Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Truth About Motherhood


 Before I had Jaxon, I often heard people make statements about motherhood and about life after bringing a little human into the world. Many times these things that people said came across in a rather negative way and sometimes they made it sound like life after pregnancy is pretty much a lonely, dismal one. I remember asking my mom if it’s really that bad, is that really all there is to motherhood. I don’t remember her response, but I’m here to tell you---it’s not that bad. It’s not all there is to motherhood. So, inspired by my sis-in-law’s recent blog post, here are a few things that people commonly say about/during motherhood and what I have found to be true in my motherhood journey.

 “Be prepared to lose sleep” || Yes and no. The way some people talk they act like you won’t get a full night of sleep for the rest of your child bearing years. “Sleep as much as you can before you have the baby, you’ll be glad you did—blah, blah, blah. The truth? Yes, you will lose sleep. Yes, you will wake up to nurse your baby in the middle of the night and suddenly jerk awake to find your baby long finished with nursing, sound asleep and you will decide to just haul yourself off to bed (true story). But. YOU WILL SLEEP AGAIN. Yes. Yes you will. It may be awhile, but you will sleep and you will sleep good. In the spirit of complete honesty, I have so far been a little spoiled when it comes to my children sleeping all night. Jaxon began sleeping all night at two months, Taylor at one month and to this day they consistently sleep all night, every night, come teething or what have you (with some minor exceptions). I know that this is not the case for all mothers and there are equally numerous reasons for your child to wake in the middle of the night whether it’s for a feeding, or an upset tummy, or a bad teething session. But I think in spite of these things, you can still get the sleep you need at least to carry you through until (victory!) your baby is sleeping all night. Here are some ways to achieve that:

1.       Sleep when they sleep. Most newborns take at least 2-3 naps a day. Take advantage of this and nap at the same time. Even if you close your eyes for only 10-20 minutes, it will help so much and it will give you that extra boost that you need. This is a lot easier to do with your first baby, because by the time your second comes, they will probably be on different sleep schedules.

2.       Don’t jump at every whimper. I learned this early on with Jaxon. If he began whimpering and grexing in the middle of the night, I would immediately jump out of bed and begin nursing him only to have him fall back asleep within seconds of latching on with no hope of waking him again. I revised this by waiting a minute or two before getting up and going to him. Once I knew that he was fully awake and ready to eat, then I nursed him. Occasionally, he would actually settle himself back to sleep for at least a few more minutes before letting me know that he was wide awake (with loud, lusty crying).

3.       Try letting them sleep on their tummy. (Horrified gasp) I know, this is not a popular opinion amongst doctors, but I did this with Taylor because he slept so much better this way. If it makes you nervous to try it at night, start by putting your baby on his tummy during naps that way you can check in on him periodically.
4.     Sleep train your baby. I had every intention of doing this with Jaxon once he reached 3 months after hearing that a friend of mine did it with one of her babies. Lucky for Jaxon, he beat me to it. There are so many reasons why sleep training may not be the best option for your baby, but if they are growing well and are generally plump and happy babies, I don't see any reason not to sleep train.

 For some great ideas about establishing a bedtime routine, read this post. After reading it, I realized that I actually did the exact same thing with Jaxon and at least some of the time with Taylor.

 “I haven’t showered in four days” || No. Just, no. I hear this all the time from other mothers on social media and blogs. And I can absolutely not relate in anyway. I shower every. single. day. And I take my time with it too, never feeling one bit rushed. Maybe those mothers are in the “morning shower” category, but I prefer evening showers and as soon as I get my boys in bed for the night and close their bedroom door, I make a beeline for the bathroom. On some occasions when we have something going in the evening and I want to shower beforehand, I unashamedly let Curious George or Baby Einstein, in the form of a DVD, babysit the boys.

