I am BETTER because of THEM ♥

Being a mom is the most rewarding and, at the same time, most difficult job out there.  I am constantly second-guessing myself and wondering if I am doing the right thing by my kids.  I know there is no RIGHT way to do it, but, I guess, all moms feel like they HAVE TO find the right way.  Right now, I just know that I want to be better.

Today, I watched a video shared in one of my mom’s groups.  In the first segment, a group of moms were filmed reflecting on their parenting abilities (all in the negative).  In the second, the same moms watched clips of their little ones proclaiming what they loved most about their moms.  I couldn’t help but sob.

So now I sit here and reflect on myself as a mommy:

I wish I had more patience.  I want to lose my temper less and shrug away the small stuff.  So what if he spilled water (TWICE).  So what if he bleached the rugs.  So what if he won’t eat his dinner.  So what if he spits up on his second outfit of the day.  So what!  The things he ruins are just that… THINGS.  And sometime I need to be reminded of that.

I wish I was less of a perfectionist with my kids.  Yes, they are going to make mistakes and yes, they will make messes.  But to me, their messes are beautiful (and I need to remind myself they are).  Books strewn across the living room and toys scattered across the house are little reminders that we are making memories.  AWESOME memories.  We are playing and learning and growing as a family.  I don’t want my boys to remember me as a “yeller” or a “clean freak.”  I need to PUT DOWN the toy and just let life happen.  We can clean up when the day is done.  The dishes WILL get done, just not right now.

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I wish I had more quality time with them.  Less cleaning, less picking up, less “jobs” to do and more TIME to focus on the most important job — being a mommy to my two amazing boys.  More LEARNING time and more time to introduce them to something new and exciting.

I started working for Origami Owl to have a supplemental income that would provide more fun for our family and allow me to stay at home with my boys.  I, recently, had to remind myself to STOP working and be with my boys.  This was, after all, for them.  So, I only work during bedtime and naptime.  I was consumed with it in the beginning and now I’ve toned it down a little for the sake of my boys.

REMEMBER ASH, It is FOR THEM.  If they are suffering from this then it is time to stop.

How do I know that I am getting something right? That I AM a great mommy?

The excitement I see in his eyes when he spots me from across the room

When he asks for a hug

When he only wants ME to hold him

When he follows me around the house.

Hearing “momma” in his loving tone

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Toothless grins

Belly-laughs

Surprise kisses

… and many other little reminders

I am thankful for each day I have with them and how much they have helped me grow as, not only a mother, but a person.  I am, without a doubt, better because of them and I hope someday they will feel that they are better because of me.

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Watch the VIDEO here: These Kids Finally Say What They Really Think About Mom. And Her Reaction? Priceless.

Terrible Twos: Ready, Set, Go!

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Since turning two, Austin has been a crazy mad-man (The past few days especially).  So, he isn’t as terrible as the title suggests, but he is pretty naughty.

First of all, his speech has exploded.  He says new words everyday and amazing me with some of the things he remembers.  He is my little elephant, this boy NEVER forgets.  His speech is not the problem now-a-days, it’s his defiance.

If he is doing something I don’t want him to do, I will tell him no and immediately he points his finger at me and says “GO! GO!” and then proceeds to push me away.  Um, excuse me Mr.?  I’m in charge!  Anyways, it is a constant power struggle with him.

Recently, he learned how to open the sliding glass door to the backyard.  He LIVES to go outside.  He absolutely loves it.  So, with this newfound skill, of course he has to open the door and sneak out a million times.  I’ve caught him do it a lot and race over to the door to yell at him, but then I see him in all his glory doing circles in the grass with his arms outstretched as if he just busted out of jail.  Soaking up the sunshine that he, obviously, never sees.  It’s so hard to get mad at a boy who just wants to live a little.  Okay, it’s not THAT hard because I have no problem scooching his booty right back in the house.  He does, however, have a problem with the scooching.  You’d think the world was ending by the amount of alligator tears he produces.

I explain to him that Mommy can’t go outside and watch him because she has A, B, C to do.  We do spend quite a bit of time outside, but it is apparently not enough for this kid.

