What’s Your Favorite Part?

Every night on vacation we asked Brantley his favorite part of the day. He’d usually tell us the pool (typically the last thing we did..toddler brain) and then he’d help us decide Brooks’ favorite part of the day. By the end of the week we all loved hearing Brantley and my two nieces’ favorites each night before bed.

So, naturally, on our way out of town, in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through before getting on the highway for our 10 hour drive home, we asked Brantley his favorite part of vacation. Honestly, I can’t even remember what he said. I probably (hopefully) wrote it down with the other days’ faves in the notes section of my phone. This was followed by me asking Sam his favorite part. “Outside of it just being vacation and a great time, I’d say watching Brantley.” Then, it was my turn. I went to open my mouth and the tears came. I pulled my sunglasses onto my eyes (because if you ever need to cry and you don’t need it to be public knowledge, sunglasses will hide it all- you’re welcome for the tip) and took a breather. Sam, not phased by the silence, let it go for a few, then looked over to see a legitimate waterfall of tears coming from my eyes. We laughed, I grabbed myself a bag of Fritos at 7:30 a.m. (I recently figured out my body hates gluten, awesome!- road trip snacks are not nearly as fun anymore), and I tried to pull myself together. Sam asked again, and turns out the time it took me to eat the Fritos wasn’t quite long enough. Water works. Literally two hours later I was able to simply agree with Sam. Watching Brantley and my nieces play together and experience new things was simply the coolest thing.

Our house looks like a real life game of the I Spy books 90% of the time. There’s most likely some sort of music playing, the dog’s barking, and at least one kid is making some sort of odd noise. On any given day I’ve probably counted to three 15 different times. Brantley has peed outside twice because the plumbing inside the house isn’t that fun? The dog has cleaned up the left over food in the high chair and food covering the ground after every meal. I’ve talked myself out of that third cup of coffee and the living room looks like this. Chaos. Nearly alll the time.


Can you find the baby spoon? How about the diaper cream? Ohhh..the fake snake? Seriously.

On those same days I have two boys wrestling to get the best spot on my lap. I have a three year old who hears my favorite song on the radio and yells, “Mom, it’s your song! Volume this up!” That same three year old will do any favor I ask him (including running down two flights of stairs to get toilet paper because we are always out in the bathroom I’m using…how?). He’d rather be outside playing in mud, catching bugs, or running through the sprinkler than in the house. I have a one year old who is trying to make words we can’t quite figure out but momma sure does come out perfectly. That small fella adores his older brother and belly laughs when brother comes near. I have a husband who sends me out to pick up lunch when he sees all my marbles are about down the drain with no hope of returning.

You see, my favorite part is all of this. The everyday. The good, the bad, the ugly, the exhausting. I mean, I don’t love the blowout diapers or the tantrums, but aren’t they part of the package? If I didn’t have those, my favorite parts wouldn’t be as great. That chaos is my favorite thing. The snugs and the I love yous and the laughs. The moments when you think it is impossible for your heart to hold any thing else inside. They’re pretty grand too. Our pediatrician reminded me these two little humans are our most important job. Everything else can wait. I remind myself of this almost daily when I play my cards juuust right to get both boys down for a nap at the same time then have that never ending mental struggle of do I clean the house or do I nap? Rarely does being productive win.

If you need help embracing the chaos, let me know. I’ll bring coffee, we can make toy angels in your living room, I’ll find you the number for pizza delivery for dinner and we’ll order enough for left-overs. This phase is hard but I hear it goes so, so fast. Live in the chaos because one day this will be your favorite part. ❤️


Love, A Teacher Thankful for Those Adults

Dear Adult,

It seems in the wake of tragedy in our society people start pointing fingers. Sometimes at other adults, sometimes at kids. Teenagers have their heads stuck in their phones. All hope in our next generation has been lost. Teenagers only care about themselves. I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. I didn’t go into teaching so I could practice intruder drills with my students. I didn’t go into teaching so I could lay awake at night trying to answer all the what jf questions that come from those drills. I didn’t go into teaching so I could read an incredibly boring script before state testing every year. I didn’t go into teaching so I could fill out paperwork, and documentation reports, and incident reports, and data trials, and..my list could go on. I do these not so great things because of our ever changing society and the needs that arise to protect my students and make them better people. I went into teaching so I could advocate for someone whose voice wasn’t quite strong enough on it’s own.

