The Very Best of the US update

When I first started this blog series, I thought that I would have finished it by now. I have learned a lot about the different states so far, but we are still not finished because I want a guest blogger for each state to share! So, the ones that are finished are clickable and will take you to the state blog, but the ones that are not I am still working on getting guest bloggers or finishing them up. If you know someone that would like to write about one of the red states please share this with them!

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut 

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina Part 1

South Carolina Part 2

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Thank you for reading! Please help spread the word that I am looking for guest bloggers for the highlighted states and the ones that are underlined you can click on and see all fun stuff to do at those states!

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Love Story- Guest Blog

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So, I just realized that this March will mark 20 years that my wife and I have been a couple.  You would think that all the reminders on Facebook about our 20-year high school reunion would have tipped me off since we met senior year of high school, but sometimes I can be oblivious like that.  My wife on the other hand, she is the sentimental one in our relationship.  She still has every single love note I wrote her in high school, and we wrote each other just about every day.  

I was only at the school for junior and senior year, so when I sat next to her in creative writing, which started the 3rd quarter of senior year, it was the first time I’d ever seen her.  She always likes to speculate how many times we might have unknowingly crossed paths prior to this, as we grew up in the same town.  All I know is that I’m glad that we met when we did.  Lots of people like to make rules about when you should date, or at what age you should start looking for “the one.”  The truth is that there is no way of knowing, and high school relationships have just as much of a chance of lasting a lifetime as any other age group.  

We hit it off instantly.  I’m glad that talking on the phone was still a thing in ’99 because we would talk for hours.  And unlike some of the awkward dates I had been on during my junior year, every time we talked, it was so effortless.  I’m a bona fide ambivert, so sometimes I will talk your head off and other times I don’t feel like talking at all.  With her though, no matter how I’m feeling, I know I can be myself and not have to worry about putting on any type of front.  

I always tell her that she is my sunshine.  She doesn’t believe me, even though I have a sun tattooed on my arm, which I feel represents her despite her reluctance to accept it.  She will often times stop total strangers at the mall and throw them a compliment on their hair or dress.  I always roll my eyes in the moment, but it really is a sweet and admirable thing to do.  People always leave her presence smiling.  

I’m so blessed to have found someone that complements me so well, and puts up with all my childish pastimes.  I’m very budget conscious, but have been known to spend money on old NES games, vinyl records, and comic books.  And yes, it’s totally my fault that our daughter loves listening to They Might Be Giants.  But that’s what love is all about.  We accept each other not in bits and perfectly picked out pieces, but as a whole, complete with two tickets to next year’s Weird Al concert where he will be accompanied by a full orchestra (hey, I went along to a Britney Spears concert back in the day).  

We know many people who have gone through divorce.  Whenever I hear the news, I’m always floored, because we mostly get to see other people at their happiest and most compatible.  Relationships are like contracts that can be broken by either party at any time.  I know that having a solid relationship isn’t always easy.  It takes patience, compromise, and oftentimes hard work.  Life will throw so many surprises at you, and sometimes you just won’t know what to do. I’ve gotten so many negative phone calls in the past, that if she calls me, and it sounds like something is wrong, but she is beating around the bush, I’ll get angry and tell her to spit it out.  I wish I could take away all the pain she’s had to endure.  There have been kidney stones, colitis, blood clots, miscarriages, and a broken neck.  I would feel selfish to say that we have had to endure a lot, because all of the physical ailments have been burdened by her.  But you know how the vows go, and it’s true.  No matter what comes our way, we’ll face it together.       

Last week she tagged along with me on a business trip to Long Island.  I thought she was crazy for wanting to stay cooped up in the hotel all day, while I was in meetings.  We had such a fun week though, from going to IKEA for the first time, to taking the train into NYC.  That pretty much exemplifies our differences.  I’m the structured and responsible half, and she is just plain fun.  She’s tagging along right now on a trip to Myrtle Beach with her parents.  They just left this morning, and boy is it quiet around here.  Seriously, I should put on some music because there is literally no sound in the house.  I’m so used to 80’s music blaring in the background, and half-hearted screams from when my daughter says “spider” to her in that awesomely mischievous way that she inherited from me.  

People often ask us what our secret is, but there really isn’t that much to it.  I knew she was the one for me at 17, and I still know it at 37.  I’m always myself around her and vice versa.  I love who she is and I know she feels the same way about me.  There’s sure to be a few bumps and bruises along the way, but every day I spend with her brings me happiness.  

 

Cheers,

Josh 

Bluecollarrising.com

I’ve always had an urge to create things.  My passion is writing music, but I’ve also published a book, created a comic, and am currently writing about saving money, family fun, and other interests of mine at bluecollarrising.com.  I love living in Buffalo, NY with my wife and kid.  New posts are usually published on Monday.  Thanks for reading.

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Josh, 20 years! That is awesome! I think its great that you have a sun tattoo and it is really about your wife! She sounds like a joy to be with. Just being around other people you don’t know and giving them a compliment is great you never know how you might change someone’s day, and that is a fact! I  hope you get to enjoy 20 plus more! Have a great anniversary next month!

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story-Guest Blog

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Love at First Sight

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Photo by: Walnut Street Photography

Love at First Sight

by Alainee Simonson

How it Began!

I’m sure we all remember that moment we first met our significant other. Maybe it was a pleasant experience… or maybe it was slightly embarrassing. You know… too many homemade strawberry daiquiris a friends house playing Cards Against Humanity? Don’t worry, this love story is doesn’t start that way. 😉 Actually, I was just a kid working at a paintball field. When I wasn’t reffing, I worked the register, and Matt frequently came to my counter. Often, I would find myself blushing, and hoping he would come up to talk to me, or get in my line. Young, clueless, but so fascinated by this man (though at the time, he was just a young 19 year old kid).

