Q and A!

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I probably should have divided this into several posts, as this is a bit of a long one.  But I decided to post it at all once this time.  🙂  So you can read it in pieces or just read the sections that interest you.  Thank you for the great questions, Everyone!!!  You all rock!


 

What do you miss most now that you’re on a special diet as a breastfeeding mom? –   Yes, I had to give up dairy, eggs, soy, and nuts while breastfeeding; because Kaitlyn is intolerant to them.  (I’ve been off those foods for a month now, and she is doing SO much better).

Hmmm, what do I miss most?  Honestly, cheese.  Ha, ha.  The first thing I’m ordering after I’m done breastfeeding is a large cheese pizza with a side of cheese sticks!!

Is adding a second baby just as tough on a marriage as adding the first child was? – Yes and no…  Like I’ve said before, I’m super proud of how well Nate and I worked together when Brady arrived.  Yes, we had a few months where the most romantic thing we did every day was a peck on the lips before bed.  (We were exhausted beyond belief and so busy taking care of our new baby boy).  But we really did try to focus on our marriage, and we came through stronger and more in love!

So this time around, we’ve been more aware of how things will be for awhile.  That has made the busy time even more bearable.  (We’re very much aware of the fact that this is only for a season).  ALSO, it has encouraged us to do even better than last time; so we try to make sure we communicate… and make time for intimacy, even if we’re tired.  Taking the time to snuggle or hug before bed is huge.

So I’d say this time has been even smoother than last time, even if we have our days same as anyone would.  🙂

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(I just found this gem of a picture from Brady’s first campfire.  This is definitely how we feel as parents some days.  Ha, ha)!!

You’re supermom for giving up so many foods while breastfeeding.  How do you do it?  Awwww, thank you, Missy!  Honestly, I don’t think I’m supermom at all.  I think we all do what we need to do if we feel it’s best for our kids.  I’m a huge proponent of supporting and encouraging moms, because we are all super!!

Is it really harder to lose the baby weight the second time around? – Actually, I’ve already reached my pre-pregnancy weight!  (That’s only my first goal, since I had put on about 20 extra pounds before having Kaitlyn.  So now I’m trying to reach my weight from before having Brady).  But I really do feel great!  To keep up my breastmilk, I have to consume a lot of calories each day and make sure that the weight loss is slow, and – so far – it’s going perfectly.   But every week, I feel stronger and healthier!

That being said, my body didn’t bounce back as quickly this time around.  I still can’t fit into my jeans (other than maternity); because I’m carrying weight in my hips, butt, and belly.  Last time around, I was wearing my favorite jeans by this point.  But mentally, I’m still very positive and confident.  And physically, I’m feeling stronger and healthier every week!

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How is Brady adjusting to life with a sibling?  – This has a two part answer, to be honest.  The adjustment has definitely come with its challenges…  The first couple of weeks went quite smoothly, but the last few weeks have been tougher.  Because he’s unable to express his feelings verbally, he has acted out in anger quite a bit.  It’s very apparent that it hurts his feelings that mommy can’t cuddle or play with him the way she used to, and he’s just too little to understand it completely.  We also are stuck home a lot more now.  So he screams at me a lot or punches things (including himself).  If I respond with a calm smile and try to keep things light, he just gets angrier.  In his little head, he thinks that a negative response from me – or even getting into trouble – is better than not getting attention at all.

I’ve had to do a lot of research to learn how to calmly deal with his episodes, because I don’t want to ignore it.  But at the same time, normal time-outs don’t always work.  He’s really crying out for attention and security, so acting appropriately has been vital.

The biggest thing I’ve done to help lessen these outbursts has been to spend quality time with him whenever Kaitlyn is napping or lying peacefully.  (The dishes or cleaning can wait.  If I have the chance, we’ll snuggle, dance, sing, or read).  Also, if Nate is home, I’ll let him watch Kaitlyn; so that Brady and I can go for a walk, play in the yard, read books, or do a craft.  I’ve really tried to make sure we spend the time together that he needs, and I’ve honestly seen an improvement in his overall attitude!

