Five Game-Changers of Our Morning Routine

I have always been a morning person. I love a good morning routine and I love getting a jump on the day. That being said, with three kids aged five and under, you can imagine that our mornings can get a bit chaotic around here. I don’t know about you, but when my morning is rushed, stressful, and chaotic, it can easily mess up my whole day. A couple months ago, I set out to start making some changes to our morning routine to try to make things simpler, less stressful, and more enjoyable. I wanted slower, more peaceful mornings that would set us up for great days! And guess what? It worked!

Today I wanted to share the five things I’ve implemented that have been the game-changers of our mornings. Some were super easy changes to make, others took a bit of time, effort, and trial and error. I know everyone’s mornings look different due to school/work schedules and sleep preferences, but this is what has been working well for our family!

One caveat before I share: Ollie has been sleeping through the night for a few months now. I would not have been able to start making a lot of these changes back in the throes of newborn sleep deprivation – at that stage, we were just in survival mode! These were changes I made once we were all getting good, full nights of sleep.

An Early Wake-Up Time for Me

This is probably obvious, but the biggest positive change to my mornings happened once I could start waking up before my kids to get things going. Usually I shoot for anywhere from 5:45-6:15 am as a wake up time; I had to adjust to a goal bedtime of 9:30-10 pm to still get enough sleep but it was worth it! Sometimes, I try to workout but often I’m down in my office getting a jump on some work tasks (I have a part time work from home job with flexible hours so this is a great time to catch up on things). It’s so nice to be able to just hunker down and focus without the distraction and needs of kids.

That being said, there were many many days where LJ would get up, see my light downstairs, and come down. Sometimes he was downstairs before it was even 6 am! Which brings me to my next change . . .

A Digital Alarm Clock in the Kids’ Room

We have a Hatch sound machine in LJ and Vi’s room that changes colors based on the time. They were supposed to wait until the light turned green to come out of their rooms, but this just never really worked well for my early riser LJ. He would wake up and have no idea how much time was left before the light turned green – is it 5 more minutes? Is it an hour? He would get restless feeling like he had been waiting “a long time” and come out of his room before the green light. It was very frustrating for me because I often lost that important solo time early in the mornings and things generally didn’t go as smoothly when that happened.

A few weeks ago, we moved my digital alarm clock to their room and gave a very basic explanation of how to read the numbers. He is 5 and still can’t tell time BUT he is fully capable of understanding “do not come out of your room until the first number is a 7.” He understands number order so if it’s anything but a 6 or 7 first, he knows there is a lot of time left so he should try to sleep again. Even though he doesn’t fully understand time, this has at least given him a little more understanding of it and since moving the alarm clock, he has stayed in his room every day until 7 am!

Dim Lighting

LJ is out of his room at 7 am sharp and while Vi sometimes sleeps a bit longer, she is usually up by 7:15. I stop my work, we have a few minutes of morning cuddles, and then we get our morning going. I used to turn on all the main overhead lights in the kitchen at this point but now, I am very selective. I turn on the little lamp on my kitchen counter. I turn on the overhead island pendant – it’s on a dimmer and I only turn it about halfway up. I turn on the microwave light above the stove, and sometimes I turn on the light above the sink. Choosing a few smaller lights creates a warm, cozy ambiance and feels like the perfect transition between night and day. It’s like dawn in the kitchen and I love how it allows us to keep a slow feel to our morning.

Protein-Packed, Filling Breakfasts

We used to be an exclusively cereal-eating family, but last year I started making some changes. My kids would eat a bowl of cereal at 7 am and be hungry for a snack by 9 am – to combat this, I started trying to incorporate more filling breakfasts. The kids will still do a bowl of cereal maybe 3x a week, usually with a side of fruit, but other days we’re doing things like protein-packed waffles, sausage, oatmeal, eggs and toast, etc. The snack requests have gone WAY down and as a bonus, we linger a bit more over breakfast and can chat together.

For me personally, I have completely stopped eating cereal for breakfast. Once the kids have their breakfast made, I will make mine. My new go-to is two over-easy eggs topped with salt, cracked pepper, and nutritional yeast, homemade hash browns (Justin makes a huge batch at once and it will last us for days), and half of an avocado. Sometimes I’ll add in a couple pieces of air-fryed bacon or chicken sausage for extra protein. It is delicious and keeps me full until lunchtime. It’s so nice to fuel myself with a solid breakfast and it feels like a treat – usually the kids are done and out of the kitchen by the time I’m sitting down to eat so I have 10 minutes of peace to savor every bite. It feels so good to prioritize myself in this way.

No Screens Until XYZ

I am now very firm with my boundary of no screens until 8 am. The kids both have Amazon Fire Tablets programmed in a way that they can’t even access anything until 8 am (highly recommend!) and the TV is an absolute no. Don’t get me wrong, they bickered, they whined, and they protested, but I have held this boundary and they adjusted. They had gotten used to the anything-goes newborn haze so it took some time to form new habits, but they now know 8 means 8 and rarely even mention screens before that. Sometimes they get so busy playing that it’s well after 8 am before they even realize it!

This boundary gives us from 7 am – 8 am to get ready. The kids eat breakfast and play in the playroom/draw/entertain themselves while I eat mine. They may have screen time starting at 8 am, but they also MUST first be fully dressed, including glasses, all clothing, and socks and shoes. It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and. It must be both 8 am AND they must be fully ready to walk out the door. This has made a huge difference; we are no longer scrambling to find glasses or get shoes on as we run out the door! The kids can enjoy screen time until it’s time to leave, which allows me to have 30-45 minutes (we leave between 8:30-8:45) to get myself changed, get Ollie up, changed, and fed, and get their preschool bags ready. Then when it’s time to head out the door, everyone has everything they need and we can calmly just get in the van.

Of course, there are days where we get out of whack and are still scrambling to get out the door on time, but those are honestly few and far between (and usually, the culprit is that I didn’t do one of these listed things!) Implementing these changes has gone so far in making our mornings feel peaceful and enjoyable and I truly savor this time. Not matter how crazy and hectic the day ends up being, at least our mornings started out right.

The End of my Breastfeeding Journey

On January 15, one very significant era of my life ended: Ollie was given his last bottle of breastmilk.

I breastfed LJ for 13 months and Vi for 22 months. Neither one of them ever needed formula and they rarely had bottles since I didn’t really pump unless I was away from them. I talked about this previously, but Ollie’s needs ended up being much different. I won’t go into all the specifics, but as a newborn, he wasn’t transferring breastmilk directly very well, and after working with a lactation consultant for several weeks, I made the call to move to formula + pumped milk. Ollie was 10 weeks old. My supply has been decreasing ever since and I made peace with that, but it finally dwindled down to nothing this week. I’ve spent 40 months (over three years!!) of my life providing breastmilk for my children and now, that chapter is over.

Almost exactly four years ago, I was writing about my breastfeeding journey with LJ coming to an end. Ollie will be my last baby, and this is the definitive end of my breastfeeding era, so it only felt right to similarly process the end of this journey. Today, I’m sharing my experience with Ollie – from breastfeeding, to combination feeding, to moving to all formula. Honestly, I’m not sure anyone else is interested in reading about this, but for me it was therapeutic to process the end of this era in writing (and I know I’ll appreciate being able to look back on this in years to come) so here we go!

Things I wasn’t expecting

Not to state the obvious, but I wasn’t expecting this to be our journey at all. I had no major issues breastfeeding my first two babies and expected this time to be no different. My milk came in in full force while I was still in the hospital. I used my Haaka in the beginning and quickly amassed extra milk (I’ve always had a great supply). I thought it was going to be smooth sailing again. Then his two-week appointment came and I learned that he was still six ounces under birth weight. I was blindsided. We started doing weighted feeds and I started pumping, only to be shocked again to realize my initally-amazing supply had already adjusted to his lowered demands. That was honestly the most discouraging part for me: had I just known to pump from the beginning, my supply would have stayed up. Instead, I had to work on boosting my supply and building it back up while still breastfeeding AND pumping AND supplementing with formula. It was pretty stressful and I couldn’t keep it up very long, but I do wonder about how things would’ve been different had my supply stayed high from the start.

