BABY WEEK is here!

It’s finally BABY WEEK! Whoop whoop!

Tomorrow I will be 39 weeks and my repeat c-section is scheduled for Friday, so we are very very very close to meeting this little one! I’ve been cleaning the house, stockpiling groceries, making freezer meals, and just finishing up a few little things. It’s crazy to think in just a few short days we’ll be a family of four!

Special thanks to Natalie Joy Photography for some absolutely dreamy maternity pictures!

I wanted to do one last pregnancy update before baby comes (and this will be the only blog post this week because I’ll be busy with other preparations). If you’re interested in reading back through the previous updates, I did one for first trimester, 20 weeks, and third trimester.

Symptoms/How I’ve Been Feeling

All things considered, I’ve been feeling really good. I had a little bit of a cold a few weeks ago and stuffiness + sneezing while pregnant definitely isn’t fun but if that’s the worst I have to deal with, I’ll take it. I’ve been loving my BaoBei support band (pictured below) this pregnancy – it’s like a sports bra for your belly and really helps alleviate many of the aches and pains surrounding a growing belly.

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I have been having some weird shooting pain that comes and goes in my upper legs/groin area and I think it’s due to how I’ve been carrying LJ and walking, plus the way my pelvis is shifting. Stretching a lot has helped with this but it’s been a literal pain to deal with and I’ll be glad when it’s not an issue anymore! Other than that, I really can’t complain. I’ve been feeling good and I just love this stage of a big ol’ pregnant belly poppin’ out. 🙂

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Energy/Workouts

I have continued to keep up with the Expecting and Empowered at-home workouts consistently. I’ve mentioned before that the co-founders do frequent 10-week accountability challenges and we’re currently in week 8/10 of a challenge. This has really helped me stay on track and make sure to get the strength training AND cardio in each week.

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Justin and I did make the decision to drop our YMCA membership because we just weren’t using it enough so I’m no longer attending cycling classes there but I have been keeping up with long stroller walks with a friend and we do have a treadmill at home so I’ve stayed active. I only track my weight gain at OB appointments, and I’m staying about 7-8 lbs lower than I was with LJ’s pregnancy, which I credit to all this activity!

Food Cravings & Aversions

Still no food aversions but lately I’ve been craving ALL THE SWEETS. Seriously, my sweet tooth is out of control! My latest discovery is a new ice cream: Blue Bell Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough. Oh sweet goodness, that stuff is dangerously delicious.

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I’m still needing to eat something small every 2-3 hours and I particularly love keeping things like string cheese or protein bites on hand for little snacks throughout the day.

Sleep

Ahh sleep. How I miss you. This baby is very nocturnal and loves to party hard starting at like 9 pm and go all night. Needless to say, it makes getting a restful night of sleep difficult, especially now that baby is so big. I’m tossing and turning, waking up multiple times a night to get comfortable, and just not really getting much restful sleep. Up until about 36/37 weeks, I wasn’t needing to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but in the last week or two I’ve needed to at least once a night, which also interrupts my sleep.

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Because nights aren’t restful and baby is less active during the day, I’ve really been trying to nap or at least rest when I can. LJ is thankfully back on track with taking a 2-3 hour nap each day so I’m able to get a few things done and then rest a bit which is a nice way to recharge a bit during the day.

What I’m Looking Forward To

Sweet baby snuggles. Little baby coos. That indescribable newborn smell. Seeing LJ as a big brother. Finding out if baby is a boy or girl and calling him or her by name. Even just writing all these things makes my heart feel like bursting – I am just so looking forward to meeting this person whom I’ll love for the rest of my life!

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Boy/Girl Predictions

I had a dream where essentially at one point, baby was a girl and at another point, baby was a boy. All within the same dream! So I’m still very much in the dark with no gut feeling or intuition. Most people have guessed girl based on how I’m carrying or whatever wive’s tales they subscribe to, so we’ll see!

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LJ’s Awareness

Little man is blissfully unaware of how his life is about to change. He still points to my belly when we ask where the baby is, gives my belly kisses, and likes to lift my shirt and support band and actually rest on my belly skin when we talk about the baby. It’s so sweet! We recently set up the pack and play downstairs and talk about how it’s “for the baby” so he’s getting used to that. I also ordered him a boy and girl baby doll and we’ll give him whatever gender his sibling is on Friday so he’ll have a baby of his own. I’m a little nervous about how the transition will go for him but luckily we’ll have lots of family around to help the first few weeks so he’ll still get lots of individual love and attention.