That being said, despite his occasional anger and insecurities, Brady loves his baby sister!  I have never before seen my mischievous, loud, and energetic boy so gentle.  (Honestly, I’m shocked by it).  He touches her belly lightly with his fingertips and smiles at her with such love and devotion.  It is absolutely the SWEETEST thing.  She’s the first thing he wants to see when he wakes up in the morning; and if he can’t immediately see her, he has to seek her out.

“Where’s baby Kaitwin?” he’ll ask.  “She’s qwute.”  (a.k.a. cute)

So while the adjustment hasn’t been easy, it has been worth it.  The love he has for her has already shown that they will be close and that their friendship will be strong.  And soon enough, having a baby sister will be a new normal for him!

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What does a normal day at your house look like right now? –   This was my most requested question!  🙂  Stay tuned for my day-in-the-life post!  🙂

How has your breastfeeding journey been compared to your last one?  – So Kaitlyn latched perfectly for the first two weeks, and then she struggled with it a bit.  (I’m wondering if she might have a lip tie like Brady did, so I need to get that checked).  And obviously, Kaitlyn has the same intolerances that Brady did, so I’m on the same restricted diet.

Honestly though, the toughest thing for me has been Brady… even though I’m breastfeeding Kaitlyn.  Like I mentioned above, he’s struggling a bit with the fact that I don’t have as much time for him anymore.  So when Kaitlyn cluster-feeds and wants to eat every hour and a half, he really struggles with that.  (Also he gets into absolutely everything when I’m trying to give Kaitlyn her milk.  So it doesn’t make for a calm, intimate experience with my baby when I’m worried about what he might be playing with).

As a result, I’ve been pumping and feeding her bottles, and my plan is to eventually cut out some of the breastmilk bottles and supplement with formula (if we can find one that doesn’t bother her).  That way, I’m not pumping as much and only breastfeeding at night.  Hopefully that will still be a healthy option for Kaitlyn but a less stressful one for Brady.

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In your opinion, is it more of a life change to go from no kids to 1 or from 1 kid to 2? – I received several questions similar to this too!    The quick response is that – for me – it has been tougher going from 1 to 2.  That being said, I don’t want to undermine just how big of an adjustment it is to add 1.  🙂

When Brady arrived, Nate and I were terrified of the most basic of things, including changing diapers.  Every single thing was new and a tad bit overwhelming.  And honestly, I was terrified of leaving the house and experiencing all the firsts; because I had never done them with an adorable, squishy baby before.  That being said, I did absolutely love the newborn stage.  A friend had reminded me to enjoy every stage, and I truly did.

Yes, it was an adjustment!  Yes, I was exhausted beyond belief; and I sometimes mourned my sleep, freedom, and sense of self.  But I also absolutely adored my little boy SO much that I could hardly put it into words, and I’d literally cry when I looked into his beautiful face.  (Remember this post?  I wrote it in the midst of my exhaustion back when Brady was a newborn…).

So yes, adding one was a lot, because it was an adjustment becoming a mom for the first time.

This time around, I’m not sweating the same things I did before.  Honestly, after chasing after a toddler all the time, a sleepy newborn feels quite easy.  Ha, ha.  That being said, going from 1 to 2 has been tougher in that there is absolutely no down time… at all.  (I so very rarely even get to use the bathroom alone).

When one is sleeping, the other needs me.  And usually, they both need me at the same time.  😉  And I’ve missed having the time to snuggle with my newborn whenever I’d like, because – this time – I’m taking care of a two year old.  When I just had Brady, I could enjoy the excuse to slow down and stay home more, but – these days – staying home can be torturous.  Brady hates it and gets so bored (which means tantrums and a destroyed home).  But at the same time, I’m not ready to bring a toddler and a newborn out much.

And on the rare occasion that they both are napping at the same time, I have so much laundry, meal prep, or tidying to do, I can’t imagine sitting down for a moment of rest.  (Also, I had to deal with postpartum blues this time around, which I didn’t last time.  That, of course, didn’t help anything).

