Establishing and Preparing a Birth Plan

Preparing for the birth of a baby is momentous life event and one you are sure to not forget whether it is your 1st or your 4th. While exciting, it can also be very overwhelming to consider all of your options and the choices you will need to make for yourself and your baby. I wanted to provide an easy to read resource for Moms and Dads to be in order to help customize your own birth plan and other preparations before the arrival of your new precious bundle.

I did not have a birth plan for the birth of my first and second daughter. My first it just didn’t cross my mind to have one prepared and with our second I figured we already did it once without so we shouldn’t need one. Ok, full disclaimer…. we forgot to bring our birth plan and other documents to the hospital when the time actually came with our 3rd, and this was even after a false alarm just a few days before. *palm to face* We did have them saved on our phones for reference, it just would have been nice to have printed off copies for my Doctor and nurses to see. However, I had put a lot more thought into how I wanted this birth to go after my doula trainings. So, even without a physical copy of my birth plan in front of me, or to hand out, I felt much more prepared and confident in decisions we needed to make. It also opened the conversation up more for Justin and I about our expectations this 3rd time in advance. While I have failed to bring and present my birth plan into the delivery room I do highly recommend preparing one!

Other things I recommend preparing, if you feel like it would serve you well during your labor, are a list of birth affirmations and also a list of ways your partner or support person can best assist you. Birth affirmations are going to be short sentences or words that are empowering and encouraging to say out loud to yourself or have your support person read. A list of supportive measures speaks for itself as it will be a guide of your preferences or possibly even things you would like them to say or do.

*Around 7 cm dilated with baby #3 and just started on pitocin, things were about to really pick up after this photo!*

Below I will share an example of a birth plan, birth affirmations, and a list of support measures I have put together myself. I pieced this together from various resources I found, mostly on Pinterest. I realized there are a lot of suggestions for things to include on a birth plan and it is not a one size fits all. The one piece of advice I was given in my doula trainings when helping someone write and establish a birth plan is to make it clear and concise and really do your best to keep it to one page. Presenting a 3 page, single spaced, document to your medical team is likely going to go unread.


Baby Boy Birth Plan

Parents to be are … this is our 3rd child and our first boy.  Pregnancy overall has been uncomplicated.  We are open to all options and would like any procedures explained to us in order to birth our baby the safest and healthiest way possible for both mom and baby. (Include any information you find applicable about you and your pregnancy.)

*Should a situation arise where I am not able to make medical decisions for myself or our baby my (insert name of partner/support person) will be my medical proxy.*

Labor Environment

  • Quiet and relaxed environment
  • Besides medical staff, these people (list persons by name) are allowed into the room.  I will let you know if there are exceptions to this.
  • Door to room closed during labor, pushing, and immediate postpartum period.

Pain Management/Monitoring

  • I am fine with continuous monitoring
  • Would like to move around if possible
  • My first choice for pain management will be nitrous oxide and if I cannot tolerate contractions with this I will consider an epidural.  (Overall, would prefer not to get an epidural.)
  • I have done some preparation (birth affirmations, breath work, and coaching husband) to manage my pain.


  • While pushing would prefer not to be on my back the entire time
  • I prefer not to have an episiotomy.
  • I would like to be helped/coached while pushing.
  • Please wait for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before it is clamped.
  • Skin to skin immediately once baby is born, unless medical necessity prevents this.
  • Dad is to cut the umbilical cord.
  • If a Cesarean becomes necessary
  • I would like Justin to be present during the surgery if possible.
  • I would prefer immediate contact with my baby as soon as possible.
  • I would like the baby to stay with me at all times if possible.


  • Baby will be exclusively breastfed.
  • I would like not to be separated from my baby unless medically necessity requires us to be.
  • We would like to have baby room in with us 24/7.
  • If baby must be separated from us I would like my husband to be with him during any procedures.
  • Please tell us before if visitors come before allowing them into the room.

Newborn procedures


  • Erythromycin ointment, Hep B, and vitamin K shot are approved by parents to be given.
  • Circumcision desires if baby is a boy.
  • Please allow me to hold my baby while injections are given or blood is being drawn.
  • Baby is not to be bathed until the 24 hour mark. Allow vernix to be rubbed in or soak in.


Support Measures


  • “This is hard but you are doing it.”
  • “You are strong enough for this.”
  • “We are so close to meeting our baby boy.”
  • “Its ok to cry.”
  • “I’m right here for you.”
  • “What can I do for you right now?”
  • “You are doing exactly what you need to be doing.”
  • “Breathe for baby.”
  • “I love you and am proud of you.”
  • Have a conversation about anything but labor if I seem able to talk.
  • The less questions, besides necessary ones, the better.


  • Hand holding
  • Hugging
  • Should/back massage
  • Get cold cloths for forehead
  • Turn down lights or close blinds
  • More or less blankets or pillows
  • Standing while swaying and leaning against you

*Offer birth affirmations as a form of distraction or if I seem to be getting panicky/not confident in the birthing process.


