How To Break Up With Buying

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I’m cutting it close, I know, I’m sorry, we’ve had some stuff going on.

To catch you up on this topic though, May was amazing. Life changing and eye-opening. I stopped buying anything I didn’t need and it’s been incredible, for me and my bank account. Starting June 1st I’m challenging you to stop the consumerism. Stop giving in to the emptiness that we’ve created in buying.

Here are my suggestions to stop buying:

  1. In the last 2 days of the month buy what you want. At the end of April, I bought 3 things before I knew I couldn’t just buy: cheap mascara (awful) a book (wonderful) and a clearance shirt to wear for family photos. I kept it in my head that if there was something I really wanted, it could wait until the end of the month and if I still wanted it and could afford it then I probably won’t forget or regret it. Surprisingly there is nothing on my list at the end of this month.
  2. Buy as much of your groceries as you can online. Sams club and Family Thrift near me offer online shopping and easy pick-up. This saves overall time as well as prevents impulse buys.
  3. Rediscover what you already have. Think you need more stuff on your mantle? A new pair of shorts? Look through what you own already and find ways to repurpose it or just use it (see my conditioner issue at the bottom). A great inspiration for this is listening to Joanna Gaines in her book The Magnolia Story (the audiobook is free on many library apps).
  4. Get thrifty. Buying second-hand and used items not only makes you work a lot harder to buy but it also saves you a lot of money. A little trick I used was I would sell things I needed out of my house for garage sale money.
  5. Find hobbies. Instead of browsing through Amazon, read a book. Instead of wandering Target go for a bike ride. Do things with your time that enrich your life not empty your pockets.
  6. Go places besides stores. Museums, parks, a friends house, getting out doesn’t have to mean going to a shopping center. Explore the culture and not the aisles.
  7. Be kind to yourself. No one is disappointed in you if you end up spending money on something that you want, but practicing mindful buying, in general, will make you more aware and considerate of the purchases that you do make.

On a side note, I’ve needed hair conditioner for over a month now. I’ve used up all the old bottles in my house (good for decluttering) but I’ve also had to use some really awful stuff. I googled home-made conditioners, but somehow it doesn’t seem worth it. And, if you’re wondering if I held fast through the entire month, I’m sad to say that I did not. I bought my husband and myself a pair of nice athletic shorts, they weren’t cheap but they are very worth it, no regrets there.

Only a few days in you’ll start to notice the freedom that you gain. It’s as if you are finding out who you are again because you are no longer your possessions and shopping/buying is no longer your pastime.

What I Wish I Knew as a First Time Mom

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I was one of the first people in my peer group to have a child, which meant that when friends became mothers, they often came to me. I found myself walking a tight-rope between too much info (intimidating them or scaring them) or too little info (not adequately preparing them as a confidant would). Handing out advice can be tricky and when you are pregnant you scour the internet for advice and ideas of what your version of motherhood might look like. There is never any pregnancy, experience or child that is the same but there are some tidbits of advice that do tend to stick true. These are the ones I’ve found that I wish I knew the first time around:

1. You will do things you promised yourself you never would, it’s fine. We all do it, and while we remember you saying “I’ll never cosleep when I have kids” we aren’t judging you when it happens because we did the exact same thing. My most memorable one was saying that I’d never wear pregnancy jeans- I LOVED my pregnancy jeans! Give me all the comfort and stretch, just not the full-panel, I don’t care what pre-mom me said, she had NO idea.
2. Get comfortable calling your pediatricians nurse or the on-call nurse. You don’t need (or want) to take your baby in for every cough or sniffle, talking to a medical professional will help calm your nerves and you can do it without putting shoes on. The sooner you get used to calling them (for anything!) the better because you’ll have YEARS of “is this an emergency?” or “how many days do they actually have to stay home from school for?” questions for them. They will give you advice, putting you at ease and keeping your co-pay in your wallet. If your concern does warrant a visit, you feel reassured knowing it’s not an overreaction.
3. Stay away from your pre-pregnancy pants for at least 6 months!!! Unless you love torture.  If they never fit again, who cares?! Even if the weight falls off like it was never there, your hips will not magically go back to what they were 9 months ago. You now have baby-carrying hips, love them, use them as a shelf to continue carrying your baby (or laundry). And if those pants never fit again, embrace it. Mom jeans are in style for a reason, be comfortable and be confident in your mom-bod. Being slender doesn’t always equal being confident but being confident can stretch out to all aspects of your life, making a happier you and baby.
4. Let go of perfection. Your house will never be perfectly clean again, your car will never be free of crumbs, your hair will never be brushed. None of us have it all together, we just don’t like admitting it to Instagram. Ask anyone. Let go of the perfectly clean counters and get down on the floor and talk and play with your baby.
5. When frustration hits remember, we’ve all been there. For me, when the point of understanding why people shake babies hit me (this sounds harsh but you will understand at some point in parenthood the utter frustration that babies create, I promise), I would return to the thought that, this too, will pass. These babies are only babies for a very brief period. I learned to embrace the period in all the mess, tears and blowouts and knew that one day I would miss how small they were and how much they needed me. And if you find yourself struggling often, get yourself a sponsor. Like in AA, BA is a rough road and we all need a cheerleader, and a coach that has been down that bumpy road before.
6. Don’t stress the breast. People FREAKED me out about breastfeeding. Everything I read online was warning me and prepping me for the big battle of the boob. When it came down to it all that pomp was for nothing and my kids ate like it was the most natural process there ever was. I get that it’s not that way for everyone, I ended up doing it because it was easy (and free). So if formula is easy for you than do it. Don’t feel guilty. Keeping baby and mom both alive, happy and fed is what matters. No one goes to kindergarten or college comparing if they had the breast or bottle.
7. You do you. Get off the internet. Figure out your groove with your baby and come back only when you need help getting them to sleep through the night. Just don’t look at me for that advice.

