Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come...

Moms to youngins, we're constantly inundated with well intentioned advice, "Enjoy this stage, it goes so fast...""It will be over before you know it." "Just wait until they're thirteen!" "I remember this age like it was yesterday."  And I know they mean well, but I can't help but feel a lot of pressure!

"Okay, I am going to actively and enjoy this."

And I also can't help but feel there's an underlying message of, "It's all downhill from here, sister. Enjoy it while you can..."  And while I agree, these are some of the best years, that this is the stage of motherhood I've always dreamed about, there are still so many great things that are in store for us, beyond my mere first two years of motherhood... So here is a list of things to look forward to, instead of being sad that my kids are growing {which in and of itself is a blessing-- that is not lost on me!}...

  • Disney World
  • Charlotte's first ballet recital
  • Walking Charlotte home from school
  • Our first Broadway show together
  • First choir performance at church
  • Baking cookies together
  • Jack's first t-ball game
  • Going fishing with Jack
  • Getting them a puppy {it's inevitable, but no time soon!}
  • Christmas mornings in our home
  • Daddy-Daughter dates for Tyler and Charlotte
  • Our first camping trip
  • First slumber parties
  • Learning to ride a bike
These's years are magical, I couldn't agree more.  I try so hard to capture and preserve memories.  I try to be present and appreciate even the things that can seem repetitive or mundane, like another car ride or bedtime.  But I try not to mourn my kids growing and developing and gaining independence.  These kiddos are a gift and they're merely on loan to me to raise.  As sweet as newborns are, the days are just getting sweeter with real conversations and hand-holding on walks.  I think if we're really living in a way that honors the blessing of healthy kids, we don't mourn their independence-- we celebrate it and live in anticipation of their next amazing milestone.  So let's believe it, moms.  The best is yet to come...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Drawing the Line

I'm not a big worrier.  Well, that's not completely true.  I'm a worrier to the extent that all moms worry about their kids and overthink things.  But I've never been paralyzed by it.  There's probably always something floating around in the back of my head but I live a fairly easy-going life and like to think I'm pretty level headed in how I live my life and raise my kids.  I'm not much of a control freak and I try to be pretty flexible with things.

But we're in the age of information overload.  And if we didn't have enough to worry about with our own health, safety, and financial state, we have these adorable little monsters to worry about that we've been tasked with raising.  And if you're hooked to Facebook like me, there's a constant barrage of articles and blogs and research.  It's all well meaning and the information itself is GOOD.  I want to know how to decrease my risk of cancer.  I want to know how to support families in need.  I want to know how we can improve the environment so our kids can raise their own families and breathe clean air.

But I've come to a point where I can't do it anymore.

I can't read any more CaringBridge sites.

I can't watch any more clips of kids singing to their mom with cancer.

I can't read about dads that died of brain tumors.

I can't read another article about how every single solitary thing in my house and fridge will kill me.

Because it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position-- and even that makes me feel guilty.  Because if MY kid were the one that were sick, I'd want you to read and support and pray for them.  If I were the bald one fighting to see my kids get married, I'd want you to pay attention.  If I were the widow, I'd want you to show up at the benefit.  These people are SO deserving.  The information is important.  The stories are worthy.

But it sends me into a tail spin.  It makes me crazy.  It keeps me up at night.  It makes me over analyze every tiny status change.

I read a blog in the spring about a sweet three year old girl fighting terminal cancer whose symptoms began last summer when we was two and a half {Charlotte's age in the summer} when they brought home a new baby {same story} and they thought her crazy behavior was due to the family change.  Charlotte, this past summer, at two and a half, with a new brother, was CRAZY.  So naturally, I had "brain tumor" floating around the back of my mind all some.  As if a two year old and a new baby weren't hard enough.  Then Charlotte started stuttering last week, a common developmental glitch that can occur in the preschool years, I KNOW, but again, I convinced myself she had a brain tumor.  I was texting colleagues and speech therapist friends looking for advice because she was saying her W's funny.  I was turning crazy.

Any random pains I get that last for five minutes make me think, "Is this the first symptom?"

Every time I microwave something in a plastic bowl, I feel guilty that I'm too cheap to replace our tupperwear with glass.  And I painted Charlotte's fingernails last week, so she's going to get cancer.  And I didn't hug Tyler tight enough this morning, so obviously he's going to die in a random accident today, like that other dad in the news.

I want to do the best that I can.  To live clean and healthy, to cherish each day with my family because they ARE a gift.

But I have to stop.  If you share something on Facebook and ask for prayers, I'll do it-- those mamas and babies and daddies are so deserving of our prayer and time and attention.  But I can't read CaringBridge anymore.  I can't like any more sick kid Facebook pages.  I can't read any more articles about how every single solitary thing in my house is radiating cancer cells.  Because instead of making me grateful, it makes me crazy.

I just have to do the best I can, and hand over the rest to Jesus.  Because it's slowly making me insane.  My worst fear is losing my kids or my husband or my life.  My second is that I spend my whole life with a healthy family that I was never able to fully enjoy because I was always afraid I'd lose them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

We still got it!

Road trip mojo that is. Mad skillz.

In case you're new here, we take road tripping seriously.  When we were fresh faced little newlyweds, we did fun things like drive to New York for the day or cruise through New England in the Fall. These days, we're exhiled to the 95-corridor for family trips home with a trunk full of strollers and pack n plays. Still a worthy cause, dear family, but really, why drag this out?

Many will talk about traveling with kids and stopping every two hours for diaper changes and playground stops.  Um, no.  I love road trips but not enough to stretch them out to infinity.  

With Charlotte, we figured out how to maintain our budget-friendly traveling lifestyle but I wondered if we'd regret our commitment to drive from DC to Georgia for an August recess recess now that we have a newborn again.  But on our inaugural trip as a family of four, we're discovering we still got it.  Here's how we do it...