Birth Affirmations

– I am safe.

– I can do anything for a minute.

– The power and the intensity of each contraction cannot be
stronger than you because IT IS YOU.

– It is ok to be scared and it is ok to cry.

– I am capable and strong.

– Each wave brings me closer to my baby.

– I am confident about my ability to give birth.

– I will meet our baby soon.


– I have complete confidence my body is doing what it is supposed to.


I hope you find this an informational and helpful resource. Please reach out with questions or if you want help putting together a birth plan more fitting to you and your family.  Best wishes and lots of love to all expecting mamas out there!


Photo by Jennifer Christi Photography





Author: Jessica Omdalen

Stay at home mom and wife with a passion for writing, loving my family, and just doing life!

2020: Quarantine Edition

It goes without saying that times are weird, uncertain and getting pretty scary. This is completely uncharted territory for many to be living this way and experiencing what we all are.  I have barely been watching the news, not because I don’t like being informed, but because there is so much information out there right now that it has become hard to digest.  It is hard not to be fearful as the virus spreads and continues to claim lives of many.  With everyones “normal” changing in a matter of days, and increasing in intensity in the past weeks, it is difficult to know how to navigate these times.  Maybe it just goes to show that there truly is no such thing as normal.

I have to say that I would much prefer this worldwide pandemic was not going on, however, I am really trying to find the silver lining in all of this and I see so many others are trying to do the same.  Just over 6 weeks ago we welcomed our 3rd child, Kallen, into the world and into our hearts.  I never anticipated that we would get this much time together as a family and really have a chance to bond with our newest addition.  I feel guilty about being glad to have this opportunity to be together as I know so many are still working through this mess; especially the medical professionals who are risking themselves to exposure every day.  Even while trying to maintain a positive outlook I am still terrified for my kiddos, especially our little guy, as his immune system is all so new and him still tiny! I would love for things to return back to what they were before and not have to question our safety every time we must go to the grocery store or run an essential errand.  It kills me to think of all the small businesses that may be ruined, lives being lost, the stress and emotional turmoil that is all consuming to some, job loss, and the financial burdens many are experiencing.  Another thing that is really tugging at my heart is mamas who are preparing to bring a new and precious life into this world and have the extra weight of worry this virus puts in place.  You imagine your birth and the days and weeks following such a miraculous life event for months, maybe even years depending on your story, and many feel helpless and like they are being stripped of such a momentous time.  I see you, hear you, and am thinking of you and praying for you.

There is little we can do but what we can do is relatively simple and has been laid out for us in the blandest and easiest of terms to understand: stay home.  If you are not deemed an essential employee, stay home.  With the exception of grocery store trips and other things like necessary doctor appointments and bank errands, stay home.  This is quite possibly one of the easiest tasks we will be asked to complete in some of the hardest times for many.


With all this at home time what are we even supposed to be doing? How do we keep busy and not go completely insane?  Outside of working hours (if you are now working from home) here are my suggestions on things to do based on what is going on in our own household and suggestions I have seen others make:

  • Get outside – weather permitting of course.
  • Read a book (or listen to one) – I am almost through my second one, have another one on the way and browsed my own bookshelf today for anything I haven’t read yet.
  • Rest –  Thats right, take a nap, heck take 2 naps if you can.  I believe resting our minds both for our emotional and physical well being would do us all a lot of good.  This is the only way I can completely shut my brain off in order to stop stressing over whatever is worrying me.
  • Binge a TV show – Yup, do it and do it guilt free. Tiger King on Netflix is all the rage right now…. Carole Baskin totally fed her former husband to a tiger, THAT we can all agree on.
  • Pray – if doing so is within your realm.
  • Organize – I haven’t really been able to do this one myself lately but go after that closet or area in your home thats been driving you nuts and you keep putting off taking care of.
  • Online shopping – WORST advice ever but everyone needs a little retail therapy now and then right?!  If anything just do some browsing to kill an hour or two.
  • Exercise – again, something that could be crucial for your mental, physical, and emotional well being!  Get going on that program you’ve been thinking about starting or maybe try something new you haven’t done before like yoga.
  • If we can all successfully manage to do our small parts we can hopefully slowly integrate ourselves back into life as it was before; sooner rather than later and with a new mindset and appreciation for things. If you do find yourself home and lost on what to do with your time I highly encourage you above all else to connect with your family in a way you maybe have not had the time or opportunity to do so before. Thank you to all medical personal and other workers deemed essential who are still reporting every day to their job posts and fighting the good fight.
  • Surviving the Season of Sickness

    As a whole, we are together in the throws of the most wonderful time of year….the months of back to back illnesses! I find this time of year to be especially contagious if you have small children (a.k.a. tiny germ factories who touch everything). Our 5 year old has been ‘off’ the last few days and wouldn’t you know it at 3 a.m. this morning she came into our bedroom with a solid fever.  Last year was especially trying as it was our oldest first year of preschool and we were introduced to everything under the sun.  We had multiple stomach bugs and endless respiratory grossness.  I have been hoping this year would be better but this is already our second virus to enter the house in the last two months.

