One month kitty update!!!

 




Here’s the thing.

I had my kids young, and was pregnant/had them before I was ever even contemplating being on social media. Thus, there were no “bumpdates,” countdown calendars, or posting from the delivery room. This also means there weren’t any cute 1/2/3-month-old pics being posted so everyone could keep up with how my minis grew their first year in existence.

I don’t necessarily feel like I missed out on anything because of this, but it would be nice to have that documentation to look back on, mainly because I have a horrible memory! But now,  NOW I have these two kittens, and GUESS WHAAAAATTTTT????!!!!! I can do it with them!!!! Muahhhhhhh! If you want to see how we came upon these two boys, check out this post!

I’m already posting way too many photos of them on my insta-story anyways, and based on my DMs, people love a cute cat pic! So to be super duper extra ;), I’m going to post their monthly stats, just like people do with their babies! I even searched for pics on Pinterest to make sure I do this right (PS I didn’t find many with animals lol)

We have paperwork from the rescue organization that says they were born on October 27th 2017, which puts them at 3 1/2 months old for their age. But tomorrow marks the 1 month anniversary of us adopting them, and since we think adoption is so important, that’s what we’re celebrating with the “1 month update!”

So without further ado, here are the stats on our newest additions, one month into living at Condo de Miller! And make sure to scroll past these to see kitten photo overload at the end!

These brothers are still 100% attached at the hip, and I can’t imagine one living without the other. We are so grateful that the foster parents begged Joshua to adopt them together and highly insisted that they not be broken up. Seeing them interact, love on each other, cuddle, clean each other, play together, spoon each other to sleep, etc. makes us all the more certain that these two couldn’t have truly thrived without each other.

Speaking of them being rescues, I would be remiss not to mention an amazing program that I recently heard about by simply using Cat’s Pride litter! Notice above that I said these boys poop a lot?! 😉 Needless to say, we go through a lot of litter! But a mama has to brag…they use the same litter box, barely make a mess, and have had no accidents!

We’ve been using Cat’s Pride ever since we heard that they donate a pound of litter to shelters across the country for every green jug of Fresh & Light cat litter sold with the Litter for Good Program. We are definitely at our capacity for adopting cats right now, but it’s nice to know we can still help other cats that are in shelters waiting for their furever homes.

You can also help by signing up for the free Cat’s Pride Club and nominating your local shelter to receive a litter donation, and we’ve already done that! I mean, I have to buy litter anyways…why not get the kind that gives back to those in need?! To read more about this program, and to nominate your shelter of choice, click HERE! It really is as easy as typing in your zip code and selecting the one you want!

Here are our little guys checking out the packaging…inspecting to make sure it still has odor control, strong clumping, and low dust. Okaaaaay, so maybe those features are important to me, but happy mama, happy kittens 🙂


Lilly showing off just how strong she is (even her shirt says so)…”we don’t need a cart Mom!”


So I guess it’s becoming more and more official that I’m a cat lady! But how can I not with these two?! LOOK AT THEM! Click on the pic you think is the cutest!

We love love love our newest additions and can’t wait to see just how much they change before their next adoptiversary!

And don’t forget to PIN IT FOR LATER!!!

Speaking of litter boxes, I’m completely obsessed with our’s (and that’s a sentence I thought I’d never type BTW)! Lol! It has two pans, PLUS the sifting layer! It’s brilliant and makes life easier on Bella who is on litter duty! Here it is, along with their favorite play cube!

I do get a small commission if you purchase through my Amazon links, but it adds no cost to you whatsoever, and helps keep my blog going strong! xo




 

 

 

 

Our family grew by two!




And I feel like I’ve been hiding it from the world!

Or at least from my social media, which sometimes feels like the whole world to me! (Is that pathetic? LOL! Don’t answer that)

Starting on Friday, I kind of went unplugged, not so much intentionally, but because of a few factors. Let’s start with the text I got from my mom saying that there was a fire in the warehouse at work. Keep in mind, my husband works with my parents, so when there’s a “fire in the warehouse,” I’m worried about a lot of people, including many in my family.

Essentially, a machine in the warehouse (that operates off of oil) has a safety sensor which protects the oil from getting too hot, but it malfunctioned and started to smoke. My dad and an employee quickly grabbed fire extinguishers, but it was too late, and a ball of flames exploded, shooting 20 feet in the air. This caused the sprinklers to go off and flooded the 50,000 square foot warehouse and every thing in it with three inches of standing water.

All will be fine, those injured will be fine, and this is what insurance is for, but it was obviously traumatic for everyone involved. And thus started the weekend of insanity, and I just wanted to focus on my family and friends and see what needed to immediately be done, and what could wait.

