Feb 23

The Final Baby

Pregnancy is the magic pill for Multiple Sclerosis, they say. Your hormones will protect you for 6-8 weeks after delivery, they say.

In a perfect world, sure.

taking my newborn baby to a steroid infusion
But then something unexpected happens.

Instead of pregnancy la-dee-da, they say you are ‘unusual’ and should really consider your health before having more children. Women don’t relapse WHILE PREGNANT, they say. You have two healthy boys and they need a healthy mom, they say.

But. But. But…. (Cue the tears and devastation.)

I want babies. I want a big family full of chaos and comradery. I want my Mia Gene and Mark Julius, maybe even a Mackenzie. I picked out my names and now I can’t use them? That’s not the way this works.

Good, loving moms deserve babies, and squishy babies deserve good mommies.

THAT’S the way this is supposed to work.
feeding my baby while getting a steroid infusion  It’s hard enough for women to come to terms with their baby makers being all dried up (Trust me, I know all about bitchy women when you tell them they are old enough to be in menopause.) so you can imagine how earth shattering it was for a 20 something to hear no-more-babies.

I was in shock. I didn’t know how to process the news outside of crying. I cried. A lot. I holed myself in my room with Maverick and no one, not even his dad, was allowed to hold him. I wanted every curious glance, every snuggle, every finger grab to myself… from… my final baby.

Words typed 10 years too soon.

And then I saw the MRI. I saw the lesion in my brain. I saw the lesions down my spine. I saw the really big jerk face lesion wrecking havoc on my mobility and the strength in my lower body.

So. Many. Lesions.

So, in an attempt to reduce the inflammation, I started another round of steroids. This time the steroids would last five days. Five days of metallic yuck in my mouth. This time they had better provide some sort of relief.

My neuro didn’t want to put me back on Tysabri because my risk for PML was 8.5/1000 before getting pregnant, but we have to. (That’s 8.5 vs something like 1/1000.) We have to go back to Tysabri because it’s aggressive, fast (45 days to begin working) and exactly what I need to get on top of this relapse. But, for no longer than a year.

Why? Because I will switch to a different, newer drug once I have stabilized.

Unless, of course, insurance stops me. Tysabri is a front line treatment these days. Woot! We’ve come a long way since the original PML scare, but insurance is now requiring a reach around before ‘approving’ the drug. Really? Fucking insurance. And I won’t know for at least 2 weeks. Fucking insurance

So, now you know what I didn’t know how to share last week. Now you know why your future pregnancy announcement may trigger the sleeping beast I thought I had under control.

And don’t you dare check your compassion at the door and tell me to be happy with my boys because they are my world. My family is my world. Just let me grieve free of trolls, mmmkay?

Note: More updates and grainy cell pictures to come in a few weeks. I have an emotionally and physically exhausting week ahead of me.

Feb 16

Feeling Lost

I never imagined ‘do you want to end up a mom in a wheelchair’ would ever be this real. This close. Being confined to my bed with the highlight of my day being going downstairs to eat dinner with my family wasn’t exactly the push present I was shooting for. I was thinking more like a shiny new 105mm f/2.8 or a panty drawer overhaul. You know, frivolous things because walking… who worries about walking?

This girl.

coping with a multiple sclerosis relapse after having a baby

Here are the updates I am willing to share right now. I refuse to speak of one because it can’t be real. Writing about it makes it real and… I can’t. It hurts too much.

I had 3 days of IV steroids without any improvement. I had brain, cervical, and thoracic MRIs done but only know the results from my brain- there is an active lesion on my temporal lobe. I had a new JC Virus draw done but my number wasn’t available before I left last Wednesday.

I’m stuck in Multiple Sclerosis limbo. Or hell. Same difference.

And yet, none of the answers I seek would help me right now because my appointment isn’t until the 23rd. I still have an entire week before I can begin to put this dreadful experience behind me.

For the first time in my 8+ years of being diagnosed, Tysabri isn’t the default answer and I don’t know what to do. For the first time in my Multiple Sclerosis journey, I feel lost.

Lost and still thankful for so much. Like only needing a walking aid, not a wheelchair.

Note: Please forgive how rough this post is. I wanted to share what I could for those of you following along. Thank you for every comment, well wish, and share. It means a lot to this old bird.