- Gas stops, food, and potty breaks are coordinated all in one stop. Make 'em count y'all!

- Emergency bathroom breaks at rest stops. Off the road for five minutes or less.

- Baby feedings by bottle in the back seat.

- Baby diaper changes CAN be done without getting out of the car seat.

- Don't potty train your toddler. Ever!

- If you're breastfeeding, pump on the road.  All you need is a plug adaptor and a nursing cover.

- Headphones. For you, toddler, everybody. 

- Lots of DVDs, cheap car-friendly toys {think Magnadoodles, coloring books, lacing cards, stickers}, snacks.

- Talk radio for him.

- We live and die by the app iExit to plan stops.

- And a good playlist. Kids know the music you expose them to-- you don't have to be stuck with Wee Sing Silly Songs!

We are 300 miles in with a two year old and one month old and we have yet to stop.  No one has cried and dare I say it, we're all happy and planning our dinner stop.

{Of course, we have 300 miles left to go so someone's bound to throw-up simply because I posted this...}

My kids are far, FAR from perfect, but dare I say they are great in the car.  Whatever you want to be able to do as family, start 'em young!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sweet Relief: The Birth Story of Jack

My personal memory and record of the events of July 2nd, 2015…

It was a hot, humid summer.  I’d been dilated for three weeks, including a 4 full centimeters for the last week.  Jupiter and Venus had merged, forming a megastar for the first time in 2,000 years.  There was a full moon.  My mom had been in town to prepare for the big arrival for three days. I’d walked a gazillion miles, eaten eggplant parmesan.  It was my DUE DATE.

And still…no baby.

I was unabashedly grumpy and full of sarcasm on all the things I should do that week, since having a baby obviously wasn’t one of them.  And I declared a date night for my July 1st  due date.  Why not?

“Watch, we’re going to spend $40 on movie tickets and popcorn and then you’re going to go into labor.”

“Perfect-- I will gladly pay $40 to go into labor!”

So off we went…snuck in our Chipotle bags, like classy folk do, for the 7:30 showing of Jurassic World.  I’d had a few contractions in the car but paid them little mind because I’d been having them for weeks.  As the movie started, I decided to keep an eye on the clock and after about an hour, the contractions hadn’t stopped.  They weren’t necessarily getting stronger, but they weren’t going away like they usually did.  I waited another hour, with no change, and snuck out to call the doctor.

“Well come on in!  Sounds like a great night to have a baby!” she cheerfully told me after I explained my symptoms.

Praise Jesus.

I snuck back into the theater, just in time to see the credits roll {I can guess how the movie ended}, and told Tyler it was time to go to the hospital.  I was giddy with excitement.  As we walked to the car, we took note of the huge, low-hanging full moon.  We stopped at home to grab our bags, sneak into Charlotte’s room for a kiss, and give my mom a big hug.  I remember thinking we should pray together before we left, but I couldn’t handle anything emotional at that point.
One last picture…

The drive to the hospital was much different with this baby.  With Charlotte, I was quiet and nervous and scared.  This time, I was nervous with excitement, casually chatty, but also thinking how surreal it was that I was finally going to have this baby…and go through labor & delivery again.  I hadn’t dedicated the attention to this I had with Charlotte, and despite my full 40 weeks, felt a little caught of guard that I was about to undergo that messy process again.
We arrived at the hospital around 10:30.  I remember walking through the hospital doors full of nostalgia, remembering everything I’d felt two years ago as I took in the sites and smells of the dimly lit maternity ward.  I’m always amazed at how quiet it is, despite being full of laboring moms and newborn babies.

After waiting to be examined, we were fully admitted and official with our hospital bracelets.  We were in our L & D room around 11:30 and I was ready to get cozy for the evening.  The rest of the night was slow and uneventful, though not without discomfort.  Tyler tried to hang with me but we were both tired and he kept dozing on the sofa.  I watched a lot of HGTV through the middle of the night, unable to sleep.

I really love our hospital and the nurses are great, but my nurse that night was obviously very new.  I am usually all about working with new practitioners because everyone has to learn and start somewhere…but labor and delivery is perhaps not the best place to have a rookie nurse!  She used both of my arms for various IVs and cuffs, leaving me fairly immobilized and unable to adjust myself or move around during painful contractions.  She forgot to turn off my blood pressure cuff, leaving it to expand and deflate every TWO MINUTES {at 3 am, it took me awhile to realize what was wrong}.  She didn’t see the clot in my antibiotic drip…my IV insertion was pretty painful…she had to cath me twice… Needless to say, I was ready for that 8am shift change!

I went for the epidural around 4 am, my water broke, and Pitocin was added to my drip around 5 am when I was still at 5cm {Whaaaa!}.  From there, things started to pick up speed.  I loved the doctor who was with me all night and was disappointed when I realized the baby wouldn’t be here before the shift change…until I heard that Dr. C, the same doctor who’d delivered Charlotte, was on call for that morning.  In a practice as big as the one I go to, it’s pretty rare that the same doctor would deliver both of my kids—I was so excited!

I managed to sleep for an hour or two after my epidural and the rest of the morning was quick and easy…everything felt effortless and casual, much different than last time!  When they announced it was time to push, we pushed. 

“Do you want to announce what it is, Dad?” the doctor asked.

“Sure…” Tyler answered, sounding uneasy with that kind of pressure.

And just like that, my little baby #2 was out in three contractions…less than ten minutes.

At 10:01 am, I heard “It’s a BOY!”  And that’s when everything changed.

With Charlotte, delivery was overwhelming and surreal.  I only held her for a minute because she wasn’t breathing properly and needed a lot of monitoring.  We didn’t nurse until much later.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around her being MY baby, me being a MOM.  I didn’t cry a single time the two days we were in the hospital.