And at this exact same time, Joshua had arrived at the office with the surprises that make the title of this blog post make sense…

MEET OUR NEW KITTENS!!!

Could you just DIE?!!! And for those who know Joshua and me, they’re dying of shock, instead of cuteness because, 1. Joshua is VERY allergic to cats (like swollen face, bloodshot eyes, nonstop sneezing) and 2. We aren’t exactly “animal people.” I know I know. You think that makes us assholes, but please let me explain that not everyone is the same as you (shocking) 😉

Example…I LOVE kids and babies, and will pretty much choose to be with little ones over anyone else. Whereas the idea of spending time with kids, including other peoples’ kids makes you itch.

But here’s the deal. Our minis have been begging for us to get an animal since I moved the cake business to the cakery and out of my house. And have really ramped up the pleading now that we’re moving to a house soon. I asked Joshua years ago, “if you weren’t allergic to cats, would you like them?” And he said, “I guess so.” This prompted me to start looking into the possibility of hypoallergenic cats. In this research, I found that people aren’t necessarily allergic to the dander, but the saliva, specifically a protein found in the saliva. And that certain breeds of cats produced less of this protein.

I told Joshua that it looked like Russian Blues were an option and kind of dropped it. But I guess it got his wheels spinning and Joshua loves 1. a YOLO situation and 2. a surprise. So behind our backs, he found a rescue group that had a Russian Blue cat up for adoption, and contacted them. The foster parent told Joshua that he actually had TWO Russian Blues and that they were brothers, and he couldn’t split them up. That they were completely attached to each other and had to stay together (he was correct).

Joshua was already questioning getting one cat, but now two?! Luckily, let’s go back to #1 in the paragraph above…Joshua said “YOLO” and adopted both! He brought them back to the office (which wasn’t on fire anymore thank god) and knew that I was bringing the girls by later that day to grab him before we all headed to the mountains. It set up the perfect place for the big reveal!

After I grabbed the minis from their schools, we drove straight there and they were SO FREAKING EXCITED!!! They couldn’t BELIEVE he actually got them kitties, and were overjoyed that they were going to be mommies 🙂 And can I just say that Joshua hasn’t had any allergic reaction whatsoever still to this day, and hasn’t had to take ANY medicine?!!!

But like I said, we were headed straight to the mountains and staying at The Timmermans’ house. Joshua had already prearranged with them that it was okay to bring the kittens with us…it helps that Kristin is the BIGGEST cat person I know! So our new sons made the trip to Blowing Rock, sleeping the whole way, and legit spooning at that! We got to the house and showed them where the litter box was, and they have been pros ever since! Not one accident, not one scratch. They really are the best kittens we could ever ask for!

The happiest kitten aunt you ever did see!

We relaxed at the house all weekend, having to drive back down and up to Charlotte Saturday night for Joshua’s holiday party (which happens in January because December is always too insane), which was blast! My parents hired a murder mystery group as the entertainment and they were AWESOME!

Joshua was one of the suspects and the detective is interviewing him!

Joshua’s employees, minus Mike

Once we got back to Blowing Rock, it was back to relaxing and kitties and friends, and all that good stuff! The only downer is that I was sick and when I’m sick, I can’t sleep. It was three nights of almost zero sleep and sheer frustration. Luckily, owning a cake business prepared me for operating on no sleep for years on end, so I was good to go and powered through (sooooo much concealer happening under my eyes here).

Kristin found the perfect puzzle (my favorite pastime ever) at a shop in Blowing Rock to celebrate our new family members, and we put it together over the weekend! And they even had Russian Blues on the puzzle, providing a classic photo op for our new guys 🙂

Wylie’s right paw is on the Russian Blue part of the puzzle!

And it took us almost all weekend to come up with the perfect names for our boys! We knew we wanted them to be sentimental names, not silly, and not typical “pet” names. We love our city so much, and looked for historical names. But also loved the idea of them being brothers and wanted their names to go together. So what did we go with?!

Introducing…

Wylie and Norman

For my local peeps, they get it! LOL! For my out of towners, we have two big lakes on each “end” of our city, Lake Wylie and Lake Norman. But the girls wanted them to have middle names too, so we went with the runners up to the first name choices, Wilbur and Orville, after the Wright Brothers, who of course got their start here in NC! So it’s Wylie Orville Miller, and Norman Wilbur Miller…quite possibly the oldest sounding names alive, but WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

We can’t thank the Timmermans enough for letting us bring them to the house, and teach us all about cats and their wants and needs, and give us the perfect relaxing weekend to bond with them! Joshua (if you read this ;)), thank you for giving our family these little loves. Oh, and guess who loves them the most, and who they are bonded to the most?! JOSHUA LOL!!! And I gotta admit, I’m pretty smitten with them too 😉 So I guess you CAN teach an old dog, err cat, new tricks 😉

If you have any questions, leave me a comment! And get ready for an overload of kitty pics…I can’t help myself…they’re too cute for words!

