I met Brian at a sushi bar. This is funny because to this day he doesn’t eat fish 😂 I was working as a bartender there while I looked for my first “corporate” job after college. Brian had just graduated from grad school and had gotten a job at a start up company nearby. He would come in with his coworkers for happy hour at least once a week. He would write me notes on napkins and leave flowers on my car. He definitely knew how to woo me! lol.
We went out on a few dates when we got to talking about our love for travel. On a whim we booked a trip to Paris. We went and as you guessed, fell in love. It has been an adventure ever since with him.
Since then we have lived in five states together and been to over a dozen countries! I am glad to have found a partner who loves to travel as much as I do. We are hoping next month will be our next adventure to the black hills of South Dakota. Our son is already following in our footsteps and loves to travel too. Last year we took him to Atlantis in the Bahamas and he asks us all the time now when we can go back. Someday kid 🙂
We may not be able to whisk away to Paris anymore but our shared love of adventure and willingness to embrace the chaos of cross country moves definitely has helped in our 16 year marriage. We moved to northeast Iowa in August of last year and have had fun discovering all the hiking and nature opportunities nearby. Finding your towns outdoor treasures is more important than ever given our current situation of having to stay home more and socially distance from everyone.
What is your love story? How did you and your partner meet? Please share in the comments below!
Last weekend we decided to drive to Mount Mitchell and do some hiking and exploring. Ever since I moved to Boone last summer I have been wanting to visit it. The North Carolina mountain holds the title of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, measuring in at 6,684 feet above sea level!
So Saturday morning we went. First tip – bring lunch. We didn’t because we thought the restaurant there would be open and surprise! it wasn’t. lol. It is only open seasonally. Thankfully we had snacks but there is literally nothing nearby as this is a remote area so bring all the food and drink you will need for the day. Little Switzerland is where we stopped at on the way home to eat and they have a nice lunch cafe. But it would have been better if we had packed a picnic lunch.
Being at such a high elevation the vegetation is vastly different from the rest of the area. It truly feels more like a Canadian forest both temperature and tree wise. So unique and makes for some great hikes. Bryce had a blast pointing out the different trees to us and unique rocks.
Since my mother-n-law was with us and Bryce we only tackled the .75 mile Balsam Nature Trail. But it was beautiful and a nice way to stretch the legs after the long car ride. We also went to the observation platform and was amazed at the 360 degree views offered there!
On the way home we stopped for lunch at Little Switzerland and then came across the cutest ice cream/pie mom and pop store! It is called Linville River Mercantile and Bakery. It is located in Crossnore, NC. Stop by on your way back to Boone for a treat!
Mount Mitchell is only a few miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive there and back from Boone was also a treat. Add this to your bucket list for sure!
In March, on the Friday before my 40th birthday my husband came home and said “Pack your bags we are going on vacation!” Like something out of a movie. And in true Hollywood plot form, he refused to tell me where we were going. Just that I needed to pack for “hot” weather and needed a swimsuit. So it was with no small miracle that we quickly packed the car and headed to the airport for a quick 3 day getaway!
Brian truly did not tell me where we were going till the taxi to the hotel. I had heard of Atlantis but seeing it with my own eyes as we drove up was surreal. The immense SIZE of the place was instantly the first thing that impressed me! Huge, with multiple hotels, a casino and even a marina village all part of the Atlantis property.
Our room was located in The Towers, which has a perfect central location to everything. And.the.room. Simply amazing. Suite actually, with a kitchenette, huge balcony and an incredibly large bathroom with his and hers showers! The suite had way more space than we needed, but I definitely wasn’t complaining. It had incredible views and it was very nice to come back to the suite and have room to spread out. I would describe it as being perfect for those planning a longer stay, traveling with children or bunking up for a group trip. Our son slept on a couch in the living room and it worked out perfect for each of us to have our own space.
Now The Atlantis isn’t your standard resort– there’s a reason they call it Paradise Island – because it’s like it’s own city! The property is massive and while you are free to roam as you please, every section of the hotel has it’s own easily-accessible pools and restaurants. We spent most of our time at the waterpark but it was nice to walk the aquariums everyday and we even spent some time at the beach one afternoon. I did get in a facial at the spa as a treat for my birthday, and I highly recommend you check that out if you get a chance. They offer free use of their facilities for the day if you get a treatment and it was very relaxing to enjoy their steam rooms, saunas and pools for a bit before my facial.
The open air and closed aquariums are amazing and a must see! Bryce had endless entertainment watching the animals and actually learned a lot about them while we were there. The property is simply breathtaking and themed perfectly. Just walking around felt like a vacation seeing all the marine life.
