Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Animal Placement Bureau Fundraiser - Shop Arch Etsy!

In celebration of Zora (formerly Grizzly) and all her crazy siblings turning 4-years-old this month, I would like to host a fundraiser for their first home, the Animal Placement Bureau (Lansing, MI), and donate 40% of February's profits from Arch Etsy!


Arch features personalized paper goods such as poster prints, countdowns, invitations, etc. by West Michigan Graphic Designer Andrea Archambault. Popular listings include themes related to pet lovers, pregnancies, kids and weddings/anniversaries, but all artwork is completely customizable and speciality orders are always welcomed!

Please support the incredible work by the APB! And on February 10, be sure to make your own pup a special treat as we celebrate another year with these furry lunatics! :)



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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chronicles of an Online Dater Vol. II

Well, friends... I'm starting over. Again.

...

Please allow me a second to wallow in my own self-pity and let the loneliness and doubt take over. Just a second to repeatedly ask myself "how did life come to this?" and "where did I go wrong?"

Alright, time's up. Pressing on...

So, clearly, Ryan and I are no longer together. I used to think relationships were determined by whether you loved each other or not. Then life requires you to factor in things like children and jobs and putting down roots and sometimes love isn't enough. It breaks my heart, but at the end of day, it's the cold, hard truth and a very difficult choice had to be made.

I made the decision to try my hand at online dating again. (As opposed to... ????) I spent a lot of time tweaking my old profile, gathering new pics and making sure I was very clear on what I was looking for. In addition to my carefully articulated profile, I'd like to bring a few points to the attention of my single male counterparts:


Dear men of the online dating community,

1. I have posted my acceptable age range in the late 20s/early 30s. You 50- and 60-year-old men sending me winks and messages asking if I'd like to hang out... stop it. You're creepy. Same goes for those of you who live across the country. Are you within my 50 mile radius? No. Move along.

2. I apologize in advance that my photos are a bit misleading. The Andrea you see in those photos... I like to call her "1% of the time Andrea." I rock the messy pony, very little makeup and my beloved sweatpants most of the time because I do not have time and I do not care. Sorry not sorry.

3. I do not hide the fact that I am a mom. I'm pretty sure it's the most obvious thing in my whole profile. So no, I cannot "dump my son somewhere" and meet you for drinks in an hour. Really, guys? Maybe I'll just post this really awesome link in my profile so guys can maybe start to understand what goes through the mind of a single parent. So no, most of the time, I cannot join you for a night out on the town... I'm busy at home watching Disney movies and playing with Legos.

4. Then there are you guys who, under the kid category, have "do not want" checked. You're the reasons I have to put the phrase "my son and I are a package deal" in my profile. Stop contacting me.

5. Please think of your profile as a resume. You are trying to impress people. Please use things like punctuation, correct spelling, capitalization and spell out words. i no u iz lookin 4 a hawty... but no one is impressed with your middle school slang. NO ONE.


Gahhh... are all the non-smoking, educated, ambitious, Christian 20/30-somethings who love dogs and children already taken? I'm beginning to think so. Maybe this time around I should've tried a different site. I hear Petfinder.com has a plethora of loyal, kid-loving, affectionate males...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Arch Etsy: Small Business, Big Goals for 2015

One of my goals for 2015 is to put more time and effort into promoting and stocking my Etsy shop. I first opened my shop three years ago with only a couple of items. It started out as more of a hobby to tinker with in my spare time and to put some extra spending cash in my pocket.

     
This past year, Etsy had turned into a creative outlet, personal challenge and a pursuit of greater financial independence. A huge thank you to my customers and those who have supported my small business endeavors!

My shop currently features paper goods such as posters, countdowns and invitations primarily focused towards pregnancies, babies/children and pet lovers. Some new, completely different projects are in the works and can't wait to get those listed in the shop.

This year, customers can look forward to new products, promo codes, repeat sales incentives and a handful of giveaways. I even finally got around to giving my brand and packaging a teeny facelift as well as launched a Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts. Please give 'em a follow/like and share the love!

Shop Arch! 
Thanks again for all your support!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: A Year in Review - Infographic

Even though this year had a rocky start, I conclude 2014 with a smile on my face and two thumbs way up. Check out what made my year so exhausting and my heart so full...

Happy New Year!
Zora, Brody, Ryan + Andrea


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Fitness/Mommy Toys and Accessories

I've struggled with finding a fitness regiment that worked with my schedule for quite awhile now. I couldn't justify working out during my lunch hour when I was so swamped at work, doing anything but catering to Lil Man's needs after work wasn't an option and by the time I got Brody to bed and the house cleaned up, I just couldn't...

I know "I'm too tired" is a lame excuse, but Brody exhaustion is a whole different level of nope.

