Hashtags

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First of all, I want to thank all of you SO much for sticking around, even if my blogging has been a bit sporadic these days!  (Okay, you’re right, it has been a lot sporadic.  I guess you could say that my writing has been as dependable as my laundry day).

#Idon’thavealaundryday

My plan is to blog at least twice a week in August, since Brady is finally going to bed by 8pm again.  (I’m not holding my breath that I’ll always reach my personal blogging commitments, but – hey – a girl can hope).  ;)

#Goals

I’ll definitely have lots to blog about soon, because – drum roll please – I’m taking Brady on another toddler vacation.

#gluttonforpunishment

My parents are going away for the week and invited me, Nate, and Brady to join them.   Nate kept encouraging me to go (while he would stay home to take care of the cats), because I deserve the change of scenery.  (This is actually interpreted to mean, “Wow, I would really love to have the house to myself for a day or two, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play a video game.”)

#Iknowmyhusband

So I’m going off grid for the next couple of days, as I’ll be driving to the mountains.  :)  BUT I’ll hopefully be blogging more regularly, come August.

In the meantime, let me know if there are any specific blog post requests for when I get back!!  (I WILL have a Crazy Cooking video up soon, I promise!  Sarah and I have been working on one finally).  :)

 

 

 

Stronger Together

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As excited as I had been to meet my baby boy, one of my biggest pregnancy fears was regarding the change that would come when our little family jumped from two to three.  Nate and I were in a really good place…  Like a really good place!  And I knew that our marriage was barreling towards the most exciting – and draining – chapter yet.

We shut our eyes, held on tight, and braced for impact, not unlike someone insane enough to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Flash forward 19 months; and I feel as though we’re just now stretching out our legs a bit and maybe peeking over the top of the barrel in the hopes of catching a breath of fresh air.

Being a parent has been hard on our marriage, mainly because we just don’t have free time… ever.  Brady goes to bed around 9pm now (thanks to the 18 month sleep regression), and he’s up at the crack of dawn.  That leaves us with very little time (and absolutely no energy) for just us.  

It’s a phase… it’s a phase… it’s a phase.

I remind myself of that often.

Last week, Nate and I went on our first date in months.  The prep for it wasn’t exactly the way I’d used to get ready for dates…  ;)  I’d run out of my deodorant, so I smelled of men’s Old Spice and baby wipes.  I never had time to do my hair or a proper makeup job.  And my house was trashed.  But I was sporting a cute new t-shirt, I had a handsome guy by my side, and I actually had the opportunity to sit still during an entire movie.

Oh goodness, it… was… amazing!  Nate and I went to see Now You See Me 2 and then we sat in a coffee shop and put together a date bucket-list for the summer.  Since I have the summer off from teaching, my mom can watch the little guy here and there just so that Nate and I can have time together.  It is SO very much needed!

Being a parent definitely puts a marriage through the ringer.  And like every chapter in life, it brings about its own set of challenges… and awesomeness too, of course.  Sometimes, you just have to pray and fight your way through the tough patches, because there are so many wonderful moments to be experienced too.

But it’s true that it’s easy to lose the romance.  That it’s sometimes hard to remember to put your marriage first.  That it’s ridiculously easy to go through an entire day without really talking (because toddler-talk doesn’t count but you’re doing it so much that you feel talked out).  That life is overwhelming, and can be lonely, and you really do need to fight, fight, fight for each other.

Every single day, you have to make that conscious decision to put each other first.  You have to decide to enthusiastically support each other, even though you’re tired.  You have to kiss and mean it…  hold each other close and tight… and FLIRT!   (You’ve spent your entire day changing diapers and playing hide-and-seek.  Flirt  a little and remind yourself to have fun and to not take everything too seriously).  :)

Bit by bit, as one of the tough toddler stages is coming to a close and life is settling back to a more comfortable pace, Nate and I are making time for us again and rediscovering our love for each other.

Parenthood sure isn’t easy.  Marriage isn’t either.  But they’re both worth it.  And I’m really excited – and proud – that we’re learning to find balance while prioritizing what’s important to us!

