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    Mama Loves Moonshine is an honest, heartfelt, photo-centric blog devoted to all things motherhood, pregnancy & maternity, babies, toddlers, children, parenting and more... all accompanied by lots of photos. Julie is a new mother who has fallen in love with being a mom and already feels like it's going by so fast. Julie is married to Jesse, mother to Ramona Moon (aka Moonshine) and lives on an acre and a half in horse country between Boulder and Lyons, Colorado.

    Loving the journey (most of the time),

    Julie (Mama Moonshine)

    Read more about Mama Loves Moonshine...

Life in The Moment 3/27/15


My house is a mess.  A disaster.  I call it CHAOS actually–Cant Have Anybody Over Syndrome.   Last Sunday was supposed to be a day for work–Momo and I had grand plans of cleaning up the yard, front and back and getting our garden ready for some early spring seeds.  Peas, carrots and broccoli were all laid out ready to sow and the soil was aching to be amended.  What happened instead was complete spring fever.  The mop turned to into a witches broom, the garden, a glorious box of “powder’ for “cakes”, and the car was suddenly Elsa’s castle.  No cleaning today.  We had multiple wardrobe changes from fairy, to Elsa to “school clothes”,  basked in the spring sun and ended up drinking beers on a blanket at sunset in a messy, messy yard. There’s a reason things aren’t tidy around here.  I guess I prefer it that way.  There’s always next week–the peas can wait.


**This post is a part of a new project I’m collaborating on with two other incredible photographers. Check out their “Life in the Moment” posts at Rachael Grace and Sea and Rhythm


Meow has only one eye.  Her orange fur is scruffy, sticky and sometimes stinky.  The plush in her limbs and tail have been loved out. Her body has grown thinner, her head floppy.  She’s my daughter’s “lovey” and because of this I love Meow more than any adult should love a stuffed animal.  Meow has oddly become a part of our family and on Saturday, we almost lost her forever.

It’s become an ongoing debate—to bring Meow or not to bring Meow wherever we go.  Meow is a comfort to Ramona and her best pal.  Leaving her at home at times seems cruel. But to take her everywhere is to risk losing her.  Most of the time, Meow is allowed to tag along as far as our destination point in the car but then has to “hold down the fort” while we are out and about.  But every now and then Meow is allowed on a stroller ride, knowing that if Meow is dropped, there will be immediate shrieking.  So it was on Saturday—a gorgeous 65 degree day, we decided to take a little hike around Wonderland Lake and as our spirits were lifted with the sunshine, we felt generous enough to let Meow accompany Ramona in the stroller.  Meow made it around the lake, hung out in the stroller at the park and kept Ramona company while Jesse and I enjoyed adult conversations.  All was well until we left the trail-head to head back home.  Confused as to who was breaking down the stroller and who was buckling in the kid, poor Meow was placed on the roof of our car and left there as we drove away.  Thank God we were only a couple miles away when Ramona started to panic.  “Where’d Meow go, Mommy? Oh no, Mommy! Meow, NOOOOO!!!”   Jesse and I looked at each other, equally as panicked and nearly stopped the car in the middle of the road to search for Meow, knowing what had probably happened.  Pulled over precariously on the side of a busy street, we frantically tossed the car. Meow was most likely in the middle of the road somewhere torn to shreds.  We kept Ramona calm and retraced our tracks all the way back to the trailhead. No Meow on the road.  No Meow in the trail-head parking lot or under parked cars or in the trash can.  I decided to retrace our tracks by foot while Jesse stayed in the car with Ramona, reassuring her that I’d be back soon with Meow.

Panicky and prayerful, I walked the sidewalk up Broadway, methodically eying the road and sidewalk area. After what seemed like forever, I was flooded with relief when I spotted something tethered to a street sign.  It looked like a reusable grocery bag with something in it.  It was Meow! I practically ran to the sign and untied Meow only to notice that one of her glass eyes was missing.  Still, extremely overcome with a new appreciation for the little plush pet, I ran back to the car holding Meow high in the air triumphantly.  Ramona squealed with joy then immediately asked, “What happened, Mommy?  Meow’s eye.”

