I recently posted a picture of my kids making a mess with Play-Doh and captioned it: “Don’t mind the mess, my kids are busy making memories of me yelling at them to clean up their mess.” Obviously, this was in good fun– but it had me thinking. What will my children remember me by during this time of their lives?

Do you worry your kids will remember you by something negative? Be it nagging them to clean their rooms, pick up their dirty socks, or brush their teeth… are these the things that will stick in their brains forever when they think back to age 4, 5, 6 and so forth?

I know the obvious answer to this is, no. But I decided to write out 8 things I hope my children remember me by.

  1. Her life didn’t stop for us, she took us along to enjoy OUR life together: When I was pregnant with Luke, I remember a neighbor of mine in Birmingham who had two very small children. I was still working in the news business and working the evening shift, so I was around every morning until about 1 PM. I remember every single morning that mom waking up and loading up her children to have an adventure. They would go to the library, park, mall. I remember being so inspired by her ability to take her kids with her on daily adventures. I vowed then to do the same. I know many people don’t understand why I take my kids with me to the grocery store, shopping mall or on business errands… but my life doesn’t revolve just around them. It’s important to me that they understand I will do lots of fun things with them, but at the same time, I have a life too. I have things I need to do, and I don’t want to hire a babysitter for those simple things. I want them with me, I want them to learn from our daily outings. My mom worked from home and I would go to the bank, DMV and utility company with her… just like my kids do with me. We can make any errand an adventure!
  2. She had her favorites: Calm down! Let me explain first. I take the time to individually connect with my children so they know they are my favorite. You see, Luke is my favorite big boy and the very best big brother there ever was. Eden is my very favorite girl and the very best sister to her brothers. Adam is my very favorite baby and the very best baby brother. I tell them this. I spend the time to point out amazing qualities each one of them possesses. They like the individual attention, but I also make it a point to let the other children know what makes their sibling so special.
  3. She squeezed us and kissed us multiple times a day: First thing in the morning, each one of my children gets a giant hug and kiss. Throughout the day, I make it a point to set down my phone and give them physical attention. Children need that. They need to feel your love, not just hear the words.
  4. She let us help with everything: I will be the first to tell you, it takes patience. It is so much easier to cook dinner on my own without little ones scampering under my feet, but my daughter loves to cook. She has an apron she pulls out every single afternoon when she knows it’s time to start our meal prep. She looks forward to cracking eggs, grinding meat, and stirring pasta over the stove. YES! She is supervised. Trust me, it would be so much easier to shoo her away, but I want her to develop a love for cooking and I want her to know I will always say ‘yes’ to spending that time with her. Same goes for my older son. He loves helping his dad in the yard, so he is out there once a week pulling weeds and cleaning grass clippings.
  5. She loved to laugh and play: The laughing part is easy. I’m biased, as every mother is, but I think my kids are hilarious tiny humans. The playing part is a bit trickier. My kids are finally getting to an age where they enjoy fun board games and coloring. My sons love sports and my daughter enjoys it when I help her dress her baby dolls. I secretly don’t “love” playing with them every day… but they will never know that.
  6. She was in love with our daddy: Listen, some days I don’t have the energy just like the next person… but it’s so important that our children see my husband and I in a loving, healthy relationship. We speak to one another with love and respect, we spend time with each other away from the children, we have adult conversations while they are around and teach them to not interrupt. It’s important to us they know our relationship matters and takes priority.
  7. She helped others and used her talents to make a difference: Yes, I am a stay at home mom but that doesn’t define me. It also doesn’t mean my life is over for the next 18-20 + years. I write this blog for you. I share my thoughts and experiences to connect with you and hopefully to help others. Even though I live in Suburbia, I want my children to know I utilized my voice and God-given talents every single day of my life. My absolute favorite quote of all time is by Erma Bombeck. (Who also is a personal hero of mine!) “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say: ‘I used everything You gave me.'”  AMEN!
  8. She prayed with us and for us: I pray every single day for my children to grow into amazing humans. I also pray with them. I pray that they live their lives with a loving heart. To be kind and find joy in their day-to-day lives. It is so easy to get wrapped up in things that do not matter. I hope they always stay focused on the important things in life and always love and support one another. And always know how much their mommy loves them.
Shanisty Ireland

Memories in the making…

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I want them to remember most of all their mommy loves them very much. 

Last week I embarked on a new journey, and perhaps one of the most important ones of my life. I was asked to fly to Washington, DC to meet with a pharmaceutical company that’s working hard on developing a vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). I agreed, because sharing our story is something I am extremely passionate about.

If you’re new to my blog, allow me to give you a summary. When our youngest child, Adam, was just 6 weeks old he was diagnosed with RSV and almost lost his life. He had contracted the virus from my older two children who probably picked it up from preschool. We spent 5 days in the hospital, as Adam was hooked up to breathing machines and IVs. It was the scariest days of my life. If it wasn’t for the incredible care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio Adam would not be celebrating his 2nd birthday with us this year.