 

 

A Toddler on Vacation

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It was only 15-20 minutes into the drive of our mini-vacation getaway, and the concern started to set in.  What had we gotten ourselves into?  I mean, I had known that Brady started to call out, “Go walk?”  And “All done!”  And *insert high-pitched screaming noises that make you want to bury your head under a thousand pillows, except you’re stuck in a car for another 2 hours*.

Stopping for dinner wasn’t much easier…  Looking back, trying to convince a 19 month old to sit still in a highchair after he’s been locked in a carseat for 2 hours probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.  But we were hungry.  And Friendlys is the happiest place for kids of all ages, right?

(I got him to smile for this photo, even if I had to cheat and tickle him a bit).

Brady, apparently, wasn’t happy enough for Friendlys.  He tossed crayons.  Grabbed for anyone walking past us.  Whined, tried to get out of the chair, and threw a small tantrum.  (According to my doctor, the negativity and even slight aggression is very common at this age, as toddlers test out their parent’s authority and their own emotions.  But going through it in the moment, that isn’t always reassuring enough).  ;)

Brady also discovered that if he throws chunks of grilled cheese hard enough, it gets stuck in my hair.

The kid has impeccable aim.  (I left the restaurant with enough crumbs in my hair to feed Fievel’s family for a week).

I thought I’d planned brilliantly by coming up with fun, toddler-approved activities while still leaving enough free time for relaxing, napping, snacking, and exploring at a little one’s pace.  But if something can go wrong when you’re on vacation with a toddler, it will.  And there is nothing more horrifying than being stuck in a hotel room at 5am with a screaming 19 month old who won’t be soothed.

(You know the people that you don’t want to be renting a room near in the hotel, because their child makes a ton of noise first thing in the morning?  We were those people…  I apologize to the people renting the hotel rooms on either side of us).

On our first (and only) full day, the beach had been on the agenda.  It rained shortly after arrival, but we were able to squeeze in some quality time in the sand and waves.  It was most definitely the highlight of our trip!  Brady loved running along the sand, chasing seagulls, and dipping his toes into the ice-cold water.  (And, well, you all already know how much I adore the ocean…).

Since it was still very early, and since Brady had successfully taken a 3 hour nap, we decided to go to the Aquarium that afternoon.  The kid is obsessed with fishies and could spend all day at Petco watching them swim around.  I’d been excited about taking him to the aquarium for weeks!  

Apparently he just has a thing for Petco fish though…  We paid $70 to get into the aquarium, and he insisted on leaving 15-20 minutes into the visit (after whining the entire time for food, even though we had just eaten lunch).

Hmmmm, who forgot to pack the snack bag???

I really couldn’t believe it!  I mean, we were standing in front of a ginormous tank, when this swam by…

Oops, wrong picture.

…this swam by!

My breath was taken away at seeing such a magnificent, large creature up close.  Brady, on the other hand, decided that he wasn’t interested.  So we set out to find the clock that had captured his attention, completely ignoring the whale, penguins, seals, brightly colored fish…and sharks!

It’s okay, Brady.  I get hangry sometimes too!

Thank goodness for general stores that sell popsicles AND fresh, fried dough.  Like the beach, this was a win-win for all parties involved.

That night, when back at the hotel and trying to unwind a toddler who was bouncing off the hotel walls, we received a call from the lawyer who’s handling Nate’s disability case. She told us that Nate had a mandatory meeting in the city the next day.  We had to go home a day early.

I was part devastated… and part relieved, since Brady had been throwing tantrums and whining all day.  Nate, meanwhile, canceled our hotel for August, because Brady just isn’t ready for travel.  Or maybe we aren’t ready for travel with Brady…  ;)  Either way, we decided that we’ll go away one night in October instead for our anniversary (since my mom is willing to watch Brady).

But Nate will stay home in August, and I’ll travel with my sister to the 5k I’ve already signed up for.

 

I love Brady more than anything on this earth and having him was the greatest miracle we’ve ever experienced.  But yeah, sometimes it’s hard to be mommy and daddy (especially when you’re going through one of the tougher stages, like the newborn stage or the terrible 2’s).

