Thursday, October 29, 2009

What really matters

Right now, my bloggy friend Jen's one year old little boy is fighting...for his very life. (You can read about his story here ) Today is his 1st birthday, and I am sure that she never imagined she would be spending it in the PICU of her hospital, watching her son fight this battle...

I have followed her story rather closely since first getting to "meet" her online many months ago. In fact, it was during her son's last lengthy hospital stay that I was introduced to Jen and her Many Small Children. And it was during that time that I learned just how strong human spirit really can be, as thousands of people, who never met one another, came together to pray, no matter what their faith, for this little boy, his family and the doctors.

She allowed all of us glimpses into her personal hell, sharing her sadness when he was sick, her joy when he was getting better, her anger, her laughter, her tears....even though this is her journey, she is sharing the load with thousands all over the world, and I am honored to share this journey with her family.

Following her story, especially over the last 2 days, has opened my eyes. My faith, that had been stuck in a corner to gather dust, has been found again, and I am finding myself slowly returning to the faith I used to have.

We spend so much time feeling sorry for ourselves, lamenting over what we don't have, being angry, voicing unkind words...that we aren't living. Life is going by, we can't stop it...for every 60 seconds we spend being angry, or upset, that is one minute of happiness we will never get back.

Life is short. As the Nickleback song goes "Each day's a gift..but not a given right"

We are not promised a tomorrow, we are only promised a today. How we choose to live our "today" is our choice. Will we be happy or will we live is sadness and anger?

I know how I am going to live my "Today"

How will you?

Praying for Stellan so that he feels the love that so many have for him...Be Strong Little Man

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Product Review and Giveaway: Is Daddy a Hero/Is Mommy a Hero

Recently I had the opportunity to read and review two great children's books, "Is Daddy a Hero?" and "Is Mommy a Hero" as part of my involvement with the Kidlutions Review Crew.

"Is Daddy a Hero" and "Is Mommy a Hero" are written by Sydney age 9 and Megan age 7. They wanted to write books for children who have parents that are in the military. They have seen some of their friends parents deployed and seen how hard it was to deal with that seperation.

The books focus on the positive aspects of the military and portray their mommy and daddy as a true HERO.

These young authors are donating a portion of the proceeds from the books to, a volunteer-led non profit with 200,000 volunteers. Through special projects, dedicated teams and individuals supporting the troops, they make a visable difference in the lives of our service members and their families.

I read each of these books, and was impressed with how well they were written. These 2 children have a really poweful message that comes across clearly in these books. These books are a must for any military family.

I am giving away a copy of "Is Daddy a Hero" and "Is Mommy a Hero" Here is how to enter:

1.)Leave a comment stating which of the 2 books you would like (Mandatory entry)

Additional Entries:

2.)Blog about this giveaway and link back to me (1 entry)
3.)Follow my blog (1 entry)
4.)Follow me on Twitter @melissa_austin(1 entry)
5.) Tweet about this giveaway (1 entry)

*Be sure to leave a comment after each entry*
*Winner will be drawn on November 5th via*

Random Tuesday: Stuffy Noses and Sore Throats

Whoever brought this sickness into the house, can take it Thank you very much.

What started out as one child coughing, has turned into 5 out of 6 people in this house being in varying stages of this, whatever it is.

Including me.

The only one of us who isn't sick, is Steve. How he manages that, I haven't a clue. Especially since he works at Wal-Mart and is exposed to all sorts of gross things there.

Even Swine Flu.

Yep, Steve was exposed to Swine Flu. Or maybe he was. He says it was someone on another shift, but doesn't he know...that stuff spreads!?!

I am not inclined to buy into the whole media frenzy surrounding The Swine Flu. I think that freaking out, just makes things work. But I am concerned. Concerned enough to start sanitizing the heck out of things...and requiring Steve to wash his hands before touching the kids...especially the baby.

So far, no one in my house is exhibiting any flu-like symptoms. Just sore throats, coughs and stuffy noses. And in my case an ear infection that hurts like..well it just hurts.

I hate being sick. Mainly because I don't get a sick day. I think I should....

Along with a paid vacation.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winner of Dr. Weil Baby Product

Sorry this took so long to get posted, but sickness has invaded this house so I have been dealing with 4 sick kids...

