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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MOM 2015 Resolutions - part 3

Thank you to this awesome super mom, Jess Bussey for sharing her ideas for what will make 2015 great for her family - I'll give you a hint: it includes letting things go and not caring as much about the details like clean sinks.

Thanks, mama! Happy New Year!

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JESS BUSSEY
Mom of the Month November 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/11/mom-of-month-jess-bussey.html



1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014?
Not something I exactly learned but was thrown into with no choice... Returning back to work full time after 3 years off and having to manage 4 different schedules! I'm still learning how to balance all this work life and home life. It's a challenge every day for sure!
2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year?
More family fun activities. And less stress & drama from a certain part of our lives. (I'll leave it at that!)
3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015?
Happy, healthy, fun
4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015?
Try and let go a little about obsessing over the clean house/rooms. The kids rooms are not mine and if they want them a certain way I need to set my OCD aside and let it be. 
And know that the dirty dishes and dirty floors will still be there after I play that game with the kids. Also keep my health & exercise (only 30 min!) a priority.
5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you?
The thing that I found that worked best was just getting up that extra half hour early. While it totally sucks it's totally worth it to get it done before your day even starts and just be done with it! No interfering with your day or family's!



great things on the Mommy Stories

Happy New Year's Eve, mommies!
I love this time of year. I feel like things get more focused, settled down and exciting after the holidays and around New Year's. It's just exciting to think about what's to come in the new year. I just saw a post on Facebook this morning of a cool quote that I think sums up this time of year: "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!" and then this one made me stop with awe…


I have been thinking about this blog post for two months now, with so many exciting things happening. There was a time late summer early fall that I was feeling pretty down about the Mommy Stories Facebook group and drama that was ensuing there. I was feeling like I was doing something wrong, like I needed to be doing something differently to keep things running smoothly with the 1500 moms in there. After talking to some trusted mom-friends about the blog and seeing that there are like 99 to 1 positive experiences in the group, and after taking to heart one friend's truthful advice "You can't please everyone. You just keep doing what you're doing, it's GREAT and working for more moms than the ones it's not working for. Keep doing your thing," I have listened and done just that.

I scan the group daily, sometimes multiples times a day, to be sure there is no drama or negativity. I try to encourage positivity, like with Momma Mondays, asking moms to give a shout out of encouragement to another mom. It's working! The group is growing (1500 people and more!). People say "thank you, I don't know what I'd do without this group" on a daily basis it seems. I am so grateful for the camaraderie in there. I know it helps moms.

I've realized after so much observation and reflection for the last few months that are GREAT things happening in the Mommy Stories discussion group on Facebook and via this blog. I'm so proud of what it's becoming. 

Sometimes it's just small things that are amazing in this group. Like the fact that you can post in the middle of the night, frantic about a rash or sickness, unsure what to do, and by morning you have at least 15 responses from real moms who get it.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS
A few specific examples that make me smile:
  • Every time a new baby is born someone posts congratulating the mother. I love these! In December we had a momma Jillian Rogers deliver twins and post the most ADORABLE picture of her babies in winter hats. The support for these brand new babies was astounding. In a day this picture received 300+ likes. I love the simplicity of that and yet how powerful it must have been to that brand new momma.

Image shared with permission from Jillian Rogers
  • My good friend shared numerous dairy free recipes for other moms who have children with dairy allergies. There are quite a few parents who have kids with allergies in this group and I love that there is sharing and support happening for them. 
  • Numerous times moms post pictures children with rashes and medical issues. The instant response from other moms is so helpful. I know, personally, when I posted hives a few weeks ago and was panicked, waiting to hear from the doctor's office wasn't as helpful as the moms who replied INSTANTLY to me on Facebook. It's a resource we're all lucky to have. 
  • I've tried featuring REAL moms on my blog with real topics that mean something to we mothers… like postpartum depression and fire safety for your family. I hope that moms are helped by these stories. 
My favorite from the entire year though was something I never imagined would happen through this group of moms from all over the world - yes, world, not just country, crazy! A mother posted that her well was not working. She was so worried with wintery cold days and several children at home, she didn't know what to do. Another mother from another state somehow connected her own husband to the original mom with the well issue husband… and voila, a few hours later the well was fixed and she had water for her family again! It was the craziest, most amazing thing I've seen. Real moms, really caring, and connecting for support and encouragement. Wow. And it cost NOTHING. I love this. 

