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How to keep your kids healthy during cold/flu season!

I am very proud of the fact that my daughter has never had to go to the doctor for being sick. Even though she is constantly exposed to sick children, including her sister, she never catches these illnesses! They even share drinks, food, give kisses, you name it and I really don't even worry about her catching anything. Actually, I welcome the exposure to these things, because I believe it is part of the reason her immune system is so strong.
This is my little health nut :)

Am I a super awesome, better-than-you mom? I wish I could say that is the reason, but it isn't. I have simply taken a bunch of information from other moms with healthy kids, along with my own research and applied it to my kid. I couldn't be happier with the results.

Are you sick and tired of your kids being sick and tired??? Well read on, my friend. I am going to give you the non-magical tips that I believe lead to the reason my daughter is healthier than any kid I know. *Please note: I am just a mom sharing what works for my daughter, I am not a doctor. *

1. DON'T get the flu shot. You may think you are doing your child a service by staying ahead of the game for cold and flu season, but you are actually damaging their immune system and not allowing it to work its own magic. The flu shot is indisputably loaded with mercury and other toxins that are harmful to the human body and natural immune responses.

2. Keep processed foods and sugar to the minimum. Did you know that Halloween is the kick starter for cold and flu season? Why is this? Well, sugar severely compromises the immune system. After Halloween you have all the other sugar filled holidays and it just makes a big mess that your body can't keep up with. I am not a completely unrealistic person, and I myself am a chocolate lover so my best advice is to only give your kids these things for special occasions.

3. Fruits, veggies, and water!!! So simple. I am really blessed that my daughter absolutely loves fruits and veggies. She would live off of them. She eats fruits and veggies with every meal I make, and for snacks in between. Some easy options are raisins and other dried fruit, berries, and bananas. All things that don't require peeling or slicing so they are super easy. Fruits, vegetables and water are the best ways to detox their bodies from the toxic environments we live in.

4. Supplements. I give them vitamins and probiotics. If they are eating a balanced diet then this may not be necessary, but something high in vitamin D is recommended since kids tend to get less sun during the winter months. Vitamin D is crucial for a properly functioning immune system.

5. Essential Oils! I use Young Living essential oils daily. I use them for non-toxic cleaning, washing my fruits and veggies, for any skin issue, or even just as sickness prevention if we are surrounded by sicklings (which happens quite a bit this time of year.) Did you know you can get rid of ear infections, back pain, fevers, headaches and tons of other conditions with essential oils? I love it, I feel like I have my own doctor kit right at my finger tips!

Young Living also carries a drink that is very high in anti-oxidants that we try to keep around at all times. It is called Ningxia Red. A few months ago, I started having that little itch in my throat that happens before a cold, I drank a couple ounces and within hours my throat was 100% better and I didn't get sick. I highly recommend it for kids too, because it tastes good and is easy to get them to drink. If you want more info on essential oils you can email me at

I also believe that not vaccinating and breastfeeding lead to a healthier child, but these may not be options for you if you already have an older child. The best you can do is detox them with healthy foods and essential oils. If you do these 5 things, I guarantee you will see a difference in your child and get them on the road to a stronger immune system!

The Birds, Bees and Santa

With the holidays quickly approaching, I have been giving the whole Santa Claus thing a whole lot of thought.

A couple months ago Breanna asked me how the baby comes out of your tummy when it's born. Really? This kind of question was not one I was particularly ready to answer, so I danced around with my response hoping she would stop questioning. She didn't. I don't believe in lying to kids, if they are old enough to ask, then I believe they are old enough to know the answer. I said "Well, when the baby is ready to be born it comes out of your lady part." She looked at me for a second and then said "Oh." That was it. I was prepared for shock, disgust, or a further series of questions, but that was enough of an answer for her, that was all she was ready to hear.

We don't give kids enough credit. They are curious little souls, searching for the answers in order to develop themselves. The worst thing we can do as parents is lie to them. This brings me to the whole Santa Claus thing.

No, I am not going to tell you Santa is evil and you are a liar and terrible parent for telling your kid all about him... I just have a different take on it. Children are full of imagination, and a good parent will create an environment where their imagination is free to roam. Do you play with your kids? Play house, dolls, barbies, superheroes? If so then you know that one of the requirements for these games is an imagination. This is how I feel the Santa Claus thing should be treated. It is a game, a way to develop and foster a child's imagination. Playing, in a sense.

While all kids need their imagination to learn and grow, they also need a solid ground to land on. What happens when the dreaded question arises... "Is Santa Claus real?" Well, for me the answer will be easy. "No. We play Santa, but he is only real in our imaginations." Once again, I don't believe in lying to kids. Doesn't mean we can't still "play Santa" even if they know he isn't real. If they are ready to ask, they are ready to know the truth.

