Cruisin’ Away

24th March 2015

I didn’t even start to pack our bags until the morning we were leaving.

I guess you could say that the normal vacation anticipation just wasn’t there.

The flight was a long one.

Not because of 5 1/2 hours in the air or the antsy, hyper kid bouncing on my pregnant belly.

It was the staggering silence.

The weight of the world crushing my husband’s lungs as we just sat there.

We settled into our hotel room at 12:30 am and fell asleep with a dark cloud hanging over the bed.

When we boarded the ship the following day I felt the mood shift a little.

Once we set sail the air felt lighter and we finally started to breathe.

The next 8 days were a healthy combination of laughter, tears, frustration, and joy.

As time and tragedies have shown us, Derek and I seem to be able to weather even the strongest storms together, and we became even closer.

We learned a lot of new things while on our cruise.


1: Days at sea confined on a ship with minimal activities for kids 2 and under are challenging.

Declan threw a tantrum almost every time we went back to the room and wanted to be able to zigzag around the entire ship all day long, which was difficult considering the other 4,000 people onboard that also needed to walk places.

We loved having Declan with us but definitely won’t be doing another cruise with our kids until they are 8 or older (sorry Bennett).


2: Dining room dinners are the shit.

The first night we naively skipped the main dining room meal and we felt like fools for it on day 2.

I didn’t know what to expect when it came to food on a ship but it was incredible.

Plus they have you take all of these cheesy photos which I loved.

It’s worth mentioning that everyone lost their cool when Declan came strolling through the main deck in his suit on formal night.

We had people getting up from their dining tables to come over to us and tell us how adorable he was.

I’m pretty sure he got like 10 numbers that night, little stud.


3: Everything cool happens past my bedtime.

They had babysitting onboard but we spent 7 of the 8 nights falling asleep by 10 pm with Declan in our room.

Apparently they had all sorts of late night activities like a 70’s dance party, pirate night, and couples game show but we missed all of that.

The only night we went out was our last night there and naturally it was the most mellow night of them all onboard.


4: Declan loves cookies.

(The above is the results of trying to take a cookie away from Declan)

We may or may not have let our son have one too many chocolate chip cookies during our vacation.

Let’s just say that I think Declan and I made Royal Caribbean regret the whole “complimentary cookies whenever you want” thing with how many we devoured.


5: St. Kitts and Labadee are amazing.

These were our two favorite ports.

In St. Kitts, we took a private tour of the island where we got to see the rainforest along with the culture of the entire island.

Then we spent the rest of the day hanging out with monkeys by the beach.

In Labadee we spent the day splashing in the beautiful water and eating.


6: St. Martin and San Juan were so-so.

St. Martin had gorgeous beaches but it was overpopulated and a little too commercialized for our liking.

They have an awesome beach where the airplanes fly right over the water which was amazing but it was littered with people like spring break in Cancun which made it so much less appealing.

We watched one plane fly over and then left.

San Juan had some cool things like their fortresses and cobblestone roads  but was otherwise just a busy city.

The food was delicious though which made it worth our while.


All and all it was a great trip.

We binge watched “Ink Master” while double-fisting oatmeal cookies, saw countless beautiful sites, cried and laughed together, and bonded as a family.

Life is a crazy, unpredictable adventure and I wouldn’t want to go through it with anyone else.

Monday Bump: 21 Weeks

23rd March 2015

 

These past two weeks have been a bit of a blur.

It feels like I’m standing in the middle of a traffic circle, watching the colors of car lights all blend together into one as they circle around me at warp speed.

We lost Brian, spent the entire next week trying to wrap our heads around the loss, and then hopped on a plane for a vacation.

It felt weird, being surrounded by so many people without a care in the world while our hearts were breaking, but I’ll save the story of our actual trip for tomorrow.

Today I wanted to check in and share a little bit about what baby Bennett has been up to.

*Note: I am actually 22 weeks today. All posts will be a week behind*

AWESOME:

Derek getting to not only feel Bennett’s kicks for the first time but actually see them as well.

Baby kicks are seriously the best part of pregnancy and I’m excited that Derek can finally share in on the fun.

Next step is getting Declan to sit still long enough to feel one.


