by gillian claire



To The Squad-less, The Tribe-less & The Ones Raising Kids Without A Village

Seen on Scary Mommy

In a culture hooked on buzzwords like "squad" and "tribe," I'm sometimes left wondering if I'm the only one over here scratching my head... One phrase that really echoes in my brain in regards to child-rearing is, "it takes a village."

But what if you don't have one?

I got married as a teenager and was pregnant by 20. When most of my high school friends were focused on figuring themselves out in college, I was figuring out breastfeeding and completely zeroed in on this new baby in my arms. I surprisingly didn't feel lonely during those young years on the narrow path. In fact, mothering was a dream come true for me and I poured every ounce of my being into caring for my son in our one bedroom apartment, $425/month. This was 12 years ago, before social media was there to remind me at the drop of a hat that I wasn't doing life the same way as everyone else. I carried on blissfully unaware in my little bubble where I truly felt like I had everything I needed.

My husband is very (as he absolutely should be) dedicated to this parenting gig, so I don't claim to know or even begin to imagine what single parents go through. But for me, outside of him, that "village" you hear of seems very elusive... I love my extended family but we were never in a situation of grandparents taking the kids for sleepovers and when our boys were 5 & 1, we moved across the country to start a different life alone.

Of course, I've asked for help from a select few in moments of need but mostly it's been me and my husband tag-teaming. I never thought much was unique about our setup until social media added it to my list of things to feel inadequate about. (Other things on said list include a house on par with Joanna Gaines' standards, the perfect mom bun & kids in matching, monotone pjs.)

Via Instagram, I've started to see that moms seems to have this magical "tribe" whom they couldn't survive without... that bestie who stops by and scoops the children over for a playdate when she's feeling overwhelmed. Friends Venmoing Starbucks gift cards on a rough day and dropping off a homemade lasagna when their kids are sick with strep throat.

"It takes a village," they always seem to say...

My reality has been that my husband and I worked opposite shifts for years to make ends meet, Netflix getting us through the hard times and the only "bestie" dropping off food was the Domino's pizza delivery guy. I don't share this to complain; I'm totally at peace with our lifestyle. In fact, I never felt like it went against the grain until social media gave me a backstage pass to the Jone's everyday. I am very independent by nature and enjoy functioning that way but it does leave me wondering if I'm the only one out here in trenches without my "ride or dies." Just going through the motions and hoping to God I'll get to take a nap or two on the weekends.

I am so grateful for the friends I've met along my journey whether they've stayed for a long time or briefly popped in and out. It's healthy to find human connection but I don't necessarily think I've created a "village" and I don't have a group of friends helping me with parenting, that's for sure.

I value time to myself and am involved in yoga and jump on the invite to join a book club or have dinner with other moms. There are people I enjoy spending time with when I get the chance but I wouldn't describe them as the "people I do life with" or my "tribe." Making friends as an adult is hard! Moving from Ohio to Colorado was one of the best decisions I've ever made but it also meant starting over and meeting people from scratch.

I will say, that even sans village, my kids seem to be making it ok. If anything, they know that their parents love them more than the moon and stars. Being their mother is still a dream I don't take for granted. No, my husband and I don't have a lot of "backup," our family lives hundreds of miles away, but we make it work. We are these boys' world and we will always find a way to provide no matter what.

So, the squad-less, the tribe-less, the ones raising their kids without a lot of help: cheers.

I'm here to say that I DON'T think it takes a village... but it sure as hell takes a lot of hard work.

Look at the view from here...

If I could have known at 14 that my life would lead here, living next to the Rocky Mountains with my childhood love & our two hilarious little boys, I would have thought my future life turned out  perfectly... NewestFamphoto But what I wouldn't have seen are the real life mountains I had to climb to get here. I wouldn't have seen how low the valleys are in-between. I couldn't have understood the childhood trauma I'd begin to unravel: the anxiety, the confusion, the pain of losing what I once had. The journey and process of  beginning to find myself again every day as an adult.