Now you all know me and know that I bounce back really quickly…  ;)  I’m already coming up with smaller activities that can be enjoyed as day trips, since that seems to be our sweet spot this summer.  I still plan to make this summer incredible!

Maybe we won’t travel as much as we used to…  But different doesn’t have to mean less special or memorable!

If I’ve learned one thing as a parent so far, it’s that there will be days that are hard; because you -in a way – will mourn for the way things used to be.  (Because those are the good ol’ days you remember and cherish).  BUT also remember that you’re forging new traditions.  New memories.

And although change can be hard, you can also focus on how amazing the new, different way of doing things can be.

And trust me, I fully expect to laugh about this vacation one day.  And when he’s older, I also plan to remind Brady of what he put us through.  Ha!  :)   Just kidding!

Mostly…

 

 

Resting Isn’t So Easy

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“The enemy doesn’t want you to rest.”

My pastor recently said that to me and another woman from my church, thinking out loud about a potential future sermon.  But my mind was blown by what he probably considered to be just a passing thought.  Because I’m not just a woman with a Type-A personality.  I’m a mom.  And when you combine those two features together, the concept of ‘rest’ takes mommy guilt to an entirely new level.

(Seriously, mommy guilt doesn’t need any help as it is, am I right?  When you add the Type-A personality to the mix?  It’s just cruel and unusual punishment).

In my head, I’m convinced that I always must be doing.  If I’m not doing something productive, then I’m obviously being lazy.  Or a procrastinator.  Or just a bad person in general.

*shudder*

Just the other day, I admitted to my friend Liz that I felt bad Nate was putting Brady to bed for me (since my arms were too exhausted to walk around the room holding my 30 pound toddler).  There I was, sitting on the couch, talking on the phone for a few minutes; while my husband was soothing my little guy to sleep.

#Badmom!!  

She replied with, “But you spent all day with Brady, and most of the night too.  It’s okay for Nate and Brady to bond tonight before bed.”

Again… mind blown!

I always feel as though I need to be working if any work is being done.  I need to be parenting if any parenting is being done.  I should be the one cooking, cleaning, organizing, and scheduling.

All…the…time!

But the thing is, I forget one very important thing: rest.  I need rest.  I was actually created by a Creator who designated one day a week for slowing down and recharging.  And when I try to convince myself that I’m the energizer bunny in mom form, I’m only doing myself – and those around me – a disservice.

I can’t give 100% on an empty tank anymore than I can start my day without coffee.  (Really, it just can’t happen).

I don’t want my smiles to be forced…  My snuggles and hugs to be rushed, because I feel so  exhausted and worn out…  Or my time for those who need it to be half-hearted, because I no longer have an ounce of patience left in me.

That makes me less effective.  Less victorious.  Less joyful and less purpose driven.

For me to be the best version of myself, I do need rest.  And fun.  And recharging.  And I need to realize that having some down-time should be embraced… not faced with guilt.

So I’ve been scheduling it.  And it’s working!  :)

Most of the time, it’s an hour here or there.  Yesterday, I ran to the store and leisurely shopped at Marshall’s, while Nate watched a cartoon with Brady.  Sometimes, I’ll go out with a friend after Brady is in bed for the night.  Once in awhile, I’ll put on a great worship CD, light a candle, and paint my nails.  Other times, I’ll choose to ignore the dirty dishes, laundry, meal prep, and cleaning so that I can sit down, drink a coffee, and read a book or watch TV during Brady’s naptime.

Anything goes, as long as I can do it once or twice a week.  The only thing that’s not allowed is guilt.  No guilt allowed!  It took a few tries before I really was able to enjoy it and not focus on all the things I ‘should’ be doing instead.  But now, I embrace those just-for-me moments.

I feel like a human being afterward.  :)  And maybe that’s because I’m doing what God had planned for me all along:  Resting!