    As anything with children today has been an unplanned whirlwind of laundry, like a real serious pile of laundry, and disinfecting our entire house.  I am currently treating everything as biohazard material.  If you want to know my true desperation to avoid anyone else getting sick all of our dirty clothes and other things are sitting in the garage img_6287until they can be washed.  I’m even getting as far as to air out and attempt to sanitize our mattresses. The struggle is so real today! Besides the guilt you feel watching your little ones be miserable it can be very stressful to have sick children.  Things like colds and stomach bugs are not typical things you can plan for and they tend upend your entire schedule and any routines you have.  However, with kids and really just in life, you have to be able to roll with the punches and adjust when things come up requiring you to do so.

    So, how the heck do we stay sane while dealing with the madness of parenting sick children, and maybe even being sick yourself.  Not exactly sure there is a clear cut answer to that but I’ve found putting aside all other responsibilities, within reason of course,  and just being able to focus on nurturing yourself and your kiddos is absolutely key.  More often than not, even when my kids aren’t sick, I survive the day to day by focusing on the essentials of making sure everyone has clean clothes, is bathed, and fed.  That’s all you can really ask for sometimes right?  Of course I also survive on the support of family and friends by asking for help when I really need it and especially if I’m having an “It’s the end of the world” moment. Justin, my husband, travels quite a bit for work (so in all honestly I have a lot of these so to speak end of the world moments…) and when I have a crying and puking child at 4 am, and am on my own for dealing with it, that can be a super lonely feeling. One of the last times I had a puking child, and I mean puking everywhere…. it was on our bed sheets, blankets, pillows, herself, and the floor, I decided to wave my white flag and admit defeat.  Once things were cleaned up we spent the next two hours watching movies and I checked myself out of worrying about things that were needing to be done the next day or the places I might have needed to be.  As I mentioned, you have to get your priorities in line for whats really important and needs to be done, and sometimes it truthfully isn’t all that much even when it feels like a serious dead weight is riding you.

    Hopefully we won’t see too many more illnesses in our household this winter but I don’t anticipate that actually happening, because kids are gross.  We have another baby on the way and my need for cleanliness, organization, and overall sanitization is through the roof but there is only so much you can do to prevent, unless you want to live in a bubble (which I know I considered once or twice last year). I’m praying my mad dash for cleaning anything that can be cleaned or put through the sanitize cycle in our washing machine and dryer pays off this time.  Fingers, toes, and anything else that can be is crossed.

    I wish everyone a blessed, safe, and joyous holiday season! Stay warm and wash your hands!!!!!

    Much Love,


    Why Potty Training isn’t one size fits all

    Potty Training.  Whether you have yet to do it, already done it, or are in the trenches of it like me I believe it is more than fair to say that it is not the same experience for everyone. When you read the books and get the advice it all seems pretty straightforward and like it should follow a rather specific and exact path.  I’m here to tell you this is absolutely not the case.  Every child is different and every parent is different therefore resulting in different potty training tales.

    “Wait until your child is ready”  is what I have heard the most and agree there is obviously a lot of truth behind this statement.  If your child isn’t ready you are going to quickly be met with a brick wall of frustration and a lot wet clothes. I am working with our 3 year old right now and we are on day 2.  Yesterday by 3 p.m. we were both mentally drained and I was lost at how to continue the rest of our day in order not to overwhelm her but keep making progress.  She was so proud of herself the times she successfully used the toilet but I could tell she was at her limit for processing it all.  Day 2 we are powering through but I can again see her stubbornness poking through and feeling my own coming to the surface as well.  This is hard stuff you guys!  Anyone who tells you differently is lying or has a unicorn child that potty trained far too easily and should just keep it to themselves.  (Mostly joking…)Screen-Shot-2017-09-13-at-10.50.00-628x622

    I’m going to back track a little bit on preparing for what we are woking on right now…  First, I found a book that came with good reviews and was an easy and straightforward read.  I recommend “Potty Training in 3 Days” by Brandi Brucks.  You can literally have this read cover to cover in an hour or two.  The information and advice offered is easily understandable and relatable.  However, I will say (and this is the only potty training book I have read) is that this is, to me, a rather intense method as it is meant to have your child potty trained in 3 days.  For us, this is really not doable, and whether thats an excuse I’m telling myself or not I am not willing to sacrifice my sanity or my child’s experience with this to do exactly as this book says. So, I am using it as a base and making alterations where we need to.  This is a complete work in progress that I am hopeful with be fruitful within the next few weeks.  There truly is no perfect way to do this.  You have to do it in such a way that works for your household and doesn’t cause undue stress for everyone.  Stress doesn’t equal success in this case!

