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 weekend, we surprised the kids with a fun-filled trip to Butler County, Ohio. We packed up their suitcases and picked them up from school. When they asked where we were going, we just kept telling them we were going to dinner. God love them for thinking it was a 2-hour drive to dinner. Ha!

Luckily, the drive was quick and we arrived at our hotel in plenty of time for dinner. After an easy check-in at the Staybridge Suites, we were off to our first stop at Troy’s Cafe.

By now the kids were bursting with excitement as we kept telling them we had so many surprises planned for them. Troy’s Cafe was a quant little restaurant with sandwiches, salads, soups and delicious mac and cheese for the kids. The place was full on a Friday night, which is always a good sign! We enjoyed a wonderful meal and were off again.

After Troy’s we had one more surprise in store before turning in for the night, The Cone. I am so happy we had the chance to experience this remarkable landmark of a shop. The ice cream was delicious, but the experience was even better. The weather was perfect that evening, and we sat outside under the giant ice cream cone while the kids ran around and played on the rides. We were then stuffed and ready to turn in for the night.

The next morning we embarked on the Butler County Donut Trail … which was AMAZING! I think we all gained about 5 pounds that morning. I’ll be sharing a more detailed blog post on the Donut Trail in the coming months, but I highly recommend the trail to anyone looking for something fun and unique to do!

After our sugar high, we hopped on over to Jungle Jim’s. This international supermarket is much more than a grocery store, it is a true destination. With hundreds of thousands of products from over 70 countries, Jungle Jim’s International Market is internationally known. We stopped in the toy store area first and then made our way to the most unique restrooms we’ve ever seen. I’m not even kidding when I say the bathrooms are an experience in themselves. We did a lot more browsing than buying, as we had a full day planned…but this is a place my husband and I would love to come back to sans children.

After Jungle Jim’s we were ready to eat again, hard to believe after all of the donuts, but Lisa’s Kitchen hit the spot. A hometown, casual spot with an even tastier menu. My husband and I both enjoyed the hot subs, while the kids devoured cheeseburgers and french fries.

My youngest was ready for a nap, and he fell asleep in the car on our way to the Niederman Family Farm Fall Festival. The weather was a bit chilly and perfect for jeans and fall attire. The crowds were not that bad, considering a rain storm was on the way. The Niederman Family Farm featured hay rides, pumpkin patches, a bounce pad, games and more. I enjoyed a nice cup of hot cider while the baby napped and the kids played. It was the perfect end to our fall afternoon.

We were all ready for a little R&R after such a busy day, so back to the hotel we went to rest up for dinner at WEB Extreme Entertainment. WEB features the largest laser tag facility in the tri-state area. Unfortunately, our kids were too young for laser tag and the go-carts. BUT, they absolutely loved the arcade games and putt-putt golf. We actually played two rounds as there wasn’t a long line for putt-putt. Dino, glow in the dark putt-putt at that. The kids had the greatest time at WEB!

Back to our hotel to rest for another fun-filled Sunday…. which I will blog about later this month.

Needless to say, we had a fantastic adventure and highly recommend this easy trip for any family looking for something unique to do!

To be continued…

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Dinner at Troy’s Cafe

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Dessert at The Cone

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The kids LOVED this place

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Off to the Butler County Donut Trail

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Jungle Jim’s was quite the entertainment

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Lisa’s Kitchen for lunch

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Family fall fun.

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CUTIES

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Dinner and late night (7 PM) fun at WEB.

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.

 

 

This past weekend was by far our favorite weekend in Columbus. Every year, thousands of people descend upon central Ohio for ONE GOAL. END CANCER. Pelotonia is much more than a weekend ride, it’s joining a team… a team we consider to be the Greatest Team Ever.

This year marked the 10th year of the organization’s powerful fundraising event. It also marked our family’s 4th year of participation. My husband did the first ever Sunday ride, which was great considering the crowds were significantly smaller, and he ended in our home town!

But first, a little about the organization. Pelotonia is a grass roots organization that’s raised more than $117 million for cancer research. The model of the 3-day event is simple: Pelotonia’s operating expenses are covered by generous funding partners so that 100% of every dollar raised by riders, virtual riders, and volunteers goes directly to fund cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

I know that’s a lot of jargon to really say, we are big supporters of this amazing cause. Not to mention, there is a shift in the air in the entire city with all of the surrounding communities who participate in Pelotonia. The weekend is filled with love and support. You meet so many kind strangers, volunteers, riders, and people who just want to come out and witness the powerful movement.

The kids look forward to watching their daddy cross the finish line every year, this year they wore previous year’s riding jerseys. With cow bells in tow, we cheered rider after rider rolling across the finish line with ONE GOAL. END CANCER.

If you happen to be in the Columbus area the first weekend of August, or would like to learn more about this amazing event… I encourage you to check out Pelotonia’s website!

http://pelotonia.org/

Here are some photos from the weekend!

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When I was a kid, my mom would take me to the Ohio State Fair once a year. I don’t remember ever riding any rides, and the smell of the fair food always made me feel sick. What a lame kid! But I loved going, every single year…it sort of marked the end of summer.

Now that I have kids of my own, I still love going that one time a year. Our trips look completely different from when I was a kid. I pack lunches…not because I’m cheap, but because my kids will want something from every single food vendor. From cotton candy to deep-fried everything. It’s challenging enough to get them out of the carnival game section without spending a giant wad of cash. I do splurge on the giant fresh-squeezed lemonades. I just can’t go to a fair without those cups of lemony sugar goodness.

My kids have their favorite spots at the Ohio State Fair. We have to start with the Goldfish game. I only let them play the “Win Every Time” games. I learned my lesson a couple of years ago. $10 drains fast with little kids and horrible aim. There is a great Goldfish/Hermit Crab win every time game in the middle of the game area, past the giant slide. For $5 both Luke and Eden won a goldfish and their own containers! It was a challenge to keep Adam from shaking the goldfish. After about 30 seconds, the new pets had names (Ladder & Flower) and we were on our way to the next stop.

*Editor’s note: Ladder & Flower have since passed away. RIP little fish who gave our kids a whopping 8 hours of joy. #neverforget*

The AG & Hort Building is their favorite where they can watch the large electronic train, learn about zoo animals and ride little tractors. The pedal tractors are a big hit with Luke and Eden, no joke…they remember them every year! The kids also like seeing the bunnies, little chicks and learning about zoo animals.

Next stop was the Natural Resources Park where we attempted to wait in a long line to fish. About 10 minutes in the line, Eden decided she didn’t want to walk…or stand…or cooperate…so after a major meltdown, we left…sans fishing trophies.

We stopped to eat our packed lunches, which in itself takes a solid 45 minutes. There is just so much for the kids to see, it’s hard for them to concentrate on eating. I don’t blame them…people watching at the fair IS. THE. VERY. BEST.

This year we didn’t make it into the livestock barn. Last year, Eden cried because of the smells (perhaps the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree) so we made one last stop at the kiddie “win every time” games where the kids won their favorite blowup toys. A princess doll, a sword and a puppy power hammer. Two giant lemonades on the way out and that was a wrap!

All in all, we faired pretty well! (See what I did there?!) And now we’re good for another 365.

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Ladder & Flower (RIP)

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Cute kid multiple called a girl. haha.

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Sword & Puppy Power Hammer

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I blame the little one for shaking the water bags. eyyyyy.

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Win Every Time games for the WIN.

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Duck, Duck, Goose.

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A Family Af {Fair}