So I guess this time is just busier and crazier.  As always, worth it!!  But definitely harder.  I do know that life will continue to get easier though, so I’m trying to embrace this time… and to keep my chin up!!  🙂

What’s the best part about being the mom to two? –  Seeing them interact!  Just this morning, Brady was leaning in closely, letting Kaitlyn look into his eyes.  And she sent him a sweet little giggle, and my heart just melted!

I know I’ve been really stressed lately, you guys, and sharing honest feelings with some struggles that I’ve faced.  But things really are starting to get easier, as we get a bit of a schedule going.  And I am just in love with my two little ones.  God is continuously giving me strength, patience, and wisdom in how to best love both of them; and I know that I will just continue to learn.  🙂

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Supermom Strong

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Seeing the positive and sunny side of things has never been difficult for me… until now.  Oh those blasted postpartum hormones…  Kick me when I’m down, why don’t you?

The crying…  Waking up and feeling completely overwhelmed…  The guilt…

It’s all too often commonplace for new moms recovering from a pregnancy, and it hits at the worst possible time.  You’re not feeling 100% yet.  You’re recovering physically.  You’re taking care of a brand new life (and getting very little sleep because of it).  And now there’s a cloud of depression hanging over your head, trying to block out the sunlight.

I’ve had to give myself a lot of pep talks lately.  Like yesterday for example…  I woke up and was filled with a sense of dread.  I immediately thought, “I don’t know if I can have victory over today.”  I already felt like I was drowning and failing.

Overcoming feelings like that is foreign to me.  I don’t think that way.  I’m very rarely negative, depressed, or defeated.  But then again, this is only the second time that I’ve lived the postpartum life.  And honestly, the first couple of months after baby arrives can throw even the most positive of moms for a loop.

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Trust me, I’m proof of that.

Yesterday, after waking up and feeling such anxiety, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that we had nowhere to be…  No one coming over.  I literally just had to make sure my kids were loved, fed, and clothed.  The house might be chaos, the meals might be from the freezer section, and there was a very good chance that I wouldn’t be showered.  BUT my family would be okay.

Somehow realizing that made me feel a little better.  But really, it’s hard to be rational when those hormones are throwing darts of doubt into your mind.

In addition to those pep talks to myself, I’ve had to apologize to Nate a lot as of late.  I’m not as patient.  I snap sometimes.  I cry a lot, because I feel overwhelmed.  I just don’t feel like myself, because – some days – I’ve poured so much into my babies that I don’t feel as though there’s anything left to give.  There’s never time to recharge, so I’m running on empty.

And I’m fairly certain that Nate was starting to think that his wife had been replaced with an emotional, irrational alien from another planet.  So having an open conversation about my feelings (and how sorry I was for acting the way I had) was nothing short of a relief for him.

Granted, a lot of this heaviness stems from just how difficult this past week was.  Kaitlyn had to be rushed to the ER last Sunday, because she was struggling to breathe.  Long story short, after a terrifying night, it turns out that she has bad acid reflux like her brother did.  We’re still not entirely sure what’s causing it or what the best game plan is to help ease her suffering, so we’re trying a few things.

It’s hearing her scream from pain and discomfort that kills me.  I would do anything to help her feel better, but I don’t know what needs to be done.  So I usually end up biting my lip to keep from bursting into tears… again.  And I cradle her and walk around the house, gently singing to her and hoping that she’ll find relief soon.

And then Brady pretends to cry or get hurt, because he is aching for attention too.  He just wants his mommy, but mommy is tending to a baby girl who just vomited again.  Or who is screaming at the top of her lungs.  And realizing that I can’t hold him in that moment breaks my heart even more.

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It’s been a rough week.  A really rough week.  And those postpartum emotions are just making it harder for me to be strong, and confident, and level headed.

So want to know how I’ve fought through all of this?

I’ve admitted that I’m human.