This experience kind of popped my newborn bubble a little sooner than I wanted. I absolutely LOVED the first two weeks of his life – snuggling just the two of us in the recliner in my bedroom, sun streaming gently through the windows, skin to skin contact, just soaking up the sweetness of his newborn-ness. It was an amazing experience and I will cherish it. After learning about his transfer issues, some of the joy got sucked out of my experience – I felt sad and guilty for not realizing he wasn’t gaining weight, and I was anxious about how to correct our course. I will say, I could feel that the joy was getting sucked out and did NOT want that to be what I remembered, so I worked hard to keep noticing and appreciating the sweet newborn moments too. I’m so glad I didn’t spiral and allow stress and anxiety to make me miss out on everything, but it still put a damper on things.

Things I’m SO glad I did

I’m so glad I worked with a lactation consultant. She was wonderful and supportive and encouraging and empowering. Working with her and doing regular weighted feeds gave me actual data on how he was doing, which in turn helped me make rational decisions about what to do. Thanks to her help, I feel like I did everything in my power to make breastfeeding work, which made it easier for me to let go of when it didn’t. I did what I could, it wasn’t what was working for him, and I feel no shame or lingering guilt over that. [Side note: I felt nothing but complete support from my entire circle. My pediatrician, my husband, my family, my friends – everyone was so supportive and I never felt one single ounce of judgement or shame from anyone about my decision. While I felt confident enough in what I was choosing, it certainly helped that I didn’t have people casting doubts or judgement over my choices and I appreciate that so much.]

I’m so glad I reflected on my experience with LJ and Vi. I think being a third-time mama made me a little calmer about the whole thing – once I got over the initial shock/disappointment/guilt, I could see that I wasn’t doing anything differently this time around. I wasn’t doing anything wrong or failing him or anything like that, he just had different needs than my first two kids, and it really helped to keep that perspective.

I’m so glad I knew my limits. I technically could have done more to try to make breastfeeding work, but it would’ve come at a cost. I have two other children, two dogs, a house to take care of, a husband to be in relationship with, and life I want to enjoy. I wasn’t going to be able to pump around the clock or power pump or completely change my diet or do more than I was already doing without it affecting other areas of my life. I was at the limit for what I could handle with all the things on my plate, and I’m glad I could recognize that and prioritize my own mental health and family life too.

I’m so glad I invested in a new pump. I’ll be honest – I’ve always thought pumping was a drag. But exclusively pumping? I had no idea how much of a drag it could actually be. While I loved my Spectra pump for the occasional pump here or there or when traveling, for day-to-day use, it was cumbersome and inconvenient. We invested in the Elvie pump and it made my life so much easier. I just tucked it in my bra (no need to change to a pumping bra like with the Spectra) and went about my day. Even though I ultimately only used it for about 3.5 months, I’m glad I got it. I’m absolutely positive I wouldn’t have lasted this long with the Spectra, so I’m glad I got to extend the time I provided breastmilk.

Things that were challenging

Did I mention pumping is a drag? Ha! While I’m still so thankful I used the Elvie, I never truly enjoyed pumping.

All. The. Dishes. Between pump parts and bottles, pumping creates a lot of extra work and it often felt like I was living in a groundhog day of constant dishes. I’m so glad someone gave me the advice to keep pump parts in the fridge in between pumps to at least eliminate some dishes during the day, but it still is a lot of work.

Using formula requires a lot more mental energy than breastfeeding did. Before leaving the house, we have to make sure we have filtered water, a container of formula, a clean bottle, etc. It’s not always easy to measure out formula and make bottles depending on where we are. It’s just – again – more work than whipping out a nursing cover and feeding him whenever and wherever he needs with no other supplies.

I never fully appreciated how breastmilk is free (I mean, there is an unpaid labor + mental load cost, but you know what I mean) until I had to start buying formula. To say I had sticker shock is an understatement, especially as time went on and I provided less and less breastmilk and we went through formula quicker.

Things I’ve enjoyed

With LJ and Vi, I was basically the sole provider of food. With the exception of a few bottles here and there, I was involved in every. single. feed. Now, Justin and I share the load equally. We can each give bottles, we can each prepare the diaper bag, we can each wash the dishes. It’s the most involved he’s been with feeding at this stage, which has been really sweet to see, and it’s nice that I can have some breaks. The kids even occasionally help give a bottle – melt my heart! It’s also been easier for grandparents to be involved and babysit.

With breastfeeding, I often had to leave to find comfortable surroundings, especially if we were away from home. This often meant leaving the table, leaving the group, leaving the conversations, and missing out on whatever was going on in order to comfortably breastfeed somewhere else. There were times it felt isolating. With bottles, I can feed wherever and don’t have to miss out on anything, which has been really great.

I’ve still enjoyed feeding and snuggles. I still get to bond with this baby. Formula and bottles hasn’t changed that.

I’m proud of the fact that I did what I could for Ollie for five months, and I’m proud of myself for recognizing that it’s time to close this door and move to exclusive formula. I’ve been breastfeeding or pregnant for the better part of SIX YEARS now and it will never cease to amaze me what bodies can do. Leaving this chapter behind is bittersweet, but I think it was always going to be that way. I leave it behind with tears in my eyes, but they aren’t tears of guilt or sorrow. They are tears of gratitude – it’s been a joyful, challenging, sweet, empowering, exhausting, and ultimately beautiful journey and I’m so extremely grateful for it. They all took different approaches to feeding, but I have three happy, healthy, thriving children and that is all that truly matters to me.

Our Transition from 2 to 3 Kids

We’ve been a family of five for four months now and it’s hard to even remember back to life before Ollie. Our life, house, and hearts are fuller and happier than ever! As we’re now out of the newborn haze and settling into more of a routine, I thought it’d be a good time to check in and talk about our transition from two to three children. Today I’m sharing an honest look at how things have been going, and I included some questions I was asked on Instagram last week when I brought up this transition. Full disclosure, it’s a LONG post – maybe the longest I’ve ever had? – so grab a warm drink and a cozy blanket and settle on in. 🙂

How have the big kids adjusted to having another baby in the house?

They have both been beyond-my-wildest-dreams wonderful with a baby! I was bracing myself for jealously, tantrums, and regressions, particularly with Vi. She has always been my shadow and a big mama’s girl and I worried that a baby taking my attention would cause her to revert back to more babyish behavior, but thankfully that never happened. For both big kids, meeting their baby brother was literally love at first sight.

They were both smitten with their little brother and wanted to hold him all the time at first. We had to constantly remind them not to get in his face, only kiss his hands or his feet, give him some space – they were just smothering him with their love! It was very sweet to see how purely they bonded from the start.

I kind of expected the novelty to wear off and apathy (or a delayed jealousy) to set in eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet. They are patient and understanding when I need to be focusing my attention on him. They’re not as obsessed with holding him these days, but they still greet him every morning, kiss him good night, want to see him, be near him, watch him, and sing to him (melt. my. heart!)

Now that he’s more interactive, they like giving him baby toys to see if he’ll grasp them and they love trying to make him smile and laugh by doing silly things in front of him. I’m incredibly grateful that this part of the transition has been smooth sailing.

What has been harder than expected? What has been easier?

Justin and I obviously anticipated being outnumbered, but we didn’t really think about how being outnumbered translates to very little downtime. Previously, we were pros at the divide-and-conquer method: we’d each take a child and address their needs or just spend time with them one-on-one. We could also give each other breaks since one of us could take both kids to do something and the other would have time to themselves. Nowadays, the divide and conquer still happens but there’s not usually an “off” parent. A big example of this is bedtime; we previously took turns doing bedtime. Since LJ and Vi share a room, only one of us was needed for brushing teeth, reading books, and tucking in, so the other would get the night off. Now, we’re both doing bedtime every night – one of us has Ollie and the other has the big two.

When we do get “off” time to ourselves, we can feel kind of guilty or have a hard time truly enjoying the time because we know the other one has all three at once. Justin went hunting for a few days this fall; it’s a passion of his that I wanted him to enjoy AND it was really hard for me to be the “on” parent to three kids for all those extra hours. Justin gives me time to myself to read a book or go get a pedicure with a friend; he knows I need the mental break and is happy to give it to me AND it’s hard for him to take on all three after a long, exhausting day at work. We both truly want to give the other one the space and time we each need to recharge AND it’s just hard to take on extra hours with three kids. I will say, it’s getting a little easier with time so hopefully this is an area that keeps improving for us!