I guess the cat’s out of the bag! (okay, that’s my last cat pun for a while) 🙂





Will you ring in the new year with me?!





Yall know by now I love a play on words and a theme! I mean, my bakery was named Got What It Cakes for the love! Since becoming a mom 11 years ago, New Year’s Eve has changed a bit, but in the last few years, we’ve gone to a hotel and rang in the new year with friends!

But when our kids were younger, we always stayed home and had the best time counting down to the new year with them. And even though they always had the next day off, we never let them stay up til midnight, yet still counted down (you’ll see how we worked around that below) and then Joshua and I had a few hours to ourselves before the clock struck twelve!

I can’t believe I found a pic from 2011 of us celebrating…blurry as can be because I probably had a flip phone and they were moving, but you get the gist 🙂

If you want to do a few fun things with your kiddos to make the day/night extra special, here are some things we’ve done in the past, and I suggest throwing them a ‘Ring in the New Year’ party! And then continuing that ring theme throughout the night with food and fun!

Start with buying Ring Pops, and that serves as your “invitation” of sorts. You could even tie a little note that says “Ring in the new year with me?!” Or you could be super fancy and buy a clear box, fill it with sprinkles, put a ring pop in it, and do a printable that says ‘ring in the new year?’ It’s awesome and you can find a pic HERE, but that’s more than I could ever pull off FO SHO 😉

For a fun party food idea, do make-your-own pizzas! You can be as homemade as you want, making the dough, sauce, chopping toppings, etc., but I simply bought a couple of frozen cheese pizzas, and then placed some black and green olive “rings” on them. I had each mini spell out 2018 in the toppings on each pizza…2-0 for one and 1-8 for the other! You can use mini pepperonis too! And you could have some Funyuns on the side since they’re also shaped like rings!

Of course we needed some desserts to sweeten the night! So I made some funfetti cupcakes (because it reminds me of confetti), iced them, and then put other ring-related/celebration toppings on them! Some examples: Wint-o-green mints, peach rings, ring pops, rainbow sprinkles, gold sprinkles!

For their “toast,” I would put milk in a champagne flute, and the smaller Entenmanns donuts on top (because donuts are in a ring shape). It’s a fun update to milk and cookies, and I’m a sucker for donuts 🙂 In order for each kid to know which flute is his or hers, you could borrow the wine charm idea, but use rings with different decor on them. In this pic, you can see a ring I borrowed from Isabella’s science kit! The best part is that most kid rings have a gap in them anyways, making it easy to go around the stem of a champagne flute!

I wanted to make noise makers for the special night and of course, they had to have a ring theme as well. The best part is that you probably have everything you need already on-hand (see what I did there) 😉 Take leftover small paper or plastic plates, and put dry beans in one of the plates. Hot glue a popsicle stick to the bottom of the bean-filled plate, and then put hot glue around the outer ring of the plate and put the other plate on top!

Then have your kiddos decorate their plate however they want (we used puff paint)! You can even add a pipe cleaner to the top of the plate, bent in a way that it will resemble a diamond on the top of a ring! If you recognize the movie star plates, they’re from Bella’s 11th birthday!


Some other cute ring-themed games to play during your party: ring toss (you can buy a cheap set just about anywhere), or ring-around-the-rosie is FREE! But one of my best hacks (that I teased at the top) is to pull up London’s countdown (since they’re 5 hours ahead of us) on YouTube whenever you want the kiddos to go to bed, and use it as your countdown! Our kids were in bed by 8 or 9pm using this trick for years (change the clocks in the house if need be) 😉 #protip

Whatever you decide to do for New Year’s, have FUN and BE SAFE! There is not one single reason why anyone should drink and drive. It’s not about you thinking you’re “fine” to drive; it’s about all of the other innocent people on the road that don’t deserve to have to dodge your death bullet. Okay, PSA over (very sensitive subject for me).

Here’s me on Charlotte Today talking about these ideas!!!


For things I’ve mentioned in this article, here ya go:




No more “mommy juice” or “wine o’clock,” I beg you.





I know. I know. You think it’s cute, right?!! Hell, I even said it once or twice to my minis when they were younger. “This is mommy’s juice girls! You can’t have any of this! Let’s find your sippy cups of milk, okay?!” And I’d go back to clinking glasses (or solo cups because we fancy ;)) of wine with my girlfriends, have a giggle, and take big sips.

