It’s not you, it’s {ME}

Chan to Mars Blog | It's Not You, It's Me!Let’s get real here. Text, Facebook messages, Snap Chats, e-mails . . . who can keep up? If your communication addressed to me takes any sort of cognitive effort to respond to, even if it’s minimal, it’s likely that you will not get a response for days, sometimes a week. Don’t worry it’s not you, it’s me! I’m a mom of youngsters, I work part-time for several different jobs one including my own business and as a stay-at-home mom, I try to clean my house and do laundry, I pick up toys everyday, wipe hineys, dry tears, break-up fights preferably before they get physical . . . and any energy that I have left at the end of the day, after the kid’s bedtime, goes to catching up with my husband and a couple TV shows. So, when you don’t hear back from me . . . don’t worry, it’s not you, it’s me! I can’t keep up and I’m not going to pretend like I can. There will be a day when my house is quiet, clean, my dishes are done, my laundry is pristine, my husband & I can go on dates whenever we want, my kids will not need me as much, and I might actually feel like I have some sense of control in a world full of chaos (bonus points to anyone that can tell me what movie that’s from). But, right now I’m living in chaos and trying to love every minute of it. Just savoring and enjoying my children’s childhood! Sure, there are days when the mess and the boys drive me nuts, but those kids bring me more joy than I ever could’ve imagined. People say, “it goes so fast”, “enjoy it while you can”. I’m trying and you should to! Stop making excuses, we understand, we’re right there in the trenches with you.


{HALF} My Life

Half my life. This guy has officially been by my side for half of my life. Fifteen years ago today, I met my husband. Now that we have kids, it seems crazy. When we were the kids, it wasn’t crazy at all. I mean, seriously, as a parent, it’s crazy and slightly scary for me to think that my boy’s could meet their future spouse at such a young age.

There are so many great things about finding your partner in life at such a young age. You grow up and grow together in so many ways. You change, a lot, and you both accept and adapt. You were there, for the good, the bad, and all of the memories that come along with it. By the time you get married, your families are already friends and you already feel like part of their family.

I’ve told the story of how we met many times, but I’ve never put it in writing before. So, here goes . . .

Chan to Mars Blog | Half my LifeWe grew up in a small town, and went to a small school. But, we had never met or heard of each other until the night before we actually met. Nathan was two years older than me in school, we hung with a similar circle of friends, but he had a girlfriend, so he was not hanging around the same scene as me and my single friends. My sophomore year, the school had a winter formal, it was scheduled for a Saturday in December 2000, but we had terrible weather the week of the dance and the school decided to postpone it. The new date of the dance was February 10, 2001. In late January 2001, Nathan and his girlfriend called it quits after two years.

On February 9th, I was having a sleepover at one of my friend’s house, like I did most Friday nights, and at this sleepover was the first time I’d ever even heard Nathan’s name. On the other side of town, Nathan was staying at his best friend’s house, a mutual friend. His friend asked him who he was going to go to the dance with. Nathan said, “I don’t know, I need to find someone”. They started flipping through the yearbook and stopped when they got to the N’s in the sophomore section, where they saw me! Which was an awful photo by the way. Nathan’s friend told him that he knew me, and that I was going to be with the same group of friends that were all going to the dance together.

On February 10th, all of us girls were getting ready for the dance at my friend Meghan’s house. All of our friends and their dates were going to meet us there, then we were going to dinner, and then heading to the dance. It was a group of about twenty kids. Everyone started showing up. Then, Nathan walked through the door with our mutual friends. I greeted my friends and was thinking, “who is this guy?” about Nathan. Like I said, I’d only heard of him the night before, I had no idea what he looked like or who he hung out with. I’m sure they introduced us. Then, my friend (the girlfriend of Nathan’s best friend) suggested that I ride with the three of them to dinner, I declined, but Nathan’s best friend was not taking no for an answer. Afterall, they had picked me out of the yearbook the night before . . . they had a plan. Nathan drove the three of us to the restaurant. I can’t remember exactly where I sat, but I do remember asking Nathan if he was going to finish his chicken tenders and when he said no, I ate them. That girls, is how you do a first date . . . a first date that you don’t even know that you are on! 😉