There's no way I could have comprehended what I know now and thank God I didn't know then. But damn, I've made it far. I'm working hard and grateful every day that driving towards the mountains means going home.  I'm still chasing this boy from church camp, living out my dream as a mother raising two of my very best friends.

I wish 14 year old Gillian could see this picture and I'm glad it would make her happy. It makes me smile to think of the joy I'd feel and how naive & hopeful I was then.

Life is far from the perfect fairy tale I would have imaged looking at this photo, but wow- look at view from here...

Holidays 2019

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
Here's to the fact that I got my boys to wear matching outfits and smile (begrudgingly) for the camera. These were taken on Thanksgiving after we had 16 inches of snow in Fort Collins. untitled-1207untitled-1209untitled-1208 Today is Christmas and I think I was more excited about waking up this morning than the kids and I hardly slept last night... Seeing my boys peek into the living room on Christmas morning is one of the happiest moments of parenthood for me! Santa brought bean bag chairs and a foosball table this year. Roman's face was absurdly cute when he was genuinely excited to see the foosball table after ripping off the paper. :) 
Photo Dec 25, 9 58 22 AM Photo Dec 25, 9 57 06 AM
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day; thanks for stopping by. ☺️

Camping on the Poudre River

Camping on the Poudre River, Colorado
Summer 2019
Summer is officially over and I'm kicking and screaming about it... (It's my blog and I can whine if I want to!) I miss the hot sunshine on my skin. I miss going on barefoot walks in my neighborhood. I've traded in bare feet for another Colorado winter where I take any glimpse of warmth as a chance to wear sandals. Cue people saying to me, "Aren't your feet cold??" all winter long... and yes they are cold just like my SOUL in wintertime.
Now that the whining is out of the way, I want to share a few photos from a camping trip we took in August! We fell asleep next to the rushing of the Poudre River. We tucked ourselves in by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and I had to pinch myself that we were just down the road from where we call home. This summer marks 6 years from our move out West and I can truly say I'm still in awe.
So yeah, the winter starts in October here. We've already had a blizzard and several snowstorms but damn it- these views, this state, the wide open skies and mountain sunsets make it ALL worth it.
Happy cold season friends. It's time to trade in the sundresses for seasonal depression; I can't wait to ditch the shoes again this Spring.
(An absolute favorite photo of my two absolute favorite little boys!)

New Years Resolutions (For Our Cat!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #proplanprobiotic #CollectiveBias

It's been a little while since I've shared some updated photos on our cute cat, Finn and I'm excited that my new partnership with Purina® gives me the purr-fect chance!
Finn is now about a year and half old and I still feel like bringing a cat home was one of the best decisions I've made for our household. He is a very social cat and never fails to add a little bit of humor, excitement or companionship each day in our house. Adopting a cat into our family was one of the easiest and yet most substantial moves I've made to enrich our lives


As we're heading into the New Year, I thought it would be fun to spin the idea of New Year's Resolutions onto our kitty! I'm not a huge New Year's Resolutions person but I do find that January is a good chance to re-evaluate things and make changes or shifts in our lives.


Here are 3 things I've decided that I'd like us to work on this year when it comes to our roles as pet owners:

1. Fix bad habits

Finn is such a joy but like any normal pet, he has a couple behavioral issues. Upon sharing some things with his vet, she recommended contacting a pet behavior specialist through our local cat shelter. This is something I'd really like to look into this year. I want to do everything I can do make sure things run smoothly and I don't always know the best answers to dealing with issues that come up! 

Have you ever worked with a pet behavior specialist?

2. Keep Up With Finn's Nutrition

Sometimes it can be tempting for me to buy the "cheapest" cat food to save money. However, I try to remember that my cat's health is a priority and look for the best nutrition at a good price for him. This year I wanted to change up Finn's pet food and I was really intrigued by the past that Purina®  has a new food out with probiotics! Purina®  has been fueling pets since 1986 (also, the year I was born!) and we recently had the opportunity to let Finn try out Purina®  Pro Plan®  which with guaranteed live probiotics to support a cat's digestive health!

purina 3
Purina®  Pro Plan®  Savor offers the advanced nutrition your cat needs to live a healthy & active life in a variety of flavors and textures. We chose the chicken & rice dry food and Finn finished his helping very quickly! I like that real protein is the #1 ingredient in all Purina®  Pro Plan®  dry formulas.

