Sweater Weather

My family hosted its first ugly sweater contest last Christmas, and I have to say that the festive competition was a hilarious success.  We all got a good laugh out of it…  Someone won a prize.  It was all in good fun!

But now that I’m the mom to a toddler and a six month old, I’m not so eager to dive into the world of ugly sweater competitions.  Because here’s the thing…  I live in ugly sweaters!  I live in sweaters that have been pulled and tugged in ways they’ll never recover from.  In sweaters that have been puked on, pooped on, peed on, and stained with a variety of foods ranging from macaroni and cheese to ketchup.

I try my best to put time, energy, and thought into a couple of outfits a week for the sake of my poor husband.  (Although I draw the line at shaving my legs these days, because who has time for that)?  But most days I throw on whatever is clean and unwrinkled, which oftentimes results in a look that is less than attractive.  (Unless the Mombie Look is your thing, in which case I’m the runner up for Miss America).

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To be honest, sometimes I walk past a mirror and gasp in horror, realizing that I had stepped out in public like that.  So I decide to put effort into my outfit the following day and at least take the time to put on a hat so as to tame the runaway curls.  At least then I look a bit more like a frazzled mom than a homeless person.

Want to know what’s hilarious?  I actually get ‘hit on’ looking like this.  My wedding rings almost fit again, but they are still painfully tight.  So I haven’t been wearing them on my fingers quite yet.  And the crazies in the grocery store take notice apparently.  (One man even gave me his business card last week and told me to come see him at his restaurant, and he’d cook up a special meal just for me.  I must have been sporting the homeless look that day…).  Obviously these men don’t realize that I come with a baby…a toddler…two cats….and a husband.

Still though, I wonder if I’d still get a free meal if I walked into that chef’s restaurant with my entire family in tow?  Worth trying, right?!?

Anyway, ugly sweater contests.  I used to be a fan, but now I’m all like, “PLEASE!  Please let me have my excuse to dress up!”  I know that I’ll just be going to my parent’s house, conveniently located two miles up the street from my own home.  And the cozy kitchen and dining room will be filled with close aunts, uncles, and cousins; so there’s really no need for overly dressy attire.

But the holidays?  They’re like this wonderful excuse for moms to don sparkly tops, red lipstick, and dangly earrings.  Sure, the outfit will come with accessories like bouncing toddlers, squirmy babies, and a sprinkle of spitup here and there.  But we’re getting out of the house!  We’re having adult conversation (amidst helping little ones guide food into their mouths).

It’s fuel for a tired mommy who needs a little break from the usual routine.  And it’s exciting!

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Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are the biggest events of the year.  Please, PLEASE, don’t take that away from me and ask me to wear an ugly outfit… for FUN.  I might not be dressed fancy or in anything new, but I am going to try my absolute best to look put together and pretty.  (And then if I do pull that off, please, someone take a ton of pictures).  HA!

Want to know what is fun though?  Trying on those larger-than-life outfits in the store that – when you walk by – you can’t help but ask, “For what event could you possibly need a feathery jacket that looks like an ostrich?”

Because as much as I love the excuse to get dressed up for the holidays, I also love an excuse to not be too serious and to laugh at myself a little.  We all need that, but we moms especially need that reminder to have fun.  We spend so much time keeping everyone alive that sometimes we forget to live a little.

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A favorite tradition that my friend Liz and I have is to try on a few over-the-top (or ridiculous) outfits to see if we (or anyone) could pull them off.  We usually only do it once a year, because – well – that’s the way it happens.  But we’ve decided that it should be a seasonal thing, so expect a fashion blog in January that captures all the hot (and crazy) fashions of the upcoming season.  😉

I might not be sporting an ugly sweater this upcoming Christmas.  But man, it was sure fun trying some on with my best friend last night.  We laughed, we shared, and we tried on clothes that we’ll absolutely never have any excuse to buy or wear.

It was that refueling that I so desperately needed.

