Dear Alyssa…Do you Really Have to Grow Up?

Motherhood

Dear Alyssa,

You like to remind me every day that it’s getting closer and closer to your 9th birthday. Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and you know that I find any excuse to throw a big party and have all our friends together. But then I reflect on the last year of your life, and it’s always bittersweet. Something about the fact that you are almost T E N is really not okay with me. I know this year hasn’t been the best, but to be honest you probably think that it has. I hope you never lose that light you have to offer the world. You really are something special.

You’re a dreamer. You get that from me. I hope that you never waste time viewing that as a flaw or trying to fit in.

Thank you for telling me it was okay so many times when it really wasn’t. Thank you for seeing the positive in every situation and finding the beauty in this ugly world. I am so proud of you for fighting through your fears. You handled all the struggles of this year with grace, sometimes much better than I could as an adult. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I hope that you look back at this time and know that everything I did was to protect you.

You’re such a cool kid. I’m not even saying that because you’re my kid. The fact that you still want me to pick you up, spin you around, and “squish” you at almost nine years old makes my mama heart so happy. Your Pokémon pajamas, desire to learn everything possible about sharks, and your independence make me so proud to be your mom.

You know that dance parties require 90s music, that the only way to cure a broken heart is by eating a Snickers ice cream bar, and sprinkling glitter everywhere is just a part of life.

I know it won’t be like this forever. This past year you have learned to play violin, found a love for reading, and gave the best dang soldier performance during the Nutcracker that I’ve ever witnessed. You are so intentional with everything that you do, and sometimes I really do love you so much that it hurts.

You find the best in people, even when they really don’t deserve it. It used to worry me, but after this past year I’ve realized that the world needs more people like you.

Sometimes people need just a little bit of your magic. I know that your smile, despite the worst of odds, made me commit to becoming the best version of myself. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s not okay in any sense of the word, but you made me so proud to be your mom by showing everyone what you are made of. Never stop standing up for what is right. You are your only limit, baby girl. I truly believe you can do anything you set your mind to because I’ve watched you do it. I watched you pick up your violin and play when all you wanted to do was hide under your blanket.

I want you to know that I support you. I love hearing all your dreams and no matter how exhausted I am, your energy gives me life. You love to create, and I am so blessed to call you mine.

So many people have told me that kids are resilient, like you can just move on and forget about the trauma you’ve been through. They’re right in a way. You have shown so much strength. But you also have the biggest heart, and you understand things that an eight year old should have no clue about. Sometimes you’re the only adult conversation I have all day. You’re an empath, like me. I want you to know that it’s not easy for me to leave home at night when I know you need me there to feel safe. But I get to spend my days watching you grow.

There have been so many positives this year. You had your first dance recital, you played basketball and had nerf wars. You went to Mexico and swam out in the middle of the ocean and slid down a slide into the water. You jumped off cliffs into the lake. You drove your scooter to your friend’s house all by yourself. You learned your multiplication facts and read your first chapter books.

I won’t ever be ready to see another year go, but I am always up for a new adventure.

Love you allllllll the way to the moon and back,

-The Zombie Mom

How a Room Makeover can Change Everything with DIY Tips

DIY, Mental Health, Motherhood

Back in December, my daughter went through a very public trauma. Our lives were completely turned upside down, and while I can’t go into the specifics of that right now, I can say that her doctor recommended a room makeover for her bedroom. I have four girls. The older three chose to share a room, and before this happened they basically just slept up there and played in the playroom downstairs. I loved having a simple, clutter free space for them to sleep at night. This made cleaning soooo much easier as toys everywhere drives me nuts, BUT it’s super hard to avoid with four kids.

First of all, this kind of wrecked us all emotionally and it was right at Christmas. We had definitely seen better days financially, but you do what you have to do for your kids, right? Alyssa is usually extremely happy, talkative, and has no trouble sleeping because she’s like the energizer bunny all day every day.

Picking the Theme: I wanted something bright with happy colors. My daughter is super obsessed with space, and the younger two really like unicorns, and everything Jojo. It took some time, but between Target, Amazon, the Dollar Store, and Lowe’s we were able to combine this theme and didn’t spend very much money! So here goes!

Glow in the Dark Stars and Twinkle Lights: I ordered these on Amazon and they were very inexpensive. The twinkle lights came in a pack of 6, and we hung them behind her pastel rainbow colored curtains that I’ll get to later. I also picked up a few extra strands of twinkle lights at the dollar store. I pinned these to the higher parts of the ceiling to keep my younger littles from pulling them down.

For the glow in the dark stars, I used spray adhesive to make sure that they stayed on the wall. They came in multiple colors, which really helped with combining the themes of space and unicorn/whimsical. The stars do come with a sticky back, but it took some time to put hundreds of stars on the wall so I only wanted to do this once.

