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The Weight I Carry

My father is an alcoholic. He has been my entire life. I actually don’t remember him any other way and as an adult now, the impact it has on my life is enormous. My childhood was hard because of the choices he made and I am just now starting to come to terms with it. It affects the way I parent my own children and I will never really be able to fully accept that my children will have to know this man as their grandfather.

One of my earliest memories is my father teaching me how to pour him a glass of whiskey. This was so he didn’t have to get off the couch to get it himself. At the time, it made me feel important, like he had an important job for me. When I think of it now, it makes me sick to my stomach. My mother was working most of the time because my father rarely worked, so my siblings and I spent a lot of our time with our father. It wasn’t always bad, there were a lot of good times, but the bad times made the good times disappear. We were extremely poor and there was always a fear of not having money to pay for simple things like groceries or gas for the car. Early on in childhood, I worried constantly about everything. I had some OCD tendencies, and looking back now I think that this was because I needed to control the things I could because so much of my life was out of control.

My childhood was a mix of fear and sadness and anxiety. I was always scared of getting in trouble from my father. He was never physically abusive to me, but he used the silent treatment and isolation as punishment. He bred competition between my siblings and me for his affection. He had completely hypocritical expectations of us, and I especially struggled with these. My mother was an enabler. She didn’t tell him to stop. I don’t know if it was out of fear of him, or more out of fear that he might be angry with her and she might end up alone.

My sister and I were active in athletics, both playing competitively in two sports. My father was our coach, which was miserable. I think my sister took most of the brunt of his wrath because he deemed her the better athlete, but once she had graduated from high school, his focus turned to me. Games were stressful, rides home were awful. My confidence was low, or nonexistent. My older sisters moved out immediately after graduating high school. I stayed at home longer, mostly because my mother seemed to need me and my personality was that of a caregiver. I liked the attention I got from her when there were less children around to take it away from me. Honestly, I liked his attention as well, which makes me feel ashamed now.

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Salad in a Jar Ideas

Salad in a Jar: Weekday Lunch Ideas | Hellobee

I was scanning the archives for meal ideas when I stumbled upon these mason jar salads and knew they were just what I needed. I know this isn’t a brand new idea, but it works just as well more than two years later and is worth revisiting. I haven’t been eating as many vegetables as I’d like, and I’m feeling so spent I just grab whatever is front-and-center in the fridge. When I made these veggie- and protein-filled jars, I went from, “Well, I guess I’ll just eat this leftover mac n cheese” to “Well, I guess I’ll just eat this salad.” Much better.

Salad in a Jar: Weekday Lunch Ideas | Hellobee

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Double Cash Back Through Ebates for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Proflowers, 1800flowers, and FTD are all offering 20% cash back through ebates. Plus 1800flowers and FTD have coupons for 25% off on their sites, and Proflowers has a coupon for 15% off. And if you join ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card for the first $25 you spend. That’s a whole lot of savings and a good reason to buy your significant other or anyone else special in your life some flowers!

valentines flowers
(proflowers, proflowers, ftd, 1800flowers)

And if you’re in the mood to get a little Valentine’s Day treat for yourself, Sephora is offering 8% cash back through ebates. I’m a beauty/makeup junkie and f I were to treat myself, I would get this and this!

Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans yet?

Five pregnancies. Two babies.

When my husband and I were newly married, I vividly remember the two of us joking around one day about what things would be like one day when I was big and pregnant and moody. My husband laughed and said, “Yeah, if you can even get pregnant!” Like it was a big joke and not something we needed to worry one bit about.

Well, fast forward ten years. Apparently I can get pregnant – in fact I have been pregnant five times. But I only have two sweet babies as a result. And each of those five pregnancies was not nearly as simple as I imagined they would be.

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It took us five months to get pregnant the first time. Which is well within the normal range. When I saw that first positive pregnancy test, I couldn’t have been more happy. I immediately told hubby and his face lit up. Within the week we had a list of our favorite names going, I was busily planning the nursery, and we were even discussing childcare options.

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Celebrating our surrogate’s pregnancy mid-point: A special trip to Utah

About a week ago, Mr. Starfish and I traveled to Utah to visit our surrogate and growing baby. While we had met our surrogate and her husband in the past, it had always been in Chicago. That is where we live, and where our clinic is located, and they had to travel to Chicago twice, once for the clinical evaluation and once for the transfer. We were excited to see them again, and on their own home turf!

Me and Mr. Starfish on the left, and our surrogate and her supportive husband on the right.
Me and Mr. Starfish on the left, and our surrogate and her supportive husband on the right.

The main reason for our trip to Utah was the big 20-week anatomy scan. In our minds, this was a huge pregnancy milestone and not one that we could miss. We met our surrogate at the hospital for our Friday afternoon appointment and caught up with one another in the waiting room as we waited. We laughed about the increased activity we were feeling in our bumps that day, and became convinced that the baby sisters were so excited to be so close to each other that they couldn’t stand the excitement and were doing little dances for each other!

The ultrasound went off without a hitch. The staff in the hospital was quite sweet, pulling up two chairs so that Mr. Starfish and I could both get an up-close picture of our daughter on the ultrasound screen. We were so relieved to hear that the baby was measuring perfectly on-pace, and we fell deeply in love with this baby girl who sweetly crossed her arms under her head as she posed for an ultrasound picture.

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Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Hellobee - Delicious healthy oatmeal cookies

A couple of days ago, I came across a pin on Pinterest that blew my mind. I knew that oats were a real superfood – and I’m always trying to find new good recipes that incorporate them, but I had no idea that they were one of the best vegan sources of protein out there. It had never even occurred to me. My kids are vegetarian, and while I don’t worry too much about their protein intake, I was still very happy to learn that all the oats I am giving them are also bringing protein.

These cookies are packed full of healthy oats and other great stuff like coconut oil and cinnamon, and almost nothing that I don’t feel good about giving my children. They have just two tablespoons of brown sugar and they’re super quick and easy to bake with the kids on a Friday afternoon for a treat to last through the weekend. And since there’s lots of measuring and stirring but no melting butter etc, it’s really a recipe that children can help with.

Hellobee - Delicious and healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

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Introducing Mrs. Whale!

Hi, everyone! I’m so excited to join the blogging team as Mrs. Whale; I’m looking forward to sharing my perspective on this parenting gig.

I’m momma to two sugary-sweet little boys. For the sake of this blog, I’ll refer to them by their nicknames, Cubby and Shake. Cubby is 2.5 years, and smack in the middle of his twos—he feels emotions intensely, has an awesome sense of humor, and has more energy than I know how to handle. Shake (which is his big brother’s silly pet name for him) is our newest family member, and will be 3 months old this coming week. We were all a little concerned with how the family dynamic would change with our second child, but it’s fortunately been a fairly smooth transition—Shake fits right in.

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Mr. Whale and I started dating nearly 12 years ago, and have been married for the last five. Due to his job (he is a coach in the professional sports realm), we tend to move around a lot, and we’ve lived in four states in the last six years. It’s almost comical that we’ve had two babies in the same hospital—that’s something neither of us would have expected!

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