Feb 10

Sip and See Party

This sip and see party has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WarmUpYourDay #CollectiveBias

Yellow and white spring themed Sip and See party that is easy to turn into a bridal shower. #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Have you heard the news? Maverick Bradley was born on 1/29/15! Hooray for happy, healthy babies!

And because there is no better excuse for a party, I put together a gender neutral sip and see party that can also be used for a beautiful spring bridal shower. How’s that for versatile? Wedding season is upon us, and people are forever having babies, so you might as well invest in a party theme you can reuse. Amirite or amirite?

Simple spring table decorations for a sip and see party that is easy to modify for a bridal shower. #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
I had a feeling the spotlight would be on my newest squish versus my decorations so I kept things simple and full of impact. Meaning, all I did was dress the table in a spring fabric, a single faux bloom arrangement, and a delicious party favor.

No place settings. No china. No crystal stemware.

This party was all about our tiny human. (Or the bride to be. Or the mom to be.)

Create a mimosa bar using 100 Florida orange juice and Cook's spumante for your next sip and see party or bridal shower #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Let’s talk about the sip portion of the party, mmmkay?

I made a mini mimosa bar using 100% Florida orange juice, peach juice, and bottles of Cook’s spumante. We both know guests appreciate options when it comes to cocktails so I always try to offer two variations of my signature cocktail. Just call me a people pleaser.

And, if you like monkey bread made with cinnamon rolls, you should try making a batch of monkey bread with the pecan caramel sweet rolls from Pepperidge Farm. You won’t be disappointed.

Optional: Feel free to set out bowls of fresh fruit if your guests like their drinks extra fruity.

Filling the champagne flutes before your guests arrive is a great way to help your sip and see party guests get their drinks #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
I added a bit of youthful charm to the grown-up champagne flutes with polka dot and striped paper straws. It might sound weird but cute straws add oodles of fun to every type of beverage. Try it. I dare you.

Create faux cupcakes out of Pepperidge Farm pecan caramel sweet rolls #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Now, we all know it’s not a party without cupcakes. Just, no. Sorry.

Even though this sip and see party plan is full of easy breakfast ideas using sweet rolls, I still served faux cupcakes. Here’s how…

How to make cupcakes out of pecan caramel sweet rolls by Pepperidge Farm #WarmUpYourDay #Ad

  • Start by unrolling one of the pecan caramel sweet rolls and ripping it almost in half.
  • Roll the smaller section back up and place it in the bottom of the cupcake liner. Top the small roll with the leftover, bigger portion of the sweet roll.
  • Put a dollop of the sugar mixture on top of the ‘cupcake’, much like frosting, and spread it out with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle a few pecans on top of the faux frosting and bake at 375 for 18 minutes.

Create an apple open faced pastry our of Pepperidge Farm apple cinnamon sweet rolls #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
OK, so you might be wondering where the catch is? You probably don’t believe a party this simple is possible. I mean, monkey bread is so easy to make that my toddler could do it, and the cupcakes? The faux cupcakes took longer to cook than I spent creating them.

True story.

So much so that I created another scrumptious sweet roll dish. Here’s how…

How to make an open face pastry using apple cinnamon sweet rolls by Pepperidge Farm #WarmUpYourDay #Ad

  • Unroll one of Pepperidge Farm’s apple cinnamon sweet rolls and rip it in half.
  • Create the bottom of the pastry by pressing the pieces into a spiral in a pie pan. If needed, use an additional 1/3-1/2 of a second sweet roll to get the appropriate size.
  • Cut an apple into small pieces and add about a ½ cup to the center of the pastry. Add half of the fruit packet from the package of sweet rolls before spreading the apple mixture out.
  • Finish off the open face pastry by taking the unused portion of the sweet roll and stretching it around the edge of the circle. Once the piece is in place, press the top into the bottom to eliminate any seams.
  • Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Pair your sip and see party pastries with fresh fruit and personal details #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Adding personal touches, like pictures of the new baby, is the main reason why you don’t have to go crazy with decorations. People love the little details.

Also, pairing the sweet roll dishes with oranges and blueberries gives your guests more options in the grub department without veering from the breakfast theme.

Turn a yellow and white party theme into a sip and see party with a simple diaper bunting #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
The bunting is the main detail that will have to be adjusted to fit the shower/sip and see theme. For this sip and see party, I rolled up diapers and wrapped them with a fabric duct tape. It took me maybe a whole 10 minutes.

