Saturday, December 26, 2015

Lies I Tell My Toddler

Photograph: Peter Glass/Getty Images
No one likes to admit they are a liar, but we all are in small ways. You might tell your co-worker that you have a stomach bug to avoid telling them you're in the throes of morning sickness. Maybe you've told your boss that you needed to take a sick day when in reality, you just needed a mental health day of streaming Netflix in your PJs. I've discovered that my aptitude for deception has increased significantly since becoming a parent. Sometimes you have to tell these sweet beguiling creatures a fib or two so you can get through the day, amiright? Below are just a few of the lies I tell my toddler:

  • Oh, I'm sorry baby, the children's museum is closed today.
  • We can't watch Daniel Tiger because he had to take a nap (alternately I use, go night-night, go to the potty...basically insert whatever activity I'm attempting to coerce my child into).
  • No, mommy isn't eating candy, it's grown-up medicine.
I've also been known to tell my son that the crispy layers of oven-roasted brussels sprouts are "chips" and that roasted red potatoes are "french fries". It's not ill-meant, but sometimes that little lie saves the day. 

I recently read some epic fibs that other parents have told their kiddos that I'm saving for the future. My favorite? Chuck E. Cheese is only for birthday parties and we haven't been invited to one today. BRILLIANT. Parenting win.

So, what lies have you told your littles?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Salt Dough Ornament Fun!

This year we decided that we wanted to nix the all-matching grown-up tree and start making a tree full of memories for our family. Arlo is almost two and we thought it would be fun to buy ornaments for the tree that would remind us of the milestones of this year and some of his favorite things. After shopping online for ornaments, I found the ornaments I wanted weren't cheap or weren't exactly what I wanted. I decided we should go the DIY route and make our own salt dough ornaments.

The options are limitless when you make them yourself and the process really is easy and inexpensive. Plus it's a fun sensory play experience for your little ones!

Here are the supplies needed:

  • All purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Acrylic paint
  • Inexpensive brushes
  • Straw
  • Ribbon
Most of these you will have lying around your house (especially if you are a craft hoarder like me). If not, you're looking at maybe $15 in supplies.

The recipe I followed calls for:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water
First mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, add the water in slowly and mix together until you have a nice ball of dough. I've played around will some recipes that call for more flour or add in vegetable oil, but I've found this simple recipe makes a great dough. Next you'll want to lightly flour your countertop and roll the dough out. I like to keep mine about a 1/4" thick since I like to do foot & hand print ornaments and don't want the dough to get too thin after the impression. Thinner dough will dry faster though, so go as thick or as thin as you like!

You can use cookie cutters for your shapes. I used a large and small biscuit cutter for our round ornaments. I liked the pinking edge it gave the ornaments, kind of like bottle caps. For the other ornaments, I free cut them out of the dough using a butter knife.

Once cut out, you'll want to use a straw to punch a hole in the ornament so you can thread ribbon through when you're done (don't forget this step!). 

You can leave your ornaments out at room temperature to dry, but this can take days for them to completely harden so you can paint them. I don't have that much patience, so I pop them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 200 degrees for 2 - 3 hours (again, depending on how thick you make the ornaments).

Once they are dry, you can begin to decorate! To commemorate Arlo's favorite things, I incorporated a Daniel Tiger and Cookie Monster ornament. I wanted to make a small car too, but after I cut and baked the dough, it came out looking more like a turtle! Arlo is pretty indifferent to turtles, but we'll tell him he liked them. ;) I also made a reindeer footprint ornament, snowman, and some small ornaments with our initials and the year. The really make our tree feel special and I know we'll enjoy taking them out for years to come. 


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What I Know Now: 9 Year Retrospective

This week my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of knowing one another and 9 years of marriage (yep, we had a whirlwind courtship and engagement - 364 days to be exact!). After 10 years, we know each other's stories, past hurts, and bugaboos, but that doesn't mean we don't trip over them, even still.

Most of you who have been following my blog know that we struggled to have a baby for 7 years. We looked that SOB, Infertility, in the eye together. Me in a paper gown much of the time, him with 3" needles aimed at my rear, but we did it. If I thought that would be the toughest test of the mettle of our relationship, I would be wrong. Our toughest challenge in marriage has been finding "us" after "we" became three. The silver lining of our 7 year trial on the way to baby, was that we had 7 years of just the two of us, and got spoiled by it. For us, marriage was pretty easy when we weren't sleep deprived, trying on the parenting hat for the first time, and struggling to find time to complete a sentence to one another without saying, "No sir, we do not put our toes in our food!"

I mean, get a load of these sweet, young, well-rested people!