I'm so proud that this blog and discussion group can be a vehicle for positive moments among mothers. 



Along with all of the great things in the group have become some things that I never expected, some exposure out there on the World Wide Web that I never ever anticipated or planned on and am happily surprised by.

HUFFINGTON POST
First, I posted this feature of mom Meghan Szylvian writing a letter to her premature babies back at the end of June.
 http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-letter-to-my-premature-babies-meghan.html
Then at the end of July the HUFFINGTON POST picked it up and asked her permission to re-post the article on their site. HUFFINGTON POST. Do you see that?! It's pretty much the most amazing blog rep-posting site ever. I was shocked when I saw this.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meghan-szylvian/

Then it got better, in August, Huffington Post in ENGLAND asked also to re-post this article. I was elated! I did not write the article, the credit goes all to Meghan and her beautiful babies, but having my blog be the vehicle that got it to such high success and leading to other moms around the world writing to Meghan with support and encouragement… that's AMAZING.


Images shared from Meghan Szylvian 


PEE-KABOO POTTY STICKERS
In August I was so grateful to talk to Nina from pee-kaboo reusable potty training stickers. She is an AMAZING momma and hard worker. I was one of the first mom bloggers to test out her new product and promote it to the world here on my blog:
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/pee-kaboo-reusable-potty-training.html

She sent me free stickers that totally made our potty training experience easier with our daughter. I felt so special getting this and again my blog was what made it possible. Now I'm connected to this mom and her great work, that I promote everywhere I go because I love it!


THE ORANGE RHINO 
My other most favorite thing of the year for my blogging experience was being connected to the Orange Rhino. I'd looooved her work for at least two years before I "met" her online. She's an incredible mother who is SO truthful in her experience of yelling at her 4 boys and trying so hard to stop- she quit yelling for more than a year straight. Amazing.

I randomly happened to see on Facebook one day that she wrote a new book and was doing a "blogging tour," where she was asking bloggers like myself to review her book. I was chosen out of hundreds of people to review her book. I was SO excited, ask my husband, I bragged about this for days at home when the book came in the mail.

This was an amazing experience. I don't know how I'll ever top this in the future of my blogging world, it was so cool. She's like a mom celebrity to me!

After the review, TWO lucky Mommy Stories readers received free giveaways of orange treats from the Orange Rhino just for responding to my question about how they stay calm when parenting. LOVE that I was able to do my first ever giveaway on this blog. I hope to do more in the future.

Here is my review:
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/love-for-orange-rhino-learn-to-yell.html



SHUTTERFLY
Then in early December a representative of Shutterfly contacted me, asking for permission to re-post my blog article that I posted last December 2013 about how I hang up my Christmas cards. WHAT?! I was so surprised and excited that another big organization was recognizing my little blog from Maine.

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2013/12/getting-creative-with-cards.html

They linked my blog post to the Shutterfly Pinterest board "Home for the Holidays," here https://www.pinterest.com/shutterfly/home-for-the-holidays/. SO EXCITING!

In exchange I got free things from Shutterfly - MY favorite stuff! What an unexpected gift.


GENEROUS MOMMIES
With all of this Web outreach, I wanted to give back some of the generosity I received.

So we helped my friend who had a house fire. I asked moms to consider donating to her cause… what happened was beyond my wildest dreams. We raised more than $7,500 for her to start rebuilding her life after this fire made her family of three lose everything. She is in New York, yet moms from Maine who had never met her and those from around the world were helping my friend simply because she's a mother in need. I was brought to tears with the daily support that was coming toward me for my friend. Every single day my sister and I were busy fielding emails, messages, phone calls, donations, etc. People sent books and bubbles, clothing, bedding, etc. Some new, some of their own used things, all appreciated so much. The generosity was incredible. I'd never been a part of anything like this before, and it was something I'm so lucky to have been part of. Taking a terrible thing and turning it into something beautiful is awesome.

Then a mom in the Facebook group had a daughter who got a concussion and she was told things would get worse for her if the toddler didn't sit still, no running around, etc. How on earth do you contain a busy toddler?! This mom was upset and worried. So I asked if anyone wanted to send her stickers, coloring books or even just a gift card to Starbucks to make mom's day easier. Multiple moms send something right away. This was so sweet! It seems simple, but imagine you yourself in this position of having to keep your toddler still… wouldn't some new gifts in the mail - even small things like stickers - make that hard task a lot easier?! Love that. 