Not to long ago, I posted a giveaway for Dr. Weil baby products here

Congrats go to Donna who will receive the baby bottle and a coupon for a free bottle, plus another coupon for $5.00 off a Dr. Weil purchase.

Donna, please send me an email at this week so I can mail your product off.


Stay tuned for more great giveaways in the coming week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writer's Workshop " Hows motherhood changed me"

Every little girl dreams of growing up and being a mom, right? Well, not this little girl. I dreamed of growing up, living my life with the man of my dreams and being free. Free to do what I wanted to do. No diaper changes or carpools. No snotty noses or scraped knees. None of that. Don't get me wrong, I loved children. I was a preschool teacher for years. But being a mom, was just not my thing.

Then I got pregnant. I still didn't want to be a mom. I was terrified at giving up my freedom, my career. I didn't want to become my mom and loose my identity to the little baby inside of me. I didn't want to be just a mom.

When I became a mom for the first time, and then for a 2nd, 3rd and 4th time, I realized that being just a mom was so much more then just mom.

Since becoming a mom, I have learned that life is short and precious. I have learned to take one day at a time.

Where I once found happiness in the confines of the local mall or Target, I now find that same happiness in my children's eyes. Hearing about their day. Watching them sing and dance to the Wiggles. Hearing the baby laugh.

I am more kind. Growing up and even in my adult years before being a parent, I went through alot. Emotional and verbal abuse. Physical abuse. My heart had become hard and walls had been built that no one could break through.

Even after the birth of my first son, those walls were still there. At first I resented that innocent little baby for taking away my freedom. I felt like a prisoner.

Then I learned, motherhood wasn't a prision sentance. It was a blessing. I should be happy to have such wonderful children. These children complete my life. Material things no longer matter. I could be happy in a cardboard box as long as my children are with me.

Being a mom has opened many doors in my life that I thought were shut forever. I was able to rebuild relationships with my family. I learned to be strong. When I became a single mom with my oldest, I learned that I can handle a baby on my own and that as long as he had me and I had him, we would be ok.

My family has grown since the first time I discovered I was pregnant. I look back at how life was then versus now. Then I thought I had it all...but now I realize that I didn't have it all. Or even all together. I was stumbling around in the dark, grasping for a life perserver.

My kids, all four of them, were that perserver

Thanks Mama Kat for this weeks prompts

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writer's Workshop: So much more then just "Mom"

This week's prompts from Mama Kat were all centered around a "Mom" theme. I didn't have to think to hard about which prompt I would choose.

Growing up my mom was always just mom. To me and my child brain she was what a mom was supposed to be. Chauffer, cook, maid, replacer of broken barbie

She was a stay at home mom for almost all of my childhood. She would walk with us to school and wait for us to come home. She would have after school snacks ready and listen to our school day stories.

My mom always had a smile on her face. Even as her marriage to my dad continued to deteriorate. She stressed the importance of being happy. The importance of making good choices. Being responsible.

Then it happened. One afternoon, my mom came into my room, tears filling her already red-eyes. "Your dad and I are divorcing. I am moving out" I was 14 or 15.

It was at that point that my mom, who for years was just a mom, started to take the shape of more then just mom. She started to take the shape of a person who, after years of her kids being her identity, was trying to find herself.

My mom and I remained close during that time. For the most part. I couldn't quiet reconcile her choice to leave her family in my mind. It just didn't make sense.

Then the unthinkable happened...I grew up.

Growing up is hard.

By the time I was 17 or 18, I realized that my mom was so much more then just a mom...she was this, this...I don't know she just was...

She was there for me as I struggled my way through an abusive relationship. She was there when I got pregnant. She was there when I found myself a single mom at 21 with no job, no money. She was there.

She was there when I would call her in tears, telling her I wanted to divorce Steve. She would listen to me. Remind me that I had kids, but then say Only you can decide what makes YOU happy

Many years ago, my mom had to make a choice. It wasn't about us kids at all. She always loved us. Unconditionally. It was a choice between a bad marriage or her sanity.

She made a hard choice.

My mom is still the first person I call with any news. The first person I call when I need advice. She is my best friend. My mom.

She is so much more then that though. She is an example. She is a teacher. She is strong and she is brave.

She had made me want to be the best mom I can be to my kids, She has made me realize that only I can change my situation.

Either do something about it or shut. up.

