Everyone, meet Sophia the First

Sophia the First

photo 2This year for Christmas we decided to get our daughter a puppy. Our daughter stays with my grandparents a few days a week and she LOVES their dachshund, Auburn. When I get there to pick her up she tells me, “hold on mama, I gotta go run with Auburn. Be right back.” It is HILARIOUS. We ended up in touch with the exact same kennel that my grandparents had gotten their dog from a few years ago.

**If you happen to want a Miniature Dachshund (long or smooth coat) or are just curious and want to browse, please visit http://www.brightcreekcritters.com. Ginger and Rick are wonderful people and truly love the Dachshund breed**

Back to Sophia: On Christmas Eve I left work at 12:30 p.m. and drove straight to Bright Creek Kennel to pick up the puppy. We did not choose a name yet because we wanted our daughter to be able to name her. She had named her Welsh pony, quite well actually, so we thought we would give her a shot at naming the puppy. The puppy was born October 14th and I had not seen a photo of her since mid-November. When we arrived and I saw her I was so in love! I just knew my daughter would be tickled to death to get her. The original plan was to have her there Christmas morning when we all got up, but after picking her up and getting to play with her, we could not wait. We surprised our daughter with her that night at my dad’s family’s Christmas dinner. She did not know what to do at first. Then I told her that it was her puppy to take home with her and she was SO EXCITED. For the first 20 minutes after introducing the puppy, she would CRY every moment that she was not getting to hold the puppy. I almost regretted giving it to her early. Ha! Then present opening began and she forgot about it for a little while. The puppy just ran around and played and every one loved on her. She was bragged on all night for being such a good dog. She never once had an accident inside, and has yet to have an accident in the house which is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I owe it all to Ginger at the kennel. Our puppy was the last of its litter and needed to be separated from her mother since we weren’t picking her up until Christmas Eve; so Ginger and Rick moved her inside and already had her sleeping in a pet carrier/crate and understanding to use the bathroom outside! (If you end up purchasing a puppy from Bright Creek, please do not hold them to this result. I believe it is simply because we had to wait so long to pick her up and she was the only one left. I probably could not have it happen again even if I buy 6 more dogs from them.)

I’ve never seen my daughter more happy in the mornings when she wakes up. It makes her so happy for the puppy to run around and jump and want to play with her. I’ve heard 50 times now “mama, her really likes me!” It is precious. When we asked her what the puppy’s name was going to be, she decided on Sophia. Sophia the First. In case you didn’t know, Princess Sophia the First is a TV show that comes on Disney Jr. She is the inspiration for our new Sophia.

As much as I hate having to freeze outside while she does her business, it is worth it because our daughter thinks getting the puppy was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Which again confirms our parental amazing-ness.

On the 26th, after having taken the puppy for its early morning potty break, Sophia, my daughter, and I were laying in bed together. My daughter was petting her and she sat up and said, “Mama thank you for my puppy,” and a few moments later, “Mama thank you for all of my presents on Christmas. That was so good.”

That was absolutely the best Christmas present I have EVER received.

Khloe and Sophia2

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“How to Miss a Childhood” Shared from: Hands Free Mama

“How to Miss a Childhood” Shared from: Hands Free Mama

If I am ever physically slapped in the face with a ton of bricks, it will not hit me harder than this post by Rachel at Hands Free Mama.

I want to go ahead and warn you, that if you are not up for constructive criticism, positive conviction (NOT condemnation), or an eye opening message on your parenting style then you may want to avoid opening the link above.

The above post was written in May 2012. I did not read the post until December 2013. It was a revelation that I needed. As Rachel shares in her post, yes, we are living in the 21st Century with all of the new technologies and social media available, and many people, like myself at times, get caught up in thinking we must stay on top of the latest app or social media attraction in order to be “of the times” or “in the know.” Honestly, though, who cares? Who in the world cares that I was the 12th person to retweet CNN’s latest story on Breaking News? ……….. That’s exactly who, no one. Having Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram is not bad in itself. There is nothing wrong with having different forms of social media in our lives. It is the fact that we have apparently lost our ability to moderate the overwhelming time that we stay on our social media or even gaming apps on the computer, iPad, or smartphone.