After dinner, we headed to the dance. I had a blast with my friends and didn’t really pay any attention to Nathan until the end of the night when a conga line started and he squeezed his way behind me and grabbed my hips. After the dance, I rode with our friends and Nathan to the after party at our friend Matt’s house. It was there where I found out a boy that I was supposed to meet up with had started dating someone else, and in true fifteen year-old girl fashion, I started crying. Guess who was there to console me? Nathan, of course. He asked what was wrong, I told him, and then I laid my head in his lap, continued to cry while he rubbed my back. Then, Regulators by Warren G started playing, I popped up (that’s my jam) and something magical happened . . . I had found my match in life when Nathan and I recited the rap word for word. It completely turned my night around, and for me, sealed the deal about this guy. This was my future husband! From that moment forward we were inseparable. We haven’t spent longer than a week apart since.

Happy Meetiversary Sweets. There is no one I’d rather do life with and there is no doubt in my mind that we were brought together for a reason by God.

Regulators, mount up!!! 



Happy {HAPPY} 2016!

IMG_2200I wish everyone a happy {HAPPY} new year!

As a mom, I often find myself saying, ahem, thinking this little prayer (because I don’t have time to get a word in edgewise) “God, please grant me the patience that I lack, the understanding that I need & the peace that I crave.”

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  |  Psalm 126:2

To the moon & back . . .


Thoughts on {MOMMY}hood

Chan to Mars Blog - MomDay2015

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

This weekend, I described motherhood to my friend as something that absorbs you. Not necessarily in a bad or a good way, it just does, it just is . . . absorbing. It’s the hardest and the best job in the whole wide world!! There’s constant worry, you have to repeat everything you say multiple times, you have to think of everything, you know what your kids need before they know what they need and in return you get sweet and loving hugs, bedtime kisses, seeing joy in their big eyes, and a love that is greater than anything you’ve ever known. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

Keep that {SCREAMING} Baby Quiet!

Chan to Mars | A mommy lifestyle blogLet me set the scene for you . . . It’s 11:00ish, my baby is hungry, and we’re out running errands. I scanned the area and I had two choices for lunch; an “order at the counter, seat yourself” sandwich and salad place or a sit-down restaurant that serves breakfast during lunch hours. I choose the breakfast restaurant because I knew Marshall would eat scrambled eggs, I wasn’t so sure what he would eat at the sandwich place.

By the time we get into the restaurant Marshall is ravenous. He’s pointing at everyone’s food and loudly saying “Dat! Dat! Dat!” as in “I want that!” I asked the server to bring him two things, scrambled eggs & biscuits and gravy. I figured if he were that hungry, then we better double down. Then, I asked with a chuckle, “Can you bring his food as soon as it’s ready so he stops screaming about everyone else’s food?” She said, “I know how that goes, I have 2 boys and another baby on the way.” She brought the food out very quickly. So quickly that Marshall was done eating by the time that my food arrived. I tried to keep him busy with a toy and giving him food off my plate. At one point he tried to climb out of his high chair, that’s when I realized he wasn’t strapped in yet. When I went to strap him in, he screamed, very loudly, right into my ear. I thought I heard the people sitting next to us make some sort of comment, but I couldn’t make out what he said because, well, my ear was just screamed into. Then, I must have accidentally pinched Marshall with the highchair clasp while I was trying to hold him and strap him in because he started to cry. I quickly picked him up and sat him in the booth next to me to console him. The bus boy passing by was talking to Marshall and told him he could grab a creamer cup off his tray. I knew this was a bad idea, but he was so sweet for trying to help and quite frankly, I was hungry and trying to eat as fast as I possibly could so we could get out of there! Next thing I know, Marshall’s creamer cup explodes all over us after he took a “bite” out of it. I cleaned it up, Marshall kept saying, “uh oh. uh oh.” Of course, he loved the way the vanilla creamer tasted so he proceeded to try and “eat” all of the creamers on our table, by climbing onto the table to reach them. Every time I stopped him from doing so, he screamed. Needless to say, things were not going very well.

