Mother’s Day 2020

I’m still smiling after this past weekend. It was just the best!

Justin had the day off Friday and he spent the whole time working outside getting all the yard work done so that he would have the entire weekend free to be with the kids. He came in with a bouquet of flowers Friday afternoon – he said he wanted to give them to me early so I could enjoy them the whole weekend. So thoughtful!

Sunday morning, after Violet woke up and I fed her, Justin took her and insisted I get back in bed to sleep in a bit. Sleep is truly such a gift these days and I so appreciated the extra time!

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When I finally got downstairs after sleeping in (and getting my bowl of cereal delivered in bed), I came down to the sweetest gifts.

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Heartfelt cards, a few yummy treats, and a rubber tree I asked for. Just perfect ❤

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Both Saturday and Sunday were a wonderful blend of time to myself and time with my family. Justin encouraged me to do whatever I wanted, and he fully took over the meals and taking care of the kids. I got to spend time working on a few projects (re-potting my new plant, finishing off a DIY frame, and getting more work done on the basement kitchen) and relaxing by catching up on reading, listening to podcasts, and just resting.

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I also got some snuggles and fun moments with my kids, and it was extra enjoyable because I felt refreshed and taken care of.

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I think part of the reason this was such an enjoyable holiday for me was because I talked with Justin in advance about what I wanted. I told him I would love some time to myself. I also said I didn’t care if we ate take-out or if he made meals, but I did not want to have to prepare a meal (we got take-out Saturday and he cooked a delicious dinner on Sunday).

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And I took the guess work out of gift-giving by saying I wanted a plant from my friend’s small business. I gave him the website and directed him to the exact plant I wanted. He asked if I could just order it and I said no, then it wouldn’t feel like a gift. Haha!

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There was a time where I wouldn’t have been so clear with my expectations. I would have just wanted him to surprise me with something but not been specific about what I wanted. It was stressful for him and frustrating for me if I felt disappointed by whatever he chose to do. I finally realized that it might not feel like a romantic notion to say “here’s what I would like” but it makes things SO much better. He was thrilled to know exactly what to do and not have to guess or worry and I was happy to have my needs heard and met. I felt so appreciated and loved and the fact that it wasn’t all a “surprise” didn’t affect me at all. He still threw in a few unexpected treats that I wasn’t expecting and that all just felt like an awesome bonus. I thanked him several times for a great weekend – he listened to my desires and made it happen for me. I felt so well taken care of!

❤ ❤ ❤

There was a time when I wasn’t sure when I would be a mom. After our first pregnancy was ectopic and ended in a traumatic rupture and the removal of one Fallopian tube, I felt so hopeless and sad. I prayed so many prayers and cried so many tears with each passing month of not getting pregnant. I do not take a moment of the life I have now for granted and I’m so profoundly grateful for these babies who call me mama. Mother’s Day is now a joyful celebration for me, but I still remember the time when it wasn’t. If this holiday is a struggle for you due to longing or loss, you are not alone and I was thinking of you yesterday too.  I truly hope that my journey can give you hope that your story isn’t finished ❤

The Firsts and the Lasts

I was prepared for the firsts but not the lasts.

I read a similar phrase a while ago and it struck such a chord with me when I think about my journey in motherhood so far.

I have always looked forward to the firsts. First cry, first smile, first full night of sleep (praise the Lord). First roll over, first bite of food, first tooth. These are all things I anticipate and know to prepare for, and we celebrate each time there is a milestone moment.

During this time of staying at home, Vi reached a pretty big milestone: she crawled for the first time!

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We knew she had been getting super close. She had been lifting her body up in push-up position for a while. Then she was pushing up to her hands and knees and rocking back and forth. It was only a matter of time before she figured out the mechanics of crawling, and Justin and I watched eagerly, cheering her on (kind of makes up for no sports on TV? 😉 ).

Then, this past Friday afternoon after Justin got home, I set her down on the floor and put the remote (her favorite thing) on the floor in front of her…and she slowly army crawled to it! It was such an awesome moment for Justin and I to witness together and we were so excited to celebrate this milestone in our daughter’s life. She’s getting so big!