This will develop a deep level of trust. This says, I can play with you and imagine with you, but I will also tell you the truth, no matter what. I want my kids to trust me and come to me with anything, and for that to happen, it starts with Santa.

10 Healthy Grocery Store Tips for Natural Kids!

Lately I have had quite a few people ask me what kind of stuff I buy at the grocery store... Shopping for kids is not easy, mostly because they are usually very picky. It is a little easier for me because our girls are super good eaters and like to eat fruits and veggies, but there are still healthy options for kids with a more limited palate. Here are some grocery store guidelines that I always follow:

1. Check your labels! If your 1st grader can't pronouce it then you shouldn't buy it! Some of the the bad ones are: monosodium glutamate (MSG), propylene glycol (this is in personal care products too) any kind of nitrates, BHT, anything with corn or soy (unless its organic), high fructose corn syrup, aspertame, any type of food dyes... hmmm the list goes on but those are the basics.

*If you buy anything in a box or can, just make sure it is certified organic and you will avoid almost all of these things. It may be a couple dollars more, but what you are saving your kid's bodies from is well worth the money.

2. Make easy kid food with a healthy twist. I buy mac and cheese, but I buy organic and instead of using milk, I use rice milk and instead of butter I use organic coconut oil, get creative. Which brings me to my next thing...

3.Coconut oil! Every parent should have this in their cupboard. Extra virgin, expeller pressed, organic coconut oil. It can be used as an super healthy substitute for butter or just thrown in for a healthy twist. I use it in pancakes, on pasta, you can even use it in smoothies, or just give your kids a spoon full of it, it tastes good and is full of nutritients similar to those found in breast milk! You can also use it straight in the eye to cure pink eye, to moisturize, make scrubs, fight candida (yeast) etc....

4. To eat healthy doesn't mean make everything from scratch. These days you can find all sorts of frozen and ready made, organic foods. I buy the girls organic frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and even cookies for special treats. Don't make it overly complicated, while the goal is to make everything yourself, you don't want to overwhelm yourself and give up completely.

5. Less juice more water. If you have a kid like mine then breaking a juice habit is not an easy one. Since she won't drink plain water I put a dash of juice in it to flavor it slightly. As time has gone on I put less and less juice and now it is so minimal she is drinking mostly water. Never buy juice or milk unless its organic.

6. Milk. Despite what our traditions tell us, kids don't actually NEED milk. It is actually bad for them and causes inflamation in the body (ear and sinus infections, bowel issues, skin problems and other various illnesses, not to mention it is FULL of sugar.) This is a habit that is also hard to break, but can be done slowly. My almost two year old drinks rice milk. Other good options are coconut milk, almond milk, and hemp milk. There is no reason we NEED to drink animal's milk. I still buy cheese and yogurt but it is always organic and we keep dairy consumption to a minimum.

7. Fruits and veggies. I buy about 75-80% of my produce organic. It doesn't have to cost more! I buy most organics at Costco and they are the same price as the regular stuff at the grocery store! It is soooooo worth the membership fee because they also have organic meats for very low prices! The rule we follow for fruits and veggies around here is that they have at least one fruit or veggie with every meal and if they want an extra snack they can have apples, raisins, carrots, grapes, or a banana. Don't waste the opportunity to feed them something healthy. Some of the worst things in the grocery store are the snacks!

8. Cleaning supplies. Chemicals cause cancer. What are cleaning products? Chemicals. I no longer use chemicals to clean. Vinegar and water works just as well and kills 99% of bacteria naturally. I soak my citrus peels in the vinegar to give it a better smell and it is so much cheaper! For the kids bath tub I use baking soda. Think about it.... Do you want your kids soaking in whatever chemical you just used on your bath tub?

9. Baths! A bath is a great opportunity to detox your child, but it can also be a pool of harmful chemicals. I suggest adding apple cider vinegar and/or epsom salts to your child's bath. Another important thing to remember is that personal care products are some of the biggest carcinogens out there. Once again, check labels. Johnson & Johnson, Aveeno or any other major name brand is going to be pure chemicals. Sodium lauryl sulfate (or any variation of that name) is antifreeze, propylene glycol, and any added scents are poison. Buy your products from Young Living, or at the health food store.

10. Toothpaste. Fluoride, contrary to popular belief is poison. There is a reason that you must call poison control if your child swallows even more than a pea sized amount!!! A pea? Really? Buy fluoride free toothpaste, that is also free from sodium lauryl sulfate.

