7th Annual #FreedomDay

Oh my! I suppose it is time to update this blog. I was hoping to have it integrated into a new site, but I have decided to keep this separate. Although I am pretty public with my role as a mom, I need to keep it somewhat separate from other parts of my life online. There are so many things I could tell you. But honestly, Facebook has most of it. What prompted this post today is an upcoming anniversary that I consider the most important day of my life. More of that in a bit. But first…


Cristian is doing well. You know…his pediatrician was concerned that he might have autism. I was supposed to get him checked. His doctor did say to watch him and see if our concerns improved. They have quite a bit, which is a huge relief. I didn’t get him checked. I still may…but not now. The self-imposed deadline for this decision is his third birthday. He is becoming more social. He says hello and waves to people on our walks in the park. Although he’s a bit shy at first around other kids, he’s doing well in school. He’s starting to speak more. He knows his ABCs. He’s a bit slower with development, but he’s making strides. This hard for me as a  mom because everything in my life happens so quickly. Cristian is my lesson in patience. I’m very proud of the little boy he’s becoming. He’s smart. Little critter can take stuff apart and put it back together. He cleans with mommy and feeds the puppy without me asking. He takes initiative and is very, very loving. The fact that today is Father’s Day hasn’t left me. I did think about his dad. It’s a shame that he has chosen not to be part of his life. But because of the man he is, sadly, I think it’s probably for the best. Cristian does not need that level of constant disappointment. I’m happy being both mom and dad.

My life as a woman has changed. I made the decision to stop going to school for my PhD. That decision was incredibly difficult. There were ethical issues that started me on that journey. There was a sense of resentment in the process because I felt like school was taking away from me being a mom and my career. I lost a part of myself and although I may seem chipper and normal. I was not happy with what I wasn’t showing the outside world. I feel a sense of relief. I don’t have that external worry of how I’m going to study. That worry clouded moments with Cristian.  My personal life is changing. I’m not ready to talk about the details of that quite yet. But I’m in a good place. I’m excited about the journey. So far it has been crazy wonderful.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible if June 26, 2009 never happened. Little did I know that following June 26ths would be life-changing, amazing days. No joke. This day is significant just about every year. I don’t think I’ve talked about it on this blog. June 26th, ladies and gentlemen, is my #FreedomDay. It started off with my divorce finalized on that day in 2009. That life moment catapulted me into the woman I needed to become…the woman that I was always supposed to be, but lost because I made a decision to get married so young. I don’t regret that decision. I fell in love with my first husband. It was a great story, with a not so sad ending. We both are happier now. A year later, I walked across a stage for my MBA. I will never, ever, ever forget that moment. Then I had bout with cancer and on that day in 2011,  it was gone. 2012 was a quiet year except that a few weeks later I got pregnant. Last year was quiet too. I was dating someone then. But this year…this year is different. My heart is smiling. I’m hopeful. Other than spending the morning in the salon, I’m not ready to talk about my plans for the rest of the day. But know that it will be yet another new beginning and it is an amazing story. You all have no idea how much I’m smiling right now. Like with any big day, I will spend some time reflecting and counting my blessings. There is this precious angel of a child who reminds me every minute of why I’m thankful for my first #freedomday.



We’ve been M-I-A this year because life has been crazy busy for us. We did move and are now in our new home. It took the kid about 2 weeks to adjust to the new house and schedule. He gets more mommy time, which has been nice for both of us. We take our time at bedtime. We do lots more reading and cuddling. So today was his 2nd birthday! I’m always going to be super emotional at his birthday, not only because he is my first kid, but because I mourned not being able to have kids for so long prior to him. All considering, my pregnancy was shockingly easy. And although I remember being uncomfortable, I do miss being pregnant. There is something magical about the experience that I feel beyond blessed to have had it despite what the doctors told me. So Cristian is truly an amazing, special little boy. I know he has a higher purpose for being here. Any stranger can look at him, and they tell me the same thing. My son is super thoughtful and observant. He’s kind and sweet. Today a little girl was crying and he tried to make her feel better. He’s musical and artistic. He now has a real keyboard in his room. He plays with it every day. He loves to color and write in a journal. More like scribble, but it’s a good start. For his second birthday, I got him a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe. We were shopping and he wanted one. I attempted to put it together. I got the body assembled (which is a miracle). But I couldn’t figure get the wheels. No joke I started crying. It was the one thing my kid wanted and I failed. Luckily, I saw that Walmart had tricycles already assembled. I picked one up at lunch after I went to his school.