She never judged. Always supported.

No matter how bad I messed up (and there were some moments...)

I became a mom 7 years ago for the first time, 3 months ago for the fourth time...and it was really just recently that I realized that my mom was more then just Mom....

She was a person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Learning NOT to react....

For the longest time now, I have been one to react. And not always in a positive way. I am the type of person that tends to just...explode...I can't tell you how many times I have called my husband at work, yelling, and there is nothing he can do at that moment. He is working. He can't make the calls that need to be made. And while it would be nice to have the help...his work schedule just doesn't allow it.

No amount of explaining on his part would make me understand. I just wanted whatever the problem was

I am learning.

These past few weeks, I have been forced to take a really hard look at myself, my life, my marriage and just...everything. I had to decide if I was going to accept things the way they are or make the changes that needed to be made within myself.

I cannot control others. But I can control my actions. My thoughts. My happiness.

That meant learning to accept things. Certain things that bug the hell out of me. I can't control them, therefore I am letting go and just accepting.

The stress I slowly fading away

It is not to say it is easy. Because it's not. Old habits do die hard. And letting go and accepting things hasn't been easy.

Problems are going to arise. It is a given. Life isn't easy. But I can make it easier.

I am learning.

I am learning to stop and think things through for a moment. I am learning that, as much as I hate it, I have to deal with a majority of things, because my husband works. alot.

I am learning that if I take a step back, as hard as it may be, and just think, a huge problem can be dealt with.

There is a solution for matter how large.

It makes me happy to know that I am capable. For so long I lacked the confidence to deal with problems. I was afraid of confrontation. Afraid of talking to whomever it was...the bill collector, the car dealer...anyone. I would rather hide and then yell at my husband for not taking care of it.

Truth is, I can do it.

I am learning....

And it feels...GOOD

Wordless Wednesday:The Littlest Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Totally Random Tuesday: Finding Balance

I have been thinking alot about this lately. Which probably isn't helping me achieve it any faster. I seem to lack whatever multi-tasking genes are needed to achieve balance in life.

I am blessed. I know that. I have 4 kids. A home. A husband. I have a full life. But can it be too full?

My husband works. Alot. Which means more often then not, I am left to my own devices with the four kids and the house. Did I mention that I am in the process of working from home too? Yea, life is full.

I am finding myself burning the candle at both ends, and eventually it will meet in the middle. And when that happens, I am sure it will be an event of catastrophic proportions...ok, maybe not that severe, but you catch my drift.

I have also been doing some free-lance writing for Associated Content and Examiner

I enjoy writing for both of these online publications, but it can be a bit consuming, trying to meet deadlines and produce quality content, while four kids are yelling and screaming.

Balance. I crave it.

So, lately I have been trying to find ways to promote balance within my life. Allowing me time for my work, my hobby (photography) family and house work. And it is hard. There just is not enough hours in the day for me to get everything accomplished.

Do I let some things go on some days? Or do I let go one of my writing jobs? Or do I just start earlier and work later? Is there really a happy medium to being a WAHM?

I am sure that there is. But between dirty diapers and dirty laundry and a looming deadline ( I still have to finish 2 articles by tomorrow) how do I achieve it without feeling like I am negelcting one thing or another?

I love my life, my full full life, I just want to find a little bit of balance..thats all...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Me Monday!!!

I certainly have not had any Not Me moments this past week.

I did not let my kids have peanut butter cookies for breakfast this morning, simply so I could make my coffee. Nope, not me.

I did not let my 2 year old daughter taste my coffee once...or twice or three times for that matter

I am not letting my kids watch "Jingle All The Way" for the umpteenth time..I mean it is only October

I did not have to re run the washer multiple times this past week because I forgot to take the wet clothes out the night before.

I also did not smell a load of clothes and decide they didn't smell that musty then throw them in the dryer with an extra dryer sheet.

I did not spend half the morning on the floor with Noah laughing at his faces...that would be so unproductive

I am not letting the kids scream at the top of their lungs down in their room simply because it keeps them occupied.

I did not eat 2 pieces of pizza, potatoe salad, a sandwich and 2 cookies for lunch then wash it down with koolaide...I mean I am trying to loose weight.

