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Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for the loved ones in your life? Look no further. We are putting together some of our favorite gifts for Mom, Dad, Grandparents, and kids.

Our mind set to gifts might be a little different then most, as we believe that gifts should be minimal, but still impact the person they are given too. We are going to keep our gifts under $25.

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Gift for Mom

These always seem to be the hardest gifts to pick. What do you give the person who does so much for you? One thing we recommend is staying away from gifts that mom would use for cleaning, cookings, doing laundry etc. You want mom to have a gift that she can enjoy and love for many years to come.

Throw Pillow for Mom
Throw Pillow for Mom

Our favorite gifts of course are gift certificates for a new hair do, or a mani/pedi. But if your looking for something more personal, here are a few things we love.

  1. The gift of sleep- Get mom the Luxury Lush Pud bath bomb by Lush Cosmetics and send her up for a relaxing bubble bath and an early bed time. Have dad take care of the kiddo, or send them for a sleep over. Mom will love catching up on some sleep.
  2. All Roads Lead back to Mom- This beautiful throw pillow could be a combined gift with you and your siblings. Perfect for those who live far away from mom, but want to show they are always close at heart.
  3. You’re a Cool Mom- These adorable candles! Personalize your own scent and message to mom. We all know they are always trying to cover the sent the kids leave behind.
  4. Personal- Or just create something personal for mom, some art work, paint a coffee mug, something special she would like. I always give out personalized gifts made by Chief for the holidays.

Gift for Dad

This is an area I never had any problems with. My dad is a lover of all things Home Depot. I am pretty sure that this is exactly where my love for Home Depot comes from. We spent many weekends picking up things for a project he was working on. So every year he gets a Home Depot gift card from us.

Personalized Coffee Mug
Personalized Coffee Mug

Some great gift ideas for dad are:

  1. The Traditional Coffee Mug- This dad coffee mug is a staple of the past. I remember giving them to my dad growing up and he still uses them to this day.
  2. Reusable Cup- If dad is more into a reusable coffee cup then this Tervis Tumbler is right up his alley. With the lifetime warranty, its perfect for those with little kids who knock things over.
  3. The trusty gift card- I go this route every Christmas for my dad because I never know what he wants, but know he needs something from Home Depot.
  4. Something to Carry Around- This awesome Guitar pickKey Chain is perfect for Dad, and will always remind him how much you are grateful for him.

Gift for Kids

Here is where I tend to differ from most parents. I love to give gifts that last and are educational. I tend to give Melissa and Doug items, arts and crafts, or outdoor toys. I base each gift on the child, age and their current likes and dislikes.

In my opinion that when you buy gifts that are current fads or are really popular, you are spending a lot of money as these are typically not very cheap. When buying items that are educational or made to last, the children will get much more use out of them. A bigger plus is getting them toys for outdoor play, as these are not given very often and it helps promote getting outside.

Melissa and Doug Shape, Model & Mold Play Clay
Melissa and Doug Shape, Model & Mold Play Clay

Here are some of my favorite items to give as gifts for kids.

  1. Locks and Latches board by Melissa and Doug. Perfect for toddlers.
  2. Puzzles by Melissa and Doug. Tuns to choose from, from Chunky pieces for the littles to large floor puzzles for older children.
  3. Arts and Crafts by Melissa and Doug. We love the shape, model & mold play clay kit.
  4. Melissa and Doug have a great assortment of games. They are small enough to fold up and take with you to the park, camping, or just out back in your own yard.
  5. If you have a reader to buy for then I highly recommend Usborne books. We LOVE the shine a light series. So much fun.

Not about the gifts

In the end, Christmas isn’t about the gifts. It is about spending time with your family, coming together to celebrate. Don’t stress about finding the perfect most expensive gift for your children, niece, nephew, mom, dad, etc. I have found that the most meaningful gifts come from the heart.

If you can not find the “perfect” gift to give then that’s fine. No one will look back on Christmas day and say man my mom gave crummy gifts, or wow my daughter didn’t give me what I wanted. Well maybe younger kids may think this, but its our job as parents to teach them to be grateful for anything and everything they may receive.

What are you favorite gifts to gift? Let us know in the comments.

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas! Happy Shopping!

