kids, Parenting

Take a Chance: Date the Single Dad

Let’s be frank, dating, in general is hard. Dating when ALL of your friends are married or engaged is even harder. In 2015, this was me. I was on my way to an annual cookout with all of my friends to mark the “end” of summer. Headed to a cookout where seemingly everyone, but myself, fell into two categories: married or engaged. Being in your mid-to-late twenties, this can make it EXTREMELY difficult to date, let alone actually meet someone to date when you’re typically just the third wheel. Nevertheless, I loved hanging out with my friends and their husbands, who had become my friends, so on to the party I went. 

Then, just like the movies, it happened. Somehow, for once, I wasn’t the ONLY single person at the party. I walked in and instantly noticed the cute guy across the yard. I needed to know more. I’d never seen him. Could it actually be my luck that he was there, alone, available? The answer would be, no, he wasn’t. He wasn’t there alone. He was there with his two-year-old daughter, recently divorced. Most would read or hear these two lines and RUN for the hills. You’re thinking , “You’re in your mid-twenties, you’re single, you don’t need that kind of baggage, that responsibility.” But, I’m here to urge you to reconsider, to tell you why you should take the chance on the single dad.

Before deciding if I was ready for this new world of dating, one that would require master scheduling to accommodate custody days and both our work schedules, I first needed to get some background information. I didn’t know this man OR his story. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting into a situation that would set me up to get hurt. Luckily, we had mutual friends, so I was able to lean on them for information (and as I’d find out later – he had been doing the same thing). It’s important to know  the back story from caring friends along with his perspective. In my case, I had learned what an EXTRAORDINARY dad this man was, which was further confirmed as I watched him play and interact with his daughter throughout the night. There were no cheesy pick-up lines, no abandoning of his fatherly duties to try to “make-a-move.”  In fact, nothing of the kind. We chatted and went our separate ways, not evening exchanging numbers that night. But you know what–that proved something to me. This guy was different. He was one of the good ones–one of the ones that are extremely hard to find in today’s dating world, one I just knew I needed to take a chance on. 

Flash forward to one of our early dates. We were planning to go to an Indianapolis Colts game, one of our shared interests. I was excited to spend the day with him, to get to know him more, and see where this was heading. A few hours before our scheduled date, I got a message.  We would either need to cancel our date, or he would need to bring his daughter with us as the custody schedule had changed abruptly. This was a big moment–we were early into dating. Was I ready to spend the whole day with him and his daughter? What would that entail? What would that mean?

Looking back now, it meant SO much more than I knew in that moment. Was the date very different than the ones you picture from the romantic comedies filled with “Kiss-Cam” scenes? Absolutely! Instead, it included listening to Disney Pandora on the ride to and from the stadium, along with lots of bathroom and snack trips. But, it was by far one of my most favorite memories of our dating relationship. Why? I got to see what so very few women get to see–how their significant other will one day be as a father. I was able to see a man who was so very devoted to his child. Who loved her and would put her above anything else. I was able to interact with them as a pair–to see how that dynamic worked when a new person steps in (me). And, most importantly, I was able to test myself to see if I was capable of being that new, strange person. I was able to see how I would act as I spent time with two people who already shared so many memories together… old memories that I would never be a part of. And let me tell you, that part is hard. 

I need to tell you, that while it is SO worth it to date the single dad (or mom!), it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows. It is hard to be the “outsider” in a relationship between a parent and their child. It is hard to know that no matter how much you fall in love with them both, there will be memories that you won’t be a part of. You can’t “play” mom–that role is already filled. They don’t need you to be that. They need you, to be YOU. To fill-in a new role, one that they haven’t had. He needs you to fill in the hole that has been missing: the hole that was hurt by a marriage that fell apart. The hole that required him to play both mom and dad at his house while balancing work life. He needs you to just listen…to support, but not to engage or provoke any hard feelings. He wants that gone. He wants love, a second chance at it.