I’ve admitted to people I’m close to (and, okay, now to all of you in the hopes that I might help someone else) that I’m struggling.  I’ve had open and honest conversations with my husband about how I’m feeling, rather than hoping he might be able to guess what’s going on in my overworked brain.  I’ve taken deep breaths and realized that I need to cut myself some slack.  I had a baby only three and a half weeks ago, and I’m still healing.  We’re in survival mode, so it’s okay if Brady watches more TV these days.  (It’s a great time to cuddle).  It’s okay that our meals aren’t gourmet.  It’s okay that my house is trashed most days.  And it’s certainly okay that I’m not always feeling presentable (because always being showered as a new mom is overrated).

It’s even okay sometimes if I snap a bit and have to go back and apologize.  I hate that I do it.  I especially hate when I’m not as patient with Brady, because he’s so little and doesn’t understand.

But it’s okay.  It’s all going to be okay.

Little by little, things will get easier.  Life will find a comfortable routine.  I’ll feel better physically and mentally.  We will feel normal again.

So deep breaths.  Deep breaths and prayer are my best friends right now.  Deep breaths, prayer, and staring into the precious faces of my toddler and baby girl.   They remind me that this is all worth it and that each day can be beautiful amidst the chaos.  (That and dairy-free, coconut icecream.  The coconut icecream helps too).

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One day at a time.  That’s all a new mom can focus on and conquer!  But even amidst the hard moments like this, it doesn’t mean failure.  Quite the opposite.  When you’re going through a rough patch and still doing your best (even if your best is less than usual and sprinkled with mistakes), you’re still supermom.

Moms aren’t perfect after all. They’re just loving enough to keep fighting, even when anyone else (probably anyone in their right mind) would lift the white flag of surrender.  We are incredible warriors even when the battle seems to be too much!  Because even with so much pulling us down, we not only rise up; but we also rise up carrying our families on our shoulders.

Our love is that strong.  And a love that strong can carry a woman through anything.  It just takes time.

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Have you ever struggled with postpartum depression or blues?  If so, what did you do to help get out of it?  

The Third Trimester Life

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Have you seen those memes that say something to the affect of “When you’re pregnant, shaving your legs is an Olympic Sport”?  I always thought that meme was funny.  Maybe even clever.

But now that I’m three and a half weeks from my due date, I’m not finding it so humorous.  😉  Forget shaving…  I can barely handle putting on my pants.  Between  Kaitlyn practicing future ballet moves and digging her chubby toes into my ribcage, the sciatica that’s sending intense pain down my lower back and legs, the exhaustion and breathlessness of anemia, and the ginormous belly?  I can’t bend or get comfortable or walk.  I’m at the point that I have to sit down to just put on my makeup, because I don’t have the energy to stand.  I have to sit down to prepare dinner.  I have to sit down to put on my shoes.

I even have to sit down to eat chocolate if I want to enjoy it!

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I do have this really awesome, penguin waddle going on though.  It’s totally sexy.  I feel like a confident, watermelon-toting Victoria’s Secret model marching down the runway.  Nate seriously can’t take his eyes off me…  (Although I have my suspicions that he’s sympathetically grimacing in pain while he watches me hobble by.  My belly looks as heavy as it feels these days.  I’ve officially passed the cute stage…  left behind the watermelon smuggler phase…  and now I’m entering blimp territory).   

I don’t even know how it’s possible that the 9 months aren’t up yet.  This third trimester really has been never-ending.

50 Funny Pregnancy Memes That Will Make You Pee Without Even Sneezing:

However, during this time, I’ve also mastered the art of kicking things into the air and catching them, which is quite impressive.  Bending down to pick things up is SO two months ago.  Even Brady is in awe of my mad reflexes.  I’m thinking of submitting a tape of myself and applying for America Ninja Warrior.  (I’ll bet being a mom has prepared me for most of the obstacles.  As for the warped wall, all they need to do is put a cup of iced coffee at the top, and – let me tell you – I’d make it up there in record speed.  Not even sure if my sneakers would need to touch the ground to get me up there…).