I ordered cupcakes and because his school is so close to work, I was able to spend my lunch with him. He loved it! It was such a nice treat for both of us. His favorite food is popcorn, so we had that for dinner and he got his trike. I don’t think he noticed that his mama was upset about his original gift. He seemed to have fun.

#SmilingKiddo 2015 Start

I have a new rule…for now anyway. I turn off my laptop when my battery dies. This only applies to my home pc if and only if I don’t have a deadline. This rule expires April 1, 2015. That being said, my laptop is running low. This might be a short post. Keyword is might. 😉

So it is time for an update. 2015 has been good to me so far. It’s been a little stressful, but that’s expected. I made a few changes. You all know how much I love change that requires growth. I’m going to be a little more private with some of the changes. I accepted a new job that seems to have me totally geeked out and happy. Kiddo and I are moving. That’s the primary source of my stress because I can’t stand the transition of packing and moving itself. But it is what it is. My OCD urges will just go into overdrive. If you’re helping me move, I’m sorry for maybe seeming a little on edge or maybe being slightly bossy and blunt. I’ll make you dinner and all will be fine.

The kiddo is fine. He’s super hyper and has taken to shrieking, much to my dismay. But he’s happy.He’s also taken to helping me clean everything but his toys. In the kitchen, he’ll help with dishes and putting way things like ziplock bags and putting his plate in the sink. Yay! But as you can see, the living is a disaster because he won’t put his toys away. I would otherwise be perturbed, but I’m learning to mellow out. Perhaps it’s all the tea I’m drinking. Or the wine. I’ll admit to a glass of wine in the early evening.

We’re trying to learn to do things like sit at the table when eating and sitting nicely. No standing on chairs.  He would rather not use a fork and spoon too. Cristian is very temperamental. He’s got Blake’s temper. He throws a fit and destroys thing…at least attempts to. I don’t put up with that at all. Cristian is all too familiar with timeout. I am a little concerned that Cristian is having issues saying his consonants. Blake still has some speech issues.  Maybe it’s a genetic thing. Cristian did say “I love you” for the first time tonight though. I think that’s what he said anyway. That was AMAZING either way!

So kiddo is going to start a new school in March. He’s going to have quite a few transitions. I’m expecting more bad behavior and outbursts. But hopefully after a few weeks, he’ll like his new school and house. I’m going to start moving stuff over to the new house every week in February. He’ll have some time there with me to get used to it. But that’s all the news. Other than the move, we have his 2nd birthday coming up. It’s going to be an active 2015.

From #SmilingBaby to #SmilingKiddo: 2014 in Review

Well darlings! 2014 has been quite the year! I’m not going to go into what a year it has been for me. I did that on Smiles and Rants. This is a post for my darling little boy. When I first told his dad I was pregnant, I told him I wasn’t going to be public about the baby. But as my pregnancy progressed and I moved to Atlanta, away from family and friends, I went back on that.  Besides, (almost) everything in my life is public. We build our personal brands by being our true authentic selves online and off. So my son gets his life documented online. He will either love it or hate it. I will have started his personal branding for him. Unlike most kids, when he interviews for a job, his progression from child to the amazing young man he will become will be online. He’ll have that advantage.

