Zac walked across the living room, passing his father with a brief message.

“I’m just going to run down to a friend’s house, I’ll be right back.”

Andy almost said, “Be careful.” But he didn’t. He knew his 18-year-old son Zac was always careful on his motorcycle. He always wore a helmet. He never sped. He was a safe, responsible young man who just celebrated his birthday. Instead, Andy said, “I love you.”

Those were the last words he would say to Zac. It was the last time he would see his son alive. Zac was killed on his motorcycle less than a mile from their home two years ago.

When Andy went with Zac to get his driver’s license, Zac asked his father if he should be a donor. Andy didn’t hesitate, he simply explained to Zac that he had been a donor his whole life. So Zac agreed.

By saying ‘yes’ to being a donor, Zac was able to save 4 lives – his kidneys, liver and pancreas were donated along with his corneas and tissues.

I had the honor to sit down with Andy Gillespie this month at Lifeline of Ohio to listen to his own words about his son’s bravery. Zac was a very unique young man who thought outside of the box. He had a serious girlfriend, a loving father and a younger sister. Through his loved ones, and his decision to become a donor, he still lives on.

.

Did you know more than 14,000 people are currently on the national waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant? One donor could potentially save 8 lives. There are a lot of myths surrounding organ donation, such as being too old or too ill to be a donor. Another myth people have heard in the past is a person will not get good medical care if they are a donor and that’s simply not the case. Medical professionals are most concerned with saving lives and donation isn’t discussed until doctors have made every effort to save the person’s life.

It’s easy to become a donor. Anyone who has a state driver’s license, permit or state issued ID can register.
– It’s a minors decision at 15 1⁄2
– Until the minor is 18, a parent/guardian can amend/revoke decision at the time of death
– At 18, the decision becomes a legal authorization
• In Ohio you can register by saying “yes!” at the DMV or BMV, filling out an enrollment form, or visiting https://lifelineofohio.org/.
• Anyone out-of-state can go to www.registerme.org to register.

April is national Donate Life month. Spread the word.

Are you a donor?

733A5258-B514-4DC2-B987-BCA55AF83DF1

Andy Gillespie stands outside the Lifeline of Ohio Memorial where Zac’s name is engraved.

0421856E-498A-44DD-A288-340552078720

I enjoyed meeting Andy and hearing Zac’s story. 

F6227A48-18DC-4EC8-BA0D-2D47C6D90C4C

Zachary DT Gillespie saved at least 4 lives two years ago. 

2A67E8C9-1221-4080-9530-1B0E9E000256

Zac and his longterm girlfriend.

Scene: Marshalls. Approximately 5:15 PM. Tuesday.
Shopping needs: 1 black sweater.
Actors: 1 very loud, very hungry son. 1 very loud, very hungry, very ornery daughter. 1 very crabby baby. 1 very exhausted mother.
Backstory: I’m looking for a black sweater for an upcoming event. Simple enough. We’ve already been to Nordstrom, Anthropologie and Ann Taylor. I realize it is 5:00 and the dinner bell is going off for everyone, including myself. But in an act of desperation (the event was the following day) I decide to swing into Marshalls as a last-ditch effort on the way home.
Act 1, Scene 1, Enter stage left: 3 children and mother browsing clothes.

I pick up a nice blue sweater and check the tag.

Luke: “Oh, mom, that’s fabulous. Buy that, it’s perfect… let’s get out of here!” I had to laugh. I set the sweater down as it wasn’t the right color and moved on.

I pick up a bright tangerine color sweater and place it up to myself and look in the mirror.

Luke: “Ohhhh, mom! That color looks wonderful on you! Now let’s buy that and get out of here!” I realize now what he’s doing. He compliments the next 3 things I touch and suddenly falls to the floor. “MOM….MOM! OH MY GOSH! WILL SOMEONE PLEASE FEED ME, I believe….I believe, I AM DYING!”

Me: “I can assure you, you are not going to die here at Marshalls”

Luke: “That’s easy for you to say. You’re belly isn’t dying inside.”