With this baby boy, it was instant.  I cried immediately, took and held him instinctively for what seemed like an hour.  We nursed right away and I was overwhelmed by how much I loved him.  Don’t get me wrong-- I loved Charlotte when she was born, but there was learning and adjusting that took time.  With this baby, I already had that “mama love” in me, that instinct and experience ingrained in me.  Which is good because I was so afraid I wasn’t going to be able to bond with this baby.
Bonding was not a problem...

“Do you have a name?”

“Jack?” Tyler and I simultaneously said.

And Jack he was.  All 7 lbs, 15 ounces, 20 ¼ inches of him.

I spent the next two days cuddling him and soaking up every minute of alone time in the hospital.  I didn’t leave my room a single time.   My mom brought Charlotte to meet him that afternoon and she immediately loved him.  We weren’t sure what she would do or how much she would understand but she couldn’t stop touching him or talking about her “brudder” from the minute she walked in the room.  “Him get on floor and crawl?” she asked.  Leaving the hospital was traumatic for her…leaving alone with Gigi while Mom, Dad, and brother stayed behind resulted in a really sad fit {after a repeat experience on the second visit, we decided she would stay home until we returned home—it was traumatic for everyone}.

We were discharged on the Fourth of July and have spent the last month falling into the rhythm of a family of four, falling more in love with Jack, loving watching Charlotte as a big sister.  Jack’s first two weeks were a breeze—I couldn’t have asked for an easier initial transition.  He sleeps and eats like a champ and I predict he will be my laid-back answer to his firecracker sister.

I was not shy about my anxieties transitioning to two children, but my heart has grown in ways I couldn't imagine.  We have been sustained through grace, naps, and a LOT of casseroles.  As it turns out, the hard part of a newborn isn't the newborn but the firstborn!  A lot of days are hard but the good is SO much bigger.  And for that, I have unending thanks...

Welcome to the world, JackJack!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pregnancy: Round Two

Thirty-eight weeks isn't too late to write a pregnancy update, right?

In my defense, I already wrote this blog once and then my computer malfunctioned and I lost the whole thing.  It took awhile to muster up the energy to put it all down on paper again... Thus, the only pregnancy update I've dedicated to poor, neglected Baby Grassmeyer #2.  {Anyone who tells you Macs don't freeze up is a LIAR!}

Pregnancy the second time around is different for a myriad of reasons.  There's a little less magic simply because nothing is ever like the first time!  I'm busier chasing around kiddo #1, less scared because I know what's coming, more scared because I know what's coming...

I was tempted to skip this blog altogether, but I know that while these doctors appointments, the squirming belly, and the ultrasounds are just a part of everyday life now, there will come a time when these moments are a distant, foggy memory and I'll have wished I'd written them down.

So, Baby Grassmeyer #2-- this is for you!  This is the story of how you made your presence known before you actually made your presence known.  Stuff you may or may not want to know, but guess what.  It happened.  Buckle up!

Finding Out... October 25, 2014-- the day we found out we were going to be expanding our little brood.  We were at a friend's wedding in DC and for the second consecutive Saturday, I was just feeling off.  I checked an app on my phone and passed it under the table to Tyler-- I was late!

So that night, with my parents in town visiting and sleeping under our roof, I took a positive pregnancy test and the two of us sat on that little secret for the rest of the weekend.

The First Trimester...kinda sucked.  I never got sick, so I feel like I can't complain, but I was EXHAUSTED.  And constantly starving or nauseous, so I was pretty much in a bad mood for three months.  We also wrapped up Tyler's campaign, traveled to Nebraska twice, Georgia, and Kentucky, while also moving, working, and running Barefoot Decor during the busiest time of the year.  This left little time for exercise and a lot of room for take-out-- I gained, what felt like, a lot of weight early on.  Despite my exhaustion, napping just made me feel worse.  Did I mention I was in a bad mood for three months?

Milestones: campaign night in Nebraska, sleeping at work, first doctor appointment was at 9 weeks, my belly started to peek out around 11 weeks, and no puking!

The Second Trimester... God bless the second semester.  It's why any of us have siblings.

{Week 20...I remember feeling so big then.}

I felt the first tiny kicks and flutters at week 17-- while watching American Sniper with my knees pulled up to my chest, like baby was elbowing me... "A little room here??"

Baby's heart rate at every appointment has consistently floated around 140-150, so that's not giving anything away.  Almost everyone I see, friends and strangers alike, guess BOY.  The Chinese Gender Chart says girl, so who knows!  There's not too much else to report about the second trimester except that I fully embraced all maternity clothes and that I love the second trimester.  All of the energy and none of the back pain...those were the days...

Milestones: Charlotte turned two, I started running again {after scarily gaining nine pounds in a month!}, and we DIDN'T find out the gender at the 20 week ultrasound {we were just told the kid had A LOT of hair...}.  The best thing said to me was in a gas station in North Carolina. "Hey boo.  How many months you is?"  And then proceeded to have a brief conversation about ultrasounds with two guys you would NOT expect to be discussing ultrasounds with...

Week 29

The Third Trimester...
The final stretch started out easily and I almost tricked myself into thinking I was going to get away with another easy trimester.  But around week 35, that "I cannot get any bigger" feeling set in, the reflux, the puking in my mouth when I bend over, the log rolling out of bed...  Knock on wood, I am still sleeping well with the aid of lots of strategically placed pillows {update: <--- 90s="" am="" and="" any="" babies="" been="" dc="" for="" frequently="" future="" has="" high="" hot="" humidity.="" in="" insanely="" june...temperatures="" longer="" nbsp="" no="" off="" p="" summer="" swearing="" t="" the="" true.="">
{Week 31...in the best maternity shirt ever made.}

{Week 33}

I am measuring pretty much on track-- My due date was originally July 8th, but was updated to July 1 early on.  So far, all ultrasounds are inline with this.  At my 35 week appointment, my belly measured 33 weeks {I insisted to the doctor that it's because I'm SO slim, but Dr. No Sense of Humor insisted it's because I have a long torso}.