Paint: I love getting Valspar paint samples from Lowe’s. There are always multiple colors to choose from. I used a bright blue, pink, and purple. The samples are less than $5 a piece, and one sample of each color was enough to complete my project. I painted one wall a dual toned blue and pink, and another wall blue, pink, and purple .

For the dual toned wall, I just used painters’ tape to make a line, and since there was nothing (like a bed) going against that wall, I used the glow in the dark stars to make the separation blend a little better.

For the galaxy wall, I painted a spot blue on the wall, and started blending other colors with a grocery sack. I watered the paint down just a little bit since it is pretty think.

Curtains: I got the curtains on Amazon. They are blackout curtains and this was important since I wanted my daughter to feel secure in her room again. These were such a great choice for the focal point of her room and I loved these colors even more in person.

Bedding: Since I have three girls, originally I wanted to get three different color bed spreads, but it was messing with my OCD too much. I ended up purchasing two pink bed spreads and a white bedspread with pops of purple, pink, and blue for my oldest daughter. Her bed is in the middle so it turned out super cute.

Hanging Stars: A couple years ago, I got these huge gold stars from Dollar Tree. They are actually Christmas ornaments, but they look super cute and sparkly (perfect for a little girl’s room(. I picked up a few more white stars at Target (these were also ornaments). I used ribbon that I already had at home and hung them from the ceiling.

I wanted to get the girls a doll house for Christmas and I spent hours looking for the perfect one. I love DIY projects so I thought about fixing up and older dollhouse, but I became obsessed with this one. I watched for sales and got it for about half price closer to Christmas. If they were going to have toys in their room, I wanted them to be cute.

Playhouse/Reading Loft: We had extra wood laying around the garage, so my husband put it together to make a fun reading space for the kiddos. There is a little bookshelf, and the kids grab sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and whatever else they can find to hang out in there. Alyssa chose some books about space since that’s where she found comfort at the time.

I changed everything about their room, from where their beds were placed, colors, bedding…everything. My aunt and cousin helped out so much and I will forever be grateful. This was at a time when my oldest wasn’t able to sleep at night. I am so glad that she has regained a sense of normalcy through all the chaos.

If you don’t like your story, change it. Don’t just go through it, grow through it. And remember that it takes a village. We are all in this together.

Thanks for following along on our journey!

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

How to Make a Super Fun Summer Obstacle Course for Cheap!

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood

If this is your first time here, Welcome! I’m a mom of four girls who works night shift as a laboratory scientist. I homeschool my girls during the day, and I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas to stay awake all day (while showing my girls the beauty in life). Corona has us all going a little crazy cooped up in the house, right? I planned to blow up the girls’ unicorn sprinkler and let them run around in the front yard, but it had a hole in it. It was way too hot to have a day outside without water so we improvised (which always does end up in the best day ever in my experience).

When we purchased our house, our realtor brought us over a moon bounce the next day!   There were five kids, infant to age 8 so to make this day fun for everyone would take a little work. Most of what I used were just items that we had in the garage. We had a smaller moon bounce/inflatable that served to keep the younger kids occupied while the older kids completed the course. The smaller inflatable was purchased second hand for super cheap.

While the moon bounce was a fun touch, it’s really not needed. This was the end of the course, and everything else leading up to it would have been enough. Here is what I used! Let’s get started!

Toys Used:

  • Two Peppa Pig Trikes (obviously don’t have to be peppa, but the trikes being small made it harder to peddle haha)
  • Hula Hoops
  • Kiddie Pool
  • Baseball and Bat
  • Pop up tent/tunnel
  • Bubbles
  • Water
  • DIY slip and slide (instructions provided)
  • Two Inflatables

Rundown of the Obstacle Course: First, the girls each had to peddle on the tiny trikes to the hula hoops. Once they picked up the hula hoops, they had to hula to the pineapple float (these fun floats were purchased from Target for about $3, I had a Flamingo also). Next, they had to slide down the slip and slide, crawl through the tunnel (pop up tent) and run to the kiddie pool. Once in the kiddie pool, they threw a ball in the air and hit it with the baseball bat. The final task was to run to the moon bounce, and climb to the top of the “wall” in the middle.

Tip: I added water, soap, and bubbles inside of the moon bounce so that it made it harder to get to the top at the end!

 

How I made the slip and slide: You can made this with any thick plastic. I used an old inflatable ball pit that had a hole. I cut it, spread it out, and we put two plastic stakes to hold the plastic in place. You can obviously make this bigger, but since it was just part of the obstacle course, it was the perfect size. You could use old pool floats and if you don’t have anything laying around, a hardware store sells rolls of thick plastic. Another tip to make it extra slippery would be to add dish soap.