AWKWARD:

Declan yelling at both Derek and I for touching “his baby” and shoving our hands away.

He also refuses to let Derek touch, talk to, or be next to my belly which I’m hoping is just a phase.


AWESOME:

Being pregnant in paradise.

(Hello being able to eat what I want, whenever I want, for 8 days straight!)


AWKWARD:

Being pregnant in paradise.

(Hello Braxton Hicks and round ligament pains conveniently popping up  every time I had to walk any sort of distance).


CRAVINGS:

Oatmeal cookies.

They were everywhere!

THINGS I MISS:

I definitely missed being able to have a glass of wine at dinner or a cocktail on the beach during this trip.

THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO:

All of the damage control we will be doing this week to try and compensate for the mass amounts of food we consumed.


*I didn’t post a week 19 or 20 update but wanted to still have the baby notes for Bennett later on.

 

3.6.15

10th March 2015

It was the sort of thing you would see in a movie or read about in a book.

A classic tale of two best friends since birth, making plans for an afternoon together that would never come.

We were already asleep at 10 pm on March 6 when Derek got the call.

My husband, who normally would never get up to answer the phone did for some reason on Friday night.

On the other line he heard:

“Son, Brian is dead.”

What happened next is hard to say.

A hurricane of questions, disbelief, and agonizing sorrow set in and as the sun rose hours and several phone calls later, we were hit with the revelation that neither of us had dreamt it and that he was really gone.

They were supposed to spend the day together.

They were supposed to grow old together.


Everybody wants to talk about how he died.

But I’d rather talk about how he lived.

Brian was one of the most diverse individuals I have ever met.

He wore a hat to every occasion (including his own wedding), loved guns, and spent his Wednesday night’s watching American Idol by himself because he had a passion for talented people.

He could quote the entire “Pitch Perfect” movie and name every player on the Redskins active NFL roster.

He was unapologetically honest, stubborn, and free spirited.

But he would give the shirt off his back to help you, no questions asked.

He was the guy in everyones corner, always fighting for the people he cared about.


The very first time I ever met Brian he immediately invited me into his family.

Important to Derek meant important to him and he never wavered from that.

Even though he was tough as nails, he wasn’t afraid to sit you down and tell you just how much he loved and cared about you and he would do so almost every time he saw you.

I loved that about him.

His honesty and willingness to be so open hearted was inspiring.

He truly lived everyday like it was his last.

He worked hard, played hard.

Loved hard.

When I heard that people started trickling into his home the following morning and spent the entire weekend in community with his wife and each other I wasn’t surprised.

Of course everyone just showed up.

Brian’s home wasn’t just a place for people to have a good time.

Brian WAS home for people.

He was comfort.

He was joy.

He was a party and he was a helping hand.

He gave the people in his life a place to belong:

Standing right beside him.

The footprint he left on this earth is enormous. 

The lives he touched, countless.

To simply say he will be missed feels like an injustice.

He will be so much more than missed.

He will be so much more than remembered.

He will be celebrated, daily.

And he wouldn’t want it any other way.

I love you Bri Bri.

 

 

Confession: Sometimes I Don’t Love Mommyhood

3rd March 2015

I’ve teeter tottered back and forth on whether or not I was going to write this post.

When you put yourself out there for anyone and everyone to judge it can be difficult to deal with the repercussions of that.

But I’m coming here today hoping that you will all have open hearts.

And more importantly, I’m hoping that if there are any other mom’s out there silently feeling the same, they will know that they are not alone.


For the past two weeks, I have not enjoyed motherhood.

Wow, just typing that out lifts a huge weight.

I love my son with every fiber of my being but I do not always love my position as a parent.

I was standing in my kitchen at the time trying to whip up some lunch for us when Declan started throwing a fit for no reason.

He flung his body to the floor, kicking his feet and scratching at the tile, all while screeching at the top of his lungs.

After trying to console him for several minutes, I just gave up.

I slid my back down the side of my kitchen island until my butt hit the ground, cupped my face in my hands, and screamed.

My muzzled yell was followed by tears and I looked at the tiny human sitting next to me, still tantruming, and asked him (out loud) why he was trying to kill me.

Sometimes being a mom is just down-right hard.

Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day.

I lose my temper, I give in, I walk away, I cry.