On a quick break, I would catch myself trying to find him and talk to him. In the morning I would always looks for his car in the parking lot, hoping he was there. Truly, I was infatuated with him. We began conversing more regularly, but mainly at the field. Thus beginning of our friendship, eventually relationship, had began.

The Distance

Now I’m sure you’re thinking we just fall madly in love, get married, and have lots of babies? Yes! But not right away. I was actually seeing someone else at the time, and had no earthly clue what a good relationship looked like. I even remember my mother coming to see me at work one day. Matt was sitting under a pop up canopy, cooling off from playing, and wearing all his gear. I looked right at her, and said, “I would leave *insert name of current boyfriend here* if I could get with Matt. Yes, I know that thinking is so wrong, and that’s a conversation for another post.  To sum it up, I never saw a good relationship growing up, didn’t know what it looked like, and had a terrible fear of being alone forever.

Years had past, and I was starting my career at a legal firm. It was time to put the paintball field in the past. It was an awesome first job, and I loved being able to use the money I earned on the weekend for fun money, but it was time for that chapter to close. Unfortunately, the paintball field was the only place I was seeing Matt. There was a paintball event going on, and I was helping run it and keep score. I spent the day away from where Matt was, and felt nauseous that I wouldn’t get to see him all day… I spent the day distracted, and wondering how I was going to get the courage to speak with him or give him my number (since he had never asked me). The event FINALLY ended. Back down at the main check in, I was gathering my things to head home for the day, but I had to do one more thing. I didn’t know if I would see Matt again if I wasn’t going to be at the field. So… I tore off a piece of receipt paper, jotted down my number, ran to where he was, nonchalauntly handed it to him, and told him to text me sometime.

Unfortunately, it was in front of a group of other players, not how I wanted this exchange to happen, but I did not know if I would get another chance. My heart was racing, I was getting in my car, and spent hours, then days, then weeks, with no message from him, and was crushed. Life went on, and even though I felt sick about it, I went on.

The Mess

Time passes, and I haven’t seen Matt in sometime. I decided to stop by the paintball store, and get some new gear, for myself, and my ex (same one we will discuss throughout this post). Well, would you guess who I ran into? Matt. What was supposed to be a quick in and out ordeal had just turned into hours of talking and catching up, but me acting like I was too cool, and ignoring the fact that I gave him my number for him not to message me. I drug out the conversation for as long as possible. Because once again, I knew once we both left, who knew when I would see him again. Though all that time had passed, he still had the same chilling effect on me. It made it seem as though time stood still. I felt comfortable, and anxious at the same time. I didn’t know what to think.

At this point, I was living in an apartment with my ex. We were continuing to grow increasingly miserable. Our relationship started out in secret, and was purely about lust. Honestly, I don’t think we ever really liked each other that much (which we both admit now) we just were taking the steps on what we thought we were supposed to do. I left the paintball store with thousands of dollars of equipment… and a tugging in my heart that I may not see him again. I sank down and sulked as I drove the 40 minutes home.

Said ex and I ran into Matt and his now ex (then current) girlfriend at a mutual friend’s party some months after that. I was so insanely jealous. I actually tried to take his girlfriend home (a defense mechanism I used to use) in attempt to get closer to Matt. It was wrong, and I knew it.  I was crushed. I just knew we were supposed to be together. But actually seeing him with someone else hurt, which was SO hypocritical…. Since I had a bad case of not knowing how to break up with someone or hurt their feelings. Y’all… Do NOT be like me. If you are unhappy, address it, and if it isn’t corrected, LEAVE.  I even got married to this ex of mine, and when birth control let me down, we had a child. Before we got married, I even said this was a BAD idea, but was guilted into because “what would I tell everyone since I said we were getting married already.” But I will tell you, it would be much better to live with disappointing others, than lying to yourself.

Meanwhile, I knew I wasn’t in love, and I was being treated so poorly. What made me, me, made my then ex husband resentful. I enjoy getting my nails done? Materialistic. Buy a new shirt for work? Shopping problem. Church? Why waste your time with a mythical being? Buy organic? What a scam and waste of money. Everything I enjoyed about myself, and what would bring me joy, made his mad, or bager me, unless it also made him happy. I began to lose who I was, gained lots of weight, became self conscious, and had no life outside of work and home. But I stayed, because I didn’t know any better, and even though I mentioned divorce to him, without a strong family support, didn’t know what to do.

Baby #1

I found out I was pregnant with my son in September 2013. I had mentioned divorce to my ex in the spring, but through another round of his tears, couldn’t bring myself to leave. I had just gone on a vacation to see some family in South Texas, and he stayed behind. This trip was so freeing for me. I was getting ready to finish my Bachelor’s Degree, working on LSAT prep, and was really enjoying my job at the law firm. All of a sudden, my fall semester starts and I feel off. Always sick, just not my usual self. I took a pregnancy test and saw two pink lines. Positive. Oh no. Now I am stuck with. In all actuality, my thinking and self worth was so poor, my first thought was, “Well, if he doesn’t love me, at least my baby will.” Shortly after getting confirmation from the doctor that I was pregnant, Matt came back into my life.

Somehow we connected on social media, and through social media, we began texting. If anything will tell you how flawed my first marriage was, I was completely open about my communication with Matt, and when I asked Matt if he wanted to grab dinner, he said he did not want to step on my ex’s toes, since they had been friends too. MY ex text Matt, and told him to take me out. This. This is when things started taking off. Ladies, let me tell you if you don’t know already. Motherhood changes you. I KNEW I did not want my child to grow up, and see their mother being treated poorly. It was one thing when it was just me, but with a baby, not happening.