And this song and dance was happening with just about any and all of my friend groups, the people I follow on social media, the chatter I overhear at ‘ladies night out’ dinners, and on every tv show with a mom on it, etc. The narrative barely ever changes and it goes something like this:

‘being a mom is hard work so i drink wine to ____________________ (fill in the blank)’

Here are some of the options…

  • Reward myself
  • Numb the hard
  • Forget the mess (literal and figurative)
  • Want to feel good
  • Celebrate bedtime
  • Escape
  • Be more sexual
  • Insert your own answer

But here’s the part where I was a bit of the odd mom out though. I hate red wine, and only like one type of white, so if anything but pinot grigio was offered, I typically didn’t partake. I also tend to only drink socially…out to dinner with friends, a party, charity function, sporting event, concert, etc. Joshua and I aren’t the types of people who come home after a long day and drink a beer, or pour ourselves a cocktail. We don’t have wine with dinner…hell, I barely cook anything nice enough to consider pairing it with a wine option anyways!

So for 2017, I decided to not drink (I’ll get more to that part towards the end), and I’ve noticed more than ever before (probably BECAUSE of my not drinking) is how much women talk/post about how much they drink. Somewhere along the line, it became “normal” for women (specifically moms) to talk about how much wine they were guzzling every night…like it was their badge of honor for making it through the day? But guess who else noticed?!

EVERY FREAKING COMPANY IN THE WORLD

And guess what those companies are doing? Laughing all the way to the bank on the backs of what many women are now dealing with…addiction. We have become the PUNCHLINE to the jokes, ladies. You’ve seen the shirts, “I drink coffee til it’s acceptable to drink wine.” Maybe at one point it was funny? But many aren’t laughing anymore. They realize they can’t function without it. They’re waking up with the shakes. They’re wondering when they can start drinking again…when is wine o’clock? Can it start sooner because I invited a friend for a play date? “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” #amirightladies?! {internally rolling my eyes}

When Amazon decided to start their one hour delivery service, what did they broadcast right away? What was their marketing campaign? “YOU CAN GET WINE ON YOUR DOORSTEP IN AS LITTLE AS ONE HOUR LADIES!!!!” Seriously, google “amazon one hour” and the top two out of three things that pop up are “alcohol delivery” and “delivery wine.” Yall shared the heck out of that with everyone in your feeds, and drove up that SEO. Putty in their hands.

But THIS. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. When I realized that companies were no longer going after womens’ apparel/home goods/decor for their “funny” wine saying, but after our kids’ too…

What in the ACTUAL EFF is going on here?! I’m gonna need someone to explain to me why this is at all cute? And I’m NOT talking about the leg warmers (which we can agree are on point, obvi).

Then there’s this one that my friend Shauna sent me…

“I just love when my mommy dresses me in a onesie that calls me wino AND a snob,” says no baby ever.

And let’s not forget about this one, shall we…?!

Oh yay! You even get get a discount code “HAPPY10″…ironic wording, but who doesn’t love a onesie that says ‘moms are only fun when they’re drunk’…can i get an amen?!

YALL. We have reached a point where companies are putting alcohol on BABY CLOTHING, and people are lapping it up! Would you put cigarettes on a onesie? Then why are we letting THIS happen? And notice they’re targeting our baby girls primarily with this clothing. Women control most of the buying power?!!! Full stop ladies. Full mother effing stop. I’m sad, and I’m mad, and I think you should be too. We need to stop normalizing alcoholism, and set a good example for our children.

Call me a buzzkill, pun intended, but I’m not laughing anymore. Wine should be savored and enjoyed, not depended upon to make life manageable. Spoiler alert: let me tell ya what makes parenting harder…A HANGOVER, BEING TIRED, and FEELING LIKE ISH ALL DAMN DAY. And/or being obsessed with something so much that you’re thinking more about IT than anything else. And I’m #sorrynotsorry but you’re never going to convince me that you actually LOVE the taste of two buck chuck.

To make sure I’m being clear here. I don’t think all people who drink have a problem. I don’t want to ban wine. I think girls nights out are awesome! I love a good cocktail with dinner, a beer at a tailgate, and a mimosa at brunch. I’m not even saying getting drunk is a problem! I’m talking about a culture that glorifies alcohol abuse, and is specifically targeting exhausted moms. We’re being used as pawns in a game, and we’re the ones buying all of the onesies, AND the damn wine. I simply want us to look around and notice the LINK that’s been made between “surviving motherhood and drinking too much wine nightly,” and we’ve let it happen.