Misc Stories

I had a case of major pregnancy brain and totally skipped an OB appointment two weeks ago. I never miss appointments and this was especially bad because I am at the point in pregnancy where I’m going every single week on the same day at the same time. AND I had just been texting a friend earlier that morning about how she had a mom brain moment and totally forgot her son’s pediatrician appointment. Despite all these helpful things, I still totally forgot about my own appointment. I was so embarrassed!

I had a recent burst of nesting energy and convinced Justin it was the right time to paint both the nursery and LJ’s bedroom. You can see our sweet little nursery update here. I know that baby won’t actually be using the nursery for a few months, but just having it done made me feel so much more prepared and ready for baby!

I love that I’m close enough to birth that when people ask when I’m due, they get freaked out. Last night I was in Costco to get a new cell phone and the worker asked when I’m due – when I replied “Friday” he got a slightly panicked look on his face like I was going to go into labor on the spot and said “OH! Wow!” Ha!

Pretty much every random stranger who comments on my belly thinks it’s a girl. We’ll know if they’re right in FOUR. DAYS.

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Thanks for following along with me on this pregnancy journey! Crazy to think that my next blog post will be introducing you to my baby! All thoughts and prayers appreciated for a smooth delivery on Friday. ❤

 

 

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Baby #2 Hospital Bag

Friends, tomorrow we will hit a big milestone.

37 weeks. In the world of pregnancy, this is a big deal because it means baby is considered full-term.

FULL. TERM. We’ve made it! Honestly, I am both super excited and a little bemused – like how are we here already? But also…I feel like I’ve been pregnant a loooooong time. Ha!

Even though I do have a repeat c-section scheduled, I went into labor early with LJ so I’m mentally preparing just in case this baby decides to surprise us early too. Yesterday, my new diaper bag arrived in the mail and it was just the kick start I needed to start to physically prepare for delivery by organizing and packing up things for mine and baby’s hospital bags. Today I thought I’d share what I packed this go-around (with LJ I packed WAY too much – typical first time mom, right?) This is just a list of what works well for us and our needs; it might not be exactly right for you, especially depending on what your hospital provides, but I hope it’s still helpful for anyone else who may need to be prepping for labor soon!

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Baby’s Hospital Bag

I have blogged many times about my diaper bag and while I loved it, I knew that I needed to get a new one for life with two kids. For one thing, my old one has been used so much over the past 21 months that the front zipper pocket is completely broken which renders the pocket pretty much useless. For another, with two kids to pack stuff for, I wanted something with just a few more interior pockets. After what felt like endless research, I settled on this backpack style bag and so far, I’m loving it!

For baby’s hospital stay, I am packing the following items:

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-Halo Sleep Sack (we loved this for sleep with LJ and used it exclusively until he could roll over)

-Swaddle Me velcro swaddle (another option for baby’s sleep, a little less fabric than the sleep sack for a cozy sleep)

-Two burp cloths

-One long sleeved onesie (the same one LJ wore in the hospital – I can’t wait to see this baby in it!)

-One plain short-sleeved onesie

-Two pairs of leggings

-Two sleepers

-Two pairs of socks

-Aden + Anais muslin blanket

-Flannel blanket

-Beautycounter balm (the hospital does provide ointment if needed for diaper rash, circumcision healing, etc. but I prefer to take this stuff along)

-A blue striped hat + a few headbands (can’t wait to find out which ones we get to use!)

And that’s it! Honestly, I still feel like this is probably too many clothing options, but since I will probably be in the hospital 3-4 days, I wanted a few choices. Everything is gender-neutral because we didn’t find out gender with LJ and we don’t know with this baby, which actually makes it pretty easy to pack because it’s the same stuff as before! Our hospital provides diapers, wipes, stuff for bathing, etc. so we didn’t bother to pack any of that this time around.

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And it all fits perfectly in the new diaper bag!

Mommy’s Hospital Bag

Clothing

For my bag, I packed the following items this time around:

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-Black flip flops (I like these for the shower/bathroom)

-Postpartum Support Leggings (an old pair I got off Amazon and wore with LJ and a new pair from Bao Bei that I am very excited to use!)

-Postpartum bloomers (the hospital provides pads + mesh panties, which I will also use, but I’m excited to have something along that also gives extra support)

-My cozy robe

-Fuzzy socks! I hate having cold feet.

-“Slipper” socks. Someone gifted me this dark gray pair of fuzzy slipper socks when I was pregnant with LJ and it was my favorite thing at the hospital. They are easy to put on and off and they have grips on the bottom so I didn’t slip around at all. I kept them by my bed and wore them walking around my room and hallway, they kept my feet warm and felt like a treat, and they got popped in the laundry as soon as I got home. Loved these!