5th Wedding Anniversary - Golden, CO
The last 20 months have been some of the most precious, challenging, joyful, and arduous moments of my life. I continue to struggle to find the balance between the different aspects of me (Wife, Mother, Daughter, Friend, Small Business Owner, Writer...) and I'm fairly certain there is no way for it to be done perfectly. I constantly feel like I'm sucking in at least one respect while excelling at others.

After 10 years building a life with this man, I know that marriage is not always easy and that as cliche as it may sound, communication is everything. Any time our relationship has felt strained, it has been because we haven't taken time to connect and communicate. When we make time to focus on our relationship and really talk about things, it's like someone flipped a pressure relief valve in our hearts and in our home. 

Any time I have been asked for marriage advice, I always impart the best advice we received. Ken and I were fortunate to have pre-marital counseling with our then pastor, Brad Cauley. In the last session before our wedding, Brad spent time talking to the two of us about the meaning of the word LOVE. He shared with us about the various words for love in Greek (EROS: romantic, sexual love, STORGE: natural affection between families, PHILEO: friendship, fondness, brotherly love, AGAPE: selfless, sacrificial love). Needless to say the english language has failed us mightily, leaving us with one four letter word to describe everything from how much I LOVE those cute booties, to how much I LOVE my spouse. Instead, Brad offered us a new definition for love in our marriage. He encouraged us to replace "love" with "I want to give you what you need, no matter the cost to myself." That is some big time love, y'all. It's sacrificial. It's putting your spouse first...but if you're both doing it, it's pretty amazing. We don't always hit this mark, but we continue to try.

We have recently made some big lifestyle changes. Ken is going back to school full time and we have substantially downsized our home and expenses. We are pursuing simplification, less stuff, and more memories. I'm excited to see where the next 10 years take us (Good lord, we'll have an almost 12 year old at our 20th anniversary!) This year we are celebrating with a sick toddler. Nothing says, I love you babe, like splitting leftovers by the cool mist of a humidifier, am I right? 

Today, while washing laundry in our semi-gutted kitchen/laundry room (don't worry, a how-to-remodel-a-60-year-old-home-without-killing-each-other blog will follow) I made my husband pinky swear that we will move forward in our next decade together knowing and letting go of the following:

  • My husband will leave clothes and shoes and the contents of his pockets where they may fall when he comes home. He will do these things and I will still love him. 
  • I will cook only the 4 dishes I'm actually good at and leave all other culinary decisions in his capable hands, because I am no cook, and don't really want to be. I will do this, and he will still love me.
After 10 years together and 9 years of marriage, I figured it was high time we gave one another the best anniversary gift possible. The gift of being ourselves, flaws and all, with the guarantee of love on the other end. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thank You Notes

I'm a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon and have been since he was first starting out on SNL. He visited our campus and did his entire routine of musical impressions back in 1999. If you haven't experienced his early stand-up, stop reading now and watch this.  So silly, and good, and to this day still makes me laugh. Now Fallon's moved on to the big time with The Tonight Show and has started one of my favorite bits, Thank You Notes

As I continue to try and make gratitude a part of my daily life, I thought I'd jump on the thank you note wagon and pen a few of my own. (Cue The Roots!)

  • Thank you, Daniel Tiger, for buying me 30 minutes of "me-time" each morning and for infecting my thoughts with your sing-song voice all day.
  • Thank you, mascara, for being the only item in my make-up bag to transform my eyes from "sleep-deprived" to "eh, not too bad."
  • Thank you, Mother's Day Out, for giving me 12 hours each week to write, work, and stream Netflix while my son plays and learns about Jesus. Bless it!
  • Thank you, fruit snacks, for pretending to be fruit and assuaging my guilt whilst I shovel handfuls to my toddler to stave off a tantrum.
  • Thank you, Texas fall for bringing cooler temperatures so I can wear boots and scarves and drink hot coffee drinks when it dips into the low 80s. 
  • Thank you, coffee,
  • Thank you, Netflix, for finally allowing me to legitimately say that yes, I am a marathoner (just not the running kind).
  • Thank you, Amazon Prime, for the convenience of ordering toilet paper, laundry detergent, Halloween candy, razor blades, and toner without leaving my couch.
  • And finally...Thank you, black stretchy pants for expanding and not reminding me of these 10 extra pounds like that bitch, skinny jeans, does.
What are the everyday things in your life that make you thankful?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Keeper of the Stars

If you were a teen in the mid-90s in Texas, likely every dance you went to played "The Keeper of The Stars" by Tracy Byrd. It was the quintessential song for you and your guy to sway to before the night was over. I hadn't heard this song in years, until today. I was at the neighborhood pool with my little man and they had some old country playing on the sound system. 