 “You won’t have time for the things you enjoy” || Nope. While it is true that the time you have to dedicate to your hobbies will be severely diminished, it will not be totally lost. I used to read while nursing Jaxon and I went through so many books that my mom told me I needed something to do. I still read every single day even if it’s only a page or two. I enjoy knitting/crocheting and sewing and I do those things regularly too, mostly when the boys are either napping or down for the night.  I actually highly encourage mothers to continue to pursue their hobbies, because I think we all need that outlet. Depending on what you enjoy doing, you can even involve your child no matter how young. If you enjoy gardening, let them play on a blanket next to you while you weed your flower beds. Or put them in a Bambo seat while you bake in the kitchen.

 “It’s harder to go places with children” || Yes and no. One of the young mothers that I follow on Instagram quoted her mother on this as saying something to this effect, “Getting out of the house with children is a muscle. The more you work it, the easier it gets.” While there are definitely moments that get a little hairy, it is not entirely impossible. There are many days where I feel like giving up before we’ve even reached the front door, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Our children have been on shopping trips an hour away multiple times. They have been to the mall numerous times. We have flown with them as well as gone on road trips several times. They go out to eat with us to sit down restaurants. Thanks to wonderful modern inventions such as baby wraps and strollers it is possible to go virtually anywhere with your baby in tow. You don’t have to become recluses just because you have a newborn. 

 “When your toddler is really quiet that means trouble” || Not always. Yes, sometimes it means your child is sitting in a corner with his younger brother each eating another brownie after they’ve already had too many, or it means your child is dumping out all of your plants and making a huge mess. But sometimes that silence means your child is quietly sitting on the couch looking at a favorite book, or playing with toys. Sometimes it’s a moment so laden with sweetness that you quietly back away so as not to ruin the moment.

  The truth is, motherhood may be a lot of hard work, but it is also fun. Our days may be filled with crying babies, but trust me, every single day I look at each of my children unable to believe that they are mine. When your baby flashes you a cheeky grin your heart will reach an almost bursting point and you will not be able to hold in all of the love that you have for your child. As your baby learns and accomplishes new things you will beam with mama-pride. The first time your baby says “I luh you” or “hug, hug” you will not be able to resist. Sometimes, even when it’s way past their bedtime, you will sit on the floor in their room and stack blocks with them until it’s time for them to go to bed and then you will share their disappointment that it has to end. No matter how tough your day was, you will hold them on your lap and relish the feel of their little body in your arms, tucked close to your heart. No matter how loud and chaotic your day was, when Papa comes home and chases his little boys around the house to the tune of loud shrieks and endless giggles, it will be music to your ears. When your baby comes up to you and says “hi, hi, hi” in his shrill little voice, no matter how bad your day has been you will bend down, smile, fold him into your arms and say “hi, sweety!”   

 

 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Real Life Survival During A Kitchen Renovation {with small children}



 There is very little that is glamorous about a kitchen renovation that you are living in the middle of. Except for the picture, the vision that you have in your head of the end result. But the process of getting there is pretty messy and very unsophisticated. It involves things like washing your dishes in a cruddy utility sink in your equally cruddy basement and thawing chicken for the next day in your bathroom sink. (Don't worry, the chicken was contained in a freezer bag and it seemed like a better alternative to thawing the chicken outside overnight and risking some wild animal carting off our supper.) There is a pretty much constant supply of unwanted dirt and dust that somehow accumulates even during times where the work has paused. Yet, numerous people have lived through numerous kitchen remodels, or home renovations of any sort. These are my tips and tricks for making the most of your unideal situation.

 Keep your normal routine || This is probably the hardest to do at the very beginning of the renovation process. Especially with small children, a space that they were once free to roam and play in is now suddenly off limits. For children who are used to structure and routine, this can be an upheaval in their little lives. It helps to keep your normal daily rhythm in place as they transition into the temporary lifestyle of a renovation. At the very beginning of your renovation, it's nice to plan on taking your children outside of the house, away from the demolition, dirt, and noise. (It may also be for safety purposes!) Simply taking them outside to play and burn off excess energy helps so much in the adjustment to a more confined living space.