-A cozy gray cardigan

-Loose fitting black pants (alternative to compression leggings when I need a looser fit)

-Four nursing tank tops (mostly from H&M)

-Two nursing sports bras (I love these from Motherhood Maternity)

Toiletries

The hospital does provide basic toiletries, but I feel much more like myself if I bring along my own things so this is what I prefer to do. Basically, I pack like I would to go on any trip (my shampoo + conditioner, Wet brush, extra hair ties, my morning and evening skincare products, toothbrush, contact stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, and my basic daily makeup) but I do have a few specific additions. I make sure to take along a small handheld mirror so I can do my makeup from bed, nipple balm (because those first few days of nursing – ouch!), and washable nursing pads.

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I have a large travel toiletry bag that all this fits in and for the next 17 days all my stuff will be in it on my bathroom counter. This way, I can still have access to use it every day but it’ll be ready to grab and throw in the suitcase quick if baby decides to come early.

A few extras

I will also take along my trusty Boppy breastfeeding pillow (this was SO helpful to have in the hospital with LJ!) and my cell phone + charger. Justin and I share a suitcase for stuff and my half is now packed. He is on his own to make sure his stuff gets packed in time. 😉

What are your hospital bag musts? Even though I’ve done this before, it’s been 21 months, so if I’m forgetting anything crucial, please share below!

My Mom Uniform

Good morning!

Today I’m once again joining Erika & Shay‘s monthly Let’s Look link-up (which will actually be tomorrow, I’m just posting a day early) and this month’s topic is your favorite “outfit of the day” or OOTD. 

If you’ve been around for a long time, like 5 years ago before my blog’s hiatus, you know that this space started out as a place to share lots of teacher outfits. My Instagram used to be exclusively dedicated to sharing my teacher ootd and I would share simple, everyday looks that were professional, comfortable, and affordable. The outfits are all still saved under my closet archives but here’s a little sampling of what my professional wardrobe used to be:

 

I loved mix-and-matching basic pieces in different ways – I loved little details like a fun ruffle, statement jewelry, or unique shoes and I enjoyed finding fun ways to layer. I still enjoy dressing up like this if I have the occasion to!

Now that I am no longer teaching and stay at home with LJ all day, it would be super easy to live in sweatpants, but I still try to get dressed every day. I don’t mean get dressed up, I mean just get dressed in anything other than the same old sweats.  It is literally JUST as easy to throw on a basic striped shirt as it is to throw on a sweatshirt, and it may seem silly but it affects my overall confidence and happiness. I’m way happier bumping into a friend in the grocery store if I’m wearing a “real” shirt. I’m way more confident kissing my husband when he comes home if I’m not in the same sweatpants I was wearing when he left for work in the morning. When I feel like I look even just a little bit put together, I feel better about myself and a happier, more confident Sarah is honestly a happier, more confident wife and mom.

All that being said, I don’t have the same about of time to piece together a daily outfit like I did when I was teaching and even if I did, there’s no real reason to go to that level of thought and effort. My days usually include pushing a stroller on a walk or running around my backyard or reading books on the floor so the heels have taken a leave of absence. Plus, many days I end up with yogurt on my pants or have a strawberry thrown at my shirt (thanks LJ) so I stick with basic, easy to clean clothes. I have a “mom uniform” of sorts that goes something like this: easy top in a classic pattern (stripes, plaid, etc), one piece of simple or statement jewelry, skinny jeans, and flats. It maybe takes an extra two minutes to pull these items from my closet instead of reaching for sweats, but the minimal amount of extra effort makes a huge difference.

All of those outfits were super easy to thrown on, and I felt so much happier and more confident heading out the door. And they are all still comfortable and easy to “mom” in!

Now do I also take the time to do full-on hair and make-up everyday? Heck no. I’m often in a messy bun with maybe a few swipes of bronzer and mascara. And of course there are days where LJ and I are in jammies and sweats all day long. But I really do try to put at least a little effort into getting dressed more often than not.

I also want to address that now that I’m pregnant, my wardrobe is reduced and comfort is the name of the game, but I still try to look put together. I’m rocking a comfy, simple top, skinny jeans, and my Converse most days.

Also, since it’s approaching summer, we’re outside playing a lot now so I’m often wearing some form of athleisure.

My favorite OOTD is one that is comfy, cute, and requires minimal thought and effort while still staying a step or two above my ratty college sweatshirt. By keeping a simple “mom uniform” in mind, it’s easy for me to feel put together every day.