Matt began coming over frequently. Mainly to hang out with my ex. I tried to keep my distance, but electricity ran through my body every time he was near. I began to live for Fridays when he would come over. The crazy thing is, he would actually talk to me. Instead of having someone come home, to go straight to their computer, and shove me off. Matt actually gave me the time of day. Before I knew it, my son was in my arms, and I was absolutely in love. I don’t think I ever knew what real love was until I got to hold my child in my arms. To go through life, unaware of what a true, unconditional, love was, is a devastating thought.

When I brought my son home, it was like I was a single mother. Matt was giving us respectful space, but my ex wasn’t interested in helping at all. Never really wanting to hold the baby, talk to the baby, or do things with us, just focusing on himself. Best time of my life was getting to hold my baby in my arms, but unfortunately during this time, I was most miserable in my marriage. Tad wasn’t even four months old, and I left. Before I had done so, I had a phone call with my mother. Crying into the phone that I was in love with Matt, and could not do it. I was miserable. And had been treated poorly for too long. Matt was the one giving Tad attention when he was over, not his father.

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The Divorce

By the time I had got the courage to leave my ex. I had started to fall in love with myself. Through my friendship with Matt, I began to see my worth. I began working out when I was able to after Tad. Started eating better. I actually started weight watchers, before beginning with Beachbody and starting my passion as a health and fitness coach. My energy was up, and I started to realize what was the appropriate way to speak to someone. When I had finally asked for the divorce, over the years of a bad relationship I was just done. There was no more energy, and this should’ve happened a long time ago. There were some tears involved, and to this day, we are friends. But looking back, we realize we never should have been together. We didn’t agree on anything, did not have any similar core values, and just made one another miserable. My advice to anyone in an unhappy marriage, or relationship. Evaluate. Is this caused by both parties? What can you do? Why did you marry this person? Do you have the same core values? Can therapy help? Are you in the position for a relationship. If you are unhappy before marriage, a wedding won’t fix things.

The Fall

Through my friendship with Matt, I fell absolutely in love with him. You remember me saying, I didn’t have a life beside my work, and my miserable marriage. Well, after Tad, I left the law firm, was looking for a new job, and trying to get emotional support from my mother. At this point, Matt was very well aware about how I felt for him. He had been a rock, a support system, my best friend. My ex had essentially handed me over to him, and watched me fall. Matt, Tad, and I began spending a lot more time together. Zoo trips, weddings, holidays. Matt was amazing with Tad, and always made me feel like a princess. He listened to me, never made me feel insecure, and would help me feel stronger when I was down.

Matt continuously made me feel beautiful when I was working hard to lose weight. He never made me feel like Tad wasn’t welcomed, and soon, we were welcomed to meet his parents as well; who seemingly both fell in love with Tad, and I. I had not only fallen in love with Matt, but his loving family as well. I longed for a family connection like this, and being around his parents and him made me see what type of environment I wanted my kids to grow up in.

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Growing Together

Matt and I had been through a lot in our relationship. Learning to communicate, getting through all of my insecurities and baggage. Allowing myself to become so insecure and push Matt away. Matt was the first functional relationship I ever really had. The first relationship where I allowed myself to have worth. This was an entirely new thing for me to feel loved, and accepted, quirks and all. We would go out on dates, I would get surprise flowers and coffee at work when I was having bad day. Maybe I am crazy, but I NEVER had this before. I didn’t know what to do about it. Honestly, I pushed Matt away terribly on more than one occasion, and it is a miracle he still loves me, and wanted to be with me. But, that is what speaks volumes of his love and commitment to me. Through everything we have been through together, Matt never gave up on me, or gave up on loving me. Honestly, it’s humbling the amount of love Matt shows me daily, and everything we have been through.

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Through ups, and downs, breaks, and full on relationships, we never stopped loving each other. I knew I could not live without Matt in my life. I didn’t want anyone else but Matt, and knew threw any hard time, he would be there for me. Period. We moved in together, set up a cute little to bedroom apartment. This was another trying year. Being with someone all the time. Seeing their bad habits, their good ones. Quirks when no one is watching. Who pays what bills, etc.. we fought, made up. But that’s okay. I’ve let go of unrealistic expectations that couples never fight, and have clearer ideas of what an actual fight is, versus a discuss in which we do not agree. I have grown so much over the years with Matt. Into a better woman, wife, mother. I have learned to embrace myself, grow confidence, and learned how to actually be in a relationship. Through laughs, and tears. Late nights, and Matt holding my hair back, and an infant as I puke into a trashcan, this man is my rock, my love, and has helped me love myself.

Then Comes Marriage!

Matt and I had only briefly discussed marriage, but then came baby #2. We found out we were pregnant, and we were expecting our first child together. I was very excited to be a momma again, and Tad was excited to have a little brother or sister. Matt had always told me he would give me a daughter, so imagine my surprise when we found out we were having a little girl, and decided to name her after his mother, Catherine.

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During this pregnancy, Matt surprised me one day. I was a hormonal mess one day, and he decided to take me to a nearby arcade to have fun and lift my spirits. Well, to my surprise, we ended up at a jewelry store, and next thing I know I was picking out an engagement ring. That April, we married in the beautiful mountains in Colorado. I planned the entire wedding in a week! Which I won’t recommend, it is quite stressful, but I got it done. Flights booked, hotel, and venue. Forever grateful to Simply Eloped who helped accommodate and help me arrange things on such short notice. Iver, our officiant, Noah, our photographer, and of course our family. Our time in Colorado was absolutely magical.

Matt, Tad, my soon to be in-laws, and traveled to Colorado. My little family by plane, and my in laws by car to pick us up at the airport. We spent almost a week there. Tad’s first time being old enough to experience snow, all the beautiful sights and scenery. We enjoyed all the family outings and lunches, drove around the mountains. It was nice to just get away and enjoy the time together, away from stresses, and home.

