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Lazy Saturdays

This morning I was up around 4AM with a cranky baby. She’s been cutting a tooth for the last week, and that combined with the thunderstorms we had overnight made for a tough night of sleep. After numerous (failed) attempts to get her back to sleep in her crib, I snuck her back into bed with us and we all got another few hours of sleep.

Once we were all up for the day, I nursed our daughter while my husband caught up on Game of Thrones re-runs. We all got dressed and ready for the day. We went for coffee at the little bakeshop where we got our wedding cake. We came home, and I snuggled up on the couch with my daughter for her morning nap. Later we have some yard work and laundry to do. Maybe some cleaning around the house. It’s a day filled with little tasks here and there, but all in all, a relaxed and lazy Saturday.

In the days before my daughter, we rarely had lazy days like this. We filled our weekends with day trips to the mall, visits with friends and family, projects around the house, and errand running. We liked having our weekends busy, and looked forward to weekend plans. But now, I live for days like today. Sure, I still love visiting our family and taking fun family day trips on the weekends, but it’s crazy how exhausting the workweek can be as a working parent. I spend my days teaching, loving, and caring for other people’s kids as a teacher, and my nights doing the same for my own child. When the weekend finally rolls around, I look forward to having no plans, and getting to enjoy these lazy mornings with my family. I love lazing in bed until the morning sun filtering through the blinds wakes us up. I love coffee dates with my husband and daughter. I live for these nap-time snuggles on the couch, watching out the living room window as people zoom by, eager to get on with their busy days. I love that time seems to slow down on these lazy mornings, and I can soak up these precious moments with my family.

Life already moves too fast. Sometimes it’s nice to slow down, enjoy the ride, and appreciate all the little blessings!

Colorful Clutter

We bought our house in March of 2018, just 5 months before our daughter was born. We were beyond blessed to have found our perfect home after only a week of serious house hunting. But after our first showing of the house, we fell in love! It was perfectly located, an even half an hour from BOTH of our families and our work. It was an older home with character, lots of charm, and a fenced in yard for the dog. It met all of our “must-haves” and nearly all of our “wish list” qualities for a home. We were simply in love from that first showing, and knew in our hearts that this was our home. We had to contend with another offer, and waited almost 24 painful hours to find out that we had gotten the house!

Fast forward two months, and we were signing the papers and moving in! We set about making this little dream house into our dream home, filling it with our furniture, adorning it with our own decorations, and hanging our pictures on the walls. We tackled little projects; fixing up the flower beds, replacing light fixtures, installing a new kitchen faucet, and painting the nursery. It quickly started to feel like our dream home! We had made it our own, and we took a lot of satisfaction in our sweet little house.

Then our daughter came along, and suddenly our dream home that we’d worked so hard for was overtaken by a world of baby toys, foam flooring tiles, and child-proofed cabinet doors. Everywhere you turn, there are signs of our daughter. A baby gate at the staircase, toys jammed under couch cushions, a little rubber whale on the faucet in the bathtub. A pack ‘n play takes up one corner of our living room, the end table is strewn with board books, and even my bedroom nightstand is adorned with pacifiers, a burp cloth, and an elephant-shaped noise machine. It’s not the home we once thought it would be when we bought our dream house just over a year ago. Our home has been overtaken by the tiniest member of our family!

I expected our lives to change drastically with the birth of our daughter, but somehow I’d overlooked the fact that our home would be changing too. In retrospect, I should have realized. But nevertheless, it took me a bit by surprise when our daughter started crawling, and almost overnight our living room transformed into a colorful jungle gym of baby-proofing and toys.

I know that this is just our season of life right now. A season of our home being overtaken by baby gear and toys. And I welcome it with open arms, even if it took me a bit by surprise. When I look around our house, I sometimes miss our sophisticated adult home with our rustic wood coffee table and cabinets that opened without a key. But I also love the colorful foam letter tiles on our living room floor, and the baby blankets that hang on the back of our couches. I miss the uncluttered space we had before all the baby gear, but I strangely enjoy the colorful clutter that our daughter has brought to our home.

