#momlife

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I’ve been wondering lately if people asked Mary (mother of God) what she did? Did she have an outlet? Besides being a mother WHO was she, what was her purpose?

There’s this new wave of individualism that I’ve been feeling. It’s a rat race of branding yourself, setting yourself apart from the pack by what you “do” : your talent, art or outlet. Who you are based on what you do for you. I don’t love the way it feels, like we are one-upping or searching for whatever comes next and not relishing the moments of where we are now:: who we are now instead of what we are becoming.

A few months ago I took the deliberate step away from teaching yoga (still teaching Sat mornings), I did this mostly due to a change in Chad’s schedule but also as a choice to slow down my own life in order to focus more on being a mother. I am enjoying the slow down, it is a luxury I never afforded my mind to even step towards before.

There are so many windows of life that I enjoy, so many things I can do, that I love to do but the thing that comes before all others is being a mother, it’s what takes up the majority of my time, my thoughts, it’s the thing about me that will never change. While I have other dreams and outlets, it may just be that my main purpose in this life is to be a mother to my sons and there is no shame in that. So the next time I’m asked what I “do” for me, what makes me an individual, I will answer with no shame that I’m a mom to 3 very busy boys and I might not claim to do anything else and that is more than okay.

Especially because my kids are awesome. Most of them. Most days.

 

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Looking for Fun

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A month or so ago a friend who babysits for me was telling me how she took a kid that she babysits to gymnastics and was sitting in the bleachers listening to all the moms talk about their house renovations.

The next day I myself was surrounded by (other) moms who were talking about their house renovations.

When did we become so boring that our daily life seems to revolve around our homes? To be fair it’s where we spend most of our time and is a fair representation of ourselves (sometimes, I am not as messy as my house can be) but it is no who we are. Your American contemporary-modern home with concrete countertops and glass subway tile backsplash is gorgeous but it does not make me think any more or less of you. Same goes for your hunter orange, “hasn’t been updated since 1973 but the dishwasher works” kitchen, I think you are awesome as well. Unless your home is filled with 36 cats I will find something I admire about it, houses are cool, homes are wonderful.

In ways our millennial love for minimalism has allowed us to move our focus from simple consumerism to hyper focus on how and what to improve on the few things we want to spend money and energy on. You don’t need all the books anymore but you sure as hell need that shiplap.

My house reflects my style, my preferences, it also reflects my baking experiments and my children’s love of art on both appropriate and inappropriate canvases. My home and myself are unfinished and full of potential. My home however, is not who I am, it may define my style but it does not define ME.

Caught up in our own home renovations Chad and I looked into getting our single pane bow windows replaced in the front of our house. This is no small expense. We still have our quote hanging on the inside of the cabinet and for 2 days we were excited about this change in our house. After the install we wouldn’t be getting any noise from outside, less draft/energy loss and it would be more aesthetically pleasing. Six years from now we would put the house on the market and make some of that money back but our excitement about the windows would be long gone.

After the 2 days of excitement over new windows (this is 31 y’all) the idea of a trip/vacation crept back into my mind an after a brief discussion we had a change of heart. Instead of putting all of that money into windows we will put it towards a trip, an experience. We won’t be getting any money from a trip back as we would in selling a house with new windows but when our time on earth is up for either of us we won’t be thinking back to that time we picked out windows together.

This brings me to the big point:. houses, kids, when did life get so… not fun? It’s beautiful and there are fun parts but I find myself looking for rest or finishing chores more than fun. I’ve been so caught up in chasing my kids and attempting to get enough sleep that I forgot what the rest of life looks like. I’ve started a new chapter where life is going to revolve around fun (and Jesus) for me and my family, basing my decisions on the questions “is it fun?’ and “can I make it fun” (okay and also “is it safe” because I am a mom now).  This means choosing taking my boys swimming instead of finally finishing laundry, concerts instead of countertops and making memories over sweeping floors.

So starting (really about 2 weeks ago) now, I am in search of fun. Sometimes my kids will have to tag along with me and there will be times where they will inevitably make it not fun, the weather could turn, circumstances will destroy bridges to fun but I will pursue joy and fun and happiness. I’m done being stagnant. Though I will still lust after that mid-century modern home on Berry Pine Road. (and try to update with a pic soon).

