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27 May 2015

5 Baby Phases That I’m So Glad Are Finally Over

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I might not have the fancy title I once dreamed of in my younger years, but I am relishing in the sweet success that I have found in my small slice of life. Finally realizing that success does not always come in the forms of money or fame, I realize that it’s in finally reaching those milestones I never thought I’d see. The ones that at some point, seemed so unattainable and so far out of my reach. But tonight I’m going to sleep with a smile on my face because finally, I am here. And oh what a journey it has been.

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1. We are finally out of diapers. Officially. We finally can start saving money because someone finally decided to use the toilet like a civilized human being. Finally. You all must know how good this feels. She was a stubborn one to break, but it finally has happened.

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2. I can finally leave the room and no one cares. I can finally leave the house and no one cares. The baby, in particular, was usually the only one who NEVER wanted me to leave, which was flattering and annoying all at the same time. But we are turning the corner on three and she’s finally realizing that I come back. And that she usually will have more fun with someone else. Finally.

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3. She finally just plays. She doesn’t need me to entertain her. She’s content where being around the big kids. She’s just happy to be playing. I can finally sit and watch. Finally.

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4. She finally eats real food. She’s slightly picky, but some adults are too. But I’m finally not packing an entire refrigerator hoping that she’ll eat something I brought. She’ll finally just eat what we have or what we order for her. Finally, she’s turning into one of “the kids.”

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5. She’s finally not a baby. It’s hard for me to swallow this last finally. My baby is finally not a baby anymore. It’s a punch to the gut that I’m just not ready to take. All the things that make her a baby: diapers, naps, bottles, binkies , blankets and all those wretched big baby toys … Gone. Done. Over. Finished. And for so long, that was all I wanted. She blends right in with the rest if the crew. But now that’s it’s finally happening, I’m finally starting to realize that it’s really over. And as per usual, when most things finally come to an end, you want them to start all over. Because you realize you really didn’t want it to end.

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16 May 2015

Kids on Vacation: Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse (Daytona Beach Florida)

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The tallest lighthouse in Florida and built in 1887 hold 203 steps to the top and is just as majestic as it looks in person.

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Just a short drive South from Daytona Beach, this was a highlight of our trip to this coast.

We climbed, yes everyone, to the top and here’s what we saw:

And it was so worth the climb, as most things are. The big kids learned a little about Florida history and my 5 year old learned to never give up. I would say it was a good day.

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We were hosted by Visit Florida and Visit Daytona Beach to explore with kids. All opinions are my own. More about what we did when we visited can be found on Trekaroo.com.

09 May 2015

Right Where I Belong

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What an amazing night at the CARES Foundation Gala. I have never been so moved, so connected and so touched by this community of people that, honestly, many of whom I’ve never met but I feel like we’ve been down the same roads together and know that they understand what I’ve been through.

I met Mothers and Fathers who know what I we have been through. Kids who know what my kids have gone through and doctors who know what I do everyday to keep my kids healthy.

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My husband introduced me tonight on stage. When your husband introduces you in front of 200 people and you are left with no words before you go on stage to give your speech, you thank the universe for him and know that you are right where you belong.

I gave my speech which was taken directly from this blog. I added in a part about being a chosen parent. We are chosen parents who give everything of ourselves so our children will live the very best lives. We were chosen to be their parents because He knew that we were the best ones for this job.

Tonight my kids got to meet kids that share so much of what they go through with other kids that know the road too. I introduced Shelby to a little boy and said that he takes medicine too. She said she had just got her blood drawn and he said he had too. They need to know that as rare as this condition is, they are not alone and that they have us, family, friends, and the ENTIRE CARES community behind them.

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There is no place else I’d rather be than with these people. They make me know that I am right where I belong,

Thank you to the CARES Foundation and to the entire community of people who gave, came or supported this foundation that has done so much for our family and the lives of others with CAH. It means more than you will ever know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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07 May 2015

How to Save Money With Kids During the Summer

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There are approximately 75 days during the summer that the kids will be looking for things to do. While it would be great to visit Disney everyday during the summer and stay at fancy hotels, you might have to watch your wallet a little to get thorough the summer. For me, 4 kids in one week of summer camp could run me well over $1,000.

Here’s a few tips on how we will be saving money this summer!

Camps

The most popular word in the summer can also make you see lots of dollar signs if your not careful. Unfortunately, I cannot afford camps for my three older children every week this summer and then a sitter on top of that for the baby. But yes, they are fun and I do want my kids to have the experience. Here’s what we do:

If you can, plan early. Camps offer big discounts early in the season, which add up if you’ll do multiple kids camps during the summer.

Look into experience camps. These are camps that you just can’t do every week. The one off week is a treat and an experience for them at the same time.

Sports camps can be expensive too. Again, check into the “once a summer” experience camp but also look into the City of Tampa recreation camps! Great camps with great prices! The Girl Scouts of West Central Florida have great summer camps and won’t break the bank either! (Our favorite experience sports camp is the Tampa Yankees Baseball Camp).