Our 36 week ultrasound put the baby around six lbs, and at my 37 week check-up, the doctor found I am already 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced... Tyler was out of town on business then, so I didn't move a muscle for three days.  Charlotte held out until the last minute and is finally showing interest in this kiddo-- kissing my belly, talking to the baby...it's pretty cute.

                                   {Week 36-- I know, I know...bare belly shots weird me out too...}

Milestones: Passed my glucose test, ran the GW Parkway 10 Miler, rib pain set in {week 34}, maternity clothes full time, bumped up the frequency of my doctor's appointments, and Tyler and I still can't fully agree on baby names... Best thing said to me this trimester, from a kiddo at work, "You're pregnant?  There's a BABY in there?!?  You should really figure out another way to make money for awhile..."

Final Prep...
It wasn't until last weekend that I could sincerely say, "We're ready!"  Tyler and Charlotte took a special trip together to visit his sister, which left me with four glorious days of doing whatever the heck I wanted.  None of which was limited to, staying up until 2 am watching stupid movies and washing a lot of baby clothes.  I also packed my hospital bag, and made little girl and little boy piles to prepare for each {being surprised is fun!}.  I have done nothing for a nursery because I don't want a gender neutral nursery, so I have a plan A and a plan B ready to implement when I'm home over maternity leave.  Charlotte is also loving all of the baby equipment around and now watches TV in a baby rocker and insists on eating in a Bumbo... "I a baby, Mommy!" She is in for a rude awakening {and quick intro to sharing} when our newest little occupant is here.

I thought the second time around would be easier to anticipate, but it is equally difficult to envision having TWO kids as it was to envision having my first.  I'm going to have TWO kids...that's like, a real family!  I guess I'm really a grown up now, huh?  Not knowing the gender has also changed how I've attached to this kiddo, simply because I don't know how to envision what our family will look like in just a few days... The good thing is, even if you're not emotionally prepared for it, I know how instantly you fall in love with the little stranger who's been kicking around my insides for the last nine months.

We are so ready to meet you, sweet baby!  Come soon!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Things I'm Going to Do When I'm Not Pregnant Anymore...

1. Cross my legs

2. Breathe with my mouth closed

3. Shave my legs without throwing up in my mouth

4. Climb stairs without passing out

5. Eat an entire sandwich in one sitting.  Eat ANYTHING in one sitting.

6. Stand up all by myself

7. Roll over in bed

8. Hug people from closer than three feet away

9. Eat salsa, tomato sauce, or red wine without setting my insides on fire

10. Not have a six pound baby inside of me

In no particular order.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Toddler Discipline

Congratulations-- you made it!  You survived the first year!  No more monthly pictures next to the teddy bear!  No more crying with each passing milestone!  You have a one year old and they are learning to walk and talk and eat and sleep all by themselves!  Sweet bliss...

But then this thing happens, just as you're convinced that you're best parent with the happiest kid on the planet.  Somebody sneaks in in the middle of the night, and replaces your happy baby with an alien creature who looks a lot like your sweet kid but this thing seems to be bipolar and maybe has schizophrenia.  They will give kisses and hugs and say, "Mama, care me!"  And then they will throw themselves on the floor because you put your socks on, flail every limb when getting into the car seat, or scream like they're being kidnapped when you try to leave the playground.

 {See this sweet picture?  This was last April, when Charlotte was 15 months old.  She screamed and cried almost the entire photo session, literally laying herself down in the gravel and flailing all extremities.  I just stared at my mom, like "Who is this kid?"  I had never seen her act this way, was totally unprepared for it, and had less than no idea what to do about it.}
This isn't meant to scare mamas of infants-- you enjoy every second of that coo'ing little baby and remain in blissful ignorance, just like I did.  This is to send reassurance and encouragement to mamas of little toddler changelings... You are not alone and you are not a failure, but you might need a seat belt and maybe some Valium.  Here are few pieces of advice, kernels of information I might pass along to new mamas entering this stage, while I myself am in the thick of it.

1. It's Just a Phase...Probably
Kicking...biting...pushing...food throwing...tantrums...bed time resistance.... Every kid tests out at least one of these charming behaviors-- you're not doing anything wrong, you just have a toddler!  But how you handle it will probably have an impact on how long that cute little phase sticks around.    Don't give them a free pass because they're little and wait for them to grow out of it-- address it head on to make sure it indeed stays a phase, not becomes a habit.  Kids don't always know right from wrong, but it's our job to teach them.  Let them get away with it, or slather them with attention for it, you can almost bet that behavior will stay on repeat.

Or, it might not be a certain behavior but kids go through phases where they just seem off...they're extra whiney, don't sleep well, and their fuse is an inch long.  Last summer, when Charlotte was 18 months, we had the worst June on record. I literally cried every morning because they previous day had been so hard and I'd wake up optimistic it would be a better day...and even by 8am, it wasn't.  I was relieved to get to go to work every day, embarrassed to leave her with the baby-sitter, and guilty for feeling that way at all.  Was she getting sick?  Is she cutting a tooth?  Is it because Tyler is gone?  Does she have a brain tumor???  I did my best to consistently love her and correct her and not lose my crap.  I also looked for every excuse under the sun to explain why she was a maniac.  And then one day...my sweet kid came back.  I can no more explain it than I could map the stars.

{Good resource: The Wonder Weeks-- it goes through 20 months, I think, but most times Charlotte seemed off, I'd check the chart and sure enough, there would be some developmental milestone she was undergoing that I wasn't even aware of.  I didn't always understand their explanation-- I just needed some affirmation that my kid wasn't actually of the devil.}

2. Give them credit.
They're still your baby, but don't kid yourself if you don't think they know how to push your buttons, or know the difference between right and wrong.  Toddlers are capable of a lot...including putting their toys away...putting dirty clothes in a hamper...and looking straight in your face and throwing food immediately after you warned them not to.  Don't lower your expectations of them-- teach them what your expectations are.