One of the aspects I like about The Atlantis is that it’s a destination for all ages. No matter if you’re traveling with family and children, a large group of friends or if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, the resort is so large that’s there’s a place and an activity for everyone.
Before we know it our trip was over. We hope to go back someday as there is still stuff we would like to see and do there! It is definitely a place you should add to your bucket list and I can’t recommend The Atlantis enough if you’re looking for an upbeat resort with endless activities. And for those of you who live in the south or on the east coast in the U.S. it’s an incredibly quick flight– it was just two hours for us from Charlotte. Easy enough to go for a long weekend!
Someone asked me this morning if I dread getting older. I replied back heck no! To me age is the great leveler. The older I get the more I actually feel like I can relate to people. I have always been an old soul but burying parents, struggling to have a child and otherwise growing up way before my peers has made me feel different. It is hard to relate to people when they complain that their parents won’t pay this for them or they complain about their parents not watching their kids when my parents weren’t even there for the birth of my son and never will be there for him. I am a strong person but yes it gets hard and some days I struggle with it. So yes, I am loving getting older. Every year makes me feel less different and the wisdom that comes with age is pretty nice too.
Brian’s birthday was yesterday. He made a cake for both of us. It was delicious and I am sure to have another piece today. Lol. He truly has become a master in the kitchen and I am so lucky to have him in my life. We are going out just the two of us Friday night. It will be nice to get away for a few hours and enjoy a nice dinner.
This next year will be a big one. Transitioning out of one decade into another. Lots of changes. But regrets about getting older? Not here. Not here.
I recently joined a one and done not by choice Facebook group and quickly realized how so many in there were still in the fresh pain phase. My heart broke reading their raw posts about how they were struggling to accept they would not have another child. So I decided to share my story. Many were thankful and said sweet things. A few couldn’t see past their pain to see mine and their comments reflected that. We are all on our own journey to acceptance. I decided to share with you what I wrote and hope this opens you to see that when you see families not to judge or ask why. It is our journey and story and we have the right to feel and decide what is best for ourselves.
My one and only was conceived naturally after almost 6 years of unexplained infertility. I suffered Post-Partum Depression. I am almost 39 years old and all of our parents are dead except for my husbands mom. Not a lot of family support. So we are one and done.
You can choose to focus on the negatives or look at the positives and celebrate what you do have. I remember spending entire nights in trying to conceive forums and every month obsessing over every twitch to convince myself I was pregnant that month. Don’t bring those feelings to your current life. You did it! You are a mom! There are so many in the TTC community who just want what we have – remember that! It is human to feel anger, or jealousy or sadness. You can control however how you react to those feelings. Focus on the good in your life.
For me I have decided to embrace the freedom that having only one gives us. We can afford vacations every year. We can afford to give him a college education. I can give my son all the attention. I have a partner that loves our son and plays with him and allows me to work a side job that fulfills me. There are a lot of positives to having one. As I touched in above I have also buried both parents. I could drown in grief and anger or use my experiences to strengthen me and make the most of the life I have.
Society and social norms make us like to think that a “multiple family unit” is still the normal. But it isn’t. Take a look around you and you will see families of every number, and you see non-traditional families and blended families more and more every day. I used to think that no one could understand my grief. That I was the only 34 year old out there who had buried a parent and couldn’t get pregnant. But the truth was I was only allowing myself to see what I wanted to see. Don’t let people own your emotions. You do you.
Below is a picture of my “family”. It is perfect and it is mine.
Now that I am a parent I am learning how different my childhood was. Not in the geographical sense or socioeconomic sense. I grew up in south jersey in a typical middle class neighborhood. I mean in the presence sense. From a young age I remember coming home from school and just being alone. Alone to make my own snack, alone to play and then engage in homework. And it wasn’t because a parent wasn’t home. Almost always mom or dad would be there. But dad worked from home or was busy avoiding mom. And mom, well, she was closed off. Literally. She would hole herself in her room for days at a time and would only come out to make us some dinner or tell us to go to bed. Now as an adult I know it was due most likely to her mental illness issues but as a kid it was my normal. This behavior would roll into the weekends. I have a sister and I remember us just going to play in the basement with our toys for the entire weekend, left to entertain ourselves and later on, feed ourselves.
Weeks would go by where this behavior would go on. And then all of a sudden mom would resurface – full of life and energy and interest. My sister and I would lap up this attention like puppies. But then all of a sudden she would retreat, back to her room and the silence would envelope the house once again.
