Surviving with Two

Today marks the four week and two day anniversary of becoming a parent for the second time — it also marks the four week anniversary of coming home to the chaos that is now my life. (I’ve now changed that sentence more than four times, always to add to the time.) As all my boys are sleeping I can’t help but recognize how lucky I am, blessed most would say, yet the difficulty in seeing this is very real at times. As I sit here typing I definitely remember a moment this morning and many moments through the last weeks where I have felt like an on demand milk machine and cleaning/cooking machine. My mom tribe is real and an aspect of my life I am oh so thankful for.

  • I have my lactation/baby specialist Amy — she’s got all the answers or knows where to get them when it comes to feeding and caring for my new addition.
  • My older kid relief Carissa— from picking him up at 2 am so I could go have a baby to grabbing him so I can go grocery shopping she is a life saver. She’s my library buddy, my park buddy, my general outings person.
  • My meal buddy Sadie—alternating cooking duties is more than a good idea it’s a mechanism for survival and when she’s not doing that she’s promising to go to the mall or out for ice cream with my kid. It’s a perk that she lives right across the street so I can just knock on her door.
  • My mom who has all the answers—literally, having six kids makes you an expert on the whole baby thing.
  • My Amber—she made a 4 hour drive each way to see my baby and hold him, she brought him onesies and had my first glass of wine with me. She is my rock at the most difficult times.
  • My therapist Kristynn—she might be halfway across the country but she most definitely answers the phone when it rings, even if she’s at lunch with her husband and son and listens to me vent all my frustrations about life.
  • Most of all my husband – he deals with the crazy that is me with lack of sleep, gives our baby J all the attention I am failing horribly at giving him, makes sure I have eaten, and has even given up his family for the last week and the next two so that they can visit with my family. He is patient, he is kind, he drives me up a wall, but he is my flavor of crazy, he is my brand of nonsense, and my kind of irresponsible. I don’t think I could love him anymore than I do.

These are the people who make it possible to be my best self, they are the people I vent to, the people who pretend to understand my crazy, the people who make sure I survive. They are my first line of defense against the outside world and they are the people I trust with the well-being of my family.They remind me that it doesn’t matter how messy my house is, how much laundry is piled up in the laundry room, or how empty my fridge is, what’s important is that I take a minute and enjoy it.

Whether it’s sneaking in a cuddle with my boys, showering, squeezing into a pair of my pre-baby jeans, or enjoying that ice cream I’ve been thinking about all day I have to take a second out of stacking dishes into the dishwasher, mopping the floors, and folding all the laundry to remember I am a human being. If you’re a new mom there are a couple of things you need to remember

  • You are enough.
  • You do enough. You just either pushed a human out of you or had all your insides on a table, you get to relax for a minute.
  • You are doing a good job, it’s probably hard to hear when everything looks like you haven’t touched it in days but you really are: if your kids are fed, your sheets are poo free, and you can kind of see the floor under all the toys and laundry you are kicking butt.
  • You need to take care of yourself: you need food and liquids, you need to shower, and you need to probably take the time to paint your toenails so you can stop staring at them in disgust. Go ahead ask your significant other, your best friend, that neighbor that keeps pestering you about play dates, or someone in your family to watch the kid (whether at your home or theirs) and take the time to make those things happen.
    • Pro tip grab some breakfast bars, nut and chocolate bars, chewy bars or whatever you like to eat the next time you are at the grocery store — these will help you get yourself motivated enough to cook something or will allow you to have some kind of nutrition when you just can’t fathom cooking.
  • You need help. Even if you think you’ve got it, it’s important to ask for help. Everyone has been there. Traversing the grocery store with a toddler is bad enough, doing it alone with a toddler and a newborn is not going to be any better. Ask someone to watch one of them or to come along with you for moral support, I promise it’s worth it.
  • Your baby is going to cry: it’s what babies do. I know it’s hard to listen to and I’m not saying to let him/her cry for very long but let them try to work it out. A whimper may just be the cost of him/her moving into a more comfortable position, a grunt maybe him/her working on a poo for you – give your baby a minute to resolve his/her own issue before rushing into the room and scooping him/her up this will keep you from constantly holding and soothing your baby and ensures that your baby starts learning how to soothe him/herself.
  • If something doesn’t look right / feel right call your doctor. They are used to it – if your stitch burns, your baby is a weird color, or you can’t use the bathroom you need to call your doctor.
  • Remember to appreciate your older child and spouse. It’s a change for everyone and so making time to spend with your older child is important so that he/she does not feel left out. Your spouse needs attention too – I know the new addition to your family.
  • Take a minute to be yourself, that means something different to everyone, for me it means taking a minute to type this post, for others it might mean watching a movie, reading a book, making a phone call, or any combination or variation of those things. Just be you – don’t lose that identity.
Advertisements

A Guide to Your Mom Friend who’s Having Another One

We’ve all been there – a friend who already has a kid and is about to have another and we have no idea how to help them or what to get them or how to make their life easier. I get it. We don’t mean to be shitty friends but we just honestly have no idea what to do, how much to do, really we have no idea what the proper gestures are and we don’t want to overstep some imaginary boundary. As I sit here 1 week from my due date I have decided to create a guide to your mom friend who’s having another one.