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Photo by: Alainee Simonson

I had a simple dress, simple shoes that were honestly way too cold for the weather. I had ordered a Star Wars cake topper in lieu of the quirks of our relationship, and star wars obsession. We married on April 16th, and I couldn’t of asked for a more perfect ceremony. Very small, short, sweet. In the mountains. Matt and I blending our family into one whole unit. A day I’ll never forget, and hopefully neither will Tad.

Photo Credit: Walnut Street Photography

After our wedding, Matt would come home each day, and I would want to yell at him, “I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE MY HUSBAND!” The high of being married to my best friend still hasn’t worn off. Now, there are days he drives me absolutely crazy, but I wouldn’t want anyone else to do so. I couldn’t imagine a life not being married to Matt. Married, with an energetic four year old, then three year old, and waiting on the newest addition of our bundle of joy. I was in heaven, and the only thing we needed to complete our family was our little bundle of joy.

Then Comes Baby #2 In a Baby Carriage!

Then came July.  I was incredibly miserable throughout the last half of my pregnancy, but Matt was supportive until the end. When my blood pressure got to high, and they had to induce, Matt was there to calm me, and support me. Tad stayed with his grandmother, and little did he know the next time he saw his momma he would be a big brother. He was such a proud bubba.

Happily Ever After

Our daughter is now 7 months old, and Tad is about to be 5 years old. Each day, Matt and I grow stronger in our marriage, in our relationship, and in our parenting. He supports me, daily, and reminds me to not only love him and our children, but to fall in love with myself daily. He supports my business, where I have found my passion helping women fall in love with themselves, and most importantly, he loves me, flaws and all. To think, two kids who met at a paintball field all those years ago, who had to experience their own struggles in life, only to come together with love, support, and start our own beautiful family. Matt has supported me through many phases of life, starting a business, and in raising our children. By no means are we perfect, but we learn and grow each day, and we are perfect for each other. Don’t settle. Not in your life, your job, your relationship, or on yourself. Big things are out there, you just have to believe it and go for it.

Author Bio:

My name is Alainee Simonson. I am a wife to an incredible man, mama of two. I am a wellness coach and consultant, and I am passionate about others find happiness through a healthy lifestyle. I truly believe that being “fit” mentally and physically is at the very core of a happy and fulfilled life. I love trying to coffee, reading, and all things sweet! I am a retired couch potato turned fitness fanatic after the birth of my first child. I knew that my littles deserved a momma who could run, jump, and keep up with them throughout their childhood, and finding ways to keep an active, healthy family, and helping others do the same has become a passion of mine. After going through my own dramatic weight loss journey, I decided I wanted to help others find that same joy and confidence, and became a fitness coach.

On my website, www.arc-fit.com, you can find helpful tools to support you on your own wellness journey as you work hard to achieve the fitness goals you have for yourself.  But mostly, I hope you will enjoy following my life as a wife, mama, and now #mompreneur living out her dream of empowering women to chase their dreams!

I’m nobody special; I’m just a girl who decided to chase her dreams of staying home with her littles and found her passion for helping empower women in the process.

Thanks for being here!

XOXO

Alainee

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It just goes to show you never know where you are going to meet the love of you life! My husband and I also had a Star Wars cake topper!

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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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The Very Best of the US

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I am looking for 1 person from each state to write about what they would do if they had a weeks vacation in their state. Tell us all of the hidden gems! We want to know what to do, where to eat and all the ins and outs of your state!
This series will go from April 12-May 31, 2019.
You can email me at jessicarenfro99@gmail.com and tell me the state that  you want to write about and it will be first come first serve.
I will update my blog of which states have already been chosen, to reduce duplicates. I will be posting them in alphabetical order.
Last updated April 9 at 11:15am CST. Also, I marked the states as RED for the ones I still need.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas 
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Thank you for reading. Can’t wait to hear from you.
Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99
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Love Story-Guest Blog

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Why my Son Is my Valentine

Chances are, you probably have a significant other that you are thinking about for Valentine’s Day. When I was discussing with Jessica some ideas, she told me she was going to do 28 days of posts about Valentines, and so my post had to have that as a theme.  I didn’t want to write about what I was going to do with my husband for Valentines this year, well, because we aren’t really doing anything. Not that we wouldn’t like to, if we didn’t have a million things going on including several activities for my Son. But that’s ok, because he is my Valentine.  Here’s why.

The family blood line is short

The first thing you should know about me is that I’m adopted. In terms of blood relatives, it’s just my twin sister and I.  Our mother died in childbirth, and no one knows who our father was. This has obviously shaped my view of the world, and strengthened certain feelings I have.  I thought you should know that before I tell you the rest.

Having kids isn’t easy

My husband and I were in our late twenties when we got married, and were married for several years before we had our son.  But the reason we waited to have kids wasn’t from a lack of trying. Well, we weren’t actually trying to get pregnant, we just hadn’t thought about why I never did.

But after being married for several years, we started to realize we were ready to start a family.  Things were going well in our careers, a lot of our friends were having kids, and we were just starting to settle down. We discussed this, and it seemed to both of us like the right time for us to have a child of our own.

But that’s when it hit us.  For all of the times we had been up to bat, we should have had a hit by then.  We were both healthy, kept in shape, and ate pretty well. Neither of us smoked, and we only drank casually.  Something wasn’t right.

But since we had made our decision to go down the path of parenthood, we knew it was time to get some expert assistance.

Needles

We visited with a specialist, and did all of the tests. But there was no clear explanation for why the magic hadn’t happened. It became clear that we’d have to leverage some science if we wanted to have our own child.  

