Let’s teach our daughters THIS.

Let’s teach our daughters THIS.

Daughters are so much different than sons aren’t they?! There’s a much different relationship between a mother and a daughter than there is between a mother and her son. We tend to be harder on our daughters. We push them and challenge them at times when we might react a little less stern to our sons. Why is that? We see OURSELVES in our daughters. We want them to be better than us. So we push.

How do we push them to be better?

Should I start singing the song? R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You know the one. The one you start singing in the car with the windows down… or maybe it’s the one that you sing to your kiddos when they say just the wrong thing. Either way, that song speaks some truth.

If my two girls learn anything from me, I hope it’s that they learn how to respect. Respect others, respect their parents, and how to respect THEMSELVES.

Respect starts with decisions. Choices. Choosing what to say and when to say it. Knowing when to hold back and when to tell it like it is.

Our daughters need to know how to make choices.

Teaching them how to stop, think about the consequence of their choice, and then move forward with the best possible decision is how we grow young girls into strong women.

This. World. Needs. Strong. Women.


And when their choices aren’t the best, learn from them. Pause, breathe, and reflect. They need to know how to think about others. Consideration. Understand perspective. When people are unkind or mistreat them, I want them to respect themselves enough to know when to walk away but also when to not take it anymore… when to cut ties… when to choose better.

But really, our daughters are the future and if we can make these girls see that they can be ANYTHING they want to be.. that they can be powerful and humble at the same time… that they are resilient beyond measure… that they will overcome challenges but should do so with GRACE… then there’s no limit to how wonderful they will be.

Let’s always push them to be better… and always lift them up with a mindset of self-confidence and independence.



To My Stepdaughter

To My Stepdaughter

Wow Kami, you are 18 today! My husband’s first born and our oldest. I think back to the first time I met you. You were just as sweet, so bubbly, kind and always, always smiling. I remember your bedroom. When I started dating your dad you were 8 and I visited what is now my home for the first time, and I remember your bedroom with the pink and purple comforter and the stickers all over your dresser. You came to visit every other weekend like clockwork and my daughters would get so excited to see their new big sister. You were ecstatic to have sisters. I will never forget your spunkiness and how happy you were to see us every time you came to visit. You instantly loved me and my daughters and my family. And then when I got pregnant with both boys, you were overjoyed. I never imagined that little bedroom would be your little brother’s bedroom, navy blue with boy toys everywhere! Our family has grown and changed so much.

When I became a stepmom, I was skeptical that you and your brother would accept me as your mama. I was expecting some rebellion. Daddy’s girl and all. Now daddy had not only a new wife but two new daughters. But you surprised me every time you were with us. You never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. You never made me feel like you loved me any less. I saw the way you watched me. But not with inspecting, jealous eyes… but with curious, inquisitive eyes. When we were in the car, while I was doing my makeup, as I fed the new baby. I saw you trying to impress me. You have ALWAYS loved me like I was here all along. And I can’t tell you how much I have appreciated that over the years.

Being a stepmom in our family hasn’t been the easiest job, I’m not going to lie. Our blended family dynamics are unique and one of a kind. My daughters only have one mama, as they have never had a stepmom. Life is different for them. Your dad and I are their only parents and this is their only home. But you have had to grow up with two sets of parents. I’m sure that has not always been easy for you, especially when you were younger and had to split your time between two homes… two sets of rules… two different lifestyles. You have gone from being an only child to having a TON of siblings on both sides. You always had to share basically everything and you never once complained.

One thing that’s for sure is how lucky I am to have you in my life. I’m lucky our children have a big sister, BB, who loves them so much. Being a stepmom has taught me SO much. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned lessons. I’ve had to bite my tongue. I’ve let little things get to me and probably said things I didn’t mean. I’ve had to hold my feelings back. I’ve cried tears I didn’t want you to see. I never thought this gig would teach me so much about myself. Thank you for being patient with me.

