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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6 Difficult Lessons I’ve Learned in Six Years of Marriage

I’d be lying if I said that marriage was easy. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the ones willing to risk it all who are brave enough to open their hearts to someone else on a level they have never done before.

Finding that person you’re to share the rest of your life with is beautiful and so incredible, and I wouldn’t trade my marriage or my spouse for anything or anyone.

One thing I think I should point out, and you’ve all seen it, is that social media portrays a picture perfect marriage. One without struggle, heartbreak, disagreements, messiness and  hard times. It’s unrealistic and I’m here to set the record straight. Struggles are legitimate and very real. It’s important that everyone has a realistic picture of what marriage is really like.

With that said, here are 6 lessons I’ve learned in my six years of marriage. Lessons that are great and informative and others that are difficult. Either way, regardless of the lesson, they’re important to share.

Date Nights are Planned

Gone are the days when we can have spontaneous moments and date nights. We used to be able to just go out to dinner or leave on a mini road-trip with little or no thought, but now every plan we make, has to be thoroughly discussed and oftentimes planned out days or weeks ahead of time. When we started adding children into the mix, we had to strongly consider if eating out was worth the mess and chaotic scene we would experience at the restaurant. When we want to go away for the weekend, our truck looks as though we’re moving because of all the things we must pack to accommodate our children and our dogs.

Date night includes scheduling out a few days or weeks and ensuring we have a babysitter or family member available to watch our son.

Every moment has to be planned. Spontaneity doesn’t exist anymore for us, so it’s important to make time for each other.

Parenting Adds New Dynamics into Marriage

It’s challenging to be a parent, and there are days my husband and I wonder if we’re failing as parents. Some days I want to lock myself in the closet just to get some quiet time, but the stresses, successes, challenges and triumphs make our marriage that much stronger, yet weaker depending on the day and the season.

We disagree from time to time when it comes to parenting. We get worn down, frustrated and zapped of all energy, which can take a toll on a marriage. There are other times when parenting makes our marriage so much more beautiful, interesting and so full of love that it makes it all worth it. We learn crucial lessons as parents and as spouses to one another.

Finances Become a Heated Argument (at times)

I’m in charge of our finances as far as budget and paying our bills, and as our family grows, budgeting became more challenging. Do you guys have any idea how expensive diapers are? Holy crap, they’re expensive!

With us both working full-time as well as working on our books and running a business on the side, and being parents, it’s important that we sit down and discuss our finances monthly.

When we work together and both have an understanding of our finances, it really allows us to be on the same page and team.

Give Each Other a Break

Work together to give each other a break from time to time. By letting your spouse sleep in on the weekend or help taking on some household chores allowing them to relax and gives them a much needed mental health day.

I always encourage my husband to go out with his friends every few weeks. I know he needs the break from parenting and spousal responsibilities, and he knows that I need the same, so we work together to make this work for us both.

We actually encourage each other to take some time if we need it, even if it’s just a few minutes to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the morning or escaping to do some hard work for a few hours. We both enjoy a bit of peace without our children, and that’s perfectly OK!

Support and Be there for Each Other Regardless of the Season

One thing we do really well within our marriage is support each other. We have gone through a lot in the 6 years we’ve been married and almost 9 years of being together: loss of a parent, cancer diagnosis of another parent, surgeries, career changes, moves, infertility and infant loss. We’ve been through enough  to break us, yet we have been supportive and been there for each other throughout it all.

My husband is my #1 fan. I’m not just saying that! He truly is so encouraging, supportive, and motivating, and I try to be those things for him as well.

We aren’t perfect and we still lose our tempers and argue at times, but we’re a work in progress. We are grateful to have each other and to have such supportive spouses.

Have an Open Line of Communication and Speak Your Mind

We are both guilty of speaking our minds. Sometimes we do this before thinking about what we’re saying, so there are times when we say things we really didn’t think through first that may be hurtful. We encourage each other to communicate and speak our minds whether it means discussing tough topics, serious topics or light-hearted topics.

Rather than bottling up what’s on my mind and then having it boil up inside of me resulting in an argument that probably wasn’t necessary in the first place, I’m able to avoid it through openly discussing it. I encourage him to do the same! When we’re upset or stressed, I want us to be able to come to each other and talk things out. That’s an incredibly important part of a marriage.

**

Our marriage is far from perfect, but it’s pretty darn perfect for us. We’ve learned a lot in our six years of marriage that have truly made us stronger. We’ve had our fair share of arguments and challenges, but they’ve only helped us grow closer and learn to work together more!

We continue to work, every day, at strengthening our marriage, planning our future together and regularly discussing our finances, our children and life in general. I’m truly fortunate to be married to my spouse, and I’m looking forward to all that the future has to hold for us!

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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!

50 Things to Put into Easter Eggs Besides Candy

Easter Eggs have always been a huge part of Easter. Kids everywhere look forward to competitively hunting the eggs down and retrieving their goodies within. As a parent to a young son, he has always been able to grab a few but is quickly left in the dust by the older kids, so we’ve resorted to doing Easter Egg Hunts at home with family verses going to larger hunts. One of the problems I always found perplexing about Easter Egg Hunts is that, for the most part, the eggs  are filled with candy, and I think the amount of candy retrieved equals to the amount of candy he has brought home on Halloween. Sometimes it’s more! This year, we’re changing it up a bit. There is absolutely no need to stuff the eggs strictly with candy. There are a ton of other things you can put into the eggs. Here are 50 ideas for boys and girls that don’t include candy!