So earlier this month I bought a treadmill with the intention of forcing a workout in sometime between getting home from work and Brody's bedtime. Thankfully, with the help of "snowman" (Frozen), I've gotten a run in at least 5 times a week. I also downloaded a new app, Argus, to track my weight, steps, etc. to keep me focused on my goals.

In order to keep track of my steps and have my music handy (to drown out "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman,") I knew I needed an armband for my iPhone. But that's when I remembered pinning a different option on Pinterest one day. Guys, I highly recommend the FlipBelt.


The FlipBelt is a tubular waistband that securely holds my iPhone, chapstick, Kleenex, earbuds (and all my other crap) when I run. So basically a much cooler fanny pack. I was very skeptical at first and half expected the belt to slide down or roll when I moved or I'd have to put up with my phone bouncing around the entire time. I was pleasantly surprised that the FlipBelt is extremely comfortable and nothing moves. At all. Sometimes I have to do that awkward pat-yourself-down-where's-my-phone move (you know what I'm talking about.)


I got in a 25-minute workout and neither of the children moved. ^^^ Supermom.

In addition to being a great workout accessory, I love wearing the FlipBelt around the house so that my phone is always handy, especially when I'm not wearing anything with pockets. Having my phone accessible at all times is a must because I take a couple few handful... ok, shit ton of pictures... all the time. It'll come in handy until I can figure out how to grow that extra set of hands that all moms need.

Plus it prevents my pickpocket of a toddler from stealing my phone AND I can feel my phone vibrate a lot easier when it's pressed against my belly rather than floating around in a hoodie pocket.


You can learn more about FlipBelt here. Machine washable, secure, comfortable, tons of sizes/colors and roughly the same price as the armband solution but much more functional. If you have a fitness buff on your Christmas list or are pursuing a healthier you this New Years, here ya go. You're welcome.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Birthday Weekend: My Last Year as a 20-Something

Last Thursday, I celebrated my 29th birthday. Ah yes, 29. The oldest I'll ever admit to being and the age I will celebrate every year from this point on. Guess that means my mom and I are the same age now, right? 


Thursday began with a birthday lunch at home with Mama Z and Lil Man. I guess he prefers it when people sing "Happy Birthday" to him because singing to mommy only made him angry. Chocolate cupcakes brought back the happiness. 

When I returned back to work after lunch, I was called down to the main lobby for a visitor. There was this cute man waiting for me with a beautiful arrangement of flowers. :) Turns out flowers were only the beginning... I came home to a brand new TV mounted on my wall. Maybe it's because Ryan got tired of watching his sports on my crappy freebie TV from college, but regardless, he spoils me. 


Took Friday off of work to do some Christmas shopping with my mom and sister. We spent the day in Grandville, but met up with my dad, grandparents, brother-in-law and Ryan later that evening for our birthday dinner (and by "our," I mean Ashley and I have the same birthday so it's tradition that we always have a family birthday dinner together.) 



With Brody at his dad's for the rest of the weekend, Ryan and I finally got to spend some time together. His travel schedule for work has been pretty brutal lately with him only home for a day or two every couple weeks. We spent Saturday wrapping up Christmas shopping and seeing The Mockingjay.


Sunday was back to reality. Spent the afternoon over at Mom and Dad's house. Grandma, Grandpa, Ashley and Adam all stopped by to see Lil Man and join us for our "snowman" party. Yes, Frozen is on a 24-hour loop even at Grandma's. 


I'd say 29 started off pretty well. Spent the weekend with and was spoiled by all my favorite people. Can't ask for anything more. Thank you everyone for all the birthday love on Facebook! Here's to another wonderful year... 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Arch Etsy Shop Holiday Sale

Shopping for an expecting friend? Planning on revealing a pregnancy during Christmas? Have a pet lover on your list? 

Look no further than my Etsy shop! And during the month of December, take 10% off your entire order. Just use coupon code ArchDec2014 during checkout.

Thanks for your continued support and happy holidays everyone!



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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brody's Big Truck Birthday

Since the whole family was going to be together on Thursday for Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate Brody's 2nd birthday at the same time. This year's theme was really a no brainer... that little man sure does love his big trucks


I found a couple different construction cakes on Pinterest and took my favorite things from each one. So Mama Z and I made this scrumptious chocolate cake... aka mound 'o diabetes.  



We've been singing "Happy Birthday" and practicing telling people we're "two" for weeks now. Lil Man was so excited when everyone starting singing to him. And because they've been celebrating birthdays lately at daycare, he knew well enough to blow the candles out. Such a big boy! 



Side note... does this make anyone else's heart explode or just me? Gahhh... I just love these two.


Brody was showered with so many really cool trucks for his birthday. My house looks like some sort of crazy parking lot.






