Macie's Floating

“Macie’s floating!” our neighbor’s oldest boy yells from the pool with excitement, even surprise. I’m blowing up a giant pool slide for the kids when I hear this and it takes about three seconds for my brain to process what he has said.

Macie’s floating? She wasn’t in the pool. We took her floaties off so she could eat a Popsicle. When did she go in?

None of this is making sense.

I stop what I am doing and look over the inflated slide to where all of the kids are playing. I see her. She is face up under about three inches of water. She is making the same face she made as an infant when she faced the wind, a look of surprise while trying to catch her breath. It registers immediately and I start screaming for him to help her.

“Get her! Get her! Get her!” I yell as I run to the edge where she is, not able to get there fast enough, I feel as if I am running through sand. All of the children are frozen in place as I bend down to pick her up. She immediately starts to scream and I give her a once over to make sure she’s ok. No coughing or spitting up water, that’s a good sign. I am crying and hugging her tight. I can’t even tell you anything else that happened in those next few moments. I was holding onto her for dear life, a life that in that moment felt so precious, so fragile.

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It’s always chaotic when the kids are in the pool. There are the two boys from next door and one from across the street plus my two girls. My neighbor and I are usually watching them like a hawk, even more so if one of us steps away. I’m not sure why this day was different. Trust me, I’ve played it in my head over and over on loop, trying to understand. I’ve made excuses and justifications to help make sense of it all. At the end of the day it just comes down to an accident. I was distracted and my neighbor had stepped away for two minutes to grab a pump. We had been trying to get this slide up for a while and I was not paying attention. I knew Macie was having a Popsicle and thought she would stay put. Who would have thought she would stop eating a beloved Popsicle to go into the same pool she was just begging to get out of?

All of those thoughts of “that would never happen to me” came crashing down on me like a painful hailstorm. I can’t believe I didn’t watch her more carefully.

Even worse than the feelings of the actual accident were the “What if’s”.

What if he never saw her?

What if he never said anything?

What if she didn’t fall right where they were playing?

What if she hit her head?

What if. What if. What if. I couldn’t say it aloud but I was thinking it, and it hurt. The answer to my question, the worst case scenario is still painful today.

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As a mother there are many times I’ve felt I was falling short. Forgetting show and tell after multiple reminders from my daughter the night before. Letting the girls eat cereal for breakfast and dinner on the same day. One too many hours on the tablet or movies while I relaxed on the couch after a long day of work. In each of these instances I felt a small sense of failing at motherhood, but none of these compares to the feeling of that what if. An hour on YouTube or an unhealthy dinner pales in comparison to any of the worst-case scenarios I’ve played in my mind.

I am eternally grateful for how that day ended for us; a quick trip to Urgent Care and a good bill of health. A happy, smiling two year old that has no idea why her Mama is holding onto her so tight. That night I rocked her a little longer than usual and I cried as I smelled the top of her head before laying her down. I thanked God for my ending and then I said a prayer for all of the Mamas that weren’t so fortunate.

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother’s Day 2012 started with an announcement to our families, a baby was on the way. We had known for a few weeks but wanted to make sure the first tests and scans came back healthy before announcing to our families. Nine months later that same little baby made me a mother. Two years later I was made a mother again. My life has never been the same since. These last five years have flown by, milestone after milestone creeping up on me as the days passed. I have grown as a person and learned more than I thought ever possible.

I’ve learned that mom friends are at times more valuable than gold. Questions and concerns, funny stories and frustrations. There is no one in the world more interested and willing to help than another mom. I remember one afternoon swaying with Macie on the patio as she was having a colicky episode, my neighbor came over and took took her from my arms. Not only was it a nice break for my arms but it felt nice being seen, having someone understand the frustration and exhaustion I was feeling in that moment. This is one example, I have hundreds. Find your tribe and love them hard.

I’ve learned that no matter how you parent or what decisions you make, there will always be someone there to criticize you. Breastfeeding or formula, cloth or disposable diapers, working or stay-at-home mom. All of these will be debated until the end of time. Do what is best for your family and ignore all of the rest. No one knows your family better than you.

I’ve learned that effort has to be made for your marriage. Being a parent and a wife is hard. Countering the negative effects that a busy life brings us is imperative to a healthy relationship. My husband and I make conscious effort all of the time to ensure our relationship is not being neglected. We aren’t perfect but when one of us feels the strain increasing we make immediate plans for lunch or a date night or something to get us back to good.

I’ve learned that children are amazing. From seeing them roll over the first time to writing their name, the change and development within in a child’s early years never ceases to amaze me. Appreciate it and treasure the small moments, take a lot of pictures (mamarazzi anyone?!) Time Hop is my best friend and worst enemy every morning “OMG so cute?!” and also “OMG where’s my baby gone to?!”

Lastly I’ve learned that I’m still here. While I’m in a different stage of life and I am playing a new role in this life as mother I am still here. I am still the girl that loves a glass of wine while sitting outside listening to music. I am still the girl that loves reading. I’m still that creative monster that needs to be doing something artsy whether it be photography, painting, vinyl, or sewing. We are still our old selves under the yoga pants and top knots. We are still here and we still need to be nourished. Don’t neglect what you need as a person. The best moms are the ones that take care of themselves as well as their children.