Have you ever seen the popular girl stop to help the quiet girl pick up her supplies scattered all over a busy hallway? I have.

Have you ever witnessed a student who has been disconnected from the classroom start yelling at a book during a class read aloud because he’s so invested in what’s coming off the page? And watch that same kid beg to spend the class period reading? I have.

Have you ever felt the silence in a classroom as a student tells the class, The most noble act a person can do is give their life for someone else? How about watch a teacher’s eyes fill with tears because she knows what that student was really saying in that moment was I’ll protect this classroom if it comes down to it..? I have.

Have you heard a packed auditorium of teenagers go wild when the students from the multiple disabilities classroom get on stage and perform their yearly dance routine in the talent show? I have.

Have you watched a kid’s face go from frustration to bewilderment when they hear I’m proud of you even though they made a few bad choices before a good one? Or the look on their face when a student hears I’m thankful for you or I appreciate you? I have.

Have you ever felt like a complete fool after you’ve spent a class period nagging a student to wake up, but come to find out that student has been helping out at home by making dinner and taking care of siblings so a parent could work? I have.

Again, the list could go on. We don’t always hear about the great things kids are doing every day. We hear, kids aren’t doing (insert whatever you want) or adults have failed our kids. Of course kids make poor decisions. I choose to help them in the dark times and celebrate the goodness. I promise you the great things our younger generation are doing far outweighs the bad. Sometimes kids make bad choices and act like fools in public. Didn’t you when you were younger? Weren’t you once a teenager who needed a little help to get back on the right path? You may be where you are because of some pretty fabulous people in your life. Teachers, parents, bus drivers, friends, coaches, family, anyone. I know I am. Be that adult for a kid in your life. They may act like they don’t need you, but remember you tried to be tough at one time, too. ❤️


A teacher thankful for those adults in her life.

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

Recently, I was reading through posts I made last year and the beginning of this year about updates on my mom’s battle with a cancerous brain tumor. I, of course, got a little choked up as I remembered that this time last year was not my favorite, or my mom’s for that matter.

Last year, we were arguing about having Thanksgiving dinner at her house because she had a stomach bug. After some tears and frustration, Thanksgiving was at her house but she spent several hours asleep while we were all there. Later we found out it was more than a stomach bug, it was complications from chemo and a surgery she had had that summer. Following all of that, she got pneumonia, and yet again, spent time in the hospital. In between all this somewhere was Christmas and she was sick again and missed our family Christmas with my aunts and uncles and cousins and babies. The new year started and things continued to be tough through more hospital visits and a move for my mom.

In all of those moments it felt like a lifetime. Like the bad news was never going to turn into good. Everything was piling up, and it felt so incredibly hard to stay positive. There were plenty of times we were mean and wouldn’t let her quit. I was pregnant (let’s blame it on those hormones 😉) and all I wanted her to do was hold her grandson when the time came. There were plenty of times my husband had to remind me I was pregnant and breathing for two.

Fast forward a year later and we have this.

Photos taken by K.Fischer Photography

Does it even need any words? Four grand babies , one Grammie-Cakes, and an unreal amount of love.

People, I wasn’t sure we’d make it here. Those trenches were rough to climb out of. Standing at the bottom and looking up felt like too much work in itself. You know how we got here? You guys. Our people. Our village. (And a whole lotta faith 😊)

My husband who let me cry, my sister-in-law who took care of two little babes on her own when my brother was gone so much, my mother-in-law who watched Brantley at the drop of a hat, my dad who is just a down right saint, my cousin who made sure we had dinner on the table too many times to count, my friends who let me be angry and let me just not talk when needed, co-workers who didn’t leave my side, a babysitter who kept Brantley longer than normal hours, and a mom who decided to fight when things got tough.

My mom just came back from a trip to Florida where she travelled by herself. She continues to make improvements and get her life back after the chemo nearly tore it apart. If you would have told me last year this is where we would be today I️ wouldn’t have believed you. Never in my life did I think I would be thankful for those trying months, but I am. They gave me this. A family that can be in one picture. A picture sure is worth a thousand words.