 Tidy + Organize your limited space || To be honest, I'm not sure I'm doing the greatest job of this. We are remodeling our kitchen, sooo where do you think all of my kitchen supplies have ended up? As of this very moment, the microwave is in the living room, the refrigerator is in the office space as well as the coffee pot. There are large brown boxes hulking in the family room full of dishes, cups, baking pans, food storage containers, etc. There is another box in the basement full of small appliances, and other kitchen items have been relegated to random other homes around the house. It is not ideal. It is probably not as organized as it could be, but I do know that being tidy and organized during any sort of renovation is key. The first thing I did the day after demolition, was to straighten up the house and specifically the areas that now hold my kitchen. It gave me a much better outlook on the whole remodeling process and it also helped establish our normal rhythm of daily life (see above).

 Give grace || Like I mentioned earlier, any sort of in-home remodeling process is hard on young children, at least until they get used to it. Extend plenty of grace to them as they transition and come up with ways to keep them entertained especially if certain areas are off limits for an extended period of time.

 Be creative in meal prep || If you don't have the option of setting up a temporary kitchen during your reno, than thinking about meals can be daunting. It doesn't have to be though. Get creative with what you have available; search Pinterest and Google for recipes that can easily be made in a slow cooker or even the microwave. When you need to fry something, use your electric skillet on a living room side table (true story). It is difficult to make elaborate meals without a functioning kitchen, but that doesn't mean you have to order take out every evening of the week.

 Don't forget the end result || Remember that in the end, all of the dirt, upheaval, and sacrifice will be so worth it! It may not be pretty now, but it won't stay that way forever.



Monday, August 22, 2016

Handmade In One Year


A while back, I posted a photo on Instagram of a chambray dress that I sewed right before our beach trip. It was super comfortable and super easy and, coincidentally, it was also super inspiring.

 As a mom, the wear and tear on my clothes is higher than it used to be. Am I the only one? It seems like no sooner than I come home from the thrift store with a pile of new-to-me clothes, things start to deteriorate (although, maybe the problem lies therein, with second hand shopping?). With two pairs of little toddler hands always grabbing and pulling, my shirts quickly get pulled out of shape and end up making me feel slouchy when I'd rather look at least a little bit put together. Let's not even mention all the stains that somehow end up on my clothes that I have no idea where they came from. Or the clothes that I thought met my standards for modesty but somehow are starting to gape in all the wrong places or else they require too much effort to make them modest.

 Out of frustration and also a desire to challenge myself and improve my sewing skills, I decided to start a project. The goal: slowly converting my closet to handmade clothes in one year (more on that in a moment). Along with that, I want to simplify it drastically as well as bring cohesiveness to it.

 One of the things that is frustrating for me when shopping second hand is looking for patterns (stripes, solids, etc.) that I like and finding clothes that match what I already have in my closet. By making my own clothes, I will have control over the color and design of the material and I can choose what suits my tastes as well as what will work well with pieces already in my closet. I am hoping to follow a basic color scheme to give me more pieces that coordinate and that can be versatile with different outfits.

 The idea is to have a mostly handmade wardrobe in a year and with all the pieces that I have in mind to make, that figures out to roughly 1.5 pieces to sew a month. Totally doable, I think. By now you may be thinking, what about the clothes you already have? Well, honestly, there are a lot of clothes in my closet that I simply do not wear. Either they don't fit right or I plain just don't like them or I only have one or two pieces that they actually go with (see above). I am a firm believer that if you don't wear something in 6 months to a year, than you can live without it and there are a number of items of that nature in my closet. Only the clothes that I love and wear regularly will stay.

 You're probably also thinking, how do you have time to do this? That, my friends, is the beauty of having your toddlers go down for a nap at the same time in the afternoon, but most importantly, I am choosing patterns that are simple. I simply do not have time for complicated patterns that will take a month for me to make. So, I have purposely chosen a handful of patterns that are easy to put together and I would like to occasionally feature those patterns here along with some tips and tricks that I discover along the way.

 I don't want to make anyone feel like they have to suddenly develop an interest in sewing and start whipping out their own handmade clothes. Rather, I hope to show you simple patterns that debunk the idea that handmade clothes are difficult to make and also to learn new things and improve my/our sewing skills.

