Category Archives: Parenting & Family

I’m heading to MommyCon…with Lillebaby!


*This post contains affiliate links.

I’m super excited (and slightly nervous) to announce that my baby girl and I will be heading to Philly for MommyCon one week from today! The excitement is for obvious reasons, and the nervousness…well, that’s just because I don’t like driving in a city I don’t know. Once my car is safely parked somewhere, I’ll be just fine.

I’m also pretty stoked to announce that I’ll be wearing my little one all day (strollers are discouraged at the event), courtesy of lillebaby! We never used a stroller much, but it was just easier for us to hold our first child, I guess. This time, babywearing is coming so much easier and I can’t believe how helpful and beneficial it is. Here’s the orange and cream beauty we’ll be sporting… Continue reading


Filed under Baby Guide, Family Fun, Parenting & Family, Product & Service Reviews, Uncategorized

The State of Affairs: One Month Later… {Part 2}

(If you missed Part 1, read it here.)

You’ve gotta understand…this is about so much more than my job. This whole identity thing, the anxiety, the depression, the stupor, the disconnectedness…it’s huge. This might be the biggest turning point in my entire life thus far, and I’ve been lost trying to figure it out. So, for those few weeks, I pretty much took it one day  hour at a time. Luckily, after a tough pregnancy, I was kind of used to that.

And then, I decided that it was time to start crawling out. I hate life when there is no destination, so I decided to set one. This business of mine: freelance copywriter/editor. Natural lifestyle focus. A lean toward small business, local if possible. But how would I make it happen? Well, it’s already started happening a little. I have a couple of clients, and I am actively searching for more, being careful not to overbook. The time is hard to find, because the kids sure as hell don’t care if I have stuff to do. They just want me, and I’m so, so, so determined to be available to them. I work on my patience at every turn these days, and all my other parenting skills, too, because every day it’s becoming more clear to me that this job is no joke. It was a lightbulb realization: hey! I have to do more than just watch these kids…I have to engage these kids, teach these kids, stimulate and challenge these kids, and I don’t get to be too tired or sick of them or annoyed or anything but someone who can take a breath, hit the reset button and redirect them anytime the day seems to head south.

And all that parenting stuff is well and good, but when do I get my work done? (If one more person says, “Enjoy this time…money isn’t everything” to me I will wig. I have to pay my mortgage. I never was working so much for, like, pants or cookies. It’s all about the security, not the stuff.) So I started doing things I said I’d never do.

Like buying big plastic crap and sitting it in my yard.


(And that’s not to knock Step2. The water table is great, really.) But anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always, always sworn that I’d never have this stuff in my yard. It’s a ‘thing’ for me, kind of like my disdain for ranch dressing based solely on principle. But a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, and if it keeps him occupied for an hour, that’s one more hour than I had before. So I lose one punch on my crunchy card. That’s ok. (…and omg he really loves the big lug of a thing.)

And then there’s the food. I have always advocated for real food, and I’ll prioritize that over almost anything – but as an X-treme working mom, I just couldn’t pull it off. I tried…god, how I tried. But now? We’re heading off the grocery grid and looking for new suppliers for everything from chicken and cheese to wine to walnuts. No lie, it’s like a full-time job. We also have a new pantry, a new chest freezer, a huge garden and tons of ingredients. Not food, just ingredients to make food. That means lots of prepping, tons of cooking, even more planning…and not quite as much eating since half the time I’m too tired to do it all. (Think I’m losing weight? Nope. And that’s decidedly unfair.) Committing to real food all the time is just so much work, but we’re getting there, and I’m proud of our efforts.

So, to wrap up: the kid situation is new. The work situation has changed. The food, refocused. Shopping habits? Totally revamped, along with the budget, which means entertainment, and basically all habits, are being rethunk. Everything, down to the way I dress, is different now. Holy wow…what have we done? This is either going to turn out to be the best, most reaffirming decision we’re ever going to make, or we’re going to feel really stupid when we can’t do it.

Which do you think it’s going to be? I guess you’ll find out, because I’ll be here, writing about it, the whole time. Because that’s what I do. And now that I’m done for tonight, I’ve got some cherries to pit, diapers to wash and I think I just might brush my teeth today.

I’m getting there. Thanks for hanging out with me while I do it.




Filed under Parenting & Family, The Everyday, Uncategorized

The State of Affairs: One Month Later… {Part 1}


So, it’s been a whole month now. I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to Kid Town, I’ve reached full immersion.

Know how I figured that out? I woke up one morning, not too many days ago, slipshod after about 4 hours sleep, and decided that yesterday’s makeup looked OK enough that I wasn’t going to bother washing it off and redoing it.

{insert sound of squealing brakes here}

Hold up. Is that what’s acceptable to me now?! I’m actually agreeing with myself on this?

(Did I mention that showers are a hot commodity these days?)  Continue reading


Filed under Parenting & Family, The Everyday, Uncategorized

TakeLessons offers online music lessons for your kids! (Save 20% with code) #ad

Hey, guess what!

I quit my job and now I have to figure out how to keep an active 3-year-old occupied all. summer. long.

