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San Antonio Do Seum Where Children DO!

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Today was our second trip to the Do Seum. This children’s museum is pretty cool and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy museums. Everything is very “hands on” so it’s been perfect for Audrey. One thing I’ve noticed here that I haven’t seen at any other children’s museums would be the ‘baby rooms’. They have plenty of things for older (walking) children to entertain themselves with, but they also have areas specific for crawlers. Obviously that’s a wonderful idea for mothers with multiple children because you can find something for any age.

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Audrey is a very independent child. When she’s playing she doesn’t want me anywhere near her. For the most part she likes for me to sit and watch while she goes off to explore. This usually means that I’m stuck standing by the stroller or sitting on the ground somewhere. At the Do Seum they did a good job of sneaking in seating areas for parents. In my opinion they still need more because I can see it being inconvenient on a busy day. The outdoor areas are very nice. Audrey was having so much fun playing in the water areas today while I sat in the shade. Unfortunately any bench by mulch was home to ant hills. I was bit several times before I moved to the covered concrete part. I do think they should have created a splash fountain for kids to run though. They are already getting soaked in the water attractions so why not go all out.

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Audrey’s favorite area of course is Little Town. It’s a city for children under 5 and an employee guards the gate to make sure children are confined until their parents leave with them. This little town has a grocery store, veterinary clinic, food truck, post office, and even an airplane! We spend most of our time in that little room of chaos. I think my favorite part is that we can bring in food! I can’t stand the “no outside food or beverage” rule. The Do Seum has a little café that sells pizza, wraps, and other things for under $10. I haven’t eaten there yet but it smells yummy. I always prefer to pack our meals to save money. We bought the Do Seum membership so I think we’ll be spending a lot of time there this year. It’s always nice to have a place to take children when the weather outside isn’t nice.

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http://www.thedoseum.org/

It’s My Birthday!!!

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Today I turned 27! Wow I still can’t believe it. I always felt like 27 was the line that once you passed you were considered “older”. That could just be my “twenty-something” year old brain still thinking dysfunctional about age. I only have one choice but to embrace it! Today was a lot less painful than I expected it to be though. It could be the ample amounts of distractions due to a fun filled camping trip to a Jelly stone Park. I didn’t plan to be camping on my birthday, it just happened this way because of Tom’s work schedule. It all worked out because we are having a nice time here. It’s amazing how different Texas camping is vs. well any place Tom and I have lived haha! This camp ground has a water park with a jumping pillow, lazer tag, arcade, and much more. I was so shocked to see that they have entertainment planned for kids with a new event starting almost every hour. It reminds me of an all inclusive resort in Mexico, except you camp! Audrey is being her social butterfly self, attempting to move into anyone’s camp that contains children. She’s been having a lot of fun and I’m happy we ended up coming. It will make this birthday even more memorable.

Tom was so good this year! I actually wrote in my journal that I thought Tom didn’t have anything planned because I told him I didn’t want anything (not true ever……). If I say I don’t really want anything it means that I don’t have a desire for any gifts, but would still appreciate some celebratory act on my birthday. Tom always surprises me because I can never tell if he will bomb or ace an occasion. This year he did wonderfully *Big Smile*. I thought he would never be able to plan something since I had been the one to plan the camping trip. I like to think I can read people so I usually know when Tom has planned something. In addition to that 80% of the time I can guess what he’s planned and what gift he bought. This time however was a complete surprise. I figured he would do the ‘guy thing’ and take my previous statement literal and do nothing.  Luckily he knows me pretty well. Today after lunch he and Audrey kicked me out of the camper to “prepare”. It was so cute that they were working together! Tom and Audrey came out with a plate of ice cream sandwiches – PERFECT because I don’t like cake. He even snuck away to the camp store and bought some cute yogi bear candles to light. After blowing out my candles I received cards from both him and Audrey. I adore that he got a card for Audrey to give me! I would have been thrilled if this were the end of it, but he pulled out a bag and told me to open it. He bought me a GoPro! What a wonderful hubby I have. All I really wanted was memorable special moments to remember my 27th birthday with, and he delivered that and more. I am blessed!