 Every so often I will post an update for you, featuring the pattern(s) and fabric I've used and hopefully you'll be inspired as well.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Life Lately



 Ooosh. That's the sound of me settling into my chair in front of the computer screen. It's been quiet around here the last while, although not intentionally so. I feel like I'm always commenting on that, how it's been awhile since I've been here, etc. I like to think of it though, like one of my favorite bloggers put it, that I am a seasonal blogger. Blogging when the time suits or when I'm inspired. It doesn't always have to be a constant flow of words from this little corner even if sometimes I wish it could be. There are times when inspiration overflows and other times when I just don't have anything to say. I would rather not say anything than babble on pointlessly, although I've been guilty of that in the past.
 I thought I would bring you a little up to speed on what we have been doing lately.

 //Reading// I just started reading this book; I have been wanting to read it for a long time and it is everything I thought it would be. It is so much more than just a book on home design. It literally feels like a friend standing with me and telling me that I don't have to buy into the idea of perfection that is flaunted all over the internet and instead, I can just be real and be me and my home can reflect that. Definitely a must read!

//Excited// Jaxon is starting preschool at the end of this month! He will turn three later this fall and I have no idea when the "normal" age for starting preschool is, but I don't really care. When my youngest brother was a little older than Jaxon, I used to play "school" with him and I was so determined to actually teach him his letters and how to read. Hence, this is a really big deal for me, being able to teach Jaxon here at home. I'm pretty sure I am way more excited than he is, although I know he'll absolutely love it. Seeing his interest in learning is a huge motivator for me and I am so looking forward to getting started! We are using this curriculum which I have talked about here and I cannot recommend it enough. We completed the preview unit for the preschool curriculum a few months ago and Jaxon loved it as well as I did!

//Listening// Taylor has been adding new words to his vocabulary almost daily and we get the biggest kick out of making him repeat words and phrases in his adorable baby voice (totally biased; don't care). Our favorites are "Alrise!" (alright), "All done!" & "All bettah!" His vocabulary at 19 months is more extensive than Jaxon's was at that age; actually it's almost on the same level as Jaxon's now.

//Dreaming// We are going to be remodeling our kitchen sometime in the near future and I am so excited. There is still planning to be done, but I get caught up sometimes daydreaming about what it will look like when it's complete. This, this, and this are a few of the ideas that are inspiring me and rolling around in my head.

//Wishing// I wish we somehow had the means of stopping time. Freezing the very moments that we are living right now and stretching them out into a couple days if needed. More than just capturing them in a photograph, but reliving them in real time. I have been thinking about this lately along with the fact that I have done a really sad job of writing things down in the boys' baby books. Jaxon has one that is sort of a scrapbook/journal that my sister put together for him. I got materials to do a similar one for Taylor but so far I haven't started on it; I'm rethinking that idea and crushing on these baby journals. They go from your pregnancy all the way to 18 years old, with prompts for each stage of life, places for photos, and your child's artwork. I don't have one yet, but I got one for my sister-in-law and I really want one!

What have you been busy with lately? Any good reads? Something you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Virginia Beach Trip






 
 

  It’s been more than a month now since our beach trip that we took at the end of June/July. I can’t help but post the photos from it anyway, because it was just such a good weekend. Aaaaand I really, really miss the beach, so there’s that. Gerry and I agreed that it was the best little vacation that we have taken as a family so far. We enjoyed it so thoroughly and the boys did too. We would love to make it a yearly vacation, maybe seeing what AirBnB’s might be in the area. (If you know of any good ones, let us know!)
 We made it a long weekend, getting there on a Thursday and coming home Sunday. We managed to pack the days with all the good things and made wonderful memories in the process. Some of the highlights for the boys were getting to see fighter jets and helicopters flying overhead, and lots of boats out on the water. Going through the tunnel was also an experience, one that Jaxon talked/obsessed about for a while afterwards. He was excited at first because I built up the anticipation for him, but then he wasn’t too sure about it as we progressed through the tunnel. He thought it was pretty cool though, once we were through.
 Most of our time was split between going down to the ocean and swimming in our resort pool. Jaxon took his time getting used to the water, but Taylor was in heaven. He has a more adventurous nature than Jaxon when it comes to certain things. We also spent time walking/bike riding along the boardwalk.