As for easier than expected, it’s been surprising to me to see how much I enjoy what I now call “me+three” outings. Starting when Ollie was five weeks old, I often take all three kids somewhere on Fridays – a playground or the zoo for example – and we have a little adventure. Somehow, these excursions have been way easier than I expected, and I think it’s for two reasons. One, I PREPARE. I take lots of snacks, full water bottles, and choose family-friendly locations where my kids can run and jump and get energy out (the grocery store is still decidedly NOT a fun place to take all three kids by myself). I choose times of day when we’re not yet tired and cranky and I go without a time limit – if we stay 30 minutes, it’s a win. If we stay 3 hours, it’s a win. It other words, it’s high-prep, but low pressure.

The second reason it’s easier than expected is because honestly, I have grown a lot as a mom over the past five years. I’m more confident and calm in most situations and am willing and able to just roll with most things these days. I also feel like I set myself up to say YES in these excursions and actually enjoy taking along a little picnic or staying at the stingray exhibit for 20 minutes. I’m proud of the growth I’ve seen in myself as a mom!

How is everyone’s sleep going?

It’s always a little hard to say this when you know other people are having rough times with sleep, but Ollie has been my absolute best sleeper. He was sleeping long stretches of 3-4 hours at just a week old and was fairly consistently sleeping through the night before he turned a month old. I did nothing significantly different with him, it’s just how he’s been. I realize we’re incredibly lucky and as I remember the first weeks with baby Vi cluster feeding round the clock every 60-90 minutes, I do not take that for granted.

Knowing he’s my last baby, I kept him in the bassinet in our room a little longer than I did with the other two, but at 10 weeks we moved him over to the crib in his nursery and the transition was smooth. If he does wake up, it’s usually just because he wants his pacifier popped back in although we do occasionally have to get up and feed him sometime between 3-5 am. For the most part, he sleeps from about 7 pm – 8 am. Hallelujah.

Now naps are a different story. With my first two kids, I could count on 3 regular naps that lasted over an hour each but Ollie mostly just cat naps. Fifteen minutes here, 20 minutes there, sometimes a randomly long hour nap, but nothing is regular. Part of that is we’re on the move a lot more and not home to put him down consistently so I think he’s never really had the chance to settle into a daytime sleep schedule. Luckily, he’s very adaptable and will take good naps in the car seat as we drive around or when pushed in the stroller so I count that as a win.

I also can’t talk about sleep without mentioning the older two and…woof. They’ve started having some nightmares and as the way lighter sleeper of the two of us, Justin is getting up with one or both of them nearly every night (and usually multiple times a night). I’m really hoping this improves soon!

Logistically, how do you travel? How is your vehicle arranged?

We have a van and we put the two big kids in the back seat and the infant car seat directly behind the driver. We collapsed the bucket seat on the passenger side down into the floor which is SO helpful for the kids getting in and out of the van and for me crawling in to help them get buckled. We actually have a road trip planned to Virginia in a couple weeks, which will be our first significant trip with all three so I’ll have to report back with how long travel goes!

Are you breastfeeding? How do you juggle the time commitment of feeding with the demands of other kids?

Our feeding journey has been a bit of a roller coaster actually. I breastfed my first two kids without issue (LJ for 13 months, Vi for 22 months) and expected to do the same this time. My milk came in right away and I had a great supply. I was confident and went along on my merry way.

I actually loved the first few weeks with a newborn at home. There was always another adult around so I would savor the time just him and me alone upstairs rocking and nursing and cuddling. Some of my sweetest memories!

At his two week check-up, we realized that something wasn’t right. He was still six ounces under birth weight. I was given the instructions to start pumping and supplementing with more milk to help him gain weight. I started working with a lactation consultant doing weighted feeds and we realized he was only transferring about an ounce total per feed AND my body had already adjusted to this lack of demand: my supply had gone way down. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it was extremely frustrating to know that my supply had come in strong initially and had I just known to pump a bit from the beginning, I could’ve kept it up to where it needed to be. Instead, I was trying to breastfeed AND them pump AND work to try and build up my supply with extra hydration, lactation cookies, supplement drinks, etc.

I quickly went through the small stash of breastmilk I had accumulated as well as a stash a friend with an oversupply generously shared. I researched formulas and chose one to use in addition to breastmilk. At one point, I was breastfeeding, pumping, feeding him what I pumped, and giving formula to make up any deficit. It was exhausting and a little defeating because the truth is, Ollie just didn’t do well with breastfeeding. I worked with a lactation consultant for about eight weeks and gave it my best, but when things were only marginally improved (and the improvement had plateaued) by ten weeks, I made the decision to give up nursing. Everyone – my family, my lactation consultant, our pediatrician – was so supportive of this and I appreciate that not one person ever made me feel even slightly guilty about this. I was confident in my decision, but it did really help that there weren’t negative opinions being thrown at me.

Honestly, I thought this would be harder for me but I think because I had two good experiences breastfeeding my other babies, I know this isn’t something I did wrong. It’s just one of those things that didn’t work out for him and I was truly at peace giving it up at 10 weeks. I still continue to pump 2-3 times a day just to give him a bit of breastmilk but the majority of his nourishment now comes from formula.

As far as how I handle the time commitment of feeding with other kids around, it’s the same as it was when I was breastfeeding. They’re there! They like sitting right next to me as I feed him and now that there’s a bottle involved, they even sometimes want to help. I utilize screen time when necessary but they’ve pretty much adjusted to knowing when mommy is feeding they just need to wait. It is also really different having a 5 and 3 year old this time around – they can actually be (sort of) patient and wait if I’m feeding him. They can also bring me things I might need as I’m feeding him, like a burp cloth or diaper, or fulfill their own simple needs, like getting a glass of water or snack.

Having never really used bottles before, I had no idea what a time commitment it is to pump, wash pump parts, wash bottles, make sure you’re stocked on formula, make sure you have supplies for leaving the house . . . whew! It’s a whole different beast. When we moved to exclusive pumping + formula, I invested in the Elvie pump which is a game changer – it’s so SO nice for being able to pump and multitask with the other kids. I keep my pump parts in the fridge throughout the day so I don’t have to wash them each time and we have enough bottles to get us through at least half a day before needing to wash any. It makes a difference!

I’m not sure how long I’ll keep trying to pump or at what point I’ll move to 100% formula but for now I’m content with where we’ve landed.

Which was the most challenging transition: 0-to-1, 1-to-2, or 2-to-3?

Hands down, Justin and I agree that going from one child to two children was the most challenging transition for us. LJ and Vi are only 21 months apart and it sometimes felt like we had two babies – we had two in cribs, two in diapers, two non-verbal (LJ had some speech delays that started to resolve after he turned two). LJ had very few independent skills and still required close supervision in everything; the mental energy and physical demands of two-under-two felt like a lot, all the time. Needs were extra high and sleep was extra low. Obviously, any time you add another person to your family there are going to be unique challenges, but for us, that transition was the hardest.

How did you know you wanted to try for a third child?

I’m happy to share but I do want to first acknowledge: I know not everyone is able to time the gap between children or choose how many children they have. I have experienced pregnancy loss myself, and I always want to be sensitive to those who may be struggling with loss, infertility, or any other complicated factor in their parenthood journey. If you’re in a tough spot with this, I see you and am sending you a big virtual hug.

Justin and I always knew we wanted multiple kids, although when we got married he wanted three and I wanted four. After LJ, we were on the same page with wanting more and were ready at the same time – and along came Vi. At that point, our feelings for future children had shifted. As mentioned earlier, the transition from 1-2 children was SO incredibly tough on us. We originally thought we’d want all our kids close together in age but after Vi we knew we couldn’t do an < 2 year gap again. We tabled the discussion for more children until she turned one year old. At that point, Justin was really content with two and didn’t want to try for a third but I still really wanted to go for a third. We prayed, we talked, we went back and forth, back and forth, for another full year. We could each see the other’s point of view and understand the pros and cons each way, which actually made it more difficult I think. It was our ultimate analysis paralysis! In hindsight, I really wish we had seen a therapist – I think counseling would have absolutely helped us talk through our feelings/worries/hopes/dreams/etc and we would have saved ourselves a lot of cyclical discussions that went nowhere. Even though we didn’t do it, counseling is my #1 tip if you’re struggling to be on the same page with your partner on this.

