Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Six years ago Chris and I were on our Honeymoon and dreaming about the life and family that was to come.  We were sitting poolside in Mexico drinking from coconuts, zip lining through the rainforest, parasailing over the ocean.
That's me parasailing!

It was idyllic.  We had no idea that we would soon be facing infertility, that it would take seven cycles of fertility treatments to conceive, or that we would be told that IVF was our only option for a second baby.

It was a tough journey to get here, but we've also been so blessed along the way.  We got our very first positive pregnancy test on Christmas Eve - hands down the best present ever - and our second child was miraculously conceived naturally while on a break from treatments - much to the shock of all our doctors.  Both of our children are happy and healthy and amazing.  I recognize the struggles, but I choose to focus on the positive.

If it wasn't for my infertility diagnosis I wouldn't have started vlogging 5+ years ago, and I wouldn't have found an amazing group of supportive women that would walk this journey with me.

I love my little corner of the internet.
I love that I can share my struggles and my successes with people that understand.

Have you ever heard the quote "Comparison is the thief of Joy"?
I think it fits really well with my experience in the YouTube and online Mom communities.
Whenever I see someone that makes a fabulous video, or comes up with a really great idea for a vlog topic, I find that I berate myself a bit.  "Why aren't you doing more with your channel?  It's been a week since you vlogged!"  I get so down on myself.

And then William spills a cup of water all over himself because he's still learning how to tilt the cup without falling victim to physics and gravity.
Or Hannah brings me three different colored legos and asks me "What color does orange and red and white make?" so I bust out the paints and we discover that it makes a pretty pinky peach color.
Or I get a phone call at 8am just as I've sat down to edit that day's vlog and it's our caseworker asking if I can bring my foster son to the office for a visit with a family member - in an hour.  So I drop everything and pack a diaper bag.

And then I remind that inner voice to cut me some slack.

Being a mom is a big job. period.

There are so many things I want to do and can never seem to find time for.
I'm in awe of some women that seem to do it all - raise cute kids, edit videos every day, write witty blogs, volunteer at the soup kitchen, refinish Goodwill furniture and still have time to sip a Starbucks coffee with perfect nails and hair - but I've come to terms with the fact that I'm never going to live up if that is the ideal.

So I've made my own ideal for a life well lived.  Well, I'm *making* my own ideal.  It's evolving.
It's also full of a lot of cliches, the first of which is: Comparison is the thief of Joy.

How often have we achieved a goal only to realize someone else has surpassed it, and immediately the victory has turned into a failure?

We can choose to be jealous and turn that negativity on ourselves or others, or we can start training that voice to be positive.  To congratulate them on their success and to learn a thing or two from them, because the thing to remember is - their success doesn't equal your failure.

Their child speaking in French at 20 months doesn't mean you're a failure as a mother.
Their channel reaching 534k subscribers doesn't mean your channel sucks.
Their house being suspiciously devoid of any stray toys while they vlog doesn't mean you're a failure as a SAHM.

It means they are rockin' it.
High five them and move on.
Cut yourself some slack and just do your best.
I promise - it's enough.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lessons From The Playground

Most of you know that Chris and I have recently become foster parents.  I've been discussing this new journey over on my YouTube channel, so if this comes as news you can catch up here (Foster Care Playlist) and hear about our first placement here (1st Placement).  Recently we provided 5 days of Respite Care for a 4 year old boy.
Respite Care: Respite care refers to one foster family caring for another family's foster children for a short amount of time. This allows for the children's original foster family to have a break. This type of foster care is especially helpful when foster children have behaviors such as seen in many therapeutic foster homes.
Before I get too deep into this story I want to tell you about something that happened a few weeks ago.  I took both kids grocery shopping and it was a great outing - they listened, we laughed, they were helpful - I walked out of that store loving my kids and feeling like I had this Mom thing figured out.  I put the groceries in the car while Hannah buckled herself into her car seat, and then I went to put William into his driver's side car seat.

As I lifted him out of the shopping cart I noticed a mom and her teenage son walking towards me.  The boy had the start of facial hair and looked sullen with his head down.  I thought nothing of it, in fact he looks pretty much like the typical teenage boy stuck grocery shopping with his mom on a Saturday.  She slowed to open the trunk - turns out they were parked next to me - and put the groceries in her car, but he kept walking.  She called after him and asked him to wait (I was trying to buckle William in at this point and help Hannah adjust her chest clip) but he kept walking and proceeded to open the car door forcefully into my back and got into the passenger seat.