Our Weekend In Corpus Christi!

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We went to Corpus Christi last weekend because Tom had a conference at the Omni. I didn’t think it was going to be as refreshing as it was because we weren’t leaving the state. I guess I didn’t consider it a ‘trip’. Other than the Omni being a less than average hotel, we had a great time. I still pinch myself that we live in a new state where we can drive to the beach instead of the mountains. It’s a nice change of pace and the people in Texas are just the friendliest around. We arrived Thursday afternoon and quickly discovered that the Omni wasn’t quite as nice as we were used to. Our room would have been wonderful if it had adult sized beds. The room had two DOUBLE beds which are 54×75 inches versus a queen which is 60×80. These are the beds that furniture stores sell for KIDS rooms so why is it in a hotel??? I was almost too long for this bed so I can’t imagine how a 6’ tall man would fare. Another HUGE con was the WIFI. Note only did you have to pay $11-$14 it didn’t work! I called the front desk and their response was “sometimes when the hotel is really full the WIFI doesn’t work well”. Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t a hotel be prepared to accommodate a full house?! The room service meals were very good though. The pool was nice except it should have been twice as large because it was getting a little crowded. All in all we gave the Omni a 2.5-3 out of 5. I wish Corpus invested in tourism more. They need a nice strip of land by the ocean with nice hotels and restaurants on the water. The beach in Corpus is nice, I wouldn’t call it a destination mostly because the city really needs to construct a ‘destination area’. I would skip Corpus all together and go straight to Port Aransas if we were looking for beach time. On last night the conference had a reception that we attended. The food…..well let’s be honest it was pretty gross. Tom even got food poisoning from it! They had two protein dishes, chicken and Mahi Mahi. The chicken still had it’s skin but it was soggy instead of crispy. It tasted like they just boiled it and tossed in hot sauce. The fish was so dry that it became chalk in our mouths and that’s never a good sign. But they did have a live band and we spent most of the night dancing. It was fun dancing with Audrey. You can see some of her ‘dance moves’ in our vlog! It was great being able to dance as a family. The wall facing the ocean was mostly glass so it was lovely being able to look at the water as the sun went down – too bad the food wasn’t on par with the ambience. Over-all a nice low key weekend that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.

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Finances And Families

Why is starting a family expensive?

Sometimes I think that people can start a family on a shoe string budget and be fine. But then I think about how much we spend as a family of 6 and it really amazes me, in a bad way. I am always shocked at the end of the month when I go through the budget and see what was spent where because I never feel like I actually bought anything (except groceries)! This doesn’t even include the thousands of dollars a month we pay in child support or the thousands we have to pay our lawyers to keep defending us.

Necessities start to add up when you have more than one person who needs them. Things like tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, socks, soap, q tips, you know what falls in this category. These things can get expensive because you have to buy enough for everyone. For example if we buy socks for the family we have to buy 2 packs per person and each pack is $7-$12. That is easily $120 JUST FOR SOCKS! If you are a parent you know the struggle is real with socks. They disappear and it’s usually impossible to find the other pair, so buying socks is a regular thing for families. Children grow quickly so we are constantly buying new clothes to keep up. We frequent Goodwill and believe strongly that hand-me-downs are a healthy part of growing up, but it still gets expensive. Kids wear through a good pair of shoes in 4 months – there’s another $200 or more for everyone. Now we go to medicines, doctors appointments, dental appointments, school, day-care, sports, these things can get extremely expensive (especially in our particular situation). I’m not even beginning to scratch the surface of the expenses. We still have household items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper (we go through a lot), paper towels, dishware, furniture, bedding, laundry detergent to clean mountains of laundry, tissues, the list goes on. And who can say no to the nifty baby gadgets that line the aisles claiming to make your life easier?

