Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vacation time!

I realize it seems like I've taken an eternal vacation from the blog. But the fact is, I've been super busy with real life lately! Libby is back in full swing at school, she is cheering and swimming right now, and amongst work and my love life, I'm also going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for the third (!!!) time. (You would think I'd have it down pat by now. But I love his philosophy and am now going through it with my boyfriend, which, so far, has been a great experience for us and has likely prompted some conversation that we otherwise wouldn't have had.)

But right now, here I sit...vacationing at the beach - toes in the sand, sun beating hard on my blindingly white skin, with Libby sitting on the brink of the crashing waves, running her fingers repeatedly through the sand. And life. Is. Good!

Vacationing can be a challenge for the single parent. Whether it's lack of time or limited finances, it can be hard to make it happen. But I'd like to challenge you if you are a single parent (and even if you aren't) to make a yearly vacation a priority. It doesn't have to be a luxurious, all inclusive, week long resort vacation...even a night or two in a local hotel (or even at a friend or family member's house!) will do.

And here's why I think it's so important:

1. Rest and relaxation. This is probably the most obvious reason but it should not be overlooked! It's good for our souls to get away from the busy-ness of our everyday realities.

2. The memories. I grew up vacationing with my own parents and I can tell you that those are some of our most treasured family memories. In fact, just today my mom and I were laughing about a time that my brother and I were playing in the ocean and my dad took off from his lounge chair at a full run (which never happens!), yelling for us to get out. He had seen fins sticking out of the water and was certain a whole school of sharks was headed our way! Turned out to be a school of manta rays! :)

3. Enrichment. Maybe I'm stretching it here, but think about great is it for your child (and even yourself!) to get out of the comfort zone of home and meet new people, try new foods, and have new experiences? There's a lot to be learned! The novelty makes it exciting and perhaps even more memorable.

That's all I can come up with for now. (Hey, my brain is on vacation here too!). Why else are vacations important to you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Picky pays off...

I'm 31.  When I turned 30 (and 31), it was kinda scary.  I was officially in my 30s and still a single parent.  I wasn't getting any younger.  I wanted more kids.  But I wanted to do it right this time...not out of order like I did when I had my daughter.

The crazy thing is, I was essentially single from the time I had my daughter, back in 2005, until just this year.  You can do the math...or, if you're like me and are terrible at math, I'll help you out...I've basically gone 7 years without seriously dating anyone.  Anyone.

Weird?  Maybe.  Depends on how you look at it.  It's not like I never went out on dates...I've had plenty of first dates over the years.  But that's the problem.  They were mostly only first dates...a handful of second dates, and a select few third dates.  There were even a couple guys that I dated for about a month before calling it quits.  But something about that one month mark was very tell-tale for me. 

A little over 4 months ago, things changed.  I (re)met someone...someone that I had grown up with but never even really given a second thought to.  I hung out with his step-sister back in high school and my younger brother hung out with his step-brother.  But never in a million years would I have imagined that he could possibly be the one for me.

And it still surprises me sometimes.  He plays in a rock/metal band; I like all types of music but prefer country and my least favorite is metal.  He has tattoos; I have none.  He is divorced; I've never been married.  He never went to a 4 year college; I went to college for 7 years and am looking to possibly go back for more sometime soon.  In many ways, when you look at the two of us as a couple, you might truly believe that opposites attract. 

But for me, it's more than that.  I know that the real reason I've not seriously dated anyone for the last 7 years is because I've been holding out.  I've been hanging out, waiting for just the right guy to come along...the one that meets all my qualifications.  And now that I've found him, as impatient as I was sometimes along the journey, he was SO worth the wait!  It's funny because in the past, I've always wanted a little "room to breathe" when I was dating and even thought that I'd find my true love in a long distance relationship because in my eyes, that seemed the best kind of relationship to have - one where we could have plenty of our own space and yet fully enjoy one another's company when we were together.  But now I'm dating a guy that lives two minutes from my house and I can't see him often enough!  And I think that's the way it's supposed to be...

