November 15, 2017

Close-calls in parenting.

Newsflash: Being a parent is really just a series of close-calls and lucky-as-shit moments.

If I'm not almost living the worst scenarios, then the absolute even worse scenes flash before my eyes and I can't erase them. As a parent I try to be on guard all the time. I'm scanning the parking lots, looking through car windows, checking behind me, making sure I don't unlock my car too early -- while still being fun, loving and totally awesome whenever I can be. 

But, maybe I shouldn't sit my baby on the couch while I grab the car seat. Duh. Common sense. Some have it, and some just can't be expected to every second of the day.

And maybe never let your moving (running or walking) child out of the car first. Leave them strapped in as long as possible.

Definitely, do not let a dangling spider allow you to set your freshly bathed babe in fleece pj's on a granite countertop. This, my friends, could result in potato pancakes smashed into the once freshly bathed babe as she was saved in the nick of time. (I won't get into the rage over this one.)

Also, you have to be weary of that beeping carbon monoxide detector.  If this ever happens to you, go get your in-laws' device to check against yours, send your husband to Walmart with 20 minutes to closing time and call the fire department to come over for a walk-through while he is gone.

Should I stop with the self-incrimination?

I didn't go through pregnancy for nothing.

The worrying never ends, but at least with it I get to hear the laughter of my littles and feel the best kind of love there is. A parent prays that the laughter lasts forever and ever.

October 20, 2017

Stay At Home Mom - Reason 100.

I put the baby down on her play mat. I peeked in on my son now playing with hot wheels on a race track and calmly walked up the stairs. I glazed by the family picture frames and wedding photos on the walls and entered the blue serenity of my bedroom, with insanely oversized furniture, and into my tiny but beautiful bathroom. 

I closed the door and screamed. But, I tried to mute myself so I immediately started coughing. And then, sobbing as I slid to the floor against the door.

I can't do this. 

I can't do this. 


I stood up. I splashed water on my face and patted it dry. I walked back down the stairs lugging the weight of my embarrassing despair and guilt.  

I can try again. Tomorrow I will be better.

And it was. I had coffee sitting on my driveway in the sun, the baby in her bouncy chair next to me (in the shade) and my son chalking in the morning light. It was beautiful. It's why I am here.

March 29, 2017

Freezer Meal Prep = Nesting, not resting.

38 weeks along and I was determined to get the baby room finished, her clothes washed and organized, diaper stations stocked and family meals in the freezer. I had to take a few days off work to get it done, but LIKE A BOSS, I did it (and thanks to my Mom for helping organize baby clothes).

I really wanted to go the extra mile with this meal prep thing. I have no idea what our life will be like with another little one and it's already exhausting just thinking about what I can make for dinner every day. It's a hot topic in our family since we both work full-time. I get frustrated that dinner always falls on me, which is mostly because I get home first, but also because we insist on family dinner so if I waited on my husband to take a turn the 7:30 pm dinner would not bode well for our toddler's bedtime schedule.

After doing some Pinterest-ing I decided on 8 freezer meals - like some of these taco meat style recipes, Ravioli Lasagna and used spinach ravioli, Tuscan Pasta, Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon & Potato Bake and a few of my own, like Pepperoni Baked Ziti and Lasagna. I was going for "easy to prep" -- multiple dishes that I could cook in bulk -- and sat down to make my grocery list. I like to organize my lists by the direction of food sections that I walk through the store. It is so annoying when I get all the way through the store and realize I freaking forgot the cilantro. 

So, armed with my grocery lists I trekked the aisles. I had to make 3 store stops for the best prices, including buying foil pans to make even cleanup a breeze, and $134.79 later I was exhausted and hurting, but done.

For me it was best to do all the shopping in one day and tackle the cooking the next when I was refreshed.

Beef, Bean, Cheese Burritos
Steps to the finish line:

1. I started with cooking up my chicken and beef and keeping the seasoning simple: garlic, onion, salt and pepper. I was prepared to doctor each up for its recipe as needed.

TIP: One dish called for bacon and I opted to try a pre-cooked bacon package and I would say it was worth it for the major savings on mess and time.

2. Chopped veggies and potatoes and also portioned them out for each recipe.
Tuscan Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes

Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon & Potato Bake
3. Once the meat was off the stove I boiled pasta to stay ahead of the game while I focused on piecing the beef meals together.