    So, if you are familiar with me you might think well this is not her first rodeo what about her older child.  What happened there?  Was it just as difficult or much easier?  It was neither, because *gasp* my 5 year old is not potty trained.  When I initially thought of doing a potty training post it stemmed from the difficulties we have had with our 5 year old and all that surrounds why she isn’t potty trained.  However, I have a lot of guilt and quite frankly shame as a parent, and hesitate even still to share, but maybe this information out there will make a difference to someone.

    We have a very smart, kind, and compassionate 5 year old little girl.  You really would never guess she deal with what she does, and who really cares because it doesn’t define her as an individual anyways.  When she was 2 some constipation issues started popping up and as any parent would do we began to ask questions and seek out help.  At first, and for the most part, it was pretty straight forward what was going on and what needed to be done.  The poop needed to come out and we were told it would eventually resolve itself as she grew and developed.  Unfortunately for her it did not.  The issue seemed to escalate rather quickly and going number two truly became a source of stress, trauma, and anxiety.  By the time she was 3 we heard conflicting opinions from multiple doctors… “she will be potty trained when she is ready.”  “You have to make her do it, don’t  give her a choice.”  and a little bit of everything in between.  We have been referred to a GI, made trips to the Emergency Room, sought out the help of multiple doctors, been referred to OT services, and are now about to begin therapy services.  The last 2(ish) years have been a whirlwind of wondering what we have failed to do as parents and what else we can be doing to help.  With any issues that pop up in life its never anything you expect to have to deal with and can be quite intimidating waters to navigate.  I can’t imagine being 4 to 5 years old and trying to process some really big fears and emotions regarding something everyone expects you to be doing by now.  It is a super difficult thing to explain (not that we owe anyone an explanation) why she isn’t potty trained.  I’ve certainly heard the “just get it done” tone in peoples voices but I’ve also received compassion that its ok.  It’s really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel with this issue but really the only thing we can do is believe its coming and supporting her the best way we know how.  So, as of right now we are latching onto any signs on progress for her and hoping the next steps we are taking can help us to help her overcome these struggles of anxiety surrounding using the bathroom and the past traumas she has experienced regarding it.

    Really there is so much more that can be said about potty training but I just felt the need to put this out there that it is not easy for everyone and there is not a one size fits all solution to do so.  Maybe when I have successfully completed potty training our 3 year old  I will be able to follow up with some actual tips and tricks regarding potty training!  Until then and always….. stay sane fellow parents!


    My Doula Journey: Continued

    Some time has passed since I made the choice to become a birth doula and went forward in receiving training to do such.  This past June I completed the Birth Doula Workshop along with Basics of Breastfeeding and Childbirth Classes.  I don’t know that I have ever been a completely active listener during a class, which totaled 24 hours when it was all said and done, but all of this information had my full attention the entire time.

    Besides self study at home (continuing reading the required materials) I have not done any further training as life has many seasons and my family is in a new one!  We are expecting our third child and I am so relieved to be armed with all of this new information regarding birth and all things you experience with a brand new baby that I didn’t necessarily have before.  Along with all of that I have also done a lot of self reflection on how to make this best work for myself and my family so that I can better serve the women and families I hope to work with one day.  In my original post on this path towards becoming a doula I quickly mentioned my passions regarding the postpartum period and this still stands true.  The days and weeks following the birth of a new baby speaks to me on so many levels which likely stems from my own personal experiences with PPD (postpartum depression) after the birth of our second child. While I view the entire birthing process as a complex and sensitive time and I especially believe this for the time after baby has made their debut.  What I did not know at the time, but was hopeful for, is that you can specifically become certified as a Postpartum Doula.  Often being a Birth Doula and a Postpartum Doula go hand in hand  (which only makes sense because a relationship has been established) but like anything this is not always the case which goes back to clients preferences along with the doulas as well for what services they offer.  All of that being said I am now turning my focus towards Postpartum Doula training.  I do hope to continue learning on in regards towards certification as a Birth Doula but the unpredictability of birth and stricter demands of being on call for your clients does not fit together well with my lifestyle right now.  Am I open to still serving families as a Birth Doula?  ABSOLUTELY.  It is something I still plan to consider should I be asked to but right now I want to dive into everything postpartum care and what I can do to offer my experience, knowledge and insight regarding this part of parenthood.

    Early this Fall I sat down with a friend to speak with her about her own birth preferences which is another area I am more than happy to discuss with expecting parents, and I really enjoyed doing so.  What so many parents lack before and after the birth of a child is conversation and real answers to questions. There are so many choices to be made when giving birth, especially in a hospital birth setting, so knowing what you want and being comfortable and confident enough to speak for your needs is key.  Counseling on birth and postpartum, before any of that fun actually happens, is an important aspect of being a doula as you get insight for your clients needs and wants and they can get a feel for what services you can offer to them.