So let’s start shall we? Cristian turned 1 in 2014. I stopped breastfeeding him in 2013, but until his first birthday, he was on formula. His pediatrician gave me the greenlight to get him off the bottle. That wasn’t too difficult. He stopped eating baby food summer of 2014, when he got a few more teeth. He now has 9 teeth, including molars. He loves chicken nuggets, but hates turkey. He was not a fan of Thanksgiving. He loves beef in any form. Of course his daycare gave him sugar and he loves that too. He’s not allowed to have it at home. He likes pancakes and french toast. He loves my bacon jam, humus, and liver sausage. He’s not a fan anything green.Surprisingly enough, my kid doesn’t like cake. He didn’t get into his birthday cake at all. Maybe I’ll do cookies for his 2nd birthday. He likes those and I have a cookie recipe with only 1/2 cup of sugar.

I’m a little concerned that at 21 months, he’s not really talking. He babbles, but not full-blown talking. He says mama and hi and a few random words. He’s not the kid who likes to repeat what you say. He’s not one to sit still and work on his ABCs with you either. Over Christmas he got a Vtech Tablet, touch and learn book, and laptop. He plays randomly with them, but I’m concerned that his randomness is going to turn into a learning disability.

Despite that, he’s super smart. He takes things apart and  puts them back together. He “gets” things quickly…very mechanical. That shouldn’t surprise me. Blake’s dad is a PhD in Engineering. I suppose it’s a good thing Georgia Tech is in our backyard so to speak.

One of the things that makes so proud is that my kid is musical. I had a feeling when I was pregnant because he would kick to the beat of the music I was listening to. But now I see it first hand. Kid has rhythm. But he naturally is drawn to the piano. His uncle, a musical genius in his own right (and Cristian’s namesake) said that Cristian even had perfect execution on the piano…naturally. Luckily, we still have all our instruments we played as kids. Thanks mom, for not getting rid of them. My mom is going to haul the piano from IL to GA in 2015.

Life is serious. My life is serious. But I always take time to have fun with the kid. By that I mean having random dance parties and singing. This usually happens when I’m baking or in the kitchen. Cristian has learned that when mommy puts on her batic and apron, that means we cook/bake, sing and dance. He’ll come up to me and start dancing. It’s the best feeling ever–taking my kiddo in my arms and dancing. I hope he likes doing this when he’s older.

I also learned that my kid is stubborn (takes after me and his dad). No matter how firm or strict I am, he does what he wants. This is a struggle now because he stated the terrible 2’s early. The hardest part is bedtime. He likes to move his crib to the other side of his room and tries climbing out. Getting him to get quiet and fall asleep is a nightmare. He’s stubborn alright.

I’ll end with this. Cristian is an amazing little boy. He’s handsome, smart, and full of so much joy. It has been an honor being his mom and watching this amazing child develop from a baby into a toddler. I’m excited to discover the little boy he’ll become in 2015.

A Little Bit of Music

Back in the day, before I was told I couldn’t have children, I used to dream about what my children’s peronality and interests. I imagined all my children being involved with music in some way, starting with piano–maybe voice, violin, a series of multiple instruments– me forking over lots of cash on lessons and listening to them practice.  But that was a dream…or maybe not…

I have to say that I’m loving getting to know my son without his temper tantrums. I could do without those. But I do love seeing him play and interact with people, situations, etc. Kiddo was amazing this Christmas. He opened one present at a time and played with each toy for a good little while before opening his next one. The best part for me though was seeing him on his cousin’s piano. He pulled himself up on the bench and started playing on the piano. It was the cutest thing! He naturally loves music and the piano. Dream come true maybe?

So this mama has made up her mind. My #SmilingKiddo is going to get a piano. I sent my mom the video. She still has the piano I used to play as a kid. It’s Cristian’s. She’ll bring it with her all the way from Illinois to Georgia so my little boy can have his piano. It’s also the piano I played so it has sentimental value. So maybe it wasn’t all a dream. Cristian will start with the piano. As long as he’s playing some instrument (with the exception of drums), I’ll be happy.

A Quiet and Humble Thank You

I could write a thank you post on Facebook, but so many of you have reached out to me in various forms. A blog is more appropriate.

Today was the day I hoped would happen quietly. The day that I hit 30. It did happen quietly and happily. Birthdays are normally so difficult for me for many reasons. But this year was different.

