FAMILY PHOTO GETS FIXED

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Stitch Fix, however the family fun is all ours. For more information on Stitch Fix, check them out HERE, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oh, family photos… just the mere sight of seeing those two words put together can cause any mom to feel pressure and stress while simultaneously causing immense determination to achieve that one frame-worthy photo that will be treasured for decades to come. Just throw some outfits together and grab someone to take your photo. Sounds simple, right?!? Not so much.

Now, I’m fairly capable of throwing an outfit together. But throwing together five coordinating outfits is another story. Mom feels required to find outfits that make them feel confident and comfortable, something that fits each of their personalities; from my budget-conscious husband to my fiercely strong-willed first-born to my preppy, traditional boy to my sassy, diva toddler…  

…don’t let her cuteness fool you – this balloon is going straight to mommy’s face!

Needless to say, the pressure seems to be on for this mom when it comes to family photos!

Like many moms before me, I find myself scrolling through social media and hashtags looking for a style, color scheme or something that catches my eye. All the while, wishing I could either A) channel an inner-stylist from within or B) afford a stylist.

Well today, my wish is coming true! A company that I have used for my own personal styling needs, Stitch Fix, has launched a service for kids! From graphic tees and leggings to dresses and jeans, Stitch Fix Kids offers a diverse range of styles that are comfortable for playing, climbing and creating…something my kids are always doing!

My littles are 3, 6 and 8 with very different personalities, so when I went to set up each of their Stitch Fix Kids profiles, I absolutely LOVED the time they spent making each box unique to them, even including a super sweet, personalized note!

When the kids opened their adorable Fixes full of fun, as a mom, I was thrilled to see several interchangeable wardrobe pieces that were stylish, practical and affordable. Depending on your comfort level, Stitch Fix Kids pieces will range in price from $10-$35 per item depending on your preferences.

For example, when filling out my toddler’s profile, Stitch Fix asked if I had any notes for the stylist. I wrote how much my toddler loved the color red. So in her box, was this gorgeous Kate Spade red dress for $34.

My tot immediately wanted to put it on as she marched through the house waiting for each family member to sing her praises! While she felt beautiful and confident, my mom-brain was thinking “this dress will be great for the holiday season, for an upcoming family wedding and for class photos… well worth the money spent!”

Now it was time for our family photo…I laid out all of our Stitch Fix boxes and went to work coordinating looks based on our stylist’s suggestions until I came up with a winning combo. Yes, they have Stitch Fix for men too! There is nothing that gives me more joy than to ditch his cargo pants circa 2005 for some fine, upgraded quality pieces!

And anything that didn’t quite fit right, I simply returned in their pre-labeled return bags and shipped back. I love that moms can rest assured knowing all shipping, returns and exchanges are always free. And as an added bonus, if you choose to keep everything that Stitch Fix sends, you receive a 25% off discount. Sign up for automatic deliveries or schedule anytime… and there is no subscription required!

Moral of the story? Mom’s mad pressure to find that frame-worthy photo is now FIXED! Thanks to Stitch Fix!

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

A Picture Within A Picture

I’ve yet to even start my youngest child’s baby book BUT I did manage to do this every year on her birthday! (thank you pinterest for the idea) And well I must say, it’s the sweetest thing ever!

Every Birthday since the day she was born, I’ve done a picture within a picture… birth day, 1st Birthday, 2nd Birthday and now this week on her 3rd Birthday!

So yeah, some days we might have cookies for lunch and I may not even have time to start her baby book until she’s in college, but I’m counting this as a mom win!

