Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: Motherhood (page 1 of 3)

The Princess And The Fish

A couple months ago, my daughter and I joined my mother for a trip to my aunt’s house for mother’s day. The weekend away was a fantastic break from reality. Love and laughter filled our time as we made new memories that we will all cherish forever.

One of those memories, however, revolves around disaster.

You see, my little cousin has an aquarium in her room. On Friday, my daughter came running into the living room, telling me how she fed the fish. Since they’d already been fed, the excess food had to be scooped out and we told The Princess not to do it again.

Of course, being 4 years old and bent on helping whenever she can, she did it again the next day. The family gathered around, cleaning up the mess. Unfortunately, this ended with the passing of one of the fish.

When I told my friend about it the next day, she laughed, stating, “I can’t believe she did it again!”

Despite being sad for the poor fish, I laughed, too.

The thing is, two years ago I wrote a post for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I detailed another fish related tragedy.

Today, I’d like to share that story exactly as it appeared on my old blog on April 1, 2015. Let this tale be a warning: toddlers and fish don’t mix.


the princess and the fish, funny story, the dangers of combing kids and pets, fish safety, fish and kids, fish and toddlers don't mix, poor fish


Last Saturday started like any other Saturday. After loading the little one into the car, we drove the 30 minutes to our hometown to look at what feels like our millionth house. We couldn’t find the place right off, which honestly was a bit of a plus for us. We’re the kind of people who like privacy, and this place definitely offers that.

As we made our way to the door, we spotted a black cat sleeping in a potted plant on the porch, which seemed like a good omen. The house has a lot to offer and I’d really like to make it our own, but that’s not what this story is really about. No, this story is about fish.

poor fish, fish and toddlers don't mix
This poor guy had no idea what he was getting into.

You see, the people who currently occupy the home had a fish tank in the living room. The Princess was instantly drawn to it and we could barely pull her away to look at the rest of the house. Every now and then she’d run off and stand in front of the aquarium, gazing at the fish with excitement.

As we were preparing to leave it became apparent that we were not going to get her away from the fish without a fight. Knowing we needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway, I resorted to bribery. “If you get in the car we can get you your own fish.”

Now, when I made this offer I was planning on just grabbing a cheap bowl and a goldfish. However, Almost-Husband became just as excited as The Princess as they looked at the fish. Before I knew it, he’s talking about an aquarium and getting a lot more than just the goldfish. Ultimately, we wound up going to another store and purchasing 2 fish, a rainbow shark and a betta. We got a bowl to get them by until we got a nice tank. Seriously, I think we were there for about an hour while we decided what we were going to get, with the plan of getting more fish down the line.

If you know anything about toddlers (particularly mine), you know that this was a disaster waiting to happen.

Don’t let her cuteness fool you. This is the face of Chaos.

As we set up their bowl, Almost-Husband lectured The Princess on important matters such as not trying to touch the fish, not putting anything into the water, and not taking water out. She managed to break the first rule within a matter of minutes.

The next day, we sat around watching documentaries on the ocean and researching fish. I know that Almost-Husband and I learned a lot, but I’m not sure how much The Princess actually absorbed. I’d like to think some of it stuck. At any rate, we noticed that one of the fish had fin-rot, so we began looking up it’s causes and how to treat it.

It turns out, grubby toddler hands are a big cause of fin-rot. Seriously, this should have alerted us to the importance of ensuring the fish bowl was out of reach. However, we were foolish enough to think we could teach her to stay out of it.

Monday morning, I stopped by the table to feed the fish. One of them, the one who had gotten fin-rot, had passed away. The other one seemed to be doing just fine though. We decided not to replace him until we got our big tank set up.

That night, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I heard a big splash. I ran into the dining room to see The Princess standing on a chair, throwing rocks into the bowl. Big, decorative rocks that we keep in a mason jar that is usually out of reach. We had forgotten to put it away after we selected a few to put in the bowl. Oops.

