A Mother’s Unfiltered Thoughts on the Las Vegas Shooting

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I’ve been trying to put into words just how I feel about the Las Vegas mass shooting that occurred only days ago. I’m sad, I’m pissed off, I’m confused, and I’m scared. Watching the news coverage on the shooting and hearing witness reports nearly brings me to tears. It’s hard not to show emotion, am I right?

It’s a crazy world we live in today- filled with violence and full of hate. It’s almost as though you can’t go out in public without fearing for your life.

As a mother of two, I fear for their safety. I fear for their innocence and their lack of understanding the horrible events occurring daily all around us. If I could shield them from the violence within the world forever, I would, but I know that I cannot save them or shield them from all that is happening nor should I. I want them to know that there is love and there are good people within the world, but unfortunately for them to full understand that, they must see the evil.

I want my sons to know that hate does overpower  love. I want them to know that humanity can still be saved, and I want them to know that if we all work together, collectively, then we can end the violence. But until we admit that the real issue has to do with gun control and having stricter gun laws, that violence will continue. I’m all for protecting yourself, and for those who feel like a gun is the best way to do that, I respect that. For those who say regulating gun laws isn’t the answer– you’re not seeing what is going on all around us. How can we justify all of the shootings that have occurred this year?

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 11, 716 gun related deaths this year already.  Of that, 548 were children aged 0-11 and 2,442 were aged 12-17. How do we explain to our children that nearly anyone can own a gun or dozens like the Vegas shooting suspect? How can I explain that living in constant fear is the new norm? How can I, as a mother, confidently put my children on a school bus or send them on a class field trip knowing wholeheartedly that they’ll safely return home?

We can no longer hold onto an unrealistic sense of security when it comes to our safety. We cannot even go to a movie without fear of someone opening fire, and please don’t try to tell me that living in fear is silly, because this is reality! The violence that has occurred this year around the world is enough to make anyone fear for the safety of their family.

For those who say that the real issue isn’t about the easy accessibility of guns, you must be living under a rock. For those who say we have to only fear those who are different than us, you must realize that the offenders vary in backgrounds. We cannot focus on a certain ethnicity, a certain color or a certain gender because terrorists exists in all shapes, sizes and colors.

I wish I had the answers to end the violence. I wish I had the words to calm my anxious heart or confidently soothe my children if and when they ask about all the violence and hate going on around them. How can I tell them that I can keep them safe from the “monsters?” I cannot promise them anything at this point, and that, my friends, is terrifying.

I wish I had the answers.

I wish I could single handily end the violence. I wish I could end the hate. I wish I could end the discrimination and judgement. I wish I could tell my boys that this is only a phase and that world peace is right around the corner. I’d be lying if I said I had all of the answers or even that I was confident when answering then. My heart is heavy, my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected directly by the Vegas shooting and those affected indirectly.  I pray for my boys who I pray will know a world filled with less hate, with less violence and more love.

For now, I’ll hold my loved ones near and pray for peace.

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To My Firstborn

Dearest Braxton,

In just a few weeks, you will no longer be an only child. It’s sure to be a transition for you, your father and I, so I can’t help but worry a bit. You’ve been the center of our world for the past 3+ years, and you’ll soon have to share mommy and daddy’s attention with your new baby brother. Before that comes, however; I want you to know a few things that I pray will make this transition easier on us all:

We love you more than you’ll ever truly be able to comprehend. We three have a special bond, but the bond you and I share specifically is something I can’t even begin to describe. You dealt with all of my first-time mom nervous tears, frustrations, mistakes and fumblings, yet you opened your heart to a love only mothers could truly understand.

You’re so incredibly special and important to your daddy and I. I want you to understand that just because you will no longer be our only child, it does not mean that you and your needs are any less important to your father and I. You may have to wait a minute longer so I can care for your baby brother, but I pray you understand that it does not mean you come second to him. You’re a lot bigger and know how to do much more than your baby brother who will be pretty dependent on your daddy and I for a while.

I pray that you understand and tolerate me when I’m tired and cranky. I may lose my patience sometimes, but having a newborn requires a lot of work from mommy as well as daddy. I apologize ahead of time for my crankiness, and please understand that it is no way your fault that I’m the way I am during certain moments. If I snap at you or lose my patience with you, know that I’m sorry and don’t take it personally. I just need some sleep, a bubble bath, a massage and a good glass of wine.