We both agreed we did not want more than a 3 year gap between Vi and any younger sibling (nothing against bigger gaps, and I know it is amazing in some families – it’s just not what we wanted for ours for various reasons). As that date approached, we actually both came to the decision NOT to have a third. We were at peace with just two and decided not to try for more, final decision. A month or two went by and I just felt a nagging on my heart that would not quit. It’s like once I was truly telling myself we were done and it wasn’t going to happen, my heart kept nudging me to try. I went back to Justin and essentially say “hey, I know we agreed to be done but my heart just will not let this go and I really and truly feel like we need to at least try.” We talked, prayed again, and ultimately (finally!!) got on the same page.

We decided to try for a third, but only in a very specific, and pretty small, window. Essentially, we decided to try to the point where there would be a 3-year age gap and stop at that point. We both felt complete peace with this and truly believed that whatever happened was going to be the right decision for our family. We prayed quite a bit, and low and behold, we got pregnant. It was surprising to us that it actually happened but we both immediately felt like this baby was meant to be. After all that back and forth, in one moment it all just clicked into place.

We can both wholeheartedly say now that we cannot imagine our family without Ollie. This transition has had its ups and downs but we’re adjusting to life as a family of five and we wouldn’t have it ANY other way.

I am so so so so so incredibly and endlessly grateful for this family of mine.

A look back on our Fall 2022 Family Activities

Happy Monday! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family last week and getting back into the swing of things today feels sort of like coming back after a vacation. I’m so grateful for having so much quality time with family and just taking a step back to relax a bit, but I’m also ready to jump back into our regular routine.

Even though it’s still November for a few more days, we’ve officially transitioned to Christmas season around here. The tree is up, I’m 90% done with present shopping, and Christmas music and activities are beginning. I love this time of the year and am so excited to dive in but first, I just wanted to take a minute to look back on our fall. It was our first one as a family of five and honestly, it was so great. We didn’t pack it full of things since we were still adjusting to life with another baby, but the things we did do really made it a special season of life. Maybe it’s not interesting to anyone but me and that’s okay, but I wanted a place to document everything in one place and that’s what today’s post is all about. Here’s a look back at our fall 2022 highlights:

Preschool Started

LJ and Vi have had a GREAT year so far in preschool. They both look forward to going and excitedly recap their days as soon as they hop in the car at pick up. Vi is still young enough that she parallel plays with her classmates and will occasionally talk about what a friend did at school but mostly just recaps what she did herself. LJ on the other hand has made a few buddies in his class and he enjoys talking about what his friends did or what they did together. I’m so glad they’re both enjoying school so much!

We joined gymnastics!

I decided that I could handle taking on ONE regularly-scheduled activity this fall with the kids and chose to try gymnastics. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to share pictures of my kids at gymnastics but they were both instantly hooked. They love their classes and have so much fun and it’s a great activity for them to improve their coordination, balance, and gross motor skills. (I also love this sweet leotard I purchased from a small business – it’s a bit of an investment but it washes super well and Vi wears it often!)

Family Fun at a Fall Festival

Is it even fall if you don’t find yourself surrounded by pumpkins at some point? We headed to a new-to-us local fall festival on a Saturday in October – it was warm and sunny and so much fun. It was one of those places that had a ton going on: playgrounds and mazes and hayrides and a jump pad and caramel apples and pumpkin picking and apple cider donuts and a dance party and pig races (lol) and so much more. We had an absolute blast and I know this will become an annual family tradition!

We forgot to take a family picture there so this is the best I have. Ha! I often think that forgetting to take pictures is a sign that you were having too much fun to think about it and that was definitely true here. We had the best day!

Harvest Time

My dad is a farmer and for years now, LJ has loved being his little sidekick on the farm. He has helped my dad at all stages of managing the crops this year so he was very excited for the most fun part: harvesting! It’s hard to see, but LJ is up there in the combine with my dad having the time of his life. It’s very sweet for me to see them bond over a shared love of farming and it’s been so good for LJ to see and appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into it.

Pumpkin Picking

Speaking of time at my parents’ farm, after a long day of harvesting, the kids and I stopped in their pumpkin patch to select some pumpkins for our house. (Notice Vi’s chosen outfit: a “princess dress and princess shoes” ha!) We picked a bunch of pumpkins and since we weren’t wanting to attempt pumpkin carving with the kids just yet, they had fun inviting a friend over one morning to have a pumpkin painting playdate.

Apple Picking

Justin has Wednesdays off work, so we took advantage of a gorgeous fall Wednesday to head to a new-to-us local orchard. It was really nice to not have all the crowds that a weekend normally brings and just stroll through the orchard picking out different apples to try. LJ loved running ahead of us to “read” the signs at the end of the rows (he would spell out all the letters so we knew what apples were in the row) and we all got our fill of apples and apple cider. It was maybe not the best idea I’ve ever had to push a stroller through the bumpy ground of an orchard but nonetheless, we all had a great day together.

Campfires

Towards the end of September, Justin made a campfire for our family to enjoy s’mores after dinner. We all had so much fun that we decided to make this a weekly tradition until the weather got too cold. We had so many campfires this fall – some in warm, gorgeous weather and some in cold and windy weather – and have made some great memories. LJ loved learning how to help build and stoke a campfire and we all enjoyed eating s’mores and just hanging out together. We even had my grandparents join us for one campfire which was extra special.

We’re still hanging on to our campfires but now that it’s getting colder and darker each day, we may not have many more until we have to push pause until spring. Still, this has been such a fun tradition to incorporate into our family!

Zoo Day

Our zoo stays open until the end of October and they go ALL out in the month of October to decorate for fall. I picked a warm Friday for one final visit of the year and the kids and I had so much fun seeing not only all the animals, but also all the decorations. The kids especially enjoyed the hanging witch hats everywhere and would try to find ones at the right height that they could wear. We took our time and did all the things they wanted and it was actually a super fun me+three day together.

I have one specific memory of LJ turning around on the train ride to show me a leaf – the sun was behind him and made him all glowy with a gorgeous autumnal light. He was so excited about the leaf and wanted to tell me about it and it was just a picture perfect moment of childhood innocence. This is my last year with him at home like this. Next year is kindergarten and things will change. This moment on the train took my breath away and gave me such gratitude and appreciation for this stage of life. It’s not always easy but I truly do love it. I don’t have a picture of that memory but I LIVED it. I was so aware of it and soaked it up in the moment and I’m very grateful for it.

Halloween

I know my years of convincing everyone to do a family costume are likely numbered, so each year I enjoy it while I can! This year we were Frozen due to Vi’s love of all things Elsa. Vi and I had store-bought costumes but I DIY’ed a Sven, Olaf, and Kristoff (although LJ insisted he was NOT Kristoff, we convinced him to participate by telling him he could be an “ice farmer” with a wooden ice pick Justin made for him). The kids had an absolute BLAST running around to houses with their friends and we were thankful for good friends who let us “adopt” their neighborhood and walk around with them.

Lingering Patio Dates

My favorite kind of date is one where we are eating outside. I don’t even care what kind of food it is, but if there’s patio seating, my enjoyment factor ups significantly. There was a random, unseasonably warm day in November and Justin and I happened to have a date night planned. We requested outdoor seating and it made me ridiculously happy to have the gift of one more outdoor date before the cold sets in for the next several months. I was so thankful for a fun night with my main man + the cutest tagalong.

Early Voting as a Family!

For the last several years Justin and I have voted early, but this year was the first year we decided to try taking the kids. This actually ended up being SO much fun. We went mid-morning on the Saturday before election day. There were only 2-3 people in front of us in line so the wait was super short. The kids had lots of questions and it was so fun to show them how everything works and explain what voting is and why it’s important. They got little “future voter” stickers from the poll workers (who were so kind and excited to have kids join!) and we each took a big kid into the booth with us and let them push the final red button to submit once we were finished. Justin and I both agreed it was way smoother taking children along than we anticipated. Afterwards we had lunch at a local diner and it was an unexpectedly fun day as a family.