Offer to Take Her Kids so She Can Nap

Come up with any excuse to relieve her of her existing child(ren), she probably doesn’t want to part ways with him/her but she needs to. Be understanding that in her eyes these are the last couple of days where her only baby is her only baby and that she is probably very hesitant to waste any time she has with her only baby. With that being said she probably needs to. Show up and take the munchkin out for ice cream, to a splash pad, to a park — really anywhere. Make it seem like its gonna be a fun little date so she doesn’t pick up on the fact that you know she needs to rest.

anniversary birthday blue bow
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Gifting

If she’s not having a baby shower / gender reveal / party for this kid its ok, she’s probably just too exhausted / apprehensive / has guilt tripped herself out of one. You are not obligated to buy her any gifts and she’s honestly not expecting any, but if you do the key is to be thoughtful. Buy things that are unique for this baby: get something monogrammed (a blanket, a hat, an outfit) the poor kid is probably going to live his/her life in hand-me-downs. Otherwise BUY DIAPERS, it doesn’t matter what size and if she has a preference you probably already know it. You don’t have to go crazy, if she’s lucky she saved all the stuff you bought her last time and is so thankful all over again for how amazing people were that she just wants to rewrite all the thank you cards.

Visiting

Don’t show up unannounced. This is a big one. She is tired, she is feeling like some sort of beached whale that for some reason still needs to chase a small person who frankly does not give a damn about how much pain the chasing is causing. Her house is probably a disaster and she’s probably mortified by how it looks. Give her enough time to come up with the energy to at least get the clothes in the hamper. Also, don’t be a guest. If you are coming to check on her don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot, offer to help (or just do it)–she has enough people relying on her she doesn’t need you to be an added burden.

Check on Her

Call her, text her, SnapChat her, send her a letter…make sure she’s alive. It’s a big change. If she’s desperate enough she’ll vent to you or ask you for a favor.

Keep Inviting Her

She probably doesn’t want to sit at home and wallow about how swollen her feet are. She probably also doesn’t want to go skydiving. She probably would, however, love to come over for hot dogs and smores. Be considerate in what you are inviting her to but don’t leave her out.

baked pizza on top of black surface near filled glass tankard
Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

Feed Her

She is hungry, and she really doesn’t want to cook. Order a pizza, bring a casserole, throw something in a crockpot while you’re at her house, show up with a plan for a meal she will be eternally grateful. She will sing your praises and it might be the only thing she remembers you did her whole pregnancy.

Be Considerate

Offer to help, but if she says she’s got it then back away. She probably feels pretty helpless a lot of the time so if she says she can strap her kid in the car seat then back away slowly, let her do the strapping it might be her only victory for the day.

Compliment Her

Tell her she’s doing a good job. Whether it’s a cleaner than last time house, a new outfit, a good meal, a well dressed child — whatever it is just let her know she’s doing a good job somewhere cause heaven knows she needs the reassurance. I’m not telling you to flat out lie to her, just find one thing you can compliment her on and she’ll feel like a million bucks.

I hope you find this list helpful, thank you Amy for your very thoughtful additions! If there’s anything you think an expecting mom might be grateful for go ahead and add it in the comment section. As always like, comment, share, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! The best compliment you can give is letting us know you were here!