Lastly, in December the Mommy Stories adopted a local Maine family, the Carters, for Christmas. Mom gave us her list of items her boys needed, and every single thing on the list was covered by donations and gift cards to the family - including the coolest gift of date night out for the parents. I love it! I was so amazed at the generosity - one mom bought the entire family new bed sheets. Another mom sent in clothing for both boys and winter jackets. Another mom sent a gift card from England! During the busy holiday season, seeing moms stopping to help others in need made me so happy. I hope we can adopt a family next year, too. 


SO much more fun is coming in 2015! 
Make sure you are a part of it :) THANK YOU, moms, for following me on this motherhood journey. It's a lot more fun with you there laughing along with me. 

Follow all the fun here on Facebook where I post lots of awesome mom articles.
www.facebook.com/themommystories

Follow my Pinterest page here for cool ideas I've found along the way:
https://www.pinterest.com/themommystories/

And of course my fun photography skills put to use - showing off real mom messes, favorite books and toys, adorable kids, etc.
http://instagram.com/themommystories/

party on - a Very Hungry Caterpillar

I LOVE this! I myself, planned a Hungry Caterpillar party for my daughter when she turned one. I am always in awe of moms who do this party with all the adorable colors and printables. So sweet!

Thank you to Courtney Drew for sharing!

(All images shared from Courtney)








LOVE how this came out!
Party favors are so cute!




THE BIRTHDAY BOY :)




The food is the most creative, colorful and fun part of this type of party, LOVE it! And healthy, too :)





MOM 2015 Resolutions - part 2

Part two of our Mom 2015 Resolutions series with two dynamic, strong, hard working, determined mothers, Hannah Contella and Libby Butler. I love their ideas on focusing on what's important, ignoring the little things like messy houses (they both said this!). Great advice for all of us this year. 

Thanks, ladies! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE!

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HANNAH CONTELLA
Mom of the Month March 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/03/mom-of-month-hannah-contella.html



1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014? 
I have learned so much this year. It's so hard to put it all down. 

2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year?
I want to see less stress and more quality family time. I sometimes feel like we are always so busy that the times we do get to sit down and hang out, it is either rushed or we are just too exhausted to do anything. 

3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015?
Fun, fulfilling, content 

4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015? 
Some of my resolutions are going to be.. *Put away my phone more to enjoy being in the moment with my kids.  

*The housework can wait. Kids don't care if there are dishes in the sink or if the floors were mopped. They want me to play and that I will! 

I love our family movie nights and family game nights. Those we will keep doing, making them our own tradition. 

Something I would like to try to change is not stressing out over the little things. Kids and personal. There are things you can't change no matter what. I hope I can learn to just let those be and not dwell on it. 

5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you?
I am always looking for advice in this area!


LIBBY BUTLER
Mom of the Month October 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/mom-of-month-libby-butler.html


1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014? 
I'm not sure if I learned this or if it just came together, but being able to handle 2 kids on 2 different schedules, feeding needs, and sleep needs has been a huge accomplishment. 

I've learned that it's okay to take some time during the day to do the needed household chores while the kids are playing independently. Previously I had tried to do as much as possible after bed time but when I do that I don't have any downtime for myself. My daughter is old enough that she can help with some of my big tasks like sorting laundry...she thinks it's fun and I get work done while still playing with her. 

I've continued to accept that my kids are only little once and that some of the “big” things really aren't that big in the grand scheme of things – I cuddle both of my kids to sleep EVERY night, because we all like it and because this will end someday. 

I STARTED regularly giving my son a bottle after a year old as I weened him from nursing, I'm pretty certain he won't take a bottle to kindergarten...or at least to high school. 

I've learned that I can be wildly anxious and indecisive or fiercely passionate and confident when it comes to decisions regarding my kids...and both are okay. I love them more than I could have ever thought possible, they bring me so much joy.

2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year?
More: Meal planning, healthy activity both with my kids and by myself, time on enjoyable activities
Less: Negativity, anxiety about keeping my house organized and clean, material stuff

3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015? 
Adventure, laughter, balance

4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015? 
I have a few resolutions that I toss around every year, usually all along the same lines. Although now as a parent I feel I have to set a good example to my kids. In basic terms, I want to have less material stuff, move more through exercise and play with my kids, and think before I speak to try to curb negative and anxious thoughts from spilling out of my mouth.

