Author Archives: Amanda

I am a writer, book nerd, student and mother that loves film and spending time with her family. Lately I have been blogging about being a mom, as that's my favorite title :)

The Real World Challenge: My Other Life

MTV’s longest running series, The Real World, has been a favorite guilty pleasure of mine since my high school days. I remember watching CT push little Adam K on the streets of Paris and thinking to mThe_real_world_title_cardyself, Oh to be twenty something and in Paris at this very moment. I fell in love even more with the spin-off/crossover, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I was 16, my body was not prefect and I knew it, I had braces and my share of acne, and I hated high school like most teenage girls. I spent a lot of my time dreaming of what my life would be like after I graduated, when I would move to New York to be a starving artist.

I did end up moving to New York, and oh my goodness was I ever starving! Despite the fact that I lived on a box of instant mashed potatoes and water for a solid two months, I love the pulse that I felt from the city, and it made me feel like I was in my very own season of The Real World. Although truth be told I did not have six or seven other roommates, but I made plenty of friends with whom I stopped being polite and started getting real. Really, the only thing that was missing was the incredible and spacious apartment in the heart of the village that would doubtlessly come with being on MTV, but despite that I was literally living my dream. The only thing I missed was my MTV guilty pleasures. You see, as a starving young actress, a television in general was the least of my worries, and as a result I missed a few years of my favorite reality TV shows.

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Fast forward about ten years and I’m living in a small town in the mid-west, I’m a mother to a beautiful 23 month old son, I have an amazing husband who has supported me in everything I’ve set out to do. My life took a turn that I wasn’t expecting; by now, I figured I would be living in L.A., probably still struggling to make it into the film world, but knowing myself I would still be content with my life. Honestly though, despite the fact that I am no longer single, no longer childless, and no longer in my early twenties, I love my life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

That said, this doesn’t mean, now that I can afford to have a television and access the my favorite guilty pleasure reality shows, that I don’t like to live vicariously through the cast members; more specifically, The Challenge. Now most of you are probably thinking that what I fantasize about is being able to travel to different parts of the world, get drunk, and act like an idiot with a group of hysterical and sometimes crazy people. Well…I won’t lie, that’s part of it. I mean who in this world would pass up the opportunity to party around the world. Plus the houses always have amazing patios with a pool. I would have the best tan ever!

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But mostly what I dream about is getting to compete, both physically and politically. Even though history has shown that the women in these challenges get very little to no input in the political aspect of these games, I believe I would absolutely rock with the politics in this game. One of my favorite board games is Risk, and I’m really good at it. In these games it’s important to think four or five moves ahead of your opponents. Just saying. And if I had to choose a “side” I would likely be on whichever side Johnny Bananas is on. Let’s face it, the guy knows how to play the game, and despite his recent eliminations gone wrong, he tends to win or at least be at the final and take home some cash.

So every Wednesday night, as I sit in my basement with my husband with my beverage in one hand, I watch the competitors do crazy activities that I’m doing too (in my own head, of course) and having fun drinking, laughing, pulling pranks, and, yes, sometimes (only sometimes) I imagine that I am involved in a steamy hook up. I feel like it wouldn’t be very much of a challenge experience without at least making out with one other person. Now, let me make it perfectly clear that I love my husband, and I’m not now nor would I ever be interested in anyone else but him. That doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize every once in a while about men that I’ll never meet. I think every wife and husband in the world has at least one “celebrity” that they fantasize about. I know my husband has had dirty thoughts about a celebrity woman or two, and I don’t blame him at all for it. He has good taste. He married me, after all! I’m a catch guys, really!

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I am not afraid to say it; I live vicariously through the people who participate on these reality shows, and you know something? It’s fun to fantasize about a life so different from my own. As much as I love my life the way it is, I think it’s healthy to imagine myself living a radically different one. And who knows? Maybe there’s an Earth 2 where my doppelganger lives the life I’m imaging. Maybe she’s over there, on Earth 2, imaging herself living as a wife and mother in a small town. Regardless of whether the grass is greener on the other side, there’s always a fence, and looking over to the other side isn’t the same as taking your own side for granted.

So dream on, fellow mommies. Fantasize to your heart’s content! Live vicariously through whomever you wish, because in the end the only thing that truly matters is that you continue to appreciate your life as it is.

A First-time mommy’s nightmare

The last week has been a hot mess of runny noses, wet coughs, fevers and body aches for my family. We live in the Midwest where the flu has evidently hit hard! It all started the morning after Christmas; our son woke up with 101.5 temperature and nose running enough to fill a bathtub, which for any first time mom can be very scary. AJ had never been sick before this and I hardly knew what to do besides give him a bath to bring the fever down. My husband was so worried that he stayed home from work so we could freak out together. We got through the first day, unable to keep our baby’s temp down with baths and Tylenol for more than an hour or so. We’d decided to take him to the prompt care the next morning because he wasn’t eating much and wouldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. I wound up calling the doctor’s office at around one in the morning because we couldn’t get him to sleep so that we could get some sleep.