Someday, I know this season will pass. Our children will outgrown the need for baby proofing and pack ‘n plays and toys, and someday we will get our adult home back. But I’m in no rush for that to happen! I will enjoy this colorful, cluttered, baby-proofed home while I have it. Cause like they say, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone!”

Parenting Isn’t One-Size Fits All

Before my daughter was actually born, I had all sorts of ideas about what parenting choices I *thought* we would make. During my last month of pregnancy, I spent lots of time reading articles and blogs on Pinterest to prepare for our impending arrival. What I discovered is that there is a lot of information out there, and a lot of people with very strong opinions who feel there is only one right way to do things.

If you feed your baby purées, they’re going to develop bad eating habits. If you don’t breastfeed for at least a year, your child is doomed. If you co-sleep, you’re endangering your child. If you use disposable diapers, you’re destroying the environment. If you let your baby watch TV, you’re rotting their brain. If you let your baby nap in your arms, you’re spoiling them. The list goes on and on!

As I read up on all these things during those last few weeks of pregnancy, I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Like any new mom, I just wanted to give my sweet girl the best possible start! So I set my mind to a hundred different parenting choices. I would breastfeed for a year. We would try baby-led weaning and cloth diapers. We wouldn’t let our daughter set eyes on a TV or device. We would do all the “right” things. But then a funny thing happened. Our daughter was born and we tried all those things, and I quickly found that while some of them were right for us, some of them just didn’t fit for our family.

My daughter still naps in my arms all the time. I know that some people would say that I’ve spoiled her by always letting her nap in my arms. And I probably have, because now she doesn’t nap well if she’s not being held. But I wouldn’t trade those lazy Saturday morning naps for anything! For our family, this is what works!

We tried baby-led weaning, and it just didn’t work for my daughter. She would try to stuff too much food in her mouth when we gave her things that were stick-shaped, and she was always gagging and coughing, which obviously terrified me! If we gave her tiny little pieces of things, she couldn’t get them in her mouth, and would end up crying and frustrated. So we fed her purées for the first few months of her solid-food eating experience. Now that she can handle finger foods, she’s mostly self-feeding, but we used a combo of purées and self-feeding, because that’s what worked for our family.

Our daughter still sleeps in our bedroom, even at 9 months old. She transitioned out of her bassinet around 4 months, but I wasn’t at all ready to send my baby to sleep alone in her nursery across the hall. So my sweet husband disassembled the crib, moved it into our room, and re-assembled it. I love having our daughter in our room at night, especially through a rough sleep regression that saw us up 3-4 times a night for almost 2 months straight. It was nice to be able to grab her from the crib right beside me, nurse her back to sleep, and then put her back down without having to leave our room. Even my husband admits that he likes having us all hunkered down for the night together in our room. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling having the whole family all snuggled into our room together. I know rooming-in for this long isn’t what’s right for everyone, but it’s what works for us!

I’ve learned that parenthood isn’t about doing what’s trendy, or what other people think is best. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE!) seems to have an opinion about your parenting choices, but at the end of the day, it’s really just about finding what works for your family!

Cold Coffee

This morning, I drank a cup of cold coffee. Not the fancy iced kind from Starbucks with whipped cream and chocolaty drizzle. Plain ol’ coffee pot coffee, left on the counter and forgotten for a bit too long.

It’s a routine I’m not unfamiliar with. In fact, most mornings I drink my coffee cold. Between the hustle and bustle at home, and the chaos of my morning at school before my kiddos arrive, it’s rare for me to find the time to chug down a cup of coffee before my attention is drawn elsewhere.

And as this thought dawned on me this morning as I drank my cold coffee on the living room floor, it occurred to me that motherhood is a cold cup of coffee.