Just then the server came by to collect our plates. I asked her for a box for the rest of Marshall’s food and I said jokingly, “I don’t need a box. I plan to eat all of mine, as long as he’ll let me.” She laughed then box up Marshall’s food for me and left us to finish our meal. Just as I was finishing my very last bite of food, which I was rejoicing because that meant we could finally leave, I overhead something . . . The man sitting next to us, the one I thought had made a comment earlier in the meal, said, “She needs to hurry up and eat and get him out of here! That’s why we go to expensive places, because they can’t afford them.” My joy of finally finishing our meal was whisked away into anger. I’m thinking, “What an ass. Why would you say something like that . . . and so loudly to where I could hear you?” Now, I’m not the type of person to confront any stranger in public. Seriously, it’s never ever happened. I always assume that they were not talking about me, they didn’t mean it that way, or I couldn’t make out exactly what they had said, but this was very clearly about me, I heard very clearly what he had said, and how he meant it. In my mind, I had two approaches: kill him with kindness or go completely livid. I choose an in between approach. I dropped all of my things that I had been gathering on the booth bench, picked up Marshall, place him on my hip, and walked over to this rude man. I said, with scowling eyebrows and a condescending tone, “I’m sorry that he’s disrupted you.” To which he replied, “I know. It’s just aggravating.” I replied while shaking with anger, “I mean, he’s one and half. I cannot control his actions.” He replied with the same response, “I know. It’s just aggravating.” I wanted to keep correcting him . . . NO, you don’t know! If you did you wouldn’t have said anything. How dare you assume that I cannot afford to go to more expensive restaurants. I can, but I don’t to avoid people like you who think that those are no place for kids. Okay, I really can’t but he doesn’t have to know that. It’s just insulting that he assumed that, that he stereotyped me!

I held myself together, gathered our belongings, while glaring at the man the entire time who was completely avoiding eye contact with me. I made it up to the cash register to pay and I didn’t even have my bill. While I was waiting in line to pay a lady approached me, she lovingly put her hand on the back of my arm and said, “Don’t worry about it. That was me once getting yelled at about my kids. You’re fine!” I said, “Thank you.” and immediately started crying. She said, “I didn’t mean to make you cry” and I told her it was okay. I finally made it to the cash register, I was bawling and struggling to hold on to my mad squirmy one year year when another mother approached me and offered to hold Marshall while I paid. She said, “You’re fine honey. You’re doing a great job!” She held Marshall as long as he allowed and then he came back to me. The staff overheard and asked me what was wrong, I explained what had happened and what was said. The were all very sweet and told me that it was no problem at all, not to let his comments get to me, that they thought my son was adorable, and that we are welcome to come back anytime. The thing was, I wasn’t crying because of this man’s comments. I was crying because of the outpouring support of the other mothers in the restaurant. It really touched me!

When I got out to the car, I started thinking. At first, I was surprised that it had taken five years and two kids for something like this to happen to me, because you hear about it so often. On the other hand, it shouldn’t have happened to me at all. These are children! They are little people that are just trying to express themselves, sure it’s gets loud . . . but, what’s wrong with that? It’s loud for a brief moment in time. After we left the restaurant he was free to go back to doing whatever he had planned, never to be bothered by us again.