I've always been fascinated with the lyrics of songs. From as far back as I can remember I could hear a song on the radio 2 or 3 times and know it by heart. This quirk brought much consternation to my parents. They worried their little 4 year old would go to Sunday school and request "Jose Cuervo" during worship at children's church. Nothing like a curly haired girl in a ruffle dress wanting to belt out, "I like to drink you with a little salt and lime!"

So, back to 2015 at the pool with my 17 month old son. The song playing through the speakers took me back in time and I started singing along in my head:

It was no accident me finding you
Someone had a hand in it
Long before we ever knew
Now I just can't believe you're in my life
Heaven's smilin' down on me
As I look at you tonight
I tip my hat to the keeper of the stars
He sure knew what he was doin'
When he joined these two hearts
I hold everything
When I hold you in my arms
I've got all I'll ever need
Thanks to the keeper of the stars
Soft moonlight on your face oh how you shine
It takes my breath away
Just to look into your eyes
I know I don't deserve a treasure like you
There really are no words
To show my gratitude
So I tip my hat to the keeper of the stars
He sure knew what he was doin'
When he joined these two hearts
I hold everything
When I hold you in my arms
I've got all I'll ever need
Thanks to the keeper of the stars

The next thing I knew I had tears springing up in my eyes. I was thankful I was at the pool with sunglasses and water splashed on my face so the other pool-goers wouldn't notice I was gripped with emotion.  I realized this was no longer a song about a guy in love with a girl, but about me and my son. After 7 years of infertility struggles, I know without a doubt, it was no accident me finding Arlo. I look back on those years of frustration and want and can see that it was so I could be here in this moment with this boy. I do feel like I hold everything when I hold him in my arms. I hold my hopes for the future. And if you've ever held your baby in the moonlight hours and seen the graceful slope of a soft warm cheek...well, there really are no words to show my gratitude. So, I tip my hat to my husband for walking that path with me, to our doctors and modern medicine, to our remarkable egg donor, and ultimately to the keeper of the stars for aligning things in his perfect time.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why we HEART Ergobaby

If you've known me longer than 5 minutes, you probably know that I am a big fan of babywearing. It has without a doubt made motherhood richer and easier for me in so  many ways. I purchased an Ergobaby Original Carrier a couple of months before our son arrived, and from the time he was 3 months old, he has been worn in that carrier daily. When he was little and slept often, I wore him while on conference calls for work, while cleaning the house, prepping dinner, you name it. As he's gotten older I still use it when we venture out to a festival or any crowded event that I don't want to navigate with a stroller, and it is our go-to to help him wind down his limitless toddler energy before bedtime. I can honestly say that it has been by far the most useful piece of baby gear we have purchased.

So, you can imagine my despair when buckling him in one night, the chest clip snapped. I called customer support at Ergobaby to see if we could order a replacement strap or clip. I spoke with a friendly customer care associate who followed up by sending me an email with instructions on what information they needed to process my request. After taking a handful of photos of our carrier I responded with the photos and details and crossed my fingers. I heard back from her quickly and learned that while my model did not have a clip or strap replacement, they would be able to offer me a warranty replacement. I sent a copy of my proof of purchase, selected a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW carrier from their website and a few days later had this beautiful baby in our possession.

I'll be honest. I expected one of two things to happen:

1) Pay $15 - $30 for a replacement part, or
2) Find out that any warranty had expired and I was out of luck

I am not a paid spokesperson for Ergobaby, just a mom who has loved their carriers and appreciates it when a company stands behind their awesome line of products and believes in taking care of their customers. If you are expecting or have a little one, check out the line of carriers, nursing pillows, swaddlers and more on their website.

If anyone from Ergobaby is reading this...please, please, please release a line of toddler carriers soon! :) My little man is rapidly outgrowing our original and I would love to continue to support such a fantastic brand. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Building Your Emotional Toolbox: A Letter to my Son


There are many lessons I want you to learn in life and many character traits that I think will be important in shaping you into an honorable man. You already have a dogged determination when pursuing a task and a hint of budding charisma that I think will combine to make you a person who can be quite persuasive! As I look into your bright, inquisitive, 16 month old eyes; I do not see a hint of prejudice or hatred. No stereotypes have swept in to cloud your judgement of another person's character. Today my heart is heavy because the world is not like you. The world is full of snap judgements and assumptions. I take one look at my newsfeed on any given day and see this harsh reality. Between friends posting photos of their babies, and cute YouTube videos, there is a constant negative stream of judgement. The world can be cruel and taunting and I now see that the heaviness of motherhood is knowing the reality of the world and wanting better for your children.