It was hard because my dad who helped create me isn’t alive. I took for granted when he was. I put his pictures up on the wall for my son to see and for me to remember. It’s hard not to cry when I look at them.

But today was good. It was humbling turning 30…another year older. It wasn’t about me flipping out over aging. It was about being thankful for the people in my life…past and present. The universe…God…put people in our lives for a reason. Today I was reminded that even the smallest acts of kindness leave big impressions. It’s funny what people remember…even years later. Today, people I haven’t talked to in years reach out to me to wish me a happy birthday…not just on Facebook. It made my heart smile. I connected with new friends who are amazing beautiful people inside and out. My heart stopped when I heard from one person.  And my heart smiled even more spending the day with my amazing, beautiful gift of a child.


My 30th birthday picture with my gift of a child.

I had lunch with a girlfriend, made a donation of stuff to GoodWill, and spent the rest of the day playing with my son. It was perfect. I struggled with relaxing, but managed to watch a movie without touching my laptop (shocker, I know). And now I say thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday. Thank you for being amazing souls with great hearts. Thank you for making a positive impact everyday and making the world more beautiful with acts of kindness and generosity.

Little Furniture Mover

I was taken back to my childhood this evening. My baby brother (and I won’t mention his name because I don’t want to further embarrass him) was a little extra ball of something! He was hyper, creative, and lots of trouble. My poor mother! Being the oldest, I watched him a lot. Maybe he was my practice…because my kid has my baby brother beat.

Cristian moves furniture all over the house. It doesn’t matter how big it is. He’ll move it. He’ll climb anything. That’s not totally surprising since he is a boy. But what does surprise me is that he will move his crib, while still in it across his room. He has moved it to his closet and taken out clothes. He has emptied his dresses from his crib. He has gotten his hands stuck in said dresser. He has moved his crib to his toy shelf and emptied its contents. His latest is moving his crib to the door and blocking it. When I go in his room, he’s standing in his crib calmly, and says “hi” so sweetly and waves.

No. I didn’t think my son would be like this at all. He’s so damn cute, it’s hard being his mom.

Cristian after I just moved his crib back in its place and told him to go night night.

I also didn’t think he’d look at me and laugh when I said no or try to reprimand him for misbehaving. I really struggle with this one because again… he is so damn cute. I have to turn my back to gain composure and continue being firm.

I did not think I’d have such a spirited child. Now before some of you start–I was NOT this “spirited.” I was not moving furniture. I may have laughed at my parents when they said no. And I doubt I was as hyper.

I realize this is the moment when I set the tone as a parent and authority. For those of you who know me personally, I have zero tolerance. So although I see how easy it is to give into my kid and allowing bad behavior, I refuse. So I may seem like a mean mom, but the way I see it…if I’m not firm now, I’ll never get him to listen to me later. I’m praying that he gets easier as he gets older. I’m praying he respects my authority when I speak.

Feel free to share your experiences with amazing children who exude such behaviors. I say amazing and mean it. I think this is just his way of expressing himself. I need to find ways to channel his energy and help him develop in more constructive ways.

Dear December 11th…

Dear December 11th…holy crap! You’re almost here!

Gasp. In a week, I will turn 3-0. I remember when one love of my life turned 30. I went all out for his birthday. I gave him a huge birthday party, catering the food myself (like I hated that…puullease! Love the kitchen), making sure he was happy and having fun. Now it’s my turn. And to be honest, all I feel is pain. No joke. I’m about to cry. I don’t know if it’s my hypersensitivity to aging or just a coincidence that I’m feeling all sorts of aches and pains in my body or that I’m noticing these lines…around my eyes. Holy crap! When did these things called wrinkles become so pronounced?! Yes, I’m that vain. And I don’t care. I eat healthy. I used to go to the gym everyday and then chasing my toddler happened and the house became my gym. It’s about me feeling healthy and confident.

Me at 4 circa 1989 in Romania with my kid brother, Alex. My kid looks just like him.