Your daddy and I are so excited to watch you become a big brother. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely nervous about being a momma to two boys, I’m even more excited to see you and your baby brother become the best of friends. You truly are the sweetest little boy, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will love and protect your little brother with all that you are. You undoubtedly will teach him how to be rebellious, fearless and a bit of a trouble-maker, but we’re ok with that just as long as you love him.

Although this transition is sure to be scary for all three of us, I can’t wait to witness firsthand the amount of happiness your baby brother will bring to us all. Until he arrives, you better believe we will make the most of the time we have left as a family of three. You’re forever my miracle baby, and I loved you first.

 

Love always, your momma

 

31 Things to do this Year

I recently celebrated my 31st birthday, and it was truly an incredible year!  I’m looking forward to this next year, so much so that I have compiled a list of things I want to do! 31 things to be exact!  When I was putting together my list of things I wanted to accomplish within the next year, I took into consideration my family. I already have a a three year old son and we’ll be welcoming our second son in a few weeks, so I wanted to be able to do some things with them as well as with my husband.  That said, here is my list of 31 things I’d like to achieve this year!

  1. Best shape of my life-competition
  2. Watch top 10 movies of all time
  3. Sleep under the stars
  4. Brew my own beer
  5. Go to the Opera
  6. Go Camping
  7. Go to a drive-in movie theater
  8. Ride a horse
  9. Travel by a train
  10. Experience a Christmas tree lighting
  11. Make hot cocoa from scratch
  12. Join Oprah’s book club
  13. Add 5 new clients to BMM
  14. Visit Pictured Rocks
  15. Save $10k
  16. Make bread with my bare hands
  17. Become a couponer
  18. Write down fears-tackle them all
  19. Run ½ marathon
  20. Learn to forgive and let go-practice this daily
  21. Take a picture every day-I’m a few days behind! 🙂
  22. Meditate
  23. Ride in a hot air balloon
  24. Read top 5 novels of all time
  25. Shoot a gun
  26. See the Northern Lights
  27. Bake a pie from scratch
  28. Publish another novel
  29. Publish a second children’s book
  30. Find a mentor
  31. Do something outside my comfort zone

Have you created a list of things you’d like to do this year?

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Happy Father’s Day to the BEST Father Out There!

Early on in our relationship, I remember how much you wanted to be a dad. You could barely wait to become a father, and that  desire is one of the many reasons why I fell so madly in love with you.

We started trying for a family shortly after we got married, yet month after month for two years, I was unable to grant you fatherhood. Your journey to fatherhood would prove to be full of grief, pain, confusion and loss, yet you kept such a positive outlook on life. It took us two years to conceive Braxton, but when that happened, I can’t even begin to express the amount of love and admiration I had for you. Obviously, I already loved you and admired you in ways I couldn’t quite explain, but there is something about seeing the man you love become a father, that you can’t even begin to put into words.

After our son was about 6 months old, we immediately started trying for baby #2. This part of our infertility journey was the hardest, because we experienced a lot of loss, heartache, pain and grief in just  a few months time. After our miscarriage in November, last year, we had pretty much decided to stop trying for children. We were tired of fertility treatment and procedures. We just wanted to live and enjoy life with our toddler.

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I still remember that chilly, yet sunny, January morning when I called you in a slight panic. I had taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. You were shocked as was I. Blood work and an ultrasound later that day would prove we were expecting our second miracle baby. In only a few short months, we will be welcoming our second son, and I cannot wait to see you with both of our boys.

I’m thankful each and every day that our sons are being raised by a man of integrity, faith, compassion, respect and love. I am confidant that our sons will grow to be kind and loving spouses and fathers like you.

Thank you for all of the hours you put in at work in order to provide for our family. Thank you for getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for your 7 a.m. shift and for working nearly 7 days a week each week. Thank you for spending hours a week fixing up our forever home and working outside in our yard. Thank you for playing, supporting, loving and teaching our son so many things. And lastly, thank you for being an amazing husband.

The only thing better than having you as my husband is our sons having you as their father. We are so blessed to have you!

Happy Father’s Day! We ALL love you!

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Jones Easter 2017

This Easter was so wonderful. It was full of family time, candy, Easter Egg Hunting, reflection and good food. Braxton was all about the Easter Egg Hunts this year, and he enjoyed the challenge of finding each and every egg. We had three for him because of that reason. We had one Saturday evening, one Sunday morning inside right when he woke up which lead to his Easter Basket and another one later Sunday afternoon at his grandma and grandpa’s house. The weather was beautiful, too!

 

It’s so fun to see the difference a year can make in the eyes of a toddler. He is beginning to understand the true meaning of Easter, and he participates much more in the Holiday.