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In all seriousness though, this pregnancy has been completely different than my pregnancy with Brady.  I was so energized and active during that third trimester.   Of course, in between the energized activity, I did have time to nap and rest.  That doesn’t happen these days…  This time around, things have been much harder, because I’m constantly chasing after an ever-energetic little tyke.  (I feel like I’m even chasing him during the moments that I’m sitting down to pee.  I don’t know how that’s humanly possible, but – trust me – I do it.  Bathroom breaks are seriously no longer breaks…  It’s like trying to relieve yourself while being locked in a restroom with a wild monkey).  

Thanks to the added exhaustion and physical exertion, my body doesn’t seem to want to cooperate, resulting in more uncomfortable and painful pregnancy symptoms than last time.  And most times, my strong-willed toddler cooperates just as well.  😉   His favorite words right now are “in five minutes, Mama” or “no thanks.”

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The more I reply with “No, Mama, needs you to listen now,” the more he seems to retreat into his little toddler world of Mickey Mouse, icecream, bubbles, and puppies.  Seriously, men get a bad rap for selective hearing, but toddlers have turned that into an art.  They really do live in their own little world!  I say “green beans,” and he hears “icecream”.  I say “time to change your bum,” and he hears “time to dump out all the blocks and play.”  I say “time to put your coat on,” and he hears “let’s dance”.

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It’s a good thing that he’s cute, lovable, absolutely hilarious, and my entire world.  Because he’d be in trouble otherwise.  But, you know, despite the insanity, I just can’t imagine my long, exhausting days without him!  And he really is SUCH a good little boy.  He’s just, well, a toddler.  We’ve all had to go through that stage and drive our mothers a little crazy.  It’s like a requirement for growing up…

But yes, three and a half weeks.  That’s it.  That’s all that’s standing between me and meeting my precious baby girl.  And then, this will ALL be worth it… right down to the hairy legs, swollen feet, and out-of-control hormones.

For now, I’m going to do my best to see the humor.  To focus on our beautiful prize.  To be the best preggo mom that I can possibly be.  And to practice that sexy penguin waddle.  After putting in all this effort to learn it, I don’t want to forget how to do it just because I’m not pregnant anymore!  😉

50 Funny Pregnancy Memes That Will Make You Pee Without Even Sneezing:

Pregnancy is SUCH a blessing…  but it’s also a tough – often uncomfortable – journey.  Do you have a funny pregnancy story to share?

 

 

When Being Mommy Hurts

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There’s no easy way to explain the fierce love that a woman experiences when she becomes a mom.  I was trying to explain it to Nate the other day, and he kind of just looked at me with a slightly confused (or maybe concerned) look on his face.  It just doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to explain it.  But to a mom, it’s reality.  And quite frankly, to every mom reading this, I needn’t go on.  They know what I’m talking about already.

They just get it.

I guess if I were absolutely required to express these emotions and feelings with the help of words, I would say this:  when I became a mom, it was as though a small, treasured piece of me left my body.  And that piece of my heart began to beat on its own, protected only by a beautiful, tiny person that it now lived in.

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This happened the moment I set eyes on my baby boy.  Suddenly, my own self came second.  My whole world (my whole need to protect, and nurture, and care) began to revolve around someone else.  But it didn’t feel like self-sacrifice.

Because that little someone else was a piece of me.

When Brady was in my womb, I constantly prayed over him, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, and dreamed about the day that he was born.  Then, and only then, would I stop worrying; because then I would physically be able to hold my perfect baby boy in my arms.  Then I could physically protect him with my super-human, mommy strength  and always know that he was okay.  Because I would make sure that he was okay.

But once he was born, I quickly realized that my womb had been a safer place than this world we call home could ever be.  At least then I could carry him in perfect warmth and protection.  At least there, no hurtful words or angry bullies or harmful environments could touch him.  He was safe inside his mommy, soothed to sleep by the sound of my voice and rocking of my movements.

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But suddenly, he was living in this often hurtful, cruel world.  Suddenly, that small piece of me was detached and wasn’t always with me.  Suddenly, I was forced to sometimes leave that piece of my heart with someone else and to trust that he was being cared for the way that I would care for him.