Mom Tip: I like to make everything a “game” or “challenge” to keep my oldest interested. It didn’t really matter who finished the obstacle course first, but giving her tasks to complete is also a learning experience. Having ADHD myself, I know how engaging challenges can be and how I can let time slip away from me quickly without even realizing it. Escape Rooms and Obstacle Courses are along the same lines as video games and I have found this extremely effective when learning new topics.

Let me know if you found this helpful! Feel free to follow along for more DIY, life hacks, mom life, mental health, fitness tips and everything in between. 

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

 

Newborn Photography Tips for Beginners from a Mom of Four

DIY, Lifestyle, Mom Life, Motherhood, Newborn, Photography, Work

At 19, I was a full time college student with an infant. Not working wasn’t an option for me, but I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my baby while finishing my education. My first camera was nothing special, but to me it was a huge investment. At first, I really just wanted something better than my phone to capture photos of my baby and I justified the purchase with the fact that I wouldn’t have to pay to get professional photos quite as often. I had no idea the amount of work that went into planning, editing, responding to emails, and of course actually shooting sessions.

My photography business was successful and I have learned so much about posing, lighting, marketing, etc. One of the most important lessons that I learned as a mother (a frugal one at that) is that you don’t always have to purchase the most expensive props. While I definitely believe that investing in newborn props, camera equipment, fancy dresses for unicorn sessions, providing dresses for Well Dressed Wolf or tea party sessions, etc. is important…the greatest lesson that I learned is that you have to get started. The props and equipment will not magically create the perfect photo. You have to put in the work. You have to constantly produce new content and see what people respond to. I’ve found that most of the time the photo that I choose for a sneak peek, meaning that it is the photo I am the most excited about, is rarely the photo the family posts on social media once they receive their completed gallery.

I photograph everything from newborns to weddings. I even did a newborn puppy shoot for our dog, but it took YEARS to figure out what I really wanted to capture. It took time to feel confident in my work. I want to share a few tips with you and in this post I am going to talk about a few aspects of newborn photography.

First of all, as a mom I now understand how stressful it can be to reach out to a photographer in the first place. Photos are so important to me, and I always have a vision in mind. You want to establish a relationship with your client and let them know that although you know what you are doing, you want them to come out of the experience with the photos that they want. I let clients know that I have tons of props and outfits; all they need to bring is a baby; however, they are welcome to bring anything additional that they would like to incorporate. Another tip when planning is to either share a idea board or have them send you photos that they like. I do not try to replicate photos; however, it is good to have a sense of what they are looking for.

Honestly, the best time to book a newborn session is a couple of months into your pregnancy. Many photographers book months in advance and we can plan around your due date. Obviously, this isn’t always an option, but planning a newborn session takes time. After years, I do have several prop and outfit options but I try to personalize sessions as much as possible. Putting colors together, having outfits that will fit baby, and having backup options are all important. I don’t want to waste valuable time that could be spent posing trying to find something that I could have laid out before the client gets there.

When should you shoot a newborn session? Newborns are easiest to pose and at their sleepiest state during the first two weeks of life. Babies have a mind of their own, and I am well aware of pregnancy and postpartum complications after four babies. Sometimes this cannot happen, but be prepared to spend extra time with a baby that is older than two weeks. Certain poses really must be done within the first two weeks. Be patient. Have an idea of what shots you want to get before starting the session.

Must have props: From my experience, I use stretchy cheese cloth or jersey knit wraps almost every session. There are so many ways that you can wrap a baby and using different colors and materials can add variety to your photos without spending alot of money. Basket stuffers, posing pillows, headbands/bows, knit outfits, and flowers are also some go to props of mine. I use a bobby lounger for posing still even though I have posing pillows specifically for photos. This makes the baby feel as if they are being held and has worked wonders for me.

I usually have some type of background noise, and a small heater handy if the baby will be naked for a period of time during posing. 

Lighting: Natural lighting is a must for newborn photos. I do have studio lights that I use for many sessions, but with newborns I typically just use a good source of natural lighting. Keep in mind that newborn sessions can take hours when planning your session around daylight hours.

Make the parents feel comfortable. If mama is stressed, baby can feel that. Let the parents know that you have this under control and although it may take some time to get the images that you desire, there is no need to stress. Having a baby takes alot out of you, and I know that I was so upset right after having my daughter thinking about the fact that I may not get all of the photos that I dreamed of. Being able to relate to your client will set you apart and develop a relationship for years to come!

Thank you for reading! I hope you found these tips helpful! I will be posting more, so feel free to follow along and contact me with any questions you have and what you’d like to see next.