After days straight of nothing but rebellion and frustration from my son I crumble.

And it makes me feel like a failure when I lose my cool.

It makes me feel like a failure when I can’t control my own emotions and break down.

It makes me feel like a failure when I can’t calm my child down.

And when the day is over and I see that sweet, sleeping child, I feel like a failure for ever having felt something less than blessed for being a mom.

You have this idea in your head of what parenting will be like.

And you know it’s going to be hard.

I mean, everyone tells you that, so you know.

But you don’t know HOW hard certain days, or weeks, or even months will be.

You can’t prepare for the times when none of the advice you’ve read on mommy blogs works and you haven’t had a full night’s rest in weeks and you can’t even get a minute to yourself to use the restroom and collect your thoughts.

I know that this is just a small phase of life.

I know we will cross this ocean and move on to bigger, better, and even tougher obstacles.

But right now, it is trying and I can’t sit back and pretend like it’s not.

I won’t hide behind Instagram photos and Facebook statuses that depict whatever image I want you to see.

Because maybe, just maybe, there is one more mom out there that is struggling too right now.

Maybe your hair is turning gray and you are feeling overwhelmed as well.

And I wanted you to know that you are not alone.

You’re not alone and its okay to not be in love with motherhood 24/7.

It’s okay to have moments where you would rather lock yourself in a closet than smother your children with kisses.

And it’s okay to talk about it too.

The community of mothers is an enormous one and we shouldn’t have to have a media blackout when life is overwhelming just because we don’t have any cuddling photos of our little ones or sappy quotes to post.

I will always be honest about my life because I know that the trials are worth sharing just as much as the triumphs.

I hope that you as well, will be able to openly express your hard times for support from other parents without fear of being perceived as a bad mom.

I’m always here to listen mamas, so let’s tread through these waters together.

Monday Bump: 18 Weeks

2nd March 2015

*Note: I am actually 19 weeks today. All posts will be a week behind*

Bump pictures are so awkward.

I’m always sitting there posing for Derek like,

“Does this look normal?”

“Should I hold my belly like this or does that seem weird?”

And he just responds,

“All you need to do is stop talking so that your mouth isn’t open in every single picture.”

….

My bad.


AWESOME:

My sister-in-law who is a month behind me in pregnancy was in town from New York so we got to have her over last week.

Everyone I know personally that is currently pregnant lives so far away which is a total bummer.

It was really nice to be able to talk with her about our pregnancies and share in that together before she had to go back home.


AWKWARD:

During one of my stroller stride classes I suddenly NEEDED to pee.

So I asked the instructor if she could keep an eye on my babe while I ran to the bathroom.

After running about 50 yards I find out that the bathroom is locked.

I see another building about 50 more yards away so I decide to bolt over there in hopes that it is another restroom.

By the time I reach it, I am out of breath and about 30 seconds away from peeing my pants.

So naturally since it was a pregnancy emergency, this building was in fact NOT a bathroom.

In a panic I did what any logical pregnant woman would do:

Squat, drop, and peed.

I ran all the way back to class just in time for everyone to be getting ready to run to our next destination and laughed out loud the entire way.

Hey, you do what you’ve got to do.


AWESOME:

I went to my first ever Mom’s Night In with our Fit4Mom group and it was such a blast.

I really didn’t know what to expect and I can be the most awkward person of all time when it comes to things like this but I immediately felt comfortable with all of the other girls and it was so nice to get out of the house without Declan and talk to some other mothers.

I almost didn’t go but I’m so glad I did and I can’t wait for the next one!


CRAVINGS:

Lemon flavored Luna bars and sweet potatoes.

THINGS I MISS:

Sleep.

Totally not Bennett’s fault but Declan has been bringing back the 4:30 am wake up calls and this mama is tired.

THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO:

We get to see baby B today at the anatomy scan and I can’t wait!


Fit Pregnancy

27th February 2015

When I was pregnant with Declan I had no clue what being healthy truly meant.