We shouldn’t demean motherhood, especially when so many women want to be, and can’t or aren’t. Is motherhood hard? Sure! Do you sometimes feel like you need to do something to remind yourself you’re an adult? Of course! But I can promise you the answer to any problem isn’t found at the bottom of the bottle of wine. Quite the reverse actually. And I’m not going to apologize for being a bit sensitive about it.

I grew up with copious amounts of alcohol at every family function. Life was a big party. My parents were the consummate hosts, and we even had a saying, “if you leave hungry or thirsty, it’s your own damn fault!” And by “thirsty,” we didn’t mean water. And all was well…until it wasn’t anymore. My dad’s party had become an addiction, and he went to detox, largely because of Joshua and subsequently me…with my mom having to make the call.

I cannot shout it loudly enough from the rooftops that my dad is now 13 1/2 years sober, and that he hasn’t relapsed since that day he was driven to detox. It’s a real mind f%$k to see your dad in a hospital gown, shaking from withdrawls. But it’s music to your ears to hear him say “thank you for telling on me.” I was 22 when he got sober, and a few months later, he walked me down the aisle. I’m so damn proud of him.

But know this ladies, your children see you. They’re watching and absorbing everything you do. They hear your words and see your actions, and internalize them more than you may think. I have 8 and 11 year old girls. I need to set the right example. It starts with us, as most things do.

And when we know better, we do better.

I don’t know what the answer is. I am not an addiction specialist, and am not pretending to be one. I certainly can take a joke. But I feel it in my bones that this has simply gone too far. Maybe I’m wrong? But when I get a private message telling me that a person pretends to drink around their family because they’re questioned to death if they don’t have a cocktail in hand, we have created a culture that doesn’t make sense to me. When I decline a drink at a party, and the first comment is “but you have KIDS…how do you NOT drink?!,” I am confused. How do we fix this? I’m all ears.

I briefly mentioned above that I quit drinking this year, and people were shocked to hear I was giving up alcohol for 2017. “But you don’t have a problem?!!!” I heard that one a lot. Some of my closest friends have never even seen me with a buzz, let alone drunk. So yeah, I know I don’t need to stop. But I had the time of my life New Year’s Eve 2016, and felt like my hangover was going to last a lifetime, so I grandly declared on the most official of all places, facebook (#duh), that I was going to be SOBER for ’17! It even had its own hashtag 😉

I did it for a couple of reasons…I love a good challenge (I’m competitive even with my own self), I needed a resolution (for once), I thought I’d lose weight (didn’t work), and more. But mostly, because I had seen the shift in society I talked about above, and it was driving me insane. I thought that if I went sober for 2017, maybe other people reading my post would be inspired to do so too? They would see that I’m a mom, with multiple jobs, a crazy life, lots of stress, and yet STILL didn’t NEED to drink to “deal” with it all! That maybe they had been internally contemplating it, but didn’t want to do it alone? I mentioned in the post that if anyone wanted to do it with me, to PM me and I’d support them on the DL. No one took me up on it. Damnit.

But I wasn’t deterred.

And although it was hard at first to say “no thanks!” I got into a rhythm and was drink-free for 7+ months! Now, I’ve promised to always be honest on this blog, so I did have a few drinks on my birthday in August, but I didn’t get drunk! In fact, I fell asleep sans buzz, and woke up feeling awesome! Well, that’s not true. I was allergic to something in the room, and woke up congested and a hot mess of snot, but there was no hangover!!!

I realize that this means I don’t get to say #sober17 anymore (I stopped using the hashtag even). I also realize that if I was in an actual recovery program, that I wouldn’t get to decide to just have a few drinks on my birthday…that’s not how it works. But unlike every diet I’ve started, at least I didn’t say, “well I’ve broken my streak, so screw it!” I went right back to saying “no thanks” and haven’t had a drink since that day, and WILL finish out my mission!

My point in telling yall about Sober ’17 is because I wanted you to know that I’m not just talking about the problem I’m seeing, but trying to walk the walk. But also, an important note: those drinks on my birthday had NOTHING to do with my kids, or being a mom. In fact, I was at a local resort with four of my girlfriends, swimming in a pool and getting a facial. Nothing HARD about that day at all, except the already mentioned allergy attack 🙂 The glass of wine I had wasn’t used to cope with life.

I want us to find other things to help cope with the hard, instead of the “Just have a glass of wine! It fixes everything!”

If you need resources to help with alcohol, check out this list. A sober friend of mine also suggests the podcast, Home. If you know of any other great resources, please comment below. Also, I’m curious to hear your thoughts…is anyone else with me on this?! And please share if you’re so inclined. We can’t change the things we aren’t willing to talk about.