-The Zombie Mom

5 Reasons you Should Never Agree to be Room Mom

Mom Life, Uncategorized

IMG_7410

Last year my daughter was in kindergarten at a small private school. I cried dropping her off on the first day, and most days after that. When I was asked to be room mom, I didn’t hesitate to say YES YES YES!! I’ll have relationships with other moms, I’ll get to be involved, I can trick people into thinking I’m a stay at home super mom, steal some of the Capri suns I brought for class parties…It will be great, or so I thought.

Here are five reasons why you should never be Room Mom:

  1. Other moms are perfectly fine with you doing everything yourself. I didn’t understand the reality of dropping your kid off and going to the gym, but apparently it’s the most important thing in the world. So while other moms were at the gym losing their baby weight, I was stuffing my face with cosmic brownies at the class party
  2. Other moms don’t want to be friends with the Room Mom. If you think you will build long lasting friendships, that will result in play dates for your precious angel, think again. No one cares that you spent 3 hours making Oreo Balls and Reindeer Food with a cute little tag after working all night at the hospital the night before. No one. You get placed into a “those moms” category.
  3. Women can be judgemental as hell. They don’t actually want to be the ones making the Oreo balls, but I can garuantee you they will judge yours. I once had a mom loudly proclaim that she would gladly donate money to the next party because “she works” (after we just finished having a conversation about how we both worked night shift). Well, good for you honey, that didn’t sound hateful at all.
  4. Being room mom will help your party planning skills, thus giving you the false impression that you should now have parties for everything. If you already have a problem with the Target clearance section, being Room Mom is not for you. I’m pretty sure I have an entire closet in my house dedicated to storing items I thought I would use for parties. When someone needs to borrow ANYTHING, I have it. I plan on having a birthday party for both my dogs, and half birthdays for all three kids in the near future, because, why not? I can whip up a party in 15 minutes flat at this point.
  5. Last but certainly not least, You will spend an unreasonable amount of time on the phone with parents who have THE BEST excuses for why they can’t attend a single school event. I get it, you work. I, myself, have a job and I’m here. Oh, you have another child? Hmmm. Me too, I have two under two actually. Still here. Maybe I just don’t get it, but I thought when you chose to reproduce, you also decided that your child MATTERS. I understand not being present all the time but these tiny humans are still humans. They notice when you aren’t there. So, if you feel like nothing is more important that your sweet little shit head, being Room Mom is not for you.

Mom Groups

Uncategorized

I guess you could say that I’m a bit of a “mom hater”. Not really, but I would pretty much rather be run over by a bus than be added to another mom group. For the most part, I feel like I’m a pretty good mom. My kids are fed, clothed, and half the time they even get to school and Parent’s Day Out on time. We may be pulling a Fast and the Furious, my six month old may or may not be clothed, and I may have used profanity on the drive to my daughter’s Christian Academy but it still counts. That is, I felt like I was a decent mom until I was added to mom groups on facebook.

Who came up with Mom Groups? It sounds like a good idea, right? A way to connect with other like minded people and schedule play dates. WRONG. Mom Groups were created by Satan himself as a platform to judge other moms on basically everything while saying phrases like “Do your thing, mama, it’s your baby.” If you look up the definition of “mom group” in the dictionary, there’s an actual photo of Hell. If you’re a working mom, you’re a shit mom. If you’re a stay at home mom, you have no life goals. Give me a break.

I once saw a post where a mom was mad as hell that the doctor didn’t call to explain why her daughter’s Potassium levels were on the “lower side of normal”. 1) Because they are STILL NORMAL. 2) Are you seriously telling me right now that you WANT something to be wrong with your child?….To make matters worse, the comments were from other moms who apparently have a medical degree insisting that something is wrong with her child and she should sue the hospital. As a Medical Laboratory Scientist who works with these values for a living, I felt the need to comment (which I RARELY do) to let this poor mama know that her child was not going to have a heart attack because of Potassium values that were within range.

Guess what happened to my comment? It got DELETED. I’m still a little bitter. Thankfully, though, I’m still part of other mom groups my facebook friends have so graciously added me to where I get read about women’s sex lives and make a list of the people my daughters will never have a play date with.

In case you are still curious as to if you should become a member of a mom group, I will spare you the trouble. Other post examples include but are not limited to: “My child’s temperature is 98.6, and she feels okay but she looks like she may cough…Should I call an ambulance”…”My child is two weeks old…Is it okay to give her chocolate milk?”…”I took my child to the doctor and he said it was Strep Throat but I don’t trust his advice even though I chose him as my pediatrician so I’m going to ask this group of 16 year olds for advice instead.” Still want to join? “Do your thing, mama, it’s your baby.”

Photo of my daughter in a unicorn costume has no relevance and no unicorns were harmed in the creation of this blog post