Not only did the rocks scare the bejeezus out of the poor fish, but I’m fairly certain she hit him with at least one of them. After scarring her with my cries of “No! You’ll kill the fish!” and pulling her off the chair, we had a long talk about not throwing things in the water and how it could hurt the fish. She said sorry to him and we went about our evening.

A few hours later I was again summoned from the other room by the sound of splashing. She was reaching into the water. Again, Mom The Yeller reared her ugly head and we had another long talk about not touching the fish.

As I started writing this, I was pretty sure the poor fish was dead. However, a quick glance into the other room proved me wrong. He was swimming happily around his bowl and I relaxed. I wouldn’t have to explain death to a 2-year old after all!

However, when Almost-Husband came home from work the poor thing had passed away. What appears to have happened is that one of the rocks The Princess tossed in there was actually not a rock at all. Whatever it was, it disintegrated, leaving weird fibers in the bowl and making the water dark and goopy. Ultimately, this is what killed the poor thing.

In searching for the moral of this story I’ve come up with a few vital lessons we’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Toddlers are much to curious to trust around fish.
  2. If you’re going to ignore lesson #1, be sure to get a container with some sort of lid.
  3. Don’t spend money on fish for your little one. Go with a little goldfish. I should have gone with my instinct on this one!
  4. Don’t let yourself get excited over a pet that most likely won’t last more than a few days.
  5. Speak up well in advance if you don’t want your partner to use your kitchen utensils to scoop up dead fish. Seriously, I now need to replace my pasta grabber and my colander because, EW!
Maybe one day we will be able to try this experiment again with a better outcome. Until then, I think we’ll just stick with our cat. At least he has the ability to get away from The Princess!

Why I Am Not A Pinterest Mom

Every now and then I scroll through my Pinterest feed and marvel at all the crafty moms out there. I pin a ton of projects and recipes, telling myself that I’ll create something just as beautiful when I have the time.
Then the day comes when I find myself fighting a creative itch. I scroll through my boards and find something wonderful to copy. With excitement flooding my brain, I grab a sheet of paper and jot down everything I need and head to the store to buy the necessary supplies. Then I sit down and remember that these projects rarely turn out for me…especially when I produce them in a rush.
The following post is another throwback from my old blog and show’s you exactly why you’ll rarely find pin-worthy projects on this blog.

not a pinterest mom, pinterest fail, cake fail, not crafty, mom blog problems

****Originally posted 4/21/2015 on Life, Motherhood, and The Pursuit of Happiness***
I woke up this morning with the idea that my daughter and I would make a cake together. I had some cake mix in the cupboard along with some tubes of icing and a package of icing tips that were supposed to screw right onto them that had never been used.
I planned on writing “Celebrate Everyday” and making a few flowers or something in red, and then using the white as a border. It seemed easy enough and I was excited as we got down to mixing the batter.
Now, baking with a toddler meant that I would have to account for spills, fishing eggshells out of the mix, and comforting said toddler when the loud mixer startles her. With this in mind, I managed to get through the actual baking process without much stress.
After the cake had cooled and my daughter was busy playing with her dad, I got down to what I believed would be the fun part. 
I spread on the can of frosting with a huge smile on my face, envisioning how amazing the finished product would be. Almost-Husband would tell me how wonderful it looked and that I was so talented. I’d smile and say thank you before taking some great pictures for the blog.
As I moved on to the icing tubes I realized that the tips I had did not, in fact, screw onto them. They were two different brands, because of course they were. Not one to be easily dissuaded, I attempted to do the white border while holding the tip firmly in place on the tube. That only worked for a moment. 
No problem, I thought, the border can be a little wonky. The lettering will be much easier!
Ha! No, the writing was not any easier. I gave up after the “C” and just scrawled “CAKE” and threw on some sprinkles.  
not a pinterest mom, cake fail, perfectly imperfect

Beautiful isn’t it?