We purchased this cat food at our local PetSmart which is also were we adopted Finn! Currently if you buy Pro Plan®  Savor Dry, you'll get $10 back in the form of a digital prepaid card! Click HERE for the offer.

3. Most Importantly, Remember to Appreciate Him

Finn is such an affectionate pet and I've been noticing how sometimes I don't appreciate all the effort he makes. I want to make sure that the honor of having a special animal friend doesn't start to get ignored in our household. One little thing I've started doing is greeting him with a little head scratch when I first walk in the door. Finn always comes running to the door to great me (yep, he's a little dog-like!) and it only takes me a second out of my day to reciprocate.

Are there any little ways you can show your pet you appreciate them?

I hope you enjoyed this twist on New Year's Resolutions and that it maybe sparks some ideas on how you can improve your pet's life this year!
Check out the link: HERE to learn more about the $10 offer and Purina®  Pro Plan® Savor® products!
Find me on Instagram HERE
Here are some other kitty posts on my blog if you'd like to check them out!


Cleaning Up My Coffee Routine in 2019

This post is sponsored by Left Field Farms but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
Coffee is a huge part of my every day. It's weird to think back to a time when I didn't drink coffee every morning but having my second baby 7 years ago definitely changed that for me! 
My health and finding natural alternatives are also huge priorities in my life and I started to find over the past couple years that my coffee habit was becoming a bit unhealthy.
My coffee intake certainly ramped up in frequency when I started working from home 2 years ago. I began my day with 2 cups of coffee as I sat down at my laptop to answer emails. In addition, I frequented the coffee
shop drive-thru to grab a large iced coffee as a little afternoon break/pick-me-up.
That's a lot of caffeine, and because I like my coffee sweet: it was also a lot of sugar! So, I've been trying to clean things up a little bit this year.
I have tried to cut my coffee routine down to one cup at home in the morning and only an occasional smaller iced coffee out as a treat.
I've also been looking for a way to clean up the ingredients in my morning coffee since the coffee creamer I've been loyal to for years is full of chemicals and ingredients I can't pronounce. I'm so happy to have come across
Left Field Farms coffee creamer for a few reasons:

1. Their creamers are non-GMO project verified
2. Their cows are not treated with rBST
3. No artificial flavors
4. Made with real cream, milk & sugar
5. Short ingredient list that I can actually read!

I'm really happy to have found this better for you creamer to incorporate into my morning routine. Since coffee creamer is something I use every day; it's important to me to find an alternative with
safer ingredients without sacrificing taste.
Natural Creamer 7 .
I found Left Field Farms creamer in the dairy aisle of my local Walmart. 
(Leave a comment if you're a reader from Fort Collins, Colorado!)
.Natural Creamer 1 .
So, I want to know: what is your daily coffee routine?
Are you trying to cut down on caffeine or improve the quality of ingredients you put in your 
morning cup of joe in 2019?
Let me know below!
Also, be sure to check out Left Field Farms and learn more about why they are a better choice for coffee creamer.

The Bachelor Recap: Colton's Premier!

Ok, first let's talk about the elephant in the room... Colton's virginity... oh WAIT, production has been anything but discrete about this topic since we met Colton months ago. I've had some hesitations about this season because of how much they've played up the simple fact that Colton Underwood has never had sex. I mean, the whole "what does he have to lose"  tagline- oh my god please make it stop.

Overall, I think it's really neat that this show has shed light on the topic of virginity with big names such as Ashley I, Becca Tilley... and now Colton. It's been refreshing to see a different perspective! I just had to roll my eyes through all the virginity jokes last night and try to enjoy the episode.

Photo Via ABC/Rick Powell

So, night one. 3 hours. Wow. Because I'm a mom of two kids, I usually keep up with The Bachelor on Hulu. This year though, I'm trying something new. I moved the TV from the living room into my bedroom, grabbed my dinner, turned on my salt lamp (setting the mood here, guys) and shut the door for 3 hours. Bye bye family: it's Bachelor/Mommy time.