Note: Stick with something fitting of the guest of honor’s personality for a bridal shower.

Edible party favors for a yellow and white sip and see party theme #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Did you know- the odds of your guests forgetting their party favor is pretty dang high? I’m talking like don’t spend a ton of cash on them unless it’s a favor you want for yourself. Like chocolate. Chocolate is typically my go to for party favors so I can smash the forgotten treats.

Win-win.

Create a sip and see party with easy breakfast ideas using Pepperidge Farm sweet rolls #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
Oh… and… don’t come crying to me if you all you are left with are a few dirty dishes and wrappers. That’s what happens when the grub is tasty good!

Finding Pepperidge Farm sweet rolls at Walmart #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
I found the Pepperidge Farm sweet rolls tucked in between a plethora of competitor items at Walmart. And let me tell you, they are well worth the browsing! Depending on the number of guests at your party, these easy breakfast ideas will keep your menu fun and within budget!

Do a girl a favor and pin this sip and see party!

Easy breakfast ideas for a yellow and white sip and see party that will also work for a bridal shower #WarmUpYourDay #Ad
 

Feb 09

Life in a Multiple Sclerosis Relapse

I am a prisoner of Multiple Sclerosis. A prisoner of my own body.

Just this afternoon I convinced my eager toddler he shouldn’t shower with me because my legs were tired. When he asked why, I told him I didn’t want to fall and hurt him. A sentence no parent should ever have to tell their child.

And, for the first time in ages, he didn’t throw a tantrum. He said okay and played in the bathroom before taking one of his man-child poops.

Moms in a Multiple Sclerosis relapse manage however they can
Then, as I realized there was nothing to hold on to, my legs began to falter and a mild panic washed over me. For a brief moment I was reminded of how I broke the towel bar during my last relapse. So, I did what I thought was logical and sat down to wash my face. The final, and probably the most dangerous, step in my shower routine because I have to close my eyes while standing.

But then… I couldn’t stand back up.

My legs no longer worked and my heart started to race.

(This is where the movies insert dramatic music.) How do I explain this to Michael if he pokes his head around the wall? Will it scar him to see me like this? Will this foil all of my attempts to shield him from Multiple Sclerosis?

I tried bracing myself with the edge of the tub. Fail. I tried leaning over the side of the tub and pulling my legs over like the creepy girl climbing out of the well in that scary movie. Fail.

Meanwhile, Michael had finished pooping and needed me to wipe his butt. Awesome.

I hollered for big Michael. Nothing. The bathroom door was closed as he watched Star Trek in the other room with a baby on his chest. Not to mention, my toddler gopher had poop hanging from his butt cheeks so I wasn’t able to send him to get his dad. That meant I needed to talk myself back from the ledge and figure this out on my own. As I should. I refuse to be a burden.

The motivation behind not wanting my child see me wet, naked, and unable to move was fierce. I might have made all sorts of grunting noises and wanted to cry my eyes out, but I got out of the shower unharmed. I got out and crawled to the toilet so I could wipe Michael’s butt.

Because that’s what moms do. We wipe our toddler’s butt when asked.

Once Michael scurried off to play, I managed to pull myself up with the help of the toilet. I was determined to get to the couch in my room. At least then I would be able to cool down enough and walk again. My warden owed me that much.

There was so much determination, quiet tears, and rubber legs in my short walk. Even though my efforts didn’t make the trek easier.

And then I made it to my room, only pausing in the door to gather myself before moving to the couch.

I avoided any and all eye contact with big Michael because I didn’t want to remember his face at that moment. I didn’t need to see the worry on his face. His look of fear is one I have a hard time forgetting, and I didn’t want a fresh one for my nightmares. I have enough of those types of faces locked away in my brain for a lifetime.

I might not want my helplessness to define me, but I really don’t want to remember the looks of fear. I can’t. There is too much life to live. I have babies to raise and vacations to not super warm destinations to take.

Note: There is more to this story but the stories are delayed because I have to process things internally before sharing them with you. Thank you for your patience.

 

Feb 06

Multiple Sclerosis and Breastfeeding

I did it. I made the phone call that will sever our days of breastfeeding and all I can do is lay here as you sleep and cry. And I mean straight up ugly cry. I didn’t want to make to make the phone call this early but walking is no longer on my list of daily tasks. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. End this fast. We were supposed to get two more weeks of blissful skin to skin bonding. The type of bonding that releases all sorts of feel good hormones.