Have your own Not Me Moments? Head on over to MckMama's blog and read more of Not Me Monday's and share a few of your own
Microsoft's Xbox 360 Has the Hottest Gifts for This Holiday Season
Xbox360 is releasing many new games for this upcoming holiday season

Dr. Weil Baby Products plus free giveaway

Weil Baby delivers premium products approved by Dr. Weil, a world renowned leader and pioneer in intergrative medication, for the first years of health and well being.

Ultra Safe:

Always BPA free and non toxic

Peditrician reccomened

Made in the USA

Weil baby products contain no harmful chemicals. All parts are engineered, tested and manufactured in the US.

Healthy and Natural

Helps reduce colic with the New AirWave vent that works from the inside out.

How does the AirWave venting system work?

Threads on both the ring neck and bottle securely connect the nipple assembly to the bottls

Sealing ring on the nipple seats in the bottle neck and positions the nipple in the correct orientation

Four protrusions within the bottle neck provide a means for air to enter the bottle

The flexible inner ring of the nippl rests agains the inside surface of the bottle neck. This allows air to flow into the bottle, but prevent the liquid from leaking out

Easy To Use:

No leaks!

Easy to clean!

The innovative one piece AirWave venting system is designed to out perform other leading products and is available on all Weil Baby bottles and cups.

Weil Baby products are available online at , at select Babies R Us Stores and at Babies r us online

Babies R Us stores are located in Rockford, IL and Aurora IL. To find the store closet to you visit Babies R

One lucky reader will recieve a four 0z Dr. Weil glass bottle.

20 readers will recieve a coupon to save $5.00 off their purchase.

10 readers will recieve a coupon for a free bottle

To gain enteries:

Comment on the blog (1 entry)

Follow my blog and leave a comment ( 1 entry)

Follow me on Twitter @melissa_austin (1 entry)

Blog about this contest (2 enteries)

It is possible to win more then one of the prizes, the more enteries you gain the better you chances!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Grandpa....

Today is Grandparent's Day at my son's school. As we speak, my dad is packing his lunch and getting ready to make the 1 hour drive out to Damien's school and spend the afternoon with him. Damien bounded out the door this morning, anxious for 11am to come around..because then "Papa" would be there...

It brought back memories of days gone by for my. My grandpa, my "pappy" as we called him, regularly attended functions like that in my elementary school days. My mom's side of the family never really paid much attention to us grandkids. But my dad's side...every single one us was spoiled. And now its our kids that are spoiled by their great-grandma.

My grandfather ruled with an iron fist. But we never doubted that he loved us. He always told it to us straight. No fluff. And no telling us what we wanted to hear. Even if it meant hurting our feelings, you always knew that Pappy was telling the truth.

2 years before he passed away, I was due in court for a custody hearing. I had no lawyer and no money. No one in my family could help me out. "Call your grandfather" my dad suggested. I bristled at the idea at first. While I knew that my grandpa would help me out, I didn't want the lecture that would come with it.

I did end up asking for the money. And I did get the lecture. But I could see the love in my grandpa's eyes. He loved me. He loved Damien.

It took me a year to pay him back. And when I did.. he told me "I loaned you that money because I knew that if I didn't, you wouldn't have a chance to raise your son. I needed to give you that chance. That money is always there if you need it."

On December 1st 2004, I got a phone call from my dad. "Are you sitting down?" I knew that it was bad. His voice broke as he told me "Your grandfather, he died..." I remember hanging up the phone and falling to the floor. Not my grandfather. He was 10ft tall and bullet proof. He can't be gone.

As I made the drive to their home, I prayed that it was a mistake. My dad had just played a cruel joke on me. I would laugh it off.

But when I entered their was silent. My grandfather's chair, the one he always sat in..stood empty. His coffee cup from that morning on the table. The book open to the chapter he was reading. Pappy was gone.

My dad explained that he had begun having chest pains and trouble breathing the night before, but didn't want to go to the hospital. So my grandmother sat by his side all that night. On the morning of the 1st, he got up. Had tea and coffee, and then sent my grandma to the store for was while she was gone that he died. He knew it was time and didn't want my grandma to be there. The watch that he wore everyday for years had stopped at the exact time he died...on the exact date.

Christmas that year was different. You never realize how much one person holds your family together until they are gone. My grandfather was the glue. Without him, we all are lost.