Photos taken by K.Fischer Photography

Whatever you may be going through right now I hope soon you can look back and realize why you kept pushing. When it feels like this world is way too much, take a breather and lean on your people. Lean on all of them. The weight is easier when it’s spread out. We can speak from experience, and I promise the fight is worth it. ❤️

Go Home & Love Your Family

When I pick the boys up from the babysitter’s house Brantley and I typically talk the whole way home. Most conversations start with me asking if he had a fun day and end with him telling me if he had time out or not. I lied, recently our conversations have ended in a melt down because I turned left to get home instead of turning right (his favorite). He hasn’t quite mastered the thought process that if we continue to turn right we will drive in circles all night.  Many days we end up driving around the block a couple times practicing directions, just to stop the crying.

The other day, I picked up the boys, got them both buckled in, pulled out of the sitter’s driveway, and before I could ask Brantley if he had fun that day, he immediately asked, “Mommy, did you have fun at work today?” Excuse me, what? Did my three year old just ask me about my day? I didn’t even know what to say (some of you know that doesn’t happen often). Obviously I needed to answer his question but oh my gosh this little human was thinking about something other than himself and his cookies and his dinosaurs. He was asking about me.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that every time something crazy happens in our world I get this sudden urge to put on a Superman cape and go save all the people and all the things. I mean, maybe not everyone wants to wear a cape, or is that extreme, but you get the point. The thought that soon follows the Superman thought is: how in the world can little ol’ me change the world? Then, it hit me. That random Wednesday, doing everyday, normal things, I figured it out.

This Mother Teresa quote popped in my head. “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family”


P.s.- Anything from this site is sure to be a hit as a Christmas gift. 😉 http://www.smallwoodhome.com

Honestly though, I have never really understood the quote until that random Wednesday in the car. Isn’t it obvious, isn’t it an unwritten rule to go home and love your family? Unfortunately, I know this isn’t the case for every family.

I’m not telling you about my three year old thinking about someone other than himself to tell you I have this motherhood thing all figured out. If we ever talk, you know that’s far from the truth. I’m telling you this because if I’ve figured out how to change the world – and all it takes is a simple conversation – I think you can change the world with me. Talking to Brantley about his day has somehow taught him the skills to ask questions to learn about someone else. Talk to your people. Ask someone how their day is and really listen for the answer. Your conversation could be what saves them.

Be an example. Be the good. Love your people. ❤️

How’s Life With Two Kids?

In the past month we have been asked numerous times, "What's life like with two kids?" Well, for starters…When we were leaving the hospital Brantley didn't want me to ride in the car. He and Sam started a wolf pack before Brooks was born. I was never invited to be in the wolf pack but it was pretty evident brother Brooks would definitely be in when he arrived. You guys, this wolf pack is a serious thing. They practice their howling every night before bed & Brantley even wakes up some mornings howling, they have secrets, and there are no girls allowed. When we were leaving the hospital after Brooks was born Brantley realized his wolf pack was now complete and thus didn't want mom in the car. He cried the whole way home and tried to convince me to get out. Super. Welcome to life with two kids.

So here it is folks…

Two kids is feeding one in one arm and wiping the other's #2 with the other.

Two kids is getting up way earlier than you want just so you can get a quiet shower that lasts more than 2 minutes and crossing your fingers no one wakes up while you're in there.

Two kids is one parent calming one kid while the other is negotiating dessert with the second.

Two kids is working on those arm muscles carrying a toddler and a baby seat.

Two kids is a celebratory dance when both kids are asleep at the same time.

Two kids is sleeping in separate houses (per doctor's orders) when one kid has a fever and the other is only five weeks old.

Two kids is calling in that village- grandparents, best friends, neighbors, cousins- when you just can't do it alone.

Two kids is literally never being on time no matter how hard you try.

Two kids is not being invited into the wolf pack even though you definitely know the howl.

Two kids is being down by 1 in the NBA finals with 3 seconds left, ball's in your possession, and suddenly the referee throws in a second ball to your teammate. You don't have a dang clue what to do in those three seconds but you somehow figure it out and bring home that championship.

