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).

 

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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).

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:::

The Holiday Express

I’m a borderline crazy Christmas person. Having kids creates a new level of magic in that you are responsible for creating it and in return receive the pleasure of watching it all unfold.

This year we finally made it onto the historic 1880 Train‘s Holiday Express. The ride was out of Hill City, about halfway to Keystone you arrive at “The North Pole” and pick up Santa. On the way there they pass out delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies. I was shocked at how good they were. After Santa boards the train he comes around and talks to each child while handing out silver sleigh bells. The cost isn’t cheap but for under $100 for our family it was a special and you can’t put a price on memories.

Notes/Tips:

  • You can bring food/drinks onto the train, we went on the 4:15 so I knew my boys would need more then a sugar cookie so I brought snacks in containers.
  • The trains are mildly heated, meaning on a cold night you’ll be comfortable but with your coat left on. Remember you don’t get on the train without waiting in line outside and it’s in Hill City which is probably a few degrees cooler than Rapid.
  • The speaker system on the train is awful and with so many kids you are unlikely to hear what they are saying, therefor you’ll want to read (or watch) The Polar Express before your ride.
  • While it’s a great ride for all ages, our 3 year old loved it the most so I’d say if you only plan on going once, wait for that 3-4 age range. Our 5 year old, who loves trains, had fun but was a little unimpressed afterwards.
  • If your family has a busy schedule or you feel particular about the times book your tickets early, as in November or the first week of December.
  • Take the train during the summer as well, it’s a great experience.IMG_0341.JPG.jpegimg_0334-jpgimg_0086
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Parenting and Presidents

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To all my friends using their children as tools of guilt and shame the outcome of this election: stop. Stop the “how will I explain this man to my kids.” Your kids are hardly influenced by what our president elect says but they do hear what you say, what the television is saying and they are listening to those evening conversations between adults. We set the tone for how our children interpret the world and the adult issues happening now.

I am a child of 1986 (barely a millennial) and I don’t remember either the Reagan or Bush presidencies however I do remember President Clinton. I remember him lying to us on TV and admitting that he lied. I remember learning about the Lewinski dress, not fully understanding the meaning behind a stain or what exactly happened besides the fact that he lied to everyone and we couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it. I remember the news, the scandal then the middle east and I remember learning about impeachment before it was taught in social studies.

The news is still good, because despite his remarks and mistakes I know that what he did was wrong both in action and intention and I am not a worse person for having him as a president. I have no strong feelings towards him at all.

Our president should not be the ideal that we hold ourselves to. The president isn’t even a daily discussion in our house but Jesus is. Jesus is the standard we hold ourselves and our children to, He is what we strive to model our actions and thoughts to and when my children face difficulties in life I want them to look to Jesus not “What would POTUS do?”
Presidents come and go they are mere men that will make multitudes of mistakes just like the rest of us. If the president becomes an idol over Jesus, no matter how great he or she may be, then something is wrong.

I’ve been absorbing myself in the Netflix series The Crown. In The Crown, Queen Elizabeth contemplates her role in governing and returns to the standard set in the British constitution: that there is the dignified and the efficient. The efficient is there to govern the people but the dignified is what the people uphold themselves to, an ideal. Our government, the elected body is there to be the efficient, let them pass laws and govern our country as we see fit and it is up to us to be the dignified, let us be the ones to uphold our moral code and show our kids what it takes to be a decent human being.

 

What Village

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Lately I’ve been dealing with real “why can’t I have that” jealousy. Not over materialistic items much to my surprise (I grew out of *most* of that years ago) but jealous of time and circumstance. And there is nothing I can do to change it or go about getting it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “it takes a village” when if comes to raising children. What happens if you don’t have a village though? What if it’s just you and your husband treading water, syncing schedules and adapting as life comes at you with little outside help or influence?

Here’s what I’m talking about: Young families with close help. Families with young children that have aunts/uncles/grandparents close by and willing to help. We have a handful of friends that get days/a night/a weekend kid free while we pay babysitters for even 3 hours to ourselves.

{To be fair I do have help and I do have family help, just not close by and not the kind that says “oh let us take the boys for you guys.” Also to be fair I would never expect them to do that- this isn’t about them this is about my jealousy haha. me.me.me.}

Since the night we became parents 5 1/2 years ago Chad and I have spent 1 night kid free. That night wasn’t even up to us exactly, it was not a date night or a vacation, it was for a marriage retreat and some wonderful friends offered to keep our then 2 crazy boys.

Let that in. 5 years, 8 months and 15 days with only 1 night without kids. It wasn’t even 24 hours alone.

And this is our life situation. This is how our life turned out, we chose (kinda) to be parents, we chose to have a second baby and when we were planning our vacation from the first two the third baby decided to get in the way. I have literally not missed a single day of my kids life.

So what’s my point?

For those that do have the parents that say they will watch your kids Tuesday mornings so you can schedule a dental appointment without holding a 6 month old in your lap, or they will take your kids for the nigh/weekend/week/month so you can have a date night or quiet house: do not take them for granted. Treat them nicely, be grateful, even if they let your kid eat an entire loaf of bread and don’t poop for a week.

And as for me, I struggle with the jealousy but not the situation. I am beyond grateful that I have a husband that I can still rely on when the kids become too much. Even if we don’t get serious alone time I am not alone. I’m thankful for my kids and that I do get to spend so much time with them. I’m thankful for my independence that I can be a successful mother and wife and not wanting to rely on others. I am thankful for those that do help, family, friends and babysitters. I’m thankful for the finances to be able to pay a babysitter! And I’m thankful for a husband I actually want to spend time with and enjoy talking to.

Sometimes I even enjoy taking them all to the store at once, they are annoying but cute.

To our mothers, who are both coming over tomorrow (I’ll buy more wine but the floors might not get scrubbed): I wouldn’t change you. Thanks for all the help that you do offer, we appreciate it every minute. This wasn’t about you at all, I promise.

To my sons and their future spouses: I fear I may be the overbearing/smothering type when you have children. Please forgive me. Also if you have more than 3 kids you might be on your own.