This list may seem overwhelming, but just do one thing at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself! There are adjustments that must be made to budgets and bad habits, give yourself time and keep the research going, this just scratches the surface!

New blog title and description!

New title and description. Why? Well, I love that my blog helped a few frustrated step parents along the way, but the winds have changed for me. While I continue to be a very passionate and involved step parent, I am also a mother to two (in January) other children. After pinning a few posts on pinterest, I have gotten thousands of hits on my blog and don't want to limit what I write about. I want to keep that momentum going and be able to rant on about what is pressing on my heart, not to be limited by a category as specific as step parenting. Mothering is a mission, and I am excited to write about my journeys.

Thanks for reading!

Have everything you thought you always wanted, but still not happy?

There is a huge problem with depression in today's society. More then ever, people are turning to medications, drinking, and unhealthy relationships in order to "solve" their problems. Some of us don't do that. Some of us get the life we always dreamed of, and then find that it is not all it is cracked up to be. We have the job, husband, house, money or kids that we once fantasized about, but for some reason there is no satisfaction in it. Why? We are always working towards something and when that "something" is complete, then we will be happy, right? No, wrong. Happiness is a journey...

I am convinced that everyone feels a little lost at some point in their life, so if this is you, guess what? You are not alone. This is the point where you decide if you are going to rely on outside sources (drugs, alcohol, relationships, material items, a degree etc) for your "happiness" or look inside yourself and find the reason God put you on this planet. Nobody is here by accident, and until you stop looking at happiness as a destination, I am convinced you will never find it. The journey of finding your purpose is an interesting one, and just when you think you have found it, something pulls you in a new direction. 

How do you know what your passions are? What haunts you, makes you sad, pulls at your heart strings? If you had all the money or resources in the world what would you do? There is where you will find your answers. These are the steps that will help you start your journey:

1. What keeps you up at night? This is a loaded question.. For some people, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, or finances would be the answer. If that is you, the first thing you have to do is let go. 

2. Forgive. No matter how inexcusable someone's behavior might be, there is no reason to allow it to consume your peaceful time. Why do we dream at night? This is supposed to be our peaceful, pensive, development time. If it is anything but that, you have some work to do. Forgiveness can be a process. Even if it means seeking outside help, DO IT. Reclaim your peace.

3. Once you have a clean slate you can begin to paint the canvas of your future. It is the time between your crazy day, and when you fall asleep that you will find the starting point on your journey. Slow down. Stop filling your days with so many useless things, and figure out what is TRULY important. Only do those things.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.." Jeremiah 29:11

Enjoy the journey. Every struggle, every obstacle. Some days I want to pull my hair out with kids demanding stuff, bills piling up, or any other bump that shows up in the road. Sometimes it feels we aren't even going to get through the day, much less work towards a higher purpose! That's ok. Don't be so desperate for the "better days" ahead that you can't enjoy the little things in THIS day. The daily moments I treasure are, hearing my baby girl sing, feeling my baby kicking and growing in my belly, hanging out on the couch with my husband after the kids go to bed, learning a new thing I read, and laying down to sleep, peacefully. 

Tomorrow, the journey continues. I encourage you to start yours too :)

Generation spoiled rotten

Every parent, for the most part, wants to give their kids the best of everything. The best food, clothes, education, and medical care. I find myself reading, researching, and constantly searching for answers on every little thing in order to make sure I have no regrets after my parental duties are over and my kids are on their own.

One of the most important things to me and my husband is making sure our kids have what they need to take on the world that they will grow old in. It will be very different than it is today, and while I might not being able to change the world, I can change the influence that my kids have on it. The majority of kids today are learning bad habits that will turn them into self serving, materialistic and entitled human beings. The question is why? Well I could write a whole blog on how family life these days has got to crap, but that is for another day ;) For now I will just share a little story, along with an epiphany I had the other day. 

On Sunday we had a birthday party for my step daughter. Invited her friends, family, neighbors etc.. The fancy cake, special themed plates and napkins, balloons, you name it. I think every parent knows that when it comes to birthday parties, even simple ones, you still spend a small fortune and lots of preparation time. It was a great day, Bre got loaded with all kinds of new gifts and had a fun time. When everyone left I was sitting on the couch decompressing from the craziness and she says to me, "You didn't put any decorations on the windows." I said, "Well we just did the balloons for decorations instead." Her response, "Well it wasn't pretty." I sat there shocked because Bre is not a bratty kid. She wasn't even saying it in a snotty way, but after ALL of that the only thing she had to say was that the decorations weren't "pretty"? 