Amusement Parks

Take advantage of special offers. Many have weekday only passes or deals throughout the summer, so plan accordingly to save money on the experience.

Museums & Aquariums

If you think you might be going one time a week, or your child might really enjoy going more often, then look into an annual pass which might be a better option and save you money in the long run.

Field Trips with Friends

Plan a field trip with friends. It’s always fun if you go with friends to some of these places and they will definitely make the park or beach (both free places) so much more fun.

Tampa Tip: Hit up Cypress Beach in Westshore for a perfect park and beach without having to drive to St.Pete or Clearwater just for the morning. But if you are spending the day, then Pass-A-Grille or Clearwater are my favorite. Don’t forget to save money by packing a lunch and snacks!

Movies

Movies are so much fun during the summer, but can be costly for families. During the summer, many movie theaters will offer cheap (no new releases) movies in the morning. Save money by having snacks before you go or having lunch right afterwards. Make the movies an experience by visiting a different kind of theatre. Visit the Funland Drive-In (Tampa) and do the movies old school under the stars in your car! The kids will get a kick out of it! Buying your tickets online via Fandango will also save you money this summer when you hit the theaters for the new summer movies that will come out by buying early and avoiding the lines!

How to Part-Time Work During The Summer

Summer child care is always an issue and is something that will add up quickly! Maybe you work part-time and can be creative with your schedule. Instead of driving all over Tampa for three different summer camps, and then paying a babysitter on top of that only to get maybe two hours of work in before I have to pick them up, I like to think smarter. I have two different approaches: I get up early (and sometimes out to Starbucks) so I can work in the morning. I have a sitter come first thing in the morning and then I’m home by 10 with four hours of work under my belt and a day to spend with the kids.

Or the Kids ‘ Swap where you take mine one day, I’ll take yours the next also is a money saver too.

Keeping Them Busy

Think up a “Summer Project” based around something that interests them! “I’m bored!” Probably the two most uttered words you’ll hear this summer from kids while your home. I like to have ideas ready for when this happens. Last summer I came up 75 free things to do in the summer and many were things we could do at home. Ideas include:

Have a yard sale will get them motivated to help you clean the house!

Start a garden will have them want to get dirty outside and help you do lawn and yard maintenance.

Wash the car and cool off.

Have a lemonade stand.

Cooking

Take the time to get the kids in the kitchen. Let them help. Make things from scratch. This is a great time to cook from the garden you planted. Visit an market and take a full day to make something they helped prepare.

Kids are ready to be entertained but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to do so. They might even become an entrepreneur while doing a few of these things!

Keeping Up School Skills

I know it’s the summer, but I’m always worrying about loosing momentum when the summer strikes. My Kindergardener just started reading and you can’t just stop. We will be biking up to our local library and making a morning of it! It’s fun and free to hit up the library and many will have programs all summer for the kids. And we’ll even get some exercise on the way there!

Other ideas: Start a journal Download some new educational apps or games on your Amazon Kindle. Print out some free worksheets just to get the brain going.

Plan It Out

Slow Down. We’ve been going non-stop for almost 9 months. We are going to try and slow down but slowing down doesn’t change the fact that I will have four kids looking at me for things to do everyday this summer. You just have to be one step ahead of them…most of the time.

05 May 2015

Magical & Memorable: Memories of Mom 2.0 Summit 2015

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It was only but a dream, that I was in a land of amazing and empowering women (and men) that were some of the nicest people I’ve meet on this Earth. Their encouragement, friendly smiles and their depth if knowledge was far to amazing for me to comprehend. Being surrounded by this caliber of inspirational individuals only lifts you up so that you can do more when you get home and back to reality.
I have already bought my 2016 ticket the conference was that good.
Why did I go? What do you get out of a “blogger conference?” For some that still don’t think the industry is “real” well let me assure you that it I alive, thriving and stronger than it ever has been. This is not just a hobby and for many it is a livelihood that provides. This conference brings together some of the most influential people in the space and helps those looking for inspiration or growth in the space. 
Here’s what I walked away learning.

The internet has really amazing people doing really amazing things. 

When you connect online with people, you’ll connect even more so when you meet them in person.

Spending time taking care of yourself is necessary.

Spending time working on yourself is needed.

Learning about best practices and what makes you tick is helpful.

Being inspired by people and their stories give you power.

Meeting your idols is always cool. Listening to them talk about who they are is even cooler.

My experience at the Mom 2.0 Summit was nothing short of one if the best professional development weekends of my ever evolving career as a blogger, writer and inspirational person. It makes you want to be a better person. Others inspire you to make a difference, believe in yourself and know that you too have the power to make a difference. Finding passion in your work and connecting with others in real life brings the internet to a whole new level; a smaller level because on the other end of the screen are real people doing amazing work together impacting real life.

To all those I met, I hope you know you definitely had an impact. Everyone of you. 