He also cooperated enough for us to get an updated four generations photo. 


...and a group hug with my lovers. 


I'm so thankful for another year with my precious baby boy. He is such a blessing and I can't wait to see what sort of adventures are in our future. I'm also thankful for the other man in my life. With his crazy work travel schedule and family in two other states, I am blessed that he was able to be here with me for Thanksgiving and Brody's birthday party. 

So many blessings this year. Such a happy girl. xo

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Lil Man!

Lil Man,

Happy second birthday to my free-spirited, independent little boy! Each year you amaze me... how much you grow, the things you learn and how much tighter you wrap me around your finger. Just when I think it isn't possible for my heart to love you anymore, the simplest words and smallest of gestures stop me in my tracks and remind me what a precious miracle you are.


The most incredible change in the last year was your level of communication. Twelve months ago, you knew less than a half dozen words and a handful of noises. Anything even remotely cool would make you say "oooo!" or "wow." ...especially choo-choos, busses and semi trucks. Oh, how you love the big trucks. My favorite phrase of yours is "uh oh, whatdidyoudo?" Always one word and always accusing mama of something you did.

But now there's a little man who can talk to me... tell me "good" when I ask how his day went or "tissue" when he has a runny nose and "boogers" to get. After "bubbles" (bath) and "joosh" (juice), you want to go watch "toons" (cartoons) because you sure do love "mouse" (Mickey). You know that after dancing to "hot dog" (the hot dog song), it's time for "na-night" (bedtime) but only after "moo" (milk) and "Boom Boom" (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). When you're jumping around in the entryway, you're able to tell me that you either want to go "down" (downstairs) or go for a car ride to look for a "baaaaa!" (bus).

The "mama, cuddles" and "na-night, love you" bring me to tears because this blessing is so big and my cup is so small and the overflow has to go somewhere.

March was a rough month for us. It took over month for three of your molars to poke through... which meant a constant cocktail of pain meds and Orajel and waking up every few hours throughout the night. You're lucky you're so cute because you were the most irritable little turd ever. However, we went cold turkey on your binky one night without any problems. I was so proud of you, big boy!

In the beginning of Summer, for some unknown reason, you suddenly became terrified of the water. Baths and getting you in the pool were a struggle, but then one day, you decided to be fearless and you haven't stopped since. We spent most of the summer soaking wet. Evenings were spent out on the deck (naked) in the kiddie pool or water table and weekends in Grandma and Grandpa Z's pool. The most entertaining, euphoric experience of the year was most definitely the Zeeland Splash Pad... your own special brand of toddler crack.

Currently, your favorite toys are Legos, cars and trucks. You love the Fisher Price Main Street over at Grandma's house and the vintage race tracks for your Hot Wheels from Great-Grandma. You still love anything with buttons... phones, remotes, TVs, whatever. Grandma Z even gave you her old iPhone to play with. I know I used to say that I was going to restrict the amount of electronics and technology in your life, but sometimes, for my own sanity, it's best if you and Angry Birds have some quiet time together.

You and "Ora" (Zora) are still best friends. Sometimes you're a sassy little brat that tells her "no no!" for absolutely no reason and you still yank out her butt flaps, but then there are those rare moments I'll catch the two of you spooning and it melts my heart. Remember to thank her someday for not attacking you because, most days, you probably deserve it. I refer to the two of you as Tank and Terror for a reason.

Ryan came into your life this year. We chose to wait awhile before you two met, but it was so worth it. You took to him instantly. Usually when you meet new people, you hide behind my legs and study them carefully. Not Ryan. You climbed up on his lap right away and now when he pulls into the driveway, you run to the front window yelling "Ryyyaaannnn!!!" and greet him with a big hug. I know, buddy, I love him too.

In August, you started a new daycare and were the adorable ring bearer in Aunt Z's wedding. Remember to thank Ryan someday for committing to Brody duty for 7 straight hours on wedding day and not running for the hills. September was a big month. You learned to say "peas" (please) and "chain-chu" (thank you) and could count to ten hitting most of the numbers. We went to the zoo for the first time with Aunt Z and Grandma and Grandpa... you loved the otters, penguins, monkeys and bears the most. You also graduated into a toddler bed and did so incredibly well with the transition. What a big boy!

By the following month, you were singing bits and pieces of the ABCs and Happy Birthday, identifying colors, starting another new daycare and having legit conversations on your fake phones. You love to sing and dance. Your favorite songs are "Dirt" by Florida Georgia Line, "Donkey" by Jerrod Niemann, "Wiggle" by Jason Derulo and "Wanna Be Like You" from the Jungle Book. That damn Wiggle song will be the death of me, but you just love it.