Mom never got a proper diagnosis. Over the years I theorized everything from Bi-Polar to Borderline Personality Disorder. She died two years ago so I will never know. And in the end it doesn’t matter. She was the only mom I had and knew. It was my reality.
But now? As a parent I see how crazy this behavior was and how different I am trying to be with my son. To not repeat the past. To make it different for him. I worry I will become her. And I know that is crazy. But this is me being honest. My fear to repeat the past haunts me at nights.
I remember one time mom opened up to us and admitted she moved when we were little to be closer to her parents because she realized she couldn’t do it. Be what we needed as a mom. And she was right. Our “Omi” became our mother. When my grandmother died I cried like I had lost my mother. The grief was so intense. It was not that way when my mom died.
For those of you out there that have had similar experiences know you are not alone. For SO long I thought what I went through was mine alone. But now that I am older I have met so many others that have experienced absent parents. Mental illness is the silent struggle in many families. So many people had no clue what was really going on behind our house walls. We looked like your average middle class family. We even had the dog and picket fence. But inside was silence punctuated with either violent outbursts or overzealous love. But those stories are for another day.
Repeat this affirmation daily – No One is you and that is your power. I am my own person, and I am blazing my own path.
Lately I have found myself in the why vortex. You know, where you question all the “wrongs” in your life. We all do it at some time or another. And I know from grieving the deaths of both of my parents that in order to move on you have to graduate from that vortex. Because in the end you either choose to be happy and celebrate what you do have or you will forever be stuck in that pit of “why.” I came across this quote yesterday and it hit me hard. I needed the reminder that I can choose joy. That joy is always an option.
See a few weeks ago I got to visit some friends from college in the city I moved to when I graduated – Philadelphia. It has been 8 years since I had last been there. It was so much fun seeing friends and eating delicious food (seriously Philly is a foodie heaven – I could spend DAYS eating my way through Reading Terminal Market. I literally ate the biggest Pastrami Sandwich ever for breakfast and it was divine). But what I didn’t anticipate was the flood of memories and emotions from my childhood. I grew up in South Jersey. We used to come to Philadelphia for this or that and honestly I think just being in such close geographical proximity to my childhood home opened in me a jar of emotions that I try to keep buried. Regret that my parents are dead. Pain that I missed my grandmothers funeral due to life circumstances. Mad that life was not turning out how I wanted. Painful memories I had buried for so long were fighting to come to the surface. I stood on the lid and tried to hammer it back in but it wasn’t working too well. And then I came home to a child sick with the stomach flu. Talk about cortisol levels spiking! I started to feel myself sinking into that pit of depression I fight so hard to stay out of.
So these past two weeks I have been consciously choosing joy. Getting back into a rhythm of life that brings me happiness. My essential oils help immensely of course. Read here how they have helped my anxiety and depression the last two years. In the end though it is mindset. I am choosing to celebrate my life with all its dents and scratches. We are all works in progress.
So choose joy today people. There is always something to celebrate.
I cried in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru line this morning.
It started innocent enough. A image of my dad holding his coffee mug while shuffling to his home office and my mom yelling at Cindy and I to run to the car as we will be late AGAIN for school ran through my mind as I waited for my coffee and bagel breakfast. But then I thought about Omi’s Christmas cookies, and how dad would hoard his cookie tin from all of us because he loved to drink his coffee while eating them. And how on Christmas Eve mom would make us take naps so “Santa” would come and when we woke up we would open presents before heading to church that evening. Santa always came on Christmas Eve at our household. Maybe because we had to drive two hours on Christmas Day to see dad’s relatives. Santa was on a timeline you know.
I miss them. My parents. My sister and I were talking over Thanksgiving how memories are growing thin, especially with dad. 18 years now since he died. He would have loved Bryce. Bryce loves trains just like he did. They would have bonded over that. The funny thing though is the year before his death was hard. We were not close as a family. Mom and dad had just moved us from South Jersey to North Jersey and the transition didn’t go well. Mom would spend all day in the bedroom depressed and dad would sit at night alone in the basement playing his old vinyls. And the fights. So intense between them. And then all of a sudden he died. Less than a year after we moved. Just like that. No nice ending, no goodbyes. No I am sorry and I love you please don’t leave me. It was bad and then it was over. And mom fell apart. Her depression, along with her injuries from the car accident left her unable to care for us emotionally. She never recovered. And with it our relationship with her never recovered. When she died in 2015 Cindy and I were only talking to her sporadically. When I got the call from the hospital at 1:00 AM saying she had passed I remember screaming in my head “NO! I never was able to fix us! It cannot end like this!” But it did. It ended messy, with no kodak moment goodbye like I had envisioned for us.