If you know anything about the field of conception assistance, one of the things you can do to improve your odds is through the use of hormones.  

It’s been many years now, so my mind is a little rusty on how this worked.  But if I recall correctly, there was a calendar that we followed, that I assume was aligned to my cycle. And on specific days, my husband would give me a shot, right in my rear.

And it was painful.  I mean to watch my husband fumble around with the needle, trying to figure out the best angle to go in.  It wasn’t fun for either of us.

Whatever it was, I think it was supposed to enhance the likelihood that the puck would drop and enter the field of play, so to speak.

And we did this for several cycles. Over a period of months. But nothing came of it.

Lab Coats and Test Tubes

As I shared earlier, I was adopted. Remember those strong feelings I mentioned? Well, it was important for me to birth my own child. It was worth it to me to pull out all the stops. Luckily, I have a husband who was supportive of this.

If you’ve ever looked at, or gone through the in-vitro process, you know this is where things really get expensive. Like almost $10,000 expensive. And this is also where the stakes go up pretty high.

What I mean is, they’re taking multiple eggs that they’ve harvested from me, and some, well, buddies for the eggs, that they’ve collected from my husband.

I think my husband’s donation process might have been significantly more enjoyable than mine.

Then a decision is made on how big of a party to throw.  Use too few eggs, and your odds of success go way down. Too many eggs, and your odds of becoming Octomom go way up. Remember- I said I’m a twin.  Yeah, that can increase those odds too.

We went with our doctor’s recommendation, which was towards the lower end of the count, but still high enough where the risk of ending up with twins or triplets was there.  

And it was pretty much an all or nothing shot. If it didn’t take, we’d be going through this whole process again from the beginning.

Hope

It takes awhile before you find out if it was a success or not.  During that time, I think, based on everything we had been though at that point, we were prepared for disappointment.  I’m sure my husband was already trying to figure out how to save the money to do it all over again if we had to.

Another doctor’s visit, and then we got the news. The first signs of a child had started to form.  We were pregnant!

It was early, and a lot could still go wrong. But, for the first time, we had hope that we might actually become parents.

Pregnancy, birth, incredibly expensive childcare, pre-school, grade school

From this point forward, we were like most parents.  The trials and tribulations of pregnancy. A birth that resulted in a c-section. The shock of how expensive childcare and diapers are.  The incredible cheesiness of preschool graduation, that all us parents just eat up. And so on.

Our son in almost 10-years-old now, and over halfway done with 4th grade.  He’s come a long way since his time in that petri dish. It sounds funny to say that, but that’s where we started.

So why is he my Valentine?

Like most kids his age, he’s a sweetheart.  He’s well-rounded, active, and has lots of friends.  He’s not that different than the other Mom’s kids, but he’s my son. He’s my blood.

My husband and I didn’t just decide to start having kids, we fought a tough battle to get there. And it was important to me to be able to birth my own child.

And when he was born, we just felt so blessed to have such a healthy, beautiful, little baby. It brings me incredible joy to think about everything we went through to have him, and about the incredible pre-teen he’s grown into. And when he gives me his big hugs, my heart just melts, and all of that emotion stirs within me.  

And because of this, how could he not be my Valentine?

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Bio:

Candace is a working Mom. She’s learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work. Sometimes the hard way. Both she and her husband work full time, while raising a relatively normal, if not rambunctious young boy.  It’s tough being a working Mom, but she gets it done 

Please follow Candace:

https://workingmomx.com

https://www.facebook.com/WorkingMomX

https://www.pinterest.com/workingmomx/

 https://www.instagram.com/workingmomx

https://twitter.com/WorkingMomX

*************************************************************************************Candace you are one lucky woman! It brings me so much joy that you go to give birth to your son, your own blood! Something that stood out to me in your story was how you got the puck into the playing field. I smiled super big at that point because I enjoy hockey! I hope you and your valentine had a great day!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story- Guest Blog

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I had always been scared of dogs. When I was a small child I was bitten on the shoulder by a Doberman and this was the start of my fear of dogs, until I met Betty.

Betty is my mother in law’s pug. When I first met her I was so cautious, even though it had been little over 17 years since my Doberman experience. I thought she was cute; her little squishy face and her button nose were something to die for, but I still couldn’t bring myself to touch her. My husband picked her up and passed her to me for a cuddle, as I had not told him about my phobia. I was kinda embarrassed. So I held my breath and went with it.

Betty gently licked my nose and before long she was well and truly tucked under my right arm, snoring like a slow train. But it was not then that I fell in love.

A few months passed and I became close with my husbands family, seeing Betty more and more often and in turn becoming more comfortable around dogs. Being the spontaneous kind of person I am, I decided that I could be a pug mum and decided to search for my own puppy to look after.

That’s when I came across Bella. I must admit, I had no experience in owning a dog before and therefore knew nothing about legitimate breeders. Nevertheless, I went to the nearest puppy farm (not cool – I know!) and bought Bella, a pug crossed with a King Charles cavalier.

That’s when I fell in love.

For the first time I felt like being with a dog was meant to be. The fact that Bella was severely ill and spent the next six month in and out of the vets only made our bond stronger. I almost felt like a mother. People who don’t have a dog don’t understand. I was so happy that I had finally overcome my phobia of dogs too.

Bella recovered from her illness and is now 7 years old. She has been through some of my best times with me, from me marrying my husband, to moving house (several times!) and me graduating from University. But also during my worst times. I’m not sure if she understands what I say to her, but she sure does listen.

I’ve spent nights on my bed crying my heart out to her and she’s stayed huddled up on my lap, looking into my eyes like she gets me.

She’s more than my baby dog. She’s my best friend. I don’t know what I will do when the time finally comes for us to say goodbye to each other, but what I do know is that she has made such a positive impact on my life, and I will always love her forever.

