Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Best Friend is the Father of my Kids

OMG, y'all do you know we're in the 5th week of Mamas Tell All? I feel like time is flying! I've been having so much fun getting to know other moms in the blog world with this linkup.

This week, we're bragging on our dudes a little bit. Talking about the Man Behind the Mama.

I feel like I've bragged on Josh quite a bit since my return to the blogging world in February. But I have every reason to. He's an amazing father and a wonderful husband. I thought because I'm sure y'all are sick of the "I'm so grateful" stuff from me I would take this a different direction and share how Josh and I actually met.
Josh and I in 2006
It was in 2006. I had quite literally just graduated high school, and really not looking for a boyfriend. Amanda can testify to the fact that I had a horrible ex. So realistically I definitely didn't need to be looking for a boyfriend even if I wanted one!

After work (at Kroger) one night, another co-worker had asked if I could take him somewhere for his birthday. He had lost his driver's license and some of his friends were throwing him a party. I thought, "why the hell not?" I didn't have anything better to do that night and now that I was 18, my mom was more forgiving if I stayed out super late. So I took him. We got there first and a group of 4 other people showed up a little later. I literally only knew the birthday boy, but it wasn't a problem for me because I can make friends with a wall.

Did I mention the birthday party was at a karaoke bar?

Yeah... I totally sang Joe Jackson's Is She Really Going Out With Him? in front of the man that would eventually be my husband. Sober mind you. I was 18 after all. It was also horrible. As someone that spent her entire life in chorus, this was by far my worst performance. I wasn't nervous or anything, I just didn't see the words moving on the screen and the song was too quiet behind me. Josh of course still laughs about this incident to this day!

The night went on with one of the guys I had never met before trying to hit on me. I completely ignored him. He's one of those guys that you can tell he's trying too hard. Not attractive. Josh on the other hand was quietly sitting in the corner. Those that know him know this isn't surprising. He was just smiling and taking it all in. Only talking when spoken to. Honestly, he and I didn't really talk at all that night. I think he was mostly laughing at the guy that was trying too hard.

After that night, we actually started chatting on MySpace. Yes. That's right, I said MySpace. I was the first to ask for his number.
The rest, as they say, is history. He actually had a girlfriend at the time and left her to be with me. I win. Now we have two beautiful children and have been happily married since 2008.
Josh and I 2015... being extremely goofy!
Tell us about your man! Husband, boyfriend, whatever! Link up with the rest of the awesome mamas below!
Next week:
May 6: Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster - talking about how all mamas sometimes get jealous of others 
The Rambling Llama

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Monday, April 27, 2015

"Four Things". But Really SO Much More.

Y'all, you know what makes me super happy? You. My readers. Most of the time when I write something it's just to share with myself. If that makes sense. Those posts I'm really trying to get pageviews, and yet they still come. Which means y'all like me! Y'all really, really like me. For that I'm so thankful. I've also noticed an increase of page views in general as well as a lot of new faces in my comments!

For that reason, I'm glad Jasmine over at Classy, Sassy, and a bit Smartassy tagged me in this Four post. This gives me a great way to share a bunch of randomness with my new readers! Also, much like one of my other favorite bloggers, Kasey from Kasey at the Bat, I'm a rule breaker and an over-sharer so you're more than likely to get more than four things.

Four names people call you:
Well, my name is Melissa (obviously!) haha
|| Mel / Melly / Missy : this is by close friends and my sister
|| Mommy : by my children, duh
|| Llama : by the blogging community. I've learned that I am "Llama" in several peoples' phones!
|| Goober : by my husband because, well, I am. haha

Four jobs I've had:

But really, job interviews suck... 
|| Kroger.
I started as a bag girl and eventually became cashier. This was also where I met Amanda. This was my first job and not the greatest.
|| Titlemax.
Yes. I pawned peoples' car titles. Don't judge me. This was the first "office" job I ever had. There were parts about it that I really loved and parts that I hate, but it taught me a lot about life. Esp the difference in pawns and loans. Just don't do it, y'all. Don't. Like, ever!
|| Enterprise Rent A Car.
While I was pregnant with Zander I washed cars and got them ready for people to rent. No it was not glamorous and yes it was exhausting, but it helped pay bills. Also, I don't have a college degree so this was the only job I could legally do at Enterprise. I got yelled at a lot by people renting cars because I was basically 9 months pregnant and deep cleaning every car this particular Enterprise in Roswell, GA had. Including 15 passenger vans. My boss just told them, "look she applied for this. She knew that she'd be doing. I can't deny her work just because she's pregnant". After 6 months of unemployment after Titlemax this guy was also the only one that would hire me knowing I was pregnant. Props to you, Wolffe!
|| World Technology Ingredients. 
I've worked in several manufacturing plants, all in the customer service role. This was my favorite in that it was literally like family. It was my most recent job before staying home full time. I miss it, but they taught me a lot!

Four movies I would/have watched more than once:
|| Sixteen Candles. This one never gets old. Like ever. The Breakfast Club either for that matter.

|| Pitch Perfect. Because who doesn't love a good movie jam-packed full of amazing songs, dancing, and hot chicks using aca for entirely too much? LOL

|| Pirates of the Caribbean. No explanation needed.

|| Rio / Rio 2. I have kids. Kids get hooked on movies. I've also seen Frozen and Big Hero 6 more than I care to admit.

Four books I would recommend:
|| Speak : Laurie Halse Anderson. I've mentioned this to a few bloggy friends. Now all of y'all. It's powerful. It's heartbreaking. Read it.
|| Blue Bloods series : Melissa De La Cruz. A twist on vampires. I loved all of these books
|| The Bean Trees : Barbara Kingsolver
|| Harry Potter : JK Rowling. But honestly if you haven't already read the series then we can't be friends. Sorry not sorry.

Four places I have lived:
There's more cities than just this. Current location not included.
|| Chamblee, GA
|| Buford, GA
|| Lawrenceville, GA
|| Cumming, GA 
Basically... I've lived in Georgia
Four places I've visited:
|| St. Thomas, USVI. Amazing. Go there!
|| Milwaukee, WI. 
|| Middlesex, NJ
|| Philadelphia, PA.
Plus, reasons why you need to see St Thomas, Chicago's aquarium and Philly's Zoo.

Four places I'd rather be right now:
|| Brisbane, Australia. My cousin lives there, so basically free place to sleep!
|| Anywhere in France
|| Puerto Rico. My father in law was born here. I'm dying to go here with my husband and kids!
|| Just give me a beach with white sands!

Four of my favorite foods:
|| Pizza. the end. the only toppings not allowed are anchovies and pineapple.
|| Ice cream. Don't you dare tell me this doesn't count as breakfast.
|| Chili. One of the best parts about Halloween? Chili cook offs! YUMMY!
|| Pizza. Because well, Meagan will agree with me here. It deserves to be on here twice. So there.

Four T.V shows I watch:
|| Big Bang Theory. True story: my husband gave me a T-shirt with "Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, spock" on it. This was probably the one gift I was excited about most when it came to my birthday. Sheldon gifs can be found on this blog frequently.
|| Once Upon a Time. I just love this show. So much that I started watching during season 4 last fall, fell in love and hubs and I binged to get caught up to watch new episodes now.
|| Last Man on Earth. Something about this show is just so dumb that it's hilarious. I can't put my finger on it. I just like it.
|| Castle. This was another one hubs and I binged on to get caught up for the newest season currently on.
bonus points: We will soon be binging on Elementary.

Four things I'm looking forward to this year (2015):
|| Finishing my fifteen in 2015. Honestly, I haven't touched a single thing from it. Better get on that, huh? Here's to summer activities!
|| Having Ainsley potty trained. We're slowly but surely getting there. It's a slow process, but hey.
|| Wedding attending in Sept. Josh's brother that's 11 months younger than him is getting married! I cannot wait for this big party!
|| Thoughts of starting school. That's right folks... I've been toying around with the idea of getting a degree. But I also don't want to rush into things & take away from the kids.