I notice a lady is standing nearby listening to all of this go down. You see, with my children, when they notice a stranger looking their direction, you can guarantee their voices get louder and they really turn on their wit.

Luke looks up at the lady, “Ma’am, do you have any goldfish in that purse of yours?” She laughs louder and there is a part of me that is dying inside as I try not to chuckle. Laughter only encourages them.

Meanwhile, Eden is gone. She’s in a completely different aisle saying very loudly: “Will someone please feed us, my mom won’t. We will take goldfish, crackers or candy.”

At this moment, Adam decides he doesn’t want to be held any longer so I set him down and he starts following Eden on her goldfish crusade. Luke has managed to find the strength to get off the floor and follows me to another rack of clothes. I’m moving fast and keep promising them we’ll get food.

I found a sweater I like and suddenly realize I have no idea where two of my children have wandered off to. I grab the sweater without checking the size, and follow the loud conversation Eden has struck up with a nice lady in the next row. The lady told her she did not have goldfish. I grab Adam, and ushered Luke and Eden to the front of the store to check out.

Ever shop at Marshalls before? The line is always lonnnnng, but moves fairly quickly. It should also be noted, the checkout area is cluttered with kick-knacs and things for little fingers to break. Adam latches on to this Elmo book that has the (not-so-lovable) furry monster’s annoying laugh screeching with every page he turns. I move forward in the line.

Meanwhile, Luke has struck up a conversation with a man ahead of us about his siblings. Luke: “You see, the first-born is the most well-behaved. See those two over there? *points at Eden and Adam* They are not first-born children. They are what I like to call…’rascals'”. Side note, sometimes my children amaze me with their impeccable wit with complete strangers. The man is laughing so hard. I just eye-roll.

We finally make our way to the front of the line without breaking any of those knick-knacks. We pay. Suddenly, Luke needs to go to the bathroom.

Of course, the restroom is all the way in the back of the store next to the toy area. We maneuver quickly back to the restroom and I’m praying the children do not see the toys.

Victory.

We step inside the ladies restroom.

Eden: “ohhhhhh, mom! What is that? Why does it smell like poop and fish in here?” Both stalls are currently being occupied and I want to crawl in a hole and die. I shoosh her and she just gets louder. “Mom! I can’t breathe! It smells so bad in here! I think I’m dying!”

A stall opens up and I’m just praying the person who steps out has a sense of humor. She looks at me, I smile sheepishly and usher Luke and Eden into the same stall. As I’m waiting for them to finish, I open up the bag with my new sweater and notice I purchased something 4 sizes too large. Naturally.

We finish in the not-so-rosy bathroom and I stop to find a different size. On normal occasions I would just leave with the oversized sweater in hopes of returning it on a better day…but I really needed it for the following morning, so I take my chances.

I corralled the children back to the ladies clothes area. More groaning about their bellies dying inside. I successfully find a sweater my size and follow back in line. This time, as the children are getting louder and bolder a nice gentleman 5 people in front of me offered for me to cut line in front of him.

Needless to say, while we were quite the comedy act, I believe everyone in the store was ready to see us go.

Lessons of the day: Next time, pack the goldfish.

IMG_7909

I took part in one of the most amazing experiences last week. I was asked to give a 45 minute speech on “How Moms Make It All Work”. Honestly, it was one of my proudest moments, because this was the very first time I wasn’t speaking on behalf of my television station or on behalf of another company…it was just me, a microphone, a few notes, chatting about what I’m most passionate about in the entire world: being a wife and mother.

I chatted a bit about my former career as a journalist. Touching on the important things like, juggling it all in the bustling metropolis of Parkersburg, WV. My move to Birmingham, AL. Then to Lexington, and lastly Savannah. I mentioned the amazing people I met, the incredible experiences and the tragedies I reported on.

Transitioning to my life today, I realize it is busier than ever. I now juggle three very small, loud, exhausting, needy children…a household, a business, a blog, a husband, while still trying to maintain my sanity and finding ME time too. Whew.