It's my job as your mother to help you build your emotional toolbox. These are the first three traits I want to add:

1) Kindness. I want you to have a friendly, generous, and considerate heart. Kindness breeds empathy, and if you can understand the feelings of others, you will be a better person for it. 

2) Tolerance. I want you to have a fair and objective view when it comes to those who may differ from you in their own opinions and beliefs. I want your heart to be free of bigotry. Just because you may not feel the same way as someone else, doesn't mean you should have condemnation or hatred towards them. Remember that you have not walked in their shoes.

3) Bravery. I want you to have a fearless heart. I want you to be unafraid to recognize injustice and inequality and speak up. I want you to feel freedom to love others without fear of persecution. 

These aren't ground-breaking ideals. This is all some pretty basic WWJD, love your neighbor as yourself stuff, but somehow it seems radical. I know you will learn by watching, so this means I need to do undertake some realigning myself:

  • I will work to model kindness for you. Even when dealing with a rude customer service provider, or being cut off in the parking lot. I will try to model kindness and realize that I don't know what could be going on in that person's life to spark that behavior. 
  • I will work to model tolerance for you. It's hard for me to understand the struggles of the transgendered because I haven't walked in those shoes, but I can be thankful that I do not have that burden, and treat them with love and grace.
  • I will work to model bravery for you. I will strive to publicly stand on the side of what is right and fearlessly show you that when Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" that he wasn't speaking figuratively, or only about a small group of Christians, but to all of us.
I won't always get it right, but I'll do my best. 

I love you so much, 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

10 Things To Say To Your Infertile Friend

Photo by Don Harder, Flickr
When my husband and I were dating, we went to visit his grandmother. She is the sweetest, tiniest little Texan grandma you can imagine. The entire time we were there, she didn't call me by my first name once. She was so fearful that she would accidentally call me by the name of his ex (our names are very similar). I wasn't hurt by this in the least because I knew her intention was to avoid an awkward situation and potentially hurting my feelings. After some time she dropped the "hers" and "sweethearts" and "darlings" and adopted using my name. It still makes me smile to think of it.

This got me to thinking, how many people have read the "Things not to say to an infertile couple" posts online and decided that rather than put their foot in their mouth, they would keep it shut? Let's face it, reproductive issues and infertility can be a bit of a tricky minefield.

Infertility can feel isolating, especially from the fertile friends and family you love. So rather than tell people what not to say, I thought I'd post the things that people have said to me that I have loved:
  • I want to be supportive, but don't know how. Tell me how I can. (Take the honest and direct approach)
  • I love you and I'm sorry you have this struggle. (Simplicity at its best)
  • I'm thinking of you/praying for you during your treatment.
  • I'm rooting for you! (everyone loves a cheerleader)
  • Thank you for sharing what you're going through with me. (when you leave yourself emotionally open, this one means so much)
  • Can I keep you company at an appointment/pick up your prescription for you/ bring over dinner when you're on bedrest? (make yourself available to be a present supporter if your friend needs it)
  • I'm excited for your future!
  • You will be an awesome mommy/parents.
  • Do tell your friend when you are expecting, but deliver the news in email so they can deal with the emotions privately. We're happy for you, but it still hurts and reminds us of our scars. 
  • Don't "say" anything. Give a hug, provide chocolate, treat your friend to a pedicure and a People magazine. :)
Bottom line, just start talking. Be honest and reach out to the ones you love who are struggling.

Infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age and can be a very isolating disease to face. If you aren't in the trenches of this fight, 1 in 8 is someone you know. If you are one of the 1 in 8, know that you are not alone. RESOLVE, the national infertility association, can provide support and resources. They also work tirelessly on behalf of the infertility community to bring awareness to the disease and educate our legislators and insurance companies. I'm here too! Contact me if you need an ear, or have questions that you aren't comfortable posting. I am so thankful that we live in an age where there are multiple family building options available and hope that all the parents-to-be find their path.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Skinny on DE-IVF

When I tell people we struggled with infertility, people usually nod and lean in to hear more about our story. They ask if we did IVF because that's a term people are familiar with even if they don't know what all it entails. When I tell them we did IVF with a donor egg, I frequently get blank stares. In light of National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought I'd break down what DE-IVF is, how it worked for us, and some answers to the questions I often receive.

What is DE-IVF? 

For starters, let me start with a quick definition of IVF. In Vitro Fertilization is a reproductive technology in which an egg is removed from a woman, joined with a sperm cell from a man in a test tube (in vitro). The cells then fuse to form a single cell which continues to divide, becoming an embryo. The embryo is then transferred to the woman's uterus to (hopefully) implant.