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

World Peace Please

Woke up to this little one in bed with me rocking her big sister’s World Peace Please shirt as pajamas… hair a mess, sprawled out like a starfish in my bed sleeping like an angel.
Daddy rocked bedtime last night while I worked late, waking up to this shirt on this symbol of innocence inspired me to speak my truth…

Social media is absolutely crushing this mama’s soul lately… so much hurt, so much hate… and it’s impossible to avoid when your job involves being on just about every social outlet.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to think or what to do. I believe Moms are incredibly intelligent, insightful people who make decisions on what is best for their families. I don’t expect anyone to know what it’s like to walk in my shoes nor do I expect to know what it’s like to walk in theirs… we feel how we feel based on what has impacted our own personal life experiences.

I just keep going back to this quote from Mother Teresa “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” So that’s always been my hope to do…

I have experienced love and loss, depression and joy, anxiety and peace, despair and hope. Many of you have too… these emotions impact every race, religion, gender, political party, economic status.. no one is immune to these emotions. There is enough pain and isolation in the world that my hope is to use this platform to unite moms, support one another and to help us feel less alone on this tumultuous ride called motherhood❤

Using Life of Mom to point out how our similarities as Mothers far outweigh our differences.

This mom isn’t waiting for leaders; I’m focused on raising 3 little lives to be kind, compassionate, loving citizens of the world.

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

No Matter What Age, You Always Need Your Dad

For the first 29 years of my life, my dad and I pretty much talked about the same 4 things; the volatile Chicago weather, updates on our family’s dogs, important dates like December 7th, 1941 and the latest charges on the Visa bill.
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Then he would hand the phone over to my mom so we could talk and talk for hours while I sat stuck in LA traffic. My mom was my best friend and I shared everything with her. I still miss her every day.
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After my mom passed away 9 yrs ago, something shifted in my weekly calls with my dad… see in the past when he’d be eager to hand me off to mom, he now lingered… My dad started asking me about work and my husband, giving me updates on my older siblings and their families. We started discussing current affairs, elections, marriage and eventually parenthood. He was there for B’s delivery and open heart surgery. I’d often ask my dad for advice when it came to the challenges of parenting.
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Years passed and so did some devastating losses in my life, I started questioning my faith in God… something that was the foundation to his 54yr marriage and being a father of 12 kids. The man still to this day goes to church every morning, says the rosary and gets on his knees to pray every night. Our talks now have depth as we reflect on life, faith and unconditional love.
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Now, I’m not sure if my mom told him before she died that he needed to now be there for me more or if he just knew… regardless, I am forever grateful for our time spent together.
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Here’s this man who doesn’t fear death because his faith is rock solid like his hugs. A man so happy and content in life because he raised his kids to be hard-working, to always stay humble and to take the shirt off your own back if someone needed it. I do not take a day for granted that this incredible man is here with us… I often say that he was ready to go the day his high school sweetheart passed and if there was room in my mom’s coffin, he would have jumped right in with her. I feel like he’s here on borrowed time because us kids are not quite ready to be without our dad. Proving that no matter the age, you always need your mom and Dad

Happy Father’s Day Dad!
Love Always,
#12
p.s. For the record, Dad and I still talk weather, dogs and important dates (I call him every December 7th) but I’m happy to say, I pay my own Visa bills these days😉

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

Self Care and Sleeping Like a Starfish

This photo may not look like much but it is everything!

My husband took this photo of my kids playing in the ocean. Yes they are in their pajamas and not the bathing suits I packed for them but I’m not even mad! My husband absolutely rocks and took all the kids down to visit my in-laws this weekend. This was the first time in 8yrs that I was home alone! For the past 30hrs, I conquered my to-do list, ran errands, worked out, watched trashy tv and slept like a starfish in my bed for 12 hours!!!! It was absolutely glorious!

Last week was filled with cleaning up vomit and diarrhea, entirely too much whining for any sane person, caring for fevers until I got one myself… I had a million things to do but everything got postponed because well, my babies were sick. By Friday, I was feeling mucho overwhelmed… until my hubs swept in to save my sanity.

Part of me was like, wait I will miss them and what will I do with myself?!

But it was wonderful and the best part… my overwhelmed self has been replaced with overwhelmingly excited to see my babe and babies in a few! 