I'll be keeping you posted on where things go from here, but as for now, all I can say is that being picky really has paid off for me!
I'm sharing this story over at my friend Anne's blog, where she's hosting a carnival on the Perspectives of Life and Love tomorrow, August 10th.  Please check it out and if you have your own journey in life and love to share, feel free to join us!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Balancing Act


One of the biggest battles as a single parent is  finding the right balance between life and kids.  While the two kinda go hand-in-hand, it's still important to have a life outside of your children, whether you're a single parent or not. 

Work.  For some parents, working is optional.  If it is for you, great!  But the reality is, for most single parents, we are working out of necessity.  We have to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs...and if we have a little leftover money for some fun, it's like a bonus!  The thing is, regardless of your job, it's so important that you are able to step away from it from time-to-time.  I've heard stories of single parents that have to work 90 hours a week just to make ends meet and if this is you, finding a way to get away from work probably seems next-to-impossible.  The thing we have to remember is, in the grand scheme of things, work is (probably) always going to be there but our children aren't.  During my own daughter's formative years, I made the (tough) decision to live on a little less and spend a little more time at home, working only 3-4 days a week instead of 5.  But even if you can't cut back on the amount of hours or days that you work, you can make a commitment to focus on your children and spend some quality time with them at home.  Build the bonds and the memories that will last for their lifetime.

Housework.  Then there's also the work that we come home the house, laundry, washing dishes, etc, etc.  I think one of the greatest things you can do is get your children involved!  Just this week I heard on the radio that 1 in 4 children today do nothing to help around the house...but not at our house!  My own daughter, Libby, has had a "chore list" since she was 3.  Of course, it's not like I had her scrubbing the toilets that she had just gotten the hang of using.  We started small - things like picking up toys and feeding our pet cat (which has since run away, but she is now in charge of feeding our dog).  Every year or so I try to reassess her capabilities and her responsibilities in the home.  For instance, when she was 4 years old, Libby also had the job of matching socks when I did laundry.  It was a good, simple learning task for her at the time.  But last year, I started having her fold the can't really go wrong with folding socks.  It was a great way to get her to help around the house.  Not only does sharing the housework with your child take some of the load off yourself, but it also teaches them responsibility and builds character. 

Kids.  Sometimes it can be tough to figure out how to spend some quality time with our kiddos, especially when the budget is tight.  But one of the best things any parent can do for their child is to make sure that you eat meals together as a family.  At our house, I try to make it a priority for us to share our mealtime.  And if dinner is going to be pretty simple to put together, I'll even let my daughter help, which she absolutely loves!  Other things that we do together include her swim meets (I try to be at every one to show my support for her...after all, I'm her #1 fan!), "movie nights" (where we either rent a movie or watch one from our personal collection), reading together, and just going to local parks and hanging out.  Sometimes I wish I could do more things with her that cost money like amusement parks, zoos, indoor playgrounds, etc...Not that we never do those things but for us they are kinda few and far between.  But what I have to remind myself (and maybe some of you need this reminder too) is that taking time out of our busy single parent lives may be tricky but it's well worth it when our children realize just how much we value our time together.

Other relationships.  As much as I love to spend time with my daughter, I also realize that there's a value in spending time away from her too.  When I go on trips or spend some time hanging out with some of my girlfriends or go on a date with my awesome boyfriend :), I revitalize myself.  It keeps me sane!  I don't necessarily enjoy having to pay for a baby-sitter but I know that we need that time apart (aside from the time spent working).  I treasure that special time that Libby and I spend doing something special together (like our "bucket list") but we both need some time apart.  Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?  :)

Anything else I'm leaving out that's hanging in the balance?  How do you handle everything on your plate?  Please may help the rest of us out!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

And the winner is...

Ashlee Moore (Madysmom)!  Yay!  Congrats, Ashlee!  E-mail me ( or message me on facebook with your address and I'll be sending the book your way.  I hope you like it as much as I did!  :)

And thanks to everyone that entered the contest!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mom's Day 2012 (& a give-away!)