I make a collective statement of “we” because I am also speaking for the many people in my life that have admitted or even deny their “phone/ electronic device in hand” syndrome. I can attest to sitting at a family gathering for the holidays and approximately half of the people in attendance who were old enough to properly operate a phone had one in their hand at all times, and I was one of them! Pre-social media and smartphone era, what in the world did people do? They spent time together. They, wait for it, TALKED and carried on conversations with one another. How crazy does that sound?! Well, not crazy at all. Families knew things about one another because of the simple conversation they actually took part in. Sadly enough, my father-in-law can tell me more about most of my grandfather’s non-immediate family than I can because when my father-in-law was my age you visited people. You looked them in the eye when they spoke to you and you didn’t have a phone to glance at or “multi-task” while you read an email and half-way listened. Oh to have lived during that time where I could not even be tempted by my nice little iPhone. But you know what, I can live like that. It is a choice I make every day to put my phone down or keep it in my hand or pocket. I mean seriously, who am I? I must be the diplomat to a country in turmoil or maybe the President of this country for me to need my phone at my side at all times because I am that “in demand”. HA! I am neither of those nor anywhere close. My job doesn’t even require me to be available for contact after hours. I am only in demand to the people, or in this case things (social media), that I allow myself to be in demand to, and honestly the only people who need or deserve my attention most are usually with me while I am on my phone. When I allow myself to think about it, how sad must the dynamics of all our relationships really be?

If you need proof that people are a little TOO addicted to their smartphones and access to social media, please search recent Associated Press stories where a tourist recently walked completely off of a pier in Australia because she was busy looking at Facebook on her phone. In addition to that being bad enough as it is, she also could not swim and needed to be rescued.

So, when I came across the post “How to Miss a Childhood” what happened as I read came in stages.

First: “My phone use is not that bad” as I first started reading.

Second: “Oh. She has a point.”

Next: “I am ashamed at what I must have made my two year old daughter feel when I’m constantly on my phone for one thing or another.”

And then: Sadness. That my two year old is already accustomed to MY “phone in hand” syndrome. That this is the way she will think families operate with one another. I did not have to experience my parent’s making me feel that way. WHY would I EVER do that to my own child, even unintentionally?!

Fifth: Crying. As I sat and tried to imagine what I have put my daughter’s young and tender heart through as I tell her to hold on because I’m making a phone call or looking at my phone, when all she wanted was to show me how she fixed or made something all by herself. Yes, I was very proud of her and have always told her so when I was finished with what took priority at that moment. What SHOULD have taken priority was her. Even though I always tell her that I’m proud of her, I missed the moment when it was most important. I should be ashamed. What kind of mother or human in society am I teaching her to be? What kind of member of society have I become?!

Finally: Change. After I recovered, I decided then and there that those were not the memories my daughter would remember when she was standing at her high school and college graduations looking back on life. Yes, I have messed up so far. Within the last year since getting an iPhone my attachment to my phone has increased ridiculously. BUT the good thing is, it has only been one year. I have at least 16 more years to fix things before she is old enough to be leaving home, to change our family dynamic and create better and more meaningful relationships with her and any children we have in the future.

Monday through Friday 8-5 p.m. I am already dedicating my time to something other than my family. It is called my job. No, I would not prefer to work or be away from my daughter during her early and impressionable years, but this is how life has to work for us. It has become very difficult to maintain life and a household with only one parent working in today’s society, and we are an example of that. So I have a job and that means that I spend 9.5 hours a day either at work or on commute. Say I actually get a good 8 hours sleep at night, that leaves 7 hours per day to spend with my daughter and fiance, and that’s not counting for the time we’re getting ready in the mornings, which is NOT quality time together. So we will say I have 5 hours per day. You know what I have decided? Screw everyone else’s needs during those 5 hours. Starting now, from the time we walk in the door after work until our daughter is sound asleep, our phones are unavailable. Literally. Monday through Friday from now on for those 5 hours my phone will be on Do Not Disturb setting. If a call is back to back within a 10 minute period, then it will alert me. It needs to seriously be an emergency or I may hang up. I invest so much of my time elsewhere that for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week I can and NEED to invest in what matters most to me: my family. My two year old daughter and her father. I am well aware that there will be those special occasions where an evening one week is disrupted by an event or emergency, I get that. It happens. Life is unpredictable. And that is exactly the point. Life is unpredictable, and what if I leave for work one day and my daughter never sees me again. Her memory of me will be Mommy with her phone. That is so sickening to me.

Habits are hard to break. After doing something for 21-30 days consistently, that action becomes a habit. Which is exactly what has happened with always being on our phones. We do not intentionally choose our phones over our daughter, it is something that has slowly developed over the last year. But you know what that means? In 21-30 days of putting down the phone for 5 hours an evening, a new habit can be formed. It will not seem like a challenge anymore.

Investing my time, attention, and talents in our daughter will reward me more than reading nonsense on Twitter or looking at pictures of someone else’s family on Instagram. (Those are the only social media sites/apps I am a member of, and I do not have any games on my phone.) I mean, how stupid does any of that sound anyways? It sounds boring. It sounds like I need a hobby or maybe even a life. Seriously instead of being on my phone I could be studying to get in to Grad School. Huh, who would’ve thought?!?