What have I done wrong? Being a step parent has more challenges then a regular parent because you have all the influence but none of the control. I realized that this really isn't her fault, we have set such high standards for her that we can't even keep up with ourselves. I couldn't shake it. My husband tells me that I let these kinds of things bother me too much and that it was just a comment, but I can't help but feel like we are setting her up for entitlement. 

It has always bothered me that holidays and birthdays seem to be so focused on gifts and material items,  but fighting that in todays society is so hard because you don't want your child to miss out on anything either. The solution: We decided that from now on we are not going to do big, fancy birthday parties every year. Instead we are going to take whoever the birthday kid is, out to do something special with just them, no other siblings. We are going to have 3 and with that many kids it is rare for one to have both parents to themselves. 

We want to create memories that they can take with them all their lives, not a bunch of plastic, crappy toys that are just going to get thrown away. After all, a birthday is a celebration that they are here on this earth with us. Do we want to show them that their value is a bunch of toys and material items? This is just one of many ways to simplify our children's lives and set them up for a future full of rich relationships and memories. #simplicityisbliss  :)

Hail to the boob!

Warning: I am not going to hold back my opinion whatsoever in this post, so if you are offended easily I suggest not reading.

Lately I have met lots of moms who have for one reason or another decided not to breast feed their babies. I find it ironic that a breastfeeding mom shows up on the cover of Time magazine and people are horrified, yet nobody seems to think twice when you pull out the formula, shake it up and feed it to your baby. Do people know what is in formula?! I read the ingredients on everything, and that may seem crazy, but these days it is a MUST!

The main ingredient in most popular formulas is corn syrup solids. You are thinking, so what? Corn, its a vegetable, right? Well no it is a grain, and it is one of the top genetically modified foods in the country. Genetically modified foods are NOT safe for human consumption, and the fact that the FDA allows them is a whole other rant I won't get into. This may sound like another language to some of you, but if something is going into your childs body, don't you want to know exactly what it is??? I am finding more often than not, people don't even LOOK at the ingredients in formula, much less care what each thing is.

Formula feeders are so sensitive, you can't even HINT that breastfeeding is the better choice. Moms like myself are forced to keep our mouths shut even when we hear about how their babies are allergic to this formula, won't eat that formula, or have health problems.. Breast feeders are forced tip toe around saying that they don't pass any judgement, and each person has the right to choose how to feed their baby. WELL I do pass judgement. My opinion is that your baby should have breast milk, otherwise you shouldn't have babies. Harsh, maybe, but back in the day if you weren't able to do it yourself, you had to find someone to do it for you.

I have lots of friends who formula feed, and I still love them all, but I can't pretend that their decision is what is best for their child. Its not. Every organization on the planet says that breast is best, so for once I don't stand with the few and far between on this issue. If you can't breastfeed (which is a VERY RARE occurence), find someone to do it for you, or learn how to make your own formula from natural, healthy ingredients... Formula is the easy way out, and you will pay for it later when your child is sick all the time and has health issues galore. Formula will sustain a child to survive, but they will not thrive. The fact is that SIDS rates are significantly lower in breastfed babies as well as health and weight problems.

There, I have said my peace. There is loads of information out there on this topic and as a parent it is your resonsibility to give your child the best. Do the research, see for yourself. I promise that you will be conviced that the boob was a great invention ;)

Finding your happy place

Step parenting doesn't come with a hand book, but it sure would be nice! This past November we gained half custody of my step daughter and right away we knew that things were not going to be the same as they were when we only had her weekends. Normally she is a well behaved, happy and upbeat kid, but things seemed to take a turn for the worst. She acted depressed, whiny and impossible to please. What happened to the little girl we once knew?

For the first few months I did absolutely everything in my power to make her happy when she was with us. I took her to do fun things, bought her stuff, went out of my way to make her feel special, and it was all helpful in the moment, but the minute we were back to "regular life" she would fall straight back into crying for her mom and acting depressed. She was completely unreasonable. She would use our phones to call her mom at all hours of the day and night (let me remind you she is 5) and every time she got off the phone she would sob for the next hour. We tried making mommy pictures, little notes, phone calls, special "talks" and none of it would help.

I was on the verge of losing my mind. Having a miserable and difficult kid not only is hard on them, but it is hard on the other kids and parents. There is no worse feeling then trying your very hardest to make someone happy, only to see them worse off every moment. One day I had the most beautiful epiphany. I can't make her happy, and it is our job to create the environment, not allow her to create it.