The main difference with DE-IVF is that you have two women involved. Your egg donor and your embryo recipient. We went with an anonymous egg donor we selected through our infertility clinic. 

Why did you need an egg donor?
For unknown reasons, I had a "severely diminished ovarian reserve" and "poor egg quality". Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. For some reason, when I went through my preliminary infertility testing at 29, my egg reserve and egg quality were more suited to a 40 year old. Even if I were to pursue IVF using my own eggs, the odds of them fertilizing, making it to the embryo stage, and implanting were less than 2%. My uterus was, to quote my doctor, "Beautiful". I had the goods to carry a pregnancy, but not the eggs to kick it off. Our chance of pregnancy with egg donation was 85% and we liked those odds. 

How did it work?
Since there are two parties involved, we had to both go on a cocktail of medications to coordinate our cycles. This process takes about two months and involves more alcohol swabs and sharps containers than I'd care to remember. Once we were on the same reproductive page, our donor went through all the steps of IVF up until embryo transfer. While she was taking drugs to stimulate her ovaries, I was taking daily injections, pills and hormone patches to make my uterus a veritable Walt Disney World for an embryo (the happiest place on earth, get it?) :) 

This was just a third of all the meds/needles we used. :/
Our donor was closely monitored during the stimulation period, and when it was clear that the eggs were ready to be retrieved she took a trigger shot and I did the same. We actually triggered on my birthday and our donor had her eggs retrieved on Mother's Day. I took this all as the universe bestowing major good juju upon us! Once the eggs were retrieved they were fertilized using my husband's sperm and we waited for the report on how many eggs fertilized successfully and of those, how many grew to the blastocyst stage (5 day old embryo). 

We had plenty of eggs fertilize and what our embryologist referred to as a "rockstar" embryo for transfer. Our embryo transfer went smoothly and 8 days after transfer we received the blood test results that we were indeed pregnant. 

Arlo, as a 5 day embryo...our rockstar.

Was it hard to select a donor?
Yes. We reviewed hundreds of donor profiles. Our clinic did an thorough job of screening all egg donation applicants. They went through interviews, psychological screenings, and provided full genetic background information and health histories, but you are selecting someone who will be genetically linked to your child and that's a heavy decision to make. I also had to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be passing my genes on to my offspring. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I came to a peace with it and knew that if this worked for us, I would have the joy of carrying this baby, nurturing him and being his mother and that that counts for so much more than 0.1% of his genes. (Side note: Did you know that 99.9% of your genes are shared with all humans and only 0.1% of our genes result in the variations we see?) Plus now that Arlo is here, people tell me all the time how much he looks like me. I think it's because I did such a kick ass job of cooking him for not 40, but 41 weeks. 

So, you aren't his real mom? 
This one sounds so much worse than I know people intend for it to come out. Yes, I am his real mom. I hoped and prayed for this little life for 7 years. I went to incredible lengths to prepare myself to carry him and was disciplined about what I did (and didn't) eat and drink during my pregnancy. I labored and pushed him screaming into this world and have nurtured, held, rocked, sang, fed, diapered and snuggled him through his first year of life. I am his real mom. (P.S. you don't have to experience pregnancy to be a real mom either).
This looks like a momma to me. :)
Are you going to tell him?
Absolutely. I've been telling him about his story for a while now. I've whispered to him about the special woman who gave us an incredible gift so we could have a baby while rocking him at night. As he gets older and can understand more we will share more age-appropriate details, but we plan to be very open with him. There are some really precious children's books that help open up the conversation and make it a part of his story from an early age. It really is a beautiful story to tell and I want him to grow up knowing just how loved and wanted he was and still is. 

What if he wants to meet the donor someday? 
We will support him in that endeavor. Our donor was anonymous, but there is a database where donors can provide their contact information and recipients can provide theirs in the event that both parties want to connect. We will cross that bridge when we get there, but I would hug her neck so hard and gratefully thank her for helping me become a mother.

Infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age and can be a very isolating disease to face. If you aren't in the trenches of this fight, 1 in 8 is someone you know. If you are one of the 1 in 8, know that you are not alone. RESOLVE, the national infertility association, can provide support and resources. They also work tirelessly on behalf of the infertility community to bring awareness to the disease and educate our legislators and insurance companies. I'm here too! Contact me if you need an ear, or have questions that you aren't comfortable posting. I am so thankful that we live in an age where there are multiple family building options available and hope that all the parents-to-be find their path.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Alright folks. I need you to know that as a mother, I question myself on the regular. Is this the right way to do this? Is my son getting what he needs? Is this enough? Here's a sneak peak into my day and brain:

