Three little words

Three little words mean so much. Maybe you hear them, or say them – or both – all the time. You guessed it. “I love you.”

So much emphasis placed on those three little words. They’re the marker for a new level of commitment in a new relationship. Who said it first? A check-in reminder for an established couple; Love you, bye. What you say to warm, sleepy babies drifting off to sleep or bigger ones running into school, backpacks swinging. Three words that you whisper as you say goodbye, sometimes forever. It’s the catch phrase professed by the teenager who doesn’t even understand what it means, then takes it back. I’m not sure… Three little words carry weight and make or break hearts. So versatile.

What’s more important than words is action. As the adage goes, and let’s be cliche for a minute, actions speak louder than words. What you have to give more than love, that intangible, subjectively definable thing that means one thing to me and another to you, is you, your time. Three little words just as important as “I love you” are “I’ll be there.”

These three little words mean that I’ll show up when I say I will. I won’t make plans with you and break them, then BS you and say how much I miss you. They mean call me, day or night. Send me never ending text messages asking the most ridiculous questions and run some crazy what-if scenarios. I’ll listen. You can talk. Tell me a story. I’ll look at the pictures you drew me, the notes you’re learning to write for me, I’ll come to your performances and your games. We can walk for some extra time together, because when it comes down to it, all we have and all we are is time. I’ll put my phone away. Yes, the rest can wait. We’ll make the time and keep it, because I know being alone isn’t something you like to be. I’ll hold your hand. Stay up late with you. Hear good and bad news with you. Be happy, sad and really pissed for you as we’re sitting on a park bench when you tell me about your week from hell. I’ll be action and not all talk. I won’t flake out, I promise. I love you, yes, and I’ll be there. 

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Harvest

I’m part of the Mommy Blogger Collective. Each month we’re given a one word prompt to riff with. This month’s prompt is *harvest.*

Summer is coming to a close, (or is it gone the first time I wear boots?) and I’m coming up for air! (Insert insanely exaggerated gasp for life.) August was a blur of sun, sand, parks, play dates and keeping the kiddos busy, happy and outside as much as possible. Mission accomplished. I have tan lines to prove it.

I didn’t see how big these kiddos were getting right under my nose, how every day their baby faces thinned out just a bit more than the day before. I’m no gardener, and definitely no farmer. I can’t even keep a cactus alive. I can, however, grow people. No small beans. So what do I know about a harvest? I imagine that aspects of farming and parenting are pretty similar. You’re bringing something into the world that didn’t exist before you decided to nurture it. You work hard – really hard to make sure it’s ok, more than ok  – that it thrives, even on days when it (he) is trying to repeatedly face plant into professionally decorated cupcakes at a birthday party.

You watch out for the elements. Sun, rain, wind – “bad” influences, people, mean kids on the playground. You nurture, you hope, pray…you wish for the best, you will break your back if something harmful gets in the way. You work, wait, and watch. Maybe bite your nails a bit, getting impatient. Then, even when your back aches and you’re dead tired, you stand up, step back and see what you grew and you’re proud – really proud of your harvest.

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“Harvest” is the September writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Courteney of The Titled Blog. A few words from Courteney — Hello! I’m Courteney from “The Titled Blog” I live up in Canada (in Abbotsford, British Columbia – just East of Vancouver) with my husband, one year old daughter Lucy, a pug named Minnie and an angry flame point siamese cat named Bigsby. My blog has evolved over the last 7 years from random rants and social commentary to lifestyle and now most recently to being a mom. My daughter was born with a lot of health problems and I often write about the challenges that have come with having a baby that has spent a good chunk of her first year in and out of the hospital and how to deal with those challenges head on. When I’m not blogging, I work as a photographer with my own business (Courteney Rodda Photography) sing in my jazz band “Courteney Rodda and the Other Guys” and most recently I am sewing for an awesome local company making baby moccasins called “Minimoc
You can also find me on Instagram, where I post too many pictures of my daughter, dog and cat.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