I've grown accustom to people saying what a handful you are, how much energy you have and how you're nothing like any kid they've ever met. I know that someday, that endless supply of energy and strong-willed personality will only transform you into an ambitious, independent, successful man. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep up and provide you with both wings and roots.

Being a single mom is hard, but being a single mom to you is the toughest job I will ever have. Especially those days when you hate the food that you loved the day before, throw tantrums because I won't let you go outside in the rain or when rocking before bedtime turns into wrestling with alligators. But you know what, Brody... thank you. Thank you for teaching me that Lego and block castles trump a clean house any day and the laundry and errands that don't get done because we're busy cuddling or reading can always wait until tomorrow.

Brody, I can see my whole world in your bright eyes and goofy smile. Sometimes I even hear God in your giggles. As you get older, the world becomes bigger and scarier to me for a thousand terrible, wonderful, hopeless, beautiful reasons that you won’t understand until you're much older. Even as our family dynamic continues to change, never forget that you are my number one and I will be forever grateful for this precious time just the two of us. Happy birthday, my sweet boy. I love you from the bottom of my heart.

-Mom


Read Brody's one year birthday letter here.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chronicles of an Online Dater

There was something a bit surreal horrifying about having to return to the dating world after a 12.5 year hiatus. Prior to my divorce, my last first date was way back in summer 2001, and it's safe to say a lot has changed since then... went from having to ask parents for a ride to the movies to being a single parent trying to squeeze in a date before 8:00 pick-up. There were some things, however, that didn't really change at all.

I went from being an awkward teenager to an awkward adult, living in a town where I only knew a couple people, now with a baby, dog and house to take care of and still a die-hard homebody that embraced the mindset of once the bra is off and the sweatpants are on... no way in hell I'm leaving the house. 

So once I was ready to move on from the divorce, I figured that, realistically, online dating was my only hope. I know there's still this stigma even though pretty much every other aspect of life is filtered through the Internet. Kinda mind boggling if you really think about it.

So there I was... on Match.com... reading through dozens of profiles, shuddering at some, "winking" at others. One minute you're giddy over the possibilities of actually meeting these potential suitors and the next you're sobbing into a glass of wine wondering if this is really what life has come to. However, knowing the bar scene wasn't for me and the chance of me meeting Mr. Right while grocery shopping in my sweatpants covered in baby urp was probably pretty slim, I pressed on.

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Date #1: Went well enough to warrant a second date, but ultimately, the tramp stamp and crying uncontrollably through Love Actually weirded me out.

"Date" #2: This DB waited until 15 minutes before our date to cancel on me because he didn't feel like going out in the cold weather and then had the balls to drunk text me two other times in the wee hours of the night. Excuse me, but I think you were looking for the Tinder app.

"Date" #3: We texted for awhile... seemed like a relatively nice guy... but he worked or went to school all the time. Between his schedule and my responsibilities as a mom, we just never found the time to actually meet.

Date #4: Guys... this date was like a comedy gone wrong... I cannot make this shit up. He texted me a list of options for our first date, but they included dinner OR drinks, not both. All these places were restaurants that he had coupons for. We get to dinner and he tells me to keep my portion of the bill under $10, but then proceeds to tell the waiter that we're going to split a medium pizza and waters for the both of us. A comment was made about how cold he keeps his house and told me if I ever came over and wanted him to turn the heat up, I'd better throw a $20 on the table. No, not shitting you at all. The ONLY positive thing about that evening was I found Petey on my way home. So even though the date was a hysterical disaster, I reunited a lost doggy with his owner... so I'm glad I went for that reason alone.

Date #5: I'd consider this a decent date, but unfortunately I didn't feel like we had a whole lot in common. And nothing is a bigger turn off than when guys who are shorter than me (he was 5'9") do nothing but comment on the height difference. Be thankful I wore flats, buddy.

"Date" #6: I'm so glad this date didn't actually happen. We had plans to go out one night, but I called to ask if we could reschedule after some really bad things happened that day in divorceland. He said no problem, but later that night, I started getting texts from him calling me a liar and a stupid bitch for backing out on him. When I didn't respond right away because, oh I don't know, I was busy being a mom, his texts became super aggressive. So of course I politely told him to go eff himself. That's when the voicemails started pouring in with him crying and asking for my forgiveness. Again, not shitting you. Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeper.

So why I am I sharing this, you might ask? Well, today, date #7 and I are celebrating a year together. The fear of starting over, of having to step outside my comfort zone, not to mention that stellar lineup of suitors... it was all worth it. My heart is full and I am beyond blessed to have such an incredible man in my life.


Since the divorce, it has been an honor to hear so many stories of how sharing my experience with divorce and dating have empowered others to put themselves out there. You will find love and happiness again, I promise.

I did.
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