So when given the opportunity Moms to take a minute for yourself, please do it. Self care is SO very important for us to be the best Moms we can be! 

Oh and I highly recommend sleeping like a starfish!

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

Beautiful Mess

There is nothing glamorous about what I do…
I’d say motherhood in general is the antithesis of glamorous. Most days are messy in more ways than one, like really really messy. You have the obvious mess of dirty clothes draped on every piece of furniture, you have the dishes full of food that 3 out of 3 children refused to eat, and let’s not forget the laundry. The piles upon piles of pent up resentment as you wash, fold and put away clothes, along with your feelings of distaste for those 90s cargo shorts collection your husband can’t part from…

Motherhood also has a whole other level of messy that (dare I say) can actually be worse than all of the above I just described… being a mom is messy with emotions, lots and lots of volatile emotions. Sometimes it’s the exhaustion you feel after battling it out with your toddler over the color straw of her sippy cup, knowing giving in the slightest bit will offset all you’ve worked towards. Or the messy emotions of sibling rivalries after one child is deservingly rewarded which only results in an inevitable meltdown by the sibling not rewarded. Or the mess of pressure you find yourself in to be the advocate mom that is constantly fighting for your kid when all you want to do is cry.

All this messy emotional pressure we put on ourselves to be this all star mom, domestic diva and goddess in the bedroom for your partner…
the. struggle. is. real.
and 100% impossible to achieve all of it.
Why do we do it to ourselves?!?

So when I was getting ready for this Life of Mom photo shoot, I thought…

“I want a reason to dress up and look glamorous because I never do!”

“I want to be real and not take myself too seriously because I always do!”

“I want to play make believe and be silly because life never affords me that chance!”

You see, I wanted to reign as the Queen that I know I am… It may just be Queen of the Laundry but mama’s gonna drape herself in that resentment and take some fun back!

This is my beautiful mess?

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder
 by Schuh Box Photos

The Decisions We Make As Moms Postpartum.

Here’s the thing and I might catch some slack for saying it but here goes…

There are a lot of Moms (and memes) calling out Princess Kate for showing up flawless hours after birth.

Here’s what I know, I was not that flawless… far from it!
With my 1st, I was discharged hours later only because my daughter was being transferred to another hospital to undergo open heart surgery. With my 2nd and 4th child, I was in the hospital a few days postpartum dealing with jaundice, breastfeeding, you name it.
With my 3rd child, I stayed in the hospital an extra day so I could mentally prepare to see my kids after delivering my stillborn son. 


With all of that said, I have zero issue with Kate primped and primed to go hours post delivery. I say you are not alone.


To the mothers that stay a few extra days to recover birth and enjoy the quiet, I say you are not alone.


To the mothers in the NICU nervously, anxiously awaiting the news that they can bring their baby home, I say you are not alone.


To the mothers who’ve had c-sections with a challenging road to recovery, you are not alone.


To the mothers who’ve had to leave the hospital after giving birth to a child that didn’t make it, I say you are not alone.

I’ve had sisters who’ve had flawless, rockstar pregnancies, labor and deliveries. I’ve watched my sister apply blush and lipgloss for photos minutes before delivering her 4th child. My labor and delivery experiences were NOT that… but I also know in my heart that some of us need more time to recover and that’s okay. And some of us don’t, like Princess Kate and my sister and that’s okay too!!

So let’s celebrate and support all of us moms and all the unique, special gifts we each possessWith that said, cheers to Duchess Kate on your 3rd child, wishing you a life full of good health and happiness❤️

Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

We Made It Through…

In February 2011, something unimaginable happened in Southern California, it began to pour pellets of hail… what are the odds of that?!

But for my family, this was a day of victory, a day to celebrate something we weren’t sure would happen. We had made it through the first year… we made it through countless doctors appointments, open heart surgery, panic attacks, sleepless nights, sleepless days, anxiety, worry, despair… we made it though. We being Mom, Dad and our first born child. That first year left a lot of questions unanswered, uncertainty… yet we made it though.