 

Motherhood Problem #1: Sleep

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I had a friend send me a meme/message today about the “sleep when baby sleeps” saying that you get fed as a new parent. I responded with the question of “what do I do if the baby is sleeping and I want to sleep but the preschooler is still awake and crazy?” Because that was my real life situation.

Truth is sleep is the holy grail of parenting, the key to happiness and success often teeters on the scale of how rested you are. The more kids you have the more you adapt to interrupted and fewer overall hours of your eyes being closed.

Not going to lie, some days I roll my eyes at this whole scene about becoming parents and losing sleep but is it because I was lazy or I’m now just so used to it that, as long as someone isn’t sick throughout the night, I actually think that I am sleeping like a normal human being?!

And let me just warn any not-quite-parents-yet out there that motherhood does start at pregnancy because I remember losing sleep when I was pregnant with Harper and other moms telling me “oh you should sleep now while you can!” What a bunch of shit advice that was. How can anyone forget the immense uncomfortableness of a baby moving inside you, punching your cervix, kicking your ribs, spreading your hips apart mixed in there with the having to pee every 2 hours. From now on I’m just going to tell newlyweds “sleep now while you can because the from the moment you know your pregnant  you’re screwed until they all learn how to get themselves breakfast and turn on netflix themselves.” That’s real advice.

So now to my main point. Sleeping with babies. Everyone has their own journey. With baby 1 we had a crib and bassinet/pack n play combo. I was so paranoid about him breathing I couldn’t put him in another room where the crib was, he hated the bassinet so he slept next to me. Perfectly safely. But then again I never fully slept pretty sure I didn’t enter any form of REM sleep until he was 1. Baby 2, we bought a king size bed because baby 1 kept coming into our bed here and there. It worked alright but now we have 4 people in 1 bed 3 nights a week. Somehow, baby 3 happens and I’m at a loss. I felt that I couldn’t safely sleep with a baby in our bed as long as there was the potential for the other 2 to come in (usually they would sneak in). Also, I was far more sleep deprived now as a mother of 2 already that I didn’t feel my state of sleep was as reliable as it was when 1 was born- basically, I could no longer trust myself to sleep lightly around a newborn.

I started researching (shopping) around for ideas on how to keep this new baby safe and I found the Halo bassinest. Once I found it I felt it was the answers to my prayers from the beginning because it was easy to get baby in and out of, literally could by baby right next to me without them being in the bed and best of all it swiveled so I could get up in the night without scooting down to the edge of my bed. Plus it had a sweet nightlight and vibration and other stuff that I didn’t really use. Overall best baby sleeper ever, I slept thoroughly and safely next to Iver every night, even when he was waking up every 2 hours straight for 3 weeks….we used this until he could sit up on his own, around 5-6 months.

Second purchase I made towards sleep was the dockatot. Originally I made fun of the “baby raft” but in the end it was my best friend and the hardest baby item I’ve ever had to say goodbye to. I’d put Iver in the dockatot and he would put himself to sleep. That baby pillow hugged them just right so they felt safe and secure and I felt safe and secure with him in it because I knew it was snug and it was breathable. Add in the fact that it was his bed when we traveled and it was well worth it’s price tag. I used it all the way until he was 10 months old.

Third thing toward a decent night sleep with baby 3 doesn’t work with all babies but a good swaddle. I was grateful that a friend lent me her Ollie wrap, it was the best swaddle I had ever used because you could really wrap those suckers (babies) in there and it had enough give that they could squirm but it never un-hugged them. Iver was golden in it. We used it until he grew out of it and could wiggle out, probably at around 4 months, which is a pretty long time in the swaddling world.

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the holy trinity of sleeping babies

Ollie wrap+dockatot+bassinest= at least 4 hours of sleep at one time even with a colicky baby that you haven’t figured out is actually dairy sensitive yet.