TIP: Don't forget to spray the pans!

4. Set up the chicken dishes and added pasta where it was needed. Again, focusing then on one recipe at a time kept it organized.
 4.  Once I had my lineup completed I covered each pan with heavy duty foil.  I placed the full recipe in a sandwich bag and taped it to the top of the pan, with the burritos I wrote the instructions on the freezer bag. Whatever works.

5. Into the freezer they went.

All in all, the whole cooking process took 4.5 hours and I still feel damn good about it. #MomGoals.

February 9, 2017

While you were sleeping.

While you were sleeping, I paced from room to room desperately searching for tranquility.

Instead, I strapped an ice pack on my lower back and picked up race cars in every room. I folded blankets and put them in their places. I straightened couch pillows and emptied the dishwasher. I stocked the toilet paper and put more napkins on the table. I slid garbage trucks and firetrucks into their bookshelf parking garages. I put puzzles back together and stacked them in their assigned places. I folded the towels that were 2 days forgotten in the dryer and washed the sippy cups in the sink.

While you were sleeping, I thought about my guilt.

The guilt, ugh, the guilt. Carrying a life inside of you is so powerful, so beautiful, so overwhelming. I feel guilty when I have thoughts of despair or frustration because my body feels so awful when left to heave into toilets. I hide at work because I can't go far from a trashcan or a locked bathroom stall. I can't wait for it to pass, and I count the days. I feel guilty when I can't find the energy to chase our son and crawl after him to ram monster trucks into one another because all he wants more than anything is for me play with him. The last thing I want is for him to be upset that his new sibling-to-be is changing his mommy.

Or, maybe you ate four mozzarella sticks for dinner, your 3-year-old had cereal, and left your husband on his own....yeah, that was a low day.

I sat on our couch with the freshly punched pillows and stared out the window. The snow floated lazily by the streetlights and I just tried to breathe. It was 3 AM.

I don't remember feeling this much anxiety the first time. Did I? I am so excited to meet this baby. I can't wait to see how our family grows, the personalities that develop and the memories we will make. It is what I have always wanted. Please, just help me find strength right now.

So, while you were sleeping, I cried.

I cried for all of these things and so much more. For our home. For the giggles you generate, the ambition you flourish, the confidence you swag, the eyelashes you gave our son, your gentleness when you teach him, your embellishments when you read to him. And mostly, I feel thankfulness for you, for us. Please know this even when I struggle to speak or put words to my crazy. Our journey is the best journey.

August 11, 2016

Mom Guilt.

There is this nagging feeling that I'm guilty of something. It sits in the pit of my stomach gasping for air and giving me hiccups. I don't think there is a cure.

I feel frustrated by this. Anger even. Exhausted. The last few months my mental and physical self has been to battle.

I work full-time and when I pick my son up, it's the best part of my day...unless I had an awful day and pick up a tired kid who says "hate you," or won't give me a hug, and doesn't want to wear his shoes...and then he does want his shoes...and then he doesn't... and I have to toss him in the car because he can't walk there nicely like "a big boy" and screams and twists and contorts his body so that I can't strap him into his seat. Unless that.

Usually, though, on those kind of days, by the time we get home he holds on to me so tight and I can get his hugs and kisses and "love yous." So really, he still ends up being the best part of my day.

The problem is that by the time I get to this point I am so fried from my day that I hardly find the energy to really, truly enjoy our playtime. Maybe I'm extra short on patience or short on enthusiasm, and then I feel sick with guilt and non-worthiness. And, we have barely 3 hours to play (or get groceries and go to Target), clean up and make dinner. Some days I feel successful, but it is rare.

So I feel THAT guilt.

And then I love when I'm made to feel like I wouldn't be able to handle being a stay-at-home-mom. So then I have guilt that maybe they are right. Could I handle it?

I do love that work is also my social hour. Honestly, I get to walk to parks on my lunch break, sit by the water, hit up food trucks and sometimes even have work meetings at happy hour.  I also get to finish my whole cup of hot coffee without reheating it. Sounds great. Moms, I know.

But then I miss the giggles, the play, the snuggle nap times, the adventures, the time outs and learning to teach my children myself.

So, could I handle it?

Or, would I love it?