I was under the impression that eating an entire carton of strawberries in one sitting was totally fine and that if something came from Fresh and Easy it was automatically good for me.
I ate wheat bread, salads, and fruit like any normal “healthy” person.
But the wheat bread and salad dressings were filled with added sugar and I was consuming over 4 times my daily recommended fruit intake.
I binged on ice cream, cookies, and brownies, convincing myself that it was fine because I was making “smart” (see above) choices for most of the week.
It’s not wonder I gained 40 lbs. and lost almost all of the little muscle tone I had to begin with.
It wasn’t until three months after D was born that I started to eat the right foods and incorporate more than just a simple circuit at the gym into my life.
By 6 months postpartum I had lost over 50 lbs. and I have kept it off ever since.
Okay, maybe I have gained 6 lbs. but I’m pregnant so I’m supposed to!
I hate the word diet and I never use it because eating clean is not one, it is a lifestyle change.
When I deprive myself of things like pizza or a slice of chocolate cake I end up failing with my diet every single time.
So I made a choice NOT to diet ever again.
Instead, I live by an 80/20 rule.
And since this was a lifestyle change and not a fad, I have been able to continue throughout my pregnancy so far.
When I have a craving I satisfy it and move on.
I don’t go on a five-day cheeseburger binge but I don’t sob while eating celery, trying to pretend that it is french fries either.
Food shouldn’t make you feel guilty and if it does you need to reevaluate your relationship with it.

Via Fit4MomLB

Pregnancy is not a free pass to stop caring about your health.
In fact, if there is anytime in your life when you SHOULD care about what you’re consuming it is while you are pregnant.
Eating for two doesn’t mean eating double the calories; it means that everything you put into your mouth is being passed on to your growing baby.
I try and remind myself that as often as possible which is why even on the days where I give into pizza or chips I make sure to drink my Shakeology so I’m still passing nutrients on to Bennett.
I am incredibly passionate about health and fitness because they have completely changed my life.
I have more energy, I feel better about myself, and I’m a happier person when I’m fueling my body with the right foods and getting a good workout in daily.
Still, I will never pretend that pregnancy cravings are not a real thing nor will I deny that I had four slices of pizza on Monday night. (Oops!)
So I’m calling on you guys, my friends, my readers, to help keep me in check.
I’m going to start with a declaration:
I am going to have a fit pregnancy. I will fuel my body with the right foods and I will exercise regularly. 
I will not hold myself to a strict diet but I will try to find healthier alternatives to the intense cravings that may present themselves. 
I am not doing this because I want to be skinny, I am doing this because I KNOW that I feel better all around when I make healthy choices for myself and my baby. 
I will not food shame myself, count calories, or be the crazy lady at the Italian restaurant that denies a slice of complimentary bread. 
I WILL take pride in my growing body, nourishing my child, and choosing the best foods to do so. 
I hope you will help hold me accountable for all of these things and call me out if you see me body-shaming or over binging on my posts on any of my social media.
This is my last pregnancy and I want to fully enjoy it.
Thank you in advance for helping me to do just that!
 

Monday Bump: 17 Weeks

23rd February 2015

You’ll have to forgive me because I had intended to start my weekly bumpdates last Monday but I forgot to snap a photo of the belly.
Chasing a busy toddler around while being pregnant definitely adds a whole new dynamic to things but that’s a story for another time.

Unfortunately Declan is feeling under the weather today with a pretty bad cold so while he is snuggled up on me resting I am taking this opportunity to hop on here and talk to you about my other baby boy, Bennett.

*Note: I am actually 18 weeks today. All posts will be a week behind*

ROCK N’ ROLL:

Though far and few in-between, I have started to feel Baby B kick and roll around.
This is by far my favorite thing about being pregnant so I can’t wait to start feeling the movements more frequently.


WORK IT OUT:

I joined a mommy & me stroller strides class and I am so in love with it.
During my first trimester I barely worked out because I was nauseous all day long, so I was anxious to get back into my routine of exercise once the sickness subsided.
I love doing my home workouts and still do them too, but I knew I needed to get more socialized with other moms and let Declan meet some new kiddos.
At our 3D/4D appointment I was given a pamphlet for Fit4mom.com and I decided to give it a go.
First of all, these classes are WAY more intense than I anticipated.
I was always hesitant to do a stroller stride because I honestly thought that you just walked your kid around in a stroller.
But it is an hour of cardio, weight training, and core strengthening and it’s amazing.
I’ve met some really sweet mamas, Declan is making new friends, and I leave sore everyday.
I hope to be able to continue these classes throughout my entire pregnancy.