Dating is hard in general, and I am here to tell you that dating the single dad can be hard. It will be trying at times–it’s hard to balance a new relationship when you will always have to deal with an old one. But, I urge any of you who are like me and saw that cute boy from across the cookout and just couldn’t get him off your mind, to follow your instincts. To watch him as he interacts with his child. To watch him as he weighs every decision and  puts his child and you first. Watch him, because I guarantee he will surprise you every day. He will continue to date you, fight for you, and love you every day because you helped to give him that second chance that he so worried he’d never get. You loved not only him, but his child as well. And that’s a very rare and special kind of love, my friend.

kids, Parenting

Confessions of a New Momma: Fear of Failure

This morning, I found myself with an unusual amount of time completely to myself. Today was “Donuts With Dad” at my stepdaughter’s school and she had requested the presence of not only my husband, but also her brother! So here I am, with time to actually get dressed, drink a hot cup of coffee and eat breakfast, all by myself! This time for myself had me reflecting on the past few months–how very different life has been for me and the decisions we had made as a family that led me to this moment, sitting in my kitchen typing, instead of starting first period in my classroom. And of course, the waterworks ensued.

You see, it wasn’t just the financial change that scared me about making the decision to stay home the remainder of the year. Yes, it would be a big change, but there was something deeper that scared me. Something much more personal–FEAR. Not financial fear, but fear of  a different kind.

I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my husband. Ever since we had met, I have had the “go-getter” mentality. I was finishing up graduate school when we met, working full-time as a teacher and JV basketball coach. I thrived on achievement and was proud that I was able to own my home at the age of 25. I loved bringing in a paycheck, of feeling like I contributed. Our marriage has always been connected to the “team member” mentality–we both help out, both contribute. I had such a fear that by my not going back to work, that go-getter woman he married would become just a blur. Our “team” marriage mentality, gone.

I was fearful of being a “letdown” to my parents. My parents are both in education, having worked hard to be in administrative leadership positions. They are the reason I went into the field of education, why I became a passionate teacher. I have witnessed their sacrifices, both in personal time and financially, to ensure that my sister and I received the best education–that we would be able to thrive in our careers as adults. Once I graduated, they helped mentor me, to prepare me for interviews, setting up my classroom, and new, innovative classroom ideas. They encouraged me to not always follow the crowd, but to instead step outside of the box and try the new classroom technique, to push the limits as long as I always held to the belief that every child had the right to learn, every child has untapped potential. The fear of telling them I didn’t want to return to the classroom this year, that I wanted to spend more time at home, scared me. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want them to feel that they had “wasted” their money, their time, their support.

I was fearful of what my working mom friends would think. I didn’t want them to think any differently of me–either that I was “lazy” and leaning on my husband to work solely for our family, or that I had jumped on the idea that being a “working-mom” is terrible for your family, your children. ( Because, let’s be honest: There are some who believe mom’s should be in the home full-time and others who believe mom’s should work as examples for their children, or just because they need to in order to provide. I say YOU DO YOU!) Most of my close friends and family are working moms and I was fearful that my short-time shift to staying home this year would leave me a bit alienated–that’d we have less in common or that’d they see me through a different lens.

I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The role of “wife” and “mommy” is hard. Mainly, because it is a job that you are “on-call” for 24/7. There are no weekends off, lunch breaks, or paid time off. I live in such a fear that I am not “good” enough at either job, especially not at the same time! It’s exhausting being responsible for a tiny human’s every need, then add in running a household, feeding your family, and taking time to continue to build upon my marriage and relationship with God and now you have one tired, pulled-too-thin momma.  My  greatest fear jumping into staying home the remainder of this year, after my family and I have sacrificed so much in order to do so, is that I will not come through for them. That I won’t be the best mom and step-mom to our kids, fully living in the moment with them. That I won’t be the loving, supportive wife that my husband needs. That I won’t stay up on the household jobs that keep our household running. That I will be deemed a “first-time” momma failure.