I liked the way they did the premier this time around. I felt like they mixed it up well with the different live viewing parties, the cute little mashup of all the Bachelor babies, and of course the tribute to Chris Harrison which literally brought tears to my eyes. (I need help.)

Which brings me to my next point... I also cried during the two fan proposals and that my friends is how you know I'm the type of person who gets sucked into a show as ridiculous as the Bachelor...

Limo Entrance Rundown

I can't even believe that I can still sit through this after so many years. I mean I kind of think episode one is a snooze fest every time but I'm a devoted fan so I must watch.

Here are my notes....

Demi: why exactly did she have to say "banana yellow" after Colton complimented her dress color? The next time someone compliments my, uh blue sweater I guess I'll come back Demi-style with, "That's sky blue, baby." Needless to say; I cringed.

Photo Via ABC/Rick Powell

Did anyone else get serious middle school throwback vibes from Cassie's dress? I swear it's the exact type of dress my sister and I would wear to Easter Sunday mass in the 90s.

Photo Via ABC/Rick Powell

Can we talk about Kirpa's hair... did anyone else notice?!? SHE WORE HER HAIR ALL THE WAY UP! She gets major props from me for this very un-Bachelor-esque first night move. Kirpa looked adorable. I love her.

The Sloth: watching Colton's face while The Sloth made her entrance was priceless... I mean he didn't even hide how much he hated this. This must be how people feel when they first see their Tinder date in person and they don't look like their photos.

Top 2 Eye-Roll Moments

Then we have those all those stereotypical Bachelor moments that make us all roll our eyes while simultaneously grabbing more popcorn because we love to hate them every year....

Here are my top 2 eye-roll moments:

The police car rolled down the driveway with sirens blaring and the girls all ran to look out the window like, "Oh my gosh what's happening??" What's happening? Um, a girl is using a police car as her entrance and you all know that perfectly well so PIPE DOWN.

When Demi grabbed Colton immediately after his speech for some one-on-one time and the girls are like "Woah, woah- it's happening now I guess." Some are seemingly shocked by how quickly she whisked him away... Ladies, have you ever even seen an episode of this show that you're on right now? What are y'all confused by and what did you think was going to happen? Maybe a nice sit down dinner before the sharks started feeding?

One-On-One Time

Not even going to talk about the whole Catherine stealing him 4 times and girls getting up in arms. Been there, done that- Every. Single. Season.

                                                      Photo Via ABC/Rick Powell

I do want to make a quick comment on what it's like watching The Bachelor in my 30s. It hit me when I was listening to Miss North Carolina and Colton's convo about how they are apparently mature beyond their years. MNC talks about how she's been through a lot and that even at only 22 (read: basically a newborn) she seems much older. Colton responds with how he's experienced more than some people in their... wait for it, "30s" gasp! My question is; what if you are said person in their 30s who has also experienced and been through a lot in life? Does that make me basically 50 now? Seriously wondering.

Banana Yellow Demi is back... talking about she's not afraid to get dirty and says, "I know, I look so pretty right?" I now appreciate when she said banana yellow and wish she would have stuck with color explanations instead of the whole, "I'm soooo pretty, right??" Gag.

Best Quotes of the Night

"Wow, I really could have done better than a bag of nuts" DEAD

"He needs to know that I'm more than just fruit!" Preach.

Hey, Let's Talk about the Virgin Thing Again...

Alright guys, premier night down. Bringing it back around to Colton's v... well ya know. On a more serious note, I'd like to point out the blatant blasphemy in the fact that if The Bachelorette was a virgin, SO much of this banter would be highly inappropriate and rightfully so! It does bother me how it's ok to poke fun at a guy about this topic. Why can't the issue of virginity be treated the same regardless of gender?

I think Ben Higgins did an excellent job approaching this topic on the Almost Famous Podcast today.

How do you all feel about this issue? Are we really being progressive by mocking an entire life choice?

.... and on a lighter note... spill all of your favorite cringeworthy moments and all your feelings about The Bachelor premier with me below!


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