Mia β€’ Deer Park Lil Cats Cheer Season β€’ 2021

Although our Cheer Season *officially* ended the last weekend of October, we had our Lil Cats Award Ceremony tonight to wrap up this year’s season!

Mia LOVED cheer! It is exactly where she belongs. She just has the most beautiful spirit. She is just so happy to be alive and looks for the good in every situation. Everywhere she goes, she carries a big smile on her face and strives to be a good role model for both her siblings at home and other students at school. Cheer really is the perfect sport for her.

Mia looked so cute in her practice uniform. Practice was on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays. She had a practice uniform and a practice bow.

Her real uniform was even cuter, however we found out quickly at the first game that Mia’s uniform was a bit too small for her. Luckily, we were able to switch out her uniform for a larger size before the next game.

Her uniform bow was glittery Deer Park colors and had her name. In the warmer months, the uniform was sleeveless. In the colder months, she wore a long sleeve crop top and black leggings underneath. In October, we switched to Pink pom-poms and socks to show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I even wore my own Cheer “uniform” to every one of Mia’s games, although I did alternate between jeans & black leggings depending on my mood (and if we’re being honest, what was clean πŸ€ͺ).

She looked so cute in action down on the field.

Mia and the other Lil Cat Cheerleaders got to be in the Homecoming Parade. The younger cheerleaders rode on the trailer throwing out candy while the older cheerleaders walked behind performing cheers.

Our football team made it to the Super Bowl this year! We lost our first game to Clermont North Eastern, then went completely undefeated until the Superbowl where we unfortunately lost to CNE again. It was such a great season and it felt really good leaving each game winners!

Mia is front & center 😍

Our Lil Cats did a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot at the High School. Since Mia was Hermione Granger for Halloween, we decided to go with a Harry Potter trunk theme.

Don’t mind the dirty trunk πŸ˜‚ #RealMomLife

For end of season gifts for Mia’s coaches, we got each of them a super cute initial mug from Target, along with a $10 gift card to Starbucks.

Mia decorated each bag for her coaches and we found these adorable “Thanks a Latte” cards at Target that she wrote a special message inside and signed. We found the “Have a cup of Cheer” printables in Deer Park colors, and tied them to each mug to pull it all together.

Mia showing off her Cheer Trophy!

This was such a great season and we cannot wait until next year! I would love to get her into Tumbling or Gymnastics in the off seasons to keep her motivation and interest going. I really think if she sticks with it, she could go really far in Cheer.

It’s time to hang up the poms until next Fall. Up next: Winter Roller Derby!

DIY Baby Wipes | How-to & Why You Should

When Ella was a baby, we went through ALL of the brands of baby wipes available on the market. No matter what brand we tried, her “diaper rashes” got worse and worse. Huggies were by far the most harmful brand to her skin.

We eventually learned that diaper rashes are NOT normal, and are in fact chemical burns caused by the wipes. So I began making my own baby wipes, which completely stopped the rashes. The only time new rashes appeared were when she went to family members houses that still used store-bought wipes.

I have been making my own baby wipes ever since for all of my babies born after her, and have since switched to cloth diapering after learning how dangerous disposable diapers are for babies health as well.

Making your own wipes is inexpensive, easy to do, and SAFE for your babies.

Ingredients Found in Store-Bought Baby Wipes

Methylisothiazolinone – causes frequent outbreaks, scaly skin, skin burns, eye damage, dermatitis, allergies, and fluid-filled blisters.

Phenoxyethanol – harmful to children’s health including adverse effects to the central and peripheral nervous system, skin irritation, lung irritation, toxic to kidneys and liver,

Benzyl Alcohol – causes irritations and rashes and inflammation on the skin of young children including: irritation, severe itching, reddening of skin, loss of sensation, eye irritations, vision problems, pain, peeling skin, heat burn.

Formaldehyde – carcinogenic to humans. Causes cancer and contact dermatitis including blisters, scales, thickening of skin, leathery skin, asthma, respiratory problems, eye, nose, and throat irritations, conjunctival irritation, allergies, low blood pressure, headaches, irregular breathing, abnormalities of heart rhythm, unconsciousness, restlessness, loss of red blood cells.

Formaldehyde appears under the names: Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol (Bronopol), Polyoxymethylene Urea, 5-Bromo-5-Nitri-1,3 Dioxane, Methenamine, Glyoxal.

Polypropylene – can cause dizziness, drowsiness, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, lung disease.

Viscose – Derived from wood pulp, the process to make viscose involves many harsh chemicals. Those chemicals cause coronary heart failure, birth defects, skin conditions, and cancer. Viscose is highly pollutable to our planet and has a devastating impact on forests, people, and animals.