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Author Bio: Vikki shares with her readers her passion for affordable luxury travel and lifestyle on her blog www.leabellablogs.com Follow her and keep up to date with her up coming travels over the next year.

Blog: www.leabellablogs.com
Instagram: Instagram.com/leabellablogs
Twitter: @leabellablogs

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Dogs really are a best friend! I completely understand that! Bella looks so cute and I am so happy to hear that you got over your fear of dogs. I am sure that was hard, but well worth it in the end. I also have a dog and his birthday is next month. I have something planned for next month and I hope to see more photo’s of Bella.

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story- Guest Blog

 

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Our Love Story

 

In 2015, I returned to my college campus begrudgingly to start my sophomore year as an RA and an academic assistant. I had just had the best summer of my life being a camp counselor to some awesome and loving children from the ages of 3 to 12 years old. I made life long friends that were from all over the world so I was reluctant to leave.

My college was an all women’s college where any male found in the vicinity was immediately claimed by his owner *cough* I mean a female friend or he would then be dubbed as approachable. The rule was unspoken but widely known throughout the campus. Silly college girls would find themselves crushing on cute professors or the unlucky male visitor. If someone said we were starved for men, they wouldn’t be wrong but not entirely right either. We were young, wild, and single, most students found themselves in the local clubs on Saturday night and in church the following morning. Hypocritical? Definitely. Understandable? Absolutely.

Isn’t youth about exploring all the previously closed doors? If not, then we wouldn’t have any drunk stories to tell our children when they come of age to the oh so ‘wonderful’ adult world. I met my now husband in a similar but much more innocent situation.

Like most college students I signed up for Tinder hoping to meet semi-respectable young men while maintaining my dignity. Did it happen? Nope. I got stood up three times and after a while, I was beginning to resign myself to an arranged marriage with someone who would never get my stripper jokes or my unhealthy obsession with heavy metal music.

On one particular day, I was talking to one of my friends, the former class president to my vice president position, and she told me about this site called OkCupid. I had not previously considered OkCupib, well because I didn’t know about it, but if I had previously tried Tinder then a new platform wasn’t too hard to try out.

That night I uploaded my best pictures that didn’t show how silly I was or showed me jumping on my friends or making a weird face. OkCupid was rather straight forward, the more questions you answered was the easier it was to match you to your “desired” partner. After answering over 300 questions and staying up until 3 am, I called it a night. After all, I did have classes in the morning and a research lab to participate in. I spent the next few days scrolling through portfolios and judging the book based on the percentage of a match they were to me. In my area, there was hardly anyone over 87%. On the third day just like Jesus, one rose from the depts to show me the way.

I came across a profile with a guy that looked really kind, he had one of those “this is the only time I’m smiling so take the picture already” face. I thought he was cute and so I decided to read his profile. This strange guy was 2 inches taller than me, had tremendous knowledge about heavy metal and he was of Caribbean heritage! Why did this matter so much? I am Jamaican by birth and most of a lot of customs and traditions that I hold dear to my heart has been in my experience really hard to explain to people who have no context of the island life. His profile was so detailed I felt like I had met an old friend. Obviously, a little crush was in the midst of being developed and to fan the flames I sent the first message. I spent a few minutes thinking about how to approach this guy, and the best thing I came up with was just saying “hi”.

In a few minutes, he replied with “Hey”. I was ecstatic! This adorable fellow had responded and did not immediately begin to claim his love for me. The signs were looking up. We proceeded to message each other for a few minutes turning into a few hours before we both realized it was 4 in the morning and we still had class and work tomorrow. We signed off with well wished and hopes of continuing the conversation. The next morning we started to message each other as we went through our day. My face was beaming, I was giddy, giggling, and maybe a bit hopeful.

My friends took notice of a blushing Joy, I laughed a lot, joked around but I never blushed. I brushed off their questions with a wave of my hand and continued to talk to this oddly interesting fellow. By that Thursday night, I felt oddly brave after writing an essay due for class so I texted him after 10 pm saying “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy so here’s my number, so call me maybe?” Cringeworthy, I know but this was who I was my puns were never funny but they at least made me laugh. He called that same night when he got home from work and we spoke until 4 in the morning once again. It was glorious, I faced Friday with my head held high and a pep in my step.

Friday night I asked him if he wanted to meet me, pretty bold right? I sucked at beating around the bush and fortunately for me, he said yes. I talked my eldest brother into driving an hour and a half on Saturday night after work to pick me up from college and take me home for Labor Day weekend. I made up a story to my parents about meeting friends that I haven’t seen in a while and once more bribed my older brother with Chic-fi-la into driving me to the first date in my entire life.  

I was extremely nervous but really excited. I sent him a text telling him that I was at our destined meeting place. I purposely put my back to the way he would arrive possibly forcing him to make the first move. My plan was a success, he walked up with a big smile on his face and we had a rather awkward hug. My first thought was that he really was as cute if not more than his picture. I was squealing on the inside. We spent a moment talking and trying not to be awkward with each other as we made our way to a Cuban restaurant, as we walked he took my hand and held it even when it was sweating so much that my embarrassment was starting to climb. I tried to pull my hand away to save him the pain of hold a sweaty palm, his response was to smile at me and hold my hand a bit tighter proving that he was okay or at least trying to be. Our lunch was delicious, as I pulled my card out to pay my portion he gave me a look of admiration and gratitude, he then proceeded to pay for both of us. I was touched, but also intrigued. I never expected anyone to pay for me, especially because I was the one who asked him out.

In the next few months were floating on cloud 9, 10, and 11. We fell fast and hard for each other with him visiting me on weekends and taking 5 am greyhound buses to make it back to his campus for work. We took 2 weeks to say I love you, 4 months to decide we wanted to be married, 6 months to break down the walls around our heart and 2 years and 3 months to get engaged and married.