LJ’s birthday party!

We had a great time celebrating LJ’s fifth birthday with family on the Saturday before his birthday. His actual birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. He had no school due to Thanksgiving break and Justin worked all day, so in an effort to make it special and fun, I invited a few of his friends over for a birthday playdate and lunch. We haven’t done friend birthday parties yet, but this was a good start. I specified no gifts, but did ask the kids to just draw a birthday card if they wanted. The cards were so sweet and LJ was so surprised to see his friends show up to play with him!

Family Time + Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was so much fun. We spent it with my extended family – not everyone could make it due to sickness but we had a great time catching up with those who could attend. And of course, the food was delicious! On the way to Thanksgiving dinner we went around the car saying things we were thankful for and I had to jot down the kids’ lists which were both precious and funny. We also had a special mid-November visit from Justin’s brother and his family, followed by a visit from Justin’s parents so we made lots and lots of sweet family memories in November!

What a sweet, sweet fall we had. I am truly thankful beyond words for this family of mine and all the moments we shared together. I’m so excited to make more memories and enjoy more fun as we gear up for Christmas now!

LJ is FIVE!

I cannot believe I am typing these words, but my firstborn baby boy is now a five-year-old.

Over the past year, I have remarked over and over again “I just LOVE four!” LJ at four years old was so awesome and I intentionally soaked it all up. It was such a fun, sweet, silly, innocent, enjoyable year of his life and it is definitely bittersweet for me to see it go, but I’m also incredibly excited to see what five will bring.

LJ is an incredibly inquisitive child. He has 87234 questions a day – he wants to know how things work and can you teach him how to do this and why this or that happens and what are we going to do next and “what’s today for?” and on and on. About a month ago, he asked us if he could have his own calendar because we kept talking about Halloween and his birthday (and other family members’ birthdays) and Thanksgiving and Christmas and he wanted to see it all laid out to make sense of when things were happening. We printed some pages off for him and mapped everything out – holidays, school days, his party, etc. He now checks off the days each morning to keep track and it’s just the cutest thing.

He also has a very sharp memory for details so we’ve learned that we have to answer his 87234 questions in the most truthful, age-appropriate way because he WILL remember what we said! It’s been exciting to see his critical thinking skills develop over the past year; as we give him answers he’ll think about them and process and then have either more questions or an “oooooh, so …” and explain it in his own words or come to a conclusion that makes sense.

LJ is still very into all things tractors and farming. He helps my dad on the farm and enjoys it so much. He has already told me that when he’s 10, he’ll be done living with us and will move to grandma and grandpa’s farm, ha! This love of all things farming has been going strong for years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

His other love right now is Legos. Justin was also very into Legos as a kid so he has started passing his collection on to LJ – I love seeing them work on building things together! No surprise here, but LJ loves to build tractors, combines, wagons, etc and he has multiple Lego farms set up around the playroom at any given time. This has been a great way for him to use his imagination and makes us so happy to see him have such joy in creating with Legos.

LJ has always been a great big brother to Vi, but I was still surprised to see just how wonderful he is with Ollie. There are only 21 months between LJ and Vi, so while there is still the big-brother-little-sister dynamic, they are also peers with shared play, a shared room, similar activities, etc.

With Ollie though, there is a big gap and LJ has very much embraced the caretaker role. He enjoys helping with Ollie – bringing burp cloths and pacifiers, giving him hugs and kisses, holding him, feeding him a bottle, etc. He is sweet and nurturing and his tender heart really shines in his big big brother role.

Last week Justin and I went to LJ’s Thanksgiving program at preschool and several moms introduced themselves to me, saying they hear all about LJ from their child (in a good way it seems, haha!) Seeing LJ wave and say hi to everyone and watching other kids interact with him – it just makes me SO proud as a mom to see him be kind to everyone.

Of course, there are stubborn moments in our life. There are times when LJ doesn’t listen or throws a fit or gets in trouble for doing something sneaky, but honestly, that’s infrequent. Overall, he is sweet, loving, cautious, affectionate, curious, kind, smart, honest, energetic, playful, and just so much fun. The other night, Justin and I were talking about how much we just really enjoy LJ at this stage – he is fun be around and talk to and do activities with!

This morning when he woke up, I gave him a big birthday hug and talked about how he is older and bigger today. He grinned and jumped up and then asked if we could check to see if I can still hold him – my mama heart MELTED and I immediately scooped him up. That’s LJ in a nutshell – excited to be big but still wants to know he can cuddle too.

Happy 5th birthday sweet boy!

Six Weeks as a Family of Five

I’ve popped onto the blog sporadically over the past six weeks, but mostly I gave myself this time as a maternity leave. For these past six-and-a-half weeks, I took off time from my job, I paused or greatly reduced my volunteer commitments, and I cut back on my time spent on the Simplify the Chaos blog and social media. In other words, I actually simplified the chaos of life and reduced my days to one major purpose: adjusting myself and my family to life as a family of five.

It’s been wonderful to have this time off, but I’m feeling ready to ease back into more things, including this blog. Last week I shared a Day in our Life and that gave a pretty accurate look into our life right now, but today I thought I’d give more of an overview of the past six weeks. Fair warning: this is a mammoth post! Since ultimately, this blog serves as a type of journal for myself and the things I want to remember in the future, I decided to just accept the length. Grab a coffee, get comfy, and settle in!

Photo Credit: Natalie Joy Photography

I shared Ollie’s birth story here – I had a scheduled c-section that went according to plan and spent the next 2.5 days recovering in the hospital. We had a great hospital stay but were ready to get home and settle in. I felt such contentment in the first few weeks of his life – knowing he is our last baby made me want to just savor everything as much as I could.

Thanks to having lots of help from Justin and our two sets of parents, I was able to spend the mornings sleeping in (after being up in the night) and snuggling with Ollie. We have a rocking recliner set up next to the bassinet in our room and I spent many mornings just sitting there with him; I often wouldn’t emerge from our room until like 9 am or so. I have specific memories of just feeling so content and happy – I’d finish breastfeeding and just gently rock with skin-to-skin snuggles as the warm morning light filtered in through the nearby windows. Truly some of the most fulfilling memories of early motherhood I have and I’m extremely grateful!

Mr. Ollie

Ollie is a super sweet baby. I personally think he’s a pretty chill newborn – there is obviously still a certain level of crying and fussing that we expected, but overall he has been content and easy going.

From day one, he has been a good sleeper. Even in the hospital he was snuggly and hardly ever cried. He started giving us long stretches of sleep at like, 10 days old, and has been pretty consistent ever since. Of course we’ve had some rough nights where he’s up more often, but I’m typically only getting up 1-2 times a night with him which has been a wonderful surprise.

As a third-born child, we needed him to kind of just slide into the family and go with the flow. He started tagging along to swimming lessons and daddy’s softball games and various errands in his very first week of life and has been an absolute trooper from the beginning.

He almost always falls asleep in the car seat as he is shuttled around to preschool drop-off/pick-up, gymnastics, church, grocery shopping, and other events. He takes it all in stride and has been a sweet little tagalong.

Around the house, he naps fairly well if I put him down, but I also like to carry him around in my Solly baby wrap. Sometimes he naps, other times he squirms, but I do love wearing him around as I get things done around the house. I love this picture Vi took of us swinging on the porch swing with him in the wrap. ❤

One area we’re struggling in a bit is with breastfeeding, but I’ve been working with a lactation consultant and I’m confident we will get to a good place with this as well. I’m grateful that Ollie takes a bottle well, which allows Justin to help with feeding when he’s home. It’s been quite the journey and while I am not quite ready to go into details with this, I anticipate sharing more about our feeding journey at some point in the future.