I was so happy.

Hanging out in bed because of a multiple sclerosis relapse

I know I shouldn’t feel robbed of our perfect life, but I do. We had a good thing going and someone thought it would be cool to run up and steal the pacifier right out of my mouth. Why is this happening so soon? What is it about my Multiple Sclerosis that prevents my hormones from protecting me for the 6-8 weeks others get to enjoy?

I don’t understand.

Taking a nap after nursing

I knew our days of breastfeeding were numbered but I underestimated how painful it would be to admit it. How difficult it would be to tell the nurse what was going on in between sobs. How hard I would work to hide my tears on our way to school that morning. And again on our way home from the grocery store. I don’t want your brother to see me cry. He doesn’t need to see how nasty Multiple Sclerosis can be.

This is not how I want to be remembered.

Breastfeeding before a Multiple Sclerosis relapse made me stop

So tonight we will cuddle and nurse on demand one last time. Tonight I will cherish each drop leaked from my right nipple as you nurse from the left. Because tomorrow… tomorrow will be difficult. Necessary but so very difficult.

Stay tuned for my updated thoughts on Multiple Sclerosis and pregnancy.

 

Feb 01

That One Time… My Water Broke

I am still shocked that my water broke this time. Like, not movie dramatic water breaking, but it totally gushed multiple times. Why are there no water breaking 101 practice scenarios?

Here’s your pee cup and this is what it feels like when your water breaks.

My birth story began when…

When my water broke- Maverick Bradley's birth story

I kept telling people I wouldn’t make it to my due date. They looked at me like I was a naive first time mom.

I told them I would deliver at the end of January. They looked at me with a smile saying ‘suuuuuree you will’.

At the same time I was telling my unborn child to stay put until after I gave my mom her final hoorah birthday party. You know, because you can plan when babies show up.

Still, no one believed me. Shocking, right?

Well… we gave my mom a kickass 50th birthday party. Sure, she might have cleaned up her party because my cankles were out of control, but it was great..

And then my body started getting ready to deliver a baby. I shit you not, guys! Things got rolling as soon as my oh-so-important birthday party was over. My child was FINALLY listening to me!

Michael playing with his little brother Maverick

The next day I waddled my happy ass around the car show so my boys could admire their toys. I figured it would get my very closed cervix to open! I didn’t need a lot of progress but a girl loses a piece of her soul each time the doctor says “no progress.”

By golly, it worked!

I sort of remember the fetus moving to the point of no return around the Mercedes display. Which only reinforces how poor I will be when my boys get older.

My water broke at 39 weeks pregnant and I dfelivered 13 hours later

Monday was full of irregular contractions but meh, they didn’t hurt so I gathered the items for my hospital bag like any good pregnant woman. Of course Michael had to spread everything all over the floor because he was ‘helping’. Thanks, kid.

And since every woman likes to get their nails did before pooping on the table, my ‘would rather game than paint her sister’s toes’ sister dressed up my talons and told me how swollen my ankles were.

Sister love at its finest.

Daddy spending time with Maverick after delivery in the post-partum room

Tuesday consisted of more contractions. Again, they didn’t hurt so I went about my day without tracking them. Why bother tracking Braxton Hicks, I thought.

I did, however, tell Michael to add his clothes to my bag so my mom didn’t have to bring his underwear to the hospital again. He didn’t listen.

Fellas, when the very pregnant chick actually wants to landscape her very neglected hedges, you need to listen up. Shit’s about to go down. We don’t shave because we care what you think. Hardly. We shave because who knows who will be holding up our legs when it’s time to push.

Aunt Rachael with her two nephews, Michael and Maverick

There was something about Wednesday morning that felt different. Perhaps it was the fact that I peed 3 times in 1 hour. Or maybe it was Michael’s teacher telling me I looked like I was going to have a baby any day now. Or maybe it was the overwhelming urge to buy food for the house, but not fresh food, only freezer ravioli and pot pies… just in case.

Something was happening even if I didn’t bother to track the contractions.

And then the glorious news I had been waiting for… I was 1cm and my cervix was soft at 2cm long! YES! Triumph! Multiple days of contractions had paid off… even if they were just silly irregular contractions that happened to be slightly uncomfortable.

What it looked like when my water broke

And then it happened. My water broke!