Mid-morning, standing at the sink washing dishes while my toddler runs circles through the kitchen and living room, hoisting a remote control over his head and sing-screaming. This is my life.
  • Did he eat enough today? He really doesn't like to sit still long enough to eat these days. Does three bites of pancake, one blueberry, and half a cheese stick constitute enough breakfast? Maybe I can distract him long enough to eat some peas with his lunch. Puppet show, that's how I'll do it. It will be like dinner theater. Dining and culture. (pats self on back)
Son is now shaking his booty to the music from the Target commercial on TV (yes, the TV is on).
  • He really does seem to love music. He hears a solid beat and stops what he's doing to baby-dance! Maybe I should take him to one of those mommy & me music classes and really nurture this. I probably should get some kid friendly instruments for him to play with at home. I wonder if he'll play guitar like his dad? Does he get enough music? Should I play more classical? Does Bruno Mars count as intellectual stimulation?
Dishes are done and we are now reading "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies" for the 5th time.
  • I can't read this one anymore. We have to go to the library and pick out some new material. Do I read to him enough? We read at bedtime and whenever he shoves a book into my hands during the day, but should we read more? I saw another mom on Instagram who reads Tolstoy to her 2 year old and uses flashcards to teach him French. I gotta get some flashcards...
Headed to the park to burn some energy. Son is happily digging in the gravel at the playground and trying to eat handfuls of rocks at the same time. 
  • Again with the rock eating? I can't say "no". My pediatrician told me that I must use other words so I save "no" for the life threatening stuff. Do I say "no" too often? Probably. I should really try to find an affirming, nurturing way to say, "Stop. That's gross and probably going to hurt your pooper on the way out." 
Back home for nap time. I'm wearing him to help him wind down and rest. 
  • Sweet lord, babywearing is my lifesaver. Seriously, I don't know how I'd settle him when he's so tired and super wired at the same time. I'm probably forcing some self-soothing, put-yourself-to-sleep gene into submission by doing this. 
Son sighs, wraps his chubby arms around my neck and hugs me before dozing off.
  • This. Is. Everything. I'm enough. I'm what he needs. I'm his momma. I'm enough.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

When parenthood makes marriage hard

When you are pregnant you get loads of advice from friends who have children. They tell you about sleepless nights, colic, and the lack of showering. Want to know what people don't tell you about having a baby? It can make marriage hard. 

In the 8.5 years I've been married, my husband and I have pretty much always been on the same page. For all the big life stuff we've seen eye to eye. We don't argue often and I think have had 3 "fights" in the course of our marriage.  

One of the lessons we took away from our pre-marital counseling was the importance of communication. It took some time, but we got really good at this. Don't hold onto anger, don't keep accounts of how you've been wronged. Bring it up, get it out, talk it through, love one another and move forward. Roger that. Somehow in the haze of having a newborn, our strategy got muddled. Suddenly it's not just the two of you. Suddenly there is this little person who needs every ounce of your attention and care. 

When our son arrived, we both threw ourselves into active, hands-on, compassionate parenting. Our focus shifted dramatically onto his care and nurturing. Care for baby, eat, sleep, repeat. There just didn't seem to be enough hours in the day for anything more. When there was time there seemed to be so much that needed to be done...

  • Sleeping (sweet Jesus, yes!)
  • Household chores
  • Work 
  • Paying Bills
  • Showering
  • Feeding yourself
  • and oh yeah, maybe some sexy time?
When your baby doesn't nap longer than an hour at any given time, that's a lot to try to accomplish. We certainly weren't using that valuable time to communicate and over time, it started to show.

A few weeks ago, I realized things just didn't feel right with us. There was a tension. We were still going through all the motions, but something was off. I could sense unhappiness in my husband and I knew that I wasn't happy either. So after putting our son down for a nap, my husband looked at me and asked, "Everything okay?" and I teared up and honestly replied that it wasn't.

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty, but what unfolded in the next 60 minutes was just what we needed. We sat at the table, holding hands with the baby monitor buzzing quietly between us. I laid out where I needed support, how I was feeling unhappy and unfulfilled and he told me how he felt pressure and stress and what he needed from me. I did some ugly crying, because it's what I do and we talked about changes we wanted to make. Instantly I felt that tension subside. 

In the days since we have made it a priority to really talk. Not the surface stuff, "did you take out the recycling?" "don't forget to drop off that check" but really talking to each other and checking in on how things are going. Even if it's just 5 minutes in the evening after Arlo goes to bed. We put down our phones and check-in. It's crazy how much that seemingly simple task has helped.