Four things I'm always saying:
|| Shut up. This is usually accompanied by me slapping the arm of whomever is sitting next to me. When something shocking occurs, this comes out of my mouth
|| We don't hit in this house! I'm alarmed by the amount that I have to say this to my youngest. Apparently Ainsley is trying to assert her dominance in the relationship of her and Zander. This is apparently happening by her pushing Zander around. Kids.
|| Can someone help me clean? Is this too hard for family to do? I mean come on, y'all. I can't be the only one that begs for help.
|| Babe, what's for dinner? (sarcastically). I always ask him this. I try to get out of cooking every night. Josh doesn't cook so me asking this is usually hopes of getting him to order pizza.

And now that I've made this the longest blog post everrrr. I need to tag four ladies.
Four ladies I tag:
|| Amanda // Knock on Wood. Just cause you're my bestie.
|| Kendra // Kenj is Here. My current Daddy Llama Sponsor. I love this gal.
|| Lora // Heart of Life. This girl inspires me with her dedication to getting fit. For that, you're tagged.
|| Emelia // Dream Big & Buy the Shoes. Because who doesn't love a great pair of shoes?

So thanks again, Jasmine. Love you, girlie. I hope y'all learned something new!
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Dear, Georgia... I Love You

If someone (not from Georgia) were to ask me what it's really like living here, my initial reaction would probably be "wet". It's humid here, y'all. But realistically it's so much more than that. I was born and raised here. This is my home. I really couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Georgia actually gets all four seasons. Sometimes it feels like Summer lasts longer than the other seasons. Especially considering we usually start getting 70+ Degree temps starting as early as March some years.
Don't get me wrong. There are definitely some years where the winters here are pretty terrible. In fact, March of 1993 we had a terrible blizzard. Last January was snowpocalypse for Atlanta. I would also say we get about a normal amount of rain. I think technically we're still considered to be in a drought because Lake Lanier is still a little low, but it's no where near as bad as it was I think 6 or 7 years ago.

Y'all! Seriously come to Georgia if you want amazing scenery pictures.

There's mountains. North Georgia is full of mountains, camping, hiking trails. The Appalachian trail starts at the base of one of the mountains up there. Helen, GA is a beautiful little German town in the middle of the mountains.
Cleveland, GA
Stone Mountain, GA

There's bodies of water. Oceans, lakes, rivers. You name it, we've got it! All within relatively reasonable driving distances depending on where you are. For us, the ocean is about a 3-4 hour drive. A lake is about 20 minutes. The Chattahoochee river runs through the whole state so we can easily get to the river anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on where we go to play.
Lake Lanier: Buford, GA
There's tons of nature centers. Georgia is all about water preservation, saving the trees (hello, Earth Day!) and protecting the wildlife. The nature centers all over the state help educate kids about the animals and nature in the state and how to protect them. How awesome is that?
Plus, the trails at the nature centers are amazing! We went to one for  birthday party last month and the kids were able to see a family of deer up close!
Flowery Branch, GA
So, seriously y'all, come visit. You won't be bored. You may be hot if you come in the Summer but we can just go hang out at the lake!

Linking up with Amanda 
Amanda Moments

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good-Bye Diapers, Hello Savings!

If you were to interview 100 moms randomly on the street and ask them all, "what's the biggest expense you have when it comes to your children?", I would bet the majority would say, "Diapers". It's no secret, even if you're using cloth diapers there's an upfront cost of getting what you need in order to "cloth". Ashley and I briefly touched on diapers a few weeks ago. This week however, we're talking ditching the diaper!

This is probably one of the happiest and most stressful time in a mom's life. Potty training. It's no secret. No child is the same which of course means no child will catch on to potty training the same. All you can do is "go with the flow". Ha. See what I did there? Too Much? OK... moving on.