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Anyways, THIS ^ is how he gets outside.  It doesn’t matter how many times I tell him no or how many times I move that rocking horse away from the door, he moves it right back and sneaks outside again.  He will wait until the second I’m not looking and bolt for the door.  I have even caught him mid jail-break and he threw himself on the ground and acted like he wasn’t doing anything.

Oh look, mom.  I’m pretending to be asleep on the floor.  If I lay here she won’t catch on to my master plan.

Excuse me, Austin.  Contrary to popular toddler belief, I am not a T-Rex and your motionless body will NOT render you invisible.  Sorry.

He can also open his bedroom door.  JOY.  Now naps are a struggle and mommy has to wake her booty up in the morning when Austin gets up to make sure he isn’t trying to escape while I am sleeping.

Toddler Code of Conduct # 1. You are the family alarm clock. It is your job to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn every day.

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Austin’s newest obsession is ice.  I bought him a snow cone machine for his birthday and he asks for it daily.  Okay, he asks for it hourly.  I don’t mind because I love snow cones too!  Above ^ you’ll see Austin taking out his snow cone machine and asking for some ice.  He also fiends for FRUITies, pronounced foodies, meaning smoothies.  I usually blend a tropical mix I get from Costco, pop in some Kale or carrots and call it a day.

You’re probably thinking to yourself “Austin doesn’t seem too bad.  Ashley is mistaken.”  Oh, contraire.  Let me tell you how our Sunday went.

Scroll past the first paragraph if you want to forego talk about feces. —————————————————

The morning began with a toddler coming into my bedroom saying “owie” and pointing at his crotch.  Turns out he basically crapped whole peanuts out and was sitting in his poop covered nuts (no pun intended ;).  Rewind back to dinner the night before.  We went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse.  If you’ve been there, you know that you can eat shelled peanuts and throw them on the ground.  Well, Austin ate a lot.  It was our way of distracting him from the 30 minute wait.  If we didn’t distract him, our little escape artist would have hauled butt for the parking lot.  If he isn’t supposed to be somewhere, he will find a way to get there.  Anyways, after crapping himself at the restaurant and forgetting to mention it to me or Justin, I picked him up and felt his lovely blowout surprise.  LOVELY.  Not only was it up his back, but diaper change was quite the adventure.  Lets just say poop got everywhere!  Fast forward to Sunday morning and you have a diaper full of “owies.”

Toddler Code of Conduct # 2. ALWAYS crap your pants AFTER leaving the house. Your best bet is to clench those cheeks together until you have left your street, and then EXPLODE!!! To achieve Legend status, do this when your parent is in a huge hurry to get somewhere very important.

The morning was fine and it wasn’t until AFTER he skipped nap time that things got a little crazy in the Pfeffer household.

Toddler Code of Conduct # 9. You are in control of your sleep schedule. If you do not want to go to sleep, then don’t, and if someone really wants you to go to sleep, then definitely do not do it. Do your best to get so tired that you become an evil miserable crying mess. That will show them!

This is what our evening looked like:

Austin snuck outside for the umpteenth time, danced in the grass, refused to come inside and had a meltdown when I brought him inside.  This is when all hell broke loose.  The things toddlers cry about amazes me.

Meltdown 1) Coming inside

2) Sitting down for dinner

3) The food on his plate

4) The wrong fork

5) The bath being drawn

6) The fact that Luke’s tub was in HIS bathtub

7) When it took me too long to put bubbles in the bath

8) When I didn’t put enough bubbles

9) When there were too many bubbles

10) When I touched the bubbles

11) When I turned off the water

12) When he had to get out of the tub

13) When I needed to put his diaper/PJs on

14) When his binkie fell out of his mouth

15) When his show wasn’t on

16) When we turned on the “wrong” show

17) When bedtime was suggested

meltdown after meltdown after meltdown.

The night ended in a hot shower and a cold beer for mommy.

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# 20 “the most important code of toddler conduct — for every five minutes you spend terrorizing your parent(s), sibling(s) and/or pet(s), provide one minute of pure sweet lovin’ to ensure complete forgiveness.” – The Toddler Code of Conduct: 20 Rules Toddlers Live By

I forgive you, Austin.  There is always tomorrow ❤ & I’m glad I have tomorrow to share with you.