Motherhood is forgetting yourself to put your child first. It’s listening to nursery rhymes on an endless loop in the car when you’d rather listen to the new Taylor Swift song. It’s cooking dinner and feeding the rest of your family before you get to eat yourself. It’s packing lunches with a baby on your hip because she just wants to be held. It’s waking up at the crack of dawn, and sacrificing prep time at work to pump milk for your baby. It’s repeatedly stacking up a tower of cups on the floor because your daughter loves to knock them down. It’s wiping your child’s snot on your own sleeve when you don’t have a tissue. It’s spit-up stained shirts, sleepless nights, and poopy diapers. It’s unpainted nails, because you’d rather snuggle your baby than take the time to paint them. It’s split-ends and grown-out highlights, because you’d rather spend the money on books, toys, or cute jammies for your child. It’s spending your Saturday in line at a crowded mall to get a picture with Santa or the Easter Bunny.

It’s a cold cup of coffee, set aside and forgotten, because you were too busy putting your child’s needs first. But you know what I’ve discovered? Cold coffee still tastes just as good.

Sure, hot coffee is delicious. But I’ll take my cold cup of coffee any day of the week.

A Letter to My Husband

Dear Husband,

This morning, the alarm clock rang all too soon. It was 5 AM, and I slowly dragged my sleepy self from the bed and started making my way toward the bathroom to get in the shower. My plans were halted by the soft fuss of our daughter. I paused, waiting to see if she’d go back to sleep, but of course on tired Thursday mornings like these, she never does. I made my way back to the crib and pulled our crying daughter into my arms.

“I have to get in the shower,” I whispered to you in the darkness, and you reached out sleepily, making a nest beside you in the bed, and pulled her into your arms. Moments later she was back asleep, and I crept out of the bedroom to get ready for work.

I returned a half an hour later to grab clothes from the closet, and in the faint glow of the morning sun, I saw you snuggled up with our daughter beside you. Both sleeping peacefully, the faintest traces of smiles on both of your faces. I didn’t linger too long – I didn’t want to wake you. But I stayed just long enough to soak up the moment, and appreciate the amazing father that you are.

I know that this parenting thing isn’t always easy, but I can’t imagine being on this journey with anyone else but you. I love watching you love our daughter. I love the way you can make her laugh like no one else can. When you plant sloppy kisses on her cheeks and whisper in her ears, she erupts into a deep belly-laughter that she doesn’t ever make for anyone else but you. I love listening to you talk to her after a long day at work, telling her, “I missed you so much today.” I love seeing you beam with pride whenever you lay eyes on her, because I know that our sweet little princess has you wrapped around her tiny finger. She has your heart, and that little girl is your whole world.

Dear husband, thank you for being the kind of father I always dreamed of for my children. We love and appreciate all that you do! ❤️

My Struggle with Dog-Mom Guilt

Before I was a mother to my baby, I was a dog mom. And not a passive kind of dog mom – a bumper sticker wielding, Westie coffee mug using, doggy daycare kind of dog mom.

We adopted our dog, Sawyer, right after my husband and I got our first apartment together. She was just a puppy at the time, and we trained her and raised her together. She was our “baby,” and in many ways, we made her the center of our world. She was undoubtedly a very spoiled pup, and she was used to getting lots of attention all the time.

All that changed the day we brought my daughter home from the hospital. Gone were the days of endless snuggles, dog park trips, and undivided attention. No longer was Sawyer the center of our world. This new creature – small, strange, and noisy – had come along and seemingly taken her place. I’m sure to Sawyer it felt as though we had forgotten all about her. Now our attention was divided, and Sawyer was getting the smallest little slice of that pie.