The ladies laughed, they cried, they laughed some more. One lady almost peed her pants. Needless to say, I’m funnier than my husband give me credit for. HA!

So here it is, my 9 simple steps to Juggling It All with this important acrynom:

I.M.P.E.R.F.E.C.T.

Instill Confidence
Make a calendar & to-do list
Prioritize
Eliminate the guilt
Ready to go with the flow
Find your army
Eliminate comparisons
Create ME time
Take time to find the JOY

The reason I chose the word “imperfect” is because I think it’s important to remember that NO ONE is perfect. You are not going to be an expert on all of these steps. There are some you will struggle with daily, and that is okay! If we were great at all of these, it wouldn’t be natural. We are all in this together!

  1. I – INSTILL CONFIDENCE – this is the first step to successfully juggling it all. Be completely confident in yourself. I know this isn’t an easy feat. I question myself daily. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? The best way to cope with finding your confidence is knowing full well that you are doing the very best you can do at that given moment. Remind yourself you are just one person.
  2. M- MAKE A CALENDAR & TO-DO LIST —I actually have 2 calendars. I have one on my phone that helps with emails and to digitally keep everything in order. I have a second one called the Bullet Journal. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and vision board or all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less. I’m a HUGE fan of the bullet journal, and there are amazing YouTube videos out there to really explain how the analog system works. Also, research shows you will be a happier person if you can simply cross things off a list! It’s science people!
  3. P- PRIORITIZE – Knowing full well that priorities shift with different life cycles. If you’re having a difficult time figuring out your priorities, open a journal or a piece of paper and start by getting organized. Write down everything you need to do and include deadlines if they apply. Then jot down notes about what each thing is and try to put your priorities in order.
  4. E – ELIMINATE THE GUILT  – Oh, the mom guilt is so real. I recently wrote an article over at Mother.ly about this exact topic. I asked my older two children to answer some simple questions about mom, I’m sure you’ve seen this on Facebook before…. their answers gave me the biggest wake up call. The article is here: I had a wakeup call when my kids said ‘work’ was my favorite thing to do.
  5. R – READY TO GO WITH THE FLOW — The best example I can give with being ready at all times to go with the flow is the story of my Pickle Juice Wednesday. Y’all this story is real and still scars me a little. Pickles rolling down the aisle, glass on the floor, juice all over everyone and my 5-year-old knocking over displays while my daughter decided she just didn’t want to use her legs anymore. You see, I learned very fast you must be willing and ready to go with the flow.
  6. F – FIND YOUR ARMY — In isolation, stress can grow like a cancer. Worry overtakes us when we are alone. I truly believe in finding an army that will go to battle with you. I wrote an article last summer that was picked up by Scary Mommy and shared hundreds of thousands of times. I honestly didn’t think much of it, but because of how much it was shared it proved to me that finding a mom friend is a REAL challenge! Almost worse than dating, oy!
  7. E – ELIMINATE COMPARISONS — This is a subject I could talk about all day. ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’ is now on an elevated level thanks to social media.  What we need to remind ourselves is that people will take 75 pictures for one perfect shot. It’s okay to see something and say ‘I want that’, and then work hard for it. It’s not okay when you start to compare. Comparison fuels the flames of stress and robs you of your own joy.
  8. C – CREATE ME TIME — This is something I struggle with. Finding ME time and finding time for my spouse. It’s funny because I asked my husband his opinion on a lot of these talking points and when I mentioned this one, his response was “ohhhh, I can’t wait to hear your “expertise” on that one.” Truth be told…. I recently got my hair cut and styled for the first time since August. I went shopping for new clothes for this speaking event and it was the first time I had shopped for myself outside of Target and H&M in probably two years. I am not great at creating ME time. But I’m trying.
  9. T – TAKE TIME TO FIND THE JOY — When I was asked to speak, I went to my friends and asked them what they’d like to hear me talk about for 45 minutes. A lot of them said, “how do I find the joy in what I do?” That was sad, but it’s so incredibly relevant. I think the first step in finding the joy is to just Choose It. Easier to read, harder to live. But in the midst of the chaos, uncertainty or frustration, stress is the easy answer. Stress leads to anger and words we later regret. Circumstances may not change, but your attitude sure can. Choose joy.