Marriage is hard, y'all. It takes work and effort and honestly I don't always feel like I have anything left to give my marriage at the end of the day. 12.5 months in and we're still figuring out how to be us + a baby. We probably will be for a while and that's okay. After all, nothing worth having comes easy, right? 

I'd love to hear from you. How do you nurture your relationship?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Postpartum Redux

This precious photo popped up in my Timehop app yesterday. 

Tiny, sleepy, 8 day old Arlo. Look at that adorable little man! I was immediately filled with nostalgia for the time when he was so small and wasn't a flurry of constant motion. Then I really started to reflect on those first weeks of his life and remembered just how HARD that time was. 

I wouldn't categorize myself as having had postpartum depression, but I will tell you that my days were not full of sunshine and new motherhood bliss. I remember feeling guilty for not feeling like the moms in the diaper commercials. Why wasn't I wearing a white linen gown and gazing blissfully at a fat, cherubic newborn? Why was I instead in the same yoga pants for 3 days with spit up on my softest college t-shirt swaying a colicky baby?

If I could go back to brand new momma Lindsey and hold her hand, I would tell her so many things:

  1. This crazy surge of love, despair, hope and bewilderment is normal. Your body has been through a HUGE change, your hormones are all over the place. You will cry from happiness at how precious this perfect little life is, and then start to cry from exhaustion. You will cry for no apparent reason, and that's okay too.
  2. Your baby is adjusting to this big, strange, new world. He's not crying because you're a failure at this parenthood gig. He just doesn't have any other way to communicate. Be patient. You will learn what his little cries mean very soon and be able to soothe him like no other!
  3. Get the eff off the internet! Yes, the internet can be a fantastic resource when you find your community (and you will), but for the love of all that is holy, quit Googling every single thing that pops in your head during a 1am feeding. You will make yourself and your husband, crazy!
  4. You can't spoil/ruin your baby. Do you feel better when you wear your baby close to you? Do it! Do you want to rock that baby to sleep at night? Do it! Does safe co-sleeping make sense for your family? Do it! Before you know it, that little baby will be an independent little guy and you will be glad you stole every one of those snuggles. 
  5. Ask for help. Admit when you need help. It doesn't mean you are weak or a bad mother. It means you are smart. So many people love you and want to help you and your new family. Let them. 
  6. Trust your instincts. You are his momma. You two just spent 40+ weeks together. You know him and will learn what is best for him and your family. Just because every other mom on the block isn't doing what you are doing doesn't make it wrong.
  7. You will sleep again. It won't be like pre-baby sleep. Just let that fantasy go. :) But one day soon, your baby will sleep for a 4 hour stretch! You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel with a 4 hour stretch of sleep. Then he will sleep longer, and a little longer. Eventually the bone-numbing tired feeling will lift. Hang in there.
  8. Stop judging other moms by their Instagram feeds. Yes, your friend seems to have all her $%*# together. Yes, her 6 month old sleeps alone, happily in her crib for 12 hours straight. Awesome. Guess what? I PROMISE you there is another area of parenthood that sucks for her. Maybe her toddler won't let go of the bottle. Maybe her little one is hopelessly addicted to their pacifier. Maybe she has the awful task of doing an elimination diet to figure out what is upsetting her newborn's tummy. Whatever it is, all moms have some cross to bear. We all struggle in some area. Comparison is the thief of joy, sister!
  9. Know that it does get better. One day soon, that baby that will only sleep when you drive him around in the car will snuggle down in your arms and drift off to sleep soundly. One day soon, that baby who has such terrible reflux will be able to eat without pain. One day soon, when changing yet another diaper, that baby will give you the world's best baby laugh and you will cry at just how beautiful the sound is. Hang in there momma, it's about to get so much better.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Party for Arlo!

You know the adage that all moms impart to new moms, "It goes so fast"? Well, turns out they all say it because it's true. Somehow those incredibly long sleepless nights morph quickly into a blur of firsts. My baby boy will be ONE in just a few days. That seems so fantastically crazy that an entire year has passed since we welcomed him into the world, yet here we are with a toddling, babbling, wild-haired little man. Sounds like a reason to celebrate to me!

I began formulating an idea for Arlo's birthday party theme when he was about 6 months old and thanks to Pinterest, I had a nice space to stash my design ideas until party time. I always thought a nautical theme would be fun since my husband is a Navy vet, but ultimately decided to steer the ship (har, har, har!) towards a pirate party!

Below are some pics of the fun with links to some of the ideas I used:

Pirate map walkway: We used black and red duct tape to create a map to the front door complete with an "X" marking the spot of the party.

Photo Booth: I have a friend who is an alum from Southwestern University in Georgetown (the Pirates) who lent me loads of pirate decor. I wanted to use some of her cute props to have a photo backdrop for our guests to get creative.