It’s terrifying.  Absolutely terrifying.

My little guy is only two, but there have already been moments that have made me want to whisk him away to a safe place where nothing hurtful can ever touch him.  Kids have already been mean…  He has already faced challenges that made me want to swoop in and solve a problem that he needs to solve himself.  He has learned that sometimes life hurts.

But he is still so sweet and innocent.  Still such a baby.

As he grows, I will have to learn to slowly let go.  To trust that I raised him to be confident, even when the bullies taunt.  To know that God will continue to guide him, even when he isn’t snuggled in my arms for a Bible story.  I will have to be strong enough to let him take flight on his own, knowing that I taught him right from wrong.

As a mom, I look back on my own life with a new sense of respect for everything my parents faced, from letting me cry when my first job overwhelmed me to letting me travel thousands of miles away from home for college.  They knew that fire makes gold burn only brighter.  They knew that those hard moments were only molding me into a stronger, bolder, more confident woman.  They knew that quitting wasn’t an option, and so they guided me and stood with me.  But they didn’t hide me.

They held my hand and let me step out, so that I could learn to shine.

I’ve already come to realize that being mommy is going to hurt sometimes.  Because that little someone who holds a piece of me will hurt sometimes.  And every fiber of my being will scream out to protect and shelter.  But sometimes I’ll have to let go of my baby’s hand, even if it may result in cuts and bruises.  Sometimes I’ll have to trust him to someone else’s care, so that he can learn independence.  I’ll have to watch him attempt challenges that test his endurance, patience, and will.  And sometimes, I’ll have to watch him take a leap, even if he may fall.

Because he may also be ready to fly.

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He’s only two, but I already know just how hard it will be for me to ever see my little guy struggle or hurt.  But at the same time, I also know that the hard moments only strengthen us and prepare us to be strong.  To be confident.  To be leaders.

Sometimes, it’s the tough moments that propel us to greatness and to a more meaningful life than we could have imagined.

One thing I know for sure is this…  As fiercely as I love my baby boy, there is One who loves him even more.  And so I can only raise him the best I can and then trust him into the arms of the Savior who can – and will – always be with him.

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God Wins!

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It’s been four years since Nate’s assault, which really just blows my mind.  It feels like a lifetime ago… but somehow it also feels like just yesterday too.  You don’t ever completely put something like that behind you, because it changes you to your very core.  It molds you, shapes you, puts you through fire until you’re burnt… or purified like gold.

But I’m constantly reminded that God can turn ashes into beauty; because the pain, and the fear, and the feeling of ultimate helplessness taught me to trust the only One who controls tomorrow.  I used to struggle with levels of anxiety that just weren’t healthy.  I thought through every worst-case scenario and worried about it until I felt sick.

The journey to find emotional healing after Nate’s assault really taught me to tackle one problem at a time… and to trust the unknown in the hands of a miraculous God.  I remember sitting by Nate’s bedside in the ICU, holding his hand and realizing that we might not have the money to pay for that month’s mortgage.  And for the first time in my life, I completely surrendered a problem into God’s capable hands.  I physically didn’t have the energy or strength to worry about money, because Nate needed my complete attention.  I had to trust that God would take care of what I couldn’t…  So I prayed, asked God to intervene, and left my fears at His feet.

I felt peace after that prayer, and I really did refuse to think about finances for one more moment.

And that very day, someone paid that month’s mortgage… and others donated money to help us with groceries, car payments, gas, etc.  We had so much extra money left over that we were able to pay the mechanic in cash, when our cars both had extremely expensive repairs later that year!  God not only provided for the concerns at hand, but He also provided for a problem that we didn’t even know about yet.

My God is big.  He’s bigger than any situation that this universe can throw at me.  And it’s easy to forget that, because there’s a lot of hurt and pain in this world.  Sometimes, we feel alone.  Sometimes we wonder, where is He?