Sibling Love

The two older kids have been truly amazing with this transition. I expected tantrums and regressions, I expected jealousy and sibling rivalry, I expected the initial excitement/novelty of a baby to wear off and they’d be over it and ready to send him back to the belly . . . I mentally prepared myself for struggles and a hard transition but none of that happened. The kids have been smitten since they first met Ollie. Just look at the first moment they saw him:

Initially, they both wanted to hold him all the time. After a few days, LJ’s interest in holding him kind of faded but Vi still was really into it. Then after a couple weeks, she stopped asking for it quite as much too.

Now, they ask to hold him every once in a while, and particularly like to practice holding him while standing up (with close adult supervision), but mostly they just want to love on him. First thing in the morning, they come into my room and head straight to his bassinet to check him out. Throughout the days, they want to know what he’s doing and where he is and if it’s at all possible, they want to be touching him in some way.

They love to be close to him. They’re constantly wanting to hug him and kiss him or touch his little hands or feet. I often have to remind them to give him space, especially when he’s trying to nap and they’re trying to bombard him with love. Whether he’s snuggled in his bassinet or tucked in the car seat or breastfeeding on the couch, they are not short on affection for him!

When Vi was born, LJ was only 21 months old. He was practically a baby himself: mostly nonverbal, in diapers, needing help and supervision for almost every task and heavily dependent on me. This time, the kids are older and more capable and actually helpful! They will bring me my Haaka when I’m breastfeeding. They can grab me a diaper/wipes/burp cloth/whatever I need from another room. If Ollie starts fussing, they’ll pop his pacifier back in. They can complete simple tasks like getting their own water and filling it up or grabbing a snack without needing my help. Obviously, they still have their own needs for my help too but it’s just so nice to have older kids who can be somewhat independent and helpful in this newborn stage.

They also like to bring him toys to tuck around him while he’s sleeping or breastfeeding – so sweet! Now I’ll be honest, while I’m so glad the kids love him and have adjusted well, there have been some major challenges to moving to three kids and we’ve had our fair share of struggles and learning curves. I’m planning a blog post that details more on the transition for us going from 2 to 3 kids and will share more there, but just know it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows.

Our Village

It takes a village to raise a child, and we have been SO grateful for ours. I don’t share any of the following to brag, and I know we are lucky to live near some family and have other family willing to travel. I just want to be honest and give credit where credit is due: this transition time would absolutely have looked different had we not had the generous support of many people and we are incredibly thankful.

I’ve already shared how multiple friends came through in watching the big two when we unexpectedly had to change childcare plans right before giving birth to Ollie. We also had invaluable help from both sets of our parents who came to stay with us (mine for 8 days, then Justin’s for 10) and provide help with meals, cleaning, diaper changes, allowing me to nap (!!!), and especially taking care of the older two kids. (I actually think that is part of the reason the kids did so well with the transition – even once Ollie was home, there were enough adults around to give them plenty of focused love and attention.) I really appreciated having extra hands around so I could focus my energies the first few weeks on recovery, breastfeeding, and bonding with Ollie.

We also had many friends offer to bring us meals, and a meal train was set up to begin after our parents all left. It has been SUCH a gift to have the mental load of figuring out meals to feed our family taken away, especially on the days where it feels like I just move from child to child taking care of needs and don’t have time to think about much else! These sweet people in our lives are not only bringing delicious food, but also just this incredible feeling of love and support and we’re so so grateful.

My Recovery

I think this has been my best physical postpartum recovery yet. Once I left the hospital, I stopped taking my heavy pain medication and then at about a week postpartum, I stopped needing to even take Ibuprofen. I wasn’t trying to be superwoman; I truly felt good and didn’t feel the need for medication. I hesitate to even share this because I know not everyone’s experience is the same and truly, MY OWN experience hasn’t been the same each time. Recovery after LJ’s birth was ROUGH and I was in a ton of pain for a while, so I’m very grateful this time was better.

I think there are probably a lot of factors that helped this time around: lots of help so I wasn’t needing to overexert myself, getting up and active early on by taking gentle walks pushing Ollie’s bassinet down the hospital halls, and also, I think my body kind of remembered this process and what to do. I also gave myself grace to listen to my body – if I felt good, I did more and if I felt tired, I took it easy. Again, this was only possible because I had help from others in the first few weeks. Once all the grandparents left and Justin went back to work (he saved his days off for after they went home), I was almost a month postpartum and had recovered enough to be able to keep up with the kids well. Since we had slashed ALL unnecessary commitments and preschool hadn’t started yet, I had time to slowly adjust to a 3-on-1 dynamic during the days. And when Justin isn’t working and is home, he’s super involved with taking the older two kids so I have time with Ollie, or has even taken all three for periods of time so I can rest or get things done. It all helps!

Now at six weeks, I’m going to start easing back into gentle exercise for my body and scar massage at my incision site. I feel good and ready to do more!

Mentally, I’ve had periods of ups and downs. I’ve been overcome with gratitude, love, and contentment AND I’ve also been overwhelmed and stressed and frustrated. I’m trying my best to remind myself that the roller coaster of emotions and hormone shifts is so normal, but there have definitely been tough moments.

I know this is likely my longest post to date so I’m going to wrap it up, but I do want to give a little shout out to two other major things that happened in the last six weeks:

Vi’s 3rd Birthday!

Our sweet Vi turned 3 years old in August and we had her birthday party 10 days after Ollie was born. We invited our family and I had a few simple decorations: our usual Happy Birthday banner, two large balloons, and a princess cake. I picked up an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and they just so happened to have one with Disney princess rings on top – it was absolutely perfect for our princess-loving girl! I added a ton of fun sprinkles and three big candles on top and she was absolutely thrilled.

Vi is so much fun to surprise – she is easy to please and gets excited for everything. She is just as joyful getting a ring pop as she is getting a big present and it was a blast to see her eyes light up and hear her delighted squeals with each gift. I especially enjoyed that LJ wanted to get her a little gift (he picked out nail polish for her!) and he was genuinely excited for her to open presents and feel celebrated.

We loved celebrating our girl! She is sweet and spunky and adventurous and wild and just the most fun three-year-old I know.

Preschool Began

LJ and Vi both started preschool a couple weeks ago! We were all ready to start some sort of routine and the start of the year has gone so well.

They both love their teachers and are making new friends and I’m grateful to have some one-on-one time with Ollie in the mornings while they’re at school.

WHEW!! If you’ve stuck around this long, I’m impressed. It’s hard to squeeze in such a monumental six weeks of life into a blog post, but I’m glad to have all this documented to look back on someday. The days are long but the years really are so short. Ollie already has lost his newborn baby look and things change in what seem like the blink of an eye. This six weeks has been full of ups, downs, love, support, challenges, triumphs, and so much gratitude. I am thankful for this life and this family of five and want to savor every stage as best I can.

A Day in the Life {9.9.22}

Every so often, I like to do a “day in the life” post to just document a random day. These posts are so fun for me to look back on later and see a peek at our life at a particular stage – things change so much with kids and yet, while we’re living it, it feels a little like groundhog day (just wait until you see how many pump parts I have to wash today ha!) Days slowly shift, routines slowly change, and before we know it, we’re in an entirely new phase. I love just taking the time to document a full day so I can remember the ordinary things that seem unremarkable at the time, but feel so sweet and special looking back on. I decided to document last Friday, the last weekday before preschool started and therefore the last day of what felt like my “maternity leave” at home all day with the kids.

September 9, 2022

Ollie is currently sleeping in a bassinet next to my side of the bed, and I love waking up and peeking over at him! The morning light filtering in through the windows and his sweet little face peeking out of a cozy sleep sack (my little baby burrito!) – it’s moments like these, and the feeling of contentment that comes with them, that I want to remember forever.

Right now, our bedroom is rearranged so we can fit both the bassinet and a recliner and small table for late-night feeding and pumping. It’s not glamorous, but it works well for us in this season.

Sometimes I try to wake up before the older two kids, but often there are mornings (like this one) where I’m exhausted from being up in the middle of the night and they come and wake me up. They crawl into bed and we snuggle a little and I try to keep them quiet to not wake Ollie and it’s one of those beautiful chaos kind of things that I know I’ll look back on nostalgically very soon.