Obviously you’ll need a larger home which will raise your utilities. You’ll have to furnish this larger home and keep it clean (relatively). You need a car that fits your family and insurance to go with it. Expenses start to increase until you look back and think “WOW, we really spend this much every month?!” Oh and FOOD! We rarely eat out because it’s easily $100/meal so we buy a lot of groceries. I have to go grocery shopping more than once a week to keep our house stocked. Cooking healthy meals should be a priority so that means shopping regularly for non-processed foods. It pains me every time we give in and eat out because I know we just spent $100 on a meal that probably cost $20 to make. A family of 6 goes through a ton of food every week – even more the older your children are.

Once your bases are covered with day to day living expenses THEN you can think about vacations, presents, family outings, college funds, and savings if there’s anything left. It’s no wonder why the average American has collected debt. Living is expensive. Especially if you have to provide a life for your children….and our 120lb Rottweiler.

Like I mentioned before, we rarely eat out to save money. We use cloth diapers and re-usable baby wipes for the majority of the diapering. We go camping for vacations and take picnics in parks. Clothing gets passed down when it doesn’t fit anymore. We shop for items on sale whenever possible. We try to not be wasteful with our resources. Shopping at thrift stores for clothing, especially on a 50% off day. Find discounted family fun on Groupon to save some money. Sometimes Groupon runs a 20% off sale that I combine with Ebates to get up to 26% off the cost. Cutting costs is really part of my full time job as parents. We can’t afford everything we want but we do pretty good balancing the books. It’s just something you have to be aware of every time you pull out your wallet.

 

Our Bodies Don’t Agree With Society

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It seems like every year society pushes back the age it believes women should start families. A few years ago 30 seemed like the “accepted” age to have your first child, but lately I’ve been hearing 35. Obviously there are lots of reasons why some people wait until their 30’s but one of the main reasons I hear is – “I want to enjoy my life first”. My first thought when I hear that is probably WTF? Really? So you think that your life STOPS when you become a parent? Do we just shrivel up and become robot parents raising kids who aren’t able to enjoy life anymore? Having children IS A PART OF LIFE! It’s horrible but this is the picture society has painted for the world. I understand there are people who just aren’t ready and that’s fine. I completely understand not being ready, but there is a physiological clock ticking. The younger generations are being taught to look down on having children in their 20’s because they assume that having children earlier means you have LESS life experiences. Society has pushed adolescence through to late 20’s creating the belief that we are too young to start a family in our 20’s. There is a huge divide within society that shows couples without kids have exciting fun whereas couples with kids have family fun. Why can’t parents have both kinds of fun? Sometimes it’s hard for parents to go have the exciting fun because let’s face it, people are judgmental. They like to label you as an irresponsible parent if you enjoy doing anything BUT taking care of your kids.

Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? In the beginning of the movie you meet a career driven couple who decide to put off a family. Well they continue to put it off until infertility plagues them and eventually the husband dies of old age. The wife continues to try to use his frozen sperm to try to conceive after his death. This scene just sums up societies agenda. If you are in a stable relationship and can afford a family then why not go for it?

So why does it bother me so much that I hear women saying they want to wait until 35? It’s their life they should be able to decide when, with, and how right? It bothers me because the human body doesn’t evolve with societies ideas. A woman’s fertility starts to decline by their late 20’s. By age 35 you are considered “advanced maternal age” which leaves you open to infertility, high risk pregnancies, health risks to you and the baby. It seems like the need to “live MY life” has become more important than the life of their future baby, and that is what bothers me. There are plenty of women that have their FIRST child after 35 and everything turns out fine. But why risk the health of your child because YOU are not ready to enter a new chapter? How do we know this movement to have children later in life doesn’t have consequences that will show up in the next 100 years. A child could be born to a 35 year old mother –  physically healthy and not suffer from a disability until later in life. Now the question would be ‘If the mother were 25 instead of 35 would the child still have this disability’? This question will probably never be answered…. but it’s a valid question to ask. Only time will tell if women having children in their late 30’s are creating life with handicaps.  Sometimes you just have to buckle down and make responsible decisions, even if it’s not how you feel. I know some people don’t have a choice when they conceive, and I am not trying to bash people for waiting. My distaste is towards this specific idea “I don’t want to have kids until 35 because I want to have MY time”. You don’t have that unconditional love for your unborn children yet, but if you did you’d NEVER do anything that could potentially harm them. So make the responsible choice.