❤️Brittny

P.S. If you liked this article, make sure to share it with your friends and family. ❤️

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Goodbye Gray Dog, Hello White Dog

Are you a mom of an adventurous little one? Then this post is for you! I found this amazing stain spray in my laundry room. I must have bought it for something along the way, but I don’t remember using it. Stains usually don’t bother me, and I know having an adventurous little boy that they are going to happen. What I didn’t expect was  my little boy to fall in love with his stuffed white dog Frost.

Chief loves to bring Frost along on his adventures no matter where he goes. Today, we joined a few other moms and kids for an outdoor playdate and of course Frost had to join. Chief told me that Frost insisted on bouncing on the trampoline, sliding down the slide, trying to swing, etc. But alas, Frost took a spill from the trampoline right into the dirt! Chief was devastated because he was covered in dirt. I told him it would be ok, that we would give him a bath when we got home. Knowing that we would wash him and he would still have a nice gray tint to him.

Right when we got home, I turned on the washer machine, added our homemade laundry detergent and thats when I spotted it.Oxi-Clean Max Force Spray, hanging right in front of me. I shrugged my shoulders and thought, well what would it hurt. I sprayed Frost all over with a nice coat of the spray and tossed him into the washer with my fingers crossed. What came out was shocking to me. Frost was completely white again! Like a brand new stuffed animal from the store. Chief was super excited and couldn’t stop talking about how clean and cozy Frost was.

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After Oxi-Clean Max Force

I wish I would have taken a before picture, but I didn’t think about it until he was already in the was. But trust me when I say he was so dirty and completely gray. So, if you don’t have Oxi-Clean Max Force and you have adventurous littles then make sure you go out and get some today! You will thank me later. (Affiliated Link to Amazon)

 

❤️ Brittny

P.S. Don’t forget to share this post, to help out another fellow parent in need of a clean snuggly friend.

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Holiday Traditions and Family

Boy it has been a busy few weeks. The holiday’s have officially started! This is always a super busy time for our family, as we really enjoy this time of year. So excited for all of our family Traditions.

Thanksgiving

Yes, I know this has already passed, but I can’t help but talk about my favorite food holiday. Our Thanksgiving is usually spent at home with just Chief, my husband and my self. This year was a big change for us, and we did things a little differently.

We have not spoken to part of my husbands family since I became pregnant with Chief. Long back story there. A few months ago his grandfathers cancer became worse, and it brought our families back together. We have really made an effort to be a family again, and chose to spend Thanksgiving with them.

It was nice being able to spent time with everyone again. I’ll be the first to say, it is odd being together like nothing happened after a long period of time. But I believe that this is what this holiday is about. Coming together and being Thankful for all the things you have in your life. I am so thankful that everyone can be a family again, get along, and spend time together.

In all, we had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Lots and lots of turkey, sides, and desserts. The food is by far one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I absolutely love Turkey, and left over turkey sandwiches. Plus, I love to cook. This year I made dessert for our get together.

Rice Crispy Turkey Legs.
Rice Crispy Turkey Legs.

I made these awesome Rice Crispy Turkey Legs treats for the kiddos. They were super easy to make, and the kids thought they were the coolest things ever. I found the recipe here. I had the same struggles that they did in the video. It was quite comical. I decided to cool my rice crispy’s in the fridge, and they I took them out to form them. This was MUCH easier then trying to do it while they were warm and gooey. In the end they were super yummy and well loved.

Christmas

Now, this is my FAVORITE holiday. I love everything about Christmas, from the decorating, to the music, the weather outside (well when its not 80 degrees), the baking, and just the over all spirit of Christmas.

We started decorating early this year. I just couldn’t wait. We put up our Christmas Tree on November 1st, but didn’t decorate it. Which luckily we didn’t because I actually purchased a new tree after we set up our other tree. I couldn’t help it. My dream tree was on sale, so I just went for it.

We finally put up the decorations on the new tree a few days before Thanksgiving and its beautiful. I was finally able to go with the theme that I have always wanted, which is a country rustic theme.

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Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a time filled with traditions for our family. A tradition that has gone on in my family for the past 30 years, is that all the kids get new Christmas pajama’s each year. That way they will all look good in Christmas morning pictures. This will be the first year that my mom has decided to only do this tradition with just the grandchildren. This has been a shock to me. I love tradition and I hate when it gets broken. But I guess now that I am 30, its time to continue the tradition on my self. The bummer of being an adult. Time to hit up Target.