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For all that I look forward to the firsts, I don’t always anticipate the lasts.

The lasts are bittersweet.  While I am so very thankful for continued growth and development, sometimes it’s a little heartbreaking to see my child leave another piece of babyhood behind. And one of those big moments happened in this quarantine too.

I’ve talked before about LJ’s deep love for the pacifier. Weaning him from the pacifier was a milestone we planned for and anticipated, so that “last” was a little easier to prepare for. However, once we snipped off the end of his beloved wubbanub, he still continued to sleep with the stuffed animal part, an elephant affectionately known as Edgar, as well as two little lovies with bear heads. Every night, he wanted them tucked in his arms and every morning, he insisted on bringing “Edgie bears” (Edgar and the bears) with him. He carried them around everywhere. He looked for them to take to nap time, and smiled and laughed when he found them. He woke up and wouldn’t let us leave his bedroom without retrieving them from the crib. It seemed wherever LJ went, “Edgie bears” needed to come too.

Over time, he has been leaving them in the crib more and more. He stopped asking for them to come with him. He stopped insisting on making sure they were all three with him before he fell asleep. He didn’t need lovies tucked under each arm to fall asleep anymore. It happened slowly over time – sometimes he still wanted them and other times he didn’t – so it was easy to not really notice the gradual changes.

Then, one day in quarantine, I realized he is totally past this milestone. He no longer asks for them at all anymore. And even if he did ask for them, his speech has improved to the point where it wouldn’t sound like “Ed-gee bears” anymore. Such a big part of his life for so long . . . and now we moved past it and I don’t even know when the “last” time was. I didn’t know when it was happening, I only know now that it has. And just like that, my sweet little boy is a little bit bigger.

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I knew to prepare for the firsts. I did not know to prepare for the lasts.

Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, this time in quarantine has given me more time than ever with my children. I’m not going to my women’s group, so they’re not going to childcare. We’re not going to church, so they’re not going to nursery/Sunday School. Justin and I aren’t going out for date nights, so they’re not staying with a babysitter. There’s no visits with grandparents, no playdates with friends. We are together every day, all day long. And though the days are long, I know that the years are short.

While this time in quarantine can be exhausting and difficult, it is also a gift. It is the gift of time to enjoy their littleness right now. They are growing and changing subtly every day. I guess this long and rambling post is my way of reflecting during this time – a way to get all my thoughts out and remember the complex feelings of motherhood right now. I can’t wait for the day when life goes back to “normal,” yet while we’re here in this strange new normal, I’m choosing deep gratitude for the extra time I have to soak up each of my kids’ unique personalities right now. It won’t be long before they’re on to the next stage, and I’ve accepted that my mama heart will always straddle the line of bittersweet thankfulness for that. ❤

 

 

 

Storing Kid’s Clothes

I consider myself to be a pretty organized, minimal-ish person, but there is one big area that has always presented a challenge: kid’s clothes!

The first year of life is especially full of clothes since there are so many sizes (newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12 months) and you need a new wardrobe for each size. It slows down a little after that but you’re still changing sizes and seasons and needing clothing in each stage. I don’t try to achieve capsule wardrobes or limit a closet to a certain number of items, but even for someone trying to keep wardrobes small – it’s a lot of clothing!

To give you an idea of how much clothing we use at each stage, here was Vi’s wardrobe for 3-6 months:

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And here is LJ’s 2T wardrobe:

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Obviously, LJ has a lot more clothing because 2T lasts a year, so he needs a variety of options for seasons, whereas Vi’s only covers a couple months. They each have a few items also hanging in their closets like coats, dresses and nice button downs, but for the most part, this is all they have! I only keep their current sizes out; every other size is in storage.

With a son and a daughter and an unknown future (possibly having more kids and obviously not knowing their genders), we are currently keeping a lot of unused children’s clothing in our house. I quickly learned that I needed to be intentional not only with what I kept, but also how I store their clothing or things could quickly spiral into unorganized chaos. Vi turns 6 months in less than one week and she’s all but busting out of her 3-6 month clothes. Over the weekend, I was sorting through her clothes to put into storage, and I was struck by how far I’ve come in this area – storing her clothing was super manageable and didn’t take long at all.