Polyester – Polyester is absolutely detrimental to our environment. More than 70 million barrels of oil are used to make polyester each year. It is the biggest source of microplastic pollution in the oceans. Each time you wash polyester, up to 1900 fibres are washed off back into our water systems and oceans. It takes up to 200 ywars to biodegrade- that is more than 2 lifetimes. The production of polyester uses very harsh chemicals including carcinogens. Carcinogens generate skin problems and lung and heart cancer. Polyester causes chronic and severe respiratory infections. Causes rashes, itching, redness, eczema, and dermatitis. Causes allergies, chemical sensitivity, and other serious health problems. Lowers sperm count in men. Toxic to babies immune systems. Not breathable material.

Petrochemicals – Ethylene Oxide, 1,4-Dioxane, Polysorbate 20, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone, Potassium Laureth Phosphate, PEG-75 Lanolin, Ceteareth-20. These cause cancer, birth defects, headaches, respiratory irritation, and both female and male reproductive harm. They cause leukemia, lung cancer, nose, throat, and sinus cancer, blood and lymphatic cancer. Affect development of children including brain development, learning and behavioral problems. Using while pregnant will affect both you and your unborn baby.

Phthalates – usually found under the name “fragrance,” “perfume,” or “perfum.” This causes allergies, hormone disruptions, infertility, dermatitis, and respiratory distress. Causes damage to liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Lowers sperm count and quality and lowers testosterone levels. Has a lasting impact on neurodevelopment including lower IQ, problems with attention and hyperactivity as well as poor social communication, depression, and aggression. Changes hormone levels, alters development of genitals. Causes breast cancer, obesity, thyroid problems, asthma, and metabolic issues.

These are just a few of the chemicals that are found in store-bought baby wipes including the brands you have put your trust into. As you can see, these are NOT safe for anyone, especially babies, yet they are marketed for mothers to use on their babies. The FDA is a scam, and should NEVER be trusted. Always do your own research before using anything, especially on the tiny humans you are responsible to take care of and keep safe.

Note: The “natural” wipes do not mean they are safe. There are few rules, regulations, or guidelines when it comes to a “natural” product. “Natural” does not make a product vegan, organic, non-toxic, cruelty or chemical free. Remember, crude oil is natural.

Water wipes would SEEM safe, but they contain grapefruit seed extract which may contain harmful contaminants meant to act as preservatives. Grapefruit seed extract is a general lable to hide: Benzetheonium Chloride, Methylparaben, and Triclosan. Water without a broad-spectrum preservation system cannot prevent the growth of mold and bacteria which can cause seriously infections. No cleansing agents, means that when babies poop it does not properly disinfect babies genitals. The poop residue left behind can cause skin irritation and leaves bacteria behind which can cause urinary tract infections, meningitis, septicaemia, and purulent conjunctivitis. Meningitis and septicaemia have been known to cause death in infants.

The ONLY way to know that the wipes that you are using on your baby are safe is to make them yourself. It sounds hard, but it is not at all!

How to Make Baby Wipes (Step by Step)

● Start by putting your dry wipes into your wipes container. You can also make reusable cloth ones which is a better option for our environmental waste and I hope to get to that point, however I currently use disposable wipes.

● Measure 2 cups of warm to hot water.

● Add 2 Tablespoons of Organic Coconut Oil.

● Add 1 Tablespoon of a non-toxic soap such as Young Living’s KidScents like I use, or Dr. Bronners Castile soap.

(You can order Young Living products HERE)

● Add 5 drops of Young Living’s Lavender Essential Oil (or any of their Seedling oils specifically for babies). Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, use grocery store essential oils including those purchased on Amazon, Target, or Walmart- they are NOT pure and NOT safe to use especially on an infant or child.

Young Living is the ONLY essential oil company in the WORLD that has a Seed to Seal promise and conducts intensive testing to ensure that they are 100% safe to use.

(You can order Young Living products HERE)

● Mix together using your tablespoon to make sure you get all of the residue from the coconut oil and soap and don’t waste any.

● Pour mixture evenly over wipes container and leave upright for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip container over to sit for another 20 minutes. This spreads the mixture to absorb evenly.

It looks soapy when first poured, but it soaks into the wipes as it disperses over the setting time.

It is as easy as that! Takes a minute to mix up and pour, and a total of 40 minutes to settle. I suggest making them during nap times, or at night once baby has fallen asleep so you don’t find yourself needing wipes before they have set.

The Wonderland Bar – Cincinnati

Anyone who knows me knows my love for Alice in Wonderland. As a person with multiple mental-illnesses (brain disorders as my mom calls them), I’ve always felt like Alice; like I don’t belong in this world.

If I could live in any world, it would absolutely hands-down be Wonderland. It has always had such a homey feel to me, and the words just speak to my soul. I’ve never cared much for princesses or finding my “prince charming.” Chasing white rabbits and trying to find out who I am has always been more my cup of tea.