This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me. As you may have already noted, I used a boxed mix and pre-made frosting, despite the fact that I actually enjoy making cakes and what-not from scratch. I did this for one reason: I’m mostly lazy. 

I also have no patience. While most people would have attempted to fix whatever mistake they made and continue on, I say “Screw that!” and move on. I want it to be awesome and I want it to be easy. 
This is why I tend shy away from Pinterest. Aside from the fact that any kind of creative projects tend to cost money, there’s also the knowledge that I am just no good at that kind of stuff. 
Don’t let the dresser revamp fool you, by and large I fail at these sorts of things. Most of the time, it is due to my impatience. Something goes wrong and I give up or rush through it. I’m not going to waste my time doing things that I’m not good at…even though I know that “practice makes perfect”. 
What’s interesting to me, however, is how much pressure there is to be crafty, especially if you’re a stay at home mom. Even more so if you’re a stay at home mom that blogs
You see all the fabulous stuff on Pinterest and you see your friends posting on Facebook about doing various crafts for holidays and birthdays. You kind of get the feeling that that’s just what moms do. 
Well, not this mom. 
This mom uses boxed cake mix and cooks Hamburger Helper on the regular. She reads and writes and plays guitar. She occasionally draws a silly cartoon or sews something. She plays hours and hours of Peggle when time permits. She does a lot of things, but trying in vain to recreate some fancy craft project or recipe she saw on the internet is not one of them.

How about you? Are you a Pinterest mom? Why or why not? Tell me all about it in the comments below–don’t worry, no judgement here!! 

The Uncanny Similarities Between Kids and Pets

Every now and then I run across a post imploring pet parents to stop comparing dogs to babies. I usually give a small chuckle, roll my eyes, and scroll on. Inevitably, about four seconds after I see such a post, one of my four kids needs something from me. I put the phone down, rush off to solve whatever problem they have, and wonder why so many people have this view.


pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies, i love all my kids the same

My four kids.


I mean, I get it. Being a parent to a small child is a lot of work. As far as I can tell, kids are a walking self-destruct button and keeping them safe requires constant vigilance. Once you have a child, your entire life is centered around teaching them to be acceptable humans and keeping them alive. Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also brings an overwhelming amount of love.

The thing is…stay with me…so do pets.

Now, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but as someone with one human child and three furbabies, I don’t see much difference. This is particularly true if you’re kids are still toddlers.


pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies

Pictured: A fur-less dog.


Similarities between kids and pets.

  • You spend a great deal of time keeping them from eating non-food items.
  • You spend even more time finding food they’ll willingly eat. This is especially true if your furbaby is a cat.
  • If you want to get away for any length of time, you need to find a sitter.
  • Play dates are necessary.
  • They both destroy your property.
  • Finding a form of correction that works is a pain in the you-know-what.
  • The unbelievable sense of pride you feel when you finally teach them to obey a simple command.
  • They can’t always tell you what’s wrong.
  • You can’t help but smile when they fall asleep in your arms.
  • Bathtime can be a nightmare and results in more water on the floor than in the tub.
  • You have to clean up after they have an accident on your floor. (Potty training, anyone?)

Still not convinced? Here’s the biggest similarity between kids and pets:

You’ll do anything to keep them safe and healthy.

If you’re like me, you love your furbabies just as much as you love your own child. Keeping them fed, healthy, and safe consumes a large portion of your mind.

This is something that struck me when we acquired the newest member of our family, an adorable kitten named Cleo.

When we got her, she was a 9 week old ball of fur. Like any other kitten, she was full of energy. For the first few days, we watched with joy as she batted around her toy mice, hopped from one piece of furniture to another, and attempted to scale the blinds. We’d let her “fight” our hands and giggle as she pounced towards wiggling fingers. She’d play hard for awhile, and then she’d crawl into our laps, purring away as she settled in for a nap. In short, she acted as we all expect a curious kitten to act.


pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, my kitty is the best kitty

Cleo the Strong. Her hobbies include climbing into boxes, begging for your food, and giving snarky looks to the camera.