BUT I AM TAKING A STAND. I am joining the Hands Free Revolution that was started by Rachel over at Hands Free Mama.

If you too feel like you have over dedicated your time to your phone and are missing out on the things that REALLY matter in the grand scheme of life, please consider joining us. Please click the link in the title of this post and read Rachel’s post “How to Miss a Childhood” which is where all of this began for me. And while you’re there, explore her website, her other posts, and what her purpose is all about. And, let Rachel know that her message is making an impact. If she hadn’t written that post for me to stumble upon a year later, my wake up call might not have came this early or in time.

If like me, you choose to change things and Start making memories that matter and Invest in what is important to you: let me know how your journey goes and keep me updated. It will be good to know that there are others like me who realize we don’t have to make ourselves look back with regret when our children are no longer at home to spend time with.

Thin Mints, Samoas, and more…

Surely when you read the title, you already knew what Thin Mint and Samoa meant.

If those words did not ring a bell, your life is not yet complete. (:

GirlScoutCookies

Girl Scout cookies are pretty well-known around the South, and I am certain that they are popular in other parts of the country and maybe world (considering that Girl Scouts is not only a very established organization in America, but is also now international as well.)

With that being said, I hope you really have had the chance to experience Girl Scout cookies before, whether it really be the Thin Mints, Samoas, or any of the many other options! They are amazing. And slightly addicting.

In November I made the decision to become a troop leader. Maybe I’m crazy. This year I have 5 girls age range 3-5th grade. Our first meetings is coming up, I’m actually excited!

The annual Girl Scout cookie sale is coming up for us in January. I usually always stick to what I like (I really love the Samoas), but learning ALL of the different types over the last week has gotten me intrigued. I plan to try many of the other types this year. I had never even heard of the dulce de leche. Let me tell you, THEY ARE GOOD.

Have you tried many types girl scout cookies? What is your favorite? What are the ones you think I should steer clear from?

25 year olds..

I’m surprised at how many of these fit my life right now. And I’m still 2 years shy of 25.

everydaysara

Image Recently I turned 25 years old. Which one might think, “that is no different than any other year”. False, the moment October 13th started, so did my quarter life crisis. It’s half of 50, and honestly I had to take a moment. The following things I have found to be true at this point in my life. Though I am no longer going through a quarter life crisis, there is something sweet about knowing something to be true, even if it is a silly list such as this..

1. I will never wake up an hour early to enjoy my morning. If i have work at 8:00AM I get up in just enough time to make it if I hurry.

2. Mexican food and margaritas with friends never gets old.

3. Cat calls are more like compliments.

4. Shots are something you have grown out of..

5. You start to…

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A Gift that is Giving Back to Me

Two weeks, ago Santa was stopping by our local mall on a “special trip he had to make to Florida.” There was a big production with singing from special guests such as Frosty, Rudolph, Cindy-Lou-Who, the Grinch, special carolers and elves. We took our two year old daughter thinking it would be an exciting 45 minute event then we would be on our way shopping. Wrong. We stood in line after the show for two hours before we got to meet Santa. I know, we were crazy. As we stood in line to meet Santa, there was the usual Salvation Army Angel Tree set up nearby. It was not something that I could ignore. Not that I was TRYING to ignore the fact that there were at least 100 angels still on the tree, but I’ve just never been able to afford to buy a child their entire Christmas. As I stood there, I thought of all the children whose parents couldn’t afford the gas to even drive to the mall and visit Santa for free. How, to us, this seemed like such a simple thing to bring our daughter excitement, wasn’t possible for everyone. Two hours can give you a lot of time to think.

Eventually, I walked to the tree and began looking at the names and ages (I mean we were obviously going to be waiting a while, why not check it out.) As I looked, I decided we were adopting a Christmas Angel. No, we do not have a great surplus this year for Christmas spending, but we were about to do something to help. Then, as I looked at the different ages and watched as my daughter ran to me to check out what was going on, I decided I wanted to adopt a child who was close to her age. She asked me what I was doing, so I picked her up and I showed her all the angels. I said, “Khloe, all these are little boys and girls who need Christmas presents this year. Santa needs some help.” Next I asked her, “Do you want to pick one that we can help and buy presents for?” She responded, “We can? Oh that be so cool, Mama.” I walked around and read the information on various angels again and settled on a three year old boy. Three years old. I looked at my daughter as she ran back to her Daddy and began talking about Santa and playing with the other children waiting in line. Not a concern in the world. She will be three in February. It took me less than a second to try and fathom her doing without or not having any presents. Not only missing physical presents, but missing the excitement or happiness that should come along with the Christmas season. If I would have spent much more time thinking about it, I would have been in tears for her just from the mere thought of her heart or feelings hurting. At that point there was nothing anyone could’ve said to convince me otherwise. If Trevor and I had to not buy for one another, we were buying this child from the Salvation Army Angel Tree his Christmas presents.