What’s your standby, go-to outfit that makes you feel put together and confident?

Simplify the Diaper Bag {Toddler}

Before I begin, thank you to all who have been praying for G, the student I shared about in Tuesday’s post. He is still in ICU, so please continue to pray! Thank you!

One of my main goals, both in life and on this blog, is to keep things simple. So often we over-complicate things and make life more difficult, time-consuming, mentally draining, or stressful than it needs to be. Sure, some things are worth lots of extra time and effort, but most things can really be brought down a notch or two (or seven) and life can still flow smoothly.

One thing I have really tried to keep simple is my diaper bag. I have a distinct memory from before I had children of a friend coming over to my house carrying her baby in the carseat, her purse was slung over her one shoulder, and her stuffed-to-the-brim diaper bag over the other. She waddled into my house bogged down with all this stuff and I thought “whoa, that looks so exhausting!” I started to look around at moms when I was out and about and noticed that my friend was not unusual; lots of moms were carrying multiple full bags on their shoulders or in their strollers and it just seemed like they had so much stuff with them at any given time. I decided that when my time came to use a diaper bag, I wanted to do things differently.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I’m very to-each-her-own around here. If you want to think through all the possibilities for what your child(ren) may or may not need while out and about and take it with you just to be safe, that’s totally your prerogative and I support you and have zero judgement! For me, I don’t want the weight of heavy bags yanking on my shoulders. I don’t want to have to dig around for several minutes just to find something at the very bottom of my bag. I don’t want to *think* I have something with me but really the bag is too full to easily locate it to be sure so I just leave my house and then when I need that item, come to find out it’s not actually in there at all. I want things to be simple, streamlined, and easy on my shoulders and back. I want to have what we need while out and about without carrying half my house everywhere I go.

Each stage of LJ’s life has required different necessities. I’ve previously shared what was in my newborn diaper bag and then my infant diaper bag. Today I wanted to share how I’ve updated what I carry now that LJ is a toddler. And I want to emphasize again: every baby and mama are different! This may not be the perfect diaper bag for anyone else but it is what works well for us!

Check out this post to learn more about the diaper bag I use. I love its simple, clean look and minimal-ish use of space and pockets!  I use the word “minimal-ish” to describe my bag and list of essentials because there are a few things included that aren’t really needs but sure do come in handy. I also link to a few items; I don’t get any compensation for this but just wanted to share products that have worked for us.

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Toddler diaper bag essentials (plus a few extras)

The front compartment is still my “mom” compartment and this pocket really hasn’t changed much over time. I still keep the same items as before: my wallet, checkbook, 1-2 pens, headphones, chapstick, hand sanitizer, a snack, hair tie, gum, and a sunscreen stick for LJ and I.

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The back compartment remains exactly the same as before and is still used exclusively for diapering needs. I keep 4-5 diapers, wipes in my wipes clutch, a changing pad, diaper cream, and a diaper bag dispenser for super stinky ones.

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The main compartment is where the big changes happened. I do still carry a burp cloth because every now and then he will throw up (usually just if he’s straining hard to poop – TMI?) and it’s handy to have. I changed up the books/toys to be ones he is more into as an active toddler. I have a bib and a silicone placemat that we can put on a table at a restaurant so he could pick up food and not be touching the surface of the table. I also now carry around a spoon in a case which is super helpful. Also, there is nothing worse than a hangry toddler so I always carry around a variety of non-perishable snacks like food pouches, a dry snack in a container (goldfish, animal crackers, Cheerios, etc) and a straw sippy cup.

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In addition to these items, I still carry a muslin blanket and a flannel blanket (although once the weather warms up for good, I’ll probably nix the flannel blanket). I  still roll my items and store them vertically so I can see almost everything at a glance and grab what I need without much rummaging. In the back pockets of this main compartment I keep the food pouches, spoon +case, bib, placemat, and a pacifier on a clip.

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You’ll notice I don’t carry around a change of clothes anymore. I honestly can’t even think of the last time he actually had a diaper blowout or ruined his clothes while we were out and about. The bib prevents most food spills and I’m not really worried about it if he gets dirty while playing outside. It just felt like a waste of space to carry around extra clothes that literally never got used. Once we start potty training and expect accidents, of course I’ll start carrying extras again. But for now, it makes sense to use the space for other things.