Normally I would have been annoyed.  If I was having a rough day I might have even had a dirty look or a few choice words for the son (and perhaps even the mother if I was really looking for a fight), but I was in a great mood and it didn't phase me.  The mom rushed over apologizing profusely.  "He has autism.  He doesn't even know you're there."

I could see it in her eyes, she was trying to beat me to the punch by explaining, but was braced for judgement.  I smiled.  "No worries.  He's fine.  No harm done."  I tried to convey everything I felt with that smile - not pity, just understanding from one mom to another.

On the drive home I thought about that mom, and since that day I've continued to think about her.  I wonder how many times she's had to apologize like that, how many times she's been met with judgement instead of kindness.  I've never been so thankful to have been in a good mood.  She unknowingly reminded me that we're all just doing the best we can and a smile and some understanding goes a long way.

Fast forward to our respite care placement with Travis* (name changed to protect privacy).  He was fairly new to the foster care system.  He'd been with this family for 6 weeks after he was found wandering the streets in a diaper.  Yes, he's four years old and not potty trained.  He also didn't speak more than a few words.  From what I understand he's on a waitlist for a pediatrician that might give him a diagnosis other than neglect.  I suspect (strongly) that it might be Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Regardless, he was a perfectly sweet little boy.  When you sat with him you could see his deficits: His voice and hands had tremors which made talking and eating difficult.  He could build anything with legos, but couldn't understand interlocking puzzle pieces.  He was friendly and kind, but he also didn't understand personal space and would often get in Hannah's face and wouldn't stop when she asked nicely - or when she yelled not so nicely - for him to back away.

But on the playground he looked like any other 4 year old.
He had limitless energy and loved going down the slide.  He made friends because he was so outgoing and nice.  He ran and played for an hour without the smile leaving his face once.

I took Hannah, William and Travis* to the park and everyone had a great time.  William tired first and so I sat on the bench next to the other moms and he sat on my lap as we watched the big kids play.  Then it happened.

Travis went down the slide and his shirt flipped up in the back.  As he ran around to the ladder his diaper was visible above the waistband of his jeans.

"Is that boy wearing a diaper?!" exclaimed one mom.
"He's not potty trained yet? That's just lazy." muttered another.
"I wonder what's wrong with him.  Maybe he's slow." posed the third.

I was frozen in my seat.  Stunned silent.  Flabbergasted.
I wanted to call them out for their judgments and point out that he's a little boy that's been through hell.
I wanted to ask them if they'd ever changed a 4 year old's dirty diaper.  Honestly, it's gross.  It's much easier to be a 'lazy' parent when your child is potty trained.  I can't remember the last time I put Hannah in a pull up or diaper.  Life after potty training is a breeze comparatively.
I felt so judged as his 'mom'.  I wanted to advocate for him.  I wanted to hug him and protect him from their words even though I knew he hadn't heard them.  I wanted to pause that moment and have time to figure out the best way to handle this situation.
Instead, as calmly as I could I said "His name is Travis, and he's doing the best he can."

I stood and collected the kids and we went home.  Hannah exclaimed "This was the best day ever!" from the backseat and Travis* asked "We go back?" and I told him we could return tomorrow.  Inside I felt defeated, and sad, and slightly proud that I had said something instead of letting their judgement continue.

A week later and I'm still not sure what I should have done.  Travis has since returned to his foster home, but in many ways I'm still back on that playground.  Thinking of those moms, of all the children like Travis*, of the future foster children I'll care for and the judgements they'll receive.

I suppose I wrote this to remind you to smile at the mom, for an ounce of kindness goes a long way, and to be mindful of your words, for they carry more weight than your realize.

“I have learned silence from the talkative, 
toleration from the intolerant, 
and kindness from the unkind.” 
~Khalil Gibran

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Video Roundup for July 27th - August 2nd

With VEDA (Vlog every Day in August) and Vlogust kicking off this week, my YouTube subscription box is overflowing with videos.  In case you're having a hard time keeping up with the new videos and mine got lost in the shuffle, here are the videos I posted this week:

I really love this video.  We left Grandma's house and on the way home we spent the night at a water park, camped at Yellowstone National Park, and the slept in a hotel in Boise.  I edited down over 4 hours of footage, so this video is full of the best clips from our vacation.


This month's Battle of the Beauty Boxes was perhaps the closest match up yet.  Fabulous cosmetics and skin care products, testing out new brands, and a few favorite products as well.  Which box came out on top in your opinion?