He loved the Easter Basket’s he received!

He enjoyed his bubbles, gardening tools and the golf set the most! I’d be lying if I said he also didn’t thoroughly enjoy the candy.

As I mentioned, he really loved the Easter Egg hunts, especially at Grandma and Grandpa’s house!

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I’m so thankful Jason was home to enjoy it with Braxton and I.

I pray that you all had a beautiful Easter with your family and friends. I know we certainly did! God is good, and we are so thankful for the sacrifices Jesus made for us this special day and every day!

Why I Blog

Many people may be wondering why I blog? Common questions they might be asking are: Doesn’t it take up a lot of time? Do you make money off blogging? What’s the point? How do you come up with topics? Do people read your blog? Do you enjoy it?

Those are all fantastic questions, which I’ll be happy to answer, but I think you’ll find my motivation behind blogging to be different from your initial thoughts.

I started blogging several years ago, because it was my outlet for a lot of things. As I was learning things, I wanted to share those things with others. I wanted to share my experiences, my adventures, my struggles, my triumphs, my family and everything in between. I started blogging because, at the end of the day, I only wanted to help people.

I first started blogging about health and fitness, then when I got married, I focused more on marriage and teaching myself to cook. Then when we started trying for a family, my focus shifted to our struggle conceiving and our journey with infertility. Once we finally got pregnant, I start writing about my son and everything parent, DIY, crafts and kids. As you can see, my focal point for my writing has shifted a lot over the past couple years and now I incorporate everything into my blog. Some bloggers tend to focus on one thing like fashion, travel or parenting, but I found myself wanting to branch out and not get “stuck” on one general topic.

Sure, blogging takes up time. You can make money blogging if you really devote time and energy into it, and fortunately I don’t think I’ll ever run out of topics. There is so much going on all of the time that there will always be a new blog topic for me to write about. I have a relatively large following, and I really enjoy sharing my experiences, adventures, crafts, recipes, advice and more with each and every one of them.

I blog because it’s a way for me to connect with a variety of people on a variety of topics. I love it, and I plan on growing my blog tremendously over the next couple months. I can’t wait for you all to be a part of it!

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Picture Credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters (Unsplash)

To our Son on his Third Birthday

Another year has come and gone, and somehow; in the blink of an eye you are now a BIG 3 year old!

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This year, both dad and I wrote you a little note.

 

To my son, that in a blink of an eye is turning three years old. Having you in my life the past three years, has been nothing short of incredible. From being there at the very beginning and helping you with your every need: feeding,  changing, dressing and carrying you to where you are right now in your life has been an amazin journey. You are now able to do all of these things on your own. You’re also able to communicate incredibly well, count, sing parts of songs, say your ABC’s and so much more. All of those things amaze me and also frighten me at the same time, because it means that you’re growing up so fast and someday you won’t need me to help you with every day tasks. So with all that being said, I am going to try my hardest to create more and more memories with you so that when the day comes for you to go off on your own I’m not left with an empty memory jar. (*The memory jar is a jar that your mom and I fill each year full of memories or milestones that have been made throughout the year that we write down and stick into the jar. At the end of the year, we pull them out and read them off one by one.) –Dad

Braxton, you’re so lucky to have the daddy that you have. He is such an incredible dad, and he loves you so much!

Happy birthday to my sweet boy! I cannot believe that you are three. Where in the world has the time gone? There aren’t any perfect words that adequately describe the amount of love I have for you.

You are so fearless and silly. You’re sensitive, thoughtful and you have such a huge heart. You’re curious and smart and always keep your father and I on our toes! You also do all the gross things little boys do like burping, farting and spitting.

You’re growing up so quickly before our eyes, and we’re trying our best to capture each and every memory! We’ve made so many incredible memories this year, and I’m so looking forward to the memories we will make this year especially as we see you transition from an only child to a big brother come September.

Some of my favorite memories include our multiple trips to Gull Meadows and the beach. Seeing you play in the sand and water was so fun! It was hard to pry you away!  We made multiple trips to the Zoo because we all know how much you love feeding the giraffes. We made a ton of fun memories outside this past summer. We had a great 4th of July chasing hot air balloons and watching fireworks with family. We had bonfires, played in your kiddie pool, slid down your slip and slide and had endless water gun fights in the backyard. We ate a lot of ice cream and spent many many hours at the park swinging and sliding down the slides.