A few of my extra tips:

  • I try to regularly check the diaper bag at home to make sure it’s ready to go. Having extra space in the diaper bag means there is room for other things to get put in there (such as an item we bought while out and about or maybe LJ’s sweatshirt we took off or something). I try to leave the house with the diaper bag back to ‘baseline’ if possible.
  • When I check the bag, I also check the diaper compartment. I try to always have at least 4-5 diapers and plenty of wipes so we never have an “oh no!” moment when out and about and we realize we’re out of these crucial things. I love my wipes clutch because I can easily and quickly add more wipes at home.
  • When the bag is back to ‘baseline’ and ready to go, I store it in the same spot in our kitchen. That way I know I can grab it on the way out the door and not have to worry that I might not have everything I need.

For me, taking less has actually helped reduce stress because I have everything I need and can access it quickly and efficiently without sifting through a lot of extra stuff. The last picture shows that I can really see everything in one quick glance and grab what I’m looking for easily. If you have an toddler and feel like you’re carrying around half of his or her earthly belongings every time you leave the house, I hope this post gave you a few times for simplifying the diaper bag!

What are your diaper bag essentials?

Calm & Quiet Mornings

Mornings. All is calm, all is quiet. There is nothing quite like a peaceful start to my day!

Today I want to talk about how waking up early (translation: before LJ wakes up) has made a really positive impact on how my days have gone lately. I have always been a morning person, but I’m also someone who does not function well on little sleep. Motherhood and the subsequent sleep deprivation threw a bit of a wrench in my early-bird lifestyle but I feel like right now I’m back in a season where I can get up early again and it’s made a big difference!

A disclaimer: when LJ was a newborn or going through a sleep regression, waking up early was the very last thing on my mind. In those days I was sleeping in as long as possible and would not get out of bed until he woke up. If he woke up at 4:15 I woke up at 4:15. If he slept in until 8:00, I slept in until 8:00. If you’re a mom to a newborn or baby who isn’t sleeping through the night yet, do not put the pressure on yourself to wake up early. Girl, you need sleep! Take care of yourself and listen to what your body needs.

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For the past 3 months or so, LJ has been consistently sleeping in until 8:00 am, give or take 15 minutes. I was still waking up when he woke up but my mornings began to feel more groggy and disheveled, like I was actually over sleeping. I was going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 8, which was exactly what I needed when I was being woken up multiple times each night to breastfeed, but not what I needed now that my baby slept through the night. It also started to feel like I was waiting for my morning to wake me up and the days didn’t start on my terms. Since I knew that 99% of the time, LJ would wake up sometime between 7:45-8:15, I started setting my alarm to get up a little earlier. My mindset changed from letting my day wake me up to purposefully waking up and greeting my day. My mornings have significantly improved since I’ve done this!

I typically try to get up somewhere around 6:30. I put on some clothes, splash cold water on my face (I stopped using face cleanser in the morning about 6 months ago after reading multiple dermatologists recommend not over-cleansing your face), apply moisturizer, swipe on deoderant, and put in my contacts. I head downstairs to let the dogs out, fill their bowls with food and water, and pour myself a bowl of cereal. I then jump straight in to my devotions. During the school year, I participate in a Bible Study Fellowship so I’ve been completing each day’s lesson while I eat my breakfast.

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If nothing else, my goal is to get through that entire routine and brush my teeth before LJ wakes up. Some days that’s all I can do but even then it still feels like I’ve started the morning out on the right foot and I feel ready for the day. As long as I get up by 7:00, 99% of days I can get through all that before LJ wakes up.

On the mornings where I get up by 6:30 and LJ sleeps in, I am able to get much more accomplished. Typical things I’ll try to do in this time might be empty the dishwasher (when it’s full, we run it at night so the dishes are dry and clean by morning), start some laundry, wash any dishes left in the sink from the day before, straighten up a room that was left in disarray, or take care of my one cleaning task for the day. I might spend time finishing up a blog post (like I did today!) or get a little work done for my job. Sometimes I will even just light a candle and curl up with whatever book I’m reading and get a few chapters in before LJ wakes up. It feels SO GOOD to be able to start the day off with a sense of calm and accomplishment. Even if nothing else “productive” gets done for the rest of the day, I still feel like I at least have it a little bit together because I had a smooth and relaxing morning.

Of course there are still days where I sleep in. Just the other night, Justin and I stayed up late so I slept in until LJ woke up. When I was in my first trimester with baby #2, I respected and listened to my changing body. If I felt extra fatigued, I just turned that alarm off and kept on sleeping. Sometimes I’m only up for 10 minutes before LJ wakes up. Other days, I get a great night of sleep and wake up on my own at 6:00, ready to start my day. I don’t stress too much about having an exact time or plan but really try to listen to what my body needs while also knowing my days do start so much smoother and happier if I get a little time to myself to start the morning off in the calm and quiet. Just like I said in my self care post last week, I’m a better mom, wife and person when I take care of myself, and waking up early to start the day my way is a form of that.