Anytime Alice in Wonderland themed events happen in Cincinnati, I make it a point to be there! My mom and I made it a girls day of taking the older girls to lunch at Taziki then heading downtown for The Alice in Wonderland immersive experience.

“If you don’t know where you are going, then you can take any road.”

We started down the rabbit hole to the first bar.

The girls LOVED this room. Everything was backwards and upside down and they could not believe it.

“People who don’t think shouldn’t talk.”

“I haven’t the slightest idea.”

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The chairs hanging from the ceiling was their favorite part in this room, as well as searching for all of the doorknobs throughout the room.

We went deeper into the rabbit hole through this corridor of clocks.

“If you knew time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.”

Until finally, we landed in Wonderland.

“You may have noticed I’m not all there myself.”

The animated Cheshire Cat was so fun!

Each group was led back one at a time and seated at our tables. I was glad that we were the second group to go and I was able to get pictures without other guests in it.

Our table was so cute! The girls and I shared mocktails and my mom had the real cocktails.

“She gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it)”

“If everyone minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy; my reality is just different than yours.”

In order to make our tea, we had to solve 3 riddles. Each time we got a riddle correct, we were given another ingredient to add.

We also had a fun drink where we painted in our foam with chocolate. I drew a mushroom. πŸ„

Crochet was set up for the Queen of Hearts. During her part, we were on trial for stealing her tarts. When they picked Mia, she became so scared of losing her head that she began to cry.

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.”

I loved how similar the font here was to my tattoo. It made me feel right at home.

This really was such a fun experience and if you are able to, I highly suggest going.

They are offering experiences now through March. It is a mostly adult-only event, with a few Family Friendly opportunities as well which is the experience that we went for. I imagine the adult only experience is even better!

Tickets are $45 per person which includes drinks, treats, and an experience you won’t forget!

Event takes place at 140 Marian Spencer Way, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 inside The Sample Space.

100 Days of First Grade

Ella has now been a first-grader for 100 days (although with all of the remote learning we dealt with, it sure feels much longer than that) and to celebrate she decided to make a t-shirt with 100 gemstones in the shape of an “E” for Ella.

We used a youth pink craft shirt that we already had in our art supplies cabinet and purchased a large bag of gemstones from Michael’s.

First she counted out 100 of the gemstones that she wanted to use. I helped her draw a big block-letter “E” and she arranged the gemstones how she wanted them placed.

Once she got all of the gemstones placed, she used Gorilla Glue Crafting Glue to securely attach each one.

She was so proud of the outcome and was very excited to wear it to school today. She had gym, so she wore another shirt underneath so that she was able to take her gemstone shirt off so it didn’t get ruined during gym class and be able to put it back on afterwards.

We had fun making this shirt and it was very simple for a child of her age to be able to do mostly by herself.

I wonder if she will return home from school with her gemstones still in tact? πŸ€”πŸ˜†

September 2020 Playhouse Tour

Happy Fall! It’s my favorite time of the year! With fall here, we’ll be able to spend much more time outside! The mosquitos this summer were no joke & kept us inside more than we liked. Being indoors in truly torturous to me, I need nature to breathe.

We have finally found the perfect permanent location for our playhouse & added a few new fun details that I am so excited to share!

Welcome to our Playhouse!

We moved the playhouse to the back of our “patio” gravel area. It is the perfect spot for it and my garden behind it makes it look even prettier when it is in full bloom.

The “hello” welcome mat is from Five Below. When I bought it the playground was on the driveway, so it looked much better. I’m going to have to create something better, but it was a cute mini mat and I am a total sucker for mini things.

I found this little “Play in the Dirt” garden sign in the Target “dollar” spot (why do they call it that when its mostly $3-$5 items?). I personally don’t like this tree here very much, and I will eventually change this out, but for now its cute enough.

The adorable white chairs were from the thrift store. I think that they fit perfectly at the little built in wooden table. Not shown is the built in wooden bench that is part of the wooden table.

The Welcome sign was also found in the Target “dollar” spot. I thought it was adorable for inside of their playhouse.

My husband added this solar powered chandelier light this weekend so that the girls can see play once it gets dark.  We bought it at Menards a few years ago for a gazebo that was destroyed by natural causes before we were ever able to get the lights up, so it’s been sitting on our basement untouched for years. It was the perfect addition to our playhouse!

I picked up this vintage rotary phone for free a couple weeks ago and the kids are in love with it! They spend their entire days taking turns “making phone calls.”

Call me old fashioned, but I preferred when phones were dumb. I’m a strong believer that “when phones were tied with a wire, humans were free.”

This is the solar light panel that is attached to the solar light inside the playhouse. My husband had to drill it into our playhouse in order to get the maximum amount of light hitting it, while also hiding all cords that are attached. I think that it makes it look more like a real home and reminds me of a mini satellite dish πŸ˜‚.