FEED ME SEYMOUR:

(Please tell me you got the Little Shop of Horrors reference)

Maybe it’s because I’ve been working out so much more, maybe it’s because baby is going through a growth spurt.
I can’t be sure, all I know is that I am SO hungry all of the time now!
Fortunately, I’ve learned A LOT about proper nutrition since being pregnant with Declan so the choices I make when I am craving food are much better this time around.
I like to think that if I can stay true to that I won’t end up gaining 40 lbs. in this pregnancy but I really love pizza so we shall see.


IS SHE PREGNANT?

Oh, the glorious awkward stage of pregnancy.
To me, I look very pregnant but I know that people still aren’t sure.
So I find myself doing the weird belly rub every time I catch someone looking, just to help them out and let them know that there is indeed a child inside of me and not an extra plate (or 3) of food.


CRAVINGS:

Pizza, dark chocolate, and apples.

THINGS I MISS:

Sushi.

The hardest part about being pregnant for me is going without my beloved sushi.

THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO:

The anatomy scan and our Eastern Caribbean cruise in March!


Goldilocks and The Three Valentine’s

17th February 2015

Admittedly I’ve never been huge on Valentine’s Day.
While I enjoy the idea of showering the one you love with affection, I don’t believe that overpriced chocolates and teddy bears are the way to do that.
I worked in the restaurant industry for 4 1/2 years and I can remember turning all of our 4 top tables into 2 and overcrowding the space just to accommodate more couples for the day.
I can’t wrap my head around why on a day of romance you would want to be elbow brushing the couple next to you, but to each their own.
For me, I prefer a quiet, romantic evening.
But alas, I am a mom and thus our Valentine’s Day plans were more family based, at least until Declan’s bedtime.

I’m lucky because this year I had three men in my life to celebrate with.
Only thing is, as the day progressed I began to realize that my Valentine’s were a lot like the three little bears and I was beginning to bear (pun intended) a striking resemblance to Goldilocks.

My first and newest Valentine of course, was baby Bennett.
My heart was so giddy on our way home from breakfast when I felt three kicks from him.
I eagerly anticipated more all day long but was left disappointed.
Baby Bennett was just too cold.

Then there was my little man, Declan.
Since it was such a beautiful day we decided to go on a hike.
But Declan didn’t like the fact that we refused to let him fall down the steep hills to his death, so he began a tantrum that did not end for over two hours.
Pair that with his decision to continue his 4 day nap strike and Declan was just too hot for this mama.

Lastly, was my oldest, truest Valentine Derek.
He surprised me with tickets to go see one of my favorite comedians, complete with a sleep-in pass the next morning since he got overnight babysitters (Thanks mom and dad).
Then he made me the most delicious dinner from scratch.

But the best gift he gave to me happened when he didn’t even know I was watching.
As I explained, Declan was on a good one all day.
When Derek went to put him to bed it ended up being quite the task.
I could hear Declan screaming from the other room and so I went to try and help.
I crept down the hallway towards our bedroom door, my ankles cracking with nearly every step and as I approached I heard a soft voice singing: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey….”

A calm came over our fussy grumpy babe and a fire roared in my heart.
A burning that seems to grow stronger with every passing moment for the man I call husband.

We chose to build this life together and it’s not always easy.
Fierce personalities all around make the Franklin bunch a force to be reckoned with.
But this life, this love… It’s so GOOD.
And in that quiet moment when he didn’t know anyone was watching, I fell in love with Derek all over again.

He is kind yet firm.
His hands are strong but they grip mine ever so softly.
He is realistic and idealistic all at once.
A lover and a fighter for that love.
He is just right.

Let’s Catch Up, Shall We?

12th February 2015

Thank you so much everyone for the enormous outpour of love yesterday!

It’s been seriously difficult to keep this little babe a secret and I am so glad I can finally talk all about my pregnancy.

So let’s catch up, shall we?

Back in November I thought I might be pregnant.

I literally had no real reason to think so, I just felt like I was.

So I took a test and it was negative, but I still wasn’t convinced.

I waited three more days and took another one.

Still negative.