And it doesn’t get much better than that.  🙂

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Oh but don’t worry, we didn’t leave the store empty handed.  We raided the clearance rack, and I found a $7 sundress!  (Liz found something too).  So yes, the evening was a success!  🙂

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A Treasure Worth Fighting For (Part 3 of 3)

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them…  🙂

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Despite the humor and sweet moments of parenthood, there are patches that are really tough.  I think the lack of sleep and personal time doesn’t help matters any.  We’re only human after all, and each of us has a breaking point.

During those long days, it can be hard to see the big picture.  To remember that being a mom is precious and that moments with our little ones are all too fleeting.  Because right here and now, hours feel long.  Patience is running low.  Anxiety levels are flaring.  And exhaustion is taking its toll on your body.

Everything hurts, including your feelings.

You’ve cleaned up poop and pee, dealt with tantrums, utilized the time-out chair, and wiped down toddler-science-experiments-gone-wrong one too many times.

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There was one moment in particular – a couple of weeks ago – that I just wondered how we were going to get through this.  Like, was I really cut out to be a mom to two littles?  The house looked like a bomb went off.  Everything was a mess and needed scrubbing, never mind tidying.   The cats were vomiting up hairballs.  Nate was working a charter, so he wouldn’t be home until very late…  Brady was innocently, yet quite successfully, destroying things in his effort to explore and play.  And when I tried to guide him elsewhere, he’d angrily yell back and refuse to find satisfaction in the other activities I offered.  (It was obvious to me that he was acting out due to wanting my attention, but Kaitlyn was having a rough morning and wouldn’t stop fussing.  So I wasn’t able to hold him close the way he wanted to be, which resulted in toddler tantrums and mommy guilt).

I just sat in the middle of our home and wanted to throw my hands up in defeat.  I wanted to admit to the world that I didn’t have this.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I was in over my head, and I wasn’t prepared to gently raise a strong-willed son and an emotional baby girl.  My patience was at an all-time low!  And, I’m not proud to admit, my attitude (and raised voice) was reflecting all the frustration and anxiety that I felt inside.

I just needed everyone to cooperate and to cooperate now!  Mommy was DONE!

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Then I received news that a dear friend of mine had passed the night before from cancer.  And suddenly, everything was put into perspective for me.  When you watch a family lose their mother, you are reminded of what truly matters and just how precious each day with your children truly is.  I took in the chaos around me – the noise and the mess – and I realized just how blessed I am to have it.  All those dirty dishes…  The dust bunnies clinging to the bookcase…  The toddler who needs a little bit more patience and a loving hand…  The infant who stares up at me with such adoring eyes…

I will not have these forever, but I do have them now.

At the funeral of my friend, her son oh-so-eloquently spoke about the things that made his mother truly special.  And never once did “a spotless house” or “keeping it all together” came up.  He talked about her amazing laugh, her love of Christmas, activities they did as a family, and her always  being there for him and his sister.

And honestly, that’s one of the greatest impacts she had on my life.  Her love of being a mom.  I don’t know that I’ve ever met a woman who never once complained about being a mother or a wife.  She always told me that her goal in life was to enjoy every stage with her children, and she really did.  She was proud of them – and her husband – beyond words, and she loved them without measure.  To hear her talk about marriage or motherhood was to hear her brag about her soulmate or kids.

That always stuck with me and has been a challenge and a goal for me too.  That despite the craziness and the chaos, I want to enjoy each stage.  Because even if each stage moving forward does seem to get a little easier, the stage behind it is gone forever.  I can never get it back, so it’s up to me to live in the moment now.

These kiddo’s?  They’re treasures worth fighting for.  They’re worth the sleepless nights, the waking up early, the never-ending struggle to keep life organized… They’re worth every bit of it.

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I’m not saying that I haven’t still had bad days.  (Last week, in particular, was pretty tough).  I’m not saying that we should ignore just how hard being a mom is sometimes and pretend that life is always sunshine and roses.  (I’m a firm believer in being real with each other, because we all go through tough patches and need the encouragement of others).  But I also firmly believe that – despite the craziness of mom life – we can strive to flourish in the joy that God provides.  We can grow and learn to parent with patience and love.  We can choose to find beauty in every single day, overlooking the clutter to see the sparkle.