Two kids is exhausting. [Some days] Two kids is no walk in the park. Two kids is high-fiving your husband in the kitchen over small victories. Two kids is some pretty intense team work. Two kids is a full lap for morning cartoons. Two kids is endless hugs and kisses and laughs. Two kids is a heart that didn't know this much love could exist.

Two kids is better than I could have ever imagined it could be. Two kids is where I belong. ❤️

Dear Baby H #2

It’s almost time for our family to grow by another little boy. Outside of these last few weeks, time has -of course- flown by as this babe has grown inside me. When I was pregnant with Brantley I had so many emotions- excitement for new adventures and fear we would do it all wrong seem to be what stands out in my memory. This pregnancy is no different. So, here are a few things I hope for Baby #2:

Dear Baby H #2,

There are so many things in this big world I want you to know but for now I’ll start with a just a few. 

The second you are born I hope you know how much you are loved. Your dad, brother, and I have been waiting (me not so patiently) to meet you. Your brother has been trying to feed you ice cream, makes sure you get a drink when he thinks you’re thirsty and is planning out the toys for you two to play with. I’ve made your dad crazy with my never ending to-do lists and new ideas to make sure everything is perfect for your arrival.

I hope you and your brother have days filled with so many adventures it will be hard to remember them all when you’re older. I hope you boys spend your days digging in the dirt and tracking mud in the house (you may need to remind me I said this when I get upset that the house is a full of dirt). I hope your imagination takes you places you’ll never be able to fully explain to your dad and I, but I sure hope you try. I hope your brother teaches you the ropes of your world and you love being Brantley’s Little Brother as much as I have loved being Cook’s Little Sister.

I hope you know being the youngest is pretty fabulous. I’m told things with the second child are a little different than the first. Different is good. Your dad and I are proof being the youngest isn’t so bad. 😊Maybe you won’t have as many Baby’s First Christmas ornaments, definitely not as many new, stain-free clothes, or as many of your own toys but you will be showered with just as much love. I’ve also been told seeing my kids together will fill me with more joy than I ever thought possible.

When you’re a teenager I hope you remember your parents aren’t all that bad. I hope your dad and I have given you many years of excitement, love, and trust that those years will be painless. I know, I know..but a mom can hope, right?! 🙂 When it’s time for you to leave our house, I hope you start your adventures with so much confidence because we have done everything we know to prepare you for what life brings. 

I hope you know that even though your life will be filled with so much joy, there are going to be some struggles. Things that make you think you can’t go on. But, listen up, kid! You’re going to be tough and you will make it. You’ll take it day by day, you’ll find the good, you’ll lean on your people, and you’ll come out on top. Promise. 

I hope you know just how much I love being your mom. After almost four years of being married to your dad, some days I still find it crazy when my students call me Mrs. Haddix – As much as I love that name, I love being mom even more. 

On top of all of this- I hope you always know just how special you are. You have quite the village of people surrounding you to help you through life. I love you more than you’ll ever know, buddy. ❤️


Find Your Village

A few weeks ago I had a dear friend ask me how in the world I handled it all? How do I go to work, do my job, then go home and deal with life? Ha! This friend has seen me show up to work with no makeup on and hair a mess because the baby didn’t sleep well; she’s seen me forget important paperwork; she’s seen me lose my cool on a student who maybe didn’t deserve it that time. I think I gave her a pretty lame answer of, you figure out what’s important. The petty, little stresses of the day, don’t matter. You have to see the big picture. But, let’s be real…If you know me, you know for sure I don’t have it all together.

Yesterday I figured out a better answer. We attended a memorial service for a friend of ours, a year younger than us, who we spent many days and nights growing up with. It’s been several weeks since we heard the awful news so I was completely unprepared when the waterworks showed up yesterday (pregnancy hormones, right?!). We walked in the room full of people from our youth group days, people who helped shape us into who we are. I listened to a man give a beautiful service about a kid who we all loved. The same man, our youth pastor, who taught us to pour our hearts out on Sunday nights with each other, the same man who performed Sam and I’s wedding ceremony. Afterwards we talked and laughed with people we haven’t seen in way too long.