 

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Through our entire relationship so far we have had our arguments, our disagreements, and our biased opinions. For the most part, my husband is right 85% of the time and can be convinced he doesn’t know the answer to a question 10% of the time. That small 5% is the number of times I am right. He is incredibly caring, loving, hilarious, and just so darn adorable that I continue to squeal when I look at him. I absolutely adore this great man for his huge heart and high moral code. Most people may think that he was the one who got lucky, but in reality, I am the one who thanks God each and every day for such a wonderful friend, sous chef, living dictionary, sassy, loyal, and heavy metal enthusiast. Our Story is just beginning, we have no idea what the future may hold but we hope to tackle it together laughing through the tough days and praying for better ones.

About Joy Nibbs

Joy Nibbs is a freelance writer with a huge focus on creating a balance between our bodies and the food we put into them. When she isn’t working on assignments you can find her in the kitchen making a new recipe, hanging out with friends, going to church, writing for her blog, or playing games with her husband. Her hobbies are gardening, listening to heavy metal, reading (entirely too much manga), and eating new foods. Her greatest accomplishment is remaining optimistic despite being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

Blog: www.spiceandnice.blog

Blog’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/Spiceandnnn

Personal Twitter: www.twitter.com/JJnibbles

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Joy! Wonderful story. What a great idea for the website/app to have people answer question and rate them with someone. I love how bold you are! I hope you both live a long, healthy and happy life together!

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story- Guest Blog

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In the name of love…

Laying on that examination table trying to mentally prepare for a procedure I never wanted was heart wrenching. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even mutter the words, “I’m ready,” when the nurse asked if I was ready to begin. Truth is, I wasn’t ready for them to stick a 3-inch needle (which seems humongous in the moment) into my protruding baby bump.

At that moment, when I felt the invasive pressure hit my pregnant belly, knowing the risk associated—miscarriage—that’s when I felt an immeasurable amount of love for my unborn daughter.

Those next 48 hours after the amniocentesis were excruciating. I prayed for that kick in my ribs harder than anything else in my life. When I finally felt it, a huge sigh of relief spread all over my body. My baby was still kicking; still fighting to see my face on her glorious birthday.

That pregnancy, my first and only pregnancy, tested my inner strength in ways unimaginable. I experienced the lowest of lows but the only thing that kept me going was the moment where I would be blessed with her sweet presence, holding her close to my heart.

Unfortunately, my pregnancy was consumed with fear. It all began with an abnormal prenatal screening test result that alerted my doctor for the heightened potential for my child bearing the name down syndrome. When I got that call my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t help but to worry. Anxiously awaiting my genetic counseling session, a couple weeks out, nerve racked the whole time.

My genetic counselor mapped out my family tree and then went over my options. I was scared with the unwelcome reality that I rather know than to proceed through the rest of my pregnancy on edge. This moment tested my faith to the utmost degree. I knew deep in my heart that my child was going to be okay but with the doctors in my ear, I decided to do the amniocentesis so that I could know for sure.

When those flawless results finally came back a few days later, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. But the pressure from my doctors didn’t stop there. They then became worried about her weight, saying she was smaller than expected, thinking I wasn’t eating correctly. So after all of this I was deemed a high-risk pregnancy and when my third trimester rolled around I had doctor appointments twice a week. One to measure her heartbeat and the other for an ultrasound to monitor her growth. This is around the time my faith kicked in, and I just knew after all we had been through, everything was going to work out. I knew my baby would be everything I had imagined plus some.

When she finally arrived, my heart exploded with unlimited love, to a magnitude I had never experienced. From that day on I knew my purpose in life, was to be the best mother I could be for her. To be the best person I could be for her. To be the best woman I could be for her. 

She was mine and I was hers in all the best ways. Nothing expected in return but to love and protect and that’s what I have vowed to do from that day forward.

Needless to say, my daughter is perfect in every way. She came out effortlessly and has been the best thing to happen to me ever since. I couldn’t imagine life without her. I couldn’t imagine living in this world without truly knowing, understanding, and experiencing the unconditional love I have for her. Unconditional love is one of life’s most beautiful gifts.

 

About the Author

My name is Briee Denise and I am the creative mind behind the blog Straight Gurl Talk. I am a novice blogger, military spouse, mother, and grad student. Writing has always been one of my favorite pastimes and I hold women empowerment close to my heart.  With that said, my blog is based on my personal growing pains and life experiences hoping to change the way women think about themselves and reminding them of their inner fire that can never be extinguished.

You can connect with me on:

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/straightgurltalk/

Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/_brieedenise

Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/_queenbriee_/

Check out my blog at https://www.straightgurltalk.com

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Briee you took me through a roller coaster reading your story!  I am so happy that your baby girl is happy and healthy! Pregnancy is hard, but it is always worth all the love at the end.

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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Love Story- Guest Blog

 

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The month of February is all about Black history month and love. But, I want to share with you guys, how I found myself and fell in love all over again.

READ MORE!

If you have read any of my other posts, I mention how I suffered with depression and anxiety. Those were the most stressful and frustrating years of my life. I forgot who I was, I did not know where I was going nor if I wanted to go, I was hopeless and helpless. There was times I didn’t wish on my worse enemy, I didn’t want to do daily hygiene, talk to family nor friends, I felt like I didn’t need to go to school because I wouldn’t be alive to graduate but,

In 2016 I met this man who became my blessing in disguise, he motivated me and helped me to overcome my depression. He, told me everyday I was beautiful, he helped me with makeup and talked me into going out, he helped me study for my GED, stayed up late night brainstorming about doing business together. We had a lot of awesome ideas too, some may be have been far fetched but, a lot of them was great ideas, like mindofamom.com. We set goals for each other and tried to accomplish them.