On this morning, Ollie miraculously stayed sleeping after the kids came into my room so I got up to let the dogs out and get breakfast around. I’ve been transitioning us away from cereal every day (it’s just not filling enough and my kids always want a snack soon after) by giving the kids choices of simple, hearty options. Today Vi picked a frozen waffle and breakfast sausage and LJ picked a hard boiled egg.

After breakfast, the kids worked on a puzzle together on the floor while I picked up and re-folded the laundry I had folded on the couch the night before. . .and the kids had messed up the piles when they woke up before me and came downstairs.

Ollie was still sleeping so I headed into the office to work on a blog post (today I was writing a list of my postpartum favorite things).

I had a little visitor playing with her Lego castle at my feet!

After a bit of work, I heard Ollie start to stir, so I quickly went upstairs to wash my face and put in my contacts. Vi loves to come with me and “get ready” too. She’s in a stage of wanting to do anything and everything that mommy does, and this includes skincare haha. I’ll give her a tiny dot of whatever I’m applying and she puts it on too. Notice all the jewelry – that’s all her!

I got Ollie up and out of his sleep sack, changed his diaper, and headed downstairs to snuggle up and breastfeed. I finished up my blog post while feeding (and using my haaka) so this is quite the multitasking moment haha!

I’m not ready to go into all the details, but right now Ollie is not transferring enough milk by himself to get full. I am currently pumping after every feed and feeding him that milk via bottle. This is a very typical view of feeding – one or both kids usually wants to be right next to us. (LJ is obsessed with that farming simulator game right now!)

Once Ollie was finished, I headed into the kitchen to do the dishes. Right now, I’m having to do dishes frequently due to all the pump parts constantly needing washed.

The older two came in for a mid-morning snack of yogurt and granola . . .

. . . while I hard boiled another batch of eggs for our breakfasts. With our shift to heartier breakfasts, I find that it’s really helpful to batch prep something to always have on hand. Sometimes it’s a baked oatmeal or a big batch of pancakes; today it’s a batch of hard boiled eggs! I also reach for these if I need a mid-morning snack full of protein.

Vi asked if she could let her Ariel doll “swim” and even though I knew I’d probably regret it, I set up a small bowl on a towel for her to play with her toys. LJ wanted to join the fun and brought their little stool for a diving board ha! It always does my mama heart good to hear them play happily together, even if it does result in a bit of a mess.

I left them to it and headed upstairs with Ollie to put away laundry and tidy up a bit.

He wasn’t content in his bassinet anymore so I wrapped him up on me. I love my Solly Wrap – makes household tasks with a newborn so much easier!

We headed back downstairs and spoiler alert: the water DID make a mess but you know what, it entertained my kids for a while and truly wasn’t hard to clean up quickly so it was worth it.

I threw together some simple lunches for the kids – chicken nuggets in the air fryer, tomatoes, cucumbers, and an “Oreo” (it’s really a plant-based version of the cookie with some cleaner ingredients that tastes surprisingly good!) LJ couldn’t wait to eat it 😉

For my lunch, I had some leftovers. We feel so lucky to be surrounded by a caring community here – a friend set up a meal train for us and we’ve been receiving three meals a week from friends. It has been SUCH a gift as we adjust to life with another baby and we are so grateful! Today I finished up a chicken pot pie that a friend dropped off a few days before.

After lunch it was time to feed Ollie again. This time, Vi wanted to snuggle up against my arm and “hold” him.

Another feed, another pumping session. I’ve been working hard to keep my supply up and I’m proud that it’s adjusting to get what we need.

Had another visitor during the bottle portion of this feed!

Once Ollie was finished, I gathered all our stuff and loaded the kids into the car to head to a playdate at a friend’s house. It was so good to get out of the house and have some mom conversation with a friend while our kids played – bonus points for it being gorgeous weather and getting to spend time outside! As you can see, Vi made herself right at home in their dress-up collection.

After about two hours we loaded back up to head home. Once we got there, Ollie was ready to feed again. This time, I settled in with a book while he fed.

And of course, we did have a visitor. This time, Elsa came to join 😉

Justin got home and took LJ outside to enjoy the lingering warmth of the day and play some golf in the yard.

Meanwhile, Vi, I mean Elsa, wanted to hang out inside and play in the playroom,

while I did another round of dishes.

Another friend dropped off dinner for us (cannot overstate how grateful we are for this!) It was a yummy salad, chicken tater tot casserole, and sliced pineapple – filling and delicious!

My cousin, who lives nearby, just had her first baby in June and she and her family stopped by for a bit in the evening to meet Ollie. It was so fun to see these two little second cousins meet and I can’t wait to see them grow up together! We chatted about life and ended up feeding our babies at the same time; I enjoyed swapping stories and suggestions for things we’re each going through with our little ones.

The kids played a bit more and then Justin rounded them up for bedtime. Our bedtime routine involves brushing teeth and the kids picking out two books each to read in their beds. We’re currently trading off on bedtime duties and it was Justin’s turn, but Vi likes for me to read one book so tonight I did. Justin started with LJ and then took over both kids while I slipped out. (I decided I prefer not to share pictures of my kids in their beds).

I headed downstairs to snuggle Ollie and wait for Justin to come join. We had to wait for him because . . .

. . . we’re currently binging “Only Murders in the Building” together. It’s so entertaining!

Justin got some time with Ollie awake and alert, then I fed him one more time and we all headed to bed.

What a full day!

To see previous Day in the Life posts, you can check out the links below:

November 16, 2018

July 9, 2019

January 14, 2020

March 26, 2020

February 13, 2021

September 13, 2021 (almost exactly a year ago – my how things have changed!)

June 2, 2022

My Postpartum Mama Favorites

It’s hard to believe, but tomorrow Ollie will be one month old! This time of postpartum has been sweet, challenging, beautiful, overwhelming at times, and delightful at others. I’ve been trying my best to focus on savoring this stage because as a third-time mama, I know it goes so very fast.

There are a few things that I’ve been reaching for again and again over the past four weeks and today I thought I’d share them in case they might be helpful for anyone else preparing to have a baby. It’s like a Friday Features: Postpartum Mama Edition! While these are my top favorites, this was by no means an exhaustive list of the things I’ve needed and used postpartum. I plan on devoting a future post to all the things I’m using and loving for baby, or maybe an “if I was registering again” post that includes the essential items I’ve used in my pregnancies and postpartum journeys. For today though, here are my current top items I’m using all the time!

Nipple Butter

Currently, I am both breastfeeding and pumping and this stuff is a lifesaver! It’s organic and you don’t have to wash it off before nursing or pumping, so I feel good about using it for myself and my baby. Right now Ollie is feeding every 2-3 hours and I cannot imagine that much action without a protective balm helping to restore and moisturize. I have not had chapping or cracking at all and it has definitely helped keep the pain level of initial nursing down. I do highly recommend nursing pads too, which help soak up any extra cream and also soak up breastmilk leaks. I love these washable ones!

Sculpt and Recovery Postpartum Leggings

These leggings are a splurge, but have been SO worth it for me. These give me a great amount of compression and helped me feel secure after my c-section. I started wearing them in the hospital and continue to wear them nearly everyday. It didn’t agitate my c-section incision and in fact, I feel like it actually provided a protective layer for my incision to heal without rubbing against moving fabric. I feel like the compression and support these give to my core have really aided in my quick recovery. They are not only super comfortable but are high-quality and made to last. I only have one pair but I used it postpartum for both Vi and now Ollie and they have held up amazingly well.

Postpartum Support Bloomers

These bloomers are also pretty splurge-y, but again, I used them postpartum for both Vi and Ollie and they have held up great. These provide core and pelvic floor support, both of which are so needed postpartum. I sometimes wear these with the recovery leggings, but usually I choose one or the other. The bloomers are comfortable and, like the leggings, don’t bother my incision area at all. I don’t have any other support garments or belly bands or anything – the leggings and bloomers are all I need!

Compression Socks

During this pregnancy, my feet and hands started to swell and tingle. I expected it to stop once I had the baby, but it’s still affecting my feet a little bit. I have found that compression socks are really helpful in keeping the swelling down and reducing the tingling sensation. I don’t wear these with my compression leggings, but I will wear them around the house with shorts or to sleep in for a couple hours.