Michael got home from school around 9:30 pm and I felt a gush. ‘Damn it all to hell, lady bits! Seriously? I can’t wait for this pregnancy to be over so my leaky fucking vagina will stop with all of this nonsense.’

I was annoyed.

I sat down on the toilet and heard a little tinkle. Mmmkay. And then there was blood. Bright red blood. You have my attention, leaky vagina!

What it looked like as I continued to lose amniotic fluid

I called my doctor and she said to rest and see if anything happened over the next hour. It could just be fluid from being checked, so I crawled in bed with a chicken sandwich and used the Daddy511 app to track my contractions. You know, the contractions that were at best uncomfortable. Totally not the real thing because real contractions hurt, I thought.

Except, the app was telling me they were 3 minutes apart. No way! Surely I was doing something wrong because 3 minutes apart meant I should be at the hospital. Was I even tracking the right feeling?

And then another gush at 10:47. And again at 11:15.

OK. OK. I get the point!

What it looks like when you have a pad full of amniotic fluid because your water broke

And then I filled another pad on the 45 minute drive to the hospital. Mind you, it was 12:30 am at this point.

And then there was more bright red blood when I peed in triage.

And then my fluid ‘looked like a fern’ under the microscope. (I guess that is what happens when it’s amniotic fluid.)

And more gushing.

Hooked up to the monitors in triage after my water broke

And then I was admitted with contractions 3-4 minutes apart and a rupture. Are you fucking kidding me? I thought contractions 3 minutes apart were supposed to hurt? What the what? Who knew.

Michael getting some rest while we waited for labor to progress

I tried to sleep. Honest. Anyone who tells you to rest while dealing with contractions deserves to be punched in the face. It’s impossible unless you are the spouse.

We will check you after a few hours of contractions to see if you make any progress, they said. We don’t want to give you Pitocin unless you stop progressing, they said.

Except a few hours turned into being checked at 5am. Fine. Whatever. Give me my final apple juice so I can get my damn epidural. I’m done. No more. I made it to 4-5cm, just like last time. Natural births are NOT for me. I’m fucking tired and cranky. Unlike my sleeping husband. Fuck!

And at 7:30 am I was 5cm.

And at 9:15 am I was 7cm.

And then it hurt so fucking bad again. Surely my vagina was falling out! This is not what I signed on for! OMG! I went from 7-10 in 30  minutes, just like with Michael, and it was time to push. Except I didn’t want to. I mentioned the nightmares stemming from Michael’s delivery. I told them about his shoulder getting stuck. I told them I was scared it would happen again, so they called in a backup doctor in case this baby decided to hangout down below for a few hours, too.

Only he didn’t delay the party. Maverick was born at 10:11 am WITHOUT the shoulder doctor!

The doctor delivering Maverick blew my freaking mind! She was SO MUCH better than the first. She was constantly lubing her fingers and running them around the head. She numbed my perineum and gave me a 2ish stitch episiotomy when she saw his head was struggling to escape. She is the reason I didn’t scream. I might have gotten slightly teary eyed when he was crowning because … uhhh … crowning, but I didn’t scream.

And then he was out. And then I delivered my placenta. And then she tried to collect as many potential clots as she could. She’s my hero.

Getting Maverick ready to meet his big brother Michael

It was one of those deliveries where you sit back and say “I could do that again. Maybe having kids isn’t that bad after all.”

Afterwards, I asked that the grandparents wait FOREVER to see Maverick. On purpose. All I cared about  was Michael seeing his little brother for the first time. Before everyone else. Just thinking about Michael walking through the door and being able to spend a few private minutes with my new family was all I needed to forget about my aching vagina and cramping uterus.

Our little moment was perfect even if it royally pissed off Michael because ‘his parents had been there forever’.

 

Jan 29

SEA LIFE Michigan Grand Opening

SEA LIFE Michigan is located at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills #SEALIFEMI
It’s finally time! The grand opening for SEA LIFE Michigan is here!  (Insert school girl giggles.)

Go ahead and consider this post my gift to you. I took a bajillion pictures during the media preview event to give you solid reasoning as to why I think this aquarium is a fabulous addition to Great Lakes Crossing. Like, for real. You should go. Michael is STILL talking about the sharks and stingrays.

And, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m 99.9% sure big Michael enjoyed himself, too. Maybe. But what do I know? I’m just the person in charge of taking pictures of said enjoyment. You be the judge.