It can be exhausting-- when Charlotte was younger, I literally had to sit on the floor with her and hand-over-hand pick up toys or messes with her.  It is perfectly acceptable for kids to unload tupperware drawers and toy chests...but it is also perfectly acceptable for them to learn to put them away.  Take the time to teach them, and they will eventually do it on their own.  Charlotte still unloads drawers, "drops" food, pitches fits... She also knows how to use a paper towel and sit in time out.  You might have to do it over and over {and over} again...but they'll eventually get it.  Stay strong mamas!

2. Get on the same page.
With your spouse, that is.  It's not fair for one parent to always have to be the bad cop, while the other one is all hugs and bedtime stories.  It's also not fair for a kid to get away with something with one parent, and then get sent to timeout by the other one the next day-- it's confusing in the long run and I believe that kids need consistency when they're learning and experiencing so many new things every day.  It's also common for one parent to spend more time with the kids than the other, and that parent is usually the one that will set the discipline tone.  Fill your spouse in on what you're doing so they're not totally in the dark.  Discuss and have a plan on how you're going to handle certain behaviors, instead of reacting individually.

Of course, there will be breaks in the system.  Tyler tends to be more lenient because he's home less and has more patience left in his tank at the end of the day.  He also doesn't want the few hours he has with her to be used on discipline.  I'm usually at my whits end by 6pm and I've already corrected her 555,600 times that day.  Sometimes I just need more patience, and sometimes Tyler just needs to be the bad cop.  It won't be perfect, but do your best to have a balanced, consistent approach...coming from both of you.

3. Stand your ground.
Dammit if toddlers aren't the most persistent little suckers on the planet.  They will wear.you.down.  "Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy."  The overarching theme to shaping our kids is love and consistency-- try your darnedest to respond consistently to what your child is or isn't allowed to do, how they're expected to treat and speak to adults, and how they're expected to treat their peers {we're in the throws of sharing drama around here}.  Even when they do it 900 times in a row, which they will.  Don't give in, don't negotiate with terrorists.
Charlotte and my friend's son, Ben.

4. Take notes.
Learn from friends you trust.  Similarly to newborn advice, everyone will have a different approach to share, everyone has different expectations of their kid, and everyone kid has a different personality.  Take cues from friends who's parenting styles are similar to your own philosophy.  I have friends who I think are too hard on their kids and I have friends who I think are too easy {opinions I keep to myself}.  Seek out council and advice from friends who have survived these years and have kids that behave similarly to what you expect-- you'll probably be surprised to hear those seemingly-perfect kiddos were once terrible toddlers too.

Along the same lines, many of those baby books we thumbed through last year have produced follow-up editions for toddlerhood.  Be it BabyWise, Happiest Baby on the Block, or Secrets of the Baby Whisperer-- if there is a particular author or philosophy that really aligned with your parenting beliefs, chance are there is a toddler edition to consult.  Books don't have all the answers {and who has time to read them??}, but it's always nice to add a few tools to your arsenal when you're just not sure what to do.

{And at the end of the day...trust your instincts.}

5. Be a Model
It's cute when they pretend to talk on the phone or put on lipstick... You know what wasn't cute?  When in the middle of a crowded Target aisle, Charlotte yelled, "Come on, move people!"  Yikes...someone has spent a little too much time in the car with me, apparently.

Try to be aware of the tones in which you speak, the language you use, the way you react to your own child.  From what you say in traffic and how you speak to customer service on the phone, remember that little eyes are always watching.  It's hard for a kid to learn patience and gentleness when they're watching you lose your cool all day.

6. Extend Grace
To yourself and to your toddler-- you won't get it right all the time.  We overreact or we'll let something slide that usually isn't allowed.  We're not perfect and there are plenty of times I've been too tired or lazy or worn down to correct Charlotte one more time.  I've given in when she's demanded something instead of asked for it... My Mother's Day gift to myself was to let her watch movies in the car while we drove around town {a treat reserved for road trips} because I just couldn't deal with her whining any more.  We had a recent battle of bedtime prayers and after Tyler and I walked out of the room, I said, "We got that wrong..." I straight up yelled after she turned over a bag of pretzels in the middle of the floor after I'd asked her three times to put the bag down.  I'm not proud of my impatience and I know I need forgiveness for a thousand other things-- as a parent, wife, co-worker, sister....  Our kids aren't perfect either and our purpose as disciplinarians is not to build an army of little obedient robots.  We can't be on every single little thing all the time-- it's no way for us or them to live.  So choose your battles, decide what's important, and know that neither one of you are going to get it right all the time.

The toddler stage is so, so, fun... When you thought you couldn't love your kid any more, they start to talk to you...and kiss you...and hold your hand while you walk down the sidewalk.  There is so much joy in our day and they learn so much so fast-- I can barely keep up with it.  And then the hard stuff is hard.  And exhausting.  And it takes discipline and consistency and a lot of patience.  But the rewards are big and the hard work is worth it-- there is a lot at stake.  Nothing irks me more than older people complaining about the next generation as if they had no hand in it.  This is just the beginning of the hard work, and we have a big responsibility to raise up the next generation into loving, kind, polite, patient, generous, {the list goes on and on} adults...

Let's do this, mamas.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blogged: Mommy Hacks!

I shared a few things I learned last year to help manage the stress of being a single mama over at Her View From Home, an awesome site with great articles on everything from fitness to cooking to decorating... I am thrilled at the opportunity to be included in their community-- go check it out here!

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to managing home, work, kids, and YOU, without losing your junk?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Running Pregnant: The GW Parkway Classic

I did it, I made it!

Last I left you, I was somewhat training for my favorite race here in the DC area-- the GW Parkway Classic.  The late April weather is always great, registration rarely fills up early, and it's very well organized.  The route itself is scenic, the hills are gentle, and it's run along a single stretch of the George Washington Parkway, from Mt. Vernon down to Old Town Alexandria.  I love ten milers, it's low stress, and that's probably why it appeals to me.  Me, the low-stress runner.