And now that I no longer have any of these but don’t have to worry as much about anyone rolling onto my baby? I was planning on buying another dockatot (there’s a bigger one) but couldn’t swallow the price on it ($260) so I did a little more research and ended up buying Iver  a sheepskin to sleep on. It is amazing, transfers (what we parents call moving a sleeping baby out of our arms) onto it are very easy and he stays asleep. Though it doesn’t snuggle him as well as the dockatot did it is SO much cheaper and now everyone in my family wants their own because they are so cuddly and comfortable to sit, stand and sleep on.

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dreaming of sheep(skin)

On one final note. I heard the statistic yesterday that the quality and amount of sleep only lessens for women and not for men.  Haven’t these babies heard of feminism?! (as my husband sleeps on the couch just fine right now…. but surrounded by 2 out of 3 children).

Badlands NP

The weather was nice, Harper didn’t, have school, the entrance fee was waved and it’s my birthday so we went outside to Badlands National Park. We did a few small trails including a juniper forest and massive canyon but mostly we climbed and explored.

swim suits, because it’s cold outside

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not.me.

 

I’m not overly excited for winter to be over but it’s that time of year when I start looking forward to spring. I’m gearing up to occasionally open windows and watching my trees bud and bloom. The thing that I don’t really look forward to is swimsuits. This year I had to focus a little earlier on it then most because Harper wanted a pool party for his birthday.

I feel like every woman in America wants to complain about shopping for swimsuits but lets be real, it’s SO HARD to find one that you love. No matter what your thoughts are on your body swim suit shopping generally sucks because it’s never going to be the perfect fit in the perfect color/pattern for your perfect body. Oh and by the way, they are pretty expensive. So to make it simple on myself I just wanted something with solid coverage that didn’t budge and wasn’t totally horrible on my body. Add in the fact that I live in a small town and have to do 90% of my shopping online and here’s what I found:

I love this free people suit, it’s a once piece which isn’t normally me but I bet the top doesn’t budge much! Probably not the best for tall people like me.

I also discovered this little boutique suit shop Desi’s Bikini Boutique that creates many different styles and cuts that surfers swear by, unfortunately I can’t get to Costa Rica anytime soon and without an online catalogue I’m a little lost.

Target doesn’t make the cut this time. Not impressed with pricing, quality or style this year.

I found that the high rise bikini’s are getting trendier, hard to tell if they are flattering without trying them on but some look promising like these ones from Nordstrom and Lululemon (normally I lean towards black but that blue!!!).

 
Ultimately I ended up buying form Athleta where they had a ton of different options for mix and match solids but the quality sounded up to par for the preformance I wanted and best of all, no-hassel, no-cost returns. I wore it to Harper’s party and the bottoms are amazing so far, the fit is perfect and coverage/staying power is exactly what I want (though activity was minimal so far there was still no wedgie). The top is fine, it will do the job coverage wise, though I’ll probably end up with a rash guard as well thanks to my skin cancer caution.

Boy Clothes

I love dressing my little boys and I get compliments on their clothes fairly often so I thought I’d share where I get most of their stuff. Boys are harder to shop for because there is so much less to chose from but that just makes the challenge more rewarding.  All of my kid’s clothes are either extremely cheap (under $10)or a tad pricey (over $30), very little in between because I don’t like to settle. I made two lists, the inexpensive and the not.

Favorite bargain brands:

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My favorite budget brands:

Carhartt: The cutest hats and coats. Carhartt is quality, timeless, functional and well priced.

Sunglasses: I buy them cheap whenever I come across them, Old Navy, Target, wherever. I don’t buy the silly looking plastic ones because they look too kiddy but a cute pair of $5 glasses make a 3-year-old look surprisingly sharp.

Zara: LOVE Zara for kids. They have great prices, cute clothes and free shipping. I refer to Zara as the Euro gap. There is also great resale in their clothes. Downloading their app can be straight dangerous.

Carters: I only buy solid color basics from Carters but they are fantastic in sizing and wear. It’s a given that I have the solid layette set in heavy rotation. The best thing about Carters is that nothing is ever full price, there’s always some % off.

Nordstrom (Rack): The brand pictured is Peek, which I adore for my boys, usually purchased at the Rack but great deals and sales can be found in Nordstrom as well.