 

There is something about the ocean that just tugs at me. I love it’s vastness, the smell of the salty air, the way the waves crash onto the shore and then race away, pulling the sand back out to the watery depths. I can easily get lost in imagining what the ocean looks like underneath the surface of the water or what it would be like to sail across the ocean, surrounded by water. I love how the road leading to the ocean just suddenly—stops. Right at the ocean. It feels like the edge of the world. I never want to forget these experiences and the details involved with them. The way the taste of salt clings to your lips after a swim in the ocean. The way Jaxon shrieked and hollered as he chased sea gulls. The way he was totally content to sit on the beach playing with his beach toys in the sand. The way Taylor gleefully kicked his feet in the ocean and happily held my hands as we ran through the waves. Or the way both of the boys seemed to grow up that weekend. Taylor decided to walk and Jaxon became braver by the end, walking across the shallow pool at the resort all by himself and willingly floating through the water with his papa’s support.


















 
  I love sharing experiences like these with the boys. Some people may think that a weekend like this would be more fun alone, just the two of you. And while I totally agree that that would also be amazing, we just truly, honestly, have so much fun having the boys with us on little trips like this. It’s worth it all just to experience new things through the eyes of toddlers. Everything is amazing and new to them and it makes you want to wring every drop of goodness out of the experience. Neither one of us can quite imagine leaving the boys behind and I hope we get to enjoy many more places and experiences with the boys.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

They Call Him Papa


With Father's Day tomorrow, I couldn't help but write a "brag-post" to the man who made me a mama. Gerry has taught me so much about being a parent and I don't think I'll ever measure up to him. He is everything I hope to be one day as a parent and I am so thankful that I get to do this whole parenting thing with him.

  Sometimes I wonder how single parents, especially single moms, handle the ups and downs of parenting by themselves. I can't imagine not having Gerry here as my main support (besides Jesus, of course). Even though he doesn't always have the answers, he is willing to just lend a listening ear and a shoulder to bawl on if needed (and it has been needed). He shows me by example how to teach and show love to our children. He has patience for them when I am nearing the end of mine. He encourages me to do fun things with them, even if it means house work gets put aside for awhile (I'm still not very good with that).
 Gerry is so attentive to things like giving me a break from cooking every so often. My almost-favorite words out of his mouth are "Honey, what are your plans for supper?" because I know he's going to offer to take us out to eat. Heehee, I try not to sound too eager, or take him up on his offer too fast. ;)
 He is absolutely incredible at coming home from work and being so enthusiastic about seeing the boys. It doesn't matter if he had a long day and is tired, he still gets so excited to see his little buddies. Many times, he'll take one or both of them outside to watch him work. I love this so much, because I think one of the best places a little boy can be is with his daddy watching/helping him work. Sometimes after supper, Gerry will take both boys outside for a swing ride or a walk so that I have time to clean the kitchen up. Although our bath time routine has changed a bit since having two children (Gerry always gave Jaxon his evening bath), Gerry still bathes the boys on many evenings while I clean the kitchen up. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes it's a team effort.
 Gerry has this wonderful philosophy for raising children that is part consistent discipline and part mercy. He has the perfect balance between the two and as a result, the boys have so much respect for him, both as their buddy and as their authority. Often times, all it takes is one stern glance or one spoken command from their papa, and both boys are immediately toeing the line. Yes, discipline comes in occasionally, but they know that there are consequences for continued misbehavior.
 The boys absolutely adore their papa. They get so excited when I tell them that Papa is home from work. If we have to drive separate vehicles when going somewhere and the boys are with me, they usually melt into weeping and wailing for their beloved papa whom, apparently, they won't eeeeeeeevvvvvver see again. *cue sarcasm* While I know the boys do love me, there are times when they blatantly choose Gerry over me. I secretly love this because I love that they love their papa so much. I did jokingly tell Gerry once, though, when we have another baby, especially if it's a girl, I'm not going to let him hold her until she's a year old so that she'll be only my baby. :)
 It's common knowledge around this house that when Gerry babysits for me him and the boys have more fun while I'm gone than when I'm around. :) Whether it's taking them out for ice cream, going on a bike ride, making kites for them, making milk shakes for them, or relaxing in the hammock, I know that they are having the best of times. And every single time by the time I'm home, the boys are bathed and in bed, fast asleep. I tell you, I have it so good.
 One thing I love to see is how Gerry teaches them to pray. Even before they're able to talk, he lays the ground work for them by showing them how to pray.
 I also love watching Gerry on Sunday mornings when he plays guitar for the boy's. He lines them up on the couch, all dressed in their Sunday best, and sings to them. They love it, and Jaxon will even initiate it sometimes by asking to "singa sing".
 I could go on and on about how good of a papa Gerry is. Suffice it to say, I am so glad I have him with me in this crazy thing called parenting. I am so thankful that the boys have him to look up to as a papa. I feel so blessed to call this little family mine and we truly have so much fun, the four of us together. God has blessed us so much.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How We Potty Trained In Two Days