If you’re feeling like your day wakes you up instead of you waking up to greet the day, try setting your alarm a little earlier and see how you feel. Even just 15 minutes to drink a cup of coffee in silence may make a big difference for you!

 

Refreshed and Recharged: A Self-Care Soapbox

As I write this blog post, I am sitting at a table in Starbucks on a Wednesday afternoon. I have a cold pressed juice in front of me, a delicious blueberry scone in my belly, and LJ is 6 miles away playing at a friend’s house. And I’m not going to lie, it is downright glorious.Self Care 7.jpg

I love my role as a work from home mom. I am so thankful I get to spend my days with LJ and also make a small income (read more about how I strive to balance these here). When I got pregnant with LJ, Justin and I decided that the best situation for our family would be for me to take a break from teaching to stay home and now almost two years after that initial decision, we are both extremely happy with how this has worked for us.

That being said, I can’t be “on” as mom 24/7 and never take a break to recharge.  I can’t give 100% of myself 100% of the time and not refill my own tank or I’m just running on empty and that helps no one.

Self-care is an overused buzzword these days, but I do truly believe that it is critical for a healthy, balanced life. While I love my days at home, I know I need to have a little “me” time in order to be the best mom, wife, woman I can be. It’s been on my heart lately to write a post about the importance of taking care of yourself, so that’s where we’re headed today. And just for the record, self-care isn’t important for just moms. If you are single and work full time, you need to take care of yourself. If you are in grad school and working part time, you need to take care of yourself. If you are married, dating, divorced, no kids, seven kids, mid-20s, mid-60s, etc. you need to take care of yourself. This is important for everyone! I’m going to be specifically speaking to why it’s important for me as a wife and mom, but you just insert your own labels to make this fit you. It is important for you, regardless of where you are in life, to take care of yourself.

Better self = Better wife, mom, and human

Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. In fact, taking a little time to recharge and refresh is actually selfless, because it allows you to be your best self when it comes to pouring into others. Before every plane ride, you are given the safety instruction that if the oxygen masks are activated, you need to take care of yourself first before helping someone else. You must make sure that you are functioning well enough to be able to adequately help someone else.

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Photo Credit: The Commoneer

If I spend my day in sweats and I don’t take a few minutes to wash my face or brush my teeth because I’m so busy taking care of my son, I feel pretty crummy about myself. If I spend every single nanosecond of LJ’s awake time personally engaging him in play, preparing him food, feeding him, and diapering him, and every nanosecond of naptime cleaning my house, preparing food for dinner, completing work for my job, doing laundry, etc, I feel completely depleted and exhausted by lunch.  If I don’t get a little mental escape occasionally, my brain feels fried.  If I don’t move my body and get a workout in at least 2-3x a week, I feel sluggish and low energy. And when I feel crummy, depleted, sluggish, and exhausted, my temper shortens, my frustration heightens, and my patience wanes. Sounds like a happy, fulfilling life, right?

But. If I take a few minutes to quick wash my face, brush my teeth, and change into clean clothes (even if they’re just clean sweats), I feel refreshed. If I take just a few more minutes to swipe on some make-up, I feel put-together and prepared. If I allow LJ to play with his blocks independently while I finish my morning devotional nearby, I feel centered. If I carve 20 minutes out of naptime to read a book or paint my nails (or take a nap!) I feel recharged. If I take advantage of the YMCA childcare or complete one of my E&E workouts at home while LJ watches, I feel energized. And if I take a friend up on her offer to watch LJ for a couple hours one Wednesday afternoon so I can have some time to myself at a Starbucks, I feel rejuvenated. When I feel these things, I am kinder, more patient, flexible, and happier.

Now. Crummy, depleted, sluggish, exhausted, short-tempered, frustrated, and impatient OR refreshed, put-together, prepared, centered, recharged, energized, rejuvenated, patient, kind, flexible, happy. Which version of Sarah do you think is at her best mom/wife/woman self? It’s not a very tough call is it?

Sounds great. But I’m still a busy mom. HOW can I take care of myself?