MommaOwlsign

Luke is 5 Months Old

Dearest Lukie,

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I know Momma is a little late posting this, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me.  HAPPY 5 MONTH BIRTHDAY, little man.  I should start off by saying that you are a total mommy’s boy through and through.  You haven’t quite been your happy self recently.

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You constantly want to be held and interacted with… and rightfully so.  You are competing with your brother for my attention all the time.  Boy, oh boy is Austin a handful.  You desperately crave mommy cuddles, but mommy is always chasing Austin around (who has been getting into LOTS of trouble recently).  I blame myself for your neediness because I wished for a baby that loved being held.  I shouldn’t say blame because you are truly a blessing.  A bundle of cuddly chunkiness.

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THANK GOSH for babywearing.  My wraps and carriers are my saving grace.  You will happily sit in a carrier pressed up against my back or chest while I keep Austin in check or get things done around the house.  I wrapped you on my back for the first time today with our Girasol.  I think it was a success.  I was so proud of myself.  I showed your big brother and said “look what Mommy did,” pointing to you on my back.  He was thoroughly unimpressed.  You though getting on my back was hilarious and liked to giggle at yourself in the mirror.  Getting off my back, on the other hand, was a little scary for you.  I think I am going to have to practice the hip scoot method a little more.

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If I put you in your chair, you cry.  If I put you on the ground, you cry. The only time you don’t cry when I put you down is if I sit you up.  Which, by the way, is your newest accomplishment.  WOO HOO for you. You can now sit up very well all by yourself.

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You know what else you FINALLY learned how to do?  You can now roll over on your own.  Both ways (tummy to back & back to tummy).  Great job, chunkster!

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Last night you had your FIRST bath with your big brother.  You sat in your small tub (first time sitting up while bathing) while Austin played in the big tub.  You LOVED splashing in the water and brother liked dumping water on you… of course.

boating sleepy boating

Speaking of water, we had one of our last boat rides.  The weather is getting cooler and the boating season is dying down.  I am a little disappointed because I can always count on the boat to soothe you to sleep.

Your sleeping habits have also changed.  Napping hasn’t been going well recently.  Since you always want me to hold you, you cry when I try to lay you down in your crib.  Today you took your morning nap in the Ergo while big brother and I played at the park.  You did take your afternoon nap, but it didn’t happen without a fight.  Yesterday I even laid in your CRIB with you until you fell asleep.  Well, actually, I fell asleep with you and we BOTH napped in your crib.  Bedtime is fine and you sleep well for the first 4-6 hours and then I bring you in bed with Daddy and I (bad habit, I know), but I haven’t been going to bed until midnight since I started working for Origami Owl and it seems like the moment I lay down in my bed to fall asleep, you wake up.  Anyways, I know you aren’t complaining about cuddle time.

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You are such a wonderful addition to our family and I am excited to experience the rest of your firsts with you.  I love you very much and look forward to tonight’s cuddle session in Mommy’s bed.

XOXO,

MommaOwlsign

Thanksgiving Flying Tips & Tricks

Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  Yes, we haven’t even celebrated Halloween yet, but it is NEVER too early to plan for your upcoming trip.

Just like those annoying department stores, bust out the holiday prep early.  Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you secure your Thanksgiving flight (the short version):

1. Sign Up for Fare Alerts – make the best of services like Kayak that will alert you when prices drop and rise.
 
2. Pick the Right Day to Fly- AVOID the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at ALL costs.  Your best bet is Tuesday or Wednesday a week before.

3. Book a Direct/Nonstop Flight- this equates to less time spent on the runway and less time spent in the airport during layovers.

AND less time spent with THESE people.   Oh and THESE people, too   <<< Please don’t watch if you don’t like profanity  (that’s you Gramma )  😉

4. Find the Perfect Flight Combination- search, search, and then search some more. The perfect combination is out there.

5. Look for Package Deals- Sites like Travelocity and Orbitz offer discounted prices for booking multiple items (hotel accommodations, flights, and rental cars).
 