This is the outside of the playhouse. The girls stand on the mat and place “their orders” for nature food. I have a pink solar powered light outside that looks BEAUTIFUL at night. It has tinkling string lights instead of a bulb and in my opinion works the best out of all of the solar lights that we have around our yard. Plus it’s the cutest one!

From this angle you can tell where the placement of the playhouse is. My garden isn’t looking so nice these days, but I cannot wait for all of my new perennials I planted this year to bloom in the spring!

Well, thats our playhouse as of September 2020. I hope you enjoyed the tour! I plan to decorate for Halloween, so check back for that mini update!

Please share + subscribe πŸ™ 😊

Have a beautiful day!

My DIY Dream Nursery | ON A BUDGET

My youngest baby is already about to turn 1 year old in just a few weeks! It is hard to believe this time last year I was perfecting every last detail of her nursery makeover before she arrived.

I never got to design Kaden’s nursery since we lived with my parents at the time he was born and they made the executive decisions about what was purchased for his nursery.

I never got to design Ella’s nursery, and as we added more and more girls, we just sort of left the dull pink color and mismatched furniture for all of the girls. I finally decided to design the nursery that I wanted and would love, and learned that I really don’t care for pink all that much, especially as a wall color.

My DIY Dream Nursery

This bed has made it through all 5 of my babies. It’s time is certainly coming to an end, but for now, I’m still loving all of its beauty.

This nursing chair has also made it through all 5 of my children, and 2 of my cousins before them. It came with an ottoman, which was well loved, but very large and in a small home, every inch of space counts. So it was freecycled, and hopefully loved.

I have always preferred hand created art over store bought art. I want my home filled with unique items that no one else in the world has. Basic is an insult in my vocabulary, so I prefer to be anything but.

I made this dream catcher to match my fall + earth inspired nursery with hemp and ribbons. I think it pulled the room together with its color palette.

The stars are decals that I found on Etsy. They were very easy to put on and made a huge difference in the room.

I have had this shelving unit since my oldest was a toddler and housed his VHS & DVD collection. I asked my husband to hang them on the wall instead. I love being able to have my cloth diapers on display, easily accessible, yet stylish at the same time. I spent a long time finding the perfect additions to style these shelves and I have to say, as simple as it is, this is probably my favorite wall in the house.

When my husband came to America this was his dresser which we were gifted by his parents. The shelf I have had since Ella was a baby which I picked up at the thrift store.

I chose to omit a changing table this time around and use a Moses changing basket instead which I highly recommend. We didn’t have enough space for a changing table, and quite honestly, over a span of 4 kids, it was only used about 6 months per kid, if that. I decided to convert my changing table into a hutch for my dining room. I love being able to take the Moses basket easily from room to room. And it takes up no extra space.

The Llama toy basket came Target.

This shelf I had a bit of trouble styling, but I love the wood and simplicity of it.

The lamp came from Target. The Adventure sign came from Hobby Lobby.

Small houses require a lot of additional storage anywhere you can add it. This cloth storage unit added some extra storage and fit well in this room’s color palette.

This was an additional step that everyone thought I was silly for adding, especially at around $15 a piece, but I think small details are important in the big picture. Why redo an entire room and leave those ugly plastic ones? Especially when we want to be a plastic-free home! I think they look beautiful in this room, and with the amount of money I saved shopping my home, using mostly what we already had, I figured that I could splurge a little on the cover plates I wanted.

I loved these animal hangers from Hobby Lobby. I got them during a 50% hanging decor sale making them less than $5 a piece. They went so well in here and add even a little bit more extra storage space. Every little bit counts in a small house!

So that’s my DIY Dream Nursery! I loved designing it and I love the feel that it has brought to our home. If you love it as much as I do, I ask that you please share!

Be sure to check back for more home makeovers as I share each room!!

Please subscribe & have a beautiful day πŸ₯°

Birthday Garden Tea Party | On a Budget

One of my very favorite hobbies is planning, especially for events. I dream of the day we find our forever home with plenty of space to host many elaborate parties for the rest of our lives.

Throwing Mia a “socially distanced” birthday party was my first event since covid-19 began, and I was ecstatic to be party planning again! I was a bit further behind on time than I had hoped, but overall my first “socially disanced” party was a success.

I’m excited to take you along to join us for an afternoon tea!

The Invitations

I had so much fun making these invitations and I was really impressed with how they turned out.

I found a free teacup template online, printed it out and lightly traced onto white card stock. After that, I bordered it with pink and added a pink heart to each teacup.

I typed up the wording and cut out each one to be able to fit inside the hearts. Unfortunately, by the time I realized that it looks best if you cut along the individual letters, I was already on my last one πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ but now I know for the future! I wanted the letters to pop, so I used drafting dots to attempt to create that effect.