Find “mini” boosts. I wrote a whole blog post about small ways that I can get a little mental boost and recharge my batteries on days where I need a little lift but don’t have a ton of time. It doesn’t have to take an hour or cost tons of money. Most of my mini boosts take just a few minutes or can be done with LJ. These things are extra beneficial on days where Justin works a super long shift (sometimes up to 24 hours) and I have to fill both our roles at home.

Communicate with your partner. If there is a week where Justin has several long shifts or we’ve had a lot going on and I need a little break, I communicate my needs with Justin. This might be “hey, I’ve had a crazy day today – can you take care of figuring out dinner or should we order pizza?” or it might be “this week is about to do me in – is there an afternoon or evening where you’ll be home with LJ so I can go to a coffee shop for an hour?” I thrive on a time to myself in a coffee shop to read a book, prepare a blog post, catch up on work for my job, etc. This does WONDERS for me. I always return happy, refreshed, and ready to jump back in to life and be the best mom and wife to my guys. It’s gotten to the point now where if we have a slow day at home, usually on a Sunday afternoon, Justin will ask me if I want to go have “me” time for a while without me even mentioning it. (Once it even involved me going to Panera and actually eating dinner uninterrupted by myself. Nirvana.) He has seen that this time makes a difference for me and I appreciate that he’s supportive. On the flip side, I support when he needs time away too. Just this past weekend, he got asked to join some friends for laser tag and I wholeheartedly supported this. He enjoys golf in the summer and we find days in our schedule where he can work it in so he can recharge and be his best self for us. It’s a give and take! But it doesn’t happen if you don’t communicate what you need. It’s not helpful if I am frustrated and snappy and just expect him to know what I need.

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Say BUH-BYE to any guilt.  Mom guilt, man. What a crock. I have had to come to terms with the fact that self-care isn’t selfish. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good mom. It doesn’t mean I’m loving my child any less. I cannot, I repeat, can NOT give 100% of myself to my husband and child every moment of every day. It leaves nothing left. How can I function on nothing? Not one person would try to tell you it’s a good idea to keep driving another 150 miles once your gas light comes on, yet it seems that our culture often makes moms feel bad for taking time to take care of themselves. That is crazy! I know that when I take care of myself I am able to actually do a better job. I am a happier, more patient mom. I can be my best self, which is what I want to be. I want to give Justin and LJ my best and I’m at my best and brightest when I’m running on a full tank. And my tank is fullest when I’m making myself a priority too.

What do you enjoy doing to take care of yourself?

 

 

 

A Simplified Nursery

Good morning!

Now that I’m 16 weeks along with baby #2, I’ve begun to start thinking about how our living arrangement will soon change. We live in a 3 bedroom house and use the third bedroom as a guest room since we frequently host out of town guests. Right now I’m taking a “wait and see what works best for baby #2” approach. Perhaps he or she will need to stay in our bedroom longer (LJ transitioned to his crib at six weeks) or maybe we’ll figure out a way to have a combo guest room/nursery situation and just move baby back with us when we actually have guests. Or maybe we’ll transition LJ into the current guest room and move baby into his nursery. We’ll see what works best when the time comes!

Since I’m not planning out a nursery this go-round, I thought it would be fun today to share a peek into LJ’s nursery and how we planned and prepared for his arrival (before we knew his gender). Our goal was to create a sweet and simple (and inexpensive) little bedroom for him. I don’t have an exact number, but when I calculated up approximately what our nursery cost us, it was around $400 (some things we already had and others, like our crib mattress, diaper pail, changing pad, etc, were gifted to us at our baby shower and not counted towards that total).

Before I begin I want to clearly state: if you are all about trendy, matching furniture and decide to spend $2000 on a brand new crib/dresser/nightstand set from Pottery Barn, or you splurge on the gorgeous $1600 Tufted Wingback Upholstered Swivel Glider (and the matching $700 ottoman) from Restoration Hardware, OR you don’t have space or money for a nursery and keep your baby in a pack and play in your room (because when it really comes down to it, all babies need in a bedroom is a safe place to sleep), that’s your choice and you will get 0% judgement from meTruly. You do you, mama. You know your preferences, you know your finances. The decision is for you and your partner to make. Justin and I agreed that babies cost a lot after they are born (clothes, diapers, wipes, food) and we didn’t want to spend tons of money on stuff before the baby was even here but we did want to create a space for our baby in his or her own room. For us personally, we chose to find ways to keep the nursery simple and inexpensive. That’s what worked best for us, and so I’m sharing how we made that happen. If you choose to do things differently, you do you.

Creating our Simplified Nursery

We re-used or re-purposed a lot of what we already had.