Now, even as I type out these fears I see how silly they can sound, but I also know that they are still very real. I don’t want to “fail” in any area of life–who does? But, I also know that I am not alone in these fears. Mommas, we have them. Know that it’s okay, you’re not alone. There are HARD days when you feel that you’re letting someone down. Push through. Know that in the end, you’re doing the best you can do. Lean on your husband, family, and friends during those times. Sometimes, that’s all you need–to voice your fears. Acknowledge them. Then, keep on grinding, loving on your babies and family, and trusting that you are doing an amazing job, momma!



kids, Parenting

Momma on a Mission: Part 1

*This post may include affiliate posts.*

I have taught in the public classroom setting for the past eight years, for two reasons. One, it has always been a passion of mine. There is truly no greater joy than witnessing a child’s “lightbulb” moment. To watch them grow and develop, to get excited about learning. Secondly, to help provide for my family. While a teaching salary isn’t glorious, it has allowed our family to live comfortably combined with that of my husband’s salary.

At the end of December, my husband and I made the very difficult decision for me to extend my maternity leave to the end of the year. On one hand, I was ecstatic. For the four months I had already been at home with our sweet man, all I did was think about the moment that this would end. Instead of enjoying my days,  I found myself feeling like time was ticking away–staring me in the face for that dreaded day I would have to return. To know that that day was far away–almost 6 more months away, is now a relief. However, on the other hand, this OCD, always-has-a-plan momma was nervous and guilty about not bringing in that income to help our family this year. We had planned for four months without work, not a year.

Thus, I became a mom on a mission! The mission? Finding a way to help provide for my family, even in the smallest ways, but by doing so with something I was still PASSIONATE about. Thus begins my “Momma on a Mission” series, in which I will detail my journey to searching and trying-out some legitimate  “side hustles” that can help provide for your family, without taking away from the precious moments that have led to me wanting to stay home!

In my initial search for side-hustles, I was looking for something that I could feel passionate about, but that would also help out other moms similar to me. I stumbled upon an online children’s boutique, Mac & Mia, that were searching for online stylists. I thought, “Why not? I love shopping, especially shopping that is convenient and cute!” I applied online and worked through a few tasks for their application process, and was chosen to be a Mac & Mia Stylist for a trial period of one month.

So…what is Mac & Mia?

Mac and Mia is an online children’s website that connects parents with a number of unique, children’s boutiques. Parents fill out a quick style survey about what type of clothes and looks they prefer for their child, and then are connected with an online stylist.The stylist will use that information, as well as personal communication with you, to handpick 8-12 boutique pieces for your child.

When you request the box you’ll be charged a styling fee of $20 which is applied to the cost of your box if you keep 2 or more items. Once packed your box will arrive in 2-5 business days via UPS. You then have 5 days to try-on the items [in the comfort of your home!] and decide what you want to keep. If you keep everything you get 15% off! If you want to make returns, just put them in the prepaid UPS return envelope and once they’re received by our warehouse you will be charged only for the items you kept. Shopping done easily from your home, no crazy trips to the store and battles in the dressing rooms with your kiddos!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee or high prices for clothes that my child will outgrow! I thought the same thing when I started looking into this company. Yes, some of the items are on the higher priced-end, and lets’ be honest–I just took a year off from work and there is NO way I can spend crazy amounts of money for children’s clothes! That’s were completing the style survey and connecting with your stylist comes in handy–you can specify a price range you wish to stay in. Or, you can be like me and request some statement pieces that can be layered and styled with LOTS of different outfits, including pieces you already have in your child’s closet. One or two statement pieces can go a long way–allowing your child’s closet to be just a little more fabulous or unique than it was before, and so they don’t show up to the school program with the exact same outfit as three other kids in their class!

I’ll be straight with you–when I signed on to try this out, I was hesitant. But on Tuesday, we received our first Mac & Mia box filled with 12 items for Aubrey and they are AMAZING. When your box arrives, it will have an envelope inside with the price sheet for each item in your box, a pre-paid return envelope for the items you don’t want to keep,  as well as a fun surprise for the child the box was styled for– our box had paper dolls and clothes to dress them in!