But April was a crazy month traveling for Easter and hosting a lot of visitors, so my workout and eating routines were totally off.  Plus, I'm 31 weeks pregnant by now...did I mention that? How did I get this far?? I was unsure I could recover from my lapse but a week before the race, I managed 7.5 miles so I bit the bullet and registered.  I wasn't running with anyone, the forecast was terrible, and plenty of people told me I was nuts, so I wondered if it was worth it.  But I'd worked hard and knew that my body could safely handle it. I was much more concerned about my bladder's ability to travel ten miles than my legs.

So I registered last Monday, took it easy the rest of the week, and went through my typical weekend, pre-race routine:

1. Packet pick-up Friday.  Yay for tech tees and free granola bars!

2. Carb-loading Saturday.  {I probably should have done pasta, but whatever... I was hoping that cheese would keep me backed up, if y'know what I'm sayin... Plus, the cheesy bread from Monterey's in INSANE.}

3. Flat runner pics Saturday night.  Followed up with checking the forecast a thousand times...willing the rainy, 45 degree forecast to change.

4. Hate myself Sunday morning.  "Why the h-e-double hockey sticks am I up at dark so I can pay someone to RUN? Why do I do this?"

5. Race arrival. "These people are for real about running. Just look cool. Where are the bathrooms? Why do I do this?"

{The Parkway Classic bus system is super easy to use and very efficient, if you're looking for specific info on this race.  I usually use it, but this year had my husband drop me off at the start, which was also extremely easy. Bonus: Allowed me to leave the house later.}

I was eager for the race start. I am an introvert squared and I didn't have a buddy for this race, so I was happy to stop standing around trying to look busy. As soon as I crossed the start, I put in my ear buds-- new for me because I typically don't listen to music during races. 

{I made a playlist with "Shut Up and Dance" on it approximately twelve times. It came on notta once.}

And here's how I spent the next one hour, fifty-eight minutes, and twenty seconds...

Miles one and two.  "This sucks. Why am I doing this? Can I walk yet? Everyone is passing me-- I can't walk yet. This sucks."

Miles three, four, and five. Start my walk-run, based around hills rather than distance. Grab Powerade at every chance.  Resist the urge to stop for a bathroom-- my body CANNOT think it's okay to go to the bathroom.  But man, I wanted to stop.

Mile five.  Always at my favorite bridge.  The next glorious mile is downhill-- the best way to go into the second half.  No walking and my pace picked up.  I think I might just finish this thing.

Mile six, seven, eight. "Yeah yeah, the Potomac is pretty.  The sun is shining.  The trees are green.  My knee hurts.  I'm bored. Can I stop yet? Why did I do this?"  Somewhere in there, I heard spectators cheer me on for being pregnant and another runner, who I'd been around most of the race, came along side me and chatted with me for a bit. Starting to feel proud of myself.  Also, texted my mom and assured her I wasn't in labor.

                                        {Running to give Charlotte a smooch...}

Mile nine.  Old Town!  Brick row homes! Cobblestone streets! New scenery! Almost there.  Passed Tyler and Charlotte around 9.5.  So fun to see their smiling faces.

Mile ten! I finished!  Do not stop. Do not collect $200. Find Tyler. Find a bathroom.  Pregnant mama coming through.

My back and pelvis started to ache within minutes of finishing but it didn't stop us from enjoying a sunny brunch outside {yes-- I DID will that forecast away-- it was a gorgeous morning, without a drop of rain, and with plenty of sunshine in the 60s}.  I love the guiltless brunch and laziness that follows races.  Once home, I took a long shower, a long nap, and another bath to stave off some Braxton Hicks-- the first I'd felt this pregnancy and sufficiently freaked me out that I had sent myself into labor after all.  The ache in my pelvis and low back was bad, but nothing a lot of water, Tylenol, and rest didn't solve.

What I wouldn't typically talk about is that I'm really proud of myself. I'm not a super athlete. My time was nothing crazy. I'm not super competitive.  But I worked hard to stay this active this far into the pregnancy and worked hard to try to do this race.  It felt good to run by Charlotte and give her a big, sweaty kiss.  I want her to know what mamas can do and I want to be as healthy as I can, to be around for her as long as I can.  So, yeah...I'm proud of myself. And really, isn't the human body amazing?  It almost, almost makes me consider natural childbirth.

And so, here I am with nine weeks left of this pregnancy which sounds simultaneously so far away and so, so soon.  I plan to keep running, but probably more like four to six miles...I don't think this mama has any more ten milers in her!

Finally, here's the take away: pregnancy isn't a disability.  You don't need to run ten miles-- everyone has different pregnancies and different bodies.  But don't let yourself fall into the trap of eating more and exercising less because you're carrying a baby {obviously, medical issues and doctor's advice considered} .  Consult your doctor if you're new to exercise, or if you need some modification ideas {good, basic information here}, but don't sit this one out!  Your body will thank you, your brain will love it, and you and your baby will be better off.  So I dare you...grab your shoes and go buy some XL sports bras, you're going to need them!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Running Pregnant

I am a low stress runner.  I am not an elite runner. I'm not a particularly competitive runner.  I'm not even a particularly fast runner.  File me under "reluctant runner."

{Dreaming of skinnier days...my first long race in 2011-- the Army Ten Miler}

Even though I love it, I don't know much about my pace, all of my clothes are from Target, and I have never eaten one of those energy gels.  There are no stickers on my car, I don't have any cool socks, and spoiler alert: this girl doesn't own a foam roller.

I promise you, it's not a too-cool-for-school thing-- I have so much respect for serious runners. I just don't invest that much into it.  I know and do enough to be safe about running distance, but beyond that...I just kinda run.  I love it and run a few long races a year so I have something to keep me at it.