A while back on Instagram I mentioned that I was going to share how I potty trained Jaxon in two days. Well, at long last, here is that aforementioned post.

 Really, it could be said that Jaxon potty trained himself. Because that's virtually what happened. I was just his biggest cheerleader and coach.
 You might remember that we attempted the potty training a number of months ago and you can read about those experiences here and here. Cue the sad faces because at that time, Jaxon wasn't ready for potty training. He wasn't telling me when he had to go and consequently, he would pee through his Pull Ups constantly. I put him back in diapers thinking that we would attempt this whole training thing at a later date. Well, Jaxon happens to be a huge fan of water. No joke, he has probably the best flushed system of just about anybody on this earth. As we all know, what goes in eventually comes out, or most of it anyway, and in Jaxon's case, it was definitely most of it. He was constantly peeing through his diapers and pants. Not because I was being a lazy mother (or was I?) but because I would check him, find him fairly dry, and literally the next time I looked at him his whole backside was wet. Remember how we talked about what goes in, comes out? Yeah. Totally. I was getting to the point where I wanted to have him potty trained but I dreaded starting it again. What if it didn't go well again?
 After much pushing and prodding from Gerry and a day where Jaxon took himself to the bathroom just one time, I made the decision to give potty training another go.
 Wonder of wonders, the day before I planned to begin potty training, Jaxon took himself to the bathroom numerous times. I was rather hopeful things would go better!
 This time, I changed up my strategy. I never thought I would do this, but I chose to do the no-pants method. It took some bravery, but it turned out to work really well. The first day of training, I let Jaxon run around with his bottom free and clear. I pumped him full of water and apple juice then sat back and let nature take its course. I did not set any timer, just waited on Jaxon to give me cues. It worked! I think not wearing pants made him more aware of what was going on down there and he had only one major accident on the first day!
 The second day was pretty much a repeat except I started him out with real underwear (I had previously decided that I was going to totally skip the Pull Ups). He had several accidents in his underwear that morning, so I switched him to pantless again for a couple hours. He did really well that day, even stopping his playing and watching a movie to go pee. I was worried about those things, especially what he would do if he was watching a movie, so I tested him on it and he passed!
 Since then, Jaxon has stayed very consistent. Even holding it if we're in the car and can't get to a bathroom right away. He had a few more accidents at the beginning but for the most part, he is totally accident free. I didn't know it would feel this good to have a potty trained child! Makes life so much easier and it means less diapers to buy!
 Somehow I think we nailed the timing just right. Most of the time while training him, he wouldn't even tell me he had to go, he just took off for the bathroom by himself.
 It all comes down to timing and knowing your child. It turned out to not be as scary as I thought it would be and the benefits are even better!