In case you forgot, I’m an ambassador for SEA LIFE Michigan. All opinions and pictures are my own.

Children can swim with the fish at SEA LIFE Michigan #SEALIFEMI
Where do I even begin?

This aquarium was magical! Our journey started with freshwater fish, swung around to sea turtles, and dropped us into a gorgeous underwater tunnel. An underwater tunnel with a bench. I don’t know how your toddler is but mine was all “Look at that fish! Whoa! SHARK! Look at the SHARK!”

There was no resting for my very pregnant self until we reached the tunnel.

SEA LIFE Michigan teaches children more about the animals via educational touchscreens found throughout the aquarium #SEALIFEMI Sure, Michael might have resembled a pinball bouncing between each display, but that wasn’t the case for all of the children. I watched the older children view the sea life with a purpose beyond pure excitement. They were learning, and so were their parents.

You see, scattered throughout the aquarium were touchscreens full of information about the creatures in each display. Touchscreens that came in handy because under the sea facts do not take up much room in big Michael’s vault of random knowledge.

Believe it or not… mommies and daddies do not know all. See all? Yes. Know all? Not so much.

SEA LIFE Michigan has an interactive touchpool where children are able to pick up a crab, pet a sea urchin, or touch a sea star #SEALIFEMI
And then there was the Interactive Touchpool. Michael (little, not big) doesn’t do creepy crawlies so, even though he said he wanted to touch them, he was not all about the crabs and sea stars. He was 100% certain that everything would pinch and/or bite him. (Nothing in the touchpool bites, stings, pinches, etc.)

Here is a short video clip of what to expect in this area.

SEA LIFE Michigan features Cownose Stingrays #SEALIFEMI
He quickly forgot about the trauma of petting a sea star as soon as he saw the next room. Once again we were back to “WHOA! A STINGRAY! Look!”

Children will experience different themed rooms and sea life as they walk through SEA LIFE Michigan #SEALIFEMI
I have to tell ya, the level of detail as we walked from room to room was exquisite. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced here in Mid-Michigan.

The SEA LIFE Michigan aquarium features an underwater tunnel allowing children to surround themselves with sea creatures #SEALIFEMI
Sure the sea turtle room was cool, but it paled in comparison to the underwater tunnel. I love me some underwater tunnels! We sat on the bench longer than I ever expected from my super pumped toddler and appreciated the beauty surrounding us. Okay, so I sat there half taking it all in and half resting my oh so swollen cankles. But still, it was awesome.

Here is a short video clip of the underwater tunnel.

SEA LIFE Michigan is an interactive aquarium with tunnels designed to give the children a closer look at the animals #SEALIFEMI

Random SEA LIFE Information:

  • Parking- SEA LIFE is located next to Rainforest Cafe, entry 7.
  • Restrooms are available- I would go before heading in so there are no accidents. Well… if your toddler is anything like mine and magically doesn’t have to pee when he is really excited.
  • Crowd control- You will be given and/or you will select a time to arrive. This helps the staff control the number of guests entering the aquarium at one time and ensures everyone gets quality ‘facetime’ with their fish friends.
  • No food or drink- Your tickets are good all day so you can come and go as the crew gets hungry.
  • Groups- There are discount rates available for groups and field trips. There are even birthday party packages.

SEA LIFE Michigan Ticket Prices:

  • Individual ticket: $23.50
  • Annual pass for one: $60
  • Annual pass for family of four: $230

SEA LIFE Michigan has over 20 displays, 5,000 sea creatures and 120,000 gallons of water in a highly themed, immersive setting #SEALIFEMI
You won’t be disappointed! Honest. It really was a lot of fun for all ages. AND! And. And. And… it’s not outside so my fellow anti-winter buddies will enjoy themselves.

Have fun!

 

Jan 15

When Toddlers Think No One is Watching

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Levana. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Stella Video Monitor by Levana comes with 2 cameras so you can see your toddler's entire room

Never in a million years did I think I would utter these words. Heck, I can’t believe I am able to write about this type of product in a way that isn’t making fun of myself for not being in touch with all things motherhood, but I am. I’m sure it has something to do with the nesting bender I decided to go on at the beginning of the year. Better late than never, right?

My official non-mommy blogger opinion is that…

You NEED a video monitor, guys!

It’s true. The past month has shown me the way things ought to be. Sure, I might have developed ‘mom ears’ the moment the oxytocin helped me heave-ho my placenta, but we aren’t quite to x-ray vision being standard issue before you leave the hospital. At least not in present day America.

