Slow It Down

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I have a problem!  And it ends now!  Or, well, at least my journey to end it begins now.  ;)  I’m not sure if this is something that I can quit cold turkey.  But I’m sure going to try, that’s for sure!

I overbook myself.

I overcommit.  I have too many goals, and projects, and tasks.

And once upon a time, I could balance it all (barely, but – you know – it’s amazing how much you can squeeze into a day, as long as you keep yourself caffeinated enough).  So I baked cookies for the neighbor who just moved in.  And I cooked casseroles for the family going through a tough time.  I made sure my house was spotless, I volunteered for outreaches in the community, I exercised, I blogged, I read, and I hung out with friends.

If someone came to visit, I had to serve a freshly baked banana bread with their coffee.  If I was making someone a casserole, I needed to prepare a dessert – from scratch – to go with it.  Dinner each night had to be healthy and homemade.  Grandparents had to be visited every week, a lonely acquaintance needed regular phonecalls, and church needed volunteers for events.

I was superwoman…

And then I had a baby.

And then my perfectly organized life was shaken a few times before being tipped upside down.  In a good way!  But in a way that doesn’t leave time for all those things, unless I’m willing to sacrifice time spent with my little guy.  And I’m not willing to do that.

Just last week, I found myself asking my hubby Nate to watch the baby for me. Just one more time. Just for one more hour. This would be quick.

Then something happened… When I handed Brady over, he began to cry. Now he loves his daddy, and Nate can make him smile like no one else can. But at only four months old, Brady was reaching a chubby fist in my direction as if to say, “I miss you mommy.”

I died a little inside, when I realized just how busy I had been… and just how little quality time I had spent with my boy.

I realized that I had been SO busy that week trying to be there for others that I hadn’t been there for Brady.  (At least not in the way I should have been there for him). I thought that I could do it all, but I couldn’t. I can’t. I’m only human, and I have to make choices sometimes.

My friend Liz, knowing how much I struggle with this, sent me this amazing Pin the other night. It’s SO me. It needs to be hung up in my house, where I see it every morning. Because I let myself feel guilty whenever I say ‘no’. I feel as though I need to always help out when there’s a need, as though everything rests on my shoulders.  I feel as though everything needs to be ‘perfect’ all the time.

And guess what, the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders. Quite frankly, I’m not that important. The world will keep on spinning if I can’t bake a sweet bread for every visitor or if I’m unable to volunteer for every event.  The sun will come out if I have to serve something frozen for dinner!   Sure, I was doing really great things sometimes, but – at the end of the day – at what expense? I had convinced myself that I should feel guilty and ashamed if I couldn’t keep up, when it really should be about finding that balance.

Finding a balance that allows me to still give of my time but that won’t stretch me so thin that I find myself too busy to play with my precious tater tot. :) I can’t juggle what I once did, because I’m a mommy now. So things have changed… And that’s okay.

Needless to say, I know full well that things need to change. So I promised Nate that things would change this month…  He and the baby will be my first priority. And then I’ll even make a little time for me, making sure that I can blog sometimes (because it’s crazy important to me) and hang out with friends who refresh me. And then I’ll budget out time to also give back and to help others in need.

But it’s true… As a mom – and as a human – I can’t do everything. And there’s no need to feel guilty about that! :)

Does anyone else struggle with this?

HAVE done much better this week, and Brady is a happy boy because of it!  :)

What Doesn’t Kill You…

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Sooooo, before I get to the blog post, I have to say thank you for sticking around even though I don’t blog all that regularly these days.  I’m trying to get myself into something of a rhythm, but it hasn’t happened yet.  ;)  The little guy just started teething, and he’s never really been one to nap well.  So this mommy has VERY little free time…  But it’s all for a season; and hopefully by this summer, I’ll be writing up a storm and documenting our family adventures!  (AND I hope to document some of my own adventures too…  I’m realizing that mommy needs some fun time of her own once in awhile).  :)  But for now, yeah, thanks for sticking with me and my little blog!  You all rock!!


If you were to ask me what the toughest part of being a mom so far has been, I’d have to say ‘breastfeeding’.  Oh, man, it’s been a challenge.  Like for something that’s supposed to be so natural, why is it so hard?  Sometimes I wonder, why does my body hate me so?  Why can’t my breasts work like faucets that I can just turn on and off, when needed?  (I mean, wouldn’t that be convenient? I could fill up a pail in the morning and then not worry about it for the following 24 hours).