As I unpacked the box, I noticed how nice the fabrics were for each item–super soft and high quality ( also, if you child has any time of sensory issues, this website also carries boutique styles that are tagless, etc!) The clothes were all super cute, but also HIGH quality. The fabrics are soft and the styles are trendy. Will I keep my whole box, probably not. But I fell in love with a lot of the items and was able to get my $20 stylist fee credited to my account by purchasing two items!

While I’m not sure if I will succeed in this momma’s mission to turn my Mac & Mia stylist role into a profitable side-hustle for my family, I do know that I have become a convinced customer and will repeat my business with them for some special pieces in the future for family pictures, vacations, and holidays. In fact, I’m requesting my second box, this time for my son, today!

Interested in trying it out? You can use the link below to get a $20 credit towards your first box–that’s like one or two FREE items!

Try Mac & Mia

kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Top 5 at Home Indoor Activities for Kids

If you’re anything like me, winter can make it hard to stay active, especially for the little ones! The days of playing on the playground, running outside, and riding your bike are few and far between once winter arrives in Indiana. The cold and snow make it hard to motivate exercise and, as a parent, you start to have to get creative with ways to burn off some of that energy in your little ones!

The first big snow of this season, had me thinking of some of the best ways to help little ones have fun while burning off energy indoors.  While I am all about playing outside in the snow, let’s be honest–most of us spend more time prepping our kids to play outside in the white stuff than they actually do! Thus, I have compiled a few of our family’s favorite ways to sneak in exercise during these cold, winter days!

Top 5 at Home Indoor Winter Activities:

  1. Little Tikes Trampoline:

If you have a younger child at home, this is the BEST indoor toy. When we need to log some exercise minutes for school, or burn off some extra energy at home we pull this out! Our daughter loves to jump as she listens to music or watches tv, and I love that she is able to get exercise in without realizing she is! This trampoline’s hand folds up so it is easy to store as well. (Tip: If you don’t want to pay full price, look for these after Christmas to score $20-$30 off–that’s what I did last year!)


This website is usually reserved and used as a part of the elementary teacher’s bag of tricks, but you can sign up for a free account, too! The website has a TON of interactive dances, songs, and workouts geared towards elementary aged students. We love to log-on to the website to get in a few coordinated dances. They also have yoga and meditation videos for students! It’s really fun to do as a family!

3.  Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

Our daughter has been really into scavenger or treasure hunts lately, ever since my husband sent us on one together for my birthday! We go this game for her for Christmas this year, in hopes to help us make them a little more fun and engaging. This game comes with a treasure surprise to place at the end of your hunt, as well as a treasure map that you can attach clues to! The box has pre-made clues, as well as the ability to make your own. This is a fun activity that allows your child to be active as they search through your house to find clues, but also is a great way to get them to think creatively to help solve the riddle clues! This game is great indoors, but we’re excited to use it outdoors once it gets warm, too!

4. Hopscotch

We received this awesome puzzle as a gift one year. While it’s great to use as a puzzle alone, especially for littles one due to its size, we also found that you could easily build it into a hopscotch course! We use it to build different combinations and then our daughter is able to jump, using different combinations. This is a great activity to increase a child’s balance, as they can use two feet, and then gradually increase to just one, crisscrossing, etc. Our daughter loves to do this with her dad, making it a fun game to see who can skip over pieces of the puzzle or have the fastest feet!

5. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you really want to get creative, you can build an in-home obstacle course with a few items you probably already have around the house and have been mentioned above! One cold day, we were looking for something a little different from our usual trampoline and hopscotch routine. My husband gathered our daughter’s scooter and hula hoop from the garage, as well as our trampoline and hopscotch indoor play items, and created an indoor obstacle course that she could complete inside our living room and hallway! She got really excited once we started timing her to see how fast she could go!