I wouldn’t say that in general I’m an overly pessimistic person.  I’d like to think of myself as more of a realist. But honestly, for a while there I thought that things weren’t going to turn out well for old Meow. But as we drove home in relief and silence while Ramona cooed and kissed Meow in the back, I was overcome with gratitude for two things. First and foremost, my faith in the innate goodness of humans went up a couple of notches.  Some good Samaritan (I imagine her to be a mother but it could have been anybody), ran out in traffic on Broadway to save a stuffed kitty for a kid.  I’d like to believe that I would have done the same but I just don’t know.  If I ever encounter a similar situation, you bet your ass that I’ll be out in the middle of the street in a heartbeat to rescue a lovey! Some kind, compassionate stranger was looking out for my daughter on Saturday and I am eternally grateful to her.  It makes me want to be a better person—to think of others more instead of being preoccupied with what is convenient or comfortable for me.

Of course, I was grateful for Ramona’s reaction to Meow’s new look.  I thought Ramona would respond negatively to Meow’s eye.  She can be extremely particular and isn’t keen to change. But instead, Ramona just kisses Meow where her eye used to be and says “Awwww, Meow.  Meow fall down.” What a great lesson this has been for her—She can love people and animals for what they are: imperfect, different, broken, missing an eye.  Meow with just one eye, instead of two, is still the same old Meow. Maybe this will help Ramona empathize with the kids with glasses at school, or help her cope with having glasses herself.  Or maybe she won’t do a double take at the neighbor in the wheelchair. Perhaps Ramona will be the person who adopts the three- legged dog from the animal shelter when she’s old enough to get a real pet.

Albeit the stress of believing Meow was a goner for 30 minutes, the gratitude I felt for the compassion of both the Good Samaritan and my two-year-old daughter made losing Meow the highlight of my weekend.  And I love Meow with her one eye even more than I did with two.  She now has a story, and for me personally (and hopefully Ramona), she will always be a token of compassion.

Andrea Shoman-Timmsen - Wow. Needed this today! Thank you!

Alison Christofferson - Both my kids have a “special blanket” that my Mom made for them. When my older daughter was two my step-MIL let her take it to the Zoo and it got lost. Like you, ours was saved by a stranger. I do not kid when I say this event strained my relationship with my MIL for years! I think only those with a child who has a lovey can truly understand. So glad Meow was found! The person who found it was surely a parent, if not a Mom!

Candi Bales Counts - So sweet 🙂 made me tear up

Svatka Schneider - Beautiful.

A Wrong Turn Somewhere


It has recently dawned on me that I haven’t been parenting the way that I thought I wanted to.  Never in a million years did I think that I would be that mother who would be out with friends, but catering to my kid the whole time—rattling gadgets at her, picking  toys  up off the floor repeatedly at restaurants, taking half eaten crayons out of her mouth.  I never thought I would let my adult conversations be interrupted by my children.  I just never thought that my kid would rule my world.  But I am that mom.  I’ve become that which I’ve feared.  I don ‘t know when or what I did (or didn’t do) exactly, but I have realized that I have taken a wrong turn somewhere.

We had some good friends over for dinner the other night—good friends whom we rarely see. Good friends who live in Denver and drove an entire hour to see us.  Thank God for stiff drinks and good conversations with Jesse because I certainly wasn’t present.  Just twenty minutes after they left, I couldn’t even remember what we talked about.  I do remember, however, telling Ramona to show our friend’s 6 month-old baby, Harlan, all her toys about a bazillion times.  I recall taking her to the bathroom to wash her hands at least twice to wash off the guacamole that I permitted her to get into while I was cooking.  I do remember numerous conversations, or shall I say, the same conversation numerous times with Ramona about how “Mommy is talking to her friends right now, so please be patient”.  But I don’t remember much about the time that I had just spent with our friends.  I don’t know what the hell we talked about.  Quite frankly, I was completely frazzled.  After they left, I felt embarrassed and humiliated, wondering what my friends must have thought as they toted away their sweet sleeping baby.

I just finished the only parenting book thus far that has resonated with me, “Bringing up Bebe”.  It’s about the difference between French and American parenting and how French babies are raised to be autonomous.  They don’t throw food,  they sleep through the night by 3 months,  they play independently while mom and dad have adult conversations and they eat gruyere instead of Kraft singles.  While Ramona actually does prefer blue cheese to string cheese, she is everything but autonomous and self-reliant.  In my defense, I didn’t even know that the French way was possible for a two-year-old.  I thought that this clingy behavior from Ramona was simply the “terrible two’s” and for all I knew,  was parenting perfectly.  This book rocked my world.  The other night’s dinner with our friends and the looks on their faces rocked my world.  The whining, the fussing, the demanding, the pleas for 5 books to be read at bedtime instead of 2 is rocking my world and it’s time for some change and some God-damn discipline around here!   I’m not sure how to turn this boat around, but I have to believe that it’s not too late.  I just don’t know where to begin.  This blog post isn’t going to end with some sage advice about what I’ve learned or a new technique that I’m going to try in the future.  It’s simply a vent.  It’s a confession of sorts that I have become a boundary-less, exhausted, ignorant, push-over Mama.  That’s  the truth. But  my heart is in the right place. My heart is almost always in the right place—although it’s not always for the better.