Defeat and it’s Lessons

Some days are better than others, some are worse–that is the way life works. I had a day that was one of the not so awesome days; it ended with an ugly cry in the shower. 37 weeks and 5 days pregnant is not the best time to discover thrombosed hemorrhoids, it is even worse when your husband is on a work trip and you also discover your baby is breech. I can proudly say I made it through the day with our normal schedule–pancakes, library, splash pad, lunch, movie time, nap time, dinner. I squeezed in a nap somewhere in there because my amazing sister-in-law is in town and was watching Baby J.
If you have never experienced hemorrhoids you are a lucky person, it feels like someone is stabbing me with every step, every breath, and every slight movement. Top that with all the lovely foot swelling, the internal movement that comes with being pregnant, and all the glory that comes with hormone changes and you have the amazement that was my day. As I stood in my shower I felt like a failure: Baby J had been a nightmare to deal with running around and reeking havoc as he pleased, Baby M couldn’t figure out which direction he was supposed to be facing, and my body was giving out — I couldn’t keep up. As I quickly finished my shower and tended to the wounds both internal and external I wished there was someone I could call or text, someone who would understand-I have friends but 12 AM is hardly the time to call them, my husband was in a different time zone attending some special dinner, and all I could manage was a good cry and it had to do.
If you have ever been pregnant I hope you can relate, there are few things that help you move on like a good cry. I pulled myself together walked out into the disaster that was my house and started cleaning, 12 AM is as good a time as any to deal with the destruction of the day and a clean house helps me think. I came to the realization that I had done pretty well: all of the kids had been fed, loved, cleaned, and put to bed; I hadn’t missed any of the things I had promised my nephews we would do, and I had worked through the pain as well as I could. I decided I needed to take a little time for myself so after typing half a post I decided to put a pin in it so that I did not overshare.
I realized how thankful I should be: my bills were paid; Baby J was happy, healthy, and asleep; my sister-in-law and her boys seemed to be having a good time; other than being stubborn, Baby M was healthy and cooking well; my husband was happy and feeling fulfilled at his meetings — why was I not feeling overjoyed? Which part of my life was lacking? As I sat there thinking I realized I was feeling a lack of contribution. I was not contributing to the family finances, the house constantly looked like I did nothing, my son was a nightmare who seemed to lack discipline…the list went on and on. I realized I was having trouble measuring my self-worth and that was a problem, a problem I feel a lot of people face. At work there is normally someone who validates you or some kind of metric you know that you are hitting but when your home and family is your work what is your metric, how do you know you’re doing it right? Your exhausted spouse has more things on their mind than they care to share, your kid isn’t about to tell you you’re doing it right, the judgemental looks you get in public for your three year olds behavior is not giving you any moral support where do you get that validation? And finally it dawned on me — the metric had to be yourself, had you done your best; in the moment had you done all you could do to make it work? If the answer was yes then you were all right. It’s not about how much money you did or didn’t bring home, not about how clean your house was, not about how well-behaved your child had been in public, it was about how hard you were trying. If getting up and working through the pain so you could make sure your son made story time was all you could manage before ordering a pizza and crashing to relieve some of the pain you were feeling then by golly that had to do. Eventually you would get there, and asking for help was key, you are worth helping.
As I sit here typing I know my house is a disaster (I need to vacuum, do laundry, clean the dishes, pick up toys), dinner is not made, my kid is watching Netflix in his beanbag chair, and I have no idea where to even start. I do know that he’s been fed, he is relatively clean, we read some books, and that he had fun playing with his friend today — he has not been sitting here watching TV all day and I am sure we made at least one lasting memory that he’ll tell his dad about as soon as he walks in the door. I also know that none of the things I haven’t done are going anywhere. My hungry husband will help me make dinner, the toys will be picked up, the vacuum will be run, and my washer and dryer honestly probably need a break. Life will go on and I will do it all over again tomorrow; hopefully Baby M has figured out that he’s supposed to face downward but that’s not something I can control at the moment. For now I need everyone to remember 1) you are enough 2) you do enough 3) as long as you tried your best then go ahead and be at peace with yourself. As always if you got anything out of this please share, like, follow, or leave a comment! I love hearing what you have to say!

Father’s Day Craft

We’re all looking for that special something to give daddy this Sunday, so after thinking for a bit I came up with a handprint gift that we could give daddy to put on his desk! The following directions will allow you to make two handprints.

Materials:

  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/8 cup of salt
  • 3.5 tablespoons of water
  • Rolling Pin
  • Knife
  • Oven
  • Parchment Paper/Cooking Spray
  • Bowl
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Sharpie