Items we used: jump rope, hula hoop, Pete the Cat giant foam puzzle (to build a hopscotch area)  trampoline, scooter

What indoor activities do you do with your kids to keep them active during the cold, winter months? Comment below and share your ideas!

kids, Parenting

Fabulous Friday Review: KiwiCo Kids’ Box

If you’ve been on social media around Christmas in the last year or two, then I’m sure you’ve seen a post or share regarding giving the gift of experiences, rather than physical gifts. Personally, I find myself in the middle. Our family tries to give a few physical gifts, but also gifts experiences and special time spent together as well.

Each Christmas, my parents gift an experience gift to each of our families for the children to enjoy. This has ranged from annual memberships at the local children’s museum, the local zoo, or even magazine or game subscriptions for the kids. With an avid young animal lover in the house, we always chose the zoo membership. While we have loved the trips and the gift of being able to do so at no cost to us for the past three years, we also noted that we don’t go as much as we could or should. Thus, this year we were looking for something different– and, as always, my mom came through with an amazing gift that I just had to share with everyone, because I didn’t even know they existed!!

The company is called Kiwi Co and they deliver a monthly themed box ( based on your child’s age) filled with science and art projects that allow your child to tap into their creative problem solving side!

To be honest, I thought it would be something cool for our daughter to receive, but I was skeptical about how engaging the projects would actually be and whether they’d be appropriate for her age. But then this week, our box came and I was impressed!!

First, our daughter was SUPER excited because she received a package in the mail, just for her! When we opened up the package, I uncovered not one, but three different craft/ STEM activities with correlating supplies and directions for parents. The projects are fun and things that your child can do mostly on their own, with supervision. We completed our first project, a tote bag tie-dyed with an eyelet dropper and tissue paper, in under 30 minutes. Not only was this fun, but it also helped work on color sorting, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and patience in seeing a project through! Plus, there is an end result which she made, which she is VERY proud of! The best part–we still have two more projects we can complete this month!

If you’re looking for something different for your child, I highly recommend checking this company out! The winter can be hard with kids–all that cooped up energy! I found that this box was  a good way to break up the afternoon and I loved that it already had all the supplies I would need to help our daughter make some really cool projects!

If you’re interested in trying it out, use the referral link below to receive 60% off your first box! Please note, I am in no way associated with this brand, I just LOVED it and wanted to share with other parents looking for something hands-on and fun for their child as we all suffer through the winter together!

Referral Code:

What other subscription services or experiences have you tried that were FABULOUS for your kids? Let us know by commenting below!

kids, Parenting

New Year, New Priorities

Happy New Year! I have been MIA for the past few weeks, taking time to enjoy the holidays and winter break with my family. After all the prep of presents, traveling, and meals, it seems that the holidays just simply fly by! I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to soak up a few days with the ones I love!

The impending holidays also brought a hard decision for my family and I–to extend my maternity leave to the end of this year so that I can stay home with our sweet little man until he is almost a year old! I am so blessed and excited to have this time with our son–time that I truly believe I can never get back–but it was also a very emotional and difficult decision for me.

For the past eight years, all I have ever known is teaching. I have poured my time, heart, and soul ( and let’s be honest, pocketbook!) into teaching. From the moment I received my first classroom in North Carolina in 2007, I knew that teaching children (especially elementary) was what I was made to do, the gift that God had blessed me with. I loved every minute of it–even the hard days when I wasn’t sure anyone had learned a thing from me that day! I decided to begin graduate school when I was 25 to earn my Master’s degree in administration, so I could one day be a school principal and extend my reach beyond just the four walls of my own classroom. Education ran in my blood and I had huge aspirations to make a difference in the lives of children.

Then, on August 27, 2018 at 9:00 pm my priorities changed. For the first time, I laid eyes on my sweet Kellen Robert Ray and everything in my world looked different. My priorities changed. I wanted to see every smile, hear every giggle, and witness every milestone that my little man would have in his first year of life. To me, four months just wasn’t enough. I loved teaching, but the thought of being away from him for seven to eight hours, to return home exhausted and with only a few hours before baths and bedtime, set me on an emotional rollercoaster. My heart was telling me to soak up this time. That my career path would always be there, but my little baby would not.