C-Section Cream

Technically, this is a future favorite since I haven’t been able to use it yet this time postpartum, but I know I will use it multiple times a day! If you have a c-section, scar massage is so important! I have done scar massage each postpartum period and it was a big reason why my scar healed so well. I don’t care if this is vain, but I want my scar to look good. It’s important to me that it heals nice and flat and as smooth as possible. Expecting and Empowered is an amazing resource for pregnancy and postpartum and I highly recommend checking them out. This info they put together for c-section scar care has been incredibly helpful for me! I used this scar massage cream when postpartum with both LJ and Vi and will be using it again this time as well.

Rechargeable Book Light

This is a super random addition to the list, but it has really made my postpartum experience better at night! I am obviously up often during the night and right now, Ollie is sleeping in a bassinet in our room. I don’t want to turn on a light and bother Justin, but I also don’t just want to scroll my phone at 3 am (that backlight wakes me up too much!) This booklight is the perfect solution – it allows me to read while nursing but it really only illuminates my page and doesn’t cause too much light to wake up Ollie or Justin. I love it!

Like I said earlier, this list wasn’t exhaustive of everything I’ve used postpartum, but these are the top things that have made my recovery and newborn mama life better. I highly endorse each item! Now I’m off to go snuggle my newborn – the time with an itty bitty baby around here is going fast and I’m going to enjoy it while I can!

Baby #3: Third Trimester Update

All photos in this blog post are credited to Natalie Joy Photography.

This past Tuesday I hit the 37 weeks pregnant mark which means baby boy is officially full-term!

While I have a repeat c-section planned, he could decide to surprise us early at literally any moment now so I’m soaking up each day as the potential last day of pregnancy. Knowing this is most likely our final biological baby has made this pregnancy a bit bittersweet – each milestone is a huge blessing and is also a goodbye to another stage of this journey. While I am so so SO excited to snuggle this sweet little babe, I’m also enjoying the final days of feeling his kicks, rubbing my belly, and feeling all the pregnancy feels.

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

Up until this past week, I had honestly been feeling really great! I’m still overall feeling pretty good but hitting 37 weeks has really started to shift things though. I’m feeling some increased nausea, some changes in my GI system, and more stretching/pain in my pelvis as things shift around. I’m also feeling more uncomfortable (things are pretty squished in there now!) and quite a bit of lightning crotch. Baby has officially dropped too! I felt him really turn around maybe 3-4 days ago and now it’s like my belly is reversed – where I used to always feel his butt is now where his limbs are and vice-versa. My belly is markedly lower than it was before so honestly, at this point, we would not be surprised at all if he surprises us early.

I’ll also say – my fatigue has also increased and I’m wishing I could nap more during the day. My quality of night-time sleep has dropped significantly but every once in a while I still get a decent night’s rest. Hoping for a few more of those nights before his arrival!

My Preparations

I’ve joked that I don’t know if I hit nesting mode so much as panic mode, but I’ve been very busy with preparations over the past week or so. It dawned on me in the grocery store about a week ago that I hadn’t bought any supplies for baby – no diaper cream, no diapers, no nipple cream, nothing! I’m blaming my lax approach to third-time motherhood but even so, I needed at least a few things! Thankfully, my family had already planned to surprise Justin and I with a little sprinkle on Saturday and they brought us lots of diapers and wipes (so sweet!) I also had a friend offer to bring dinner for us a few days ago and she brought some diapers and wipes too. I’m so grateful for the love and support from family and friends!

I’ve also spent time getting things around this week. I bought and set up a new video monitor as well as all-purpose ointment, diaper cream, baby shampoo, and nipple cream. I’ve packed the hospital bag for myself and baby. I’ve dug out and washed the parts to our infant car seat and baby bassinet. The boppy pillow is freshly cleaned, I’m caught up on laundry, and things are finally feeling ready for baby.

LJ and Vi’s Awareness

The kids are so aware of the baby’s impending arrival and are beside themselves with excitement. They constantly talk about the baby, rub my belly and give it hugs and kisses, and talk to the baby. When we’re out and about, whether we’re meeting a new person or literally next to a stranger, they’ll share that their mom is having a baby. LJ regularly asks how many days until baby comes. The other day Vi started talking to my belly and I asked her some questions about the baby and she said “Shh, I’m talking to him!” I guess she didn’t want mom to interrupt their conversation – ha!

The kids both say they’re excited to hold the baby and change his diapers and I think they are going to be the best big brother and sister. I just know my heart will feel so full and happy seeing my three kids all together at last!

What I’m Looking Forward To

Other than seeing LJ and Vi meet their new baby brother, I’m most excited to just see what he looks like. Will he look like LJ and Vi or will he have a totally different look? They take after me more, so maybe he’ll look more like Justin? I can’t wait for baby snuggles and tiny coos and that sweet newborn smell. I can’t wait to just meet him and start to get to know him – I already know he’s a very active little boy by the way he’s constantly moving in my belly but I’m so excited to get to know more.

I’m also looking forward to the simple moments like gently rocking on the porch swing and snuggling on the couch and going for stroller walks. I’m just excited and ready for the next stage of parenthood! Whenever you’re ready baby boy, we are ready for you. ❤

Final To-Dos before Baby Arrives

Yesterday Justin and I were sitting outside on our deck and I remarked on the fact that it’s finally sunk in that we’re about to have a teeny tiny baby in our family. It might sound strange, considering the fact that I’m 36 weeks pregnant and have known about this baby since December, but it has always seemed like a “future” thing. And now, it’s sinking in that it’s not very far in the future at all and in fact will be coming in just a few short weeks – we will soon be a family of five!

We got our maternity pictures back and to say I’m in love is an understatement. Knowing that we plan for this to be our final pregnancy has made every milestone that much sweeter this time around and I loved having the opportunity to document this special time. While I want to continue to soak up every little baby kick and belly rub in the remaining weeks, there are also a few things I’d really like to accomplish before baby arrives:

1 – Finish the nursery! It’s come a long way since it was Vi’s bedroom and I’m really happy with the progress, but I still have a couple things to check off the list. We just installed bookshelves last night (more to come on that soon!) but I still want to put up some artwork on the wall above the crib, add some plants to the room, touch up the paint on the little side table, and re-install the doors that I just painted yesterday. I think I’ll be able to finish all that this weekend so we’re super close!

2 – Finish the Outdoor Space Refresh. A goal of mine this summer was to refresh the outdoor space. While I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, we did add seven tons of sand to the beach area, complete a DIY umbrella stand (a game changer on our deck!) and added a few updates like a new patio umbrella and outdoor rug and a few Adirondack chairs around our firepit. We have two more chairs to assemble and I’m hoping to snag a couple side tables to fit in between because our firepit has been a huge hit this summer and will continue to be well into the fall. I also think it’s not too late for us to try to get our string lights hung – our travels are done for the summer and the next few months are going to primarily be spent at home, with a lot of time outside, so they’ll still get use.

3 – Finish the Kid’s Shared Bedroom. This is a project that has gone on way longer than expected thanks to a wallpaper fiasco. I had finally decided on a wallpaper and was really excited about it . . . then it came in the wrong scale and was unusable. The correct scale was smaller than I wanted, which was disappointing, and my enthusiasm for the project kind of drained. I haven’t been too motivated to finish up this last wall, but I’d really like to try to do that before the baby arrives – whether that means find another wallpaper or go with a painted accent wall. I also still want to replace the baseboards and paint the doors, so a few things to accomplish!

4 – Actually prepare to have a tiny human live here. I realized yesterday in the grocery store that I have not bought anything for baby yet – no diaper cream, no baby wash, not even a single newborn diaper. Whoops! I stocked up on some all-purpose ointment, diaper cream, and baby wash but I still need to get diapers and wipes. I also need to pull out and clean things like the infant car seat, breastfeeding pillow, and my breast pump + parts as well as dig out things like breastmilk storage bags and the bassinet. You know, just the things that I need to actually have a tiny human live here in this house, haha!

The list feels long, but luckily everything on it is pretty manageable. And for the most part (other than the things on #4), nothing really has to get done before baby arrives. Whatever gets accomplished will be good enough, but it’s nice to have this list as a guide to help me focus over the next three weeks to prepare!