When I got back from vacation I had all my subscription boxes waiting to be opened and so I filmed them all in one day.  Thus, this is the week of the green shirt.   I really enjoy my Julep box each month because I have some control over what colors I receive and the products are always full sized so I feel like it's a great value.

I have been receiving Citrus Lane boxes for over 3 years and really enjoy them each month.  I like that the products are a surprise each month, but that they're catered to my child's gender and age.  Here's William's box which included this great pretend cell phone from Plan Toys
A big thank you to all of my subscribers!  I've almost reach 17,000 subscribers which is incredible and humbling.  If you haven't checked out my channel yet, here's the link:  TheBubblelush

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes in Seattle - WITL 65

I really like this week's Week In The Life video (WITL 65) but we had such a great time and I took so much footage that I couldn't fit in some of the photos that we took on a trip to Seattle.  Like this gem:

If you haven't watched this video yet, make sure to check it out.  Hannah graduates preschool, we attend the annual company party at the Museum of Aviation, and then we spent Saturday morning at Pike's Place market watching them catch fish, drinking Starbucks and eating delicious pastries.  And at the end of it I got to stop in to Marie Bitsandclip's birthday party and finally meet her son Luca.  It was such a fun trip!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

5 Things to Know Before Watching The Fault In Our Stars

Four months ago my husband bought me The Fault In Our Stars for Valentine's Day.  In his defense he didn't realize that he was giving me a book about kids with cancer, but bought it because I was excited for the movie trailer that had just been released.  I held off on reading it.  I didn't want to finish this book that everyone had raved about and then have to wait months to see it come to life in the theater.  So I waited.  But I'm a procrastinator at heart, as well as a fast reader, and before I knew it the day I could see the movie was upon me and I still hadn't cracked the spine.  And thus #TFIOS day was born.  In a span of eight hours I read the book, fixed dinner, put the kids to bed, and saw the movie*.  And when I got home at midnight I was thoroughly emotionally depleted.

So here are my FIVE SEVEN tips for seeing The Fault In Our Stars:

  1. Wear waterproof mascara.  You're going to cry.  It's a movie about love and kids and cancer.  There's no escaping the emotion.
  2. Bring tissues.  I forgot to bring tissues and ended up using the sleeve of my sweatshirt as I hunkered into my tiny theater chair in what resembled the fetal position and wept.  If you to go this movie without tissues and wearing a short sleeve shirt, you're screwed.
  3. Attend a late showing.  Consider the run time of your movie and figure out the approximate time you'll be leaving the theater.  Is this a high traffic time?  Are blockbusters starting and will the lobby be full of people?  Because you're going to be, like, 10 minutes post-ugly cry.  I when to the 9:45pm showing and the lobby was thankfully a ghost town when I left the theater.  I was able to power walk to my car under the guise of darkness with few witnesses.
  4. This is not the best first date movie (have I mentioned the ugly cry enough for this to be self explanatory?), but this is a good movie to help weed out the heartless bastards.  They don't have to cry to be considered a keeper, but if they laugh at you for it, they suck.  Kids. With. Cancer.  Consider this movie a litmus test for his emotional maturity.
  5. Read the book first.  I've gone back and forth on this ruling for a week, but I think the movie was better after reading the book.  The movie was solid - the acting, the emotion, the storytelling - it was all nearly perfect, but because I read the book and I knew the inner dialogue of the character I felt like I could read between the lines of the scene and picked up on all the nuances of the emotions portrayed.  The movie stays fairly close to the book, but some things are cut for time and reading them helps you to understand the characters a bit more.  The movie easily stands on it's own two feet, but if you have time read the book first.
  6. And a bonus tip (because the first 4 were about crying I feel like I owe you a bit more substance):  Appreciate the fabulous casting.  Laura Dern as the mom is so believable and brings depth to what could easily be a background character in the movie adaptation, and Ansel Elgort as the male lead Gus is so adorable and self assured that you root for him, but Shailene Woodley steals the show.  She's perfect in this role.  She's lovely and vulnerable and wonderful, and this role is sure to catapult her to leading lady status more so than the Divergent series which she also stars.
  7. Bonus Bonus Trivia:  Speaking of Divergent, Elgort and Woodley play siblings in the Veronica Roth series and love interests in TFIOS.   
*Tuesday nights are my 'Mommy Moment' movie nights.  Chris stays home with the kids and I sneak out after bedtime to see a movie on $5 Tuesday.  Everyone wins.  Except Chris I suppose, but he has an early shift the next day and couldn't come regardless.  Just wanted to clarify in case you thought I left the kids home unattended.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meet The Men of the Bachelorette - Episode 1 Recap

Before each season of the Bachelor and Bachelorette I check that the DVR is set to record and listen to my husband chuckle at how ridiculous the premise is.