Today I thought I’d share some of the strategies I use for what I save and how I store it in case anyone else is feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their child’s wardrobe and wanting some tips. This isn’t a perfect system by any means, but it has helped me keep their wardrobes manageable and kept me from feeling overwhelmed by holding on to clothing.

Before Storing, SORT!

The biggest tip I have is to keep LESS. I save the outfits I really love, and I pass on the ones that have served their purpose for me. Sometimes I take clothes back to the consignment store and recoup some of the money I spent the first time. Other times I’ll donate it to a friend with a younger baby. I’ve also donated clothes to a local rescue mission that helps women and children working to overcome homelessness.

I don’t hang onto everything for two reasons. One, it’s a lot of clothes! I focus on keeping the type of clothing we use the most. We received a lot of baby outfits as gifts, only to find I mostly keep my kids in sleepers when they’re that little (it’s just easier!) My kids both sleep in pajamas every night (and sometimes we stay in them all day) so we need several pairs of pjs. I also need lots of play clothes – I make sure to have options like soft shirts and joggers that make it easy to move in. But we don’t need a lot of dressy clothes like button downs and dresses, so I only keep a few in each size.

The second reason I don’t hang on to lots of clothes is, trends change! Once I use clothing, I like to pass it on so that it can continue to be used while it’s still trendy. I have received both boy and girl hand-me-down clothing from others, and honestly, some of it seems outdated even though it was only 3-4 years old. A big place I noticed this was in pants, particularly jeans. The trend for kid jeans has shifted in the last few years and baggy, flared baby jeans from 2012 kind of look silly on Vi right now.

I also only keep quality clothing. If something has a stain that won’t come out or is torn or otherwise damaged, I donate it to a textile recycling program (I love H&M’s because they make it very easy to donate!)

Store in a user-friendly, inexpensive way

Once I set aside the clothing I love, that we use a lot, and that is good quality, I make sure it is washed and put it in storage.

My storage system for clothing is super easy, inexpensive, and not at all fancy. I have big plastic tubs that I keep in my kids’ closets. I fold up the clothes, divide sizes with cardboard pieces from broken-down diaper boxes, and use index cards to label each section. Then I just stack the tubs in each closet so they’re out of the way and nicely organized for the future.

I wasn’t kidding about it not being fancy ha! Since we don’t find out the gender of our babies ahead of time, most of our newborn clothing is gender-neutral so we only have one box in that size; otherwise, all the not-in-use boy clothes are stored in LJ’s closet and the girl clothes are in Vi’s.

Whenever Vi bumps up a size, I do go through LJ’s clothes in that size too. LJ has a lot more than Vi, only because I end up using a lot of his clothes for her (like plain colored onesies and joggers). Also, I keep future sizes stored in the shelves so they’re easy to add to as people give us gifts or hand-me-downs and are ready when we need them. In Violet’s case, I also keep sizes over 12 months in the bottom stacked tub since it’ll be so long until we use those.

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I tried to be mindful of not keeping a lot with LJ, but I’m finding that I’m keeping even less with Vi. (The middle tub above is her 0-3 and 3-6 month stash and it’s about half of the amount LJ has in those sizes!) I’m buying less, using less, and keeping even less. I just realize that babies don’t need a whole lot of outfits and we tend to wear the same things over and over. I’m favoring the functional things over the cute-but-impractical and it’s amazing how much that lessens the burden of storing tons of clothing.

Bonus Tip: Don’t overspend on clothing to begin with

As a first time mama, I was so excited to buy cute baby clothes. My mom and I went shopping the week after LJ was born and in our excitement we bought so many cute boy outfits. I didn’t realize I’d mostly keep him in sleepers. I didn’t realize he’d be a little peanut and wouldn’t even get to wear some of the sweaters because by the time they fit him, it wouldn’t be sweater weather. I have lots of cute, barely used items that are harder to part with because I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of them. I learned my lesson and these days, I mostly shop consignment. It’s better for the environment to get more use out of clothing and it’s WAY more economical. Plus, once we’ve used a $2 shirt several times, it’s very easy for me to pass it along to someone else because I feel like I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth. Just some extra food for thought!