5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you? 
Recently I have found a hobby that keeps my interest. I've stopped focusing on making sure my house is entirely picked up every night (yes I'm nuts) and started to let some things go so I can focus on the hobby that I enjoy. Having something to do that I really enjoy allows me to be okay with not having a perfect house. 

Secondly, I make sure that I reach out to friends - both mommy friends and non mommy friends at least once a month for an outing. Even if we only talk about kids and family life at least I'm getting myself out of the house. 

As far as keeping resolutions, since I generally keep the same resolutions it's not hard to keep them – they are resolutions that I am always striving to achieve.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

MOM 2015 Resolutions - part 1

Happy almost New Year's! I love this time of year. Starting fresh, thinking positively, learning from mistakes, being hopeful and wishful thinking. I love it. Every bit of it. That's why I asked our 2014 Moms of the Month to answer a few quick questions about what their 2015 will be like, in hopes that we can learn from them one more time.

If you missed these Moms of the Month features, click on the links below their names to read more from these FABULOUS mothers. I appreciate each of them for taking the time to answer my questions! I know you will love these. I hope these moms' resolutions will help you think about some goals for your 2015.

If you want to nominate someone as Mom of the Month, please email me at themommystories@gmail.com with the person's name and a brief explanation as to why she deserves this recognition in 2015. Thanks!

HAPPY (almost) NEW YEAR!

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JESS STANWOOD
Mom of the Month May 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/05/mom-of-month-jess-stanwood.html
1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014? 
In 2014 I learned that I am a strong person and can handle more than I give myself credit for. Before having kids, I never would have thought of myself as strong, but this year I proved that I am. Having to drive to Portland every day for 6 1/2 weeks to visit my sick newborn in the NICU and take care of my family at home, definitely was not easy. I also learned that with each child you have, the faster time goes by.
2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year?
I would like to see us do more things as a family. Go on special trips or vacations. I am not very good at planning those kinds of things, so I definitely need to work on that for this year. I would like to see less stress in my life. I need to slow down and try to enjoy the moment more. The days are long, but the years fly by, right?
3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015? 
Crazy, fun and eventful.
4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015?
My resolution for myself is to exercise more. I don't exercise at all because I have no time. So I am going to make time, even if it's only for 10 minutes a day while the baby naps. I will keep being a fun, loving mom to my three kiddos. I am going to change the fact that I worry too much about cleaning and laundry, and play more with the kids.
5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you?
I am not particularly good about giving myself "me" time. I'm lucky if I get my hair cut twice a year, lol! I usually have my time when its 9:30 at night, and everyone else is in bed so I'll stay up and have a glass of wine and watch one of my shows. I'll try every few months to go get dinner with girlfriends. It is really important for mommies to get time to themselves every once in a while, so do whatever you have to. Even if it means asking a friend or neighbor to watch the kids even if it's just for an hour. 

Happy New Year mommies! Remember you're all doing an amazing job!



AMY FULLERTON
Mom of the Month April 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/04/mom-of-month-amy-fullerton.html


1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014? 
I guess I learned that it gets harder, but with that it's also more rewarding. With both of my kids in school full time I'm seeing them turn into their own little people. They don't necessarily want my help or advice. Learning to let them learn by mistakes and take responsibility for their actions is tough. It's also been fun, with them being older we are now able to do more. Going through pictures from this past year the adventures we have been able to take have been awesome. Hiking, helicopter rides, sailing are just a few.
2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year?
More me time, where I can just do what I want....not for the kids, not for my husband, not for the house...just me (is that selfish?? ) Less drama...sometimes it's necessary to cut ties.
3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015? 
Exciting - I want to try new things and make memories that the kids will hold on to. Proud - Watching what they do and even if they fail, know that they have at the very least, given it a shot Calm - in the sense that I can step away from a situation with out it making me nuts
4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015?
My goal is to unplug this year. My attention needs to be on my family and not what so and so is complaining/bragging/posting about for the day.
I want to keep doing what I'm doing, being there for my kids, spending time in each of their classrooms, taking early walks with Sophie, building legos with Holden.
5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you?
Just do your best, that's all you really can do. It took until my kids were in school for me to figure this one out. They were my 'excuse' (for lack of better word) that I couldn't do something for me. I am their mom and I need to be there all the time for them is what I would tell myself. But realizing that if I got some time, it made me a better mom/wife/friend.