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Another Christmas tradition that my family has, is that each child has their own mini Christmas tree in their bedroom. My mom bought Chief his for his first Christmas. Each year she purchases all the grandchildren an ornaments based off their interest. I love this, as it is like a memory of each child and their personality throughout the years. We have also expanded on this tradition and we purchase a family ornament each year for our tree in the living room.

Tell me what some of your family traditions are. What do you do for the holidays?

 

❤️Brittny

 

 

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Sleeping in his own room!

Sleeping has always been a problem in this house. I have grown up with sleep issues, and it seems that I have passed that along to Chief. For the last year and a half he has co-slept with me, and my husband has slept in his room. While I loved having him in my bed, it was definitely time for a change.

The decision to co-sleep

I never thought this would be a topic that I would discuss. When Chief was born there was never an intention of co-sleeping. It wasn’t until he was about 2 1/2 years old that his night terrors started. At first we tried to keep him in his own bed, but it was exhausting being woken up 2-3 times a night. It wasn’t a normal wake up either, it was bolting awake to the sounds of your child’s terrifying screams. I would fly out of bed, instantly awake with no chance of falling back to sleep quickly. Added to the fact that at this time I was still working and was just purely exhausted.

After weeks of night terrors, I caved. I brought Chief into bed with us, and it was great. Well, for Chief and I it was. My husband hated it. He decided that he would sleep in Chiefs room, and we would sleep in our bed. We figured that it would only be for a week or so, and then his night terrors would subside. Little did we know that it would last over a year. Luckily my husband was a good sport about it.The set up we had worked for us, so we just rolled with it.

The decision to co-sleep is difficult for some, and so simple for others. If you make the decision to co-sleep make sure that you read up on the safety precautions that need to be taken. The biggest thing I learned during our co-sleeping journey is to not let anyone make you feel bad for your decision. Yes, co-sleeping isn’t for everyone but it could be just what you need for your family.

The Change in Sleeping Arrangments

We finally decided it was time for a change. Chief keeps telling me he is a big boy, so I told him if he was a big boy them it was time to sleep in his own room. We talking about what would happen once he started to sleep in his own room. He understands that it means that Mommy will not be in bed with him when he falls asleep, even though we are still working on this part.

There are many ways you can go about moving your child into their own room. There is no right or wrong way, as long as it works for your family. I have chosen a rather controversial method, by putting a TV in his room. Gasp! I know, terrible mom. But this is what works for Chief. Right now we leave the TV on until he falls asleep. This helps keep him in the room until he is fully tired. Otherwise, he is up and down a million times a night. The hope is, that once he gets use to being in his room alone, that we can start to time the length that the TV is on.

Laying with his pup Raylan
Laying with his pup Raylan

This is not going to be an easy change by any means. But I am looking for anyway to make this easier on all of us. The biggest plus so far is that I don’t work at the moment, so I am able to sleep in and take a nap. Tonight might even be an early bedtime for mommy.

 

Adding Monster Spray to the Mix

It has been had keeping him in his bed, not giving into the temptation to just go in a lay down with him. It is exhausting, but I know that its for the best for Chief.

I use essential oils on occasion and have found that they work great. Last night as Chief was crying that he couldn’t be alone because the monsters and bad guys would get him. Then it came, a flash of an idea. I jumped out of bed and grabbed my oil kit. My mom had given me little spray bottles to make hand sanitizer previously. So I grabbed my bottle of lavender, a little spray bottle and some tap water. I put two drops of lavender oil into the bottle and topped it off with water, gave it a shake and ran it into his room. He was so excited to have his own special spray to get rid of the bad guys.

Magically it seems the spray has worked. At least for one night. We shall see what the rest of the week holds. I am hoping that eventually he will be able to sleep on his own with out 100 ups and downs all night, but for now I am grateful for everything I can get.

If you do choose to go this route with your little here are items I used.

Whatever works for your family

There is no magic fix to sleep issues. A quick search of google will produce thousands of ways to get your child to sleep. You have to do your research, find what works best for your family and go from there.

Don’t fear, while one way may seem like the absolute perfect way to go for your child. Only to find out 2 days in that it is making your child absolutely miserable. Don’t stick with just one way either. Mix a combination of ideas to form the perfect sleep schedule and ideas.