I made a hole behind the cup and two holes above the cup to be able to tie in a string for the teabag and a bow. I attached the string from a white & gold foiled Christmas string I already had and attached the teabag to the string using a stapler to give it a realistic look. I asked my friend to tie a perfect bow for me because she makes beautiful ones and mine are downright sloppy πŸ˜‚.

I then bordered the pink with a brown to match the guest’s teabag and hide the strings behind the pink card stock and tie it all together.

The Spread

The waffle fruit bowls were a big hit! I bought 1 box of 12 small waffle cone bowls and an already prepared fruit salad and divided it between the 12 waffle cone bowls. We also had a cream cheese fruit dip to be used as a sauce to drizzle on top of each bowl, or to dip your fruit skewer in.

I would have preferred to buy my flowers from my friend, Celeste, the owner & artist of Village General; but due to lack of time, I purchased two small, half-price, day-old bouquets and blended them together to create the look I was going for.

I found some Celestial Caffine-Free Fruit Tea Sampler to serve the children. I thought that fruit flavored tea would go over well with the children, and there were multiple really yummy options for them to choose from! Even my pickiest of all found a flavor he enjoyed!

I had tried desperately to find some colorful macaroons, but had no luck tracking any down. I decided to substitute my original plan with meringues instead and that worked out just fine.

I made the pressed flower sugar cookies that turned out very cute! The other two cookies were purchased: Frosted Sugar Cookies in pink & of course, Verona cookies because you can’t have tea without those!

The bottom layer was simply a few boxes of powdered donuts, nothing too fancy. I would have liked to get the mini powdered donuts, but one package of them cost as much as 4 packages of the large ones, so I decided to go with those for budget purposes.

My mom found very cute little tea party plates that really pulled the theme together and came in several different patterns to match the various colors. They have an entire tea party set as well, that would make it even more adorable!

More food that was unfortunately not photographed was:

  • Chicken Salad Crossant Sandwiches
  • Fairy Bread Sandwiches
  • Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

The Activities

I found these plain white tea cups at the thrift store for 50 cents each. Each kid was given their own tea cup to decorate with sharpie to take home with them.

When decorating your own mugs or teacups with sharpies, it is important to bake them in the oven at 250Β°F for at least 2 hours so that the sharpie does not wash off.

I had planned to incorporate the tea cups into a game of having the children race with full tea cups of water to the fence and back while spilling the least amount of water, but tea went into the cups before I was able to get that far πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ.

We also found many fun dress up ensembles at the thrift. The girls had a blast dressing up in boas, hats, and beads galore.

It was a really lovely day and I am very pleased with the turn out.

I cannot wait to begin planning for Thea’s FIRST birthday coming up in October (which if you know me, know that it is my FAVORITE month)! & Ella’s birthday in November!

Don’t forget to subscribe πŸ˜‰ & as always, PLEASE share!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through any of my links, I will make a small commission at no expense to you. Thank you for supporting a mama with a dream ❀

Top 5 Mom Must Have Items From a Mom of 5

It’s been awhile!

My oldest baby just turned TEN years old on July 31st. I cannot believe that I have already been a mom for a whole decade! It really does fly by! He will be an adult before I know it!

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks especially when it comes to mega motherhood!!!! I wanted to share my FIVE favorite items that have gotten me through the last ten years & mega motherhood a lot more smoothly.

1 β€’ Itzy Ritzy Purse

New moms, this one is for you. I have some eye opening news for you. You have too much stuff.

When I had my son, I had this giant diaper bag that was heavier than he was stuffed to the brim with all of the things that the baby books told me I needed with adorable little travel size everything, safety kit with every size bandaid imaginable, bubbles, chalk, lipgloss, a small grooming set, tampons, pads, vomit bags, kroger bags, lysol, advil, bibs, toilet seat covers, grocery cart covers, multiple outfit changes, a blanket, winter gear, books, toys, activity packs, snacks, etc. I was ready for anything.

As I added kids, this bag became the bag of car essentials that I stopped bringing in because it was so heavy and so stuffed, it was just added stress. Plus, I hardly ever actually needed anything from it. I began carrying a smaller bag of the essentials while also carrying a purse.

Then I found this hands free crossbody Itzy Ritzy purse which is absolutely needed as a mom with young children. The back section is your purse, the front section is your diaper bag. You can now combine everything into one small, adorable bag.

In the diaper bag section, there is a pocket for your wipes and a small changing mat that is included. There is also room to hold diapers and a pacifier. That is literally all you need on a daily basis for outings. All of the extra stuff is just over-stimulating you and making it feel stressful to leave with kids when it doesn’t have to be.

In my purse section, I keep my wallet and a few small items. It keeps me from cluttering up my purse and it only takes a few seconds to clean out. Keep the essentials with you, and leave the rest at home (or at least in a secondary bag in the car if it makes you more comfortable). You don’t need it.