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and water into a medium sized bowl – mix until they conform, if you are having trouble getting the materials to adhere go ahead and wet your hands with water and knead the materials together until dough like.
  3. Transfer dough to work surface knead for a minute or so and then roll the dough out, you want it to be about 1/8 inch thick – anything too much thicker than that will bubble and anything too much thinner will not hold the handprint. Once the dough is rolled out decide if you want a rectangle or a circle shaped final project.
  4. If you want a rectangle find something rectangular you can use to trace (I happen to have a fridge magnet that is the perfect size) if you want a circular one you can use the top of a bowl pressed down – use a knife to get clean edges. (If you wish to make an ornament/a hanging project use a straw to poke two holes side by side at the top of your project so you can push some ribbon or twine through them).
  5. Once you have your shape cut out transfer it to a baking sheet that has a) been sprayed with cooking spray or b) is lined with parchment paper.
  6. Have your child put their hand/foot on the dough and help them press down (if you have toddlers or younger children you may want to go back and ensure the indentations are deep enough with your pinky).
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
    Baked Handprints
  8. Let your project cool until it is cool enough to carry – use a sharpie to outline your child’s handprint/footprint and then go ahead and paint whichever side of the line you wish. Use the sharpie to add a personal message for daddy!
  9. If you made an ornament go ahead and thread your ribbon/twine through the holes, if you are making a paperweight / desk plaque all you need is a little photo stand and you should be all set to go!
    img_7470

Let me know how daddy likes it! Also, these are perfect for grandparents and mothers day gifts!

Lessons From a Three Year Old

There are a lot of things we can learn from our children, crazy I know, but as I took a step back today I realized how mindful my son is and so I got to thinking. Today my three year old told his dad he had to get me flowers because he loved me, they had gone to the store to pick up some sausage for dinner and for some reason that made him think of the fact that he had to show me he loved me. Baby J is not the perfect child – he is easily irritated, lacks patience, and often is more stubborn than a cow at a stream on a hot summer day, but he has his moments.

As I sat there looking at the flowers I realized that maybe I should take a page out of his book, so I sat there and watched my child, not as a child but as another human being and over the course of a couple of hours here are the things that he reminded me of:

  1. Be Yourself: If he doesn’t like something he immediately lets you know, if he’s not happy he also lets you know. Basically if all the ducks are not in the right order he’s going to let you know. He knows what he wants, how he wants it, and when he wants it.
  2. Be Kind: When you do have his ducks lined up correctly he more than happily says thank you, he lets you know he loves you just because in addition to all the times he wants something he knows he probably can’t have. He tries to share whether it’s his snacks or his toys he will more than gladly plop down next to you and force you into playing. He is so excited about his new little brother and says he wants to share his room.
  3. Live in the Moment: Baby J has no interest in the clock, he works at his own pace and can’t be bothered by your schedule and appointments. If the PAW Patrol is on TV then good luck getting him to move. If something feels right then he’s going to try his hardest to do it.
  4. Enjoy the Small Things in Life: It doesn’t matter how much money is in the bank or how tired he is, as long as he has a full belly and a place to lay his head he seems pretty content. The child can literally sleep anywhere and is happy with running around or playing with his toys.
  5. Be Thankful: This is a hard one for him. It’s something we’ve been working on but it seems to be paying off, the little monkey I have says thank you whenever he happens to remember—especially if you’re giving him his apple juice.

Just Because Flowers

Today my three year old brought me flowers because he loved me. They are not the most alive flowers (he picked them out himself) and they are not the most extravagant flowers but they are the flowers I am most thankful for. Today I learned I am raising a mindful human being; one that will be kind, one that will show love, one that will be kind. Today I am the most thankful a mama can be.

The Role of Maturity

Maturity is a personality trait that is lost on a large portion of our population; it is the ability to deal with situations that are less than ideal in a manner that exemplifies your ability to think and act as a mature human being. As I sit at my desk and ponder the response of normal humans to their surroundings I am baffled by the lack of discipline, communication, and purpose that I am surrounded by. Not everyone gets along, not everyone has the ability to communicate, but when you do not even try to make yourself understood and then blame others for your unhappiness you are a special kind of person. When you think that you deserve something just because you are you I have difficulty regarding you as an adult.

My last week has been anything but pleasant. I have spent a lot of time wondering why, contemplating what actions I have taken to get the circumstances that I am currently faced with. As I sit here and ponder what I could have done differently, what behaviors I can maybe change in the future, how I can avoid similar disappointments I keep coming up blank. I am not saying that I am perfect by any means, I am seriously flawed, what I am saying is that the issues that have been presented to me are parts of my personality that I cannot readily change. 1) I am too aggressive—how does one change the manner in which they respond to crisis? Crisis management is one of the things I pride myself on, the ability to find solutions to immediate issues without the need to second guess or consult with others. 2) I am unapproachable –the reality that others have of me is not something I can readily change; I am not mean, I am just straightforward and to the point, if you mess up you’re going to hear about it, if you are not meeting standards than that is something I am going to expect you to correct. 3) I have an attitude – who doesn’t? The way in which people respond to different situations often leads others to assume they know them.