I am so thankful to God that I have my two kiddo’s.  And although these recent days have been hard (because we moms ALL have those days), I want to try even harder to rise above and to not only treasure these moments, but to let my children see that I’m treasuring the moments.

That I’m’ treasuring them.

A Treasure Worth Fighting For (Part 1 of 3)

Let me set the scene…

Colicky baby is screaming at the top of her lungs in the stroller, despite all attempts to appease her.  Toddler is sitting in the middle of a cold, campground road, yelling that he’s mad and that he won’t take another step until mommy and daddy let him go swimming in the lake.  (We’re mean like that and wouldn’t let Brady swim due to the “High bacteria count, please do not swim,” signs.  Apparently, he doesn’t care if he might grow a third arm due to splashing in contaminated waters…).

And mommy and daddy are just standing there, taking in the chaos in front of them and wondering how it all came to this.

Nate says:  “Where would we be right now if we didn’t have kids?”

I reply, after sighing:  “Probably sitting on a beach in Hawaii.  I’d be SO sunburnt right now from laying out in the sun too long.”

Nate nods in agreement and says:  “I’d have eaten too much of my delicious, southwestern omelet and homefries for breakfast, so I’d be feeling sick.”

Me:  “That time-change on the flight over to the islands is really exhausting.”

Nate:  “Palm trees are so overrated.”

I say:  “Yeah, we’d be really miserable sitting over there in Hawaii if we didn’t have kids!”

We were being tongue-in-cheek, of course, and had our laugh before collecting our children and trying to bring order back to the moment.  (Then again, as you already know if you’re a parent, getting everything and everyone in order is basically impossible.  Still, you can’t fault us for trying).

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As parents, we all have those days.  Sure, Nate and I love our kids with every single ounce of our being.  We live for them and – quite honestly – we’d die for them.  And although we’re one step away from the brink of insanity, we really wouldn’t change a thing.  Because now that we’ve met them, we need them!  The love we feel for these two precious children is never-ending and too big to put into words.  And we realize that they are worth every single moment of pull-your-hair out frustration.

But even though there are those days, there are obviously better days too.  Fun days.  Days filled with giggles, and snuggles, and memorable adventures.

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If I’m going to be completely honest though, as I always am here on my blog, it’s been tough these past couple of weeks (hence my inability to blog much these days.  In my defense, I also haven’t been showering much either.  So I promise that this little corner of the internet hasn’t been the only thing neglected recently.  If I can blog once a week, and shower most days, then I’m doing pretty good)!

My little dude has – as of late – decided that he is allergic to sleep.  And he hates it with every fiber of his being.  This is after MONTHS of him happily falling asleep the minute we’d put him to bed (which was, as I’m sure you can guess, quite amazing).  Before now, we’d just put him to bed, and he’d sleep all night long (with the occasional sleep regression that messed things up, of course).  Never once did I have to follow a specific bedtime routine.

But yet here I am, now Googling how to help your toddler fall alseep in ten easy steps.

These days, we put him into his bed, and he’s sliding off of it like a slug before we’ve had the chance to close the door behind us.  This goes on for a good hour past his bed time, because apparently sleep is overrated.

I thought that I was a patient person, and then this.  I have suddenly lost my one hour of free time during the day (since he also insists on crawling into bed with me and Nate at 5am every morning, just half an hour before we need to get up for the day).  I am now Googling how to be a joyful mom amidst great suffering.  Guys, I am SO tired it hurts.  And I am SO in need of some me-time, but it’s just not happening these days.

Jesus, please take the wheel!

Brady is also suddenly struggling big time with having to share his mommy and daddy now that there’s an infant sister in the house.  Tantrums and anger and outbursts have become commonplace, and it’s been a confusing time for all of us to navigate.

Oh thank goodness for the humorous moments!  🙂

(…to be continued)

 

 

Q and A!

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

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

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

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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