That day started a new chapter in all of our lives. I was done. Done catering to nasty behavior, done going out of my way to please her, done stressing myself out, I quit. Dustin and I laid down new rules.

These are the rules:

1. No more calling mommy without our permission- We would allow her to call once a day, but not when she was exhausted and going to throw a royal fit when she got off the phone.

2. No more crying for mommy- I know this sounds harsh, but we told her it is ok to miss mommy, and if she wants to cry for her she can go to her room and do it. We told her that we were all happy and when she was ready to be happy she could come out and be happy too.

3. No more killing myself trying to keep every minute of her day occupied- We can't change our whole lives every other week to accommodate Breanna. We love when she is home, but this is our life and she has to learn how to be happy with that life, even if some days we just hang out around the house.

Within two weeks of these new rules she was back to her old self. The first couple days she might go in her room and cry for 5 minutes, but once she saw it wasn't phasing us, she stopped. She started playing with her sister nicely, reading her books, and playing with her toys again.We even got good reports about how well she was doing at her mom's house. Not only was she happier, but she rarely says she misses her mom, or wants to call her. She has learned to enjoy the time she has here. She still has a struggle or two here or there, but nothing we can't handle.

It amazes me how kids need guidance in every area of their lives, even emotionally. We had to teach her how to properly control her emotions. It is a hard lesson to learn at such a young age, but it is her reality. She has two families that love her and want to spend time with her, some kids don't even have one. Splitting time in two different homes will always be a challenge, but as a step parent I am thrilled to say she has the best transition possible into our happy home.

Natural teeth whitener!

Make your own natural teeth whitener! Cheap and healthier way to whiten your teeth with stuff you probably already have sitting around!
2 Tbsp Baking Soda
2 drops lemon oil (lemon juice will work too)
1 drop water (enough to make it into paste)

Get your teeth as dry as possible and gently brush the mixture onto your teeth. Let it sit for a minute and then repeat until desired whiteness is achieved!

The cost of a stamp, 40 days of give it away!

Here I am about 18 days into the 40 day give it away challenge and even though I still have 22 days left to go I am still amazed at the changes I have made in my thinking. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and I can see how this has already proven true. Throughout the last 2 and a half weeks I have made an effort to give something away no matter what. I have paid for peoples drinks in line behind me at Starbucks, done a little volunteer work, made cupcakes for the neighbor, and somedays I just gave someone a compliment for no reason. Giving is a mentally not just an action. I am now constantly thinking of ways in which I can give to others. I am not proud to say, this was rarely on my mind at all before.

                   (Bre at the Feeding the Children Everywhere volunteer event, in her lovely hair net)

In the last couple weeks Dustin and I have had a few financial blows that had me discouraged. I was starting to wonder if maybe I should postpone this challenge until we were more stable, but I got the reassurance I needed to keep going...

It was later in the day, the kids were cranky and Hazel was exhausted and screaming in the back seat. I needed some stamps for mail Dustin asked me to send that day. I went to 7-11 and asked the lady if they sold stamps and she said no. UGHGH!!! They used to sell stamps! How annoying, I was already in a bad mood and just wanted to get home and this didn't help. As I was leaving, another lady was going out the door the same time as I was and told me Publix had them. I told her thanks and went to go drag myself and screaming kids over to Publix to get the stupid stamps.

Just as I was closing my door the lady came back over and asked me how many stamps I needed. I counted my letters and told her, "four." She said "Oh I will just give them to you" and went back to her car to see if she had that many. She had exactly 4 stamps left, which she gave to me. I thanked her oohhhhh so much and went back to my car. God bless that lady.

I know a stamp is only about 44 cents, but it was not the point. That lady had never seen me in her life, but she was generous enough to give me stamps and save me the hastle. It made me realize that even though somedays when I only have 4 stamps to give, it still makes a difference. It encouraged me and made me realize that its not about the money, it is about the gesture, the kindness, the outward thinking.

I have learned a lot about myself in this process so far, but the biggest thing I realized is how desperately I needed to think outside my four little walls. Imagine how different this world would be if everyone looked after others and took the focus off of themselves? I never plan on going back to my "old ways" and will continue searching for opportunities to give whenever possible..... Even if it is just a stamp.

40 days of give it away!

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how I want my kids to be givers, not receivers. I want them to think outside of their four walls about other children who are less fortunate and may even go to bed hungry.

While everyone likes to receive things, there is a difference in receiving and being a receiver. I personally want myself and family to be the people who GIVE to people in need. With that said, I have come up with a little challenge for anyone who wants to participate. For the next 40 days we are going to challenge ourselves to give something away every single day. I am not talking about donating stuff we don't need to the poor, because we should do that anyways. Giving something away that is valuable is what this is all about. It could be as simple as paying for the persons drink in the line behind you at Starbucks, or donating some of your time volunteering. You reap what you sow and while some days you might find if difficult to give when you barely have yourself, do it anyway.