6. Book Early- Have you heard the phrase “the early bird gets the worm”?  Okay, who hasn’t?  Well, this applies for booking your flight.  The early bird gets the window seat!  Or maybe the early bird gets the extra leg room.  AHHHH, relish in the thought of THAT one!
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7. Sign Up for Memberships- Become one of those super important elite members and board early… OR snag a kid on your way in the airport and you’ll get to board early for free 😉

8Avoid Back-Breaking Fees- Don’t forget about baggage fees.  It’s sometimes better to just pack multiple bags and pay the additional bag fee than to pay that pesky overweight baggage fee.  Plus, who wants to lug around a huge suitcase anyways!  Try to pack light.  You don’t need the kitchen sink!

OH, WAIT! You CAN bring the kitchen sink … as your carry on  😉

For more details you can visit Upward Onward to read my full length article.

MommaOwlsign

Happy 2nd Birthday, little man

Dear Austin,

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It seems like yesterday I was holding you in my arms for the first time.  I remember the moment the doctor handed you to me.  You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  I held my breath as I waited for your first cries and I remember stroking your little tiny hand repeating your name over and over again until you finally let out a wail.  You were such a great baby and you were so HAPPY all the time.  You were immediately LOVED by all who met you.

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These past 2 years have flown by and I cannot believe how big you’ve gotten.  You are so independent and strong-willed.  Sometimes you are challenging, but most of the time you are LOTS of fun.  I am amazed at how much you are talking now.  You used to have your own little language that I swore only you could understand.  Now you let me know when you want to go “Owe-side,” but then I have to remind you that we need to put your “shu shus” on.  You love your “WOOF WOOF” and ask to watch your shows a lot.  You think everyone at the door is “GiGi” and I am ALWAYS happy to kiss your “owies.”

You LOVE your “DADA.”  Recently, you two have been going to bed together and I don’t see Daddy until the wee hours of the morning.  Daddy had to work late last night and I FINALLY got to cuddle with you.  I let you sleep in my bed and relished in the fact that I would be falling asleep next to a ONE-YEAR-OLD and waking up next to a TWO-YEAR-OLD. 

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Today was you actual birthday.  Although, I don’t think you quite understand what that actually means.

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You are just happy to get a cupcake placed in front of you.  We spent the day playing inside and waiting for daddy to get home.  We went for a boat ride and had your favorite meal: spaghetti.  I knew it must have been a FUN dinner because I found spaghetti on the wall as I was cleaning up.

Now you and Daddy are in bed and I am sitting here all alone reminiscing as I watch your birth video and recant your life up to now.

I can’t help but feel oh-so-lucky for being blessed with the opportunity to be your mommy.

You have taught me so much. . .

I have learned to live in the moment.  You never worry about the past and the future means nothing to you.  All you worry about is the here and now.  More people should live that way.  Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses… or in your case stop and play in the dirt.

You taught me that I need to go with my gut more often.  You never stop and think about which decision you should make, you just GO and worry about the consequences later.  Scratch that, you don’t worry about the consequences at all.

You’ve also taught me how to accept compliments.  I always tell you how awesome or how cool you are and your answer is always “ya” as if you already know.

I need to get more excited like you do.  You get a kick out of every new event.  “Come on, Austin, lets go get the mail.”  ::happy dance happy dance:: “Come on, Austin, let’s go to the store.” STORE?! ::happy dance happy dance::

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You also taught me that napping is a good thing.  You may refuse it when offered, but when you wake up it’s like you’re the new-and-improved Austin.  Rejuvenated, refreshed, a big fat ball of energy!  We all could just use a little nap once in a while.

But most importantly, you taught me how to love unconditionally.

You will ALWAYS kiss me when I ask and sometimes sneak a hug in without me even prompting you.  I am still waiting for the AMAZING day to come when you finally tell me you love me.  To hear those words out of your little mouth would be so sweet.

Until then, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful little boy.

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I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART, AUSTIN.

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15 months >> Photo: Yummy lunch :)

16 months >> IMG_1300

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2 YEARS OLD >> IMG_2999