It will be 5 years this year. I never got to say goodbye. The last time I saw my grandfather, my pappy, he was in an urn, atop the bookshelf in my grandmother's home. I miss my pappy.

Life is unpredicatble. You learn at an early age, that you cant really depend on anyone. But you could depend on Pappy. No matter what...

I am sorry that my kids won't get to know the grumpy old man who would smile, just a little, as his little grandchildren stuck craft pom-poms to his beard, as he warned them they would go to jail for grandparent abuse. I am sorry that they won't get to have sleep overs and then biscuts and gravy on Sunday Mornings at Hardees, like we did.

But I know that the memory of Pappy lives on for my kids thru me. And thru my dad will lecture them, tell them stories, let them stick pompoms to his beard. He will be for them, what my pappy was for me.

I am grateful that my dad is there for Damien today, just as many years ago, my Pappy was for me.

I love you Pappy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Where oh Where are those darned socks?!?

I hate laundry. I think I have made that fact perfectly clear both on this blog and in person, to my husband. He laughs. He thinks I am joking. Wait until hes out of clean underware, then we will see who is laughing.

The worst part about it isn't the folding. I like that part. The clothes smell good. Makes me feel accomplished. It is the socks. I hate the socks.

I hate them so much that I will just put all the loose socks into a laundry basket and hope that someone will sort them out. Usually that someone is me.

I have decided that there is indeed a sock gnome. He lives somewhere in my laundry room. Coming out only to feed on poor innocent socks. This is not based on myth or legend. This is based on fact. Scienctific fact.

One day I decided to experiment. I was bored. I was also looking for Noah's socks. I knew I had put them in the wash. Now, they were gone.

I decided it was time to expose the sock gnome for who he really was. A killer of socks. A destroyer of a mom's sanity.

So I threw in one pair of socks. Just one. I know a waste of laundry soap and water. But anything for science right?

They made it through the wash ok. No sign of the gnome. When it came time to take them out of the was gone. The sock gnome had struck again!!!

Scientific data points to something taking that sock.

I have decided to thwart that sock gnome.

I am purchasing several lingerie garment bags to wash my socks in.This way he cannot steal them anymore.

One the plus side, putting socks away will be easy. Each person in the house will have their own bag.

Never have to sort and fold socks again.

Take that you evil sock gnome...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The one who got away: Writer's Workshop

It is said, that sometimes things must fall apart so that greater things can fall into place. 5 years ago, I didn't believe that there was anything all that great waiting for me.

After reuniting with my highschool sweetheart, we bought a house together and got engaged. I was 4 months into living in my brand new home and planning a wedding when he dropped the bomb...He wasn't ready to be with someone who had a kid. He wasn't ready for that responsibility.

So I left with my heart on the floor, son in my arms and headed home. Back home to my dad.

Sometimes things must fall apart....

Mike contacted me several times after I left. Once even writing an eight page letter, claiming he loved me and wanted to have a baby with me.

I think he was falling apart...

It took a long time for the tears to stop falling. For my heart to somewhat heal. I dated. But each with disasterous results. Mike was "the one who got away". I wondered if my heart would ever feel whole again.

Then I met who became "The One". It started out innocently enough. After a particularly devastating break up and my heart still hurting from loosing Mike, I wasn't ready to take down the walls just yet...if ever.

A month or so later, Steve and I lost touch. I chalked it up to fate. I just wasn't met to date anyone. Ever. Mike had moved on I heard. I was still stuck in those memories. Mirred in a love lost. A heart broken.

A few months later, my Yahoo Instant Messenger dinged...signaling a message. I was pleased to see it was Steve. We began talking more and more frequently. He made me laugh. I could slowly feel the walls that I had built so high with reinforced steel being chipped away. Mike was becoming a distant memory. My heart was healing.

It's been 4 years since my first date with Steve. 4 years since he pulled up to the resturant in his red Ford truck. 4 years since he first held my hand, first kissed me.

Today, I am thrilled that "the one who got away" got away. Had he not, I wouldn't have met Steve. My children wouldn't be here. I would still be unloved and unwanted or trapped in a bad relationship.

"The one who got away" taught me that I am stronger then any outside force. That wounds do heal. That even though

Things fall apart...

Greater things are almost always waiting in the wings.

Writer's Workshop hosted courtesy of MamaKat

Swidget 1.0