I am going to keep a log of the cool experiences I have along the way, and I encourage you to do the same! See you in 40 days!

Bye bye baby belly!

As parents, we want to do our absolute best for our children and often times neglect ourselves in the process. We don't have time to exercise or eat right because we are so busy taking care of everyone else. The problem with this is that our children will follow in our footsteps. If we live an unhealthy lifestyle our children will also. After having Hazel I found myself to be constantly exhausted, I felt like everyone was sucking the life right out of me. I have always worked out, but in the last month or so I have gotten serious about making it a priority.. These are the things I have done to get myself healthy:

-Eat when I wake up (usually a hard boiled egg.) I like to do my workout first thing in the morning so this gives me the protein I need to get my through it.
-Eat a lot of small meals throughout the day. I go grocery shopping every weekend and stock up on healthy snacks (granola bars, lunch meat, nuts, fruit, veggies, and cheese.) If you don't have healthy things available to munch on throughout the day you may be tempted to go through a drive thru and get a burger or something. Most people eat bad out of convenience.
-No food after 7pm! Water only!
-Jillian Micheals 30 day shred- best workout DVD ever! After 20 days I am on the hardest level and getting amazing results (and I can do it in my pjs!)
-Drowning myself with water (at a minimum, 12 cups a day)

I now have the energy to keep up with two kids and sleep better at night than I have in a long time. I am not going to tell you it is easy, but the hard work definitely pays off!! I am more confident than ever and motivated by my results.

(Please excuse my messy closet)

I  also suggest picking a date that you want to achieve your results by and when you feel like giving up, remember that date! Even if it means planning a night away with your significant other as a reward to yourself, that can be your motivation! In the process you will become a better parent because you are leading by example and setting your family up for a healthy life! Good luck, and I would love to hear about your success!

Getting Started with Healthy Living!

Recently I have had a lot of people ask me for my sources of information for vaccine information and natural medicine. I decided to compile some of the info I have in one spot for people to reference when searching for answers.

Vaccine Epidemic by Louise Kuo Habakus MA, Mary Holland
Vaccine Illusion by Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D. in immunology
Doctor of the Future by Dan Yachter
Louder Than Words by Jenny McCarthy


This is a good well rounded start, but believe me there are plenty more resources!!!! The most important thing about this subject is doing your OWN research and not just taking other people's word for it. Even your doctor or pediatrician may not have very much detailed information. There is no doctor better than a parent. Do not be motivated by fear but rememeber knowledge is power. It may seem overwhelming, but just take one thing at a time and make the best decision for your family.

:) Courtney

Baby Boundaries

I don't know about everyone else, but when it comes to my job as a parent I take it very seriously. Almost too seriously. I get stressed out about the dumbest things, and want to make the absolute BEST decisions for my kids at all times. I spend hours researching random stuff, looking for fun crafts, shopping for the healthiest food, reading parenting books and looking for answers to every question that pops into my head. It gets to a point where I become overwhelmed and if a kid is sad or mad or bored for any reason I feel like I am failing as a parent. I know that may sound ridiculous, but being a parent is my most important job and I want to give my all.

In the last couple days I came to the realization that in order to be the best possible parent I can't be stressed or overwhelmed. I need balance. For me this balance comes in the form of setting boundaries with my kids. I have put together a little list of things that I think are important in order for parents to keep their sanity. Everyone knows, if mama ain't happy, nobody is happy.

1. When going to the bathroom close and LOCK the door- What a concept, huh? I promise you, they will survive out there.
2. Consistent bedtimes- Putting kids to bed early is not only beneficial to them, but you will be amazed how nice it is to have some "you" time.
3. Quiet time- During the day when you are going to lose your mind, send everyone to their room (or playpen) for at least 30 minutes so you can catch your breath.
4. Demand a regular date night!- My husband can tell when I need a night out because I get super cranky. It is a wonderful thing to get dolled up and spend time with the one you love.
5. Take a shower!!- I make a point of taking a shower and doing a little makeup every single day. After all, I am a woman too, not just a mom.
6. Make this list longer!- Don't be afraid to put yourself first once in a while. Set boundaries with your kids and stick to them.

While your world does revolve around your kids most of the time, it is important not to lose sight of who you are and what you love! Make time for hobbies and friends, and the end result will be a more fulfilled parent who can live up to their fullest potential!