That’s when it hit me. It’s not about the day-in and day-out of life. It’s not about making sure you wake up early, eat all your veggies, and clean your house. Yes, those things are wonderful, but life’s about the people. The moments. The memories. Your village. I get through life with my village. Seems pretty simple, right? Of course, we all know this is what life is about. But do we really believe it? Do we purposefully spend our days exactly how we want, not wasting time we’ve been given? I know I don’t always.

This week I let the stress win. This week I wasn’t able to see the bigger picture and remind myself that the little stresses don’t matter. The cool part? My village reminded me. These people I love and who love me are right there when I need them. Sometimes it’s a simple reminder, other times I need a slap in the face. I keep going from the help of these people. The people who let me vent and complain about the same thing over and over. The people who will do a dance with me when something goes right. The people who send messages to say hello and check on my family. The people who understand my small victories of learning to cook. The people who will laugh with me, instead of criticize, when I’ve had one of my ‘Andrea moments’, again. The people who know just how to help when I’m about to fall off the deep end. This is how I do it. This is how I get through life and remember what’s important. I can’t do this thing by myself. I can’t take the credit.

Find your people that will keep you moving forward and positive. Love them. Remind them that you love them and do it often. When we love ourselves and our people, it’s a little easier to forget about all the crazy in our world. And if you find you need some more people in your village…mine isn’t quite full. ❤

Keep Finding the Good

In the past 5 months since my mom’s surgery to remove her brain tumor I have had many thoughts take up space in my mind. As much as possible I have tried to keep them positive. If I couldn’t see the light, someone would see the light for me. If I wasn’t thinking positive mother wasn’t thinking positive. It hasn’t always been easy trying to think about the good rather than dwell on the bad. But I’m also not naive enough to ignore facts, or statistics, or information doctor’s have given us.

Because of the facts there has always been the not so great thought of losing my mom. Five months ago (a week and a half after learning my mom had a tumor) I sat on a hospital bed holding my mom’s hand, trying to hide my tears when we were told by her surgeon how ugly and aggressive her tumor was. He said statistics show the tumor usually takes it’s toll on the body within two years. As the next days came I thought of everything I wanted my mom to be here for. New babies, birthdays, holidays, the day to day laughs, the after school phone calls. There was no way I could fit it all into just two years. A dear friend changed my perspective and told me I couldn’t think of it as only two years. She told me to think of how much time I had to do all these things. There have been long days at doctors appointments and car rides to get blood work done. In those days I’ve spent a lot of time with my mom talking, laughing, crying, and doing things we have taken for granted. Living in the now.

I’ve been told, “Andi, some days it’s really freaking hard to find the good.” Touché, my friends. There are going to be days that overall just plain suck. But you’re breathing, right? You probably ate something you enjoyed or talked to someone who makes your heart happy. 

Here’s why I remind myself to focus on the good. Last week mother’s oncolologists told us how impressed they are with her latest MRI. Where the tumor once lived is now healing well and her brain is going back to normal shape. They are starting to wean her off her forever long list of medicines and are still hopeful about the results of therapy. Through the hospital stays, blood transfusions, sleepless nights, everything is working. Working better than expected. So I show you this. My reason for finding the good.

MRI scans from left to right: August 26, July 4, April 24 (two days after surgery), April 20 (two days before surgery). The tumor is / was the white spot on the left side of the pictures. Amazing. The best part? That hideous tumor they thought would grow back? As of now, there are no signs of him making a return. Even more amazing. Mom’s journey is far from over and we know it may still be long but for today and the days to come we are so very thankful.

So, people, instead of wasting time figuring out answers to questions you have no control over, worry about today. Enjoy the moment. Do what you’ve wanted to do for years, today. Love your people and love yourself (especially when it seems a little harder than it should). Change your mindset, change your life. We only have so many days..make them count. ❤ 

Hold Me Mom-Mom

As my summer comes to a close I started to feel a little guilty that I haven’t been into school to get things together but two times. The first time I took little man with me and my friend took her daughter, so naturally not much got done. The second day I was there most of the day and left feeling accomplished. But still..only two days?! Last night I thought I would run in today to drop a couple things off and pick a couple things up. 