Guys, I’m doing it!!!  I’m actually making mommy-time a priority!  Aren’t you proud of me?!?  :)

 

19 Months Already!

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How is it possible that I am now the mom to a mischievous, energetic 19 month old?  Time is going by too fast, and I wish I could slow it down…just a little.  There are moments during which I feel frazzled and exhausted (especially last month).  But then I hold his body close and bury my nose in his hair, and I want to pause time.  I’ll miss being able to pick him up and snuggle him before nap-time.

Brady loves playing outside, and the first thing he says when he wakes up every morning is “Gawalk?”  (His way of saying, “Go walk?”).  The second thing he says is, “Pepere.”  😉 He loves my dad and asks for his Pepere all day long, crying when one of their visits must come to an end.  It’s adorable!

He’s discovered his shadow and is obsessed with wiggling his toes.  He can find his belly, ears, eyes, and nose; and he has quite the throwing arm.  He eagerly looks for the “mooooon” every evening, and he asks for a “posicle…icle…icle” (Popsicle) at every meal.

His absolute favorite meal is macaroni and cheese; but he also loves fish, chicken pot pie, grilled cheese, and meatloaf.

He weighs 30 pounds, is obsessed with his swimming pool, and loves cats.

His 18th month was a little tough on all of us (gosh, the 18 month sleep regression is brutal), but there were so many good moments too!

I can’t wait to see what this next month brings!  :)

Mommy Marathons… and Retail Therapy

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I’d heard about the 18 month sleep regression, but absolutely nothing could have prepared me for it.  It’s a tough one, my friends.  To be completely honest, this has been tougher than the newborn stage.  It has brought the same exhaustion and uncertainty; except now my precious bundle of joy is a very strong, stubborn, tantrum-throwing toddler.

Help!  

Day after day, I’ve survived on very little sleep.  I’ve met screaming with a patient smile and an “I love you.” I’ve cuddled, and played chase, and kissed boo boo’s.  And when tantrums are thrown before bed, I sing lullabies and patiently hold a very heavy, little boy, letting him know how much I love him.

Day…after day… after day…

The thing about being a mom is that you’re running a marathon.  Except there isn’t a crowd of supporters lining the sidelines, cheering you on and celebrating every steep hill you sprint.  The selfless loving and constant giving is given, because you can’t imagine doing anything else.  But that doesn’t mean there won’t be moments that leave you feeling exhausted beyond belief.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be moments that leave you drained and empty, in need of those cheerleaders whose cheers never come.  Because moms are the unsung heroes.  Their acts of mercy, never-ending love, and tender care surround their families, not because appreciation is expected, but because they would do anything for the ones they love.

June has been a tough one for me…  Mentally and physically, I sooooo needed a mommy break. So I was beyond excited to ‘escape’ for the day (leaving my little guy in the capable hands of my husband) and go shopping with my mom and sister.

We used to go on Mother / Daughter shopping trips all the time, but it’s obviously much more difficult now.  (I’ve only been able to go with them once since Brady was born).  So I honestly looked forward to the day with excitement I couldn’t contain.

And the day didn’t disappoint!  Food… Fashion… Fun…

I thought we were going to get kicked out of the Loft dressing room, we were all laughing SO hard!  (Don’t worry, the stores were really quiet, and we had the place to ourselves.  So we really weren’t disturbing anyone).  :)

And in true fashion (like we always used to do during our all-day trips), we had to eat out.  This mamma doesn’t get to enjoy a leisurely meal all that often, since I’m usually eating bites between feeding a toddler.  So to just sit and enjoy a pretty (and delicious) meal that I didn’t even have to prepare or clean up after?  Yeah, it was pretty amazing.

(I think the waiter found us hilarious; because we all ordered off of the Cheesecake Factory Skinnylicious menu… but then promptly asked for bread, more butter, and cheese for the salad).  :)

During the course of the day, I purchased a dress, necklace, and sandals (making a complete outfit.  I love that each piece is versatile and can be used to create various outfits though)!

The day away gave me a new perspective and a renewed sense of energy.

And I realized – as I arrived home and smothered my little guy with hugs and kisses – that every time I act selfless, I am teaching my little boy to do the same.  I am teaching him to love fiercely.  To put others first.  To give unconditionally.