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  1. Money
  2. Mini figurines (army men, dinosaurs, etc)
  3. Alphabet letters (magnets)
  4. Little erasers
  5. Silly bandz
  6. Mini stamps
  7. Finger puppets
  8. Sticky Hands
  9. Putty
  10. Temporary tattoos
  11. Mini nail polish
  12. Friendship bracelets
  13. Hot wheels
  14. Mini play-dough
  15. Play foam
  16. Plastic spiders or other insects
  17. Socks
  18. Mini bubbles
  19. Inflatable beach balls
  20. Plastic rings
  21. Earrings (stick on or real)
  22. Glow bracelets
  23. Pencil toppers
  24. Stickers
  25. Marbles
  26. Seeds (for planting)
  27. Hair ties/bows/clips
  28. Arcade coins or tickets
  29. Crayons
  30. Chapstick
  31. LEGOs
  32. Raisins
  33. Gold Fish
  34. Fruit Snacks
  35. Balloons
  36. Mini Puzzle Pieces
  37. Gumballs
  38. Magic towels (the ones that expand in water)
  39. Band-aids with cool designs
  40. Whistles
  41. Small key chains
  42. Bouncy Balls
  43. Barbie accessories
  44. Glitter glue
  45. Pokemon, baseball cards, etc
  46. Mini yo-yo
  47. Mini Slinky
  48. Parachute toy
  49. Seashells
  50. Jokes

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There are so many alternatives to candy when thinking of items to place in Easter Eggs for your annual family Easter Egg hunt. Sure, putting candy in a few is perfectly fine, but try mixing it up.  Meijer and Hobby Lobby has sections within their stores that carry many of the items above in bulk. Check it out! Your kids will appreciate the change-up also! Happy Hunting!

Happy 39th Birthday, Jason!

Jason, Happy Birthday!

God certainly broke the mold 39 years ago when he made you. As you celebrate the last year of your 30’s, I hope you embrace it, fully, and appreciate all that you have achieved thus far in your life. You are a remarkable father with a unbelievable work ethic. You have taught our son so many valuable life lessons that are sure to transform him into a remarkable father some day as well. Since you’re kind of freaking out about this birthday, I thought I’d help make it a bit easier by sharing 39 things about you that I love and that make you so incredible.

1) You’re funny

2) You’re charming

3) You’re hard-working

4) You’re so incredibly handsome

5) You’re an amazing father

6) You provide so much

7) You’re a genuinely good person

8) You’re turning into the Godly husband I knew you could be

9) You have great taste in sports (except Michigan)

10) You’re a great influence on our on son

11) You’re sense of humor is unlike anything I’ve ever known

12) You’re the best dinosaur hunter

13) You tolerate getting beat up by our son, daily

14) You put up with me

15) You have a cute butt 😉

16) You’re an amazing kisser

17) Your singing voice is pretty epic (esp. after a few drinks)

18) You’re thoughtful

19) You’re caring

20) You’re creative

21) You’re a good sport

22) You’re a pretty good handy man

23) You’re a dreamer

24) You push myself and our son to be the best

25) You are such an animal lover even though our pups drive me nuts

26) You’re the best hide-and-seeker

27) You’re a great writer

28) You’re always helping others

29) You’re an inspiration

30) You’re my best friend

31) You’re a pretty damn good husband

32) You take some great photos

33) Most of my favorite memories are with you

34) You make our house a home

35) You’re always motivating me

36) You spoil me

37) You believe in me

38) Yougave me Braxton and baby #2 (Coming Sept. ’17!)

39) You chose me

I am so fortunate to have been with you for nearly 9 years (married nearly 6). You’ve given me the greatest gifts of all: Braxton and our second miracle baby due this September!

I know that 39 is a scary number, but it’s just that..a number!  You don’t act like you’re 39, and you certainly don’t look like it! Please don’t fear FORTY, because baby you’re getting even better with age!

Happy Birthday, my love! I love you to the moon and back!

 

 

 

Easter Basket Essentials for a Toddler

Since it’s my son’s last Easter as an only child, I found myself wanting to do a bit more for him for Easter. We plan on attending Easter church service and spending time with family as well as participating in some of the fun activities typically associated with Easter like Easter baskets, an Easter egg hunt and coloring Easter eggs.

I thought I’d give you a look inside my son’s Easter basket this year. I always try to include either a movie or book, an activity or something else fun along with candy and goldfish.

I got all my Easter goodies at Meijer and Target. I absolutely love the $1-$5 dollar section at Target!

At Meijer, I snagged the Easter Grass, the TMNT Easter bucket, Nickelodeon Egg Hunt kit, Lego City, jolly rancher jelly bean tube, starburst crazy beans, TMNT water bottle and jelly belly bubbles.

At Target, I grabbed the Garden tools which includes the gloves, tin watering can and 3 piece garden tool set, jar full of dino figurines, Super Shredder TMNT DVD, Goldfish, Cadbury mini eggs, carrot shaped Reeses Pieces, TMNT tattoos and the Reeses Peanut Butter egg.

The Ninja Turtle Easter Egg bucket is perfect, because Braxton loves Ninja Turtles!

 

Candy

garden set

And last but not least, the eggs for the Easter egg hunt!

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Here is the finished project!

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Some parents might think I went a little overboard, but when you struggle to have children you tend to spoil a bit more for the children you do have.

I hope everyone has a great Easter, and let us all truly remember why we celebrate Easter.

What’s inside your child(ren)’s Easter Basket?

 

 

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