    If you would like basic information on what a doula is and does please refer back to my previous post titled “My Doula Journey…”  Also, if you want more specifics on either a birth doula or postpartum care please feel free to reach out to me personally.  I am more than happy to answer questions, help you find resources and point you in the right direction.


    My Doula Journey…

    Is only just beginning!  I am no more than a month into this new venture and every book I read, group I join, conversation I have I know I am working towards what I am most certainly called to do.  If you are wondering what a doula is I am happy to share!  A doula is simply a support person for the laboring person along with their partner.  They offer coping mechanisms (physical and verbal), encouragement, reminders for what is written in the birth plan or specific wishes that have been made.  Doula’s do not offer medical advice or perform any procedures.  While doulas are professionally trained they are not medically.  However, doulas are ferverently educated on the childbirth process and everything that comes with that territory in order for clients to feel confident and comfortable with who they are including on their journey to parenthood.


    With that glimpse into what a doula is you are maybe asking why I personally chose to pursue this.  I have always had a love for babies and also a pretty intense interest in the process of pregnancy and childbirth.  Besides all that it was actually a really weird moment of realization for me several weeks ago and possibly a little cheesy.  I love to read, always have and probably always will.  I finished a book and decided to make a quick run to check out a local ‘Free Little Library’ (which I had oddly never done before.). Anyhow, I placed my own book in there and began searching for a new read.  I came across a book titled “Midwives” which instantly sparked my interest.  I went ahead and took it home with me and while driving my mind eventually led me to the idea that I am able to do something to support women and help bring little lives into this big world. The answer is as you have likely figured out, become a trained and certified doula! I have actually considered becoming a doula before but at the time my kids were very little (and they still are) and I just felt like I wouldn’t be able to make the commitment at that specific time.

    There is also the facts of my own birthing experiences and becoming a mom myself that make me passionate about this line of work.  As I learn more about the birthing process I am realizing the impact the birth of our first daughter has left on me.  I will attempt not to digress too much, nor am I looking for sympathies, but it has become clear in the last month that what I went through is deemed “normal” but, you guys,  IT IS NOT.  Looking back I consider my experience to be filled with trauma and mistreatment  by the medical professionals who were there to help me bring her into this world.  It is difficult to explain without giving you full details but to summarize as best as possible I was not allowed to get off my back while pushing even though I did not have an epidural.  (Even with an epidural there are more positions that can be tried.)  This lasted for almost 4 hours.  Multiple nurses and myself asked if I was able to move and every time I was told no but never given a reason.  At 23 years old with a first baby and little knowledge of what you are entitled to as a patient along with the idea that this was all just normal and ok I didn’t question him and oddly enough neither did a single nurse. My doctor choose not to say a single word to myself, and really not even the nurses, the entire time.  He just stood there staring at my crotch in silence.  Typically they place the baby on your chest immediately after delivery.  They asked me if I wanted this when I was a few pushes away from her being born and I declined.  I was so worn down I couldn’t hold the little girl I had been waiting so impatiently for for 9 months.  I also left the hospital with a wrist injury, from squeezing the bed rails so hard, which I never addressed because again…. this was all part of the process right?  Fun fact:  a nurse walked out of my room while exclaiming that she “couldn’t deal with me anymore.”  I break all of this down to impatience on their ends and wanting it to be done with already, as if I didn’t.  Instead of choosing to be encouraging and supportive they made the choice to be silent onlookers.  Thankfully everything was ok, I was just fine and baby was perfect.  I do have to give credit to one nurse in particular though who finally had enough, moved me, and physically helped me deliver Solveigh.  She visited me the next day just to check in and hugged me.  I can tell you right now that hug was the most validating thing to be offered that what I did was hard but I did it.  Her empathy and support is exactly what every women deserves when giving birth, the entire time, and I hope to be able to offer that.


    (This statistic is very troublesome to me if you think about how many women give birth on a daily basis.)

    So, who gets to use a doula?  ANYONE!  If you think that additional support is just what you need then do it.  It is found that women who use doulas often have shorter labors, opt to use less pain medications, need less interventions, and overall have a more positive experience.  Using a doula of course does not guarantee any of these things as birth is a very unpredictable process.  There are also postpartum doulas.   Some doulas offer 1 or 2 postpartum visits with their birthing services, and meetings before the birth as well.  Others may have a specific focus just on the postpartum portion.  These are important questions to ask when interviewing a doula as you want to make sure you are getting the services you think will be most beneficial to you.  I personally hope to have more of an emphasis on the postpartum aspect of childbirth because I know how vital those first few days and weeks are to new parents.


    I want to provide you with a list of books, some of which are required readings for certification.  I have not read all of them but what I have read so far has been very informative and not a disappointment.