Instead, I am the milk maid on tap.  I feed on demand, which is a daunting task when your chunky monkey decides that he is going to demand milk every two hours…. 24/7.  (Yes, I have been waking up every two hours for the past 4 months, and I’ve taken about 5 naps in total.  So thank God for under-eye creams that hide the circles, or else I’d probably scare small children).  Every once in awhile, Brady will go a 3-hour stretch without eating. I don’t know what to do with myself on those days, I’m just so excited.

Seriously, I can’t keep up with the amount of liquids and food that I need to ingest during the course of a day.  That’s what happens when you’re feeding a four-month-old who’s nearing 22 pounds.  And it wouldn’t be so bad if I could eat all of my favorite foods, but my baby boy has a sensitive tummy.  So as of Christmas Eve 2014, I’ve had to give up eggs (except for in extreme moderation), nuts, fish, all gassy veggies, pineapple, citrus, dairy, and soy.

 That’s tough for anyone, but particularly difficult when you’re a foodie.

Oh, and then there was the incident with the plumber…  It’s too soon to blog about, but let’s just say that I now have an answer to the ‘what was the most embarrassing moment of your life’ question, should anyone ask.

Awhile back, not so long ago, I had told my husband that I want a T-shirt that reads, “Breastfeeding sucks… literally.”  He said that was a bad idea for several reasons.  One, ‘sucks’ is not really a nice word, especially now that I’m trying to set a good example for Brady.  (Why is my husband so much more mature than me sometimes??).  Secondly, there’s a very large movement to support breastfeeding moms (a movement that I fully support).  So – you know – that kind of apparel would go against it, and – he’s right – I don’t want to go against such an important cause.
So needless to say, I’ve changed my mind about wanting that T-shirt.  Mostly…

It’s just been hard.  Frustrating.  Confusing.  And exhausting, painful, and overwhelming.

But then there are moments…
Moments when the doctor praises my efforts, because my baby boy is gaining weight so well.  Moments when I read an article about the health benefits of nursing.  Moments when Brady looks up into my eyes while I’m feeding him, and he smiles.  When I snuggle him close to feed him, and he falls asleep.   When he’s scared or in pain and it takes nothing more than that nourishing closeness to help calm him.
When I realize that I – like every other mother out there, breastfeeding or not – am doing whatever I can to raise a healthy, strong child…
Those moments…  Those moments open my eyes for a moment into why so many women are passionate about it.  Why they call it beautiful.  Because it is beautiful really.  An exhausting, painful, overwhelming type of beautiful that is hard… but so unbelievably worth it.  :)

Facebook isn’t for Mommy Advice

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Apparently, there’s no ‘guide to parenting’ book with answers to all the questions a new parent might ask…  Trust me on that one.  I’ve already browsed every bookshelf of every bookstore.  It doesn’t exist.  The funny thing is that right up until the moment I became a parent, I thought it did.  I guess I just figured that there was one right way to do things and one wrong way.  But you know how there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s?  There’s just about as many acceptable, parenting options for mommies and daddies to choose from, whether they’re deciding on diapers or even on how to put their child to sleep at night.
Grrreat…..

One thing I do know for sure, however, is that the worst possible thing that a new mom can do is ask a question via Facebook.  Not that I learned that the hard way or anything…  But again, just trust me on this one.  All the advise you’ll receive will be different, because no one can agree on anything, except for the fact that you’re doing it wrong.  Because you’re a new mom…  So obviously you’re clueless…  I mean, you’re on Facebook asking a question that pertains to the well-being of your child, for goodness sake!   Not exactly a move that will earn you a ‘Mommy of the Year’ award.

It took me a little while to figure out; but I now realize that just as every baby is different, every parent has a different way of doing things.  So, yes, there are multiple right answers.  What works for one family might not work for the next.  You just kind of have to figure it out as you go sometimes….  Listen to the advice of trusted moms that you’re close to, and then follow your heart (because, at the end of the day, no one knows your baby like you do).

I always thought that I’d be clueless, because I never was around babies all that often.  But there are days that I just know what to do and how to solve the problem, and I’m left feeling like a supermom.

For the moments during which I haven’t a clue?  Well, we survive somehow and live to face another day!