We're actually in this stage of life with Ainsley, the youngest of my two. And let me tell y'all something. This is tough. It had been three years since we went through this with Zander. I had forgotten about accidents and messes, and barely making it to the toilet. We're kind of using the same methods we did with Zander though and from what I can tell they seem to be working.

Here's what we do:

Set a "Potty Timer"
For us, this is just the timer on the stove. Huggies and Pull Ups sells a stop watch branded as a potty timer, but your timer on the stove or microwave works just as well.
It starts from the time we wake up. Mostly Ainsley wakes up before me. As soon as I know she's awake, I have to get up. I immediately take her to the bathroom first thing in the morning. If she goes, I set the timer for 30 minutes. If she doesn't, she gets 15 minutes. This pattern continues throughout the day. If she has more water than normal, the timer is set for shorter amounts of time.
The timer is mostly for me. Ainsley is at the age where she won't tell me if she has to go or not. She still hasn't grasped that sensation. She knows if she has peed (or pooped) after the fact. Telling me she needs to go will probably come within 6 months to a year. I'm ok with that. We're on the right track.

Don't use diapers or pull ups.
Y'all, these are just a crutch. Buy your kids underwear! YES, you will have to do more laundry because, yes, accidents will happen. However, using big kid underwear that fits your kids properly will help them realize when they are wet. I'm not gonna lie, cleaning up "number two" accidents are no fun and require some soaking to prevent stains, but I don't throw out the underwear just because she's pooped in them.
The only time we use pull ups is at nap time and bed time. Ainsley doesn't always wake up "dry", so using the pull ups when she sleeps prevents having to change her sheets in the middle of the night.

We DON'T use stickers or treats. 
That's just us though. When teaching Zander and now while teaching Ainsley we don't reward successful potty visits with treats or sticker charts. We do make sure the kids know how proud we are of them. We sing songs, do fun dances, and give high fives all around. This isn't to say that treats and prizes won't be right for you and your kids. Remember? Every kid is different. Your kid might be happier knowing they get a sticker if they use the potty. For us though, it just didn't make sense. Everyone pees anyway right? I don't get a sticker every time I go.

I gave up on the training toilet. 
Y'all, with Zander we bought one of those mini training toilets that sits on the floor, you know? The ones with the bucket they pee and poop in and you still have to dispose of it? Yeah. Gross. Ours comes in three stages. It's the gross bucket thing. Then the seat comes off and attaches to your toilet. It's also a step stool. I gave up on the bucket thing before even using it. I took the seat off, attached it to the toilet and let both kids use the grown up toilet with the seat so they don't fall in. That way, the step stool is used to wash hands after. Boom! It works and you just flush the mess away without cleaning anything else. No need to add extra work, moms. Right? Right!

Ainsley gets really excited when she successfully uses the potty. She knows it makes mommy and daddy happy, and I swear this kid lives for high fives. Any chance to get and give them she's all about that life! She also feels the need to visit me while I'm in the bathroom, so when I go I always get a, "Good job, Mommy! Way to go! High fives!" She cracks me up. So basically, just do what works for your family. Hopefully the tips and tricks from Mamas Tell All will help you! Even if you don't have kids yet!

What did you do to survive the potty training experience?
Link up with us and share! 
That Southern Mama//Everyday Thoughts//The So-Called Homemaker//The Rambling Llama

Next week on Mamas Tell All: brag on your man!
April 29: The Man Behind the Mama – talking about husbands, boyfriends, etc. 
The Rambling Llama

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I Won't be Working (Just Yet)

I've been getting asked this same question for quite some time. "When are you going back to work?" I realize that most of my readers could care less. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of y'all support me staying at home based on the comments when I announced that I would be staying home. So this really isn't for y'all's sake. This is for mine. As a way to say, "oh you really want to know? Go read this."

