Monday, October 28, 2013

Rachel's Typical Tuesday, and More

If you've been following along with Momster Mash during this month, you've had a chance to get to know Rachel and her family. 
 
Rachel keeps herself busy with work, family, teaching dance, volunteering with a weekly co-op, organizing the Buddy Walk, and more.  As mom's, we know it can be challenging to find time for ourselves, yet realize the importance of doing so.  In what ways does Rachel "recharge her battery"?
"I try to recharge my battery by getting more sleep.  I always seem to stay up late, doing things I can't do when the kids are up.  Taking baths, reading books, popping in headphones and jamming out, those all work too.  I love working out, but find it hard to find time now.  It's a goal to get back on the horse.  I always feel my best when I work out."
I also think it's important for us mommas to find time to do things that bring us joy outside of our families.  This to a certain extent, of course, but if my entire life is consumed by "being mom" I worry what life would look like when my children are grown and gone. But hey, maybe that's just me.  Finding ways to step aside for a moment, decompress and refresh myself, allows me to return to my hubby and little girl with a renewed energy.  Even if you're not a mom, I think it's important to find new ways to challenge ourselves and enjoy life.  What does Rachel enjoy doing apart from her role as wife and momma?
"I have found that I am an evolving, changing being.  I did my first triathlon this year, something I never thought I would or could do.  I have recently become interested in a vegetable garden, cooking and canning.  That, again, is something I never thought I 'd enjoy doing.  It makes me feel so proud.  And confirms that I can do hard things.  I've found that being by myself is nice, and it's ok to want "me time."  I've always been a social person, and I still am, but feel like I'm much more comfortable in my skin now." 
Rachel's Typical Tuesday:
  • Up and at 'em in the morning, get the kids fed and Jacoby on the bus by 8am. 
  • Depending on Eric's shift and my work schedule, I'm either hanging with Kendall all morning  and then both kids the rest of the day, hanging as a family and running errands or going to work.  Kendall goes to our neighbor's house for daycare if we both work. 
  • Dinner
  • Teach dance class.  My class is fun.  A nice break from the week, a chance to get out and do what I love, dance.  Tuesday nights are fun.  ;)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Big BAGGU Winner!

Congratulations to SARAH K. M.!!
 
She just won herself a Big BAGGU bag. 

 
Thank you to everyone who participated!  The goal of the giveaways I host is to not only share products I love all of you beautiful Momsters, but to also give you a chance to try them for free. 
 
Each month, as you know, I feature a different Momster of the Month (MOM).  This is not only to bring encouragement to Momster Mash readers, but also for the community of Momster Mash to bring encouragement and support to the MOM. 
 
As often as possible, I will host a giveaway that somehow correlates with the MOM and her story.  
Stay connected with Momster Mash so you don't miss a MOM...or a giveaway!
 
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Please share Momster Mash with your friends and help spread the joy!
 
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rachel: Part 4 - An Organic, Dancing, Opthalmic Technician

 
Want to catch up? Check these out!

So far, we have learned about Rachel as wife and mother, but who is Rachel outside of those roles? She is 31-years-old, and has worked as a technician at Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute for 9 years now.  She worked full-time until she had Jacoby, but now works about 2 days a week, "It's enough to give me some adult time and lets me feel productive and like I'm contributing to my family financially (even if it's just a little), yet I get to spend so much quality time with my kids and husband.  It's a perfect combination for me."
Apart from her job at the eye surgery center, Rachel has taught dance for several years to kids ages 5-18 years.  I went to high school with Rachel, and she was a cheerleader.  Let me tell you, the girl has moves!  Rachel says, "It's something I have always loved to do and it's great to be able to pass on the love of music and movement to these kids.  Watching them work hard and finally nail that move/trick, or remember the choreography on their own, or perform in front of hundreds of people when I know they are scared; it's incredible to witness...To think that I may have influenced any of my students in any way is humbling.  Being a role model is important, and something I try to take seriously."

Rachel and her family have really been trying to eat clean, local, and organic whenever possible, and this has led to her involvement in a local, organic food co-op which was started by one of her friends (Blissfully Organic Co-Op). Organic produce is bought in bulk at wholesale cost.  Families purchase a 'share' and the money is pooled together to buy what is in season, and the produce gets distributed each week.  Rachel explains her role as a volunteer, "I show up early and help distribute the weekly shares.  It's a nice feeling to be a part of something that helps families eat organically and not feel guilty about their grocery bill.  We have a lovely little community of 'regulars' and it's a fun social hour at pick-up".  Blissfully Organic Co-Op (BOCO) currently has five pick-up locations in Olympia, Lacey, Puyallup, and Steilacom, and Auburn.  Rachel says, "I truly believe in supporting local farms, eating organic and bringing all the power of the food industry back to the people that do all the hard work.  I've learned that my dollar is my vote and I choose to vote for real food."
 