Summer Heat

I’m part of the Mommy Blogger Collective. Each month we’re given a one word prompt to riff with. This month’s prompt is *heat.*

Spring and summer are hands down my favorite times of the year. Why? HEAT. You won’t catch me complaining about balmy summer days that give way to hazy sunsets lit up by fireflies. No way. I can take the heat, and so can the kiddos. There hasn’t been one day we haven’t been in a lake or a pool. I’m tan (tan for me, that is.) Soaking up the rays (with a good sunscreen, of course!) is my mission this summer. I’m storing up all this sunny goodness for the colder months, but we won’t talk about that.

What’s summer look like for us? Drippy melting ice cream cones, long days at the lake, trips to the Jersey shore, fishing with family, paddle boat rides with grandma, sand castles with cousins, catching fireflies at dusk, making new friends, growing taller, tanner and stronger under the sun. This is our summer.

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This makes me claustrophobic just looking at it. Next!

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Eli, sporting his sister Serena’s shades.

Point Pleasant Beach

Hudson, mid-sand castle build. One of the moments he was not spiriting toward the boardwalk. Note Gwen’s sun-worshiping pose in the background.

Point Pleasant Beach

Swimming all day = Gwen’s athletic physique. Who needs a trainer?

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Phil, relaxing in between volleyball games.

Point Pleasant Beach volleyball

Point Pleasant Beach hosts competitive volleyball games that happen every Saturday morning and run all day.

Point Pleasant Beach

Cousins, awaiting the promised ice cream cones.

Point Pleasant Beach

The promised drippy, melting ice cream cone to end our day at Point Pleasant Beach.

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Oma took 3 grandkids for a paddle boat ride at the lake!

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New Jersey and pizza. She knows where it’s at.

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Sir Charles!

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Gwen, fishing with her grandpa.

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There are few things that Hudson loves more than fishing with Daddy.

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And we watched the sun go down, down, down…


“Heat” is the July writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Renee of oh renée. A few words from Renée — Oh Renée started as a creative outlet for me a few years ago, a happy place to share creative and fun projects or fashion. Since then, it has evolved into one of the best things I could ever have done with my time! The last few years of blogging have become much more personal to me- more of a way to document this life of mine, with my husband, with my little boy and with the world around me. I enjoy sharing glimpses into our days and sharing in other mom’s lives as well, as part of this wonderful world of social media. Being a mother is better than anything I could have expected! Truly. I call Ohio my home, I keep the joy of traveling and exploring new places close to my heart, i spend my evenings knitting and am never without a book in my hand or in my purse. My blog is much of the same! You can find me on Instagram at instagram.com/ohreneedesign.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

Bloom

I’m part of the Mommy Blogger Collective. Each month we’re given a one word prompt to riff with. This month’s prompt is *bloom.*

To understand why this is wrong, you don’t have to be a feminist. You just have to be human.

In the early hours of April 15, 2014 in Chibok, Nigeria at Government Girls Secondary School, 276 girls were forcefully taken by militants. Some escaped; the majority did not. They’re still missing, likely being sold into slavery or forced into marriage, the repercussions brought down on them by extremists for simply getting an education.

#bringbackourgirls is all over the media, with famous faces backing the hashtag, looking serious, disappointed, disgusted. Rightly so. The images that get to me the most are not those of celebrities, but those of the mothers of these young girls – women with tears streaming down their faces, washing over worried crinkles and grimaces as they beg someone, anyone, to bring their babies back safely.

The educator in me is furious, and the mother in me horrified.

Sunday was Mother’s Day.

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girls laughing

girls dreaming

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I look at my daughters and (soon to be three!) nieces, and think of the the apps at their fingertips, the books at their disposal, the endless information on any topic available to them, and I pray they won’t ever have to fight to keep the basic human right to learn. They, like all girls and boys around the globe, deserve to learn, dream, to shine — to bloom.