What tips do you have for storing clothes that aren’t currently being used?

First Month as a Family of Four!

Well, somehow I now have a ONE MONTH OLD.

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It feels like I just I shared Vi’s birth story and she is already one month old! She hit the milestone yesterday and while I’m thankful she’s healthy, growing, and settling into more of a routine (which generally means more sleep – whoo hoo!), I’m already missing the sweet little newborn cuddles.

IMG_20190923_200939As I’m sure you can imagine, my days at home with a toddler and newborn have been a little chaotic (see photo below ha!) but we’re hitting our groove now and I’m hoping to get back into more consistent blogging. I figured the best place to start was to have a catch up post where I bring you up to speed on what life has been like for us over the past month. It’s been a sweet, challenging, FULL month to say the least!

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My c-section was on a Friday, so I stayed at the hospital through the weekend. Several members of my family and Justin’s family came to the hospital during our stay to meet the baby. Since we didn’t know the gender ahead of time, it was fun to keep the surprise a few more hours until our parents could come to the hospital and find out in person – we loved getting to see their reactions when they heard we had a girl!

We came home from the hospital on Monday morning and it was SO good to be back at home. Right away, LJ wanted to hold Vi and it was just THE. CUTEST. THING. We didn’t even have to tell him what to do – he held his hands out and it was the most natural thing in the world. My heart was in a puddle!

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Justin had four workdays off for paternity leave (six total including the weekend) and it was so nice to get settled back home as a family. My mother-in-law stayed to help us during our first week home and then my mom stayed with us the second week. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without them. They cooked meals and kept our house semi-clean and most importantly, kept LJ entertained so I could focus on breastfeeding and getting into a routine with Vi. It was also nice to get a few naps in and catch up on sleep while they watched the kids! Because of my lifting restrictions, I wasn’t able to lift LJ in and out of his crib so they were the only reason nap time and bedtime continued to run so smoothly! I’m SO thankful for their help!

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The past two weeks we’ve been on our own as a family of four. This post is already getting super long so I’ll just touch on some of the highs and lows of the past two weeks.

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Lows:

-LJ got croup last week and it was so hard to keep him separate from Vi. He ended up spending two days at my parents house (we joked he was in quarantine) so he could rest and recover and Vi could stay healthy.

-We expected sleep to be elusive, but there have been a couple nights that we were awake more than we were asleep and even one night where Vi AND LJ were up most of the night. We know loss of sleep goes with the territory of having a newborn, but it is still tough!

-The first couple weeks, Vi did NOT like to be set down. She would sleep for 3 hours if someone was holding her…but would wake up in 20 minutes if I had set her down to sleep somewhere. It got to be draining to always have to hold her for hours (although it did lead to sweet snuggles).

-Vi started out wanting to feed every 90 minutes like clockwork. I’m so thankful I’m able to breastfeed, but being that on demand was exhausting and challenging.

-Two kids under two years old means someone always needs me. It’s a constant juggling act and some days it’s felt extremely overwhelming.

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Highs:

-The brother-sister bond is just about the cutest thing to watch. I love how LJ searches for Vi first thing every morning, he goes over to her when she cries, he tries to give her the pacifier, and he loves to hold her on the couch. It’s just so precious!

-LJ has grown so much in the past month. He’s using his words better, gaining more independence, and actually helps me with simple tasks like bringing a pacifier or throwing something in the trash. So proud of my big boy!

-Vi took to breastfeeding well and had a much better latch than LJ did starting out. It made the beginning of our breastfeeding journey MUCH more pleasant this time around!

-Justin and I have learned some tricks to help Vi sleep better in the bassinet or pack and play and it’s made life a lot easier to not have to hold her for all her naps.

-We’re finally getting longer stretches of sleep at night!!

-I mean…girl clothes are just the cutest. I already have a mild bow obsession. 🙂

-We’ve had a few days out as a family and it’s been great to get to have time together doing something fun outdoors!