We were told 17months prior to this day very grim odds… one might even go so far to say our odds of celebrating our baby’s first birthday were as unimaginable as a hail storm in Southern California?

by Life of Mom Co-Founder, Lucy Riles

The Real Demon on the Plane.

You don’t have to go far these days to find something that offends you on social media. Well today was no different…

Someone had posted a video of a man who filmed a child over the course of a 8 hour flight. The child was clearly having a difficult time but this man didn’t see it that way. The man documented every outburst and tantrum along with captions to his video where he continuously refers to the child as “a demon” calling his behavior “demonic”. Perhaps this man wanted people to feel bad for him. Perhaps this man thought people would think it’s funny to call a child names.

Watching this video, I did see “demonic behavior”… coming from the coward that shared this video, name calling a child. A “demon” who had no problem filming the face of the child yet hid behind his own camera.
Watching this video, I did in fact feel bad… I felt bad for the child’s mother, for the child himself who was clearly overwhelmed.

For those of you reading this who are not parents or new parents, here’s a helpful tip. If you come across a child having a meltdown in a confined or a space unfamilar to them, in most cases they are feeling incredibly overwhelmed and anxious… they may not feel safe in that particular enviornment. Now many of you know I am a mom of a child with special needs, often times having to be a fierce advocate and mama bear for her. Traveling with kids can be mentally and physically exhausting, especially if you are traveling with a young child and/or child with special needs. Now any person with an ounce of compassion would see that clearly this poor child was having a difficult time.
-planes are confining…
-and loud…
-they are surrounded by unfamilar (often scary) faces…
-and 8 hours is a really long time for any person, let alone a young child.

Recently I flew across country with my 3 children without my husband… afterwards it felt like I had ran a marathon. Through the years, I’ve encountered incredibly kind fellow passengers who took my chaotic kiddos under their wings (pun intended) but also my fair share of judgement. As the mom, traveling with littles is beyond exhausting.

A few weeks back I read a story about a group of women and mothers who surrounded a young child and mother at an airport terminal, the child was also having a very difficult time. One mom pulled out a toy, another women gave the mom a bottle of water and the child a snack. It warmed my heart knowing these strangers banded together to help a mother and child in need.

Today’s video gave me the opposite feeling.

And here is where I may cross the line a bit… but here’s what I would like to do to this “demon”… I would like to flip this man’s camera around on him when he’s weak and vulnerable. Perhaps he’s on the toilet, constipated… struggling, feeling overwhelmed and stuck. Then I would add text giving a minute by minute update of the man’s incapability to take a sh*t.

Okay, that may be graphic and harsh but what if a complete stranger filmed you at your most vulnerable and breaking point? What if they called you horrible names with captions for the sake of their social media audience?

Moral of the story folks, be the band of mothers and not the demon adult name calling a child behind the camera. Offer support, not judgement cause Lord knows moms don’t need any more judgement. I get it, kids are loud and move a lot on planes. But you are the adult that is supposed to understand that they are, in fact, just kids. If you don’t like flying with children inside of planes, I have a few easy solutions for you:
-don’t fly.
-or buy a private jet.

Buh Bye Now. Thank You. Buh Bye.

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Co-Founder

Journaling Motherhood: From Grief to Gratitude

As Mitch Albom once wrote, “There’s a story behind everything… But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”
Naturally, my story of motherhood begins with my mom’s. My father and mother were married relatively young and only a few years into their union, Dad cheated. He soon left her and abandoned us; I never grew up with a father figure of any type. In my household, Mom epitomized strength, perseverance, and love. She was a stoic character who led by example and taught my brother and I the value of family, diligence, and honesty.