When I reached where they stood in line, still waiting for Santa, nothing was said when I handed him the angel cut out to hold. I think he just knew that I had decided, and this is what we were doing. He has come to know after four and a half years that when I decide I’m doing something philanthropic, especially for children, just agree and help me make it successful. I love children; especially children in need. He probably already new as I headed toward the tree in the beginning that we would be going home with an adopted angel. Apparently he loves me for it any way. (:

I have received so much joy buying his presents. When I shop for our daughter, I know what she likes and know that when she opens it she will be filled with pure innocent excitement. That does bring me joy and anticipation of her opening them, but when I am shopping for a young child who I know minimal information about, I stand and imagine excitement and happiness with each individual toy I pick up. Does he already have this book? I wonder if he has these toy cars? Then I had so much fun picking out his clothes. I have a two year old daughter so I only ever enter the girl section in stores; and shopping for a 24 year old male is not the same as shopping for a three year old boy.

As I have spent time shopping or gathering ideas for our Salvation Army Christmas Angel over the last two weeks, I have also spent a lot of time thinking about the real meaning of Christmas and the idea of giving. I think gift buying at Christmas has gotten very blown out of proportion throughout the last 10-15 years. Christmas isn’t all about gifts and when I hear people say, “but they’re children, they won’t understand”, I disagree to a certain extent. They will understand what we have taught them to understand. (Now I am not discrediting the idea of the Salvation Army or buying for those less fortunate at Christmas. If I could, I would adopt 500 children at Christmas because I believe every child and person should have at least one gift to open on Christmas, but that is just not feasible for us.) How my thinking led to this was, that I know these children who receive gifts through the Salvation Army will appreciate and be thoroughly pleased with anything they get. The smallest gesture and gift will mean so much more to them than to many other children. It has made me change the way I want to teach my daughter about Christmas and giving. I have decided that every year, we will go together and pick out an Angel on the tree that is similar to her age and shop together. Of course, we will always provide for our daughter first, but if we have to miss out on a barbie doll or two so that we can give an entire Christmas to someone else, that is what you will find our household doing. I realize how blessed my daughter is: as her parents, we are not financially “rich”, but we can provide for her needs and are able to purchase toys and extra things for her throughout the year; she has both sets of her grandparents and three great-grandmothers and one great-grandfather still alive and able to be active in her life; my immediate family of aunts, uncles, first cousins and their children is approximately 16 people, and that is only my mother’s side of the family! Even if she received only 1 gift from each household other than from me and her father, she would have plenty. And what I would want her to get most out of receiving the gifts is the love that our family has for one another, not necessarily our ability to purchase material gifts. When she opens a gift I want thoughts like “oh, this made Aunt _____ think of me!” aka: Aunt ____ was thinking of me; Or, “Mimi got this for me because she knows I love Cinderella,” aka: she pays attention to notice the things I like. Not, “my Paw bought me _____ so I know he spent more money on me than my Uncle _____.” I would be horrified to know my child thought that! I would be horrified at myself as her mother for letting her down in my duty to raise her.

Basically, the decision to adopt the Salvation Army Angel from the Angel Tree this year has really reminded me as a parent what my duty is when it comes to teaching my daughter about Christmas, and well, about life in general. Yes, realistically I am totally aware that I will always purchase gifts for my child or children as long as we both hold employment and that throughout their childhood, they will be children who have selfish tendencies at times; but I will refuse to raise my children to think that Christmas has a certain price or gift minimum for it to be a successful or meaningful Christmas. I refuse to imply by my actions that they are only loved or noticed by family members if gifts are in hand. Honestly, if we show up at my grandmother’s house Christmas morning this year and none of her extended family were able to buy her a gift, she would be so wrapped up in the fact of getting to see all of her little cousins that she would not even notice, and I hope to keep that innocence in her heart. I hope that I can show her to hold onto that despite what society says is necessary for the holiday to be a “good Christmas.”

Little three year old Isay, who might never know his name appeared on a Salvation Army Angel Tree in 2013, will always be in my heart and mind as the first Salvation Army Angel I ever adopted; as the inspiration I had to change the idea my two year old already has of Christmas; and I will always wish I could’ve seen his face on Christmas morning as he opened all of his gifts.