As moms, we might not have a squad of cheerleaders praising our every accomplishment.  But the lives that we raise to be kind, loving, patient, hard-working men and women will be our greatest trophy.  And that makes the marathon worth running!  :)

What do you do to recharge?  

Bathing Suit Shopping

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I’m going to be honest here (as I always am) and admit that, generally, I hate bathing suit shopping…

(This was me trying to make a oh-boy-here-we-go face, but I completely realize that it looks more like I’m whistling).

I mean, let’s face it, most of us aren’t fans, no matter how great our self-confidence is.  There’s just something less than ideal about standing half-naked in a chilly dressing room that’s surrounded by mirrors and flooded with overhead lights, which accentuate absolutely everything you don’t want to be accentuated.  (That was dangerously close to being a run-on sentence, and my college English professors just shuddered as I wrote it.  But it was worth it…   There’s nothing like bathing suit shopping to make me feel like spouting off a good ol’ run-on sentence).

If it were up to me, shopping for a bathing suit would be more like going to the spa.  There’d be warm lighting, refreshing cucumber water, and an attendant waiting outside the dressing room door whose sole purpose would be to smile and say, “Wow, you’re a rockstar!”

Also, the bathing suit sizes would range from “Gorgeous” to “Go gett’em’.”

Yeah, pretty much the opposite of the actual experience.

But I have to admit that I faced this particular trip with more enthusiasm than normal, because it was getting me out of the house… alone.  Nate was going to stay home to watch Brady, and I could actually walk through the stores at a normal pace like a normal human being.

And it was retail therapy, which I enjoy way too infrequently these days.  So I was going to make the best of it!

Here’s the thing though…  My body has changed since carrying a 10 lb baby and undergoing a C-section.  (Surprise, surprise).  My feet grew almost a size, my thighs and butt have more padding, and my stomach isn’t quite as tight.  I’ve learned from my mom (who works at a clothing store) that it’s important to find styles that compliment your particular body type, but I had no idea what style would look best.  (Also, is “Tired Mom” considered a body type)?

So I grabbed one of each.  Also I had absolutely no idea what size I’d be in (and every style and brand would fit differently), so I had to grab a few sizes of each. I   literally tried on 16 bathing suits, because I wanted to find one that I felt confident in.

Or was it 20 bathing suits?  We’ll go with 16, because that sounds more sane.

Of course, amidst those various styles and sizes, a few of them were really pathetic.  It was totally the bathing suit and not me… of course!  But wow. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be cast to run down the beach for a season of Baywatch anytime soon.  (Unless yoga pants are an option for a Baywatch Mothers spin-off, in which case, I’m in!).

But after some patience and trial-and-error, I did it!  I found not one, but two!  What?!?

*insert happy dance*

I’m a mom.  I carried a life inside of me, and that little life is growing up and demanding more of my attention every day.  Some days I eat healthy, but – most days – I need chocolate to survive.  And I refuse to give up icecream.  And my workout is incorporated into an already hectic day, although I’ve been better at making it a priority.

That’s the mom life.

But what I love is that YOU remind me every day to see beauty in myself.  I rarely subscribe to magazines anymore, because I’d much rather catch up on blogs and read about what YOU are up to.  I’d rather see your pictures and read about your adventures.  And unlike Hollywood’s representation of beauty, your beauty is real.  I see variety, many shapes and sizes, a multitude of colors, and confidence.

My self-confidence is only lifted every time I read a blog post, because I am reminded of what true beauty is.  True beauty is US.

I’m healthy.  I’m strong.  I’m beautiful.  I don’t need to be a certain size or shape to wear a bathing suit at the beach.  I’m ready to kill it now!  I’m ready to get out there and have a blast in the sun.  If I’m dimpled, and pale, and jiggly, then I’ll look radiant pulling off that look!  Because I’ll have my toes in the sand, the sun at my back, seagulls flying overhead, enough snacks to feed an army (or a toddler and my husband for two hours), and an entire beach waiting to be run across.