#bringbackourgirls


“Bloom” is the May writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Misty of Momista Beginnings. A few words from Misty — I’m Misty, the southern California blogger behind Momista Beginnings. I began this blog while pregnant with Mia over two years ago to create a space for mamas out there to connect with their inner “momista.” According to me, a momista is a devout follower and lover of motherhood who takes her role to the next level. She uses her strengths to create the best childhood for her kids through activities, traditions, adventures, exploration and experiences. My blog aims to inspire all of this. Other bits of me make up my blog as well, like my passion for photography, art, crafts, my love for baking and cooking and family updates. I’m an ex art teacher of over 10 years and my art projects for kids make appearances from time to time, too. You can also find me on Bloglovin’, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at my photography website and its Facebook page!

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

Make it Rain

I’m part of the Mommy Blogger Collective. Each month we’re given a one word prompt to roll with. This month’s prompt is rain.

Make it rain. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about making intentions, passions and goals reality.

Looking back at my college days and early 20’s, I really had no idea what I wanted in life besides finishing my degrees and marrying my husband, who after returning from ARMY basic training a well-tanned combination of muscles and ambition, I knew I wouldn’t spend my days without. The rest of my early 20’s was a big swirl of decisions based on what I thought I had to do, what I needed to be, and how it all should look based on some blue print of suburban success. I was easily persuaded and influenced by the older adults in my life (read: family), but didn’t see it then. I thought I had it all together, was sure I had it all figured out. I followed the road map made for me: college, grad school, job, (a couple jobs)….fast forward to my late 20’s.

Enter motherhood.

Instantly, a 7 lb 6 oz little girl (followed by two more, significantly larger bundles of joy) carved out a new role me. Since becoming “Mommy,” I know who I am, what I want, what I don’t want, who to spend time with, and who to cut ties with and not look back. I have zero tolerance for negativity, pettiness, or anyone less than genuine. Time is more valuable than ever, and motherhood has given me a keen sense of how to cut through the garbage that gets in the way of the good stuff in life.

The last 5 ½ years have been a full immersion into mommy-hood, like the front seat of the roller coaster, hands up all the way. Three babies in under four years – and that’s how it goes. Bassinets, strollers, diapers, baby-wearing, crib bedding, countless lullabies, baby books, mushy food, decorating and redecorating nurseries, bubble baths, pictures, big kid beds, the first tooth fairy visit, the first day of school, birthday parties, play dates, endless park trips, sleigh rides, snowmen, bike rides and walks on sunny spring days.

Lately, there’s a subtle shift for me. The kiddos are getting big, fast. Really fast. Instead of holding their hands on the stairs at the park, hovering over to be sure of no spills off the slides, they’re ok on their own going down, even though I’m still waiting at the bottom, just in case. “I can do it Mommy. I’m big.” Truth. You are. (Though Hudson is still trying to eat mulch – *sigh.*) My pumpkins are becoming more independent, and in turn, so am I.

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Photo Credit: Katherine Hoos Photography

Photography is a growing career. I’m meeting more moms like me, trying their hand at growing their dreams. I’m watching them crop up like the flowers peeking out of the ground this early spring, and they’re blossoming. Florists, stylists, Etsy store owners, life coaches, small business owners, dedicated teachers earning advanced degrees, nutritionists, gourmet bakers, physical therapists branching out on their own, moms excelling in their chosen career, others as students pursuing a new field…you name it. There’s talent, passion and drive all around. It’s amazing, thrilling, inspiring. We’re making it rain.

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The rainmakers, clockwise, from top left: Alee Bonagura McCarthy – Bright Blooms, Jenine Kinesella – Rodan & Fields, Katherine Hoos – Katherine Hoos PhotographyLeah Bustos Mazzola – Snug Agency, Corinne McKeever Bluteau – Teacher/Grad student, supermom of 4, Kimberly Miller-Volin – Maison KMV. 

Photo Credit of Leah Bustos Mazzola – Brandon Trull.