This winter involved lots of sledding and shoveling, since you genuinely love helping daddy shovel, and we even attempted to make a snow man. We threw lots of snowballs and went exploring through the woods as it snowed around us. Even though this winter was relatively mild, we thoroughly enjoyed what we did have.

We hit some pretty big milestones, too! You’re pretty much completely potty trained, you now sleep in a twin size big boy bed and have visited the dentist already with zero cavities! We redid your room just this week! You’re obsessed with listening to your brother/sister’s heartbeat and speak of them often. You’re talking in complete sentences (sometimes you swear…), you sing a ton of songs (especially Jingle Bells), help mommy and daddy with chores around the house, brush your own teeth and so much more. You’re in pre-preschool, and you’re so smart! You’re so independent these days, and it’s clear that we only have a little bit of time left where you will want our help with some things.  That’ll be a sad day, so until then, we’ll offer to help whenever we can!

I’m so blessed to be your momma, and I’m so glad God chose you to be my little boy. You’ve taught me so much, and I only hope I can return the favor. You make me so proud each and every day, and I love you so much! -Mom

This past year was definitely one for the books, but this year is sure to be the BEST yet.

Happy THIRD Birthday, Braxton Leland! Mommy and Daddy love you so so so much!

Here are some pictures over the past year!

2016 Reflections

For those who know me on a personal level, they understand that 2016 has been a rough year. With a job change (a good one), continued fertility struggles and a miscarriage, this year has been anything but a walk in the park. This year has been eye-opening, and I’ve learned much more that I could ever have imagined. I’ve learned that life isn’t always fair, and that there will be hard times, tears, arguments and chaos. But, you will make beautiful memories, miracles will happen, you’ll experience so much laughter, hugs and calmness.

2016 started like any other year. A clean slate, hopes, ambitions and dreams of better days ahead. There were a lot of fantastic things that happened in 2016! My older sister and her family moved back to Michigan, Mom beat cancer again, we welcome two new nephews into our family, Braxton celebrated his second birthday, I took a leap of faith and started my own business, Jason and I celebrated FIVE years of marriage, and there were a lot of other little things that happened throughout the year that overshadowed the bad. In July, Jason and I underwent our first round of IVF. It failed, and we were devastated. That was a huge financial blow and it shattered our hearts. Then in November, we did a round of FET which lead to a pregnancy, but we soon miscarried. Again, crushed, devastation, anger, extreme sadness and hopelessness ensued. For the years of infertility we have encountered, nothing can explain the excitement we had when the pregnancy tests started coming back positive. We were absolutely elated, and then just as suddenly as we found out we were expecting, we weren’t. It’s the worst feeling in the world.

As I reflect on this past year, it was easily one of the hardest years for me-if not the hardest. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I won’t completely say that the year was a bust, because it wasn’t, but I will say that I won’t miss it much. I’ll forever be grateful for each year I’m Braxton’s mommy. He is my world. He is Jason’s world also. Jason and I have begun to accept that he might be our only child as we are undecided on further fertility treatment.

Personally, I’m ready for 2017. I’m ready to thrive. I’m ready to have multiple books published, grow my business, explore and try new things, laugh more, fear less, relax, continue working out and eating healthy, work on being a better wife and mother and so much more! I’m more determined this year to accomplish the goals I have set forth for me, and can’t wait to check them off my goal list!

 

There is no denying that 2016 was better to some than for others (including myself), but 2016 did not define me. The terrible things that transpired in 2016 won’t make me lose hope. It hasn’t made me lose my faith. I won’t live in the past, but move forward positively and full of hope.

I pray that for those who struggled in 2016 that you know that God never gives you more than you can handle. If God brings you to it, He will most certainly lead you through it. I pray that 2017 is a year of growth, extreme happiness, lessons, love and laughter.

 

Wishing you and your family the very best for 2017, and thanks for following my blog and my crazy life.

 

God Bless,

Danielle

 

 

A Very Jones Christmas

The past few weeks have been crazy thus the very tardy Christmas update. We got to celebrate Christmas two weekends in a row, and we loved every minute of it. We got to see so much family, which was truly fantastic.

We had our first Christmas with Jason’s siblings on his mom’s side. It was so fun seeing the kids play together! Check out some of the pictures from our Christmas gathering!

On Christmas Eve, my family came over. As usual, we had a great time. It was so great seeing my family, and we laughed a lot, ate a lot (burnt some food), got a lot of cool gifts and enjoyed each other’s company!

I think this picture will forever be my favorite of my sister’s and I.

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Christmas Day we headed to Battle Creek to spend some time with the Jones side of the family. Again, we had a great day and got spoiled rotten.