I noticed the change in our dog within a few days, and I felt so guilty. Our clingy pup, who previously followed us around the house constantly, now slunk off to the bedroom to nap by herself. She found dirt piles to roll in out in the yard. She snuck through a loose fence panel for a romp in the neighbor’s yard. She was so clearly acting out, begging for our attention, and it broke my heart. We tried to find little ways to give her special attention, but I knew that to Sawyer, it must have felt as if her whole world had been flipped upside down. I worried that things wouldn’t ever be the same again, and I was afraid that our dog would grow to resent my daughter for stealing away our attention. It was my first experience with mom guilt, and the feeling was so crushing!

It turns out, however, that those fears were unfounded. Now that my daughter is a little older and is crawling, playing, and active, Sawyer is more curious about her. Sawyer has always been protective of our daughter, but now she is intrigued by our daughter’s ability to interact with her. The baby will grab Sawyer’s collar and jingle her tags. She will stroke Sawyer’s fur, giggle at her, and crawl after her. I am beginning to see a friendship developing between them, and now that my daughter is eating (and dropping) solid foods, Sawyer has a whole new reason to love her! They still aren’t besties, and I know that won’t happen overnight. But I see the promise of a future where my baby and my fur baby will be friends, and I won’t have to feel as though two pieces of my heart are constantly battling one another.

All you mamas of more than one child, I can only imagine how you all must have felt when a new baby came along! Mom guilt is so real, and we all need to cut ourselves some slack! Did you experience mom guilt when a new baby came along? Share your experience in the comments below.

My Roomba Saved My Sanity

I will admit, I am a bit of a neat-freak. I love crawling into a freshly made bed, I savor the citrusy smell of freshly cleaned countertops, and I get a sense of satisfaction when I walk across our freshly-vacuumed living room floor.

Before my daughter was born, I probably spent a few hours a week cleaning our house. I would do a few little chores throughout the week, and spend a little more time on the weekends catching up on vacuuming, mopping, and dusting. I’ve never actually loved the act of cleaning itself, but a messy house gives me anxiety, and I always feel so much more at peace when the house is clean and orderly! So I sunk in the extra time to keep our house looking nice all the time.

Fast forward to the birth of my daughter, and suddenly my priorities had vastly changed. Given the choice, I’d much rather spend my time snuggled up on the couch with my baby, or crawling around with her on the living room floor, stacking blocks and playing peek-a-boo. I no longer had an abundance of free time to spend cleaning house, and I didn’t want to sacrifice my time with my daughter to clean.

My husband did his best to help with chores, but a neat freak like me is admittedly hard to please. Between our new-parent exhaustion and our limited free time, I still felt like things were just falling short in the cleaning department. The biggest frustration for me was our floors! We have a dog, a busy house, and the ever-changing Wisconsin weather working against us. We also have hardwood floors throughout our house, and nothing bothers me more than feeling grit under my bare feet when walking around the house!

One day, my husband suggested a Roomba. A family member had recently gotten one, and my husband thought it might be a good solution for us. We went back and forth on the idea for awhile and spent some time researching them online, trying to decide if it was worth the money. Eventually we decided to take the plunge, and one Saturday afternoon, my husband went out and bought us one.

I will admit, it’s not a perfect solution. Our Roomba (whom we named Wall-e) doesn’t clean quite as thoroughly as our trusty ol’ upright vacuum. It’s a little noisier than I had originally thought, and our dog still tries to bite Wall-e when he cleans near her food bowl. But despite all his flaws, our Roomba really has saved my sanity! We run it a few times a week to help pick up the day-to-day dirt and grit that gets tracked into the house, and I can go a few weeks between vacuuming sessions with the upright vacuum. We can send the Roomba around the house while we’re out running errands or eating dinner, and we don’t miss out on quality time with our daughter to vacuum the house.

It doesn’t solve all our problems, but it is a solution that helps ease some of my anxieties, and allows us to spend more time together as a family. It was a costly investment, but I can’t put a price tag on something that helps to give me back some extra time with my baby! Does it solve all the world’s problems? Definitely not. But it does make my life a little easier, and as a busy, working mom, that’s really all I can ask for!