 

Photo by: Heritage Photography

Mom’s Growing Up

When I turned 30 I had people sharing that their 30’s are or were the best time. They all had the same reasonings: you just care about the little things less and you understand who you are more. It doesn’t happen right away, maybe it happens over the entire 10 year span, I don’ t know.

A couple of weeks ago I turned 32. Although, according to Willem, because there was no cake, wrapped presents and no one sang “happy birthday” so with no supporting evidence, it didn’t happen. That’s okay too. Not because I care too much about staying young (though I am considering Botox for that damn permanent frown line) but because 31 ended up pretty fantastic. Looking back, it may have been one of my better years.

In my 31st year I:

Bought a mom car. It is a Toyota but I resisted the minivan. If there is such a thing as the  anti-bucket list, this is on mine.

Said good-bye to the baby-years in our family. It was a happy good-bye.

Had a happy 6 hour day date with my husband for the first time in 7 years.

Made a commitment to myself to live life for the fun that can be found. This means letting go of the dishes in the sink to take my kids climbing, but still doing the dishes eventually.

Attempted to learn about homeowners claims, construction companies and what depreciation value means.

Worked my first full motorcycle rally. Amazingly tiring and fun.

Saw motorcycle races. Insanely cool.

Allowed myself to enjoy other flavors of La Croix besides coconut. It’s sill #1 though.

Went on my first permanent, daily medication. Okay, this one kind of sucked and I’m awful at doing it but it sucks worse when I don’t.

Had my first endoscopy. This is on the list because I know I’ll have more.

Went whitewater rafting.

Flipped in whitewater rafting. Such a fun experience for me, luckily I listened to the instructions in the beginning. Feet up!

Went to my first dispensary. It was intimidating.

Went on my second permanent, daily medication. This is a sign that I truly am getting older.

Landed a dream job.

Went snowboarding for the first time in 11 years.

Went skiing for the first time in 20 years!! And it was hard.

 

Helped build a deck.

Put a hot tub on that deck. This one is a dream fully realized.

Weaned my last baby. Such a sad and happy thing to do. Twenty-two months is long enough little dude.

Explored, remodeled, went camping, got outside,

Made a bunch of adult like decisions.

That was my 31. I’m okay to stay in it a little longer but 32 is looking like it might be a little bit of a ride so I think I can embrace that. I’m always up for an adventure.

In 32 I’ll try to have more photos of myself. Although, my first thought is to document the lines on my face as they are now and how the might change. (cough*botoxbetweentheyes)

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).

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.

My First Day as a School Parent

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I just dropped Harper off at school. Didn’t cry a single tear, not even almost. My heart swelled with love and pride for my kind-hearted boy.

As soon as we walked onto the playground Harper put his backpack down next to a tree and said “it’s okay mom, you can go now, I’m okay by myself.” I laughed and told him to go play, I wanted to stay a little. I watched him swing, going high without a push, I watched him yell and wave at the kids he knew and I knew he was more then ready to be there.

He’s going to do great and have a blast being in school, he has always thrived in groups. I, unlike many moms facing kindergarten for the first time, was ready for him to take this huge step, my biggest issue is understanding how is it possible that I am old enough to have a kid in school? I feel like I just graduated and was married last year, now I have 3 kids and one is old enough to be away from me all day? It’s mind boggling and at the same time a reminder of how exciting life is, cliche but also how quickly it goes. I remember when he was a baby I’d think about this day and consider that I’d be fairly young, as I was only 24 (6 days from 25) when he was born, thinking I might be one of the younger moms. However now that that day has arrived (probably due to having 3 kids and being a parent for 5 years now) I don’t feel young, I feel thrusted into middle age by the 3 that proceeds the zero as well as the fact that I have a kid in school.

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Walking home, alone, I wasn’t sad. I wondered how we got to this place- How was I old enough to have a kid in school?! I mentally tried to recall everything I’d put in his backpack, did he have his snack, the party money, all his school supplies- what did I forget? Am I trustworthy enough to be a parent of a school aged kid? I now have to be responsible for making sure he does his homework, wakes up early enough and eats enough even when I’m not around. And now all this stuff matters and truly affects the outcome of his future! I feel like I just got past the fear of SIDS with him and now I’m suddenly worried about creating good homework habits.

One thing I realized about myself as mother today, I am a mama bird. I’m not a tiger-mom, helicopter-mom, mama bear, dragon-mom or any of those slightly terrifying parenting pictures. I love my kids, I keep them safe and close but when they are ready to fly I push them out and watch them fail or soar. And it’s at that point that I find the most enjoyment, watching them grow and become people, individuals outside of us.