    • The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin
    • The Doula’s Guide to Empowering your Birth by Lindsey Bliss
    • The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help you Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth by Marshall and Phyllis Klaus
    • Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-Emergence of Woman-Supported Birth in America by Christine H. and Elaine G. Clift
    • Birth Without Fear: The Judgement-Free Guide to Taking Charge of your Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum by January Harshe
    • Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin
    • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
    • This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Davis Raskin
    • Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth by Walker Karraa


    Lastly, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.  If I do not have the answer I will find it for you or find someone who has the right information!  I am going to link the webpage to the DONA website who I am becoming certified through.  There is a ton of great information on there as well!




    Life with pets: A story of Love and Loss

    I have had pets all my life and have always appreciated their presence. Losing a pet was perhaps the first lesson in life I experienced regarding death.  I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed over a fur friend whom meant so much to me.  I also couldn’t even begin to measure the vast amounts of unconditional love they have given me in my lifetime. Pets always have been and always will be an important aspect of life for me.

    Recently, we had to make a tough choice for our youngest cat and unfortunately while we we were on vacation.  This really crushed me. She was essentially my oldest daughters cat and they had such a cool bond.  I think that is what hurt me the most is knowing she was going to already going to experience the loss of something so precious and important to her.  It has always been upsetting when a pet dies but like I said, this really wrecked me between the shock, not being there for her, and dreading having to explain this to the kids once we were home.  This was also the first time I had to make the decision about what to do and it felt horrible having to say it out loud.  I am so appreciative to the vets office for their honesty along with the kindness and compassion they could offer for us from a distance.  That was about the only thing that made it remotely bearable.  Of course, this will not be the last time we have to go through this.  I can only hope it will be slightly more foreseen and we can be there with them.

    “If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.”  – David Ellsworth

    Even with all the heartbreak the loss of a pet causes it truly does not outweigh the love they gave during their time with you, however long or short it may have been.  Already the second time I will be mentioning it, and likely not the last, they give us so much unconditional love.  Animals are perhaps where we can look for the best example of it.  In their eyes you are everything and more.  They do not judge or criticize.  They are there to greet you at the end of a long day with jumps, licks, nudges, or whatever is kosher to them and likely to you, there to make your bad day better or your good day even more special.

    Though I’m guessing most of you reading this already know I want to share the definition of unconditional love…

    “Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, or love without conditions.  The term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism or complete love… most will agree that it is a type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging.”

    I pulled this from a google search and wikipedia link.  Even though I could have dug deeper for maybe a more reputable source, I find this explanation spot on and matching my own understanding of what unconditional love is. For me, this is exactly what I have been gifted by the animals that have come into my life and all too quickly stepped out sometimes.  I will forever appreciate that ability to experience what they offer.  I love to see the connection between our cats and dog with our kids.  (The cats and the dog have zero connection still, it’s very much a work in progress and may very well never happen.)  It is my hope that they continue to enjoy pets in their lives and maybe even pass the love for them onto their own kids.  I find having pets to be a great thing while growing up and I don’t have many reasons as to why other than that I pull only positive memories from it and, you guessed it, the unconditional love they offer.




    Happy Birthday to the Blog!

    Happy-Birthday-FlowersHappy 2nd Birthday wishes for my blog!  Belated, as it officially turned 2 the beginning of March, but better late than never right?!  Without going all the way back to reference some of my original posts I just want to reiterate that I don’t exactly have a specific path for this blog.  I had hoped to have more posts by now but I don’t, and that’s really just fine.  I do this because I simply just enjoy it and do not pressure myself to find material to write about.   You won’t find me stressing over something that isn’t a requirement for life.  Totally kidding, I stress about the most unimportant of things.   To date this will be my 24th blog post but I have probably written over 100 have written in my head while laying in bed at night.  The not so funny thing is in the morning I typically remember the topic of what I wanted to talk about but have zero recollection of what I actually wanted to say about any of it.  If I blogged as much as I wanted or as often as thoughts came to my head I would never sleep! So, cheers to my blog turning 2 and a salute to all the posts that maybe should have been written but its probably ok that they weren’t.  Here’s to all the posts to still come!



    Disney Traveling Tips: An Amateurs Guide

    We got home from our first Disney trip as a family just over 12 hours ago!  Minus a few travel errors, some expected meltdowns, and sunburns we really tried to avoid I have to say our trip went well.  I feel very rejuvenated after some much needed Vitamin D and the ability to take my mind off of the every day tasks that I get way too wrapped up in.  Throughout this trip I realized a lot of what we would do differently next time and what we really wouldn’t change. So, here I am to share those things!

    Let’s start with Travel….