Me at 4 circa 1989 in Romania with my kid brother, Alex. My kid looks just like him.

So as I’m writing this, I’m going to suffer through the excruciating back pain. I didn’t do anything overly difficult today…just hold my kid. It doesn’t matter what I do, by evening, I feel like I’m about to die. And I don’t pop pills so I suffer.

And I won’t be celebrating my 30th either. I will celebrate everyone else’s birthday, but not my own. I’m funny about that. But I do take this time to reflect.

Am I who I want to be at 30? I’m different from what I thought I would be. Is that an answer? At 25, I didn’t think I’d be a mom. I didn’t think I’d be as confident or self-assured as I am now. I’m better than who I thought I’d be at 30. I think of what my dad (may he RIP and smile right now) and what my moms think, and what my grandfather thinks of how their little Andreea turned out. What my brothers think of their big sister…all that matters to me. I love my family. They are proud of me. I saw my grandfather over Thanksgiving. It was his first time at my house in Atlanta. And to see his face and to hear him say he was proud of me…that meant so much.

At 30, I’m more giving and open to life than I ever was. I look at my career and sometimes have to pinch myself. Did I really just give a seminar on digital marketing? Did I really just pull off these results with PPC, SEO, and Social? They say you work to live not live to work. In my world, those lines are blurred because I love what I do that much. Sorry. If I’m dating you and you’re reading this…it’s something you’ll have to accept. I love being a mom. I don’t want another kid for bit. But I sure do love being a mom to the one I have. I’m firm and strict. But we do crazy things like dance around the house just because. We have random tickle sessions because I love Cristian’s belly laugh.

Again, not a fan of my actual birthday. And I don’t want a big to do just because it’s my 30th. I get to make a big deal out your birthday. You just can’t with mine…sorry. I just want a nice quiet night…perferably where I don’t do anything except maybe drink some wine or bourbon…I may want bourbon… and relax…in quiet…because I love quiet. I need quiet. I will also indulge in a burger because I got down to my goal weight and I need a burger…and cake. I won’t bake my own cake although I do want my mom’s chocolate and lemon cake…or carrot cake. Love that too.

Looking ahead, I’m excited. Holy crap. The next few years are going to be insane! I’ll be done with my PhD (in four years). My career will be even more amazing. And maybe, just maybe…the right guy will come into my life and convince me to settle down. But honestly…I’m good there so no rush. My grandfather would have me single for the rest of my life. The best part–I get to watch my kid grow up. He’s amazing, and I’m lucky to be his mom. Hopefully December 11th will come quietly. I’ll get to play with my kid and relax. And that night, I’ll have my bourbon and be content and thankful.

#SmilingMarketressMama Thankfulness #Thanksgiving2014

It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted. Sorry. Life happened and I’ve barely had time to breathe. But if you want to keep up, you can follow me on Facebook.  I always reflect. Of course, this time of year, I do it more often. Thanksgiving, my birthday (in a few weeks…30…yikes!), Christmas, New Year’s…perfect opportunities to look at where you are in life and assess if that’s where you want to be. It’s the time of year to take stock of life and think of…anything and everything.

I look at mine…specifically this year…and I’m…happy. Are you really that surprised? 🙂

Happiness can defined in so many ways. I think it’s an individual definition because it is and should be personal. Happiness to me is a happy kid who smiles and laughs. Happiness is my beagles wagging their tails and playing and giving the baby kisses. Happiness is being to go to sleep at night knowing I did all I could to make that day absolutely amazing…a little more beautiful than the day prior. That is happiness. The rest doesn’t matter.

That doesn’t mean life is easy. It doesn’t mean I worry or that sometimes I’m sad. Believe me, this year has hurt a little, but that’s another blog post for later…for the end of the year.