Then it happened. Brantley woke up this morning saying, “Mom!”, “Mommy!”, “Mom-Mom!”. We do the usual- go downstairs, get his milk, he helps me make the coffee and we get comfy for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (he gets about 15 minutes before I can’t take it and we watch the Today show 😉). Here it comes, you ready? I wasn’t.–> He looked at me, arms up and said, “Hold me Mom-Mom.” Heart melted. My new favorite words. Well, maybe next to him saying “Love you” when I tip-toe out of his room at night. I’m sure there will be a day where the words hold me might be what makes me lose it. Not today.

Today I will wipe away all the guilt of everything I didn’t get done. I didn’t organize the spare bedroom like I wanted. I didn’t clean out the basement or the garage. I didn’t take the dog on a walk every morning like I planned. I sure as heck didn’t get any better at keeping up with the laundry or making dinner. Lots of days the house was a mess when Sam got home. And unlike other years, I only spent two days in my classroom before all the crazy begins on Monday.

What we did do? We went to the zoo with my cousin and her kids. We met up with friends we haven’t seen in months. I had lunch with my college roommates for the first time since we graduated. We spent lots of great (and some not so great) time with my mom. We ate ice cream, a lot. We went on a much needed vacation. We had date nights. We made forts in the living room. We spent time with family on both sides. We went to story time, the park, gymnastics open gym. We made lots of memories and started new traditions.

So today, I will be here with my little man as long as he wants me to hold him. I mean, really here.

We will do what ever we  want on our last-ish day of summer instead of trying to finish my list of things I thought were important. We will throw the football 5,000 times, eat lunch with dad, and play until we can’t play anymore. 

Here’s your reminder that these moments don’t last. Whatever moment you’re in now do it right, do it big, and don’t feel bad for what you didn’t do. Then when it comes time to move on (go back to work for me) you’re ready because you were really there for all the moments that mattered. When you do this, it’s easy to find the good in everyday. 💜

Lessons From Our Two Year Old

You guys ever had those days where you want to sulk in a bucket of ice cream? I’m not talking about driving to Dairy Queen, ordering your favorite blizzard and eating it in the car while listening to some awful, sap music. I’m talking–> going to Kroger, buying the biggest bucket of ice cream you can find, putting on your fat pants, sitting on the couch with a soup ladle and not getting up until that whole dang bucket is gone…Yeah, me neither ;). Life has continued to throw us curve balls over here in our adventures in the Haddix house. At one point the frustration turned to laughs as I tell people I think life is just waiting for my melt down. The largest tub of ice cream melt down.

One morning as I was making animal noises and  chasing around my nearly two year old (I have NO idea how we have a TWO year old.) he tripped, fell down, and on came the waterworks. If you have a two year old or have had a two year old you know how dramatic these waterworks can be. Screaming with alligator tears rolling down the cheeks. Almost instantly he leaned in for a momma-fix-it kiss. I kissed it, he brushed it off and we were back to running around. In these moments I thought, Wouldn’t it be nice to think like a little person. Then it hit me. We can think like a two year old if only we choose.

I’ve told plenty of people in the last few months to find the good in everyday. Recently I had to take a step back and listen to my own advice. It’s so easy to get consumed in the things that go wrong, the anxiety that builds up from day to day. It’s easy to get caught up thinking about the what-ifs and the what-are-we-going-to-do-whens. But people, while we are thinking about all this, we are losing time chasing our kids around the kitchen island or throwing a rope with our dogs in the backyard or reading that book we’ve been trying to finish for months.

During one of the hardest things we have had to do as a couple these last 11 years, as I was holding my husband’s hand fighting back tears standing next to his grandfather’s grave site, I looked up and saw our cheering section, our fan club, our people standing across from us. On the hottest day of June these people were there sweating in their dress pants and dresses with us. I even saw a couple of them wiping tears from their face, too. I then realized it’s okay to cry because in these moments, if we just look up, our people are there with us. Our people are feeling our pain and are ready to fight the battles with us.

Lean on these people when you don’t know what else to lean on. Find what makes you happy and do it as much as you can. Write down the feelings, talk them out, don’t keep them to yourself because you’ll find you’re not the only one. So today, I hope whoever you are reading this, I hope you know you’re not alone. You may be dealing with a bunch of crap, but you’re not doing it by yourself. All you have to do is look up and I bet you’ll find someone there to help and remind you to take your own advice when needed. If you can’t look up just yet, I hope you can at least find the good in today.