KRISTEN COUTU
Mom of the Month December 2014

http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/12/mom-of-month-kristen-coutu.html


1. What did you learn about motherhood in 2014? I learned that more is not always better. That fewer activities helps us to really enjoy the one we are presently doing, less toys & 'stuff' has encouraged our kids to play more creatively with what they have, more unstructured play and less rushing around has opened up more quality time for our family.
2. What do you want to see more and less of in your life this new year? More fun and more time just treasuring the simple everyday moments with the kids. Less agendas, less todo lists and less stress. More money and less bills would also be pretty awesome too!!
3. Which 3 words do you want to describe your 2015? Adventurous- I love learning and exploring with my little ones Peaceful- less hustle bustle, less running from this activity to the next Healthy- please, please no more sickness and germs!
4. What resolutions will you make this year, what will you keep doing and what will you change about the type of mom you are now... going into 2015? Goals for 2015 include more focus on carving out time for just my husband and I together and less pressure on myself to do everything. 
I will probably keep making my crazy to do lists just because that's how I motivate and organize myself. But I hope by learning to prioritize what's important and what really isn't that my life will carry less unneeded stress in 2015.
5. Advice for moms trying to put more ME time into their mommy days this new year, or on keeping their resolutions? What works for you? Including ME time each day definitely is something I need to work on, so I will be looking to you moms for advice there! To help keep goals I always tell someone that I know will keep me accountable and help me stay on track. Having a good support system is so important!



favorite blog posts from 2014 - July - Dec

More of my favorite Mommy Stories blog posts from the past year. I've sure been busy - but really YOU have. I've featured more moms this year than other years in the past. I'm so proud of that! People ask me all the time how I have time for a blog... honestly, it's mostly because I don't write everything! I feature real moms with real stories to share, so they do a lot of the writing, which I am SO grateful for! That was part of the reason I started this blog, to get moms talking about their experiences.

So, if you are a mom who has been featured this year THANK YOU so much! We have learned lots from you.

Enjoy!


JULY
Oh how I ADORE this mom, farm and blog! I stumbled upon her this summer randomly on Facebook... only to find out she lives like two miles from my home, in this great big white farm house that I've driven by for 5 years, admiring how sweet it appeared. LOVE supporting her!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-creative-mama-and-her-farm.html

I LOVE the beach. You know this about me if you know anything at all regarding who I am. Ocean = my sanctuary. I wrote this post about taking good pictures at the beach in the summer.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/beach-days-some-photo-tips-and-real.html

I started a "mom to three" series this summer also, curious myself about what it would be like adding a third to the mix. I was so thankful all the moms responded. This one was one of my favorites by Siobhan McAfee!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/mom-to-3-siobhan-mcafee.html

This was life-changing for me, well, at least as far as my parenting skills go! I LOVED reading this book and learning how to be a YES mom. Check it out! It would be a great New Year's Resolution!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/becoming-yes-mom.html

July was BUSY... I started a series on twins after finding out my sister-in-law would be expecting twins (ANY DAY NOW!!!! yahoo!). I loved that I could find all this information out from real parents for her.

Then the sweetest post on my blog from a mom with premature babies. I LOVED this post!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/07/becoming-yes-mom.html


AUGUST
I'd learned many moms were separated or divorced in the group on Facebook and wanted to honor their struggles, stories and triumphs on the blog so I started a "single and stronger" series. I loved featuring these strong mamas. I learned so much from them.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/single-stronger-hannah-contella.html

ABSOLUTELY looooooove Pee-kaboo potty stickers! I received these free as one of the first moms to review them. They worked WONDERS with potty training our daughter last summer.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/pee-kaboo-reusable-potty-training.html

And alas the adventures in potty training my daughter this summer. I love offering potty training ideas, because quite honestly when I set out potty training my kids I was SO confused and lost, had no idea where to start.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/addisyns-adventures-in-potty-training.html

LOVE this book!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/book-setting-limits-with-your-strong.html