Feel free to PIN IT!





Can kindness be the super hero this Halloween?




It’s that time of year again. You know the time. When people complain about kids who don’t live near them, or kids who don’t live in their neighborhood, coming to their house to ask for a PIECE OF CANDY. Yep, I’m referring to the Halloween Haters.

I know. I know. You live in the huge, popular neighborhood (Baxter Village, Willowmere, Providence Plantation), where you not only have to provide candy to your regular neighborhood kids, but also to kids who DON’T LIVE THERE.

{Here is where I’m supposed to loudly gasp with disgust}

Oh yeah. Except, I’m not disgusted by it. And maybe that’s because I don’t live in the big neighborhood, so I’m not forking over the added cost of feeding children for ONE NIGHT A YEAR. But I just can’t imagine that I would be as livid and as rude as I’ve seen some people be on social media about this. Actually, I know I wouldn’t be like that because I believe the more the merrier, and that we belong to each other, but I digress. Yes, I see your posts/comments. Fun fact: Your comments are seen by your friends’ friends. Yes, I think it’s crazy you’re upset.

I actually saw where a woman had typed, “I think they’re BUSING the poor kids in from miles away!” Or this gem, “I’ve never been a fan of people who go to other neighborhoods to trick or treat.” And another facebooker said, “I’m sick of paying for the extra mouths of the kids I don’t see in our neighborhood on a daily basis…I spent an extra $100 last year!”

WOW.

Let me mention this, in case you’ve forgotten, or it hasn’t dawned on you. Not every kid lives in a neighborhood. Some live on a busy street with no sidewalk. Not every kid lives near other homes. The next closest home might be 5 miles away. Not every kid lives near people who participate in Halloween. Not every kid lives in a SAFE neighborhood where they can walk outside (before OR after dark) and knock on unfamiliar doors, knowing they won’t be in danger.

NOT EVERY KID HAS WHAT YOUR KID HAS…a neighborhood, filled with homes that are warm and welcoming. Or maybe they aren’t, huh?! So I BEG YOU, before you complain AGAIN this year about this “problem,” keep some perspective. You have to buy extra candy, and see some unfamiliar faces, for a few hours on ONE night out of 365. But you may just make a kid’s (or many kids) day, week, or possibly life.

Because these are memories that can last a lifetime. Not just from the Halloween standpoint. But maybe they’ll notice that strangers were kind to them? Maybe they’ll get candy for the first time in a long time, because their parents struggle to get dinner on the table, let alone the “extras” like candy/pencils/stickers/treats?! Or maybe they just really love the decorations your neighborhood puts on display, where their home has none to look at? Maybe they just want to have carefree FUN for one night, and your neighborhood provides that for them?

Sure, there are probably some ungrateful, rude, disrespectful bad eggs in the bunch. But that goes for any neighborhood in America, and I can assure you that some of those rude kids LIVE in your neighborhood FYI! And even if they don’t, why punish the good kids because of a few?

So I ask you, is it really THAT big of a deal? Is it really THAT hard to give them a treat without being bitter? Is it really worth saying anything unkind about them, or their parents who may drive them there?!

And while I’m on the topic of giving out candy even when you don’t want to…give it to the dang teenagers and kids who didn’t put on a costume. I’m thrilled to pieces that they still want to get out there and walk door to door. I also don’t know their motives behind collecting the candy. I know of a few dentist offices that have a “buy back” program, where they’ll give you cash for your pounds of candy, and then they ship that candy to troops overseas! I call that hustling at its finest 😉 Or maybe they’re not getting enough food at home, and haven’t eaten since their free lunch at school? Do they have sensory issues and costumes just don’t work for them, as it’s tough enough to just get them dressed in pants with buttons on them? Does it really bother you THAT MUCH if they’re “too old” or “not dressed up,” or are you “supposed” to be pissed?

Here’s an idea…try not to be annoyed. Instead, feel gratitude. Be appreciative that you live in such a wonderful neighborhood, that people WANT to be in it. Because, if you love all of the perks (fun, safety, decor, kindness) of where you live, how can you expect others not to notice, and want the same, for even just one night?

Or there’s always this idea…turn off the light, don’t answer the door, save all of your money, and don’t see any of the joy you could’ve brought to many faces. Like these…

 

 

 

Throwing back to 2015 I think?!

Let’s have kindness be the superhero this Halloween, shall we?!




Best advice for a high school graduate?!




When I tell people that I coach high school JV cheerleading, I usually get the response, “You’re a SAINT! I could NEVER be around that many teenage girls and keep my sanity!” or something along those lines. Most people definitely pity me, or tell me how awful high-schoolers are, even if they don’t have kids that age yet. Funny huh? 😉

Coaches!