The Stella Video Monitor by Levana give parents peace of mind while their children sleep

Which is why I want to introduce you to the Stella Video Monitor by Levana.

I don’t remember what life was like before I was able to enjoy my latest prime time TV obsession: When Toddlers Think No One is Watching. You guys. Listen. It is bizarre to now know what all the banging is. I now understand why some naps are 3-4 hours and some are closer to 2. I have stumbled upon the Holy Grail of motherhood and it’s freaking fantastic.

Why didn’t I get one of these newfangled contraptions sooner?!

This is where you envision me dressed in my supermom cape, hands on my hips, doing the Captain knee, with the comic book wa-bam doodles surrounding my puffy chest, while singing ‘I can see clearly now, the rain is gone’. Maybe even throw in a few trumpets for added drama.

Do more knowing your child is safe with the Stella Video Monitor from Levana

Exhibit A: Michael napping peacefully in his bed.

I’m camped out on my ‘made for a very pregnant woman’ chaise with my Levana Video Monitor being all productive and stuff. My video monitor is so dang convenient because getting up to check on him is a VERY labor intensive activity these days. Like, roll me out of bed so I can waddle my swollen ankles down the hall intensive. That in itself takes way longer than it should because there is always a pit stop on the way back to my work station to pee. I swear I’m forever peeing.

You see, I sort of made a resolution to only work when he sleeps because he spent way too much time on his iPad last month. WAY too much time watching YouTube instead of socializing with me. Yeah, yeah, I chased the dollar hard so I could take time off for the baby. Sue me.

The Stella Video Monitor by Levana allows your toddler to play safely in their room after nap time

Exhibit B: My Stella Video Monitor has a 750 foot wireless range allowing me to work downstairs while Michael watches the mail truck instead the back of his eyelids. 

The nap featured above included: 1 hour of sleep, dinosaurs in his bed, superheros in his bed, a little Dusty action, scoping out the mail truck, a few jumps on the bed, and a bunch of wall kicks in between each activity. See what I mean about being convenient? I know he is safe because I can see him on my 4.3” LCD screen, but I don’t have to stop working to remind him monkeys fall and bump their heads when they jump on the bed. Yep, there’s an intercom for that.

If you like gadgets that cater to your inner lazy girl worried mom, you can buy your own video monitor now. And be sure to check out how my girlfriend is using hers to monitor playtime. I sure can’t wait for the day the Schuplin children are able to play with EACH OTHER. That’ll be the day!

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Levana. The opinions and text are all mine.

Jan 11

Fruity Mimosa Bar

I put together this fruity mimosa bar with Sweet’N Low as part of a series of sponsored posts for Socialstars. #SweetNLowStars

How to create a fruity mimosa bar for your next girls night, bridal shower, sip and see, baby shower, or birthday party #SweetNLowStars #client
Are babies not the best reason for a party? I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a chubby little person with the cutest, gummiest smile? A smile so precious you are able to look past the eau de sour milk for a few snuggles. Dirty diaper free snuggles, of course.

But a fruity mimosa bar isn’t just for baby showers, sprinkles, and sip and see parties. Not even sort of.

I might have officially reached the point in my pregnancy that is full of ‘OMG- I have 3 weeks to finish the nursery, sleep, have a baby shower, get a few maternity pictures, sleep, spend time with my toddler, spend time with my husband, plan a sip and see party, etc.’ but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in the same boat. There are bridal showers, birthday parties, girls night, and days ending in Y.

I may have greeted Michael with multiple fruity mimosas after work. More than once. Because I am unable to enjoy them beyond a swish and spit. He was geeked beyond belief.

The perfect fruity mimosa bar comes fully stocked with different fruit purees and plenty of sparkling wine #SweetNLowStars #client

Mimosa Bar Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of your favorite fruit, pureed (I used strawberry, blueberry, and peach.)
  • 1 cup Simple Syrup (Dissolve 8 tsp of Sweet’N Low in 1 cup of boiling water)
  • Sparkling wine
  • Optional: Fruit for garnish

Puree 1 pound of fruit and 1/3 cup of simple syrup in a food processor. Once blended, push the fruit puree through a strainer to remove any leftover fruit pieces. (Note: There was no need to strain mine.)