So I don't exactly fit the profile of someone who would run late into pregnancy.

{Feeling skeptical about a run at five months}

But this being my second pregnancy and knowing more about what happens to my body before, during, and after childbirth, I decided to not give myself a free pass to sit this one out just because I was pregnant. I wondered what would happen if I kept running as long as I felt up to it.

So after my long, exhausting, busy, squishy first trimester, I resumed my typical exercise routine-- an hour of cardio 3-4 days a week, strengthening once or twice a week via Stroller Strides, and a long run once a week. Nothing my body hadn't already been doing, so I knew I was safe.  Sure, I breathed like Darth Vader and had to modify a few routines {elliptical resistance went waaaaay down} but it made me feel better in every way-- lighter, stronger, less puffy, more energy.  With running specifically, I quickly realized I couldn't run more than two miles without a break, so I transitioned to a walk-run: walking a quarter mile for every half mile I ran.

And now, here I am. Six months in and I'm still going strong.  My aches and pains are different-- easy runs are quickly followed by low back and pelvic pain, and I always, always have to pee {I am so over peeing}.  I keep plenty of water on hand and usually a snack, just in case. A few people have questioned me running five, six, seven miles pregnant but it's nothing I wasn't doing before.  And the thing about me being a low stress runner, I'm not out to prove anything. I trust myself; I'm never going to push through or ignore something I shouldn't. I'm just not that emotionally committed to it.

So my favorite race, a ten miler along the Potomac River, is coming up next month and I'm going to see if I can maintain my routine until then.  I'll be waddling well into my third trimester, and six weeks away is a long time in pregnancy land and I may hit a wall. But until then, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.  It has made me so much better and stronger this go round.

So we'll see-- hopefully I'll have a fun running update for you next month!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Virtual Chestnut Praline Latte Date

A friend of mine wrote a blog last week I loved called a Virtual Cappuccino Date.  I thought it was a creative way to write a typically boring catch-up post, so without asking her permission but giving her full credit, I'm stealing the idea!  Except today, instead of a cappuccino, on this cold, winter morning, we're going to share a Chestnut Praline Latte...Starbuck's new holiday drink from last year that I am still dreaming about.  Rumor has it, it may become a year-round drink but I have seen no evidence of this in real life.  Until then, I will daydream about that yummy, not-too-sweet coffee concoction...

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd say YES, I am still drinking coffee!  For my typical morning coffee, I drink half-caff.  I avoid things like aspartame, but otherwise I'm not NOT eating anything.  I get a lot of protein but don't have any specific cravings-- just when something gets in my head, it stays there until I have it.  Like when we drove an hour in a snowstorm last week for Chick Fil A. ;)

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd talk to you about the weather!  Up until last week, we'd had a pretty dry winter.  Which just means it was super cold and ugly, with no lovely snow to make it bearable.  Although I'd take more, I just need one or two good storms a season.  We got about five inches last Tuesday...then another three on Saturday...then another few on Thursday.  Keeping us blanketed in a winter wonderland for the last two weeks.  I love every second of it!  As we enter into March, though, I'm ready for nice spring temps...but there's more snow coming this week.

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you about our awesome Valentine's Day date last week!  I have a sweet, selfless friend Amy who offered to come over and stay with Charlotte while Tyler and I enjoyed an overnight getaway in Georgetown.  We dined at a steakhouse {using a gift certificate we'd had forever...nothing says romance like a gift certificate!}, saw The Immitation Games {love}, slept in, and grabbed the most amazing, never-ending brunch at Farmers & Fishers the next morning.  It was like 2012 all over again...just fatter and greyer and tireder. ;)

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you Charlotte got into preschool!  The only thing rigorous about preschool around here is how early you have to apply.  Otherwise, there's nothing crazy about the application process {at least the ones where we're applying!}.  We applied to two different church preschools very close to our house, and got into both.  We essentially chose the school that has the days and hours that work best for us.  It's three mornings a week, and I am having sweet little visions of pushing my double stroller around the block on a picturesque fall morning and walking her to school.  That's how it'll be, right?  Picturesque?

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...Speaking of double strollers, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super nervous about transitioning from one to two kiddos.  It's not even my least-favorite newborn phase I'm worried about.  It's the idea of going back to work, Charlotte starting pre-school, getting out of the house, and juggling multiple drop-offs/pick-ups that terrifies me.  Working moms, help me!  Tell me how you do it!

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you about our little weekend getaway to a resort a few hours away for some indoor waterpark fun.  Or, if you're Charlotte, torture.  For a kid who hasn't been in a pool in six months and seriously HATES water splashing in her face, this was not our finest parenting moment.  It was nice to get away and out of the house, but I admit I was annoyed and frustrated by her fear and refusal to happily participate in our plans.  I have found that joys and frustrations found in parenting come heavily from our expectations for our kids...chalk this one up to a parenting fail, because I know in Charlotte's book, it was a great weekend.  She splashed in kiddie pools, took giant bubble baths, and watched movies in the car-- what more could a kid want?

It was so nice sharing these mundane little life events with you!  These days, this is what life is like...and I wouldn't trade it for anything!  But R emember when I used to blog about vacationing in Italy...?  We're nestled tonight, waiting for seven inches of snow coming tomorrow-- happy snow day!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Just a Lil' Update...

I'm finally doing it!  I'm going to write blog!  At least ten times over the last month, I've been sitting around on my arse and I think, "Maybe I should blog!"  Followed by...starting a new episode of Call the Midwife.

I put everything on hold back in November/December-- blogging, Etsy-ing, Facebooking.... If you follow me on Insta {that's right, I'm too cool for two syllable words}, you might have an inkling of what's going on our world, but if you follow this blog at all, you perhaps think I was kidnapped.