I know that I’ve been extremely co-dependent in my life, enabling many around me to avoid conflict or to spare others from feeling pain.  But pain is inevitable in life as cliché as it sounds. I’ve been working hard on changing this about myself over the last couple of years as I’ve gained knowledge about the sickness of co-dependency and the avoidance of conflict in general.   But Ramona is really bringing these issues to the forefront these days .   The insane love I have for her is forcing me to grow and I’m seeing things about myself, every day, that I want to change for her sake.

Ramona needs to feel pain to thrive in this existence.  It’s part of life—I certainly can’t guard her from that; in fact, allowing her to experience pain in small doses and in safe places is part of my job as I usher her into this world.  And God certainly knows that there will be some “conflict” in her teen years that we are going to have to face, so I should be practicing that now as well.  The first step to change it to admit that I have a problem and that my life has become unmanageable because of it.  Dramatic?  Maybe. But holy moly, parenting is dramatic.

Hopefully, I’ll have a follow up post with all that I’m learning and all  the ways that Ramona is becoming an  autonomous, courteous and more cooperative  little lady.  Maybe soon, I’ll be having adult conversations with some of you.  Until then—prayers for some swift  parenting recovery, please.

Chelsy Ann Clark-Supinski - I SO relate to this post. I have totally been there. It wasn’t until my oldest turned 3 that I really was able to recognize and make some intentional changes with my friendships. Also took a Love and Logic class that saved my life.

Jodi Peterson Cox - You are an amazing mother.. Perfect with faults, and willing to admit them. That’s how we all should be! Love you

Laura Esmond - Every mother in the world can empathize with your plight (even the French I’d be willing to bet.) So YOU GO GIRL! You let Ramona know who’s boss. Let your yes be yes and your no be no without debating (oh just wait until those debates get logical!) We still struggle at times with having consistent expectations of their behavior especially when we’re tired. And when they were Ramona’s age I was afraid they wouldn’t love me or feel loved. But they do and Ramona will. Consider reading Parenting By The Book. It’s shockingly old school, but a great follow up to Bringing Up Bebe.

Mark Harris - Perfect cover photo. What a cute little brat. Just so you know, I have never felt like our time together has been compromised by Ramona. Raising a two year old does look like a handful more often than not. You are such a great hostess, and a great parent. I hope you find some peace with some adult friends in the near future.

Anonymous - Ooooh, Ceasar Milan – the dog whisperer. Sounds bass-ackwards but swear it will help. It’s free on hulu.

Let’s Talk Some Sh#t


We don’t actually use that word to describe literal poop in our home–we use that big bad word to describe much pettier things like gossip or to punctuate our disgust of something that’s simply not true–as in, “bull sh#t”.   Jesse and I use  the good old fashioned word “poop” for poop and I have tainted and demonized that noun (and sometimes verb) far worse than its naughty cousin.  Besides, what is a  curse word to a toddler when it’s out of context?  It’s only a “bad” word when one makes it such and I have certainly done that to our socially accepted noun, “poop”.  In fact,  I’m ashamed to say that something in my parenting has gone horribly awry regarding everything having to do with poop.  In the last month, Ramona has become ashamed and grossed out by it–especially her own.  But horse poop, bug poop, or anything that resembles poop has become gross or even scary.  It’s actually heartbreaking to have her look at me directly, while pooping in her diaper, and announce that she is, in fact “not pooping”. She feels ashamed.

Of course, there is a back-story to this demonization of poop and it all began with potty training.  Ahhhh–the woes of potty training–there are all sorts of stories and lessons that came out of our first attempt with potty training.  I’m learning all about my failures as a parent in this simple act of what I merely thought was a “to do” on the toddler check list.  I had no idea what a power struggle and boundary tester it would become.  It’s truly the first time it dawned on me that I actually have to “parent”.  It turns out that you have to use some discipline when potty training–and by discipline I mean that you have to be conscientious, patient, firm in your boundaries and above all, you must be consistent and approach the subject positively.