    First and foremost, this is an important aspect of your trip and likely tends to be the most stressful for some people such as myself.  I agonized over getting our kids through the airport with suitcases and carseats in tow.  This is probably what I prepared for the most.  I honesty spent multiple hours of several days researching how to best navigate the airport with small children.  Here’s what I realized and also what I bought:

    1. There is no clear cut answer as to how to do this.  You have to figure out what is going to be most functional and also affordable for you.  There are tons of products out there and I did most of my shopping on Amazon for the quick shipping and reading product reviews.  I picked up 2 VolkGo car seat bags and also 2 VolkGo suit case straps.  The suit case straps give you the ability to hook your convertible carseats on to your suit case by the top tether hook.  We actually didn’t end up using the straps but most certainly used the bags. They had backpack straps on them with padding and it made it tolerable. This only worked for us because we did not have connecting flights, just one direct flight.  If we had had multiple flights I’m quite certain my back (and also my sanity) would not have been able to take it.
    2. Prepare for delays, especially with kids, but of course hope for the best you won’t have to deal with them at all.  We were so lucky our kiddos handled the delays well, consider me impressed.  We got to experience both weather related and mechanical delays.  If you are lucky enough to be on a flight with the option of movies you are probably good to go.  Our first delay had us sitting on the runway for a total of 3 hours with a break to get back into the terminal and reset.  Our 3 hours on the plane turned into 6.  We were also packed with some new books and also snacks but we knew in advance we would have access to movies so we didn’t prepare too greatly for things to do.
    3. Depending on where you are staying you may need to rent a car.  If you are staying at a Disney Resort you do not need to worry about this.  You will be bused from the airport to the resort and they have shuttle service to and from the parks.  We did not stay at a Disney Resort so we rented a car.  This worked well for us however because our last 2 days were spent in Daytona Beach.  I personally recommend staying at a Disney Resort to remove this hassle but we also liked the freedom to come and go without waiting in a line.  Total personal decision based on what you want your vacation to be like.


    If you are like me a good meal is important to you.  This is one aspect of our trip we did not necessarily plan well.  Many of the Disney restaurants require reservations because of the mass amounts of people there.  It’s not that you can’t walk in if there is availability but there likely won’t be (heavily depending on the time of year). This is the first time I am going to mention the Disney app.  As soon as you book your Disney vacation download that bad boy.  Here you can do everything to set your trip up, including making dining reservations.

    To save little money we picked up breakfast items to eat in our hotel room before heading out of the day.  Cereal, muffins, fruit and yogurt go a long way!  We only ended up going out to eat for breakfast twice and one morning was taken care of with a breakfast voucher.  We also brought our own reusable water bottles which we filled at the hotel bar with ice water before we left.  From my understanding you are not limited to what you can bring in to the park in terms of your own food and drink.  So pack the snacks and save yourself some dough!

    There are so many fun things to try once you are in the park and I encourage you to indulge.  My favorite treats were….

    • Chesire Cat Tail from the Chesire Cafe in Magic Kingdom (Right by the Teacup Ride)
    • Dole Whip Cup from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom
    • Churros in Disney Springs
    • Ice cream from anywhere because it was HOT for these Minnesotans
    • Minnie and Mickey Whoopie Pies from the Harbour House in Magic Kingdom

    I wish I had taken the time to take pictures of all these items because not only did they taste good looked just as good!  I do have evidence of the Cheshire Cat tail though (picture below).

    In the Parks 

    Now, from this specific trip I can only speak for Magic Kingdom as this was the only park we visited this time.  However, this is more of a general overview of how to make the best of visiting any of the parks included in Disney World.

    First of all: HAVE A GAME PLAN.  I am the absolute worst at this so we waltzed in there having no agenda for the day.  Wrong.  Don’t do this.  We pulled it together quickly (and quite honestly our day went really well) but I would have liked to be more prepared and we might have actually done less walking.

    Don’t feel like you have to jam it all in (cue me sticking my foot in my mouth) because we spent 10 hours, you read that right, 10 hours in Magic Kingdom.  Do I recommend this? NO.  We knew this was our only park day, the kids were still enjoying themselves, and we were so caught up in the excitement of it all it literally just happened.  So future trips park time for one day will be cut in at least half.  I have heard and read it is impossible to do an entire park in one day and I can attest it is indeed fact.  Create a format for your day and fill in the blanks as you go.

    Probably one of the most important things you can do if you plan to go on rides is hop onto that Disney app I told you about and get those fast passes booked.  Unfortunately you only get 3 a day so make them count. If you are staying at a Disney resort you can book these up to 60 days before your visit and non Disney resort patrons can book up to 30 days before your visit.  We did not book in advance at all (as we bought our park passes the day of) but we were still able to use our passes.  Our options for what we were able to to use them on and times were of course limited but as I said we were still able to find attractions to use them on.  I would also like to mention this app shows you wait times for all the rides and attractions in the park which is very helpful when planning where to go next and what you are willing to wait in line for.

    Lastly, if your children are young they are probably going to get the most out of meeting the characters.  Don’t get me wrong our kids loved the rides they went on but the most joy came when we met all the Princesses, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and also Mickey and Minnie.