I’m quite quick to tell them that the young ladies I’ve met and coached, are some of the nicest, most polite, respectful, hard-working, funny, and fun people I’ve ever met. It’s actually been my honor to be in THEIR lives. I also tell people if you’re looking for a self-esteem boost, get around 15 teenage girls, as they tell you all the time how great you are and how much they looooooooooooove you (heart emojis are everywhere)!!! 😉

Loving on me! Such a sweet group of girls!

But seriously, I tell them (and their guardians) all.of.the.time how they have given me hope that my minis will be just fine at that age. I ask their guardians often, “what did you do to keep them so sweet? I don’t want to screw mine up because they’re so great now!” Many of them simply say, “she is just a good egg,” “she’s always been this way,” “stay firm and have boundaries, but lead with love,” “I trust her and she trusts me,” and so on and so on…

One of these girls, who was on the Varsity and competition squads, is named Bailey. And not only did she cheer for the school, but she also babysat my minis a few times. I was happy for every moment I (and they) got to spend with her because she is delightful. She never seemed too busy to listen to my old a$s talk about my gymnastics glory days, even though she was probably like, ‘okay Coach Mandie…I get it!’ She would make time to spot Lilly on her tumbling skills, even though she certainly didn’t have to. I never saw her so much as roll an eye at anyone…adults, coaches or peers, during a practice/game/competition/warmup…no matter how much stress she was under.

Bailey…she just LOOKS like a nice person, right?!

So it’s no surprise to me when her mom posted this on Facebook the other day. I’m not facebook friends with her mom, Tracy, but because I am with Bailey (and she was tagged), it came up in my feed. By the end of it, I was SOBBING bit fat tears. Certainly, part of it was because I pictured myself in her shoes, a mother of two daughters. Kids that are so great, that I almost ALWAYS want to be around them. Another part of it was putting myself in Bailey’s shoes, and thinking back to when I was a female headed off to college, and the scary/exciting things that it brought up in my memory.

Mother and daughter!

But this list of advice is spot on, and in my humble opinion, a MUST READ, and a must share. Our graduating girls (and guys even) need to read this. And parents, you do too! Naivety doesn’t work, I promise. Prepare them for the REAL world, as that’s exactly what they’re entering.

Bailey and Tracy! I love the “Be Nice or Leave” sign 🙂

In Tracy Barnett’s words…

“You see, I have this amazing person in my life who will be leaving me soon and I’m supposed to be all chipper and cheery and all “life awaits you” about it. “She will become such a brat that you will be glad to send her off to college” they said. “This is the natural course of events and this is part of your job” they say. “She’s ready” they say. Well….she’s not a brat, I don’t want this particular job to end, and I’m not ready. I am sooooo not ready. And I’m being a big fat baby about it. So I am going to write down my feelings, a stream of conscious thoughts and awkward motherly advice in an attempt to work through the worst of it, so that I truly don’t eff up this most amazing, exciting rite of passage for the best person that I know. Because, in fact, my kid is a way better person than I am, and I am going to miss having her around to aspire to. She really is just that nice, kind, honest, true to her convictions and a good influence on me. So this note to her is part unsolicited advice, part apology and part catharsis solely for my benefit, and likely will be in no logical order.