And as for Facebook, leave that for the impossibly adorable photo’s you take (and then upload) throughout the week.  :)

Bits O’ This and That

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1.  I’ve been practicing my photography skills a bit lately…  It’s fun to take out my camera when Brady is napping and to focus on a hobby that makes me happy.  :)  There’s still SO much to learn!

2.  After asking you all to vote, I completely forgot to show you the dress I wore to my sister-in-law’s bridal shower!  Dress # 5 won!  I meant to buy a pair of black heels to wear with it (to help it match the tea-theme more appropriately), but I never made it to the mall.  So this was the final outfit.  :)

3.  I am horrible at decorating cakes…  Put a cake in front of me, and I panic.  I lose any and all recollection of my decorating skills, my hands get clammy, and I rush through the process, usually resulting in a sweet mess.  (You should have seen the mess I made at my last decorating class, which required us to bring a cake as apposed to cupcakes).  Place a cupcake in front of me, however, and I will take my precious time to make sure it looks absolutely perfect.  Or at least as perfect as my decorating skills will allow…  I have no idea as to why this is the case, other than the fact that I really do adore cupcakes.  I’m already coming up with more ideas and planning to decorate some soon, whether or not there’s necessarily a need for them.

4.  I love his chunky face SO much!

5.  I REALLY need to start blogging more…  I miss it!  And I REALLY need to post the question and answer vlog already!  Ha, ha.

6. I just can’t believe that Brady is going to be 4 months in just over a week.  Where does time go?  :)

Crib Time

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My adorable chunky monkey has been going through a needy stage in which he constantly wants to be with mama and held by mama.  And since he isn’t yet on a sleep schedule (and sometimes he decides that sleep is over-rated anyway), I don’t have much time to blog, reply to blog comments, or comment on blogs these days.  But rest assured, I am around.  And I will be back.  :)  It’s just that right now, I have very little free time.

But that’s just for now…

Soon enough, he’ll have a bed-time and a nap-time… and some days, maybe he’ll somewhat sleep according to those times.  ;)  And, maybe the biggest change of all, he’ll soon be sleeping in his very own room instead of sharing one with his mommy and daddy.  Even if I get only an hour or two of free time from that change, it will be huge!

I look forward to that change, and I dread that change.  I’ll miss him.  Yet I’ll love having a bit of space.

But either way, I’m not in any rush…  I do want to help ease him into the transition, however.  So today, when he started to sleepily rub his eyes, I gently placed him in his crib to see if he would nap there.  He giggled for a good while and ‘talked’ to the jungle animals hanging from his mobile.  But then – gasp – he fell asleep!  And he has been sleeping for almost 30 minutes now!

I’d call that a good step in the right direction!  Now excuse me as I tackle one of the five piles of laundry in my house…  Maybe I’ll get some folded before he wakes up!  :)

'Trying to let Brady take his first nap in his crib...  (He still sleeps in our room at night and usually naps in his swing, but we'll soon enough begin sleep training).  Right now, he's giggling and introducing himself to the jungle animals on his mobile.  :)'

Cupcake Dreams

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I had planned to do my Q&A vlog this afternoon, in addition to writing a heart-felt blog post that has been on my heart lately.

But yesterday morning, I woke up to this.

I spent the early afternoon playing with this…

and swirling sweet buttercream frosting into this.

I turned 50 cupcakes into this for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower…

then came home after a baby-free afternoon to this.

And right now, I am soooo happy but soooo tired!  :)  And after such a busy weekend, I am looking forward to spending a quiet afternoon at home with him.

So I’ll blog a real post soon!  Right now, I’m just living it…  :)

 

Nicole’s Cupcake Corner

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I’ve loved cupcakes pretty much forever, as in even before they were a fad.  Ask me if I want a piece of cake, and I’ll probably say, “Yeah, sure, that sounds good.”  Ask me if I want a cupcake, and I’ll reply, “Oh my goodness, YES!  And can I have one to take home too??”

Cupcakes just taste better than cake, am I right?  I mean, I get that they’re technically the same thing, should you compare notes on paper.  But in real life (or at least in my life), they’re not technically the same thing at all.  Cupcakes are just — I don’t know — so much more delightfully delicious.  And they’re pretty.  And they’re single servings, so I can eat two in order to try different flavors…

Eat two pieces of cake, and you’re overindulging.  Eat two cupcakes, and you’re broadening your horizons in the world of culinary art.