Who has time to worry about ‘perfection’ in a bathing suit?  Gosh, I certainly don’t!  Because perfection in a bathing suit is how I look in a bathing suit.  And how you look in a bathing suit.

Don’t let Hollywood tell you otherwise!

Girls, we are ALL gorgeous!

These three were my absolute favorites out of all the suits I tried on.  The Aztec print in the middle was my favorite print, but – in the end – I picked the floral pattern.  It fit the best!  (I do have a toddler to chase after, and we don’t want any mommy mishaps at the beach, if you know what I mean).  ;)

AND I really liked this striped one (obviously) from Target, so I grabbed that one too.  My thought is that I can have two and then maybe putting off shopping for another bathing suit for a really long time.

But then again, maybe bathing suit shopping isn’t really as painful as I had thought!

(Although I still like the idea of refreshing cucumber water… and maybe snacks).

 

 

 

 

Let’s Get Summer Started!

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If it were possible to fit summer into one day, yesterday would have been it.  Honestly, I’m not sure if there has been a more perfect Father’s Day spent with my hubby and Dad (despite the fact that I ordered their gifts too late and so I had nothing to give them on their special day).

*insert sheepish grin*

Still, it was one of those lazy, summer days that seem to drag on forever… but not in a bad way.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m on vacation now, so I’m taking a bit more time to smell the roses.  ;)  But colors just seemed brighter.  The sun felt warmer.  Time slowed down a bit, and it was easier to just live.

I’m sure that the Starbucks coffee didn’t hurt anything either…  ;)  Gosh, it doesn’t get any more refreshing than that!  It’s as though someone bottled sunshine, happiness, and a burst of energy into a jug.  (These bottled, Starbucks iced coffees are becoming a treat for my family’s get-togethers; but no one tells anyone else whose ‘job’ it is to pick some up.  So we ended up with three jugs this time.  Ha, ha.  Sooo yummy!!).

(No, Starbucks didn’t sponsor this post; but if they want to send me free coffee, I totally wouldn’t object).  :)

Wait, what were we talking about before I got side-tracked by coffee?  Oh, right!  Smelling roses…

I struggle with that a lot… slowing down and just living in the moment.  I feel as though I’m doing better, but I want this summer to be all about that.  Although we’ve made some fun plans for the upcoming warm months, I’m looking forward to waking up and realizing that I have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to be for the day.

That goes against everything within my Type-A personality, but – at the same time – I’m learning to appreciate some down-time in my life.  I’m realizing that there are benefits to spontaneous moments.  To quiet moments.  To moments that happen because they’re meant to and not because they were planned.

And this summer?  I want free time for soaking toes, licking icecream cones, climbing playgrounds, grilling burgers, exploring beaches, blowing bubbles, and watching movies.  Oh and water fights!

I’d forgotten how much fun it is to chase my sister around the house with a water ‘gun’.  ;)  Of course, Nate saw it as an opportunity to join in the fun and drench me in return.  (We’re not competitive at all).  Ha, ha!

Thank goodness Brady didn’t mind sharing his Dory-inspired water toys, because we had way more fun with them than he did.

Or maybe it was a tie…

Yeah, I just have good feelings about this summer…

And if it’s as good as today was, then I think the summer of 2016 will be pretty special.

 

 

My 33rd Birthday Vlog

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June has been insane so far!  Not a bad insane, by any means.  But definitely busy beyond belief.  (True story: it is possible for mommy brain to get worse).  Last week was my piano recital, and it went really well.  I enjoyed it SO much, but – at the same time – I’m quite glad it’s done.  I live for the recitals, but I still always breathe that sigh of relief when they’re finished.  It’s a lot of work (both for me AND for the students).

This mama needs life to slow down for a little while…  And – after this week – I’m officially on summer vacation!  Oh gosh, I’m SO excited about that!  :)

Amidst all the planning and last-week-of-lessons prep, I did have a fun birthday celebration with my family over the weekend.  And since I haven’t had much time to blog lately, I thought I’d capture my 33rd birthday with a fun vlog that I could look back on…  :)