  1.  Learn to like beer. Seriously. Stay away from liquor. And shots. NEVER do shots, I don’t care who is chanting your name over and over. You, and your conscience, will thank me later. That one bit of advice, alone, will save you from much humiliation and self-flagellation. You’re a tiny girl; you won’t need a lot of alcohol to alter your judgment and make really crappy decisions (especially when it comes to boys, see #3) – I’d like to ask you not to drink at all but I’m not totally naive. So drink beer. My hope is that it will make you feel super full and miserable before you can actually drink enough to get sloppy. Don’t get sloppy – don’t be that girl.
  2. Limit the borrowing of expensive clothes from your roommate. It will be oh so tempting. But…you will spill something, rip something, lose something and it will ruin your friendship and it will piss off her mom. The reverse holds true as well.
  3. Trust your gut and be true to you. Your body is YOUR body and you alone get to decide your boundaries. And sometimes, boys…well, they might fib to sway you. They just do. Not all boys, and certainly not always, but booze-infused boys will pretty much say whatever they think you might want to hear to achieve an end game (see #1, impaired judgement is not limited to girls). Now, here is where I insert a huge blanket apology to my friends who have boys. Your sons are not whom I’m speaking of, but someone out there is raising that arrogant, entitled kid that thinks he can do whatever he wants with whomever he wants – that’s who I’m worried about. And I hope this doesn’t this offend anyone but if it does, then please include the statistics on girls date raping boys on college campuses in your admonishment of me. I’m not a total alarmist on this topic, but I would be lying if I didn’t have some tinge of hesitation about sending my daughter into the arena.
  4. Remember the long game. You are at college to lay a foundation for your future, as an adult. Adulting sucks, in general. But it will suck more if you squander your opportunity to prepare yourself as best you can for the competitive landscape that awaits you upon graduation. I’m all for the work hard/play hard approach to life. Hell, I live it! Gleefully, in fact. But it’s all about the mix. Keep in mind that whichever proportionality you choose, it affects your options in 4 years. I truly feel bad for your generation. Yeah, you’ve got technology by the tail, and yes you are far academically superior to my generation when we were your age, but man are there a lot of you! There is just a much greater percentage of really super smart kids out there today. So if you think the college acceptance process was a discerning bitch, just wait until you and all your peeps are out their vying for a real J.O.B. The competition will be fierce so prepare yourself accordingly.
  5. Be smart on social media. (One of) my proudest moments, as your mom, was recently when a mother of a freshman approached me at your cheer banquet and said “You don’t know me, but I’m (your new favorite person because I’m about to shower you with mommy accolades) and I just want you to know that I, and the other moms, stalk your daughter’s Instagram and Facebook page and hold them up as examples to illustrate to our daughters that this is who they want to emulate.” That, right there, sums up social media and its vast butterfly effect. Oh if only I followed my own advice…but this isn’t about me. Anyway, your take away: Don’t put stupid crap on your social media. People everywhere are judging you (and honestly, you don’t want Nanny calling you too…it’s annoying and she’s usually right about whatever complaint she might have about your posts).
  6. Fake it til you make it. Be confident in yourself, your abilities and your decisions! This is life advice. If you aren’t confident, then figure out how to exude it. It’s a differentiator on almost all playing fields: social, academic and professional. Now, this is not permission to be arrogant. That is also a differentiator of a different sort, which – as a female, will take on the label of “bitch.” That is not what we are going for here. What I am proponing is being confident enough without breaching the tipping point. It’s a delicate balance. Find it.
  7. Leave high school and its drama behind. You don’t want to peak in high school so strive to learn from the lessons that surviving high school teaches you. College is where you come in to your own, better understand the value of true and sincere friendships and become a better version of a friend to others. Always keep in mind to look for those who may be “eating alone” – be friendly and remember how it feels to be left out and don’t be a leaver outer.
  8. So let’s talk about this YOLO approach to life….I’m 50, so a “you only live once” mantra resonates with me much greater now than when I was your age. But you see, if I had applied that philosophy to my decisions at your age, I probably wouldn’t have even made it to 50. Your decisions and actions have consequences. There is life after that Instagram post or Snapchat story where you thought “YOLO, I’ll (fill in the blank with some stupid decision). As you continue to get older, the stakes get higher. So, YOLO has a place…but shouldn’t be a lifestyle.
  9. Try to let me bother you without seeming like I’m bothering you. Meaning: please bear with me and try to put up with me as we walk through this transition together. I will, I have no doubt, be as annoying from 167 miles away as I was (and am) within the same house. Obviously, you can ignore my calls and I haven’t always modeled the best behavior for you on that front (sorry Mom….) but be patient with me. I apologize, in advance, for how much I am going to miss you. 😊
  10. Know that you are supported and loved unconditionally and you can always come home, in the emotional sense. College will bring forth challenges that will seem overwhelming and you may sometimes feel that things are getting the best of you. Always know that we are here for you to guide and support you even if we aren’t physically there. No doubt you will have friends to turn to for much of your emotional needs, but for those things that just seem SO.BIG. know that you can “come home”. We will always be here.

Now go carpe some freakin’ diem!”

ARE YOU CRYING?!!!
{SO.AM.I…AGAIN.}

Tracy, her hubby, Bailey, and her sister. I will blink and this will be Joshua, the minis and me. 🙁

But seriously, HOW GOOD IS THAT?!!! Thank you so much Tracy, for putting this into words! I hope that it is this hard when it’s time for my minis to head off to college (or wherever life takes them after high school). I have a feeling if I’m already hysterical, it will be. Please share if you thought this was great advice…knowledge is power for our kids. And as my friend G always says, “we belong to each other,” and “there’s no such thing as other peoples’ kids.” They’re all our kids you guys. Let’s take care of them. And pretty please, start talking kindly about teenagers…there are some really good ones out there…I promise!

Happy graduation loves!

DON’T FORGET TO PIN IT! IMAGE BELOW (for reference to this post)…