Good luck in your search to find the perfect way to get your littles to sleep.

 

❤️Brittny

** This post contains affiliated links.

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Childhood Best Friends.

The best kind of friends are your best friends. They know everything about you, they love you unconditionally, and their friendship means the world to you.

Childhood Best friends

Do you have a childhood best friend? Does your child have a best friend? I personally have one that I still talk to 25 years later. We lost touch in our teenage years, and then on a stroke of luck we were living in the same town and only 5 minutes from each other. We were able to reconnect and have been keeping in touch for years now thanks to Facebook, since we now live about 4 hours away from each other.

My husband has his childhood best friend , who is more like a brother to him. They talk at least once a week if not more. His best friend is also the godfather to Chief, and he is a great person to take over for us if it were ever needed.

As for Chief, he has a best friend, who is great. They truly have the most precious friendship. Seeing the two of them greet each other after not seeing one another for a week is the best. Our favorite meeting place is at the community park. Usually one of us will get there before the other, and watching these two run to each other screaming in happiness is AMAZING. Here is to hoping they stay friends for the next 50+ years. img_2549

Finding Friends

This seems to be a harder task in todays day and age. When we were younger friendships were so easy to come by. You basically walked out the front door and starting playing with whoever was in sight. It didn’t matter if they were the cool kids, the popular kids, the dorky kids, or the odd kids. We were all just kids looking for some fun.

I grew up in that iconic suburban neighborhood. We all played together, front doors were always unlocked, you played outside until the lights came on or you heard Ms. Norma’s whistle to come home. We played hockey in the streets, moving our full-sized goals out-of-the-way when everyone started screaming car. We played manhunt, we roller skated, the boys skateboarded, we cause mischief and most of all we had fun. You found out where your friends were by seeing who’s bikes were in what yard, you knocked once and walked inside announcing that you were joining in.

Today its much more difficult. There are no kids outside playing, and finding friends is difficult unless your old enough to be in public school. Being that Chief is only 3, he has had limited access to other children. Luckily as a stay at home mom we are able to attend playdates, local events, story time and much more. We love meeting new friends at the events and at our  favorite place of all, the park. Meeting friends at the park is great because you can see if their playing style and personality meets that of your child. You are also able to engage the parents, get to know each other and schedule playdates for the future.

Living Near or Far

This is a topic that affects most friends at some point and time. People move, either in the same city or to other states completely. We will be tackling this topic with Chief in the future, as both us and his best friends family are planning to move to different states as soon as out homes sell. To make it easier, we have already planned on multiple visits from each family. There is so much to explore in this world and what better way to do it, then with your best friend.

Distance can make or break a friendship. No matter how strong it once was, living far away can be difficult. It’s very important that you take the time to stay in touch, even if it is just once a month. This is why we will be making sure that we stay in touch with Hadley girl, as Chief calls her.

Staying in touch

This is the most important part about friendships. Staying in touch can be difficult. Especially once you get older and life starts getting in the way. Luckily with technology today, it makes staying in touch so much easier. There is Facebook, instagram, twitter, FaceTime and so much more.

Personally, my favorite way to communicate is good old fashion snail mail. Who doesn’t love getting letters in the mail? Even if it is something as easy as saying hello, how are you? Something about hand writing a letter makes it so much more special. Since Chief is still young and not really into writing at the moment, his letters may not be more than a scribbled drawing. But that is a child’s way of communicating with their friends. Just make sure you include a cheat sheet for the other parents.

Once we move, or Hadley girl moves, we will begin our first long distance friend ship. Filled with lots of drawings, and little objects that we can send her. Then once we are both settled in our new homes, we will beginning with the visits to each other. There will be so much to explore, and so much fun to be had. I can not wait for this journey for him, and for him to continue to foster his friendship with his Hadley girl.

Here’s to many great adventures with your best friend.

❤️Brittny

 

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Daylight Savings Time is Here

Well the time has arrived. Today is the last day of Daylight Savings Time and our clocks will go back 1 hour while we sleep. As parents we are no longer afforded the luxury of sleeping in that extra house, even though we are the ones who need it most.

Sleep issues are coming.