Really enjoyed featuring moms speaking about how they fed their babies... formula, exclusively pumping or nursing, both, etc. I really loved their honesty and how this helped other moms feel less alone. This "BABYfeeding" series was awesome.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/08/a-babyfeeding-story-mo-boston.html

SEPTEMBER
Why you should be on Instagram! Just love that site.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-you-should-be-instagramming-momma.html

LOVE more honesty about how hard this mom thing is.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/09/taking-good-with-bad-and-still-being.html

I did a "working outside the home survival kit" series offering advice and ideas about heading back to work after baby. This question comes up a lot in the Facebook group.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/09/working-outside-home-survival-tips-part_27.html


OCTOBER
My good friend's house burned down. I was very preoccupied this month by this issue and supporting my friend. I wrote about it here:
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-friends-house-burned-down.html

I then started a "fire safety" series, asking real firefighters for tips on how to keep your family safe from fires. I LOVE this series. It was one of the most important ones I've ever done.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/fire-safety-mike-fraser.html

My good friend's daughters have food allergies, and I know so many kids do now... so I did this post around Halloween to encourage other moms to consider getting treats that all kids could enjoy.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/trick-or-treat-for-kids-with-food.html

Awwww this one makes me tear up just remembering this day I wrote this! LOVE the little things about being a mother.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/childhood-is.html

MY FAVORITE POST ALL YEAR: was when I reviewed the Orange Rhino's book. She's an amazingly honest mother who tries to stop yelling, who succeeds in her quest. I love this book and think everyone should own it.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/10/love-for-orange-rhino-learn-to-yell.html

NOVEMBER
I started my series "shop & support moms" this month. It was not as big as last year, so I'll work on that for 2015, but it was still so great supporting and featuring real moms who support their families with their hard work and crafts. This is my favorite !
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/11/shop-support-moms-yellow-zebra-signs.html

THIS is also the thing I am REALLY proud of the blog helping to accomplish this year - supporting this family in need at Christmas time. Real moms in the Facebook group adopted this family and purchased items off of their wish list. I think everything was purchased, so this mom could focus on enjoying her family instead of rushing around shopping for gifts. Loooove this.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/11/in-spirit-of-giving-to-strongest-family.html

And my chicken pot pie recipes were  hit!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/11/chicken-pot-pie-recipes.html


DECEMBER
I did the gratefulness challenge in November - posting daily about something I was grateful for. I love seeing the list in its entirety from my Instagram account @themommystories (follow me!).
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/12/30-days-of-being-grateful-mama.html

Really was excited to feature this momma Crystal Tenney with her premature baby story. I hope to feature more preemie strong stories in the new year.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/12/preemie-strong-by-crystal-tenney.html

And a reminder to all of us to slow down, focus on the little important things, and realize it's all OK.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/12/stop-thinking-start-enjoying.html

*************

Wow... what a year!
I love featuring real moms and their stories. I love that you listen to my honesty. I love that moms want to know the real truth behind being a parent- the ups and downs, not just the wonderful moments. That's what I'm all about on this blog. I appreciate that you are along for the ride!

Monday, December 29, 2014

favorite blog posts from 2014 - Jan-June

Well, it's throw back Monday as I'm taking a glance backward through 2014's Mommy Stories blog posts. Here are a few of my favorites! It's been a busy year of writing. I love it, hope you learned along the way with me!


JANUARY
I think I wrote the most in January last year! Hopefully this January can be just as productive! 
I featured all of the 2013 Moms of the Month in a Mom New Years Resolutions series the first week of January. I love that I thought of this very last minute last year. I enjoyed reading all the advice the moms offered for how to live the best mommy life in 2014. I can't wait to share with you 2015's series of resolutions!

The "Rooms to Grow" series was super fun, where I featured real moms and the adorable rooms they have created for their kids - nurseries, play rooms, big kid rooms, etc. Here is one of my favorites by Jessie Legere, http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/01/rooms-to-grow-jessie-legere.html

I loved the "meal planning" series that we did, featuring moms who whip up delicious home cooked meals in their kitchens, simply by planning ahead and writing it all out. I started meal planning myself last January and it's done wonders for me in the kitchen! This one was my favorite by Shelby Davis, http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/01/meal-planning-shelby-davis.html

I refer OFTEN to the potty training 101 series I did also in January. Tons of good advice and ideas for parents!