My head, on the other hand, reminded me that we had car payments, a mortgage, groceries, and other expenses each month that needed paid. We planned for a four-month maternity leave, but not a full year off. I have always been a planner. I have always lived with a safety net for my finances. I have always had a plan. Thus, an internal battle between what my heart was telling me versus my head began. My husband and I decided to lean on God to guide us, just as we had just under a year ago when we found out we were expecting our little man.

As the deadline for my decision neared, I was still undecided. And then I looked at the calendar and I saw the end of December glaring back at me, sweeping me back to the memory of last Christmas. Last Christmas where I woke up early to take a pregnancy test–praying so very hard that it would be a positive. That the past few months of doctor’s appointments and medications would be worth it. Praying that I would be able to call the fertility office to cancel our impending appointment at the first of the new year. Staring back at a negative, feeling devastated, I put on a brave face for Christmas morning (and my 29th birthday) with my family.

I looked at the calendar again, seeing December 29. Again sweeping me back to that day last year when I decided to be brave and take just one more test. The day I cried in the bathroom and FaceTimed my husband because I couldn’t believe it. The day he left work early so we could get an official test done at the hospital to confirm that yes, we were pregnant. The day where I was told that we would still need to visit the fertility doctor–that we would be seeing him for the first 12 weeks of our pregnancy. The LONGEST 12 weeks of fear, excitement, and anticipation.  Looking at that calendar, thinking of how much I had prayed and waited for the moment I would meet my little man, confirmed that it was time to follow my heart and not my head.

And that leads us to the present. I am currently sitting at home on a Friday morning, watching a five-year-old play school and a four-month-old peacefully nap (well, he woke up before I edited this!). I am soaking up these moments, because I know how blessed I am. I know that by the end of today, I will have stressed about finances and have been plagued with the guilt that I am not working a multitude of times, but I will continue to lay both those onto God in prayer. We trust that he will provide for us during this time.


Happy New Year and may God bless you and your family this year!


Christmas, kids, Parenting

Fabulous Family Game Night Games

Last year to prepare our daughter for school we started playing a board game each night before bed. Not only did this time allow for us to all spend quality time together, but it helped her to practice counting skills, taking turns, and the all important skill of learning how to handle losing!

We started with some great games to practice colors and counting and have now worked our way up to some fun card games! We enjoy this time together so much, so I’d thought I’d share our top games that we play with our five-year old. These games can be easily found at a local store or online, tons of fun, and can be played quickly before bedtime.

Card Games:

I have always loved card games– even since I was little. The tricky part with cards and small children is that their hands aren’t quite equipped yet to handle holding all those cards! We picked up a kid’s card holder on Amazon to help her little hands manage all her cards!

1. Old Maid: This game is currently our family’s favorite! We played with extended family one night and we were all in tears laughing at each other’s inability to hide our anguish when we had the Old Maid!

2. Go Fish!: This is a fun way to play a matching game. My husband and daughter play this game sometimes while they eat breakfast before school even! We have two sets–a  Christmas themed one and a regular one!

Board Games:

1. Don’t Wake Daddy: This is a game I remember playing as a kid! You pick the card and then must push the button that many times (counting practice!) and cross your fingers that you don’t wake up the Daddy, or you must go back to bed!

2. Candy Land: Such a classic game! Great for identifying colors and one-to-one counting correspondence. We played this a lot early on since it was easy for her to play, but she still loves it now!

3. Chutes and Ladders: This is another GREAT game to practice one-to-one counting and taking turns, in a fun way!

4. Hi Ho Cherry-O: We love this game! This was great for our daughter as she began to recognize numbers through images ( shows 1,2, or 3 apples). It is another game that is great for one-to-one counting correspondence as well!

5. Trouble! : We bought a character themed version of this game, but I love that it works on number recognition ( identifying the number on a dice), one-to-one counting correspondence, and fine motor skills (moving the pieces)! Our daughter loves when she gets to send us back “home, too!

These are our go-to family game night games currently with our five-year old. What games have you enjoyed playing with your kids? Comment below so we can add them to our collection!