So last week, I had the incredible opportunity to meet with some intelligent, talented individuals who explained their efforts in creating the first RSV vaccination. It was fascinating and truly enlightening to listen to them speak about the virus and how it has evolved. There have been so many failed efforts over the last 50 years in creating a vaccine that would protect infants from the second leading killer worldwide, behind malaria. The amount of the time, effort, money and passion that’s gone into making the RSV vaccine is beyond comprehension.

Friday morning, I stood in front of a room of about 300 people from the pharmaceutical company. Many were doctors, scientists and researchers – all were working together on this vaccine. I stood in that room and opened up my heart. I opened up about our story, Adam’s story, in hopes that he serves as an inspiration. I let them view the short 15 second video of his extreme labored breathing. Every single time I watch it, I tear up, as many others did in that room.

While it was an emotional morning, it was so inspiring for me. You see, this is only the beginning. I’m making it my mission to continue the conversation. To further the awareness and the education. I look forward to watching this particular company make headway as the final clinical trial results come in. There is still such a long road ahead for the company, but they are on a fast track for sure.

My closing message for the amazing people I met with was simple. I know how hard it is when you’re in the trenches. When you’re working on something every single day, it becomes mundane, you almost become numb to it. Millions of dollars have been poured into this work and many people feel as though they have given their lives to the RSV vaccine.

As I stood in front of that room, I wiped my tears away, thanked them and said: this IS absolutely something worth giving their lives for.

#ProtectLittleLungs

You can read our full RSV story here: How RSV Changed the Way I Parent

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Adam at 6 weeks old with RSV.

 

 

I haven’t blogged in a bit, and I’m sorry for that. School started a few weeks ago for both my older children. With school started soccer, ballet, tap and a boatload of new germs.

Last week, we spent two days at Nationwide Children’s Hospital with my oldest son who contracted a scary Respiratory Virus. If you’re a parent, you probably hate the word “virus” as much as I do. You already understand when a doctor utters the first syllable it means there really isn’t an easy treatment for your child. Luckily, and unluckily that wasn’t the case for Luke last week.

Our family went to our local swimming pool along with every other family in the entire city on Labor Day. That evening we went to my parent’s house for a cookout and Luke played golf with his dad…. all was perfectly fine!

Around 4 AM, Luke came to my room complaining he couldn’t breathe and he felt like he was going to throw up. I took him to the bathroom, he seemed fine, so I went back to bed with him. I didn’t notice labored breathing then… it was 4 AM, dark and we were both groggy.

The next day Luke spent his time on the couch watching movies and napping, which is very unlike him. I noticed his breathing was fast and labored, so I called his doctor. The after-hours clinic asked us to come into a children’s urgent care where his breathing was monitored. The physician there advised us to rush him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital… or he was going to call a squad. I’m awake now!

After a very long and quite uncomfortable wait in the ER waiting room, we were finally seen by doctors around 2:30 AM. He was immediately hooked up to an IV, injected with steroids and the breathing treatments began. Doctors decided to move him to a room and admit him after his breathing wasn’t slowing down and his heart rate was through the roof. It was pretty frightening, if I’m being completely honest.

Luke underwent several breathing treatments, every 2 hours and then every 4 hours the entire next day. The doctors were sure he would need to stay another night, but Luke started to improve rapidly and was reacting great to the treatments so we were able to go home the next evening. Armed with medicine and breathing treatments.

A week later, Luke is completely back to normal. He has been in school all week, had swimming last night and a soccer game this weekend. Back to normal for us all, and keeping our fingers crossed we can skip out on a couple of rounds of sickness in our near future.

Here are some things I learned:

  • A child’s breathing should be anywhere between 20-30 breaths per minute to be considered normal. Luke was at 72 breaths per minute.
  • Follow your mama gut. I should have taken him to the doctor much earlier in the day to avoid urgent-care and perhaps crazy long waits in the ER, but I didn’t. I should have listened to my mama gut much earlier.
  • Respiratory season is starting early this year. The doctors at the hospital told me when school started, the school bus basically dropped off busloads of children to the hospital for respiratory viruses.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS! I make my children wash their hands first thing when they get home or get in the car from school. Even if it’s using anti-bacterial soap as we drive down the road.
  • If your child is sick, please keep them at home. I completely understand this is super easy for a stay at home mom (or work from home mom) to say, but some children (like my boys) are very prone to contracting respiratory viruses and it’s dangerous for them. I know there are millions of other children like mine, and children who even fair even worse than a couple of nights at the hospital.

*special thanks for the wonderful team of doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital for taking care of our Luke.*

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When I was 7 years old, an author visited my elementary school. I can’t remember the author’s name, as I don’t remember a lot of small details about elementary school, but I remember her words. If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still hear her.

I remember sitting in our elementary school library, a far cry from what a library looks like today. This one had small shelves, painted fictional characters on the cinderblock walls, and the smell of old, well-loved library books. I remember sitting, criss-cross, on a small round rug with this author propped on a stool in front of our small class of 2nd graders. She read us one of her books and then asked for questions.