The thing is that this world isn’t perfect… but God is.  And while heaven will be beautiful and nothing but peace and happiness, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work here.  It doesn’t mean that He can’t work in every single situation if we let him.  Even amidst the toughest of situations, He is good.

He is peace.  He is strength.  He is the guidance we need to rise above the circumstance with grace and joy.

Even during those tragic circumstances, He wins.  He brings people together.  He teaches us to trust.  He gives us hope amidst the darkness.  He shows us how to love, to forgive, and to face tomorrow with a solid foundation beneath our feet.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as Nate and I are about to put the legal side of this experience behind us for good.  We’re smack-dab in the middle of paying lawyer fees and signing retirement papers, but Nate is going to officially be retired from the CO position… which means we can finally move on.  It comes with restrictions, because he will only be cleared to work part-time.  And there will be a pay cap for the rest of his life, which isn’t ideal (since he’s only 32, and inflation could potentially hurt us one day).

BUT we’re trusting. And we’re praying about decisions.  And we’re calmly formulating a plan.  (Paying off our mortgage as quickly as possible is the biggest part of the plan, so we’ll be coming up with a pretty tight budget in the near future).

I thought about it this morning and realized that none of this had been in me and Nate’s plans, when we got married and began our life together.  It’s unfamiliar territory.  It’s a little daunting, because it’s so unique of a situation.  (You can’t exactly buy a finance book on how to deal with your future, should you find yourself in this sort of predicament).

BUT God wins.  The Bible doesn’t promise that the road we travel will be easy, but it does promise that we will not walk it alone.  And it doesn’t promise that we will be rich, but it promises that we will be provided for.

Nate and I always have been.  We’ve been provided for, protected, and held.  I truly believe that we always will be.

And that puts a smile on my face, because I can face this particular situation with confidence, hope, and joy.  I’m not scared.  I’m just excited to see how God shows off next!

 

 

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…

 

 

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?  

You Know You’re the Mom of a Toddler When:

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1.  Your house exists in three stages – messy, messier, and oh-my-gosh-we-live-in-a-barn.

2.  The messy version of your house starts to feel clean, because it’s only messy.  There are two much worse levels…

3.  You realize that there are benefits to the toys scattered about your living room floor.  It distracts visitors from your crazy hair and the bags under your eyes.  “Oops, I’m sorry there are so many lego’s scattered about.  Why don’t you carefully watch your feet and try not to look at my face too much…”

4.  You’ve got mom guns and can lift a 30 lb toddler while carrying groceries, talking on the phone, and dodging pets.  America Ninja Warrior has nothing on you.

5.  You’re really good at picking up stuffed animals with your feet.  (Anything to avoid doing one more squat while holding your little one… who – for the record –  doesn’t feel all that little anymore).

6.  You wear leopard print, not because it makes you look fierce, but because the pattern hides milk stains, chocolate stains, poop stains, Popsicle stains, and gravy stains.  Leopard print is the ultimate stain hider.  It’s like precious gold in cloth form.

7.  If you close your eyes, you can see spots.

8.  Forget heels, polish, lip gloss, and jewelry.  Your epitome of THE perfect night is now a hot bath, bubbles, flickering candlelight, and a bowl of peanut m&m’s.  Ahhh, feel that stress slip away…

9.  If you don’t have time for the hot bath, bubbles, or flickering candlelight, then the peanut m&m’s will do!

10.  Caffeine is your best friend.  You love it even more than you love leopard print.  Or m&m’s even!

AND…

You have more love in your heart than you know what to do with.  🙂

 

Breathe (Part 1)

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So I hit a really rough patch a few weeks ago, and it left this mama feeling like a failure.  I really did feel like a honest-to-goodness failure.  I hadn’t slept well in four nights, I saw how messy my house was, there was a crying little boy grabbing at my legs, dinner was burning on the stove for the second night in a row, and I realized that I hadn’t finished correcting piano theory for lessons the next day.  I had a worship service to plan out for church, so much laundry piling up that I wasn’t sure what was clean, cats who were tripping up my feet since they hadn’t been fed, and an upcoming piano recital to organize.