Does your child already have sleep issues? We sure do. At almost 4 year old, Chief still does not sleep in his own bed and does not sleep through the night. As a stay at home mom, this is not something that has concerned me. The time changes can be horrendous on our schedule, sleep and sanity. We do little things to help make it easier that seem to work for Chief, but may not work for all.

Naps or rest time is usually inevitable during these changes, especially on mornings where he has gotten up earlier then usual. We have not had a true nap time for about 6 months, but we do rest. Our rest time is usually around 1-2pm in the afternoon, and about 45minutes to a hour long. We will rest wherever he likes, usually on the couch where we watch a movie or tv show. But lets be real, Mommy is the one who needs these naps and rest times more then they do. We are the ones who are up all hours of the night.

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Releasing all his energy at the park with the hopes he will sleep well tonight.

Adjusting bed time is usually inevitable as well. While he is usually in bed my 7pm, we will increase it to about 7:30-8:00pm. My hopes of doing this, is that he sleeps in longer in the morning. I have found that getting up to early makes for a very cranky start to our day. We spent today at the park with the hops that it will help release all his extra energy, and fingers crossed he sleeps well tonight.

Here is to hoping that all our little ones sleep well during the time change, and pray they let us sleep in. Even if it is only an extra 20 minutes.

To whom ever invented the time change, What were you thinking? Obviously you didn’t have children.

❤️Brittny

 

 

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Happy Halloween!

Wow! I can’t believe it is already Halloween! Where has the year gone? For the last 3 halloweens we have always gone to the same place in our town. This year we did something different. We went to my husbands aunt’s house. We recently reconnected with part of his family after 4 years, so it was nice to get together and spend time with everyone.

We had a fantastic time! Little man went as our version of Captain America. Little man has never been a fan of costumes and I previously purchased some and he flat out refused to wear them. So now we piece together our own outfits. On the plus side, they are not just for halloween, but worn year round. This year you can find me out with either a Fireman or Captain America. He loves to dress up as those to characters, and I love to fuel his imagination.

 

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I asked him to say cheese. He said, I’m not giving you no cheese, mommy!

 

We got an astonishing 4 buckets of candy, and it is now all hidden in the pantry, and the chocolate is hidden in the freezer. Just admit it, the chocolate is for the moms, and its more delicious in the freezer. We are very grateful that his aunt’s neighborhood puts on such a great Halloween for the children. We walked a lot, played a lot, and over all had an amazing time. I would say that the only down side we had, was it’s a HUGE neighborhood and no bathrooms. We had a bathroom emergency about an hour in, and since little man doesn’t know how to stand and go potty yet we were in desperate need of a bathroom. Luckily, the next street we turned on had a Sheriff Deputy and he was more then generous to let us use his bathroom. After about 2 hours of walking, Papa and Louie went back and got the truck to pick everyone up since we were so far into the neighborhood and the kids didn’t want to walk anymore, plus my legs were so done and going numb so it was time to head home.

I can’t believe that we have just celebrated our 4th halloween with little man, and next up is Thanksgiving and CHRISTMAS! I hope everyone had a great halloween with their little ones!

 

xOxO

 

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Difficult October

To say this month has been difficult is an understatement. Have you ever had one of those months, or heck one of those years? We have, and let me tell you they are awful!

Hurricane Matthew

At the beginning of the month we were hit with Hurricane Matthew. This was a huge hit both emotionally and financially. We were in no way prepared to be hit by a category 4 hurricane. To make matters worse my husband was away on business and we had very minimal money in our bank account.  Areas near the water were being evacuated as they expected terrible flooding up to 5 miles inland, strong winds, and massive power outages.

To begin preparing I went to our local Dollar Tree, and purchased flash lights, and lots of batteries. This was an amazing savings as most packages of D batteries can run you over $5 for a 4 pack in other stores. I bought enough packages to refill all out flashlights 3 times. Figuring that we would only be using them at night for approximently 3-4 days. About 2 days before the hurricane was going to hit, I went to the local grocery store to buy some items such as canned food, and water. With a very limited budget I was not able to buy much, but got enough to last us 2 days. I also took gallon size zip lock bags and filled them with water and placed them in my freezer on top of any frozen foods. This was a MASSIVE help once the power went out. It helped keep our food cold for an extra day. FINALLY, the day before the storm hit my husband was finally able to come home. This was such a huge relief to me. The though of taking on the hurricane by my self with a 3 year old was terrifying.  I was going to evacuate to my best friends house, who lives in the panhandle but the traffic on the roads was horrible from everyone else evacuating. The last place I wanted to be was a sitting duck on the highway. So at home we stayed.