Hopefully these steps help you. I encourage you to attempt to try a few of them… I know I am still working on this daily. At the end of the day, parenting is hard…but if we step back and realize no one is perfect it’s much easier to find your own joy in it all.

9 Simple Steps to Juggle It All

9 Simple Steps to Juggle It All as a busy mom and wife.

Shanisty Ireland - public speaker

Speaking to a national women’s convention on how I’m able to juggle it all as a busy mom.

How moms make it all work!

How moms make it all work!

B113A99F-E7FC-4A6B-B1AD-BF29CBB018E7

We live in the Midwest, so I know my friends in the Northeast have had it way worse with Nor’easter after Nor’easter, but can we just pause for a moment and talk about how cold it’s been?

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and the kids enjoyed an egg hunt outside with the beautiful sunshine. Today??? We woke up to 2 inches of snow on the ground. Wait. What!

Okay, vent sesh over.

We are so ready for Spring this year, for more than one reason. We are an outdoorsy type of family. Outdoorsy in the sense of we take a lot of walks, we frequent the zoo, pool, and playgrounds. I mean, three children (2 of which are boys) need to get that energy out!

Even though we are dealing with a snowfall today, there really is something so refreshing about Easter Sunday. Spring outfits, sunshine, candy highs. It’s just such a refreshing time of the year.

Now, my focus is on this week. I have my first speaking engagement on April 6th. I am so honored to take part in this event, as I will be giving several 45 minute speeches on how I am able to “juggle it all.”

I’ll be posting the details next Sunday with a full recap of the event.

Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, comment below….how did you spend your Easter holiday?

Cabin Fever 2018

We are so cabin fevered and cannot wait for REAL spring weather.

Easter Sunday

If you don’t match on Easter, did it really happen?

Egg Hunt

Adam really enjoyed the egg hunt this year!

Easter babies!

The kids with their cousin Mila.

Easter Sunday

Adam’s facial expressions for the win.

Happy Easter!

Happy Spring from the Ireland family!

Tick, tock… it’s not yet 5:00 and I am out of everything! Milk, bread, eggs, you name it. Oh, how I wish I could wait until my husband got home from work to go to the grocery store. I also wish it was super easy for me to snag a sitter while I stock our fridge, but that’s not a reality for this busy mom of three. Sure, I look forward to the day when my children are old enough to help me out at our local food spot, but until then I do believe I’ve mastered some grocery store tips and tricks without losing my ever-loving mind.

We are frequent Kroger shoppers. There is a Kroger about 1 mile from our house and it’s crazy convenient. Not to mention, I save money on food and fuel. So, hi, I’m a busy mom and I’m addicted to Kroger.

Here are 10 of my grocery shopping Mom Hacks:

  1. Create a Digital Account – This is really step one to unlock all the savings. It’s really simple to sign up! Head on over to Kroger.com and register. It legit takes 1 minute, even a busy mom can do that.
  2. Get Organized – In my single days, I could walk into a grocery store and know exactly what I needed without a list. With my mom brain moving 10,000 miles a minute, I need to be organized and have a shopping list prepared before I step inside the store. You can create a shopping list on your smartphone’s Kroger App. Just click on the “more” tab at the bottom right side of the homepage… it also estimates your total, which is an awesome feature when on a budget.
  3. Get Social – Speaking of the Kroger App, I downloaded it about a year ago and absolutely love all the savings! I’ve never really been one for clipping paper coupons, plus I know they’d get lost in the storm of our stampeding children. Having it digitally loaded on my smartphone saves me time and the headache of keeping track of one more piece of paper.
  4. Be Loyal – This is an obvious one, but do sign up for the Kroger Plus Card. Did you know that the Kroger Plus Card has more than $400 in digital coupon savings? Not to mention it helps you keep track of those pre-loaded manufacturer coupons. If you forget your card, you can simply type in your phone number. Also, make sure your address is up to date, so you don’t miss out on exclusive promotions offered to Kroger Plus members.
  5. F R I Y A Y (Kroger Free Friday) – Don’t even pretend like you don’t like getting things for free. The awesome thing about Kroger Free Friday is you often get to try items you may not typically purchase, which saves money and it might introduce you to a new staple item for your kitchen.
  6. ClickList– oooookay, I’m going to be completely honest and tell you I hadn’t taken advantage of this service until recently. I know, weird. But one rainy Monday I decided to take the plunge and try out Kroger ClickList and I’ve never looked back. It’s not as intimidating as you might think! You simply place your order online, pick a time for pickup, pull right up to your local store and let the fine folks at Kroger do the rest. My kids can continue watching their DVDs or nap, and I don’t lose any more years of my life as I stressfully steer giant shopping carts through the aisles. Pro tip: ClickList will tally up your total for you and waive your first three online order fees to help you stay on budget. After that, the online order fee is $4.95.
  7. Home Delivery: say whaaaaat?! Coming to a Kroger near you SOON via InstaCart. I do believe the skies have opened and I actually hear a chorus of Halleluiah ringing out. I actually didn’t realize this was available in my area until recently. Delivery of your groceries in one hour or less. Also, your first delivery is FREE! Yep, I’m loading up my InstaCart right now. *check to see if your Kroger delivers here: InstaCart
  8. Digital Coupons and Customer Mailings – I actually have this tab open on my laptop as I’m writing this blog post. I scanned through the more than $400 of coupons and simply loaded the ones I’d use to my loyalty card. Next time I check out, those coupons will be honored, saving me time and money. Also, make sure your address is up to date. As a loyal customer you will receive additional savings in the mail.
  9. Fuel Points: Every dollar spent at Kroger is typically worth one fuel point. Points do reset every month, but that’s not really a problem for a busy mom who’s constantly taxiing kids to dance, soccer, swim lessons, play dates and school. Check the bottom of your receipt OR check your app to see how many points you have saved up. Here’s a fuel breakdown:
    100 fuel points = 10¢ off per gallon of fuel for 1 fill-up at participating gas stations (i.e. Turkey Hill and Shell).
    100 fuel points = 10¢ off per gallon of fuel for 1 fill-up at a Kroger store.
    200 fuel points = 20¢ off per gallon of fuel for 1 fill-up at a Kroger store.
    1,000 fuel points = $1 off per gallon of fuel for 1 fill-up at a Kroger store.
  10. Try the Kroger Brand: We actually love the Kroger brands, especially Simple Truth Organic. That’s the brand of milk you’ll find in our fridge. My oldest son is slightly obsessed with their white cheddar popcorn, it’s something always stocked in our pantry. We also have a lot of products from Kroger’s premium line: Private Selection. I typically buy their crackers and cheese when I do get a chance to entertain other people than my kids.

You might already be familiar with these hacks, but hopefully you learned something new. Either way, I promise adding at least one of these hacks to your next shopping adventure will save you some grey hairs and possibly add stress-free years to your life.

*This post is a paid partnership with Kroger.*

Shanisty Ireland (Kroger App- shopping list)

Using the Kroger App to make my shopping list. Believe it or not, I meal plan every week so making a list is a must-do.

Shanisty Ireland Kroger (Instacart)

Delivery is coming to a Kroger near you, via Instacart! Woot!

Busy Mom's Guide to Grocery Shopping

We are big fans of the Kroger brand, Simple Truth Organic. We find almost all of our groceries in the naturally grown aisles.

Shanisty Ireland Kroger App

Finding additional digital savings on the app.

Busy Mom's Hack to Grocery Shopping

A successful day at the grocery store deserves a pic. Especially when shopping with Stevie Wonder, a cat lady dressed in fur and an 80-year old man in a Members Only jacket.