When you can't give 100% of yourself to what you love and instead divide yourself into quarters over and over, you tend to feel a little lost sometimes as positivity vanishes in the translation of all your parts. That is what I can't handle. And, I know that is on me to reboot.

December 4, 2015

My pledge for a better future.

Defeated. Un-inspired. Buried.

For months I have been struggling to free myself from the suffocation of world news. Tormenting myself with sucking all this evil into my soul. Allowing it to depress me and question everything that lights my bringing more children into this life.

I've found myself engulfed in Syrian refugee news, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, mindless US battlefields...and the despair and hopelessness that I allowed to filter through me has destroyed pieces of my happiness as I've struggled to stay in the light of this heaviness.
Fall day full of happy.

No more.

The best that I can do, that we can all do, is to love, cherish and protect these children so that they do not become the non-accepting, non-forgiving, wounded, and revenge-seeking destroyers.

To instill in them the values of human life and family.

To sculpt their minds and hearts towards kindness and generosity.

To say "I love you" a million times a day.

To ask for forgiveness and say "I'm sorry" when we need to accept our part in controversy.

To feel laughter and warmth.

To make them feel safe.

I pledge to do my best for every child I meet, in hopes that this is how I will make a difference in our future.

April 10, 2015

5 points on pregnancy weight loss (it blows.)

Let's get real...gaining 60 pregnancy pounds didn't happen from sticking to fruits and vegetables.

+60# on the morning of Mack, and I still love this pic.
Sure I ate a lot of those, I always do. I love making gourmet salads and dressings, then grilling some salmon or chicken to throw over it. But, I also love a good maple creamstick that I never let myself eat anymore...until I was pregnant.

My Amazing Dad would visit with a bag of 5 maple creamsticks from our hometown bakery and I'd be in heaven with the bag, a glass of milk and my feet propped up. To. Die. For. I'd eat one each day and if my husband was fast enough to snag one then he was lucky. (Not one every day of my pregnancy, just when they were available.)

One time, my parents came in on a party bus with friends to tailgate and go to the Browns game, so my husband and I parked at my office and walked down to meet them. (It was so very far for a 7-month prego chick, I'll tell you that.) Everyone held on to their beers, I held onto the donuts my Dad surprised me with. I walked 2 miles for some donuts. That was effing commitment.

Being a food and wine lover and having a body that has to depend on constant calorie counting and everyday workouts, pregnancy brought freedom.

And freedom was soooo tasty.

When you become a vessel that harbors a tiny human, you experience weakness, light-headedness, dizzy spells, and so much hunger. You constantly need water or some sort of nourishment. Usually it's whatever you can grab because you will die if you don't have it RIGHT THIS SECOND. Anyway, you get the picture. advice from my 15-month journey to lose those 60 pounds:
  1. Forget the first 3 months of working on this goal because you are so overwhelmed with overcoming childbirth (a cesarean for me), learning how to take care of a tiny, tiny person, exhaustion, how to manage housework, dinner and no social life.
  2. Then forget the next 3 months (6-month parental anniversary mark) because you have probably gone back to work and have a whole new set of problems -- like pumping and exhaustion, housework and dinner.  
  3. Now forget the next 3 months because you are SO involved with maintaining and preparing for this kid's daily schedule (thank the Lord, you have a schedule), and also trying to find time to see a few friends again. Yep, you probably have a 9-month old.
  4. Finally, you might make some natural progress and feel lighter in those post-prego pants and get your belts back out. This was about the time I began to feel encouraged and really got me to start to focus on myself a little bit again.
  5. No one is judging you, except you, so relax and find comfort in who you are now and your new life. For the last few months I am again counting everything I eat, doing daily legit pushups and sit ups, and playing sports when I can. I also don't care as much. I love being a Mom and gushing over my kid with my husband, and anyone who offers the conversation.
I still don't quite have a workout routine back like I used to (that would require a 3:30 am wake-up call and I would never be the THAT committed), but I'll take it. Of course, I never imagined the 2 years of pain and trauma that pregnancy and post-pregnancy would inflict on my body. But, down 49 and counting seems to call for reflection and taking inventory of my beautiful life. I choose to believe that this is a huge accomplishment -- despite those lucky and blessed ladies that people like me love to hate. Maybe I really can do it all (with my best partner), and that makes my heart smile.

 P.S. Next post is about my awesome shoe collection.