Monday - P90X Shoulders, Triceps & Chest

I also did my DR core workout (for diastasis recti - I posted all about it last week if you want to read more!)

Classic Jamie-before-workout-face. I feel like they're actually getting worse, but it is entertaining to me so I'm okay with it. Hopefully it entertains you guys too!

Tuesday - 32 minute run & DR core work

This was the day I was supposed to run 8 quarter mile repeats but couldn't math and ended up only doing 5 (see my blog from Tuesday for more info on that - I'm a hot mess). 

This is a pretty amazing picture too. Man, I am photogenic!

Wednesday - P90X Biceps & Back 

I also did my core workout. It's a trend - I did it every day last week except for Saturday!

Thursday - I ran real fast for 25 minutes...

25 minutes at 10K race pace (8:14/mile) with a 1/2 mile warm-up. This was super hard but I was so proud of myself once it was done and I actually hit my goal pace!

That after-picture though...man, I am trying to out-do myself with awesome pictures!

Also, my goal this week is to clean the master bathroom...including the mirrors. I can't handle the grossness anymore - like I'm almost embarrassed. Almost...not quite though.

Friday - Legs & back, extra hip strengthening workout, DR core work. 

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(this is the only picture I have from Friday. Gross, gross mirror!

Saturday - Rest DAY!

Peach-a-rita day?

I may have had a handful...over the course of like 5 hours. But still, a handful. It was after Jules went to bed and I was binge-watching Girls and snap-chatting all of my friends, so stop judging me!!

Sunday - RUN DAY! 

Jules woke up in a decent mood and didn't have a fever, so we went out and ran a little over 4 miles together. It was a pretty hard run - probably had more to do with the peach-a-rita's than anything, but I'm blaming it on the wind. 

LOOK!! I'm doing my old duck lips pose here! I haven't done that in forever!!

Maybe I should bring it back for good?!?

Nope...not gonna happen.

Mid-run picture, for the win!

This is apparently our new signature pose. I'm pretty sure she's telling me not to touch her with my sweaty, gross self. 

After our run we came home and I did my DR core workout and another hip workout, we had some breakfast, and then Jules laid on me and whined and thrashed around for the rest of the day. The poor thing looked like I look when I have a migraine and had a fever pretty much all day, so I gave her painkillers as directed, but she was pretty miserable all day long :-(

Did you have a better weekend than we did? Have you ever dealt with hand, foot, and mouth? How much do you LOVE my ridiculous pictures?