I clip my keys onto the outside so they are easy to grab and I don’t have to fumble around for them with children in a parking lot.

When you have multiple kids, you cannot be weighed down with things that you may need one day. You need your arms and eyes free at all times. This Itzy Ritzy cross body bag allows you to fashionably have everything that you need.

2 β€’ Sit and Stand Stroller

I have tried several double strollers and this Sit and Stand Stroller by Baby Trend is by far my favorite.

It is lightweight enough that I can carry it to and from the car by myself which means that getting it in and out of your vehicle is not a struggle. It also folds up well so that it will be able to fit into any vehicle.

I place my toddler in the front seat, and my baby in her car seat in the back portion so that we are facing each other, but it is very versatile for moving children around and allowing older children to ride as well. Each side has a handle bar on it where I have my older girls hold onto while we are out so that they are all safely in one place in front of me.

3 β€’ Cloth Diapers

I highly recommend cloth diapers. In fact, so much that I wrote an entire article about them! If you are planning on having more than one child, these are a MUST!

Cloth diapers grow with baby from newborn to potty training which saves you from buying a LOT of diapers, especially since you can then reuse them with future babies, or even save for your grand babies.

Cloth diapers saved us during this 2020 pandemic! When all of the stores ran out of diapers, we had our trusty cloth diapers already! We never had to worry once that we would run out. I highly recommend buying at least one pack of cloth diapers to have in the off chance that there is another emergency since the world saw how fast and unexpectedly that can and will happen. Being prepared is key to motherhood. It would be a great gift for a new mother at a baby shower as well! πŸ˜‰

4 β€’ Built-in Potty Seat

We live in a very tiny starter home with four young ladies. It was originally a very tiny one-bathroom home until we added a second one on the upstairs floor to create a master suite. A tiny bathroom with a crowd full of tiny ladies runs out of room really quick, leaving us very little space to have a separate potty chair.

We installed a built-in potty seat onto our toilet so that we could still have a potty seat, but not lose any necessary space or add clutter to our floors which is vital when you have crawling tots!

5 β€’ Bumbo

This portable seat called a Bumbo is so important! It is easy to carry with you so you are able to bring it from room to room or on-the-go.

● You can keep a supported-sitter with you while doing your housework.

● You can bring it to older siblings sporting events.

● You can bring it with you on a picnic, or to a restaurant so your baby doesn’t need to sit in a dirty high chair that is covered in germs (I have worked in enough restaurants to know how unclean restaurants are in general 🀒). You can add-on this Bumbo Play Tray to turn it into a portable highchair anywhere!

● You can bring it with you while traveling for hotels that may not have high chair recommendations. Make sure to add on the Bumbo Play Tray!

● With the Bumbo Play Tray, you can create a minimal mess space for your baby to engage in messy play such as finger-painting or shaving cream play.

There are so many uses for the Bumbo! You cannot go wrong with getting one of these! It minimizes messes and is extremely easy to clean. I have had the same Bumbo for the last 10 years, it has made it through 5 kids, and is still in the excellent condition! It is definitely built to last and worth every penny!

Ella holding Vera, Mia, & Sasha
Athena (Thea)
Kaden

I hope that these tips helped you for yourself or with finding a baby shower gift idea! Best wishes to the new mama-to-be! The best start to motherhood is being prepared not for one stage for one child, but for all stages for all children. 😘 Have a beautiful rest of your day.

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My Instagram Growth Tips

I came back to social media, mainly Instagram (who was then purchased by Facebook), after a serious mental break down, to tell my story to the world with the hope of helping at least one person.

Although this time I have made amazing friends, had gifts sent to my children and I, and have had many women (and a few men) ask for guidance or simply tell me that I am making a huge difference and saving lives, sadly, being on social media destroys me. It once again proved to be way too much for me to be able to consume. I felt as if I were beginning to spread much more hate than love, and that is not the kind of person or parent that I want to be.

I’m no longer using Instagram as a platform to share my writing

It hurts me to see fake woman, selling fake happiness while there are real issues going on in the world that need to be talked about and fought. It hurts me that they have very clearly chosen profits over people. That is not something I want to stand by and witness or partake in.

It hurts me that people care about social injustice because it is currently “trending,” but won’t care enough to keep fighting until its “trendy.” It hurts me because no matter how many times this happens, we end up back in the same “who me? Couldn’t be” place of magically “forgetting” about history, even only last year. Watching “influencers” choose to stay silent so they don’t offend any of their internet friends. You who stayed silent spoke louder than any of us.

It hurts me to see how many people don’t care about this Earth or the people in it. It hurts me because I don’t know how to make people care for more than a week. It hurts me that grown adults don’t “believe” in climate change, as if it’s the Easter bunny or something. It hurts me to watch people sell and promote products that are harmful to our earth and our people. They “greenwash” you just to make a quick buck.