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I picked up my first share through Blissfully Organic this past Saturday, and am already hooked!  I received lettuce, red chard, acorn squash, lemon, kiwi, pomegranate, bananas, apples, and brocolette.  All organic, for only $25! If you live in any of the areas mentioned above, I highly recommend checking out their website and trying it out. I am currently trying to get a Maple Valley pick-up location, FYI.  Thanks for the information, Rachel!

On a related side note, I'm currently giving away a Big BAGGU grocery bag, which would be perfect for picking up your weekly BOCO shares, a trip to the farmer's market, Costco, and more!  Click HERE to find out how to enter, but hurry, giveaway ends this Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

BAGGU Grocery Bag *Giveaway*


I shared my love for BAGGU bags back in February 2010 in my "It's in the bag" post.  I have been using my BAGGU grocery bags for about 6 years now, and I still absolutely love them!  They fold up small, they hold a LOT of groceries, they are machine washable, they air dry quickly, they come in fun and vibrant colors, and they are ethically made. 
 

BAGGU has generously offered one of their "Big BAGGU" bags to one lucky Momster Mash reader!  This bag is great for travel, or a trip to the farmer's market.  I can assure you from personal experience that you will receive compliments on your bag.  I know it's just a shopping bag, but I get compliments on my BAGGUs or people asking where I got them on just about every shopping trip.  Grocery shopping is not glamorous (especially in yoga pants, messy bun, and children in tow) you might as well have some stylish grocery bags to show off! :)
 

Here's a video of BAGGU founder, Emily Sugihara, explaining BAGGU and how her boutique shopping bag empire was created:



And here is my video explaining why I love the bags from my personal experience, and I'll also show you the Big BAGGU you could win.  Enter below and good luck!  Giveaway ends in one week, on Wednesday, October 23, 2013.


*GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rachel: Part 3 - Eric, Jacoby, then Kendall

Rachel and her firefighter husband Eric met in a VIP section of a concert in December 2005 and had their first date one week later.  Their first date holds memories of getting lost, arriving late to meet friends, a restaurant full of teenagers in gowns because of winter formal, and karaoke.  After a few months, Rachel knew that she loved this man. 
"He was sweet, smart, ambitious, thoughtful, fun, hilarious, had a killer smile, honest, trustworthy...I thought something was too good to be true, or that I'd fall hard and get my heart broken.  Once we were able to really share and show our love to each other, things went fast and furious and we were engaged only 18 months later in July 2007." 
A few months into their engagement, Rachel found out she was pregnant!  They moved their wedding date up three months, and their little blessing Jacoby was born just three months after they said "I do".  Five years later, Jacoby is 5-years-old and their daughter Kendall is 18 months. 
Rachel has already shared the emotional and touching story of the birth of their son Jacoby, who has Down Syndrome.  Jacoby is "all boy" and "such a character"! 
 "He loves any sport with a ball, music and dancing, reading books, sign language, swimming, playing with his sister, and being outside.  Overall, he is a typical 5-year-old...Kids with DS are really no different than other kids.  I know 'typically developing' kids that did not walk until 18-months and have severe allergies and speech delays.  He will do everything other kids do, it just may take him a little longer to get there.  Everything is a learning experience and work.  We work hard on speech at therapy once a week (as well as constant attention to pronunciation at home and school).  He needs extra attention on fine motor skills (cutting paper, holding a pencil) as well as following simple instructions (come in when the bell rings, time to put your coat on)."
Jacoby is blessed to have great teachers and therapists in his life, he works hard, and is improving daily.  Rachel explains that a huge misconception of people with DS is that they are incapable.
"These are people with jobs, college educations, marriages.  The last 50 years have changed dramatically.  Early intervention is key and programs are in full force in almost every school district in America.  We have learned that it is not about his disability but really, his ability.  Just like life, you can choose to focus on the negative or the positive.  Jacoby will have all the same opportunities as other kids and it's our job as his parents to make sure that happens.  So far, all of our experiences have been great.  Society seems to be more and more acceptable of special needs.  I know this will not always be the case, and I often wonder how I will handle 'that' situation when it presents itself."
Although Rachel keeps a positive outlook, being a parent of a child with DS has its difficulties.  Rachel says that the most difficult aspect is watching him struggle or see his frustration when he can't communicate with them...and of course, the "dreaded comparison game".
"When he and his friends were babies, it was not so noticeable, but now, 5-year-olds are quite inquisitive.  They want to know why he's still wearing diapers and doesn't talk well.  We try to use it as a teaching moment, to teach compassion and understanding, and that he is still their friend and wants to play with them."
With difficulties in life, also come blessings and Rachel and her family are grateful for the DS community they have become close with and have grown to love.
"We cheer on their kids, we compare notes, suggest strategies and therapists.  We connect.  We have something pretty big in common.  We are tight-knit, and are pretty much instant friends.  I also believe that Jacoby has taught me compassion.  Not that I didn't have compassion before, I just really understand it.  Everyone has something they struggle with and we need to love them anyway.  He taught me to really care."
We've learned a lot about Jacoby, now Rachel tells us about her daughter Kendall.  Rachel says that she was very planned because they really wanted Jacoby to have a sibling, and "she was meant to be his sister."
"She loves her 'brudder' so much.  They kiss and hug each other every morning, like they haven't seen each other in ages.  They kiss each other good night every night.  He cries if she cries, it's adorable.  She is stubborn and feisty and hitting her terrible two's early, but boy, does she melt her mommy and daddy's heart.  I find the thought of raising a daughter frightening but I hope we can be the best of friends (after I'm her 'evil' mother who locks her away from boys :)  She is also teaching me patience and consistency and to lighten up.  Her way out of trouble is to flash us her tiny smile.  She's a doll."
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I love Rachel's family; I can feel the love and happiness oozing out of her words!  CLICK HERE for Part 4 as we get to learn about Rachel and the many ways in which she stays busy and fulfilled apart from her beautiful family.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rachel: Part 2 - Buddy Walk