I get where he's coming from.  Cramming 25 guys into a house (where they're sleeping in bunk beds 6 to a room - isn't this place a mansion!?) while they date the same woman, and compete for dates, roses, and most of all - time to sit down and have an authentic conversation with someone they could potentially propose to in a few short weeks is fairly absurd.

And while I'm not sure finding your soul mate amongst a group of guys assembled by a casting director has a better shot as success than walking into your local bar or supermarket, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to Andi's take on the experience.

But this season I'm doing it a little differently.  Instead of paying so much attention to Andi's experience and reactions, I'm going to focus on the contestants.  I wouldn't say I have a spreadsheet or anything, but I'm taking notes.  And screenshots.  And keeping track of the order they're called in the rose ceremony with a little red rose emoji on my iPad.

I've also assembled a Dream Team.
My husband laughed until I reminded him of his TWO Fantasy football teams.

But first, let's meet the bachelors, in order as they stepped out of the limos:

Marcus - 25 - Dallas, Tx - Sports Medicine Manager
I wasn't won over by him, but Andi seemed to be.  From his shaking hands, to his declaration that he has 'a lot to give and offer' she appeared to be impressed, and even exclaimed 'He is hot!' after he went inside.  I marked him as a Yes for a rose that night.

Chris - 32 - Arlington, Iowa - Farmer
Yes.  I liked that he was a little older, seemed sweet and genuine, and you've gotta admit - he's about the best looking "farmer" I've ever seen.

JJ - 30 - San Francisco, CA - "Pantsapreneur"
The guy walked out of the limo wearing a bow tie and looked like a lanky, awkward, cheese ball.
But Andi liked that he referred to the show as a "love quest"so I voted Yes.

Marquel - 26 - Las Vegas - Sponsorship Salesman
As one of the younger guys in the competition I was a little leery, but he's a smooth talker and appeared humble so I voted Yes.  Later, in a hilarious moment, he took Andi aside for a cookie tasting where he gave her a black and white cookie and told her to "Look to the cookie".  I promise, it was funny.

Tasos - 30 - Denver, CO - Wedding Coordinator
Based on first impressions I'm not expecting Tasos to last long in the competition, but he used his first moments with Andi to recreate the Love Locks that the bridges of Paris are known for and made a wish on the key as they threw it into the fountain.  
He won her over, but all I could think of was the intern that would later wade into the water to recover the key.

Cody - 28 - Chicago - Personal Trainer
Seriously?  No.  I'm sure he's a nice guy, but based on first impressions there is no way that Andi is going to marry him.  No Way.  He might make it through the night, but he's not making it to the end.

Steven - 30 - Encinitas, CA - Snowboard Product Developer
Next season I'm going to play a game where I cover their info and try to guess their profession.  I'd have gotten this guy's correct.  Andi labeled him the 'Cali Boy' and I immediately knew that she didn't see him as an equal and doubted he'd make it through the night.

Rudie - 31 - Long Beach, CA - Attorney
The first thing out of his mouth was "May I approach the Bachelorette?" and I knew he was out.  
Mr. Attorney was not going to last the night.

Carl - 30 - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Firefighter
He was a little awkward, but he came bearing gifts - a little globe in a box - and he's a firefighter!  Yes.

Jason - 35 - Wisconsin - Urgent Care Physician
"Do you have a fever?  Because you look hot!"  Do I need to say more?  No.

Nick V - 33 - Chicago - Software Sales Executive
I found him to be boring, but fairly harmless, so I voted Yes.  
Turns out he got the first impression rose!

Dylan - 26 - Boston - Accountant
The only thing I wrote down for him is "Hell Yes."  Wow, he stepped out of that limo looking like an original Abercrombie model.   Gorgeous.  He was flustered and forgot what he was going to say, but I think it helped him come across as more approachable.

Patrick - 29 - Newport Beach, CA - Advertising Executive
Raise your hand if you're shocked that this guy is an Ad Exec.  He screams 'country club' out of the gate, and is holding a soccer ball which brings up bad memories of Juan Pablo, but they make a joke of it and with one strong kick I decide that Andi might just be ready to date another Soccer player.

Emil - 33 - Cost Mesa, CA - Helicopter Pilot
When he introduced himself he explained that his name rhymed with 'anal'.  Done.  No.  
That's why you're single.  If there was a 'Worst' impression rose, he just earned it.