-It has been a nice season of slow. It was initially hard to accept the fact that my house would just be less clean and I’d get less “done” during the day, but I’ve come to enjoy the shift in priorities. Snuggles trump folding laundry any day and I’ve enjoyed just spending time with my littles instead of worrying about all the other things that just don’t really matter that much.

-The dogs are unfazed by the presence of another tiny human. 😉

20190924_200202Love you Vi. Thanks for one unforgettable month. ❤

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?

Breastfeeding: a complicated journey

The end of an era is upon me.

After 13.5 months, I can feel LJ and my breastfeeding journey is drawing to a close. For a few months now, LJ has become more and more interested in food (and eats a ton!) and less and less interested in breastmilk. My supply has naturally adjusted and dwindled. We’ve gradually been dropping feeds and for the past month have really only done morning and night feeding. Recently, he’s become obsessed with all things daddy so Justin has been putting him to bed and the night feed has faded. Now we’re only consistently feeding in the morning and even that is becoming a 1 minute event before he’s ready to go downstairs for breakfast. My parents are watching him this weekend and I’m not going to pump or anything. I have a feeling this may signal the end of the road for breastfeeding.

While it’s a little bittersweet, I know LJ and I are ready for this. It’s been quite the journey for us and if I’m being completely honest, my feelings towards breastfeeding have been complicated. I am so grateful that I was able to do it so long and don’t take that for granted. But while breastfeeding is awesome and beautiful, it’s also freaking hard and brought about a lot of contradictory feelings. Today I just wanted to take a look back at some aspects of my experience. This post is mostly to help me process that it’s drawing to a close but also to offer encouragement to anyone who might be breastfeeding as well. For the record, I in no way mean for this post to shame other moms who make different feeding choices for their babies. This is simply what my personal journey looked like.

Things I wasn’t expecting

How awkward it felt in the beginning. I just expected LJ to pop on and go to town and it just be a natural thing. Nope. Didn’t work like that. It was awkward and stressful and took several weeks before we got into a good, comfortable routine.

My supply to tank around 9 months. All of the sudden, I barely had enough milk to keep LJ satisfied, which led to stress and panic, which obviously did not help my supply. I started using supplement mix and eating lactation cookies (I bought these and also made some using a recipe I found online) and this greatly helped boost my supply. It was a stressful month though!

How isolating it was sometimes. We went to a minor league baseball game and the stadium seats are not exactly the most comfortable place in the world to breastfeed (and it was like 90+ degress that day). Luckily, our local stadium has a little room for breastfeeding moms. I was so thankful to have a much more comfortable place to sit and feed LJ; however, it meant that I had to remove myself from the company of my family for half an hour and that was a bummer. This scenario repeated itself often – there would be a more comfortable place to breastfeed, but it meant I had to leave the conversations that were happening with friends, family, whomever. I sometimes resented the fact that for me to do what I needed to do comfortably, I had to choose to leave the company of whoever I was with.

How hungry it made me! I had heard that breastfeeding burns calories but man, I was not expecting for it to make me want to eat all. the. things.

Letdown. It’s a really strange, hard-to-describe feeling when your milk lets down and I just wasn’t expecting that!

Things I’m SO glad I did

Utilized the *FREE* resource center at my local hospital. I met one-on-one with a lactation consultant in the first two weeks when his latch was super painful and it made a HUGE difference. I also attended their weekly breastfeeding support group. I made some great mama friends and got SO much support, not only for breastfeeding, but also for transitioning to solids, sleep questions, travel tips, and general mama wisdom. I think it is so important to look at what is offered within your community and take advantage of any available resources to help make your experience with feeding the best it can be!

Kept a nursing cover in my diaper bag. I used this one and appreciated the stretchy, breathable fabric. I know some mamas prefer no cover and that’s 100% fine – there were times I didn’t use one as LJ grew larger. But I think it’s so important that both mama and baby be comfortable during feeding and this cover significantly helped my comfort level as a new mama feeding in public.

Used a nursing pillow. My boppy became my best friend during nursing – it made the experience so much more comfortable and I took it with me on all trips as well.