Yeah, I like the way I think too!  :)

Over the past year or so, I’ve dabbled in learning how to not only bake cupcakes from scratch but also how to decorate them.  (You might remember that my cupcake passion really took off over the summer, when my bestie Liz asked me to make cupcakes for her gender reveal party.  I’ve honestly never recovered…  Cupcake fever is still running through my veins)!

I have the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe and am now searching for the best vanilla cake recipe I can find…  As for decorating, YouTube videos are incredibly helpful, as was the incredibly large cupcake decorating kit that my hubby bought me last year.  But I felt as though I hit a bit of a wall when it came to learning how to use all the tools in my kit, so I was ecstatic when my best friend Wendy suggested we take a cake decorating class together.

Plus the class price was half off!

Plus the hubby agreed to watch the baby!

Plus I really didn’t need any reason other than the word – ‘cupcake’!!

So last night, Wendy and I attended our first-ever cake decorating class together.  :)  (It was a little hilarious to be taking classes together again, and apparently we have not changed since our college days.  We’re both still perfectionists and annoyingly organized.  ;)  I’m not sure that the teacher ever had students take notes during a decorating class before… but, then again, she had never taught me or Wendy before either).

The class was SO much fun, you guys!  I felt so energized and refreshed to have that creative outlet.  And while I was eager to get home to see my little guy, it was also a much-needed time away, where I could chat with ladies and spend time doing something that I love.

This first class was pretty easy, as I’d already learned most of the techniques on my own.  But I think next week is going to be a frosting-filled challenge.  Ooh, I can’t wait!!!

(What happens in cake decorating class, stays in cake decorating class!)*

And the best thing is that we had to buy a huge tub of frosting (while I usually make mine from scratch), so I can fill up my piping bags over the week with the leftover frosting and practice on waxed paper.  So it’s a hobby that I can easily work on and perfect, that way I’ll be ready to decorate real cupcakes when the time comes.

Or when the sweet tooth demands it!  ;)

*Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat the cupcakes or frosting, because of my dietary restrictions.  Nate said they’re good, but that he likes my homemade frosting better.  Yeah, he’s a good man!  Ha, ha!

 

Brady’s First Outing

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This winter has felt loooong… Brady was born smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season (a brutal season this year in New England, at that), so Nate and I made the decision to keep him away from large crowds, especially since he was already facing so many painful tummy troubles. And with the weather being so blustery and cold, it’s not like I could walk him around our quiet, neighborhood streets in order to get some fresh air.  (Not unless I purchased a fur-lined dog-sled anyway…).

Actually, it wasn’t so difficult in the beginning, since I was recovering from a C-section and just getting used to life with baby (and an irritable baby at that). But now that it’s been three months and Brady is – for the most part – one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met, I’m finding that I feel a little antsy.  Okay, fine, a whole lot antsy!

HELLO, Cabin Fever!

Over these past few weeks, it’s been particularly hard…

In my neck of the woods, there really aren’t any stores that I can run to quickly in order to take advantage of a napping baby left home with his doting daddy. Sooooo, desperate times call for desperate measures! You can be sure that I take full advantage of grocery shopping days, as I peruse every single aisle, whether or not I need any food from that particular section. Hey, I’m outside my house and walking amidst adults, so – yeah – I’m pretty happy.

But then Brady turned three months, and the calendar was flipped to ‘March’. And I did this should-have-been-ridiculously-embarrassing-dance, except it wasn’t embarrassing because only Nate and Brady saw me do it. And, well, they know me by now. ;)

I’d known all along that I’d feel comfortable taking Brady out in public at three months, especially since we’d be in the tail end of the flu season.

So Nate, my sister Sarah, baby Brady, and I decided to take advantage of a particularly sunny afternoon by taking a 25-minute drive to the most fun, magical place on earth.

Target! :)

The last time I was at Target, my sister and I were there to look at Christmas decorations together! Yeah, I haven’t been since November. NOVEMBER!

Honestly, it felt a little strange to be pushing a baby carriage through the store. I’ve been home so much with him that it was surreal to have my mommy-life cross over into a familiar territory that was such a big part of life before baby. It was a good strange though! A kind of new, unfamiliar strange that left me smiling with glee… and also feeling a little bit panicky.

I’m sure I’m not the only new mom who has brought their baby out in public for the first time and spent the first 15 minutes thinking, “Please don’t vomit… Please don’t have an explosive poop… Please don’t scream… Please don’t breathe in any germs.”