This Mother’s Day I hope you enjoy your family. I hope you have breakfast in bed (but only if the kitchen is cleaned for you). I hope you get a little time to yourself. Happy Mother’s Day Mama! You’re doing great.

xoxo,

Meredith

Gymnastics Showcase

Saturday was Henley's first gymnastics showcase and the cuteness was really more than I could bear. There were little gymnasts running all around, it was quite chaotic, but the girls (and boys) all did so great. Henley's group started on beam, went to the floor routines, and then moved onto bars.  They even finished up the event with a trophy. 

It's been great for Henley and Macie to both have something they love and look forward to. The girls start the countdown to gymnastics usually around Wednesday and usually includes Macie exclaiming her love for Ms. Laura. Adorable!

Disney Tips & Tricks

As most of you know we are a Disney loving family. With two princess loving girls it’s hard not to be. We signed up for annual passes last October and have been going every other month since then to make sure we get the most bang for our buck.

I am by no means a Disney Pro but being a resourceful mama I decided to share a few tips and tricks that I have found work great for our family.

Accommodations

We’ve been visiting Disney with the girls since Henley was 15 months old. Macie had just turned one the first time she visited. As you would expect, traveling with a baby to Disney requires planning. The most important thing I look for in a hotel is a divided room, whether it be a suit or a full unit. When we are in the room for naptime or bedtime we need to be able to move around and hang out, especially with an older child.

Because of this the Disney hotels don’t fit the bill for us. Sure some of the hotels offer rooms like this but they are almost always outside of our budget. My ideal nightly price range for hotels is between $130-180 a night.

Caribe Royale has been our go to hotel for every visit. It was recommended to me and I haven’t been disappointed once. The base room is a bedroom and bathroom in one section with a door and then a little living area with a fridge, couch, desk, and TV. This has been great for us. The resort has a pool with a waterslide for the bigger kids and a kiddie area as well for the littles. There is also a little playground area with slides for them. Definitely recommend this hotel or one similar if traveling with children that still nap or go to bed earlier.

Packing for the Day

I’m not going to tell you the basics of what to pack. Most mom’s I know have extensive lists that were researched and are thoroughly thought out days in advance but instead I’m going to share things that some people (me!) either didn’t know about or frequently forget.

Bring snacks! Drinks and snacks are allowed so take advantage. Waiting in line is much more bearable for a two year old with goldfish or yogurt raisins.

Sunscreen. We forget this almost every time, being from Florida you wouldn’t think that was the case. I have no explanation for this.

This battery charger. We have a nice camera and I usually bring it with us but realistically I almost always use my phone. Between wrangling the kids and pushing the stroller, the phone is much easier to use. I got this charger for my husband and myself and it holds quite a few charges for your phone, my husband has used his on the boat a few times. Between using the Disney app and my camera my phone is usually dead within a few hours. This is a lifesaver.

Visiting the Parks

My first piece of advice is get there early. At park opening they do a little show for the guest in Magic Kingdom which is really cute. Also when you get there early you are parking much closer to the park and therefore can walk to the entrance versus breaking down the stroller and getting on the tram. We almost always walk because while I love my stroller I am not at all interested in breaking it down under the pressure of loading and unloading the tram.

Once in there are a million and one things you can do depending on what park you visit.  Make sure you have your Magic Bands and Fast Passes set and ready to go. I also look through the app the night before to add shows to our itinerary. These don’t usually need passes or reservations but it takes the thinking out of the equation the day of the park visit. The Dance Party in Magic Kingdom is always a hit with the littles, highly recommend. Also scout out the Baby Centers if you are traveling with babies that need to be changed and fed. These rooms are air conditioned and well kept. 

We typically don’t stay a full day. We usually leave around noon and let the girls rest. Around 3 we head to the pool to hang out and then to Disney Springs or another park to get some more in. We love Disney Springs--entertainment, fun for the kids, and great food & drinks. Portabellos Restaurant is my favorite so far.

Buy yourself a cake pop---just do it. Red velvet if you are taking my recommendations. You won’t be disappointed. No lie we’ve gone back to the park on a day we were planning to leave just so I could get another cake pop. That’s the benefit of annual passes though right?

Even though this list was short I hope it helped a little if you have a trip coming up. I never thought I’d be “one of those mom” at Disney all of the time. In reality though I will really doing anything to get my girls’ eyes to light up like they do when they see that castle.

Happy Monday!  Have a great week.

Cinco de Mayo Recipe!!

This past weekend we hosted our second annual pool party with a bunch of friends and their kids. It is such a great way to get together and have a blast. Everyone has fun including the adults and since everyone that came lives in our neighborhood, it's just a quick walk home.

Both years we've hosted this party we did a taco bar for the food. It's easy and quick to prepare and everyone can customize it for their preferences. I wanted to share with you this recipe that is such a winner and would be great for Cinco de Mayo this Friday.

The recipe is from allrecipes.com and is called Charley's Slow Cooker Mexican Meat. You can use a few different kinds of meat but our favorite is pork. We use a 4-5 lbs bone-in Boston butt and follow the recipe exactly. We remove the fatty parts before shredding and throw it in a pan before eating to crisp it up some. You can make burritos, tacos, or even tostones with it. My favorite is topped with cheese, lettuce, black beans, tomato, and fresh avocado---sprinkle with salt and it's amazing!


Of course I was too busy having fun to take pictures of the food and decorations but here are some of the super cute kiddos having a blast!


I also can't pass up an opportunity to share this picture--I love when everyone is actually looking at the camera!!

Let me know if you try this recipe---like I said, you won't regret it. Add some fresh margaritas and you've got a party!

Happy May everyone!