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My brother began to exhibit signs of mental illness in his teen years. Mom did everything she could to get him help, but with a full-time job and two children to care for on her own, this task was nearly impossible. He began getting picked on at school and experienced further alienation. Mom fought on his behalf, but nothing was done by the school to assuage the bullying. Thus, my brother’s condition worsened over the years.

So did the consequent abuse Mom and I faced. He became an expert at funneling all his rage into an emotional warfare against Mom and I. She did a great deal to shield me from his abuse as she could, but Mom never stopped caring about him or trying to help.

Eventually I went to college, and even though I lived at home, I was able to distance myself from our familial tumult. Freer from my family’s enmeshment, I flourished, and my relationship with Mom grew stronger. I can clearly remember an intimate moment I shared with Mom when I was around twenty-one. I had climbed into bed with her after a fraternity party. I snuggled into her and told her how much I loved her. I told her that she had been the topic of our drunken conversation at a fraternity house; my sorority sister had randomly expressed how much Mom meant, even to her.

At that point, Mom started crying and sharing with me how much that meant to her. She allowed herself to be vulnerable for the first time in my life, and bared her soul to me. She expressed how hard her life as a single mother had been for her. She told me how excruciatingly difficult it was to believe in herself when she thought of herself as a failure. We talked all night. This would be one of my favorite memories of her ever; a few months later our ability to make anymore would be stolen.

On September 25th, 2007, three weeks after I graduated college, my brother murdered my mother. I came home to find her in a pool of blood, deceased for over an hour. My brother had escaped and then confessed everything to me over the phone. I should have known he had been telling the truth, but part of me was hoping this was just another one of his manipulative lies. Devastatingly, it was not. My life changed forever that night.
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After Mom’s death, I floated through life. I had no ties to anyone or anything, and I lost my value for everything. The person who had loved me more than life itself was absent, and thus I felt terribly unloved. In turn, I found it impossible to allow myself any type of love or happiness. As far as I knew, I deserved nothing of the sort.

Despite this, I met my husband-to-be a few months later. He accepted me and my flaws, even though I was figuratively scarred and beaten. Allowing myself to be loved was difficult, yet we still ended up on the fast track towards marriage.

I desired the stability of a healthy home life, and so a few years after our nuptials we planned a pregnancy, too. My entrance to motherhood, despite being somewhat joyful, was extremely tainted. I was jealous of all my girlfriends who had their mother to guide them through the process. I felt alone and broken.

Then I had my daughter and life changed forever yet again. With her birth I was initiated into this – mostly – magical world of Motherhood. A world filled with infinite boo-boo kisses and bear hugs, side-splitting laughter, the most painful of tears, the ability to finally be the big spoon (yay!), and a connection that transcends everything I’ve ever known up until now. Becoming a mother myself has allowed me to understand the unconditional love Mom felt for both Jesse and me.

I had never quite understood how my mother put up with all that my brother dished out for us, but I am quickly learning. My hatred and anger has melted and morphed into acceptance. This acceptance has allowed me to find a sense of peace and balance in my chaotic world. And with each passing day I find myself further from my painful past and closer to happiness and self-love.
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Thus, I am perpetually thankful for my husband, daughter, and son for indoctrinating me into Motherhood. It has shown me that beauty is not a social construct that is determined by my ability to drop the baby weight, but that it is absolutely everywhere. In the tinny laughter of my toddler, in my body that has worked miracles to create two human beings, even in the debilitating pain I have felt over the years. Motherhood is where I found perspective embedded in my children’s faces and hearts. Their perpetual love has enabled me to find light even on the darkest of days.
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A.B. Chesler is an author, content creator, blogger, and family woman from Los Angeles, California. Her most recent publications include five different contributions in six different Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as her first solo children’s book, A Man and His Books (available on Amazon and most other book-selling sites). Follow her on Twitter (@abcauthor), Facebook (www.facebook.com/abchesler), or Instagram (@abc_author) for updates, giveaways, and much more!