Here’s some great pictures from the summit if you missed to 10,000 pictures under the hashtag #Mom2Summit

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30 Apr 2015

Adventures: First Day of Mom 2.0 Summit, Scottsdale, AZ #Mom2Summit

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What exactly is a blogging conference you ask? Take a little business, mix with pleasure and stir in amazing, wonderful, intelligent and outgoing people, pour into a fabulous place to stay (The Phoenician in Scottsdale, AZ) and viola! The Mom 2.0 Summit is perfected. The last one I attended, Blissdom, was just as amazing, and if you are a part of this small corner of the internet , find your tribe, make new friends and head to one to meet super sweet people that you could consider “your people.”

Here are a few pictures from day 1:

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26 Apr 2015

5 Trades Away: Helping With Chopsticks #5TradesAway

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A fabulous friend and inspirational mover and shaker, Maria Bailey, has put out a challenge, which started actually as her homework assignment. I read about the once before where a kid took a toy car and traded up until he got a real one. Maria has gone. Step further and has challenged us to trade away, but there’s one catch…we give it away to be auctioned off in the end to help other Moms. Brilliant.

I’m all for helping make the world a better place and have decided I will use her chopsticks to trade do my part to help. Many hands make light work.

About the cause: (From Diaries of a Blue Suit Mom)

“Each day, 800 moms die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these women live in villages in Uganda and die because they can’t get to a clinic. Imagine. Better yet, watch this video to understand the magnitude.

Pulse, a company building village transports that universally hook to the back of any bike or motor scooter, is working with health care organizations to supply Village Ambulances to remote communities. I will be going to Uganda in June to work with Pulse on maximizing their efforts. I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity but most of all, passionate about this cause.

Giving birth is a blessing, it shouldn’t be a death sentence. We deliver our babies in clean birthing suites and these mothers can’t even get to a clinic.”

I’m only 5 Trades Away. Life depends on it.

Do you have something you can trade with me? Would you like your own pair of chopsticks? How can you help?!

Sign up here. Get your chopsticks and start trading. You only have until May 1st!

For additional information or thoughts, feel free to email the creator of 5 trades away at Maria@bsmmedia.com or on a Twitter at @MomTalkRadio.

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Follow Pulse on Twitter too.

26 Apr 2015

My #BeautyStory: Make the world a beautiful place.

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This is my #BeautyStory

We all have a choice on what we can teach our children. I choose to teach them what my Mom taught me…

When I was little, I remember my Mom getting ready for school (she’s a teacher) and I would tell her she looks beautiful and she would respond, “Beauty is much more than how I look. Beautiful people can make the world a beautiful place.” It was something I didn’t understand until much later. She raised me to be a confident, smart, genuine, woman, that always told me I could do anything and be anything I believed I could be. My inner beauty shines from her as I know that beauty means so much more just how I feel, it’s about how others feel too and what you can do to help others. She raised two beautiful daughters and now I’m raisin three beautiful daughters and can’t wait to share my beauty story with them.

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Having three daughters of my own, I know they watch my every move. What I do to get ready. What I wear. How I treat people. What I say. What I do. They even watch how I feel.

We talked about being beautiful the other day, and what I learned was proof that it’s up to me to teach them what beauty means.

I told my girls they are beautiful. But I ask they if they know what that means. My 5 year old, Shelby said it best.

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Photo Credit: Instagram.com/sam_I_am_stevens.

She excitedly said, “A butterfly!”

I said, “Yes, but why is a butterfly so beautiful?”

“Well, when it’s in it’s shell, it’s not that pretty. But I know it’s pretty. And that’s why you should treat caterpillars like they are the most beautiful animals on the planet. You never know what it’s going to be when it grow up! Butterflies are the nicest and most beautiful creatures on the planet. And the butterfly makes the world a beautiful place too.”

Right there. My five year old had told me the answer. Teach them confidence. Team them to be nice. Teach them to choose to be the beautiful people I know they are. Teach them to take care of themselves and others so the world can be a better place. Others will see the beauty that lies beneath. Once it is unearthed, all the beautiful people will make the world a better place.

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We now have a beauty talk when ever I can evoke a conversation about why that was beautiful. I love the word and love showing my children all the beauty in the world, in themselves and how they can make the world beautiful too. I say exactly what my Mom would say to me, “Beautiful people make the world a beautiful place.” I finally understand what my Mother taught me.

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There is so much I want to pass on to my daughters about being a woman, empowering them to make a difference, choosing to be the beautiful people I know they are. I want to raise happy kids. I know they will make the world a better place.

Being beautiful is a state of mind. And the mind is powerful. Their beauty holds to power. I will teach them to use their powers for good. They are beautiful. I am beautiful and together there is no stopping our beauty.

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I am attending the Mom 2.0 Summit in Scottsdale, AZ and was asked to share my #BeautyStory if desired. I have not been compensated for this post in anyway shape, or form. I do not work for Dove although I do love what they stand for.

24 Apr 2015

Tampa Mama Top Picks: Screen on the Green and Friday Extra Concert Series

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There are some pretty awesome family friendly events coming to parks in the City of Tampa. Mark your calendar, bring the kids, and pack a picnic! Here is what you need to know:

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20 Apr 2015

Abby

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Naptime with Theo and Beau