Brett - 29 - Westminster, PA - Hairstylist
His mother always told him 'never greet a lady empty handed', so he stole a floor lamp from the hotel and gave it to Andi.  I'm shocked he made it through the night.

Craig - 29 - Denver, CO - Tax Accountant
As soon as he stepped out of the limo he popped a bottle of champagne and sprayed it all over the driveway.  No.  He might make it through the night, but he's not lasting long.

Ron - 28 - Memphis - Beverage Sales Manager
The only thing I wrote down for him was 'Smooth'.  Unremarkable, but not offensive.  
He'll hang around for a few weeks.

Bradley - 32 - Michigan - Opera Singer
No.  I'm beginning to question the casting director's sanity at this point.

Josh B - 29 - Denver, CO - Telecommunication Marketer
I'm bored just looking at his picture, and I remember exactly nothing from their interaction.  
The only thing I wrote down was 'maybe'.

Nick S - 27 - Kissimmee, FL - Pro Golfer
He skipped the limo and rolled up in a golf cart.

Brian - 27 - Camp Hill, PA - Basketball Coach
Hello, Adorable.  Just look at how cute he was:

Andrew - 30 - Culver City, CA - Social Media Marketer
He looked like a pompous ass, but I'll admit that by this point I'm getting a little over it and ready to give the boys access to an open bar and see who make a fool of themselves.

Mike - 29 - Utah - Bartender
He said something about pretending they were meeting in a 'natural public setting' and what was meant as an ice breaker just came across stilted and awkward.  Then he slipped her his number.  No.

Eric - 31 - Citrus Heights, CA - Explorer
My faith is restored.  He is a gorgeous, adventurous World traveler:
A few weeks after wrapping up filming Eric died in a paragliding accident.  
I have no idea how far he makes it in the competition, but he seemed like an amazing guy.

Josh M - 29 - Atlanta - Former Pro Baseball Player
Finally - the last guy.  He's gorgeous, athletic, well spoken, and lives in her hometown - 
and exactly her type:

Rose Ceremony

Six guys went home at the first rose ceremony.  Let's take a second and say goodbye to:
Emil aka Anal

Jason aka Dr. Not So Funny

Josh B aka The B Stands for Boring

Mike aka The Bartender with no skills

Rudie aka The Attorney

Steven aka Cali Boy

This post was huge, so I'm going to share my Dream Team in a separate post.
Which Bachelor is you favorite so far?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Huggies Little Movers Diaper Review and Sweepstakes

I participated in an Influencer Program on behalf of Mom Central for Huggies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.
I always encourage moms to make the parenting choices that work for them, and recently I had to take my own advice.   We've cloth diapered William from birth, but were starting to have a real issue with overnights.  He'd wake up wet and unhappy and I'd have an entire load of laundry to do between the sheets, blankets, and pajamas.  I troubleshooted with different inserts and brands of cloth, but ultimately Huggies disposable diapers worked best for us.
Since I'm new to disposables I tried a few different brands, but I was most impressed with Huggies Little Mover diapers.  Given our history with overnight leaks in cloth diapers a good fit is important.  William is tall and skinny, so I really like the SnugFit waistband because it moves and stretches with him as he tosses and turns in his sleep.

William's favorite time of day is bath time, and it kicks off our bedtime routine.  After he gets dried off and lotioned up, I change him into his Huggies Little Movers diaper and then he gets to run around for 20 minutes to get that last bit of energy out.  This is where it gets exciting!

The perfect fit that Huggies is known for just got even better.  I was able to test out the new Double Grip Strips feature that will soon be available in your local Target - and it's amazing!
For moms familiar with cloth diapers, this feature is 
similar to a hip snap in that it helps maintain the fit.

These extra purple Velcro strips on the sides of the diaper are the new Double Grip Strips and they really help keep everything in place when the baby is busy running around.

I'm proud to cloth diaper so you know a disposable diaper is good when I'm recommending it.  Those of you that watch my Week In The Life vlogs know that Hannah loves shopping at Target, and I was excited to see that my Target offered a $10 gift card when I bought two packs of Huggies, so I stocked up - But with this sweepstakes you'll really be able to stock up:

Enter to Win a Year’s Supply of Huggies from Target! 
Target is offering the chance to win a year supply of Huggies Little Movers diapers in the Little Movers Sweepstakes.
 To enter, click the link below and share a photo or video of your little one’s best moving moments.
You’ll receive a $2.00 coupon just for entering! 



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