Victim or victorious?!

We have all met "that" person. The one who doesn't want anyone to rain on their pity party parade. The one who doesn't want you to offer a solution because they enjoy being the victim. A victim always gets screwed and someone else is always in the wrong. They feed off the attention they get from a "horrible" situation or circumstance. There are two types of people, victims and those who are victorious.

At some point in our lives we are all victims. Bad stuff happens to everyone, and you are defined by how you handle this bad stuff, not whether or not it happens to you. Victims will wallow in a pool of self pity forever until the next bad thing happens to wallow in, but a victorious person gets mad, cries, yells and pulls them self together. Being a victim is a mentality. If you consider yourself to be one, then you always will be.

To be perfectly honest, today I had a crappy thing happen to me. Someday when it is a closed case (literally) I will elaborate in my step parenting diaries but for now we will just call it a crappy thing. When said thing happened I was mad as hell. Here I am putting my heart and soul into being the best possible parent and step parent and not only is it unappreciated, but it is threatened. I know, I know poor me. Woe is me, I do my best and still don't get anything for it except for government officials knocking on my door. NO! I cried, got mad, but then I realized that none of that was going to change anything. I know in my heart that I am doing what is right for my kids and on THAT I will stand. I am taking victory over this situation. I will NOT be threatened or fearful, I have given God the control and I know that yet again he will pull through for me. I am victorious.

Many times we are in situations that will make us or break us, and how we react is what decides the outcome. It is ok to be mad or sad, but at some point you have to pull yourself together or you will always be the victim. I don't know about you, but I know I would much rather live victoriously. I used to hate when people would say that you choose your own destiny, but it is true! If you have pity parties nobody wants to come, but a victory party is a lot more fun!!!

Thank you to all my friends and family who love and support me, I could never fight this battle without you and NEVER have I been more grateful!

Know your place!

When first entering the world of step parenting I was reluctant. I didn't know what my role should be in my step daughter, Breanna's life. Things became clearer to me after having my daughter. I realized that it was not fair for me to take a back seat in my step daughters life yet give myself 100% to my own daughter. It is not right for Breanna to suffer because of her parents incompatibility.

I remember being so scared to step on anyones toes. I was afraid to give all because I knew that would mean pissing some people off. I was torn because I knew what was best for Breanna in her life over here with us, but didn't want to over step the boundaries. In getting to know my husband better, and realizing what he wanted for his daughter and for our new family I felt more confident in my role. I know now that the best thing I can do is treat her as if she were my own. It is not my job to worry about pleasing her mother, my husband's family or my family. My job is to do my very best, for both Breanna and our family and if that means stepping on some toes, then so be it. No decision regarding Breanna ever effects just her. It effects all of us.

Has this caused some waves? Yes, but that is ok. I sleep well at night because I know that I am doing everything in my power to have a happy, healthy family. Nothing worth doing is ever easy and I know that someday all the energy I have put into Breanna will be rewarded. Step parents need all the support they can get so the best way to be a good one is to block out all the negative people! Stand your ground, fight for your family, and surround yourself with people who build you up, not break you down. I want to encourage the step parents out there to follow their heart and do your absolute best. If your best makes people mad, sounds like a personal issue they need to deal with. Your loyalty was never to them anyways! Much love friends!

When the fit hits the shan.

I believe there are certain rules when it comes to discipline and step parenting. I know that being a step parent to older children is a totally different ball game, but getting into the child's life at a younger age brings different challenges. When the kids are older (as I was when my mom remarried) the step parent is more of a friend and not so much like a "parent." In my opinion that is the way it should be because the children already have a "mom" and "dad" that they answer to and do not need a new person coming in trying to change that. I don't believe it is ok for the step parent to do the disciplining in this case. When someone is dating a person with older children, they need to decide before thinking about marriage if they can handle the way things are without coming in and trying to change everything.

What about with younger ones? In this case the struggles are not going to be with the child because they will never remember a time without you. I have no issues getting my step daughter to listen to me (actually sometimes she listens to me better than her father, hehe.) The relationship with a step child should be a strong one before you think about any sort of discipline. Of course every family has their own ways of disciplining their child and while I may give my daughter Hazel a smack on the hand or butt, I am not going to do that with Breanna. Why? Well it is a personal thing. My husband wouldn't do it either, and we are able to get results from putting her in her room or taking away a privilege. I have to admit, I am really lucky to have such a well behaved step child. Don't get me wrong, she has her moments where she tries to be the boss, but we get her in check real quick. Until I was comfortable with Breanna's and my relationship I would play tattle tale to daddy to get her to listen, but now we have a mutual respect for each other and she knows I mean business.