When I got home, my husband and I talked about it. I cried some more. He said, “I’m sure that man will think about what you said and probably feel bad about it tonight.” I didn’t think that he’d feel remorseful at all. That is, until I received this message a couple hours after we left the restaurant:

Hey crystal, sorry but I searched to see if you were on Facebook and you are. This is Nichole, I was just your server at [redacted].
I had no idea that “guy” to put it as nicely as possible said that to you. I personally want to apologize for him. He has been a regular of mine for 5 years. However after today, i let him know he is no longer welcome here. I am truly disgusted by his behavior!!!!! Your son is perfect and was my pleasure to have in my section today. I would rather serve you any day then someone that inconsiderate. Please come back. I would like to treat you and your mini to lunch again. So don’t cry and don’t let that ignorant pig make you feel bad!! I hope you have a great afternoon!!!
Sincerely, Nichole
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that she took the time to find me & write me. I couldn’t believe that she took just as much offense to this man’s comments that I did. I cried. Again. Then called my husband, and cried some more. In case you cannot tell, this situation made me a total basket case today! I replied with the following message:

Hi Nichole,

I’m so glad you found me. You have no idea how much this message means to me. I know my baby was loud and I wanted to get out of there just as quickly as everyone else probably wanted me to, but his comments were completely out of line. I did confront him & held myself together, that is until two other moms came up to me to tell me everything was ok, that was them once, and that I was doing a good job. One lady even held Marshall while I paid. This outpouring of support made me totally lose it & out came the tears.

I was still just a little astonished that someone could be so rude about a baby. I really appreciate your offer & we’ll definitely be back, but that’s not necessary. Your support and the support of the other staff members was more than we could ask for!!

Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out to me. Us moms definitely know how to stick together!!

It was never my intention for this man to be reprimanded in any way, however, maybe now he can go enjoy himself at one of those “expensive” places that he spoke of. And I hope that it is everything he thought it would be!

{IF} my husband and I hadn’t agreed!

A funny tidbit of information . . . If my husband and I hadn’t agreed!

You may think that choosing our boys names was easy. That we just heard them on TV & said, “yep, that’s it” . . . but, no, it wasn’t quite like that.

I’d always liked both of their names, before they were ever even born, but I never thought that I’d have a son named Chandler or a son named Marshall. I had super, ridiculously long lists for both boys; which my husband said “NO” to every single name on each list. When he started saying no to my initial lists, then I just started crossing off names that I thought he certainly wouldn’t like, one of them being Chandler. Well, one day we were at a friends house, when I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Chandler. My friends & I were discussing the, at the time, recent divorce of Jesse James & Sandra Bullock, when we looked up an article about, my friend started reading the article aloud and mentioned Jesse’s daughter’s name was Chandler . . . and my husband said, “hm, I kind of like that name”. I, flabbergasted of course that he liked anything remotely close to something that I liked, said, “You do?? That’s it. That’s his name!”. While I was on maternity leave with Chandler I started watching all of the seasons of “How I Met Your Mother”. At the same time my sister-in-law found out she was having a girl and decided to name her daughter Lillian, Lillie for short. I joked with her and said, “Oh! If I have another boy wouldn’t it be funny if I named him Marshall!?!” We both laughed it off, thinking I’d never have another boy (I was a miserable pregnant lady). Then, the time came . . . I was pregnant . . . with another boy! Marshall was the first name on the list followed by Maverick & Sawyer, which my husband promptly shoot down all three. My list grew, and grew, and grew and one after another my husband said, no, no, no! Then, he said, he’d think of some names . . . I waited, waited and waited. 2 weeks. No names had been chosen or discussed. Finally, I said, “look, you have to choose between these names on my list.” I talked each name up and waited for him to make a decision. Three days later, he said, “Um, I guess, Marshall” So, with that being said, we’re just an unintentional comedic sitcom around here . . . which pretty much rings true for our life!

If my initial baby names had won, the boy’s names would be Oliver & Sawyer. Ollie & Saw.

If my husband’s first selected baby names would’ve won out, the boys would be named Connor & Alexander. Con & Xander.

This is {US}

I’ve been working on a personal photo project the past month, it’s still not done, but I wanted to share it. The goal of this project was to capture {US} and our life within the walls of our home. I wanted to capture our real life . . . not always smiling, chipped finger nail polish, dirty toes & plenty of dirty clothes. I wanted this series to be in black in white, so that there is nothing to distract from the main focus, our lives, our emotions and how we live in our beloved home.