Things I hated

Middle of the night feeds. I will be the first to say I am not someone who functions well on little sleep. I need my sleep and I’m very cranky when I don’t get it. Until he started sleeping through the night, it was really hard for me to deal with getting up at 2 am, 4 am, etc to feed.

Pumping. Oh my gosh. I even had a pump that I loved, but I just did not enjoy having to be hooked up to that machine for 20 minutes. I would use a hands-free bra, but that meant taking off my regular bra first and I often ended up having to apply pressure to certain parts of my boobs to get all the ducts going anyways. Plus rinsing all the parts is a drag (although Justin often did the actual washing later and that was so helpful), then you have to label milk, reassemble parts again, store everything…it’s just a big process to repeat. I know it sound like I’m being super whiny about this, but it felt like a lot of work every time and was just not enjoyable.

Being the only parent who could feed. LJ originally took a bottle well, but that meant I had to pump, and you know how I felt about pumping. In order have enough pumped milk for Justin to regularly feed LJ  and keep up a big enough freezer stash to have what we needed for babysitters/emergencies, I had to pump daily. It also meant sometimes I’d  breastfeed LJ and then pump afterwards, which is absolutely no fun. It’s like feeding two babies in one go! Or Justin would use stored milk to feed him, but I’d have to pump anyways because I was so full so that wasn’t actually a break for me. All this meant I didn’t pump often, which led to not a ton of stored milk, which meant Justin could not feed LJ often. I’m not proud of it, but this was something I resented at times. Every other aspect of parenthood was shared with Justin but feeding was something I had to be the one to do 6-8 times a day and somedays this was frustrating.

Things I loved

Knowing my body was providing nourishment for my son. There is something really empowering about that feeling!

The sense of accomplishment when we finally hit our stride a few weeks in. LJ had a very painful latch at first and I worked with an LC to learn how to help him learn a proper latch. It felt amazing when he finally started latching correctly without any intervention from me. I wanted to throw confetti I was so happy!

When he was super little, breastfeeding almost always made him fall asleep. It was so cute to see him become more and more sleepy until he would finally drift off, curled into my body. ❤

Quiet morning moments when he’s still a little drowsy, his salt lamp is casting a glow around the room, and we’re just rocking softly in the recliner in his nursery as he feeds. There is something really magical about starting a day in such a way and I will miss these moments.

When I think back on breastfeeding in the years to come, I hope I don’t put on the rose colored glasses and only remember the good parts. I also hope I don’t become cynical and only remember the hard parts. The truth is, breastfeeding was both beautiful and challenging. There were days I was so thankful to be doing it and then days I strongly resented it. It’s bittersweet to be ending this journey but I also kind of want to throw a party. I hope to always remember this experience for what it truly was: wonderful, difficult, complicated, and life-giving.

 

 

 

On days when I need a little boost

Being a stay-at-home/work-from-home mama is a joy for me and I love it, but it does have its challenges. It is not just lounging on the couch relaxing at home – it is a true job and I work hard each and every day. Sure, some days I stay in my pajamas all day long but that doesn’t mean I was lazing around. It just means I was comfortable while I worked. 😊

LJ and books

Let me be very clear: I love staying at home and am very, very grateful that I can do so. Justin and I talked it through and we were both 100% agreed that this was the right thing for our family right now. I am thrilled that I get to spend my days as the primary caregiver for our son. I am so thankful for a flexible administrative job I can do from home to bring in a little income. I am really and truly happy with our current situation.

BUT. There are some days that just hard. There are days that feel monotonous. There are days when I get a little stir crazy. There are days where it feels like my husband will never get home from work. There are days when I feel lonely and crave adult interaction. There are some days when I just need a little boost to lift my mood or my energy level. Today, I thought I would share some of my tried-and-true mood-boosting, spirit-lifting pick-me-ups for days where I just feel overwhelmed, stressed, lonely, etc. and need a little something extra. They work wonders for me now in this season of staying at home, but many were also strategies I used when I was teaching full-time and had a hard day.