And not just, like, “in front of the TV”occupied. I need to keep him learning, growing, and stimulated in a positive way. That was part of my promise to myself and my family when we decided to take the hit of my leaving my job. So how do I do that? Well, some time ago I told you about TakeLessons, a service that connects students and families with private music teachers, arts instructors and academic tutors throughout the US. I’m really intrigued by this idea because (1.) we have the time to focus on lessons now, (2.) my son is at the age where he is interested in learning anything and everything, and I want to run with that, and (3.) we live in a rural area, where the selection of lesson-type things is slim pickin’s, for sure. 

TakeLessons provides in-home and in-studio lessons, as well as online lessons, which would be a great choice for us! All we need is a computer with a webcam, a Skype account, and a good Internet connection. (I just got rid of a whack commute, and I sure don’t want another one for lessons!)

Here’s a quick video that shows how it works:

Safety and quality are top priorities for TakeLessons; every instructor completes an extensive interview, training, and an annual criminal background check. They assist with scheduling, initial coordination and billing – so all you have to worry about is enjoying your lessons!

  • Quality Teachers, 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Access to exceptional teachers nationwide, no matter where you’re located
  • All teachers are pre-screened and monitored through student retention and feedback
  • A great addition to your homeschool curriculum!
  • Same benefits of our in-person lessons, including our 100% Money Back Guarantee
  • Online tools to keep track of your schedule, payments, and progress

As a special bonus for ABCs and Garden Peas readers, TakeLessons is offering 20% off music lesson packages if you use promo code ‘MBSUMMER13’ at checkout! Call 619-618-7464 to speak with a TakeLessons Student Counselor. Offer is good through July 6. (Make sure to use the code! You won’t get the discount without it.)

For a free eBook entitled “A Quick Guide to Getting Started with Music Lessons”, courtesy of TakeLessons, just click on the image below:

As a kid, I took piano and violin lessons. Did you take lessons? Do you feel they are valuable for kids? What do you think of taking them online? Let me know in a comment below!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Family Fun, Parenting & Family

My Birth Story #2: Elliette Plum

Almost 4 months. That’s how long it’s taken me to finally sit down and put this story down for the record. I’m starting to fear that the details might fade, so I’m not going to bed tonight until the story is told.

It shouldn’t take long. You’ll see why.

It was the 6th of February. A Wednesday. I wasn’t due until the 26th, and I was planning on working until the 15th–at least another week. But, I was starting to get a little nervous about my long commute (65 miles) and what I would do if I went into labor at the office. My team had a plan at the ready (a funny plan, not a real plan) and I had a bag of spare clothes under my desk, but frankly, I could barely walk and it felt a little too much like the baby was going to fall out if I took a wrong step. My plan was to ask if Friday could be my last day, so I took some time to clean up my desk and send out some emails about partially finished projects I was handing off, and I headed home.

Two days before baby.

I don’t have a clear memory of that night. I think it was pretty boring. At that point, I wasn’t doing much besides sitting on the couch, trying to keep my feet up. I could no longer sleep laying down, so I sat up on the couch for the few hours I was actually able to doze off.

Thursday rolled around, and I had my husband wake me up at 4am so I could get a shower before he left for work, then I did a little work online. At about 5am, my son wandered out sleepily from our room and climbed on top of me on the couch. He nursed a little and fell back to sleep, and so did I. I was happy to, since I didn’t have to take him to my mom’s house until about 11:00. She was planning to watch him for me during my ultrasound, non-stress test and OB appointment.

We slept for about 2 hours, maybe a little more. I felt a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I had been having tons of for at least a month or more. Lots of painless tightening, over and over. But I was really uncomfortable, so I asked my little man to move over on to the other couch. He did, and I sat up, turning to look at my laptop. I felt a weird pain in my side, so I stood up and headed to the bathroom to pee.

2 steps, POP, and GUSH. My water broke. HARD, and all over the place. Like in the movies.

Had it been any other day, I would have been driving to work…well over an hour away…at exactly that moment.

“Mommy, why you peed your pants?”

I was in a little bit of shock, to say the least. I had no idea what to do. I was induced last time, so this was entirely different…and 3 full weeks early. I was NOT ready – no clothes washed, no nursery set up, no bag packed – but I knew that gush of fluid meant that it was go time. So I told myself repeatedly to just stay cool so I didn’t upset my poor son who had no idea what was happening, and then I did the most rational things I could think of:

  • Sent my husband’s partner at work a text, since my husband doesn’t get cell service there. “Hi Ed. Can you please tell Shane to call home. It’s baby day.” It was 7:42 am.
  • Crossed my fingers that he might actually get the message. 
  • Called my mom, who did not answer the phone. OMG. 
  • Painted my toenails purple. Yup. Thought that was important, I guess…
  • Dried my hair (still wet in a bun from my shower, which I was so glad I had taken!)
  • Scrubbed my toilet. 
  • Called my doctor and explained that I thought I was in labor and that I needed very clear instructions on what I should do because I was feeling a little panicky, and asked how long I had. She asked what made me think I was in labor, and I explained that there was a huge puddle on my floor. That convinced her, and she told me not to take more than an hour, but also not to panic.