Then, a few days later, she was struck with a mysterious illness.

At night, we put her in the bathroom to keep her safe and to ensure she has easy access to food, water, and her litter box without the oldest critters taking over. We had brought her into our family on a Sunday night, and the following Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom to check out her. She was sleeping quietly on her pillow, as usual, so I gently picked her up and brought her with me to finish her nap on the couch. She curled up on my lap and continued snoozing, just life as normal.

A few hours later, she was still sleeping. I couldn’t get her to really wake up. When I did, we couldn’t get her to stand. She’d just kind of flop over and cry. The few times she did take a couple steps, she was very unsteady and seemed to be in pain. We couldn’t get her to eat or drink, and we were certain she wasn’t going to make it.

Upon Googling her symptoms, we found that nearly every possible medical issue in cats listed these concerns. We called around until we found a vet who was open on weekends. We ran down her symptoms and the doctor advised us to keep an eye on her, and pretty much said it could be anything.

I spent the next few days feeding her canned cat food, sometimes mixed with pumpkin and water, with a baby spoon. We gave her water with a baby bottle. We administered lots of snuggles. Each day she improved a little more, and finally she was back to normal.

My guess is, this mystery illness was malnourishment or dehydration. Possibly constipation. Now that she’s better, she can get her shots and everything, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with anymore scares!

Now, I tell you all this not only to show how much work can go into being a pet parent, but to give the next example some context.

To further illustrate the similarities between pets and kids, look no further than my willingness to put my own medical issues on the backburner to protect one of my babies.

A few days after Cleo started getting better, she started to jump off the couch. Since she’d been having trouble with coordination, I was sure she was going to get hurt and I lept from my seat to save her, landing on my injured knee. Of course, my husband reminded me to take care of myself, but like all mothers, I put my young above myself.

If that isn’t love and devotion, what is?

So, what is the difference between pets and kids?

The only real difference I can see is that kids talk back, pets don’t.

Well, now that I think about it, my furbabies can be pretty sassy in their own right. They definitely have their own way of talking back. So, let’s try this again.

The only difference is the amount of money you have to spend.

That’s not to say that pets don’t cost a lot of money. There’s vet bills, food, toys, and whatnot. But, kids come with the need for clothes that they outgrow as soon as you buy them, more expensive toys, more food, fees for activities, school supplies, college tuition… Let’s face it, kids are money pits.

In the end, the biggest difference is simply breed.

I may get some flack for saying this, but I love all the members of my family equally. So go ahead and compare your dogs to babies. I won’t judge.


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The Truth About…Being A Work At Home Mom

Since I spent several years as a mommy blogger, I still follow a lot of parenting blogs. Every now and then a post comes around that highlights the struggles of stay at home moms. I usually find myself nodding along and feeling for the writer, because, let’s face it, being a stay at home mom isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. A few days pass and I come across a post about working moms, and having been a working mom as well, I empathetically nod along. Working moms have it hard, too.

In either case, once I’m done agreeing with the author,  I head to the comment section and, even though I know it’s coming, I stare at the screen, stunned into silence at the verbal carnage taking place. Everyone starts arguing about who has it worse, ignoring the fact that it shouldn’t be a competition. We all have our individual struggles and what works for one person won’t work for another. Sometimes what appears easy as an outsider turns out to be incredibly difficult once you give it a go.

In this war between working moms and stay at home moms, I feel that one group of mothers is largely overlooked: work at home moms.

Now, the point of this post isn’t to say that this group has it any easier or any harder than the other groups. I just want to point out the unique struggles we work-at-home-mothers face and erase some myths that seem to be prevalent.  After all, the first step towards peace is understanding.

Myth #1: You have all the time in the world.

As a work at home mom, my day starts at 5 AM. I jump out of bed, get some caffeine into my system, and immediately fire up the computer. The first few hours of my day are devoted to writing, which isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Generally, my daughter sleeps until 9 or 10, so I have a good chunk of time to use productively.