“Rain” is the April writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Katie of Hello, Little Bean. A few words from Katie — Hi! I’m Katie and I write a blog called ‘Hello, Little Bean.’ It’s about life as a new mom to my cute daughter, Lark Story. I’m California born and raised, but currently live in Michigan with my soon-to-be husband, James and my soon-to-be stepson, Brennan, as well as our little Lark and two kitties. I’m a full-time graphic designer who loves all things artistic and creative. I’m overly sensitive and sentimental, sarcastic and foul-mouthed at times, a foodie and a reality tv junkie who’s completely and utterly in love with motherhood. You can also find me on instagram, facebook, pinterest and our little online boutique, Bold Threads.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///

Defined

 As part of the Mommy Blogger Collective I’m delighted to be a part of, I’ll be writing a post in response to a single word each month. March’s assignment is to respond to the word “defined.” Here’s what I came up with:

These were my grandma’s hands, Isabella Rosalie Graziano’s hands. That was the name her Italian parents gave her, the name on her Baptism record from 1915. Everyone else called her Lisa Bella, Elizabeth, or Mrs. Marsh, but mostly Betty. To me, she was Grandma.

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Grandma was embarrassed by her hands, because in her 90’s they were riddled with arthritis, and “knotted up,” as she put it, as she rubbed them together, squeezing one, then the other. Still, they made meals when they could, often caressed the face of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and waved to everyone, coupled with her effervescent smile. They were beautiful hands, despite what she thought.

Each curve and twist in her fingers spoke of a lifetime of love: turning pages whispering bedtime stories and pages in her choir books, sewing countless buttons back onto our coats and our over-loved toys back together, volunteering at the local hospital, hanging Christmas ornaments, bathing babies, grand-babies and great-babies, cracking a baseball far into the outfield as a child (she was so good at baseball), picking blackberries, spearmint and parsley in her garden for us, “I grew this for you, special.” These were the hands who made you believe you could do anything by just tilting your chin up to meet her eyes. These were the hands circling us all together the night my father, her son, died, and led a family in a chorus of “Hail Mary’s” during the darkest hour it had ever seen.

They were strong hands. Strong, but tender. These were the hands that defined her. In turn, they defined me.

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Grandma taught me how to appreciate a summer breeze, a patch of shade, crisp fall mornings, how to make killer meatballs, fantastic bread pudding, how to properly apply “rouge” and why attitude is everything. She taught me not just to squeeze lemons to make lemonade when life hands them to you, but to pulverize them with unfailing optimism, unwavering faith, patience, forgiveness, and why to encourage peace all around you. I’m still working on the last five. Understatement.

The day I brought my infant son home, cradled him on my shoulder, exhausted, covered head to toe in poison ivy (don’t ask how I manged to get that), my then three and one year old daughters were going ballistic with sibling envy. I felt like I couldn’t move back one moment or forward into the next. It was at that moment that thought of my grandma, or maybe she thought of me, and suddenly felt a window of serenity in the insanity. It was also at that moment that my oldest daughter asked out of nowhere, “Where is Nana?” Nana to her, Grandma to me, had been gone for 6 months by then. I’m convinced that on that day, in my moment of mental turmoil, Grandma came to check up on me and remind me of one of her favorite sayings: “Men tena ti forte,” which in her parents’ Italian dialect means, “keep yourself strong.”

PicMonkey Collage me and grandma

When I get past impatient after a day that I think my limits can’t be pushed farther, and then those limits are ran right over and erased like a line in the desert sand, I think about her, and it’s all good. She’s part of me, and I’m part of her. What a better way to be defined?


“Defined” is the March writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Gillian of Comes in Colours. A few words from Gillian — Hey, I’m Gillian and I blog at Comes in Colours! I am passionate about motherhood and passionate about photography. I am married to my middle school sweetheart and we are now raising our two boys, Roman and Asher, in northern Colorado. My life is real and far from perfect but my blog is a place where I celebrate motherhood through pictures and words. Connect with Gillian on Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin and pop by her blog to say hello.

/// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and Renée. ///