Well, the short answer is I'm NOT going back to work anytime soon. Not for at least two and a half more years.

Ainsley is only two. In two and a half more years, she'll be starting Pre-K which of course means FREE as long as we go through the Georgia Lottery Funded Pre-K programs. If I were to back to work before then, well we'd be struggling more than we are now.

Daycare for a 2 year old costs anywhere from $150 to $200 a week depending on where we took her. That's about $600 to $800 a month. Y'all, my rent doesn't even cost that much. My best case scenario for going back to work is after I'm done paying for daycare, I'd have enough to maybe pay my cell phone bill each month. Summary: I'd be working just to pay daycare.

Transportation is an issue. Currently we only have one car. Sure we could make it work with carpooling and things like that depending on where I would find a job. We've done it before. It was also stressful when we did it. Josh's schedule has him going into work at 10 and getting off at 6:30. It worked to get me to work, but not to get me home. I'd rather not think about that right now.

If we were to have another car, car insurance goes up. Y'all, we've already established that I'm broke after paying daycare. Having to pay more in car insurance doesn't make sense right now either. My uncle actually offered my cousin's car (that she's not driving) to me. It'd help out a lot right now, but I had to politely decline. I know what Josh and I can and can't afford (right now especially). Extra car expenses is not something we can afford.

I might not even go back full time. Part time jobs would allow me flexibility to get my kids from school without having to utilize after-school care. This might mean working a weekend or two, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Basically, me going back to work is not right for my family right now. Yes, we're struggling. Yes, we're shuffling bills around. Yes, I'm asking friends and family for help with unexpected life events dealing with the kids, but I know from the bottom of my heart this is what's right for our family. I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record saying this, but I got tired of telling this to family. I'm not about to let our family struggle if it means me going back to work immediately.
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

30 Day Shred - Things I've Learned.

30 days ago, I made the decision to really start pushing myself when it comes to working out. Sure, I had been doing OK prior to then. I was staying active, and I had improved the way I was eating. I felt like it just wasn't enough though. I felt like I was just doing stuff to maintain my (at the time) current weight. I have had the 30 Day Shred DVD for literally years. I just have never made it an entire 30 days. I always gave up after a week. Not anymore!
This is not a sponsored post. I wasn't compensated to do a review of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. This is just something I chose to do.

Let me start by saying, I can't accurately say how much weight I lost in the last 30 days. Shortly after I started I hid my scale and quit using it! I can say that I've absolutely lost though. Even if it is just inches. But if we're being honest, I'd rather lose inches. Muscle weighs more, and if I'm losing inches it means I'm getting stronger! My size 14 shorts are (beginning to get) smaller. The DVD claims you'll lose up to 20 lbs. I'm not sure how they got this statistic, but I can say I did NOT lose 20 lbs. And I'm really OK with that.

I learned I'm stronger than I thought I was. Holding a plank pose for a minute? A week ago I would've laughed at you. Now, I try to see how long I can really go. Jumping jacks while holding 5 lb hand weights in each hand? SURE! Bring it on! There was once upon a time where if someone had asked me to do a static lunge with a bicep curl, I would have most definitely laughed at them. Now, I'm begging Josh to get me heavier hand weights. YES, smaller weight at higher reps TONES, but I do want to strengthen as well.
Mid squat and pre boxing. Couldn't squat while boxing w/ weights a month ago.
I learned I can provide my own motivation. You know that little voice in your head that keeps on saying, "Girl, this is just a DVD. No body is watching you. You can just turn it off and have a poptart." Except, what is that really going to help? Nothing. I bought the DVD to change myself. If I just turn it off, I'm not really changing anything. Pushing myself to actually finish all 30 days proved that I can motivate myself. I can change if I want to. And, really... in all honesty there are people watching me. At least one little person anyway. Ainsley. She does pretty much all of the exercises with me.

I learned scissor crunches really are terrible, but they really do work. Seriously. I dare y'all to do a full minute of just scissor crunches and tell me your abs aren't screaming at you?