Finally, the next day came and my sister in law drove us to the prompt care since my husband had to work. We waited about three hours before he was seen and his temp was 103.6. I broke down into tears of defeat as soon as the nurse left the room to get him some Motrin. How could I let my baby get so sick? What had I done wrong? What could I have done better?

All these questions were racing through my head and I almost forgot that I was sleep deprived and still new at being a mom. How could you possibly know how to do something that you’ve never done?

The doctor tested my sick little baby for the flu and wouldn’t you know, he was positive for type A. My poor baby had the flu at just ten and a half months old. I remember when the doctor left the room to write out a prescription for Tamiflu, I hugged my little boy close to my chest and gently rocked from side to side until he fell asleep. In a strange way, I felt as though we were bonding all over again– sharing something that only a parent can share with their child– and just like that, I was no longer the clueless first-time-mom anymore. I felt like I was in control again.

The nurse came back in, gave me the prescription and told me how to use Tylenol and Motrin to keep his fever down. Then she looked at me with a smile and said, “You’re his mother, you have that motherly instinct. Just listen to it. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear that.

Five days later, AJ is on his last day of antibiotics and now my husband and I are sick, but despite our coughs and stuffed up noses, the only thing that matters to us is that AJ is back to his normal, playful self. I wanted to write this because I know what it’s like to have your baby sick for the first time and feel so helpless and scared. And if just one mom reads this and it helps her know that she’s not alone and that everything will be okay, then me sharing our experience with a sick baby will have been worth it. Another good thing to keep in mind that I’ve come to understand is that because he got sick now, he’s built up some anti-bodies! Which will help him in the long run.

So if you find yourself in the position I was in five days ago, don’t worry mommy. You know your baby. Listen to your mommy voice and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your doctor’s office has nurses that you can call twenty four seven and they really do help.

A Midwedding Night’s Dream

A little over a week ago, my husband and I got married at the courthouse with the intentions of planning our dream wedding to take place in a year and a half in Miami, Florida, since most of my family still lives there. It’s a tall order for us to plan what is technically a destination wedding being that we live nowhere near Florida, but I am determined to make it work. On top of that, my goal for this wedding is to keep the total costs under $5,000 without compromising what I have always envisioned. Yeah…I know. I’m dreaming. Maybe, but I can be very resourceful and I’m not giving up.

Oddly enough, I think I can have exactly the wedding I want, exactly the way I want it. Obviously this is going to take a lot of work, research and time, but no matter. Challenge accepted!

My dream wedding party and wedding dress attire.

My dream wedding party and wedding dress attire.

My dream wedding is not the same as your average bride’s dream wedding. I love Shakespeare and for as long as I can remember, I have wanted a Shakespearean themed wedding, complete with the dresses and groomsmen attire from the 1993 movie version of Much Ado About Nothing and the wedding band that Leo gave to Claire in Romeo and Juliet. I have pretty simple and inexpensive taste and saving money on everything is like a game to me.

Therefore, I will do everything I can to save as much money as possible on the wedding I have always dreamed of having.

I’ve already managed to get half of my save the dates for free and fully intend to get the rest of them for free as well. I did this by using my Pamper points to buy 25 free 4×8 photo cards, which is precisely how I intend to obtain the remaining 25 save the dates needs to satisfy my guest list. And if I play my cards right, I think I can get my invitations for free or at a substantial discount, but that’s a road I’ll have to cross when I get to it. As far as the other expenses go, I have already secured an officiant, who volunteered her services (she also happens to be my aunt and Godmother) and I have a friend who is a seamstress and has agreed to make the dresses and vests for the entire wedding party- mine and my husbands included- and will only charge me for fabric plus ten dollars an hour.

My dream wedding ring

My dream wedding ring

What will cost the most money is the venue, which I am already doing vigorous research on and I’ve found quite a few all inclusive places that are under 5,000. This makes me very happy. The only down side is that we are in Illinois and while I have family in Miami that can do some legwork for me locally, I have to rely heavily on other people and their schedules. I’m okay with it, but I really wish I could be there to make sure everything turns out the way I want it. On the upside, we’ve been planning a visit down there for this summer so that my grandfathers can meet our son, so it looks like we’ll be doing some wedding errands while we’re there as well.

I’m actually pretty excited to be doing all of this. Probably because I’ve never done it before and this is the biggest party that will have ever been thrown for me (and for my husband). I’m sure by the time the wedding itself rolls around, I’ll be ready to rip my hair out (if I haven’t already), but I have a feeling that all of the hard work, the sleepless nights and the inevitable stress that comes with planning a destination wedding will have all been worth it.

So, dream Shakespearean wedding…here I come!

 

Why I am BEYOND excited that Teen Mom 2 will have another season

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I found myself binge watching old episodes of 16 and Pregnant and then later, began watching Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2. The irony of it was that I had poked fun on friends who watched the show when the episodes first aired, as reality TV (though often entertaining) makes me roll my eyes quite a bit. Unfortunately, Teen Mom had their finale season, though reports say that MTV is bringing the show back for another season, but Teen Mom 2–much to my satisfaction– has never stopped filming. And now, I just read on The Inquisitr as well as The Ashley that there will be a season six of this bitter-sweet tale of four teenage mothers who have been gracious enough to share their lives (and their drama) with the world.