However, occasionally my work time is cut short when my child decides to get up early. These days are incredibly difficult. An early-waking child means I must stop working for a while or attempt to form coherent sentences as I field unending questions and demands from the tiny terrorist I so lovingly created.

Most days, I’m working in spurts. I work on writing, promoting, networking and so on for a little while, then stop to fix a meal or snack, work a little more, stop to load the dishwasher, work a little more…you get the drift.


work at home moms, working moms, stay at home moms, myths about work at home moms, the struggle

There’s certainly no time for fancy tea.


The point is, as work at home moms, our time is precious. We still have to get in the normal 8 hours of work each day while doing all the things people expect of a stay at home mom. We’re not just sitting around the house doing nothing. Our career is not something we do in our “free time”. There are still deadlines to meet, meetings to hold (even if they are via phone, Skype, or email), and a slew of other time-sensitive tasks.

Plus, you still have to find time to squeeze in some sleep. Most nights, I hit the hay around 11 PM. Six hours of sleep probably isn’t ideal for anyone, but it’s a necessary sacrifice at this point. Many of us work at home moms only function by the grace of caffeine. Like I said, time is precious!

So, no, we can’t always agree to your spur of the moment requests for childcare or a lunch date. It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s just that we have to work as well!

Myth #2: Work at home jobs aren’t “real jobs”.

This right here drives me up a wall. Some of us, like myself, aren’t making buckoo bucks at our work at home gigs, but I know plenty of women who are. Regardless of pay-grade, it seems that a lot of people are under the impression that these types of jobs are somehow less demanding than traditional careers. It seems that there’s a lack of prestige that comes with saying you work at home. Sometimes it feels as though you must drive to another location to do your job in order to be a real adult.

The thing is, working at home is often more demanding. Sure, you can set your own schedule, but you also have to work around life’s other tasks. You have to be great at switching gears to pull it off, as you’ll more than likely be working in small chunks spread throughout the day.

This isn’t to say that flexibility isn’t a perk. Knowing you can make it to a doctor’s appointment or hit the bank before it closes is wonderful. However, juggling all of life’s demands with the requirements of your job can be a hassle. This is especially true if the people in your life don’t take what you do seriously. When you have others interrupting you or making more demands on your time, it gets hard to keep things in balance.

Make sure your family and friends know that work hours are off-limits. Remind others (and yourself!) that your job deserves the same respect as anyone else’s.

Myth #3: Work at home moms can (and should) do it all.

This myth comes to us in many forms. Whether it’s a spouse who feels you should do all the housework sense you’re home all day, your own hang-ups, or “helpful” family members who suggest you just need to manage your time better, this idea is pervasive and damaging.


doing it all, exhausted moms, work at home moms, work at home mom, working mom, burn out, stress, mom life

Exhaustion. That’s what it will get you.


You cannot realistically do everything yourself and still keep your sanity. If you can afford childcare, get someone to watch your kid while you work. If you need help around the house, let your family know they need to do their share. If there’s job related tasks you can delegate to someone else, do it. You absolutely cannot be expected to take care of everything all by yourself.

Remind people that although you don’t have an office to show up to everyday, you still work.

The truth about being a work at home mom is: it’s hard.

All forms of motherhood are hard. We all have our struggles. Work at home moms, stay at home moms, and moms with traditional jobs all face these issues to some degree. However, it is the work at home moms whom I most often see struggling to have their voices heard. It seems that everyone is quick to point out the ways in which work at home parents have it easy.

I’d like to end this post by reminding all moms that we gain nothing by tearing each other down. Invalidating each other’s experiences or playing the “who has it worse” game adds nothing of value to the world.

Let’s end the debate once and for all, and instead focus on hearing each other’s voices. Let’s lift each other up and help one another find solutions. We can all work together to form a more inclusive social narrative and make real change.


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