To all of the parents out there, happy mother's day!  Here in Kentucky, it's been a gloomy day but there's sunshine in my heart knowing that I have a loving mother to celebrate with, as well as a beautiful little girl who makes me smile each and every day.  Whether you're single or married, happy mother's day to all of you!  I know that as single parents, sometimes we have to take on the dual role of mother and father so to all of you single dads out there, I hope you have a blessed mother's day too!

Me, Libby, and my Mom enjoying some beach time last summer at Myrtle Beach, SC.

Growing up, we always did something special for my mom on mother's day - took her out to lunch, bought her flowers, and of course showered her with gifts.  But as a single parent, today sometimes just feels like a Hallmark holiday, doesn't it?  If you have young children, it's so easy to feel overlooked if you don't have a spouse on days like today.  But know that I'm thinking of you and praying for you on your own single parent journey, especially today.

That's exactly why I'm so excited to have my very first give-away this week!  In honor of Mother's Day, I'm going to be giving away a copy of Angela Thomas' book, My Single Mom Life.  I mentioned the book briefly in a post back in February, when I was attempting to participate in the online book club,  Booking It (something else I've failed to stick with in my new relationship - oops!).  I don't want to give away too much about the book because I'm planning to do a full review of it in the coming weeks.  But I will say this much about friend Anne over at recently hosted a link party entitled The Book That Changed My Life Carnival and I meant to participate but the date slipped by before I even realized it...and if I had participated, I would have written about this book!  Thomas has an amazing way with words and she somehow managed to put onto the pages of her book many of the thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and struggles I've had on my own single parent journey.  You don't have to be a mom to enter this give-away and you don't have to be single - this book would be a great read for anyone that wants to empathize more with single parents and it would make a great gift if you have any single parent friends.   Although the book is geared towards mothers, I think dads might appreciate it too.

To enter the give-away, just leave a comment below.  If you make a comment and you also follow my blog, you will automatically be entered twice.  For a third entry, just mention this blog on Facebook or on your own blog and leave another comment telling me you did so (if you don't leave a comment about it, I won't know you did it!).  Entries will be accepted until midnight this Wednesday, May 16th and the winner will be chosen at random (using on Thursday, May 17th.  So be sure and check back for the winner! 

And may the odds be ever in your favor!  :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

image via photobucket

If you haven't noticed (which given my whopping 8 followers, is very likely!), I have to confess - I've been a little MIA lately.  My last post was over a month and a half ago!  So in case you're wondering why (and even if you're not!), let me tell you...

I have happily entered into the world of "seriously dating."  :) 

Over the last seven years, I've been on dates...many dates...lots of first dates, some second dates, and a handful of third dates.  But most of the time by date #3 I've decided that for one reason or another things are going nowhere fast - some are pretty entertaining, some are jaw-dropping, and sometimes it was just plain, old I'm-not-feeling-this-so-let's-not-waste-each-other's-time. End of story.

This time things are different.  He makes me happy, I'm pretty sure I make him happy, and we decided over a month ago to call things "serious."  It's exciting and new and, to be completely honest, maybe even a little scary...this is uncharted territory for me!  And maybe sometime soon I'll post more about that...

In the meantime, my apologies for getting wrapped up in my new relationship.  But I'm loving life right now!  I know some of you are reading this and thinking, "Seriously?!  I so don't want to read about this because it's never going to happen for me and I'm so sick of hearing about everyone else's perfect life."  I know some of you are thinking this because I've been in your shoes before and I totally get it.  I hated hearing about all these super cute couples and everyone's picture-perfect life when I was struggling to be the sole parent for my daughter.  So please forgive me.  I will try to keep my relationship talk to a minimum, although I'm going to have to mention it from time to time.  But also know that no matter where this new relationship leads, I will always have a passion for single parents because that's the life I've known for so long now.  Someone recently asked me when they heard about the new beau, "What about the single mom program you help with at church?  What will happen with that?"  Well, it's gonna keep on going and I'm gonna keep on helping!