Our lives are busy. The kids change everyday. Our home changes frequently. Since the first photos in this series were taken, one of our kitchen chairs broke, the playroom got re-arranged, we finished painting the family room, and I got a new phone that no longer has to be plugged into an outlet all day. I want to continue to capture us in these moments. I made sure to get in front of the camera, because {MOM} was there too kids . . . I was there, enjoying my children in these minutes of their childhood.

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One {MILLION} Minutes

A chance encounter and a stranger’s words that have stuck in my head for several weeks now. He said three simple words, “One million minutes” . . . . three simple words that have weighed heavily on my parenting since I heard them.

10548704_10152525295551553_8809669761322178616_oIt was several weeks ago, we had our family photos taken at a local park. Afterwards, we had promised Chan we’d take him to the playground . . . in our sweaters, jeans, high heel boots & sequins in the 80 degree weather (just providing you with an accurate visual). We get to the playground, it was awesome! We played for about 30 minutes when I gave Chan the 10 minute warning . . . you know the one, “Chan we will be leaving in 10 minutes”. Another little boy, whom was there with his father, overheard me say this. So, when his dad came around the corner, he said, “Dad, how many minutes do I have?” His dad replied, without hesitation, “One million minutes“. The boy laughed, and said, “No, seriously Dad. How many minutes?” He replied again with the same answer. Then they ran around the playground jumping & running.

I immediately felt sad for MY kid. This father has nothing else to do, besides be in THIS moment, right here, playing with his son. I had a hungry baby, I was in stuffy clothes in hot weather, it was dinnertime, and grandma was coming over . . . we really had to go! So, for weeks, those three simple words, “One million minutes” has been engrained in the back of my mind. Controlling the majority of my parenting choices. All we have is this time, right now, this moment! Nothing is guaranteed, especially not time . . . days, months, years.

Tonight, when Chan wanted me to lay with him in his bed, I immediately gave him a time limit . . . I said, “I can only lay in here for 5 minutes and then I have to go to bed”. He pleaded for more time, which I obliged of course. But, I kept reminding him that he needed to close his eyes and go to sleep because his time was almost over. Then, I remember “One million minutes” and I felt terrible that I was “limiting” my son’s time that he can spend with me! I whispered in his ear, “honey, don’t worry. I’ll stay in here until you fall asleep. I love you! Goodnight.”



Ditching the {SAFETY} Net

Big {CHANGES} for me & my family are about to take place . . . I’m finally ditching the corporate {SAFETY} net to pursue a part-time job & spend more time with my boys!

When I was 17, I got lucky & fell into the financial industry with a string of great jobs, then landed a job at a large investment firm where I worked for 8 years, 8 YEARS, while completing my bachelor’s degree. I spent 11 years working for others & 7 years of having my own photography company {ON THE SIDE}. I love photography, but I like working for others because being a business owner is a lot of pressure & stress; however the corporate world is, well, BORING!!!

1977183_10152086169576553_1502537910_nI knew that having a second child was going to change our world for the better . . . and I was right, I finally have the opportunity to work part-time, {DITCH} the corporate world and pursue a {FUN} job at Knollwood Lane . . . a job where I get to be creative while still using all of my acquired skills and work for one of the greatest bosses! My new boss & I just “get” each other and work great together. It’s amazing how people come into your life and shake things up for you! I really think that everything happens for a reason, had I not worked at my corporate gig, I would have never had this opportunity.

This year is going to be busy . . . it’s going to be a big change for me and my husband. I cannot wait to be able to spend more time with my boys & not have to enroll Marshall in a daycare center. I feel as though I am getting the best of both worlds. Being a full-time mom is super {SUPER} hard! Being a working mom is super {SUPER} hard! However, I think that a blend of both will be good for me & my family. I’ll still get to work and have some time to be {ME} and create, but not work so much that I do not get to really enjoy my life and children. They’re only going to be little once, I have the rest of my life to work! I am so grateful for this opportunity.