The day before the hurricane hit we started to get bad weather, but we still had power. I took this opportunity to start cooking the food we had in the fridge that I knew would go bad once the power went out. I also had 7 dozen frozen cookie dough pucks from a fundraiser my sons school had held a few months prior. So I figured, hey why not bake all the cookies. When I get bored I want sweets something fierce. So I started baking. It also helped keep my mind off what was coming and helped me stay relativity calm. While baking I prepared Go Bags, for our clothing, food, and essential items should we need to evacuate to a local shelter.

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Finally, its Friday the day the hurricane is going to hit us. We are trying to see what is going on with the storm, but we lost power at 8am and lost all out cell signal as well. We watched the storm outside our windows and waited for the worst to come. Occasionally we are receiving text messages from my family in South Florida, and I am having my mom update us as to where the storm is. We got extremely lucky and did not receive any damage to our home, other then our fence being slightly damaged and losing all of our food. To say we got EXTREMELY lucky is an understatement and a true blessing. At last minute the storm moved more off shore, saving us from severe decimation. Although people in our town received varying amounts  of damage, with lost roofs, downed trees, broken windows, crushed cars, etc. Our neighbors in Flagler Beach and to the North of us St. Augustine and Jacksonville received severe damage to their homes and businesses. Some still uninhabitable today. We have seen our community come together to help each other recover, clean, and rebuilt and its a great thing to see.

After the storm

This was the worst for me. I am still struggling with the lost of my grandmother, and this made the realization that she is gone come to the forefront. She was always there for us when ever we needed anything, even if we didn’t want or truly need her help. Here I was, just having gone through a hurricane, I lost all our food, and we were without power for 5 days. The financial stress of know we didn’t have the extra money to spend to pay all the bills due, and purchase all new food was difficult for me. My husband had to return to work the Monday after the storm, so I was here alone again to think about everything that was going wrong and how much I wanted my grandma back. I finally broke. It’s been almost 3 months since she has been gone and I have been holding back that grief and the dam broke. I cried for an entire day, if you looked at me I cried, If you talked to me I cried, I cried watching tv, or when my son would tell me he missed his great grandma so much. It was a messy day for sure. But, I made it through and we are doing ok. We are slowly rebuilding, and most companies are helpful with things like bill due dates, etc because of the storm. We will get through this, that I am sure of. Our struggles only make us stronger.

 

Goodbye October,

Brittny

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Michigan, Our Dream Adventure!!

What is your dream adventure? My dream adventure is to move to Northern Michigan with my family, find a nice piece of property and maybe start a little farm. I love the outdoors, which many may not know because we currently live in Florida and it is impossible to do anything with out getting heat stroke 4.5 seconds after walking out the front door. Summer days sky rocket to 113 degrees outside by 11:00am and only goes down to the low 90s by the evening time. I know I have shocked some by saying that I love the outdoors, because it has been years since I have been able to do anything outdoors with out the risk of passing out due to the heat and this little thing called a heart issue.

When I was younger I use to go camping a lot with friends and it was one of the best times of my life. I remember one weekend we went out and somehow ended up camping under a small bridge in this area with these amazing dead trees. Looking back it was a little creepy, but it is still one of my greatest memories. I remember waking up that night and it was so cold, one of those rare winter nights in Florida where is was probably only 60 degrees but felt like the new ice age. These are the memories I want Chief to have, fun times outdoors and not in front of a tv set or video games.

Why Northern Michigan you ask? Well my response to this has always been why not? What do we have to lose? Yes, we know its going to be a major change and adjustment in weather. Yes, we could choose a state closer then Michigan. Yes, we know that is snows A LOT in Northern Michigan and Yes, we know that we are going to be thousands of miles away from our families. But this is our life, our adventure and we have to make the best out of the time we have. Plus, have you seen Michigan? It is an absolutely beautiful state, and there is so much that we can do outdoors with our family. We are looking forward to camping, exploring, visiting the great lakes, taking a trip up to the Upper Peninsula and possibly Canada. But I would have to say that the thing I am looking forward to the most, is our FIRST true Fall.