It’s NOT real

NONE of it. It’s the new-world equivalent of a popularity contest. My followers are a collection of various acquaintances & accounts picked up along the way in “follow loops.”

Follow loops work a few ways, but the short story is there are “ghost spots” (you buy friends), and “regular spots” (you work for friends).

“Ghost spots” pay real money to collect friends without having to follow them. Since I would never pay money to collect fake friends on the internet, I chose the “regular spot” route.

“Regular spots” are free, but have the requirement of following typically 100-200 people at a time and hope that at least most of them follow you back, make a feed post promoting said follow loop, leave it up for 24 hours and then comment “Hi my name is” on at least 10 peoples posts within the first hour of posting. It takes any kind of entertainment out of social media, and you end up with a ton of accounts you are following only out of obligation and fear that if you unfollow them, they may in turn unfollow you.

You end up following a bunch of people who either didn’t follow you back, you don’t want to follow, or a bunch of “fitness” moms pushing weight loss products on you.

Then, you have to find yourself some “engagement” groups where you will spend a majority of your time liking and commenting on other people’s posts in exchange for them liking and commenting on yours.

The engagment groups that I was in, took an average of 20-40 minutes each sitting and liking around 500 photos in a row, in order to then get a portion of those likes back. They allowed 2 photos per day, so I would use that days photo and the photo from the previous day to increase likes. It’s a very “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of game.

You can also pay real money to promote your posts which, again, I refuse to do. Some people pay for likes, followers, and comments. I suggest you check the first posted photos of your favorite “influncers,” as it’s pretty easy to spot. The signs are all around you.

Instagram gives you a certain amount of characters, so I would spend hours perfecting everything I needed to say into 2500 characters. My story deserves more time than that, so does yours.

With only 2500 and a lot to say, I ended up having to break stories into multiple posts and I would end up losing my train of thought and never making it to the point. This left people a bit confused.

I do not support a platform that condones censorship. Shadow-banning, removing hashtags, “instagram jail” are all forms of censorship. Not being allowed to promote certain products is a form of censorship. Your algorithm is a form of censorship. I cannot support a platform that not only supports, but highly pushes censorship.

When I had my mental breakdown, the first thing I noticed when I found the will to live again, was nature. I noticed the trees and the pictures in them. I noticed how beautiful the Earth was, something I was no longer seeing because my mind was so busy and full of hatred. Getting off of social media gave me a will to live again.

My Son’s Father, 2015

I believe that social media has a major part to play in my son’s fathers suicide. I believe that social media is an extremely dangerous place for those who struggle with mental illness or depression. I believe that social media is an addiction. Only when you get away from it will you truly realize how much it is negatively affecting every aspect of your life.

I came back because I wanted to tell my story, but I found that social media is not where I want to do that. I watched as the influencers stayed silent over matters of social injustice as to not lose their following. I watched as they said things such as, “its sad, but…..” I watched as people pushed products on others that they don’t even use themselves. I watched the people, and I once again, fell back down the mental breakdown hole. Our brains are not meant for social media. The entire thing terrifies me.

I left your world to stay home and find peace, then y’all came home and invaded my space. Now, I’m leaving this world to go back into the outside world. At least until the world opens again.

I will continue to share my story through my blog. I may never get famous, but my words will be remembered like books. And as long as it helps at least one other person, I’ve done what I came to accomplish.

My Biggest Instagram Growth Tip

There is no growth on Instagram. Real growth begins when you live for yourself. Go get on with your real lives.

I Wish I Waited to Have Sex

πŸ“·: Circa 2013

This is a photo of me a few weeks before I had sex for the first time 😳

I was still a child. I wasn’t ready. I was blamed. I was punished for it by my school, he was not. I was sent to confession by my school, he was not.

The Catholic religion believes that Eve (women) brought “sin” into this world, so ALL women are to blame for “lust” (this word makes me want to vomit 🀒), “deceit,” and “sin” in this world. So all of the blame fell on my shoulders.

I felt abandoned by every adult and person in my life. My parents, my teachers, my peers and every one of their parents, my babysitter who had her own struggles going on with the premature birth of her first-born who lost her fight, my friends, and him.

This one single event changed the entire trajectory of my life and I developed an “attachment deficit.”

There was no romance. No specialness. No beautiful story. He took me out into the woods like an animal. He broke up with me for another girl after. I learned that sex was nothing more than sex. I learned that I was not enough.

The children were no longer allowed to hang out with me, but the boys were quick to lie to their parents and meet up with me in “the field of happiness” to persuade me to show them my naked body. Some were pushy, some were not. They had no respect for me, and I had no respect for myself.