Did your life stop after having children? I know mine didn’t. It changed… A LOT that’s for sure. Parents live life on a different level and people without children can’t relate. People can tell you day and night what it’s like to be a parent, but you won’t get it until you are one. Life is busier and we don’t have the same amount of ME time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being a parent is WORK and society doesn’t like work. I can’t even compare life before and after my daughter. Babies bring so much meaning to your life but they also bring a whole lot of stress. Everyone hears about the joys of parenting but with the joy also comes heartache and worries. Your relationship with your spouse changes too. Tom and I still spend time together and we travel a lot more than the average family…….. but it’s different. Family time is not time for US as a couple so it’s important to take time away to be together. It’s not a good sign if parents feel like they aren’t living the life they want. Sometimes we can’t change our circumstances but we can always change our outlook.

My Pathfinder Love Affair

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I searched high and low 3 years ago for a mid size SUV to buy. I originally went in wanting a Toyota Highlander, but was very unhappy with how Toyota did business. It was a lot of Yo yo games like ‘we can’t go lower than…’ but then a day later we would get a call saying ‘ok we got a great deal for you!’. Well after 2 weeks of the “Toyota Game” we were tired of it. They even brought the price down to what we wanted, but by then we weren’t interested in doing business with them anymore. We went on to look at the Durango and ended up really liking it, but they didn’t have a V6. It seemed like a lost cause until I clicked on the Nissan website to find the re-designed 2013 Pathfinder. I loved it in the pictures and later that day I went to the dealership to see it. Once I sat in it I knew it was my car. We leased a black on black 2013 Pathfinder and I have been happy with it ever since.

My lease on the Pathfinder is coming to an end so this weekend we started test driving every SUV out there. There were some good options out there, but just not what we needed. Looking at all these cars ended up reinforcing my love for the Pathfinder. After days of test drives and numbers we found ourselves at Nissan. It ended up being a big PITA because Nissan didn’t have any cars on the lot that had everything we wanted. We weren’t in a hurry so we decided to just wait until they found a car for us. Yesterday we went in to look at a car, but they sold it before we arrived! Amazingly enough they found an even better option fresh off the truck still in plastic. We looked at it for about 15 minutes and we loved it. Next was the ‘not so fun’ part of having to barter with the dealership to get the price down to where we would be comfortable. After 3 hours we were finally ready to sign all the papers for the new car. Unfortunately I didn’t even get to take it home because it was too late. I had to pick it up this afternoon. Well let’s say I was SUPPOSED to pick it up in the afternoon but true to form the dealership made me wait until after 6pm. As you can see in the pic I traded in my black one for a white one. I had wanted a white one since the beginning, but black was the only thing available at the time. So now we are done with the car buying gauntlet. Getting a new car is fun…….once you get past all the crap that goes along with it.

 

The Sunshine State?

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We have been in Ft. Lauderdale Florida since Monday. Tom had a big conference to attend here and we thought it would be a nice opportunity for a get away. Unfortunately we came during a rainy week. We haven’t had too much time in the sun and that STINKS! How is this called the sunshine state after this week lol? We have one more full day here and it’s the only “partly cloudy” day in the forecast. I hope we can soak up some sun tomorrow, but we will see. Yesterday we were on the beach with black clouds and rain……. That didn’t stop us from sitting in the sand and making sand castles. Audrey Godzilla had a lot of fun putting us to work and then smashing it. Last summer we took Audrey to Mexico and she was not a fan of the beach. This time she LOVES it! She asks every day if we can go to the beach and it makes me mad that it’s RAINING! She finally wants to go play at the beach and it rains every day. Too bad. I’m still so happy we live in Texas where we are a drive away from water. I want to plan a trip this summer to South Padre Island to participate in the sea turtle release. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and I am just giddy that we can do it in our own backyard YAY!

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