 
 
This month, all around the country, people of all ages will be participating in a Buddy Walk.  This fun, one-mile event is affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), and its purpose is to unite family and friends, raise awareness about Down Syndrome and talk about inclusion, and raise funds.  The funds raised by a Buddy Walk are used in the form of scholarships to aid in costs associated with therapies, equipment, medical bills, and fun group trips such as the Hands-On Children's Museum and horse riding therapy.  The NDSS also receives a portion of raised funds to help individuals pay for college, therapy camps, research and more. 

 
Rachel talks about her family's personal experience and involvement with their local Buddy Walk.
"Jacoby was only 2.5 months old at his first Buddy Walk...Eric and I became the co-chairmen for our local walk two years ago and it's one of the highlights of our year.  We get to meet new families blessed with a new baby and have gotten to know quite a few young adults with DS, who prove to be productive and wonderful members of our community...It's so touching.  My heart almost bursts seeing so many people come to support Jacoby and his friends.  I ALWAYS cry.  Never fails."
Last year, their Buddy Walk had almost 500 participants including family members, friends, co-workers, and teachers.  I know this is very last minute, but if you live in the Puget Sound area and would like to participate in this year's Buddy Walk, it is happening TOMORROW!  Here's what you need to know:

Saturday, October 5, 2013
 
Registration 9:00 a.m.
Program and Walk 10:00 a.m.
 
Fire Station #34
8407 Steilacoom Rd
Lacy, WA 98513
 
You can find out more information at www.southsoundupwithdowns.com.  If you cannot attend (because I am totally not giving you enough notice), mark you calendar for October 2014 and maybe we'll see you there!  We're on a mini vacation right now, otherwise we would happily be walking in support of Jacoby this year.
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

{Vlog #1} Stop & Smell the Roses: Thankful

Welcome to my first Vlog! This is my first "video blog" and I'm doing the Stop and Smell the Roses vlog linkup with Mandy at House of Rose.  This series takes place on the first Wednesday of every month (today!), so you can expect me to be joining in on the fun from now on!  the point of the vlog series is to take 3-5minutes to share what we're thankful for, or what's been making us smile lately.   I think this will be a fun way to expand my "blogging horizons", connect with other bloggers, and connect with Momster Mash readers in a new and unique way.  I knew I wasn't going to have time to film this now, so I filmed my video a couple weeks ago while Matt was in Denver during the heavy rain and flooding.