Unfortunately this man is not in my life anymore but, what he did for me changed my life. I continued the goals, I continued trying to change my subconscious mind, I meditate and say affirmations daily. I’m not the best when it comes to makeup but I am learning. Back in the day, I didn’t picture myself wearing makeup or weave. I never thought I would feel beautiful, I never thought I would be able to love myself again.

Everyday when I look at myself there are times I want to quit, sometimes I still think I’m not good enough but I look at my kids and how far I came after I met my blessing in disguise,and I remember I am beautiful, I am smart, I am loved, I am healthy!

Saying these affirmations and believing in them, makes my day go by a little easier, and makes me feel empowered, when I look at the better woman, mother, daughter, sister and friend I became I feel empowered, I feel blessed and I am thankful!

I love the woman I am today, I love myself more now than I ever did. This man was not the only one whom helped me, I owe this to my mother and best friend as well, I love you guys and I love me!!

Author Bio: I am a mother of three, business owner of Mom and a mop and student studying business Administration. I love writing, poems, music and enjoying life.

Facebook.com/dailymomlife/
Instagram.com/mindofamom88
Twitter.com/nieceyboop
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YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! Daily affirmations is a great way to start loving your self!  I try to do them everyday, but sometimes I forget. Something else I like to do are called “I feel” it is just owning up to how you feel that day. For example, you could say I feel frustrated and you don’t have to say no more, but sometimes its helps saying I feel frustrated today because …. whatever that reason is. I am happy to hear that you had a person that would help you through your struggles and pull you to a place where you feel comfortable again.
Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99
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Love Story- Guest Blog

I met my son Kayden in 2014. He came to visit the classroom of the school I worked in at the end of April/very beginning of May and while his parents did a tour of the school him and I sat at the table to do a puzzle. He was a timid polite young boy. He was the absolute cutest kid ever and he was expecting a baby sister. On his first day of preschool he wore a red polo and khaki shorts. I remember him coming in so confident and ready to start school for the very first time.  I told his parents ” I got him but I need you to say goodbye give him a hug and quickly go out the side door, call as much as you want and I will keep you posted all day long, he’s going to do great” When his mother and father left of course he cried but I sat with him. Together we played legos and we talked about his baby sister and how fun it is to be a big brother. He was eager  to know  the new things he would be learning at school. From that point on we clicked. I was his teacher for 3 years. He graduated August 2016 and at that time I also chose to move on with my career. I never imagined I would be spending the rest of my life being a stepmother to him and his sister along with having my own daughter and now a one year old baby girl. Throughout life we are told that everything happens for a reason. I certainly believe that my son and I came into each other’s lives for a reason. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be a mom to four AMAZING beautiful kids and I wouldn’t have met my soulmate(his father). I know I could have written about how my husband and I met and our love story but the one between my son and I is so significant. My son has gone through many transitions in such a short amount of time and through it all he has remained strong, loving, and gentle. Becoming a stepmother was like 2nd nature to me. Im not perfect and it is not easy at all, but I love every second of it. I can’t picture my life without my children. I write about my son because through times that i’ve felt lost and have wanted to give up he has called me just to sit with him even if its in silence. My son has made me feel like more than just a step mom but has really shown me the love that a mother and son can have. His presence has given me purpose through times I have felt worthless. We all struggle as mothers and we question ourselves constantly if we are doing the right thing and the times that I get an unexpected hug, or a kiss all of the questions go away. He is an amazing little human and out of all people I am blessed enough to call him my son and to watch him grow. I may not have given birth to him and I have accepted a lot of what comes with being a step parent but he never makes me feel like just a “step mom”
So lets fast forward to him being 6 years old when my husband and I got married. He was ecstatic and so happy about it and couldn’t wait for us to be a family. Directly after my husband and I were married I moved in and we begin our life as family. I immediately took on the mom duties of the house. We were very consistent and routine. I believe it helped all of the kids feel better about the transitions going on around them and they all adapted very well. My son and I connected through music. We would show each other new songs and listen to them really loud early in the morning on our ride to school. Every time he likes a new song now we listen to it together and sometimes even discuss the lyrics. We are now going two years of being a family and I cant imagine my life any different.  I love my son with all my heart and  thank god every day the god put him, his sister and their father in my path.
I love all my children but I chose to write about my son, because of him that I fell in love with being a mom especially after constantly questioning myself as a mother to my 1st daughter. Because of him I found my soulmate and fell in love with his father who is one hell of husband and father. Everyday he reminds me that I am doing this mom thing right. Him and his sister may not be my biological children but between them and their sisters they make my heart so full.
About the author:
Mjmamaa is a working mom of four, wife and writer. She’s been writing since a young age but through blogging about her life, marriage, parenting and music she has found a huge fulfillment in life. She’s been married for two years and a lot of her blogs are influenced by her every day life and the support of her husband has made it possible for her to have the time and space to write. Before using blogging as a platform mjmamma used to write in her “black book” but always felt like she could be doing something greater with her thought and ideas. Through blogging she’s been able to reach a wide audience of moms, women, and music fans which has been nothing but amazing. Eventually she hopes to venture deep into the world of music and really capture special moments with artists, music festivals, and the amazing things the artist of yesterday today and tomorrow can bring to this world.
Facebook page @mjmamaajournal

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Wonderful story Mjmamaa! Being a mom is a blessing! It is great to hear a story about being a step mom because sometimes those moms are overlooked, but are also so appreciated! My son has a step mom too and she is a wonderful step mom to our son. I don’t thank her enough for being the mom when I am not there.

Follow me at any of these places:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loveinjune16/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrenfro99

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