FEBRUARY
Ohhh I adored this article I wrote about a tough night at home with the kids, where everything felt wrong and like a failure. I am all about honesty with this blog, so this one means a lot to reflect on now. Check it out when you're having a bad day and want to know you aren't alone.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/02/one-of-those-nights-surviving-epic-fail.html

We hit 400 posts on the blog and 1,000 members last February 4th! HOW EXCITING! I did a Q&A answering people's questions to celebrate it. http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/02/mommy-q-celebrating-400-posts-1000.html

With Valentine's Day, I posted what I love about being a mom. Such simple things that mean a lot. Love it!
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/02/what-i-love-about-being-mom.html

I did a big sleep series on the blog after so many people had questions related to sleep with their babies. I loved that series and felt proud of the responses.


MARCH
We did a fun Disney Adventure series on the blog this month, featuring real moms and their tips and ideas for saving money and having a great trip to Disney World! Here is one of my favorites by Hilary Fitzgerald http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-disney-adventure-by-hillary-fitzgerald.html

This is a good one…. ups and downs of motherhood, because there are CRAZY moments. And I bare it all to share with you the truth of that craziness. http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-ups-and-downs-of-motherhood.html

The party on series was FUN! I featured moms and their birthday parties, tips for creating a cool party and planning, etc. I LOVE birthday parties, so that was a fun feature for me that month.

APRIL
The Post-Partum Depression series was really powerful this month. One of my favorites was from Nicole Burke. http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/04/ppd-nicole-burke.html

I also saw my niece being born in March and then wrote about it this month… one of the most amazing moments of my life, so writing this brought tears to my eyes and was pretty special.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/04/labor-and-delivery-love-story.html

My husband and I celebrated 5 years of marriage in April, so I wrote about how we "date" each other, going out once a month to be ourselves and keep our marriage strong. I highly recommend this! http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/04/im-dating-my-husband.html


MAY
The Mommy Stories celebrate its THIRD birthday! Wow. That's amazing! I had fun reflecting on all the cool things we'd done and intended to do this year.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/05/happy-3rd-birthday-mommy-stories.html

For Mother's Day, I encouraged you all to take the Mother's Day Kindness Challenge that I learned bout from Connecticut Moms on Facebook. I hoped we could spread some good cheer to other busy, tired moms by doing random acts of kindness toward them.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/05/mothers-day-kindness-challenge.html

My grandmother died in May so I had a lot of time to reflect on death, grief and how to explain all of that to my children. I wrote about some resources for you when explaining death to young kids and teenagers. I hoped this would help others in my position to feel like they had some ideas on how to handle that situation.

JUNE 
I love this honesty in the post I wrote in June about doing your best, maybe not attaining perfection - definitely not, but getting close and giving your best effort, even if it's later than you planned.
http://themommystories-friends.blogspot.com/2014/06/its-thought-that-counts-especially-as.html

I featured two books about kids and teaching them to eat healthier. Great resources!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more highlights from the blog from July-December 2014! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

merry, merry

Another Christmas in the books! I love this holiday. I am in love with seeing our kids get excited about new presents, seeing family and friends, cousins everywhere, eating delicious treats, and overall showing the love.

Hope your holiday was just as fun! Here are a few snapshots of our ho




My shining star!


I ADORE holiday attire! I look for months at consignment shops ahead of time for cute matching attire. Love it. 




Sometimes one kid looks at the camera... cheese! :)


Oh the excitement of Christmas morning and the "ooohhs" and "ahhhhs" and "AWESOME! I LOVE IT!" :) I won't forget those moments ever.


Getting favorite gifts that they asked for since forever is the cutest thing about Christmas with these kiddos.



Happy Christmas from Princess Tianna and our Ninja Turtle.


Oh these kids. At least they are cute. Even if they won't give me the "perfect" picture.

The real life moments are the best ones to capture anyway, aren't they?

Here's to wrapping paper everywhere, toys that we have no idea where to put them, boxes tossed in the basement to deal with later, eating too many cookies and other holiday treats, SO many hugs for family members and loved ones, a ton of laughter and a few tears of "that was MINE!" It's chaos and overwhelming at moments, that's OK to admit I think. But more importantly, it's FUN that can't be described until you go through it yourself. We are such privileged people, we moms. We get to experience childhood all over again with our Mini Mes. How incredible.

Soak it up, moms. Time is fleeting.

Merry, merry Christmas, moms.