Homemade (and easy) pirate costume: One thing you'll learn about me is that I'm always game to dress up in a costume for any occasion, so of course I wanted to match the theme of the party! I don't know if you have looked at women's pirate costumes, but let me tell you, they wouldn't have been appropriate for a momma at a one-year old's birthday party! Cue Pinterest! I found this awesome inspiration for a pirate costume and this quick tutorial for a t-shirt vest. I grabbed some red & black fabric from JoAnn's for the sash and headband and paired with my own jeans and black boots. Voila, instant pirate! 

Pirate Buffet: I wanted to try and match most of the food to the theme, so I got creative with naming my regular party food staples with fun pirate-y names and printed up some cute cards labeling the fare. Here is the recipe for the Pirate Punch and Scallywag Sangria. Both were a big hit! We used a local baker Tasty Bakes & Patty Cakes for our cakes. I sent her a picture of a cake I saw on Pinterest and she replicated it beautifully!

Fruit Swords

Seaweed Dip

Scurvy Busters! (Cutie clementines with pirate faces)

Pirate Punch for the kiddos and Scallywag Sangria for the adults. 
Birthday Cake and Smash Cake 
Photo Banner: One of the things I've been diligent about this year, has been taking a photo of Arlo each month in his glider so you can see how he changes from month to month. All along I had in mind hanging up his pictures at his first birthday so we could see his transformation. This was my favorite part! I love seeing him grow from an itty bitty baby into this fun little toddler!

We were surrounded by lots of family and friends. There were kiddos running in and out of the house and plenty of laughter. I'm so thrilled with how everything came together and that we had such  special day to celebrate our tiny buccaneer! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Where my MoMos at?!

I started this blog because I felt a little bit adrift in the fog of new motherhood. I didn't fit into one particular parenting group. I practice babywearing, but didn't breastfeed. We co-sleep, but ditched cloth diapering. I opted for organic baby food, but let my toddler watch TV. I also realized that most of my preconceived (and admittedly naive) notions about motherhood were nothing compared to the reality of holding and nurturing a baby.  

I decided to embrace my maternal neutrality and I know I'm not the only Moderate Momma (MoMo) out there. So the question is, are you a MoMo?

Are you...

  1. A mom/grandmother/aunt/parental figure in a child's life?
  2. Figuring this out as you go just like the rest of us?
  3. Willing to laugh at yourself? (can you say Pinterest fail?)
  4. Comfortable letting your mess show?
  5. A working mom, stay at home mom, a work at home mom, a trapeze flying mom?
  6. A breastfeeder, formula feeder, pumper, or a combination of these?
  7. Trying to raise a healthy, happy child without screwing them up too much?
  8. Doubtful that you're doing a good job, but busting your ass anyway?
  9. Ready to leave judgments behind and embrace the sisterhood of motherhood?
If you can answer yes to these questions, WELCOME! You are in good company. We are all so much more alike than different. :) 

Fellow bloggers, I invite you to join the MoMo movement. Share a post about motherhood, tweet or Instagram the post with #MoMo. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Letter to Arlo

My little man. In my eyes you are perfection. Just when I think my heart is full, you do something to make it grow a little more. You are 11.5 months old and keeping me on my toes more than ever. You are walking laps around our little home, crawling off the furniture, laughing, baby talking, and eating up a storm. You finally have two teeth with two more on the way. You are challenging, funny, headstrong, and according to your Honey and PawPaw "very advanced". 

You love to play with your books and frequently shove them into our hands and demand to be read to.  You blow raspberries and take delight in making tooting noises on the back of your hand when I'm trying to settle you down for bedtime. When a song with a strong beat comes on you stop what you're doing and start shaking your diaper clad booty.

I feel like you're starting to comprehend the things I tell you. You like to shake your head "no" at me when you know you're doing something you shouldn't, but then continue doing it anyway. You delight in throwing all the food off your tray when you decide you're done eating. I keep thinking we need to get a dog to clean up after you.

You have the most amazing head of baby hair. Everywhere we go strangers comment on it and want to touch it. You were born with striking blue eyes and while people told us that they might change colors, yours have just become brighter. When you master a new activity you look at me with the sweetest smile as if to say, "did you see that mom?!"

Somedays you take all of my energy, attention, and strength. I won't lie...there are times when I countdown until bedtime so I can rest, recharge, and have uninterrupted time with your daddy. The funny thing is, once you're asleep and we're alone, we still talk about you and laugh about what you did that day.

I hoped and prayed to be a mom. It was a long journey, and at times I doubted I would ever hold you. My love, you were worth the wait.