I tried my mom again. No answer. My son was asking tons of questions and I had no idea what to do. I realized I was in NO pain, so I figured we were ok for a while.

But last time, Dr. T broke my water and then the pains started. About 30 minutes after my water was broken. If that happens again, they should start about…

By this time, that 30 minute window was almost up. I had a feeling hell was about to break loose.

It was about 8:10 am.

Finally, I got a text from my husband. “On my way.” Yay for Ed! So I took a few minutes to try and finish packing the bag I had set out but barely started filling. I don’t remember what I put in it, but I clearly remember tossing in some good chocolate for after delivery. :)

My husband walked in the door, and I filled him in on everything that was going on, including the first few painful contractions I was having. We grabbed everything we thought we’d need, and headed out the door. It dawned on me that I should eat, but I had no time. I knew there would be no eating once I got to the hospital, so I decided we’d just drive through somewhere for an egg sandwich or something. Protein. I really felt like I needed protein. But first, on the way out the door, I remembered that I didn’t have a photo of my son with my belly…so I took a blurry iPhone shot.

We did a quick drive-by and practically tossed our son out the window to my mom, who had gotten my message. I told her I’d call as soon as I could, and we sped out of the driveway. By this point, I was in serious pain and I think I forgot to even say goodbye to him. About 5 minutes down the road, I got my phone out and started timing contractions. (Oh, and I called work to tell them they could choose the winner of the labor pool.)

It took about 2 miles to realize we weren’t stopping anywhere for food. The contractions quickly went from 6 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart, and by the time we got to the hospital 20 miles away they were 2 minutes apart. I spent most of the ride practically standing up in the front seat, nearly ripping off the passenger side door handle, and telling my husband not to speed. I’m pretty sure he laughed at me.

It was 9:00 am. We arrived at the hospital and left the Jeep in the spot that specifically said not to leave your vehicle. I carefully waddled through the front doors, deciding against a wheelchair. A woman came up to me and, after looking at my face, put her hand on my back and said “Oh, honey, let me walk you upstairs. You’re going to be juuuust fiiiiine…” in a voice so calm and kind that I really wanted her to stay with me. Turns out she was the head of the maternity ward (everyone in there referred to her as their boss.) She made me get on the scale (I weighed exactly the same as the morning of my last delivery!) then got us a room immediately.

A nurse came in and told me to change into a gown, and then disappeared. Some nurses came in and out, and I vaguely remember snapping at one when she tried to tell me I had to do something that I felt was less important than breathing through my next contraction. I didn’t like her much, but the rest of the nurses were great.

Once I was laying down (very uncomfortably), hooked up to a million monitors, answering a ton of questions, and telling my husband I was scared because it was sooo bad already and we had only just started, someone decided to check me.

I was almost 9 centimeters.

The mood in the room changed. Everyone started treating me like I was really in labor. (‘sabout time.) I remember a young guy at my feet, a student, I think. I remember a nurse from last time, whom I was happy to see. I remember being thirsty and getting ONE measly ice chip, like that was going to make a difference. I remember concern about my blood pressure, but nobody would tell me why. I remember feeling incredibly… primal?…this wasn’t going the way I had planned. I wanted to be calm and peaceful, using what I had learned, but it all felt completely out of my hands.

A few short minutes went by, and I really wanted to get up and labor on my knees like I did last time, but it didn’t happen. My body took over and I told them I felt the need to push. With the first push, fire. With the second, as I finished rolling from my side to my back, I felt the fire go out and the very distinct feeling of shoulders, arms and legs quickly slipping by. I heard a wail as they laid my baby girl on my chest and covered her with a warm, heavy blanket. She was bright purple, tense and crying. Her arms and legs were stiff and shaking. As I wrapped my arms around her and spoke quietly, she slowly relaxed and quieted. That really is the best moment of all, in my opinion. That moment when you know that baby knows who you are, and relaxes in comfort. I couldn’t see her the way we were laying, so I asked if she was OK. Everyone said yes, she was perfect.

Then she peed on me. A lot.

It was 9:49 am. And it was over. My girl was here. 

In my fog, I asked if we could delay the cutting of the cord. “Oh, sure. We do that now.” I was really surprised because I had readied myself for a battle, but nope…they let the cord pulse for a while while I held her tight, our nameless girl (we didn’t name her for about 24 hours), and I felt the cord still attached, laying on my body. It was the coolest feeling and one I won’t forget. After about 15 minutes, Daddy proudly cut the cord and in ran our birth photographer. While we may have missed a few moments (I don’t blame her…we barely made it to the hospital ourselves), I’ll be forever grateful for the ones she was able to capture.



For a bigger gallery of our photos, visit the blog post about our birth photos at Ashley Rawlings Photography.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my story. I’m sure I’ll change and tweak it a little each time I read it.  Now, I’d better get on that 4 month update…

P.S. Oh, and I did finally get to eat. Forget hospital food…hubby got me a steak and sweet potato once I finally got to my room! Best. Dinner. Ever. 


Filed under Parenting & Family, Uncategorized