Fear not, I am safe and comfy in my semi-warm house.  I just needed a break.  I wasn't shy about sharing what a long year it had been, and last I left you, praise Jesus, Tyler had just wrapped a successful 14 month political campaign and was coming HOME!!!

But what I didn't share was that we'd found out we were pregnant about two weeks before that.  At that point, I still felt fine, but I barely survived the next two months of the first trimester {also known as narcolepsy}.

As soon as the election wrapped, I worked my rear off making and selling Barefoot Decor items for a big holiday show that month.

The day before the big holiday show, we found out we were moving.  In 30 days.  {Tread lightly if your wife casually says, "Oh, let's just go look at that cute house!"}

Two weeks after the big holiday show, we drove ten hours to Kentucky to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and throw my Dad a belated 60th birthday party.

Two weeks after that we moved.  Just houses, a mere mile from our old row house.  {Still a huge pain in the butt.}

A week after that, we flew to Nebraska for Christmas.

Four days after that, we flew to Atlanta for Christmas.

Four days after that, we flew home.

All while battling the most ridiculous fatigue that I did NOT experience with Charlotte {at least on that level}, constant hunger or nausea, and just a bad mood.

Let's just say, I had very little Christmas spirit this year.  Happy tears were shed on December 31st-- I'd never been ready for a year to be over!

And now, here we sit.  We are settling into our house, that we really think we're going to love for the next few years.  Our sweet, soon-to-be big sister Charlotte turned two this weekend and we had a low key celebration with my parents and a few dear friends.  We have very little on our docket the next few months, save for a few local field trips and opportunities to soak in life as three before things get crazy again this summer.

I hope to share a snapshot of what life is really like these days, share a few pictures from Charlotte's party, and share a few of my favorite winter essentials.  I might keep Etsy on the back burner for a bit and slowly re-acclimate myself into life doing too many things!  But if there's ever a product you're interested, feel free to reach out.

And if you're reading this, well God bless you for sticking around...  How are you doing?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Happy Election Week

It's been a great big, happy, long week around here folks!  I took the week off of work, so I'm a little foggy about what day it is, but I write to you from an AIRPLANE.  Yes, an airplane!

Not a novelty because of the glory of wifi, but for the fact I have a computer in my lap. With only MY fingers pushing buttons.  Because my toddler is an amazing 8 feet away from me, across the aisle, buckled into her car seat, governed by her father.  Novelty #2-- I'm not flying alone!

We're on our way home as a family of three!  A year of living apart meant a lot of checked bags home but we managed well and we're halfway home...somewhere over Kentucky {I'm just making that up-- don't check my flight path}.

Charlotte and I flew out last Friday so that Tyler didn't have to miss out on trick-or-treating fun.  Even though it wasn't Charlotte's first Halloween, it felt like it because this was the first year we could really participate with full costumes and buckets and "trick-or-treeeats!"  {Okay, her version is a jumbled mix of t's and k's...but she nails her "please" and "thank yous!"}

We trick-or-treated in Lincoln with our friends Shelly & Jeremiah, and their two cuties, Oscar and Orla.  Their neighborhood was perfect-- sidewalks, no traffic, and tons of kids everywhere.  It took Charlotte awhile to warm up, she really just wanted to sit in the wagon, but she eventually got the hang of it and squealed every time she saw a "PUNKIN!"  Which was every six feet....  The only downside was the 35 degree temperature after dark!!  It was freezing. {Almost}

Saturday, I begrudgingly accompanied Tyler to the Nebraska-Perdue game, annoyed that I would miss Georgia's domination over Florida but it actually turned out to be a saving grace...though I streamed it on my phone much of the game, I didn't have to suffer the misery of watching that loss in person.

Sunday, we laid low, and Monday, Charlotte and I were on our own while Tyler was on campaign duty.  With the Holiday Expo coming up,  I couldn't let a week of traveling stop me from working on my Christmas inventory, so I borrowed a sewing machine from Shelly and managed to make 20 dishtowels and 30 pillows-- time zone change + Daylight Savings + Charlotte's allergies were my saving grace...she has been rocking the three hour nap.

Tuesday was a somewhat busier day packing up for election night.  Even though the victory party was in Lincoln, we grabbed a hotel across from the venue to make it easier to go back and forth.  Tyler's parents joined us and we had dinner before getting ready for the festivities.

Election Night was fun but to paint a real picture of the night, everyone I knew there was busy working so Miss Introverted spent the night trying to look busy and not do anything too awkward.  Charlotte helps with this, but it never feels quite as posh as the pictures might make it seem...  The race wasn't close, so they announced the winner early and the candidate gave his speech early...none of which I heard because it was 9:00 and my one year old was acting like one year olds act at 9:00.  So we were in the hallway running around.  But there were lots of words and cheering and sign waving.  The rest of the evening was spent mingling with friends, texting friends and family, and watching the other election results come in.  Much different than two years ago when I was seven months pregnant and got a stomach bug in the middle of the victory party!  Charlotte was a super trooper and stayed up with us until 11:00...a small miracle for my little sleeper.

While we were on the winning side of the night, we've all been on the losing side of things and know what it feels like, so I am careful in how I choose my words.  While I am eager to see what is to come, I am hopeful that our leaders can work together and pass legislation that is not so contentious so our country can experience some stability and unity.

We have the unique experience of being heavily involved in the political scene living in Washington, DC, and it provides us a different perspective from many others across the country.  I am disheartened to see people's reactions when results don't go their way-- not because of the their disappointment but because of the ugly way they react.  Our experience is that Washington is much less polarized than the rest of the country, at least in how we treat and speak to our "opponents" because we understand passionately working toward and dedicating yourself to a cause, even if it's not one we personally support.  We have received the most sincere and gracious support and congratulations from our friends across the aisle...this is my hat tip to the generous and hard working friends we have across the aisle who handle election results better than a lot of other people I know!

Politics aside, I am looking forward to what lies ahead for our family!  Ready for some time together again as three...