But oh do I miss them. Because before it was bad it was oh so good. My sister and I had a great childhood. Mom and dad loved us and provided for us. We lived in our little bubble in South Jersey where we had a pool and a dog and during the summers we would swim all day and play too many video games. And along with our other relatives, holidays, birthdays and vacations were amazing. We had fun as a family. So that is what I choose to remember. The good.
As Bryce gets older I am starting to incorporate family traditions from my childhood. This year we are doing one of those chocolate advent calendars with him. Last night while opening the little door and extracting the chocolate prize I clearly remember doing that with my sister and mom. I love that I am passing it down. Because in the end those family traditions are what you will remember when you start crying in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru at 7:30 AM on a Thursday.
Life is messy. We all will have regrets when it comes to our family and life choices. But you can’t let it consume you. I encourage all of you out there who are challenged by the holidays to just embrace the good. Hold on to those good memories. And create new ones where you can.
Prior to having Bryce this was one of the most depressing days of the year for me. I so badly wanted a child and it just wasn’t happening. I feel for all the women out there that hate Mother’s Day because I once was one of them. But now I am a mom. And I embrace Mother’s Day. Last year, for my first Mother’s Day, I was so tired from lack of sleep that I don’t really remember anything. Hopefully I showered? Maybe ate a hot meal? So this year Bryce made up for it by not only sleeping through the night, but sleeping for 14 hours straight, which is unheard of for him! So that was my Mother’s Day gift. It was wonderful and I have told him he can repeat that gift anytime he wants. Lol.
The day was not without grief though. It was my first Mother’s Day without a mom. It will be a year in July since she died. I miss her. Her death has been more complicated for me to handle this past year since we had such a strained relationship at the end. Her addiction and health issues made it that I did not have a healthy relationship with her. We would go weeks without talking. We lived states away from each other. So yesterday I mourned. I thought of mom and tried to remember the good times, before disease and addiction took over. I thought about what I would have said to her yesterday on the phone and how I would have told her how Bryce can now say thank you and I would have told her that he loves to jump in puddles and play with water hoses and sprinklers. That having him has turned on a light inside me that is helping to heal the darkness.
She loved him. When I told her I was pregnant she was so so happy for me. When he was born and she couldn’t come to visit me she broke down in tears on the phone. We both knew she would never be able to visit. That she would never be able to do the “mom” things one does for their daughter who has just given birth. I told her it was OK, that we would visit that fall or Christmas. It was the last time I had a real heart to heart conversation with her. We did go up at Christmas, which ended up being the last time I saw her before she died. I am so thankful she got to meet Bryce. She died 6 months later.
As I embark on this motherhood journey I hope to be the best mom I can for Bryce. That he will know how much I love him and how very much I want him to live his dreams. Even with all the issues I had with my mom, she equipped me with what I need to make it in this life which is grit and determination. It is because of her that I plow on and believe that I can actually do anything I want to.
So last year I got in on the essential oil bandwagon. I love them. I really do. I now have things in my home like all natural laundry detergent and natural hand soap that have essential oils in it. I have roller balls of essential oil blends that I wear as perfume or for help with everyday aches and pains. I have an awesome homemade muscle rub cream that I swear melts away my neck tension every night. But I am also living modern life. I am a working mom who eats things like Orange Chicken (so delicious) from Panda Express for lunch. I let my son do things like drink water from the garden hose or eat day old cheerios off the floor. I also still have a medicine cabinet filled with things like Tylenol and Claritin because you just never know when you will need them.
When I decided to start this website last summer it was to be an outlet for me to write about my new role as a mom and explore this new world of essential oils I was excited about. It was also a creative outlet for me as I grieved the sudden loss of my mom last summer. And over the past year I have been feeling more comfortable in everything. My son is going to be two in a few weeks and I still love my essential oils. I also can think about my mom now without dissolving into a pile of grief. It has been a good year.
There are so many fanatics out there on both the essential oil AND motherhood front. Sometimes I want to shout, “REALLY? You really did power yoga, cooked an organic breakfast AND magically healed your sick child from one application of essential oils all before 9 AM?”
The reality of life is that sometimes you feel like super mom and other days you just survive till the kids go to bed. Essential oils have supported my family in an amazing way this year and I love them. But I also will still take my child to the doctor if he gets really sick.
It is called moderation people. In the end, we are all just trying to make the best decisions for our family while trying to fulfill our dreams and ambitions at the same time.
Now excuse me as I get my 3rd cup of coffee for the day. It is Friday after all and I am running on fumes at this point. Moderation in the caffeine department can start tomorrow…