They asked me to be their “girlfriend” as a joke, then would call me on three/multiple-way calling later that evening with all friends listening to “break up with me.” I learned to build up a very tall wall that I have only let one person truly enter to the other side. Some of them have come back as married adults, asking me to send them “nudes” and make sure I won’t tell their wives they asked. πŸ™„

Once I got to high-school, I was taught by peers that the way to get over one boy, was to have sex with another one. So I tried it. And it worked. I learned and created an extremely unhealthy coping mechanism.

In high-school, I had one of the most traumatic sexual experiences I’ve ever encountered to date. I was drunk on Southern Comfort. It was rape. I did not know it at the time. Everyone was talking and joking about this event. They drew pictures of this event in art class. I was traumatized. I was ruined. I turned immediately to drugs and used humor to cope. It wasn’t until this year, 15 years later, than I realized that I never gave consent to this event. None of it. For 15 years I have told this story. I have mastered the art of telling this story with hilarity while hiding the immeasurable amount of pain inside. Not once in 15 years did anyone ever suggest I was raped.

When I began dating my son’s father, we created an agreement. Exploring under this agreement was acceptable, exploring outside of this agreement was cheating. I loved him so much that I desperately wanted him to be happy. I found heroin and I became addicted to the numbness it gave me. I became addicted to letting go of jealousy. I became addicted to letting go of pain. I became addicted to letting go of any feelings of hurt. He had his fun, I had heroin. It didn’t matter that I was not enough, because heroin was enough for me. I learned to put others happiness above my own. I learned that love meant silently suffering. I was reassured that I was not enough.

As an addict, I used sex as a way to support my addictions. I was raped on multiple occasions and I learned that “it comes with the territory” and that you just have to chalk it as a loss, like a robbery. I did not feel that I deserved to call it rape because of my past and profession.

When I announced my pregnancy with Sasha (my 4th earth-side baby), I received hate messages via Facebook Messengar by a newly created, photoless profile under the name “Grace,” letting me know how much of a dirty slut I am for having 4 (now 5) children before I hit 30 and that I strongly need sex therapy. I have no idea who “Grace” really was, but I have my theories. I learned that even as a married women to the father of 4/5 children, my past cannot escape me, I am whoever they say I am.

I learned that I wish I would have waited.

I wish I was old enough to be able to comprehend what sex truly meant. I wish I knew what clear consent truly meant.

I wish my mom talked to me about sex and respect and consent, instead of jumping directly to birth control.

I wish I knew I would lose my dad that day. Physically he’s here, but mentally, he checked out the day the school called him. I wish I knew I would lose my best friend. I wish I knew what “daddy issues” were before I had them.

I wish I knew that I would see my body as damaged. I wish I knew I would feel ashamed of my body. I wish I knew that for the rest of my life I would have flashbacks of sexual trauma. I wish that I knew I would be extremely uncomfortable and tense up any time I am touched for the rest of my life, even with my own husband.

I wish I knew that I would never be able to give myself to my husband because I have already given it all. I wish I knew how hard it would be having someone be my “last” instead of “my first.” I wish I knew how much it would hurt my husband to know that my first love and twin-flame was not him.

I wish I knew how hard parenting outside of marriage would be. I wish I knew that in marriage, a woman’s body and choices are no longer fully hers. I wish I knew how awful custody issues are. I wish someone taught me this instead of teaching me that I would go to “hell.” I wish I knew that babies don’t always change people or make relationships last. I wish I knew that for the rest of my life I would fell incomplete and always have a huge hole in my heart from my son being adopted by my parents. I wish I knew that I would never feel whole again after losing my son’s father. I wish I knew how difficult it would be to parent with someone who sees the world entirely different than you. I wish I knew how complicated having children made relationships. I wish I knew how difficult it would be to make decisions when children were involved. I love my children, and I do not regret them in any way.

I didn’t know then, but I know now for my own children. I can’t make the choice for them, but I can share my experiences and guide them to making better choices than I did. I will not teach them that “boys will be boys” because I don’t agree with excusing the behavior. I will not allow people to say disgusting, sexist comments like “with a boy you worry about one penis, with a girl you worry about all the penises,” when talking about my children. I will teach them to respect EVERY body, especially their own.

After opening up about my sexual trauma history, many women have opened up to my about theirs. The amount of women who have experienced sexual trauma and didn’t know, didn’t feel they could tell, pretend it didn’t happen, etc. is truly sickening. We live in a world filled with the promotion of rape culture and we feed into it every day in even the simplest ways.

For example, my in-laws have a rule regarding no two piece bathing suits because “it could cause the boys to wonder.” That is teaching my children that if my children are raped, it is THEIR fault because they wore clothing that was “too provocative” which is a VERY common excuse of rapists.

Our children deserve much better. Use your voice and be loud. Our children are the future. Our children can change the world. Teach them how to do.