Andree Cojocariu, #SmilingKiddo, #smilingmarketress

But what really counts…I’m happy and oh thankful for the amazing, full life I do have. I have this amazing little boy who calls me mama. He’s starting to say that word a lot now. Every time he says it, my hearts melts a little more. And to me…a gal who didn’t think she had it in her to be a mom…or never thought I could be…it’s the most amazing sound. Hearing Cristian call for me…it’s the absolute best. Playing with him and making him laugh and smile…the total ultimate. Kuddos if you know where that came from…one of my favorite movies…ever.

I look at Cristian and see myself. He looks like his uncle Alex, who is rightfully named after (middle name). He’s observant like his bio dad, but smart like his mama. He’s temperamental like a normal toddler. He musical like his mama and his uncle Vlad. He’s got my smile…good thing too. He loves his puppies. He’s a good kid. I’m blessed beyond all measure he’s my kid. I look at him and can’t believe this amazing little soul is mine. Seriously…so lucky. And you know…I’m okay with not sharing him with his bio dad. It’s hard…no breaks for this mama. But it’s worth it. Drama free..happy…nothing else really matters. I won’t be going gray early because of custody issues thank goodness.

So this Thanksgiving…it’s pretty obvious. I’m thankful for the amazing, full life I lead and all the souls (kiddo and furbabies) in it. I’m thankful for all the amazing, beautiful souls I’ve met who are part of my life now–longtime friends and new ones. I’m thankful for the kindness and love I’ve experienced. I could tell you that I’m tired or that I can barely breathe with everything I have going on. But you don’t need to know that. What is important is this…

We are all given one life. And dear friends, it’s so incredibly precious. I was reminded of that unfortunately when my dad died. There is no point in dwelling on the negative…but focusing on the positive. We need to focus on what is good in our lives. Define your own happiness and be thankful for it.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving. I sincerely wish you all the very best…sending you lots of love and smiles…from The Smiling Marketress Mama and the #Smilingkiddo.

Like Mother, Like Son

Sometimes I feel like I cursed myself when I was pregnant, thinking that my #smilingbaby was going to be easy. Ask my mother and she’ll tell you he’s much easier than I was. This is true. I won the most high maitenance baby award hands down. Yay me. But my kiddo gets silver for that category. I once worried that he’d be way too much like his bio dad who, other than his decent good looks and love of St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues, and obviously his charm, has nothing too good to offer. No worries there. Kiddo is all me. He looks like my side of the family, and he most definitely acts like me. He is in fact, my mini me.

1. He’s good in public. I very rarely ever misbehaved in public. I was calm, quiet (until you got to know me…then I wouldn’t shut up), and well mannered. My kid is very much the same way. Thank you Jesus for that!

2. He hates baths. This is torture. Apparently, I screamed through them until I got to grade school. I’ve tried getting in the tub with him, showers, toys, etc. Nothing works. It’s pure torture for him  (and me!). My friend Nikki experienced this first hand. Bath time now takes only 5 min.

3. He purposefully disobeys and smiles about it. Maybe this isn’t me so much as it is my brothers. I say he takes this being named after his uncles a little too seriously. He got the demons out of them. Say what you will, but I threaten spankings all the time. He’s gotten one swat on the rear or two and knows what they are. And when I say the word spank, he stops. He laughs when I say no. The teenage years will be difficult with this one.

4. He’s scared of EVERYTHING. This was me. I wouldn’t try anything new. I wouldn’t touch anything. I was leery of all things. My kid is the same way. I took him to Kinsey Farms today because it had a hayride, petting barn, hayride, and pumpkins. Check out the pictures on Facebook. We went to the petting barn first.

#Smilingbaby, Cristian Cojocariu

He wouldn’t pet the animals, not even the goats. He just looked at them. I took his hand and made him pet the cows and goats, but nadda. He didn’t like it. There animals were pretty awesome though. Mama loved them. There was a very vocal cow that was oh so adorable.

Although he looks sad and depressed on the hayride, he actually liked it okay. He just has a sour look on his face. He was observant and still.

Thank goodness he opened up once we got to the pumpkins. He liked walking around and loved the wagon. He didn’t want to sit though…kept trying to stand up. But today was fun. I just realized my kid is more like me than I thought.