As a typical 2nd grade class does, the questions started out with “What’s your favorite color?” “Do you have a pet?” Most questions didn’t have a lot of depth, until our teacher asked a question that garnered an answer I will never forget. “What is your best advice to someone who wants to be an author?” The teacher asked.

I remember thinking to myself, yes! Great question…I would love to be an author one day. The nice lady propped on the stool smiled, exhaled and said very confidently: “Write. Every. Single. Day.” Her words were short and formed their own sentences. She continued, “If you want to be an author, go home, buy a journal or grab a stack of paper and a pencil and just start writing. Write every single day until your words become a book.”

I rushed home that very day and gushed about all of the details of this author’s visit to my mom, and begged for a journal. I received one, a pink ballerina journal for my 8th birthday and my first entry was penned on January 19, 1991.

It was a simple post that read: Today is my birthday. I turned 8 years old. By. 

It was the start to my childhood dream that’s spanned three decades. I took that author’s words to heart and wrote every single day for the next 27 years. There is an old cedar hope chest in my basement full of journals. My dream has never faded. I still hope to one day be a successful published author, one that people (beyond my parents and husband) buy my book and, feel emotional over and genuinely enjoy reading.

So, here I am, tapping away on my laptop instead of a journal on my lap. I’m stringing words, my words, together to form sentences. I write to you every single week about the ups and downs of my life. I spill my guts on this blog, and I rarely leave any room for mystery. I am pretty much an open book, but I have yet to start one of my own.

Let’s eliminate the excuses, shall we? I’m not scared. I know that. If I write something and it takes me a year or more to complete and not one person reads it I will be disappointed but I will not have failed. I’m not too busy. Sure, I am, but you make time. We all make time for the important things. I have my idea. FINALLY. I know what I want to write about.

That leaves me with one option, I just need to S T A R T.

Here’s an acronym I came up with to help me stay focused on my dream. If you find it useful, please feel free to share!

D – Develop A Plan *make a plan of how you will get from point A to B and so forth until your dream is fulfilled. 

R – Risks Are Worth It *if the risks weren’t worth it, the dream wouldn’t be worthy of your time. 

E – Eliminate Fear *you only have one life to live, and it goes by quickly. Do not be afraid of failure, be afraid not to try. 

A – Accountability *speak your goals into existence and ask your family and closest friends to hold you accountable. 

M – Make Goals *set weekly goals. Adjust those goals as necessary, but stay on track. 

S – START TODAY *no more excuses, there is no better time than the present!

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Deep thoughts.

 

 

Luke,

As much as I wanted to address this letter as “Lukey” or “My Dearest Luke”, I chose not to because you are 5-years old now, and are no longer my little tiny baby. Tomorrow you will start a new chapter and embark in one of the most exciting adventures of your life.

School.

Your clothes are laid out, you said your prayers and I soon will tuck you in the night before your first day of kindergarten at the same school your mommy went to when she was 5 years old.

Luke, school is so much fun! You will learn new things. You will experience new adventures. You will see new sights. You will meet new people. You will make friends. Some of the friends you make tomorrow could be the same friends you walk the stage in cap and gown 13 years from now. Some of the children you will meet will be funny. Some of them kind. Some of them unbelievably smart. Some of them shy. Some will look nothing like you. Some may look similar to you. Some of the children could be cold. Some of them could be mean. Luke, it’s important you know not everyone you meet tomorrow will be perfect. But that doesn’t define you.

My hope for you on the night before your first day of school is that you be true to yourself. You are sensitive. You are selfless. You are kind. You are funny. You are witty. You are smart. You are athletic. You have an immense love for your family. I can only hope when I write to you 13 years from today, I can still recite these exact same qualities no matter the storm that awaits you.

Luke, there will be other children who you instantly connect with. They will be your closest friends. There will also be children who may be standoffish, shy, or say cruel things. Luke, please love them. Treat them the same way you treat your new friends. Treat them how you treat your sister and brother. Treat them how you want to be treated. You don’t know what kind of home they live in. You don’t know what kind of things they’ve seen or experienced in their young lives. Be nice to them. Smile. Lend a helping hand. If they do not accept you as you are, give them space…but always be there for them when they are ready for your friendship.

Luke, there will be challenges you can’t even comprehend. I know these things are hard to explain to a 5-year old, but you will hear conversations and you will see things that are brand new to you. Some things will be wonderful, some things will not. Always trust your mommy and daddy. Always tell the truth. Always be unafraid to tell us the good, the bad and the confusing. We love you, no matter what.

We are so proud of you. I promise, I will not cry (too much) on your first day of school. I am way too excited for real tears! Only tears of joy for you.

Luke, I loved school so much. I experienced many wonderful things in school. I also experienced many hardships in school. I never let the hardships define me. I always reminded myself what didn’t kill me, makes me stronger. I used the bad to my advantage. When times got tough, I told myself tomorrow is another day. I hope you will do the same.

We love you so much. I can’t even begin to type the words to fully encompass our love for you. You will do great. You will excel. You will move mountains. You will go places you never dreamed of. You will be true to yourself. You will always be our son.

We love you!

Class of 2031 xx

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Kindergarten here we come!

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Class of 2031!

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