Things we never get to tell you…. because well, life. We have ALWAYS looked forward to your visits! You have grown up to be a beautiful young lady. We love who you’ve become. You’ve made choices on your own. You have your very own car, that you bought yourself! You have a real job. And even when you wanted to quit your job because it sucked, you didn’t. And that says something about you, your willingness to stick with something. You’ve made it through your first serious relationship and I’m sure you’ve learned some things about love and life in that. You are strong. You know when to walk away and when to keep going. You never let your guard down. You always hold your head high and never show your vulnerability. You’re funny and witty. I believe you’re ready to take on the world. You are smart, caring, and compassionate. The thing that stands out about you the most is how selfless you are… I think that’s the best trait you got from your daddy.. always caring about others and how others feel. We are so lucky to be your parents.

I asked your siblings to describe you in one word. This is what they came up with…. pretty, amazing, gorgeous, and Brady says clean??!! Haha!

That pretty much sums you up girlfriend! Although life has now shown you what it’s like to be an adult with plans, work, and things to do, and we don’t get to see you as much as we’d like to, you are always loved! Thank you for allowing me to be your mom and for being a daughter I never knew I needed! You’re not my stepdaughter, you’re just my daughter and we’re just family. I love you! We hope you have an amazing 18th birthday!



This is us… 9 Years Later

This is us… 9 Years Later

Ahh, the married life. I couldn’t imagine being single again. Go on a date? Like with real clothes on? Ha! No thank you. I have no desire to want to enter back into the dating scene. Ever. Being married for me means feeling like I’m going on a first date every day, over and over again, except with the same guy. It means butterflies when he pulls in the driveway. It means waking up next to your best friend. It means being comfortable. Content. Happy.

Gene used to ask me “Are you happy? Are you sure?” But what I’ve realized over time is that it’s more than “being happy.” It’s routine and balance.

Our daily routines make the evenings together relaxing and the weekends even better. We are “used” to each other. Having that one person who knows you better than anyone is the feeling of never being alone. When I’ve had the roughest day or I’m scared or anxious or nervous.. I know that no matter what I’ll be taken care of.

We balance each other out. We keep each other in check. We have surely brought each other back to reality a few times. We remind each other when we forget. We vent and listen when we’re stressed. And my favorite, we dream together. Being around Gene, having him as my other half, makes me feel safe and comfortable.

I know I keep using the word “comfortable.” But really. That’s the perfect word! Comfortable in my own skin, comfortable talking about anything, comfortable laughing, crying, arguing, comfortable in it all. We’re comfortable in who we are and love each other for it and that only comes with time.

This fall marks 9 years being together. 9 years! Yeah, we’ve both changed a little. Maybe even grown up a little! His beard is out of control. My hair is long and nappy and needs color. After four babies, my hips are wider than ever before and the belly rolls don’t exactly make me look like a supermodel. We’ve both gained a few pounds in the last couple of years. We’re both a little imperfect and rough around the edges but that’s part of what makes us a good team. Every scar, every heartbreak, every bump in the road has gotten us right here.

We’re not always good but we’re always good together. We’ve had our challenges and setbacks but what marriage doesn’t?! That’s life. For us life just gets sweeter. And I wouldn’t want to live it with anyone else.



To My Daughters: Marry the man who will always be there

I know it’s easy to fall for the other guy. The one who looks good and talks sweet. The one who takes chances and lives on the edge. Or maybe it’s the one who is nice but doesn’t pay enough attention. He misses your new haircut or doesn’t hold the door for you.

You can love them, but leave them behind. They aren’t for you.

Marry the man who is going to pay attention. Marry the one who opens the door for you and comments on how beautiful you look, even when you’re in a t-shirt, hair in a messy bun, and no makeup on.

Marry the man who is going to wash your hair in the shower and rub your feet on the couch.

Marry the man who makes you laugh… the one who will do his best to make you smile when you’re having a bad day.

Marry the man who is going to cook dinner and doesn’t mind vacuuming the floor… the one who lets you sleep in on Sundays and when you’re not feeling well, lets you go to bed early.

Marry the man who takes care of the kids… who not only disciplines them, but enjoys them. Marry the man who will play with your toddler on the floor, and let your preschooler sleep in the bed with you… sacrificing his own sleep so that kiddo can be close to you.