    Little to no explanation needed for this one: stay hydrated and apply that SPF on the regular!  (I threw gatorades in the freezer the night before to use as ice packs in our cooler and also so we would still have ice cold drinks several hours into our visit once we had gone through everything else.)


    I’ll make this quick. I have to recommend the preferred parking.  It is $50 compared to $25.  If you do not have small kids save the extra $25 and make the last tram ride.  If you do have kids this saved time getting back to our vehicle as we were all completely wiped out.  We didn’t have to walk nearly as far and did not have to wait in line for yet another tram to the parking lot.


    In the amount of planning I did for this trip what I kept reading what bring your own (t-shirts, small character toys, or whatever else is cool or fun for kids) which doesn’t exactly make sense to me except from a financial standpoint.  Trust me I get it, each time we went into a store in the park we walked out and wondered what we actually even left with.   However, I am totally ok with that expense because walking into the stores is like an exciting explosion of Disney things and its so fun to get to pick our something that is meaningful to you regardless of your age.  So, my personal view on that is ‘spare no expense’ but you have to do what is comfortable for you and won’t cause you undue stress.  You do you!

    We certainly know what will we do differently the next time we go and as I said what we wouldn’t change.  There was a pretty relaxed vibe to our total vacation as we also included 2 pool/beach days.  Next time we will be making much more reservations and buying our park passes earlier for even more Disney experiences.  Overall, it was a great trip and I highly recommend taking your kids there, heck, take yourself as an adult there without kids! We will certainly be returning and are enjoying the memories we have collected.

    Coaching and What I’ve Learned

    I don’t have an extremely extensive dance background and I was certainly never the stand out.  I was terrible at spotting, struggled with picking up choreography as quickly as others, and for whatever reason never counted when I danced (the most basic thing you can do….*major face palm*).    So when I saw a coaching opportunity pop up at a local school nearby I thought it would be a fun opportunity to get back into a sport I have always had a passion for but also it threw a lot of self doubt into my head.  How could I coach and lead when I was never ‘the best’.  I was excited enough to do this that I got past those negative thoughts and took it on.  I am so glad I did.

    As with anything coaching, and dance itself, has its highs and lows.  Some practices leave me frustrated and questing why I would take something like this on and then there are days where I see so much progress being made, even from just one individual, that I am so proud and happy.  I have watched girls come into practice from what I can only guess was a difficult day for them and their attitudes completely transform once that music comes on and they do what they are there to do.  Not only do I see emotional changes from them I also get to watch them improve and work their tails off.  This is my second year coaching.  Last year I had a few girls brand new to the sport and when I say new I really mean brand spanking new.  Pirouettes (turning) was like speaking a foreign language to them and it we were essentially starting at the basics.  We are turning now!  Still a work in progress but you would never know last season was their first.  One of my absolute favorite things to witness is these girls have personal goals for themselves and to be successful.  It makes my heart swell with pride, not because of anything I have done, but because I know how good that feels to finally connect the dots with a skill.

    Coaching has not only exposed me to teaching others but it has also taught me a few things about myself.  First and foremost that I am capable.  As I mentioned above I had some pretty serious doubts about my ability to be a coach.  I didn’t just want fill the title of coach physically I really desired to serve a purpose and give these girls the tools and help they need to be happy with the results at the end of the day.  I wanted to give them 154283_455765582010_7714489_nmy best so they could give theirs.  Choreography scared me.  Not only creating a dance but then teaching it and helping them execute it.  I procrastinated and struggled and filled my head with more negative thoughts.  Finally one day I just sat down (really stood up and moved around) and just did it.  It was hard but came more easily to me than I initially anticipated.  I could do this.  I was going to do this.  We are now in the middle of our competition season and I am happy with my work put in and even more thrilled at these girls being so willing to do whatever I throw at them.  Is what I created perfect?  Heck no.  Do I recognize what areas I need to work on in terms of choreography on my end?  Absolutely.  Its all a pretty serious learning process! I have to laugh at myself a little bit… I am personally insulted when we get nailed by the judges for categories such as ‘creativity’ because I am responsible for that!  I have to remember to be a little bit more light hearted because I am truly doing my best and they are doing their jobs by giving the appropriate feedback.  Those feelings however validate for me how much of myself I have put into this and again how I want these girls to feel happy with themselves and with their teammates at the end of every practice and every competition.

    As I have always known, this is really a sport (and also an art) you can put your whole self into emotionally and physically.  I think that’s one of the reason I love it so much.  I have seen people cry upon finishing a routine, witnessed people get teary eyed from a dance they are watching, and felt these emotions myself both while dancing and while viewing.  I hope in years to come I am able to participate in this amazing sport in some way or another.  In my opinion, dance is a sport that is for life!


    Circa Fall 2010 at MSUM. Go Dragons!