I learned once you make it past Level Two, it's totally worth it. Level One: you pretty much stick with the easy girl and you really push yourself to turn on the DVD the next day. Because let's face it, waking up to screaming muscles sometimes sucks. Level Two: You just don't even want to. But you do because you've already made it 10 days... what's another 10? Even though level two workouts are THE WORST. Level Three: Killer. But by this point, you think, "OH EM GEE!!! These are really hard, but really fun! Who's up for round two?"
props to my hubby for taking this and being a good sport. sorry about the phone in the pic.. 
I learned never drink coffee and eat your oatmeal breakfast immediately before working out with Jillian Michaels. Just don't do it. It's never a good idea, and it will never end well. The best bet is to just drink tons of water before, during, and after. Once you've cooled down from the workout then you can eat. If you still really need your coffee afterwards go for it, but you might not even want it. Ok you might. If you have to have coffee before working out, wait at least an hour after drinking it. Trust me, you'll thank me for this.

So, I guess in summary, I love this DVD more than I thought I would. It was a great way to mix up my typical Zumba. I plan on doing it again for sure. Now that the 30 days is complete I'll be using Fitness Blender to mix things up a bit more. Shout out to Cassie for turning me onto Fitness Blender. She's the best, y'all. If you're on the fence about workout DVD's, this one IS tough. I'm not going to lie about that. But it IS worth it. You do see results, and it does push you.

I'm linking up with Kenji for Workout Wednesday (a day late).
Kenji is Here: Workout Wednesdays

And because I'm all about progress pictures & bragging about results,
I'll leave y'all with this little gem!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Kids are funny. They're very much like sponges and absorb everything around them. This includes things grown ups say around them on a day to day basis. Kids also don't have a filter, so sometimes they might repeat something adults might not want them to.

Mamas Tell all || Week 3 

So this week, we're taking it back to Bill Cosby days before all of this controversy. I have a feeling some of the posts linked up this week would have been excellent material for the original show!

I had to tweet this one from Zander a few weeks ago. It was too adorable not to share. And how insightful, right?

Sometimes Ainsley will still come cuddle with me and Josh. When she does, I'll ask her, "Ainsley, are you Mommy's girl?" This almost always get's a firm "No Mommy!" with an adorable laugh. So Josh will come back with, "Well, are you Daddy's girl then?" More laughter and, "No Daddy!". So one of us will ask, "Who's girl are you then?" I'm Ainsley's girl!". So there y'all have it... my two year old daughter has decided that she's her own girl.
Proof on YouTube.
Ainsley is also very sassy and insists that she's  mini mommy. While Zander and I were throwing the frisbee, it hit him in the neck. (He was OK, but said ouch initially). Ainsley came running from the bottom of the driveway.

Ainsley: What happened Zander? (when he didn't answer her, she turned to me)
What happened, Mommy?
Me: I accidently hit Zander with the frisbee.
Zander: yeah, but I'm OK.
Ainsley: *looks at me, with her hands on her hips* No, Sir Mommy! No, Sir! We don't hit people! No, Sir Mommy!
Zander and I die with laughter.

Any of Zander's words of wisdom crack me up. For example: "Actually Mommy drinking yogurt isn't really food. It's more like a drink. Food is something like a pop tart. And that's what I want for snack today."

What funny things do your kids say? Link up with us and share!
And in case you missed it, here's the upcoming topics for the Mamas Tell All Linkup!
April 22: Saying Goodbye to Diapers – tips and tricks or just stories about the potty-training process
April 29: The Man Behind the Mama – talking about husbands, boyfriends, etc. 
May 6: Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster - talking about how all mamas sometimes get jealous of others 
May 13: Dating my Daughter/Son – spending special time on “dates” with our kids 
May 20: Last Year We Bought a Zoo (or Not) – a discussion on pets in the family - do you have any? why or why not?
Be sure to grab the button and link up with us! 
The Rambling Llama

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