Ramona started showing interest in the potty at about 20 months which, is a pretty young age.  Her older cousin, Orlagh, was learning to use the pot and Ramona (who is around Orlagh three days out of the week) was fascinated with it and would often accompany Orlagh into the bathroom to partake in the celebratory pee-pee or poopy in the potty.  She started to notice potties  in books and at peoples homes and when I brought her home a potty of her own, she opened it with glee.  At 22 months, we were confident that it was time to start potty training. We started the whole process by proudly putting her diapers in the closet, chanting, “No More Diapers!  No more Diapers!  No More Diapers!”, which she thought was pretty fun.  Things actually went brilliantly at first and I will still say with pride that Ramona never had a single  accident with poop.  She took to it instantly, exclaiming enthusiastically 20-30 times a day, “I’m pooping, Mommy!”, which just simply meant that she had to use the potty, pee or poop.  She even used it as an excuse to get out of bed or out of the shopping cart at Target.  I think we were all really into the whole thing for about three weeks, and then we hit a wall.  It suddenly wasn’t fun for any of us anymore.  The trips across the entire mall for a false alarm or the massive amount of laundry started to become exhausting for me. As I became less enthusiastic about a dribble of pee pee in the pot and the Reese’s Pieces tapered off, Ramona started to realize that she had some control over this little game of potty time. She started having more accidents–or shall I say she deliberately started to pee her pants in front of me.  I say this because I actually believe she had the self-control to pee and certainly poop in the potty a few weeks earlier.  I believe her defiance started with her desire to exercise her power and independence.  I was left feeling exhausted and powerless after a few weeks of this.   Out of fear of pushing the issue and raising an “anal retentive” child, I decided to give potty training a break.  I simply asked Ramona, “Do you want to wear your big girl panties or do you want to wear the diapers again?”.  She frankly said, “diapers”.  So that was that for attempt number 1 at potty training.

Except that I couldn’t let it go.  I was afraid that we had done it all in vain and that when we started potty training again that all would be erased.  So I started to demonize the poopy diapers.  I’d change  her diaper and dramatically gasp and plug my nose and say, “Ewwwwww! Stinky poop!  Gross– it’s all over your bottom and we’re going to have to use 10 cold wipes! Ewwww!”. Sometimes Ramona would ask to see her dirty diaper or would want to throw it in the diaper genie herself and I would say, “Why in the world would you want to do that?  Poopy diapers are gross and dirty!”    Poor, poor Ramona was so confused.  And boy, did I mess up the whole experience for her.  When I saw Ramona point to the potty at Grandma’s house one day and exclaim, “Ewwww!  Poop!”, I knew I had blown it on multiple levels.  But I did learn one of the most important things I’ve learned thus far as a parent.  We as parents are never powerless.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary.  We are everything to our little kiddos and the way that we  express ourselves and our attitudes towards situations greatly affect and mold our children’s experiences. Period.

It’s only been a month since our potty training regression and the whole negatives association with poop began, but I’m intentionally starting to talk about poop enthusiastically again.  I’ll say things like, “It’s okay if you’re pooping, Ramona–EVERYBODY poops!  Even Big Bear poops!”  She think this is pretty funny.  And when we see horse poop on the ground, we point it out and talk about it. I’m trying to remember that I do actually have some control over certain situations and that I can make these instances positive or negative based on the way that I am reacting to the situation.

In fear of messing up potty training attempt number 2, I am going to give this some time–some time for feelings to neutralize in the poop department, but also some time for me to read up on discipline.  I wish that I had understood that it wasn’t only Ramona who needed to be ready for potty training,  I needed to be ready too. I needed to buck up and set some firm boundaries while still remaining positive–even if it means dashing across Target in a mad scramble to get the the bathroom, false alarm or no. And next time, when we get there, no more diapers will mean no more diapers.

P.S. Please note that in the heartbreaking image above, Ramona is not crying because she is being forced to sit on the potty but because we couldn’t find Purple Rabbit.

Chelsey Heil - Great post, very honest! Maybe you should get the book: Everybody Poops. It’s funny and true 🙂

Alison Christofferson - Potty training is like childbirth, you forget the worst of the details so that you will do it again someday. The survival of the species depends on it. Personally with my second kid I just waited as long as as I possibly could. There is no perfect way to do it. Good luck!

Camille Andree Giroux - We often read a book called “Where’s the Poop.” my son loves to look at it while trying to use the pottie. Pretty entertaining and fun book about animals and their poop.

Gail Jackson - Potty training – one of the banes of a mother’s existence. And don’t be surprised if another regression occurs when Ramona’s baby sister arrives…. everything is fair game to a toddler when they are no longer your one and only!