Add a rough 1/4 cup of puree to each cup (See picture above.) and top with your favorite bottle of bubbly before serving.

Optional: Add fruit for more fruity goodness. 

Grab the sparkling wine from the mimosa bar and top off the fruit puree in the bottom of your glass #SweetNLowStars #client
Not only is a mimosa bar perfect because it gives party guests the ability to pick their flavor, using Sweet’N Low instead of sugar helps keep the cocktails guilt free and diabetic friendly. You know, because it’s January so people are still all about their resolutions.

My resolution happens to be a child who waits until after my mom’s birthday party but arrives before February. Because that’s the way babies work…

A fruity mimosa bar is the perfect drink recipe for your next yellow and white party #SweetNLowStars #client
Shower season is upon us so be sure to pop back in early to mid February for the party plan connected with this drink recipe. It doesn’t get more springy than yellow and white with plenty of flowers!

And yes, I’m still using paper straws and chevron in 2015. Don’t hate!

Too hard.

Consider adding peach, strawberry, and blueberry purees to your fruity mimosa bar #SweetNLowStars #client

Previous Sweet’N Low Cocktails:

 

Jan 10

SEA LIFE Aquarium Opens January 29th

Stingrays swimming around the 35,000-square-foot SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auburn Hills, MI #SEALIFEMI
Let me tell you about the time I went to the SEA LIFE aquarium 36 weeks pregnant…

True story. Do you know what Braxton Hicks contractions feel like? Huh? Do ya? Oh goodness is the big day closing in! (For myself and the aquarium!) I slay myself.

Okay, so yesterday morning I strapped myself into one stylish belly brace, donned whatever winter garb I thought might protect me from the -9 degree weather, dropped the ornery cat off at the vet, took Michael to school, and trekked down to my new favorite indoor experience.

I know, I know, I’m such a meanie face. Who makes their toddler go to school when work consists of sharks, stingrays, and fish?

It wasn’t my idea. You guys know I’m the cool parent, right? Right? That I am not the reason Michael went to school that day? I sure hope so!

In case you don’t remember, I’m an ambassador for SEA LIFE Michigan. All of the images and opinions are my own.

Adding fish to the 7th SEA LIFE Aquarium in the United States #SEALIFEMI
Michael would have LOVED welcoming the Nurse shark, three Blacknose sharks, and two Bonnethead sharks to their new home. In fact, we sat together at my computer and went through the pictures I took during the event… three times. We even looked at them again before bed. Then we watched the footage from WXYZ Detroit. And then from WILX. I can’t make this stuff up, guys. His three year old self is so in love and he doesn’t even remember how much fun he had during the groundbreaking event.

He was all, “WHOA! Look at the BIG shark!”

I loved every repetitive moment of it.

Releasing sharks in the SEA LIFE Aquarium location inside Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Michigan #SEALIFEMI
But he wasn’t the only tiny human excited for the grand opening of SEA LIFE Michigan. The winners of the Young Environmentalist contest were able to join us for starfish cookies and juice boxes.

Kidding.

I think baby Schuplin was more excited for the cookies than they were because… sharks. Real life sharks trump cookies and juice boxes every single time.

I won’t even lie and say I wasn’t totally jealous that the Young Environmentalists were front and center as the sharks were rushed inside via stretchers before swimming off into the main ocean tank. Oh, to be young again!

Shark adapting to its new home at the SEA LIFE aquarium in Auburn Hills
Opening day is getting close, guys!

Many of the other creatures, including Moray eels, seahorses, and stingrays, have already been delivered to the aquarium, with the remaining inhabitants arriving within the next week. The aquarium opens to the public at noon on January 29th, and tickets (at special pre-opening rates) are now available online.

Don’t worry, though. I will report back to you guys with a sneak peek of all the good stuff after the media preview event on the 22nd. Well. As long as I don’t go into labor early.

I had a good talk with him/her about staying put until after the 24th so we should be good. Famous last words?

AND! And. And. And! Michael is absolutely playing hooky from school that day. It’s an educational field trip, no?

The new SEA LIFE aquarium locations provides a glimpse of the diversity of marine life #SEALIFEMI
But wait, that’s not all!

I’m giving away a family 4-pack which includes: 4 tickets (for one visit), 4 behind the scenes tour tickets, 1 souvenir guidebook and 2 gifts from the retail store. (Note: The winner will receive his/her package after grand opening.)

How cool is that?

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