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I got a new car for Christmas, too! Pretty snazzy huh?

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Jason has been on vacation since right before Christmas, so we have done a lot of fun things together. We went and saw the movie Passengers, which was pretty darn good. Finally got to HopCat! We enjoyed lunch at Chinn Chinn’s and tried a few other new bars in the Kalamazoo area, plus we got got some things checked off our to-do lists.

We even made a gingerbread house with Braxton! (Thanks mom!)

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We played lots of new games including Hungry Hungry Hippos, Yeti in my Spaghetti, Magformers and Memory Cards! We have had so much fun while Jason’s been on vacation! We don’t want it to end!

This Christmas was a great one. We are so happy we got to see so much family, and we are so thankful for all of the memories we made, presents we received and laughs we had together! Hope everyone had a blessed Christmas! Happy New Year!

How to be More Productive

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Photo Credit: Crew

Productivity doesn’t mean cramming as much as possible into your day day after day. It’s about spending your time wisely and prioritizing tasks.

If you’re anything like me, I’m constantly on the “go”. As a small business owner, author, work-out junkie, mother and wife, I have little time to chill, so it’s important to make the most of the time I do have to get tasks done.

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Photo Credit: Olu Eletu

Plug in Your Phone out of Arm’s Reach:

One of the first things I can recommend that will help get you up and at it in the morning is to plug your phone in somewhere that isn’t within arm’s reach. That way, when your alarm sounds, you have to begrudgingly get out of bed to turn it off. It’s easier to stay up at that point because you’ve already left the comfort of your warm bed.

Set Your Alarm for 5 Minutes Earlier

Waking up earlier can help you knock tasks out quicker. By setting your alarm for 5 minutes earlier, your body will start adjusting allowing yourself to get up without issues after a few days. You can increase the time if needed.

Use Natural Light to Wake Up

As soon as you wake up, open your curtains or blinds to let in natural light.

Exercise 

Set a routine of working on every day (if possible). Working out in the morning can help you wake up faster and provide greater amounts of energy.

Meditate

Mentally prepare for your day by meditating for 10-15 minutes. Visualizing your day can make accomplishing your tasks easier.

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Photo Credit: Arkady Lifshits

Breakfast

Never skip a morning meal. You’ve heard the saying, “Never skip breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day”-it’s true!

Drink Water

Drinking water first thing in the morning as well as through the day helps you stay hydrated and more focused.

Set Daily Goals

Write down your daily goals and check them off as you accomplish them. There is no greater satisfaction that checking tasks off your to-do list. This also helps you stay focused.

Podcast

On your way to work, listen to a podcast that helps you focus and/or motivates you. Turn off that trashy talk radio and get inspired!

Walk/Bike or Run to Work

If possible, try walking, biking or running to work. This provides great energy and releases all the “good” feels.

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Photo Credit: Red Angelo

Minimize Distraction

Stay off social media, silence your phone and close your door. When you’re on a mission to get things done, minimizing distractions can help you get your tasks done quickly and efficiently. Also, mute background noise. If there is a TV nearby, turn it off or mute it to help resist the urge to watch whatever it on.

Avoid Heavy Lunches

You’ve probably experience that after lull when you feel tired and lethargic. You can avoid this by eating a light healthy lunch. Fuel your body with protein, veggies and fruits!

Sit by a Window

Sitting by a window can be relaxing and lead to higher productivity then sitting in a cubicle or office without a window. Venture out of your office and sit outside on a bench.

Work in Varied Environments

For me, I work from home 75% of the time, and I find myself easily distracted at times because I know that there is laundry to be done or dishes that need to be done. I can minimize the urge to take “home” things by removing myself from my home. I find that I can be more productive when working from a coffee shop or a park.

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Photo Credit: Blake Wisz

Get Active

If you have time throughout your day, escape for a quick walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

Celebrate Small Wins

Never forget to celebrate the small wins.

Clean your Desk

When you have a clean desk, it allows you to better focus on what’s in front of you. You’re not having to move things around to make room or find something that has been misplaced in the shuffle. Try to keep your desk clean at all times.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Try to avoid coffee 6 hours before you lay down. Also minimize TV and other devices such as an iPad or iPhone right before bed. Try reading a book before bed as it helps your mind wind down.

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It is possible to get more things done throughout the day without cramming too much in and working an insane amount of hours. By changing up a few things throughout your day, you’re able to focus on the tasks at hand and better prepare yourself to tackle your day productively and efficiently.