But I started to calm down as time went on and just enjoyed the experience. :)

Brady did absolutely great for his first time out. He woke up about ten minutes in and stuck out his lower lip in the most adorable pout, obviously a little disoriented by all of the unfamiliar noises and sights. But we showered him with plenty of smiles until he was assured that all was well.

I think that maybe he was a little bit shocked to see that not everyone wears stripes though…

“Seriously, Mama, you’ve been dressing me in stripes this whole time, when there’s an entire world of patterns and solid colors out there? What?!?”

The trip, in total, didn’t last long, as we weren’t sure how long he would last. So Sarah grabbed her makeup, Nate stacked the tallest tower of cat food ever (#shouldhavegrabbedashopping cart), and I grabbed two Jillian Michael’s workout DVD’s that I hope to incorporate into my weekly routine. (Brady’s face in this picture says, “Ha!  Mama, you think you’re going to have time to workout?  You’re silly!”)

I’d say we ‘shopped’ for about 20 minutes before Brady decided that he had spent enough time in his carriage. So we quickly paid, and we made it back to the Jeep before he decided to have a baby fit.

At which point, we strapped him into his carseat, drove away, and let him sleep peacefully on the way home. (Gosh, I love how quickly babies fall alseep in the car)! :)

Quick trip or not, it was JUST what I needed! And as the days get warmer and Brady gets a little bigger, going out on small adventures will just happen all the more often. Eeee, I just can’t wait!  Life really is SO much fun now!!

Makin’ Time for Me

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My Time

I realize that now I’ve entered the world of poopy diapers, endless laundry loads, constant cuddles, and messy spit-ups, it’s important to make time for me. I need to make sure that I’m being refreshed every so often, especially since the role of mommy is 24/7.  Just this morning, Brady decided to make it a triple-whammy kind of day, presenting me with explosive poop, excessive spit-up, and a nice warm squirt of pee… all within the time frame of roughly 30 minutes.  I realized, as I was scrambling to cover the pee fountain, that I was really tired.  It’s as though 3 months of no sleep decided to suddenly catch up with me, and I went from tired to oh-my-goodness-give-me-the-largest-coffee-ever-before-I-die-of-exhaustion.

IMG_0817

So Me-Time…  I think I need to squeeze some of that back into my life.  AND, for the record, listening to Taylor Swift while folding laundry doesn’t count!  ;)

That being said, I’m not yet sure what ‘me-time’ is even going to look like. These days, finding the time to do a quick makeup job in the morning is about as close as I get; and considering how rushed it is, I’d hardly call it refreshing. ;)

Anyway, I started to put some thought into what I might consider ‘me time’ for a new mama…  It was tough at first, because I couldn’t think past ‘take a bath’ or ‘nap’.  ;)  But I soon realized that I just really, REALLY want to make time for some creative outlets that make me feel like myself.  Quite frankly, taking care of Brady makes me the happiest mommy in the world. It really does… He makes my heart melt every single day. But still, we all need those moments during which we do something for ourselves. Those moments that fill us back up and that challenge us creatively. Or those moments that leave us feeling rested and pampered.

My sister came over to visit a few days ago and presented me with a photography challenge: to come up with a theme-of-the-week for the rest of the year and to try to capture images that fell into that theme. Seeing as how photography is a passion of mine (although I still have so much learning to do in regards to it), I instantly jumped on board.

This is perfect! Photography is something that I can do while Brady is little and to meet a weekly theme is most definitely doable. It will challenge me without being too much. And it’s a way for me to keep my creative juices flowing without taking too much away from my mommy time.

I’m still working on some more potential ways that I can slip me-time into my busy schedule… (Some other ideas of mine consist of exercising, running occasional 5k’s with friends, writing, reading, and volunteering). Ooh, and my friend Wendy and I both signed up for a cake decorating class that starts next week!!!

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But back to photography…  I’m excited about sharing the photo’s with all of you! :) Each week, I’ll post the picture(s) I took, and I’ll post the following week’s theme. That way, any of you photography lovers can join along! (If you do decide to take pictures that follow along with the theme, send me the link to your blog post so that I can check out your works of art)!

Ready…set… SMILE! :)

Whether or not you’re a mom, how do you add me-time into your busy life?

The Theme for the week of March 1st is ‘HOMEMADE’. Who wants to take part in next week’s photo challenge?