My mood-boosting, spirit-lifting pick-me-ups

1) Listen to a podcast

I have mentioned my love for Gretchen Rubin on the blog before and one of the reasons I love her so much is the podcast “Happier” that she does with her sister Elizabeth. I started listening to it after LJ was born as I washed dishes, cleaned the house, drove him to appointments, etc. I quickly became obsessed and went through all the episodes (there are over 190 of them)! It is uplifting and fun and has given me a ton of practical, manageable tips and tricks for building happier habits into my daily life.

Other podcasts I enjoy are The Purpose Show, Rise Together, and The Goal Digger Podcast. I also occasionally listen to Binge Mode (they are currently binging Harry Potter!), The Minimalists, and The Dave Ramsey show. Each podcast gives me some type of insight into a part of my life and I enjoy having a moment to uplift and uplevel my mind during the day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

2) Go for a walk

Sometimes I get pretty stir crazy in the house and just need a change of scenery. Going for a walk never fails to give my spirits a lift and calm my stir-craziness. Often, I will just put LJ in the stroller and walk around our neighborhood. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll also take our dogs along (we look like a traveling circus but it’s fine). There is also a nice public trail near our house that I sometimes drive to for an extra change of scenery. If it’s a rainy or cold day, I will drive to the mall and walk loops indoors. This may surprise you since I just professed my love for podcasts, but I typically do not listen to anything while I’m walking. Walking is a chance for me to shut my brain off and just enjoy the sounds of nature or the buzz of people around me. It refreshes my mind and the movement gives me an energy boost.

3) Light a candle

Something about just lighting a candle feels indulgent to me. It makes my house smell good and is so cozy and festive (right now I’m loving Farmer’s Market from Yankee Candle – the perfect fall scent). It instantly gives me a little mood boost!

4) Carve out reading time

Some days, when nap time rolls around I put housework or other tasks on pause and take a little mental escape into a book.  I feel so relaxed and refreshed and ready to jump back in to work after 30 minutes cozied up on the couch with a snuggly blanket and a good book!

Side note: I often hear people say that they don’t have time to read. Honestly, I just don’t buy that. You have time to do whatever you prioritize doing. If you have ten minutes to scroll through your Facebook feed, you have ten minutes to read. If you have an hour to binge something on Netflix, you have an hour to read. Reading might not be what you choose to do with the time you have, but you can make time for it if you want. For me, I just love reading so it is what I find the time to do instead of other things.

5) Exercise

I really cannot emphasize this one enough. Exercise has so many positive benefits for both my mental and physical health. The feel good endorphins that I get from a great workout will keep me energized all day long. I love the classes offered at my local YMCA and try to go to their spin class 1x/week and bootcamp class 2x/week. This is only possible for me because of the YMCA childcare, which I am so thankful for. If your gym does not provide childcare, consider trading babysitting with a friend so you can swap going to the gym or find an at-home workout you can do during naptime (there are tons of free workouts on YouTube).

6) Enjoy a phone call

I am really close with my sisters and mom and I talk to at least one, if not all, of them every week. While they all work at jobs outside of the home, they each have breaks in their day and if there is a day that I really need to chat with a human over the age of one, I’ll send one of them a text to call me over their break. Spending a few minutes catching up always perks up my mood!

7) Put on real clothes

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days where I stay in my sweatpants all. day. long. But I often put on jeans and a casual top instead – it might sound crazy but real clothes make me feel put together and accomplished and sometimes I just need that mental boost.

Bonus – Go to a coffee shop for a hot chocolate

Some days are just extra hard. Maybe LJ was teething and extra fussy. Maybe one of the dogs threw up on the carpet. Maybe LJ skipped a nap and our whole day was thrown off. On days like this, I communicate my needs with Justin. We have a coffee shop about 3 minutes from our house and I might say “hey, when you get home, I would really like to just go to the coffee shop by myself for a little. Is that okay?” He is always so supportive of me going and it feels like such a treat to just sit by myself drinking a hot chocolate and reading a book or working on my laptop for an hour. It gives him quality one-on-one time with LJ and gives me a mommy break so I can come back refreshed and ready to love on both my guys with my best self. I’ve only done this maybe 3 times since LJ was born so each time feels special and indulgent and SO rejuvenating!

 

What is your go-to trick that gives you an instant mood boost on the days you need a little something extra?