Even though my head may be in the clouds, I will try my darndest to get back on track and begin regularly posting again...I've missed the blogging world!

So welcome back, my dear readers, and I hope you'll welcome me back with open arms!

To celebrate my return and in honor of all my fellow amazing single mothers, I'm going to do my first give away this coming stay tuned!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everyone loves a good party - Our St. Patricks Day Bday Bash

The old adage, "Everyone loves a good party," certainly applies to us!  Throwing a party involves a lot of work (both pre- and post-), but once it's been deemed a success, it's all worth it!
Today I celebrated my baby girl's 7th (!!!) birthday.  So naturally, we had to have a party.  Having only broken into the realm of "friend" parties over the last several years, the locale was a decision that Libby had to mull over for months in advance.  There is the skating rink, the cupcake shop, the gymnastics facility, the indoor pool...or our house!  And that was exactly what she had in mind! 

We chose to have the party on St. Patrick's Day...mostly so that Libby's best friend from out-of-town could be there...but coincidentally it worked out that she was turning the "lucky number 7." 

Our fabulously cute invitations were designed by a local church friend with a flair for party
decor, who just happens to have her own blog ( AND
an Etsy shop where you can order your own personalized party printables! 
Thank you, Deanna, for your amazing work!

I found this cute welcome sign at our local Big Lots and couldn't pass it up! 
What a great way to greet guests as they approached our home!

Our party spread: I bought a fun, patterned tablecloth on clearance to use as a backdrop (so my own green walls wouldn't clash with the fun kelly and lime greens used in the party decor!) and had my friend over at Mirabelle Creations create a personalized, printable banner.  I made special requests for the colors and design on our cake, which was made at a great cupcake shop in town.  The plates, napkins, and cutlery came from Target.  Via Pinterest, I found a super fun (and super easy) idea to use an empty can covered in wrapping paper, ribbon, stickers, etc to display the utensils...I had the best intentions to make it a little more elaborate (and to make more than one!) but when it came down to crunch time, with a mere 15 minutes til party time, I just threw a shamrock sticker on the pink-wrapped can and decided it would have to do!  More on the candy jars/party favors below...

At the suggestion of my friend, Michelle, we decided on a candy buffet as a party activity AND party favors!  We found some candy and treats to coordinate with our pink/green and St. Patricks Day theme - striped marshmallow "sticks" from the Dollar Tree, Mike and Ike candies, Jelly Belly jelly beans, M&Ms, mint (green wrapper) and caramel (gold wrapper) Hershey Kisses, Lucky Charms cereal, Gummy-Os, and lollipops (which we adorned with little St. Patricks themed animal stickers since Libby had requested donations to a local animal shelter in lieu of gifts at her party).  Each of the candies was displayed in a jar (some borrowed, some purchased - found at WalMart), which was labeled using a free template I found online, and the children were each given a green bag (from Hobby Lobby) to fill.  To keep the parents at bay after already having fed their children cake and ice cream, we sealed the bags with party-themed tags as soon as they were filled. 
The bag tags (also from Mirabelle Creations) read, 
"Thank you for making my day so lucky.  Love, Libby"

 In the aftermath of the party, you would have thought a tornado had torn through our house.  I suppose all the screams of joy and running rampant was worth it to the 12 children that came because everyone seemed to have a good time!  (Surely the mess they've left behind is proof of that!)

My birthday girl, holding up her 7 fingers,
just before enjoying some birthday cinnamon rolls this morning! 
(Because at our house, when it's your birthday, we celebrate ALL day long!!!)

Thanks to Pinterest, my new love of the blogging world, and Mirabelle Creations, our party turned out great!  I hope you enjoyed the pictures (albeit, they are not the best quality) and maybe you can come away with a few good ideas to use at your next party.  Because everyone loves a good party...and every child deserves a good party!  How do you celebrate birthdays with your kiddos?