I brushed my feelings of being pregnant off and decided that clearly I wasn’t.

But then Monday came rolling around and I still had no period (making myself a week late).

I decided to buy another test and take it the next morning, just in case.

Spoiler alert:

It said pregnant!

I took another one because at this point I was convinced that all pregnancy tests were just trying to play one big, elaborate trick on me.

When I saw the two pink lines on the second stick I knew that what I had been feeling all along was true and I was elated.

It was 7 am when I found out and Derek doesn’t get home until 3 pm.

Not telling him all day was the hardest thing ever but I wanted to see his reaction so I patiently waited for him to get home.

When he walked into the house he was greeted by a trail of candy leading out into our backyard.

Outside was a chalkboard sign, the two pregnancy tests, “I’m pregnant!” written in sidewalk, and Declan in a shirt that read, “Big Brother, Bigger Trouble”.

I think Derek spent the next 24 hours in shock which is funny, considering this was a planned pregnancy.


We thought pretty early on that I was having a girl.

This pregnancy has been a night and day difference from Declan and I spent the first trimester nauseous all day long and more sensitive than ever before in my life (Sorry babe).

Symptoms have included:

Eating an entire bag of potato chips (with dip) by myself.

Sobbing uncontrollably at the song Pandora chose to play.

Depression over Declan throwing an entire bucket of popcorn that I desperately wanted only minutes after buying it.

And saying things like:

“Stop it memories!”  as I began crying because Derek brought up an old Glee episode.


Some highlights have been as follows:

Watching Declan listen for “baby” in his own belly and mine.

Finding out that the baby we thought was a girl was actually a little man. (We were genuinely, but happily shocked!)

Having Declan pull up my shirt and blow raspberries on the baby daily.


And this wouldn’t be a pregnancy post if I didn’t talk about the bump.

They aren’t kidding when they say you show sooner next time around.

Holy cow.

That’s what I feel like, a cow.

But in all seriousness the bloating was real in the first trimester.

One day I would look normal and the next I would look 5+ months pregnant.

I finally have a permanent little bump that doesn’t go away when I wake up in the morning and I am so in love with it!


A little about Baby Bennett:

 -He is a mellow yellow. Every time we have seen him he is just sort of kicking back relaxing, which is a huge change from Declan who never stopped moving in the womb.

-He HATES Mexican food, ice cream, anything fried, smoothies, cookies, and pretty much anything sweet except for dark chocolate.

-He LOVES cheeseburgers, Cobb salads, pizza, greek yogurt with peanut butter, and homemade sweet potato fries. Basically give us allllll the carbs!

-So far he looks just like Declan but with my cheekbones.


I plan on doing weekly bump dates like I did with Declan so get ready for pregnancy overhaul!

(Just kidding, not really).

Being pregnant while chasing a toddler around is definitely a different experience.

Some days I forget that little Bennett is growing in there until Declan is in bed and I have a moment to breathe.

But I am so excited for his arrival in July and I can’t wait to watch my two boys grow up together and (hopefully) be best buds.

Hope everyone is having a lovely afternoon!

Date Night Just Got a Little Harder

10th February 2015

There’s something about getting all dolled up and spending a night on the town with the one you love, am I right?

Strolling hand in hand, gazing into one another’s eyes, and breathing in the romance of the evening together.

Simply put, it’s magical.

I relish in being able to laugh the night away getting drunk on one another’s love in a fancy outfit and a dimly lit restaurant.

But date night just got a little harder over here as we have decided to trade in fancy clothes and live jazz bands for something even more magical:

A growing family.

It is my distinct honor to announce to you that, Bennett Lee Franklin, will be joining our family in July, 2015.

That’s right lovelies, we’re having another baby BOY!

My heart is bursting at the seams and I am so thrilled to finally be sharing this little blessing with all of you!

Rachel from SisterLee Photography took all of these incredible photos of our growing family.

Not only is she arguably the sweetest person on the planet, she also has the most remarkable way of catching the essence of love and joy in her photos.

The minute she sent these teasers over I hopped on to Shutterfly and ordered prints of every single one.

I can’t wait to get the rest back so I can make a photo book too!

I’m so excited to share this incredible journey with all of you,  we’ve got a lot of catching up to do!