I was balancing so much that I was dropping absolutely everything.

In that moment, I wanted to run away from it all.  I want to run somewhere quiet, and safe, and still…just so that I could maybe cry for a minute and let all those emotions escape before the lump in my throat made it impossible to breathe.  Then I wanted to eat cake.  Lots and lots of cake.

Instead, I swallowed it all and put on a brave smile.  Because that’s what moms do, right?  They manage their household with patience and grace.  They always have time, and answers, and encouragement.  They always have enough to give…

But every new struggle, emotional need, and responsibility caught up with me until the cracks in my mom-shield were too great to ignore.  I knew – truly knew – that I was at the end of my rope when I took out my camera one afternoon to snap a pic for my blog…and I couldn’t smile.  I couldn’t lie to the camera and pretend that I was happy and feeling joyful, when all I really wanted to do was cry.  And scream.  And flail my arms to pull myself up out of the water that was drowning me.

After days of this, I finally decided that enough was enough.   And instead of burying how overwhelmed I was, I faced the pain, anxiety, and loneliness head on.

So many of us have been told that – as women – we are strong and unbreakable.  We can do anything.  We are the glue that binds our families, and shame on us if we can’t keep a smile on our face.  Shame on us if we can’t keep everything together.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength” so – for goodness sake – act joyful!

Yes, God made us strong!  He created us with a selfless love that goes beyond this world’s comprehension.  And He does provide joy, even amidst the worst of circumstances.  But let’s not forget that He also created us human.  We were created with emotions and our own set of needs.  We have the ability to fall and get back up again.   But we were also created to cry sometimes.  To rest. To be still.  And to need fulfillment of our own.

We can’t juggle it all.  At least not all the time.  (…to be continued tomorrow!)  🙂

 

A Mom’s World

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Sometimes the toughest part about being a mom is finding value in the little things.  I went from a fast-paced, high-stress job working with very large companies to spending my days tracking down teeny-tiny socks and a giraffe stuffed-animal named Lovey.  This morning was particularly exciting, as I removed – with a surgeon’s precision – stubborn boogies from a little nose.

As moms, we are always on call.  Always ready to leap into action.  Always sleeping with one eye open, smiling despite the fear, tending with care no matter our exhaustion, and feeling so deeply that our hearts ache at times.

But yet it’s still so easy for us to feel as though we aren’t doing enough.  The laundry, the meals cooked, the kisses on chubby fingers caught in drawers, the piling blocks on top of each other for one, two, and then three more times…  It so easily feels small.

So much is happening outside the four walls we manage.  So many big things are at stake.  And yet there we are, sitting on the floor, holding a warm little body close to our chest, and reading out loud about dancing pigs and skating llamas.  It feels good most days, but then there are the moments that leave us questioning our sanity.

It’s the million-dollar question…  Can I survive even one more day of this beautiful monotony?  Like many moms, I have to work a few days a week, but my every other waking moment is encompassed by a little guy who stole my heart.

But then I remember, whether it be in the moment or later that night as I’m sitting in a quiet house before bed…  The little boy sitting on my lap today will be a grown man all too soon.  And he’ll go out into the world having been influenced – for better or for worse – by the parents who raised him.  It is my opportunity now to teach him how to love, to work hard, to give, and to defend what’s right.

Some might say that to find meaning in giving so much to another is self-demeaning.  But I find it to be fulfilling in ways that a career never could hope to be.  There really is no greater privilege than to know that you shot light into the darkness by mentoring a child and teaching them how to be good.

Sometimes the toughest part about being a mom is finding value in the little things.  But then I remember…  The little socks I fold, the grilled cheese I slice, and the rubber ducky I carefully place in the tub will one day be just a memory.  It will be a part of the warm, safe home that my son – now a grown man – will look back on with fondness.  And I don’t want to be missing from that memory, just because I felt as though I needed to be a bigger part of the world around me.

If I’m a positive part of his world, then I will have made a difference.  And that is a very, very big thing to me.  And if I train him right, it will be a very, very big thing to the world around us too.  🙂