When we registered for LJ, Justin and I both really loved a glider that we tested at Target. It was our style and the color went perfectly with our color scheme, but it was $400. We knew that there was a very small probability that it would be bought for us and we had other items in the pricier range that we needed to prioritize (like a stroller and car seat). So we said no to the glider and instead bought a $70 slipcover to go over an old, but still very comfy and functional, tan recliner that we inherited for free from Justin’s grandparents several years ago. It’s maybe not *exactly* the look we would have chosen, but for a $330 savings, we could absolutely live with it. 😉 I do want to say that while I’m so glad we could find an inexpensive alternative, I am thankful we had a comfortable chair in the nursery. We have spent a LOT of hours in this chair breastfeeding, rocking, reading books, comforting in the middle of the night, even sleeping on the nights LJ would.not.sleep. without being held – I strongly recommend a comfy place to sit in your baby’s room!

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We reused an old crate that Justin’s mom gave us several years ago. When we were first married, we needed a TV stand so she gave us this crate she had in storage. At the time all we did was sand the rough edges and stain it. We decided to use it as a combo bench/bookshelf/toy storage/nightstand in the nursery and I actually love how it looks there!

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My favorite re-vamped piece was this mid-century dresser we got off Craigslist a couple years ago for $30. We painted everything except the legs (I believe we used Slate Tile from Sherwin Williams and we just needed a quart of their Color to Go sample) and I spray painted the existing knobs gold and then roughed them up a little with sandpaper to look antiqued a bit. I absolutely love the way it turned out and the paint+spray paint supplies cost less than $15 total.

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We got crafty (or enlisted crafty people)

Justin made this shelf for me a few years ago based on a picture I found on Pinterest. He used reclaimed wood and it was the perfect fit for above the changing table dresser!

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My sister is super creative and talented so she made most of our nursery artwork (the Peter Rabbit print was a farmer’s market find but the rest are my sister’s handiwork).

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I was able to snag a few pillows and fabric from a JoAnn’s that was going out of business so I made some simple pillowcases to spruce up the little bench area for a very low cost.

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We prioritized where to spend money

There is SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. out there about baby gear. It’s overwhelming! Before registering, we read the latest version of Baby Bargains and this was one of our best decisions. This organization does use affiliate links but does not take money from the brands it reviews or participate in partnerships or sponsors or anything like that. I felt like we got good information from the book and it really helped Justin and I decide what items we wanted to splurge on (car seat, stroller) and what we could feel comfortable with a less expensive option (like a crib). We went with a simple Ikea crib for $100 (I couldn’t find our exact one but this one is similar) and love that we didn’t have to spend a ton of energy (or money) on the decision.

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We kept a super simple “theme”

Again, if you are all about a coordinated nursery and dream of a woodland/nautical/Parisian/etc room for your baby, that is totally your choice.! Since we re-purposed many items and wanted a gender-neutral space, it was easier for us to select individual items that fit a general vibe instead of buy themed items. We chose a gender-neutral color palette (white, gray, and shades of blue that didn’t feel like too “boy”) and selected fabrics, paint colors, and decorative items that worked within that palette. I found I preferred simple, whimsical items so I picked up little things here and there that fit that vibe. I mixed in plants for a splash of color and included some items from Justin and my childhood for a touch of nostalgia (on the triangle shelf sits his Winnie the Pooh and my bible from my dedication at church). I think think the result was a simple, sweet space that we were really pleased with.

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I’m really happy with how this space turned out and have really enjoyed spending time here over the past 15 months. Talking about all this nursery prep is sure getting me excited for another baby to snuggle in a few more months! What are your nursery must-haves?

And in case you’re interested, here’s a general source list of where I picked things up. I included links if I could find the exact or similar item (I make $0 off this, just sharing what has worked for me!)

Crib: Ikea (similar here and here)

Crib mattress: Amazon

Art above crib: Hobby Lobby

Basket with blankets: TJ Maxx (similar here)

Lazyboy Slipcover: Target

Salt lamp: Amazon

Sound machine: Target

Light-blocking curtains: Target

Small iron basket: Hobby Lobby (similar here)

Fabric basket: Ikea

Hanging Shelf w/brackets: World Market

Letterboard: Walmart

Cement planter: Magnolia (similar here)

Basket holding plant: Ikea

Fake succulent: TJ Maxx (similar here)

Diaper Pail: Playtex

Diaper basket: Target

Monitor: VTech

Changing pad: Munchkin

Changing pad cover: Aden + Anais

Mobile: Baby Jives & Co

Wall paint color: Magnetic Gray

Trim Color: Alabaster