Marry the man who cleans up the dog messes on the floor and helps you pick up dirty socks. Marry the man who works all day and comes home to work some more, just so you don’t have to do it all on your own.

Marry the man who would rather hang out and drink beer with you than his buddies. Marry the man who enjoys watching your tv dramas on the couch with you. Marry the man who loves to travel with you, takes you places, and lives to make memories with you.

Marry the man who worries with you. Marry the one who hides his stress most days just so you don’t stress more. Marry the man who will get through the bad times with you. Marry the man who is willing to see your perspective and understand how you feel. Marry the man who will stay when things get hard.

Marry the man who is willing to chip in… who is going to help you be a mom… who is going to make you happy… who is going to be your best friend… who is going to make you a better person.

It won’t always be easy. Even the good guy is going to make mistakes. YOU are going to make mistakes. He’s going to say the wrong things at times. He’s going to forget to pick up something on your shopping list. He’s not going to be perfect. But, he’s going to be perfect for you and he’s going to be there. He will always be there. And I promise you… you deserve THAT life.



When You Don’t Know You’re Withering Away

The photos below were taken in what feels like a lifetime apart. The first photo, me.. 24 years old… just gave birth to my second child… in a deteriorating marriage… consumed in my own guilt that I was worthless. The last photo, me now… happily re-married with three kids and two stepchildren (one not pictured) later.

The pictures each tell a story. I may weigh more now than I ever have in my life… but I’m healthy.. and content. Throughout my entire life, I have been “a little girl”… “skinny.” Yes, I have thin genes in my family.. if you’ve seen my pretty mama you know I’m a lucky gal. But my weight loss was not always thanks to genetics.

The truth is toxic relationships cause so much more than just a bad day. When you’re in a bad situation, you not only have bad days but they turn into bad weeks.. Then bad months and so on. It didn’t only affect my weight and health but my memory. I’ve never told anyone this BUT… these were the days when my daughters were tiny… and I hardly remember any of it. That makes me sadder than anything else.

When you’re in an abusive relationship… whether it‘s physically or emotionally abusive.. it affects you more than you begin to realize.

I totally thought I looked fine! Look at me! I was anorexic… I hardly ever ate.. how in the world did I breastfeed my girls?! Toxic relationships take a toll on you… on your mind and your body. I was unhealthy. And I didn’t even know it. I had started smoking again. I had lost so much weight. I was literally withering away. I didn’t feel good. Ever. I was convinced that my health, my well-being wasn’t important. I was tired.

Isn‘t it funny how time passes you by and you look back and think to yourself “Oh my.. how in the world did I ever get through that?!” But I did.

If you are thinking to yourself that this sounds anything like you.. that you are in a similar situation that I once experienced.. or maybe it’s not your marriage that’s toxic but you have other toxic relationships that are affecting your self-worth…. which totally could be family or friends! If any of that speaks to you… reach out, ask for help.. you don’t have to fight the battle alone.

Every situation is different And I’m not saying people can’t change for the better. For me, I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault. There’s so much strength in finally accepting that and letting go of the guilt… and it won’t happen until you can see it with a clear mind.

I know it’s hard. It literally feels impossible to make a change. I know because I’ve been that girl. That girl who feels like there is no such thing as a choice… that no matter what decision is made, everyone gets hurt.. that girl who looks in the mirror and thinks to herself that she’s incapable of being loved and incapable of being enough. For everyone else.

Your worth is everything that you think of yourself and you cannot let anyone else decrease your value. That’s the moment that you have to walk away. When you realize that you are strong. That you are more than the situation.

I know my worth because I’ve paid dearly for every ounce of it. You don’t have to keep paying for yours. You are amazing and beautiful and deserve to feel good. Stop letting people control your mind and your feelings. It took years for me to realize that I was being controlled.. not only my behavior but my feelings. When people start controlling how you should feel… it’s time to walk away. It’s ok to leave people behind.

You should not have to beg for the acknowledgment that you’re enough.

You’ve got this.

domestic abuse hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

for my friends in VA… The James House is a shelter for domestic violence victims.