So what is our plan? Well we plan to list our house for sale this coming spring. We are hoping that it sells rather quickly and that we will be able to move before winter begins in Michigan. If we sell later in the year, then our plan is to wait out the winter and move up in the Spring. Once we sell our home here, we will take a trip up to Michigan to begin our home search up there. We are hoping to find a property that has no less then 5 acres and no more the 10 acres, unless we come across a piece of property that is larger and we just love. My hopes are that we can find an old farm house, with the iconic old red barn. We have seen a few homes available that meet that criteria and are absolutely beautiful. That would be an absolute dream for me.

We have started to talk to Chief about our move, to get him prepared and ready to move from the only home he has ever really know. We bought a large map of the United States and we use it almost daily during our homeschool classes, and we have shown him the path we will take when we move, and what states we plan to travel through. We have also talked about the adventures we will take and the things we will do. Since he is so young, I don’t believe that he will have an issue moving away from his friends. He has one best friend named Hadley. Her mom Nikki and I are best friends as well. We will miss both of them greatly when we move, but they are also starting a new adventure of their own as they will be moving to Connecticut. Nikki and I have already started to plan our visits with each other and the kids. We will be a few states apart, but not as bad as if we are in Florida.  We look forward to making new friends, and starting new activities. Our first major thing we will work on is finding a great homeschooling group.

So, no matter what your dream adventure is. No matter how scary or outrageous it seems, just go for it. (Well, unless its dangerous then just stay home.) Life is very short, and you want to do everything you can with no regrets. We know that our adventure is scary, but we also know that if Michigan doesn’t work out for us then we can just move back to Florida. I am sure my mother would welcome us with open arms. But what I know 100% for sure, is that we don’t know if it will work or won’t work until we try. I don’t want to be 40-50 years old saying, man I wish we would have at least tried.\

Make sure you stay tuned to follow our journey from Florida to Michigan.

 

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Losing Someone you love

This blog post is a difficult one to post, but I feel it is very important to post for any parents who may be going through something similar. Dealing with losing someone you love is something we never want to discuss with our children. But sadly it happens, see how we dealt with it as a family

How our family started

My husband and I started dating almost 8 years ago. I instantly became close to his family, as family has and always be the most important thing in my life. The one person I became the closest to was his grandmother. She was one of my best friends, not a day went by where I didn’t speak to here at minimum of 2 times a day. Usually I spoke with her more like 5-8 times a day, which yes seems like a lot but I called her about everything. Usually we had over big conversation of the day which lasted any where between an hour or three, just depending on what we had to talk about, and then we had many little calls about lunch, dinner, what she was up to, or just to randomly call and tell her something.

She was such a big part of Chief’s life. She along with my husbands aunt watched him as an infant, during the week while I worked. He saw her often, and spoke with her every time I was on the phone with her.

The diagnosis

Grandma started complaining a lot in December/ January about having bad back pain. She went to the doctors multiple times and they kept telling her that she was having back spasms and gave her some muscle relaxers. On one visit they thought maybe it was her gallbladders, but after an MRI it revealed that she only had one gallstone and most likely was not the cause of her pain.

After months of complaining she called me early in the morning crying that the pain was so bad. Finally I was fed up, I was taking her to the hospital to find out what was wrong with her. We arrived in the emergency room and were immediately taken back to a room, they ordered a CT scan of her chest and abdomen. The ER doctor came back and we spoke with him outside her room and he told us that they found a mass on her pancreas. I instantly knew it was cancer, no test had to tell me. I realized in this moment I was going to lose one of the most important person in my life. What I was not prepared for was how quick it would happen.

She was admitted to the hospital for more testing, and I explained to her that they found the mass, but we didn’t know yet what it was. I stayed with her the entire night, not sleeping and pacing the halls like an anxious parent waiting to hear bad news about their child. It seemed like the test to confirm the cancer was taking a lifetime. The next afternoon the doctor came in and explained what was going on, and what we were waiting for. Once he was finished talking to us, I went into the hallway with him to ask about the test results. He checked right there on the computer, and I saw him pull up the results and I knew what they meant the instant I saw the red numbers. It was confirmed, she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and he said she only had about 6 months to live.