Gap: First point is that you will find no better denim for little boys. The quality and the fit are perfect and little boys are hard on their jeans. Second point is if you think gap is pricey then you’re doing it wrong. Gap has amazing sales, especially on their clearance items, last week I bought chinos for Harper for $4, that’s cheaper than Target with a much better quality.

Target: Ah the Mecca. Target is great, Target clearance is better. If something is super cute, great, but if it’s cute and 50% off, greater. The new line Cat and Jack is cute, sometimes, but I’ll warn you it pills easily and the fit is just a little off.

 

Favorite luxury brands:

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Fin and Vince: Cute clothes with sweet little sayings usually. I love buying t-shirts (not white ones) that layer and go well with different items. Also t-shirts are wearable much longer than sized often and if there’s any leak or blowout you usually don’t have to change the shirt, just the pants, making shirts even better than layettes.

Rylee and Cru: Very cute boy clothes often with a more unique cuts and prints. Great wash and wear quality. They definitely fit longer babies better.

Mabo: Made in the US, this is one of my favorite brands. I adore their stuff for tiny babes and the simplicity of their design as kids grow older. Beautiful natural fabrics and designs that are both old-fashioned and modern.

Freshly Picked: Not going to lie, I feel like moccs are on their way out. While the style isn’t the latest, the design and functionality are on point. I splurged on my first pair with Willem and loved them as they really let him learn to walk with their soft soles, kept his feet warm through wind, snow and freezing temps and they stayed on his feet! They also held up really well as he walked on concrete, the leather is very soft but thick. Iver has kicked his off a couple times but they stay better than any other sock or shoe out there. Worth the money to buy at least one pair while baby is learning to walk. These also have a great resale and come in a verity of colors both solids and prints.

Mini Rodini: Love their clothes but they are sometimes a little too loud for me. Most of their prints are animal based so we’ve only splurged on the pajamas and hats.

Childhoods: Cutest little sweats/play clothes ever. Soft and more wearable with every wash.

Bobo Choses: The most expensive but the nicest clothes my kids have ever had. They are made for my kids because the sleeves are long, the bodies are long and the cotton is incredible. I especially love finding some of their vintage items, they wear well and really hold their value.

 

Of course I buy a lot of these past season, on sale or even second-hand. The great thing about buying some of these brands is supporting smaller businesses (including boutiques) putting your kids in softer, less treated clothing and if by some miracle your kid doesn’t ruin it you can often find buyers on Facebook for your used kids clothes, even at a profit to you.

The last tip I can offer is stay clear of any characters or prints. Sure my kids have some paw patrol shirts but only 1 or 2 at a time in the size they are in but over all prints are too busy. Also I encourage them to pick out their own clothes, no use spending money on things they don’t want to wear.

First of the Month List

pexels-photo-295826.jpegLife Pro Tip: make yourself a first of the month list.

I’m not sure how I didn’t think of this concept before my mom shared it with me last year. Having a small checklist of things to look at/check into and clean due all on the same day has helped me remember these easily ignored and forgotten chores.

Here’s the basic concept: make a list of important chores to do that you either don’t like to do often or often forget to do.

You don’t have to use my list, it’s just an example of the things I try to do on/around the first of the month. Also it doesn’t have to be the first, sometimes if I know I’m going to be busy I do it in the days before, if I don’t feel like it I do it during the week later, the first of the month is really just a term I use in order to remember the general time frame of the last time I did it. Here is my list, it’s not long, I don’t like to overwhelm myself.

  • change the air filter, I do buy 60-90 day filters but doing this on the 1st even helps keep track of how old it is.
  • clean dryer lint trap-not the one in the dryer, or even the one on the inside tube (if you life in a cold weather climate you know), I’m talking about the one that’s outside the house, the one that’s easy to forget exists until your clothes are suddenly not getting as dry.
  • scrub floors-My floors get cleaned more then once a month but once a month I get down on my hands and knees and scrub, I also move ALL the furniture and clean underneath (why does no one tell me they spilled a juice box behind/under the couch!)
  • clean front door and back door- both mine are glass, sometimes this happens more often.
  • wash/clean rugs- I hate this chore but love the results
  • journal updates on my kids- which I should do more often

I’d love to hear if you have any other ideas on what to add to my first (week) of the month list. And if you need some motivation:::