"Will you marry us?"

Family has taken on a new meaning in todays society. It is not the norm for there to be a mom, dad and two kids anymore. Divorce is more common than ever, and people are having children with partners they are not married to. There are all kinds of variations in a child's home life, and with that comes new challenges. Nobody day dreams when they are little about growing up to be a step parent, or dealing with crazy exes, but this is reality for many of us. This is my story.

My husband and I met and fell in love just like any other couple. After our first couple dates he tells me he has a one and a half year old daughter! I was pissed. Not because he had a beautiful and sweet little girl, but because he didn't tell me from the start!!! This was the first person I ever dated with a kid (and the last, hehe) so I had no clue what I was getting into. I didn't meet Breanna until a few months later when we both knew our relationship was getting more serious. I thought to myself , "I love kids, how hard could this be?"

Over the next year I grew attached not only to my handsome boyfriend, but his little girl as well. I knew that I wanted to be a part of their lives, and that I found them for a reason. I knew I could bring something to them that nobody else could and they could do the same for me. On November 8th, 2009 all three of us said "I do." It was the start of our lives and the beginning of an adventure. Breanna is now five and a half and the main piece of advice that I can give any step parent is to always put the kids first. Simple as it may sound, you can never go wrong when you follow that advice.

People often ask, "How can you love someone elses child the same way that you love yours?" I have always thought that it would be awesome to adopt a kid and while being a step parent is slightly different than adopting, it is also very similar because you still want to treat them as if they are your own. Here is the thing..... Loving a step child doesn't have to "feel" the same as loving a child that came from your own body. Don't beat yourself up about it. When my husband and I had our baby girl, I was filled with emotions that I never felt with Breanna, and that is ok. Loving a kid isn't all about a feeling, it is about your actions toward that child. I have always treated Bre as one of my own, and done everything the same as I would with my own daughter. I have always gone out of my way to make her feel special ,even after the baby got here, and she hasn't had a single jealous moment, so I know I am doing something right. It all goes back to putting the kids first. While they may be innocent and naive little souls, they will know deep down that you are doing your best and they will love you for it.

Bre and I have a great relationship, I love when she crawls up on my lap and tells me she loves me. Ever since our daughter Hazel was born Breanna says she should call me mommy too since that is what Hazel calls me. I am fine with that. I am not going to tell her what she can and can't call me. I want her to call me whatever feels right to her, sometimes its mommy, and sometimes its Courtney, I answer to both.

Throughout this blog I will share with you my experiences, and lessons I learned from them, in hopes that you won't have to go through some of the not so fun stuff that I have in this journey. If you find it beneficial or know someone who would benefit from reading, follow me! We will adventure through this together!

Hippie Parenting... minus the drugs ;)

In the last year I have taken a lot of judgement from people about my beliefs as far as health care are concerned. Yes, I might be kind of a hippie. I breast feed, don't vaccinate, feed my kids mostly organic and use chemical free diapers (next baby will be cloth.) However, I would never criticize someone for doing it differently. I have been called names, yelled at, talked bad about and given dirty looks. I had a specific person say, "I know Courtney is very knowledgeable about how SHE thinks health should be but we have always taken the science route." While I don't feel the need to defend my stance to anyone, I do think it is only fair that I am able to state my points for those who are truly interested, and not just out to judge me.

First off, why do people get so offended that I don't vaccinate my child? If their argument is that they are worried their child will catch something from mine then they really don't believe in vaccine effectiveness either. If their child is vaccinated then they should have nothing to worry about being around my "contaminated" child. Isn't that why they immunize in the first place?

Secondly, if the "science" route is so great then why are today's kids sicker than ever? The person who made the above statement will most likely never read this, but the fact that their children are sick at least once a month and have several health problems proves that their precious "science" route is not working and it may be time to try something new.

Thirdly, I have to say that my daughter has not been to the doctor since she was 3 months old (for a well visit.) She simply has not needed to go. She has never been sick with anything besides a runny nose that only lasted a couple days at most. She does not have any health problems and is a happy, smart, and perfect baby. So next time someone judges my hippie ways they need to compare their child's health to my daughter's. The proof is in the puddin'.

Last but not least, I don't think the medical community is evil. I love the doctor who delivered my baby and I love her pediatrician. I think the advances in medicine have saved countless lives. As with anything there is always going to be abuse when there is money to be made. This is where I draw the line as far as the medical care for my daughter. Very simply put, I want her body to be free from as many man made products as possible.

If you are going to hate me then at least now you know why. Peace and love to you all ;)

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