Leaving the Hospital

Once we left the hospital, we made an appointment to meet with the oncologist and he gave us even worse news. He didn’t think she had 6 months, he said more about 3 months.  I was completely devastated, how was I going to handle this, how was my son going to handle this? They were so close. He referred us to Hospice, and told us to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Well months passed and she did great, she had days where she was in a lot of pain and other days where she was completely fine. We registered her with hospice and got a great set of nurses to work with. They helped with her pain management, and anything we needed.

Hospice Home Care

Then the time came, 4 months after she was diagnosed and 1 month later then the oncologist gave her, she started to get weaker, started to forget things, and was no longer able to care for her self. I had made the decision and promised her over a year ago when I helped her put her brother in hospice that she would not go into a home, that she would come live with us. So in July she moved in with us. My 3 year old was ecstatic that his great grandma would be here every day with us. The day before she arrived we set up her room, we had all of her supplies delivered by hospice, and we hung pictures on the wall to make it like home. (we briefly converted our downstairs play room into her bedroom) Our first 2 weeks were great, she was happy to be here and was doing well. I made sure to spend as much time talking to her as possible. My son spent all day loving on her, showing her toys, playing and talking her ear off.

We tried to capture every moment with her while we could. Giving her all our love, hugs, kisses, and laughs. I feel that this is important that all children should spend these last moments with their loved ones. Even on her worst days, a quick kiss or hug could give her lots of energy and made her so happy. We must not treat them as they are sick, but as they are our family and soon they will no longer be there with us, so we should make their final moments happy ones. My all time favorite day, was the day I introduced grandma to snap chat. We took lots of photos, and I will always cherish them as they are from the last day before she started to become much more forgetful.

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Time to say goodbye

Not long after this amazing day she started to eat and drink less, and then the time came. She woke up late Wednesday night and was very confused, she went back to sleep but when she woke on Thursday she had trouble breathing and was put on constant oxygen, the hospice nurses came right away to check on her and let us know that it wouldn’t be long. We made sure to talk to Chief and explain what was going on. We had spoken with him many times before and told him that soon great grandma wouldn’t be with us any more, I explained that soon the angles would come to get her and that she would go to live with them. He was obviously upset and confused that she would be somewhere he couldn’t see or talk to her anymore, but its important that he understood that she didn’t just disappear with no explanation.

By Friday afternoon I knew she wouldn’t make it through the night, hospice came out and confirmed that soon we would have to say goodbye. We called my mother in law and she rushed from work, and eventually the rest of the family came to say their goodbyes. We brought Chief in the room and he climbed into bed with her and gave her a hug and a kiss and she smiled, more then she had responded the entire day. Once everyone left it was just my mother in law, my husband and our son left at the house.

Later that night a hospice CNA  arrived to assist us as the time got closer. We stayed in the room the majority of the night with her, just briefly coming out to close our eyes for a few minutes to return right back to her side. Then at 5am I had just come out to close my eyes for a moment and the CNA came out to get me, it was time. I held her hand, kissed her, and told her how much I loved her. I went upstairs and woke my husband, I crawled into bed and cried my eyes out then pulled my self together to get back down stairs. I held her hand, and hold her how much I loved her until the moment she took her last breath. 7/30/2016 at 5:13am she was gone, she passed peacefully in loving care of her family.

Telling Chief

That morning Chief woke up, and we explained to him that she had passed and that the angels came to take her away. He ran to her room to discover that she in fact was gone. He was upset but understood that grandma was in a better place and that she was no longer in any pain. He still talks about her quite frequently, we go to visit her grave at the cemetery, and he talks to her outside sometimes while he is looking to the sky. This journey was one of the most difficult ones that I have ever taken and I would not change one thing about it.

I hope that if you are dealing with a similar situation, that you would choose to include your child(ren). It is helpful to not only family member who is dying, but also to the children who will ultimately have to deal with their passing. Make sure to take advantage of any resources you may have. Hospice was such an amazing help to us during and after my grandmothers care. I would not have been able to do any of this with out their help. We will also be taking advantage of their bereavement programs that they offer as well. If you don’t think that hospice home care is something that you can do, they have inpatient facilities that your loved one can go to once their symptoms are no longer manageable at home. Our facilities locally are beautiful and amazing, and you receive the same care there that you would at home.

We love you grandma and no day is the same with out my daily calls to you.

❤️Brittny