I had been watching the fourth season (for, like, the third time) on Amazon Prime and had seen a few headlines reporting that Leah wouldn’t be returning for another season, but that the rest of the cast was. I had also remembered Chelsea posting on social media about how they were filming their final season (which made me sad at the time that the show was coming to an end), so I decided to investigate the goings on of Teen Mom 2 and was elated to find that not only are they doing a sixth season, but Leah has decided to join her cast mates in telling their story of how they’ve dealt with teen parenthood! You might be shaking your head a chuckling right about now. Here I am, 28 years old and I’m watching 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom/Teen Mom 2. However, in some strange way, I identified with these girls.

Though I was 11 years their senior when I became pregnant while they were still in high school when they had their children, I felt just as scared and helpless as they did. I was inexperience, I was somewhat of a party girl and we (myself and my boyfriend at the time) didn’t feel financially stable enough to start a family. AJ was unplanned and for the first few weeks after we found out he was coming, he was feared. Neither one of us had much experience with babies and for the first couples of weeks, we were pretty overwhelmed. There were a lot of decisions to be made in not a whole lot of time. And on top of that, our room mate at the time was not the best person to live with. He was broke, no job and had a huge problem with alcohol. Not a good situation at all.

Watching a show about young girls who have babies and are faced with the hard reality of their decisions to raise these babies were somewhat of a comfort. I wasn’t the only woman who felt like her life was being spun out of control and it helped me cope with the major changes that would come with having a baby. Even now that my son is 10 months old, it’s really awesome that I’m not alone in first time motherhood. That’s why I’m, super excited for the new season of Teen Mom 2! Bring on the drama and adorable kiddos!!

 

I Suddenly Want To Be The Griswolds

4198536813_a86c5aa436_z Growing up in South Florida made it pretty difficult to get into the “Christmas Spirit” although I still loved Christmas. I looked forward to the season every year and often wished that it would snow, just once, on Christmas Eve. I didn’t have my first white Christmas until I was 21, when I moved to New York. It was magical and all, but I was living in the dorms and therefore Christmas decorations were kept to a minimum.

When I moved to Connecticut was the first time I experienced snow during the holidays as well as epic decorations through out the house. My step dad would put lights up outside the house, we had a huge Christmas tree that sat in our living room from the week after Thanksgiving until the day after New Years and my mom and I would bake cookies and apple pies. It was wonderful. But I never thought I would want to literally vomit Christmas Spirit as badly as I do now that I have a family of my own.

When Adam and I first got together, the most we would do to get into the Christmas Spirit was put up a small tree (the only size we could fit in our one bedroom apartment at the time), exchange gifts and maybe watch one or two Christmas movies. The following year, we did the same and I added making “Bear Waffles” on Christmas morning into the mix. Our third Christmas together (last year), I was pregnant with our son and had already started wondering what Christmas would be like with our child with us. It was exciting, but the following morning, our tradition of Bear waffles and Christmas movies continued as usual but I made no effort to add to our tradition.

Now that we’re in the Midwest, with a house of our own, a nine month old and family close by, I feel this urge to cover our home (inside and out) in Christmas decorations. I have this beautiful image in my head of Adam and AJ standing outside, Adam squinting slightly as he tries to visualize hundreds of Christmas lights on our house, deciding where he should start. AJ rolling his eyes and lazily swinging his arms from side to side as he wonders how long dad is going to keep him outside in the cold. I know that this is a fantasy that has little chance of happening, mostly because Adam isn’t very enthusiastic when it comes to the holidays. He works in retail, so I tend to give him a pass on this.

Maybe when AJ gets older, he’ll change his mind when it comes to Christmas decor and I certainly hope so. Because now that we reside in this town (where we will likely reside for the rest of our lives), I have a need to build stronger family traditions. Especially since now we have a family of our own. I dream of one day stepping outside to tell my husband and our son that dinner is almost ready while hoping my announcement won’t startle either of them into falling from the roof where they’re hanging twenty thousand twinkle lights. To hear Adam yell in rejoice as he calls his family outside to see his masterpiece. To stand in our living room with the lights off as we stare at our decorated Christmas tree while listening to Elvis Presley sing Christmas classics.

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To stand in front of our illuminated home, as a family, and relish in the Christmas cheer. I know it sounds pretty ridiculous and it certainly isn’t what Christmas is all about. However what Christmas is about is family, tradition, love and peace. As a mom, these are the things I strive for.

And so even though being like the Griswolds mostly happens in the movies and even though Adam isn’t a “Christmas Cheer” kind of guy, I believe that building our family’s traditions are important. So I’ll keep trying, I’ll keep adding traditions. I will strive for Griswoldism forever.

What are some of your family’s Christmas traditions?