The conclusion that I have come to is that when someone who is “privileged”, i.e. they continually tell you that they don’t need this job and that they’re here because they are bored the issues that they present you with are often overstated. If you don’t need this job and have such deep issues with me why are you still here? Where is the motivation to be here? As a person I have come to understand that people are who they are, there is no way to please everyone but the important thing is to remain true to yourself (your work ethic, values, personality, etc.). When it comes to being a leader it is important to understand people—to help them be the best employee they can be. Often there is an issue of skill or will, and it is important to know which you can and cannot change. Sometimes, you just need to let people hang themselves, it’s just the reality of the world—you can’t and shouldn’t save everyone. What are some parts of your personality that others have a  hard time dealing with? How do you make yourself more approachable?

Keeping Your Mind While Being a Stay at Home Parent

The importance of nurturing our children is something that is intangible; their education, manners, work ethic, and personalities are shaped by the ways in which we interact with them. This, however, does not change the cringing feeling I get the hundredth time I hear “MAMA” and it makes me wonder just how much more of the never-ending tasks, endless cleaning, and constant nagging I can take. I am very new to the stay-at-home mom status, my journey started about a month ago; at eight months pregnant the journey has not been an easy one with my three year old especially since we moved away from our support system in Savannah and into the solitude of Phenix City. I have spent hours researching things to do and ways to make life easier and am excited to share some of the interesting things we’ve found.

Movie Night
Movie Night

Step 1: Create a Schedule

Baby J and I seem to have established a schedule that gets us out of the house and into society at least three times during the week. We absolutely LOVE our library and the librarians there! On Tuesdays we go to Movie Night (as long as it is age appropriate). Wednesdays we have Story Hour where we have stories read to us, dance, create a craft, and even enjoy a snack with some of our new friends. Fridays we go to Toddler Tales and enjoy books and dancing. The library has sprinkled in a number of fun activities throughout the summer that keep us occupied on other days but Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are normally a year round schedule for us! Libraries are a great resource for younger children who don’t necessarily have the motor skills or patience for some of the more interesting events (i.e. The Home Depot has free make and takes, AC Moore has $2 crafts – check your local stores to make sure they are participating). If your library isn’t as active as ours is, Barnes and Nobles often has Store Events that you can bring your children to (check your stores listings here).

Park
Park Life

Step 2: The Great Outdoors

We are really lucky to have a number of parks and recreation centers that we have access to; since we live in Alabama they all have pools or splash pads, which makes it really convenient for parents to bring their kids. We try to go to a park or a pool at least once a week. We also have a sprinkler that we hook up on the weekends when we are just trying to relax. Baby J loves water so it keeps us occupied for a good amount of time. We make sure to bring plenty of liquids and snacks so we can spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors.

Meal Prep
Cooking for Beginners

Step 3: Have a Meal Plan

I suck at winging meals. I have come up with a system that allows me to have preset meals to pick from. If you need help coming up with your own system refer to The Battle of the Kitchen for some ideas on how to simplify your grocery shopping trips and ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. I normally pick what I’m going to cook the night before so that I can ensure that everything I need is thawed out and ready to go.

The Chores
Vacuuming

Step 4: The Cleaning

While picking up toys is an endless task, laundry seems to never end, and the floors look like they haven’t been cleaned in weeks when you did them yesterday there needs to be moderation. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are normally the days I get most of my cleaning done since I am home in the mornings. I try to get the bathrooms cleaned on Mondays, the bedrooms and living room cleaned on Tuesdays, and keep Thursdays for some of the more tedious deep cleaning tasks that I notice throughout the week. I throw laundry in whenever I have a minute and aim to get the beds made first thing in the morning and the kitchen cleaned every night after I am through making dinner. I pick up toys as I go. My house is by no means perfect or as beautiful as it was when I didn’t have a three year old to chase around but I do get to spend some quality time with my Baby J. We spend time cuddling, watching TV, reading the books we picked up from the library, and enjoying our time with some of our new friends.

Mowing
Mowing

Step 5: The Weekends

I try to do all the grocery shopping on the weekends, bringing a three year old to the grocery store (no matter how organized you are) tends to be a nightmare. Its an added bonus when I can hand my husband half the list while I tackle the other half; other than that I try to keep my weekends open for fun time with my family. Whether we go to the farmers market, the flea market, or a park it’s a blast to be able to spend time together as a family. I use the weekends to catch up on whatever tasks I didn’t get done during the week.

The Fort
The Fort

Step 6: Have Fun

It’s important to be flexible, parenting can’t be scheduled. The importance of being there when your kids need you is something we need to keep in mind, the dishes will still be there after the tickle fight, dinner won’t taste too bad an hour after you’d originally planned, the laundry can live in the laundry room—your kids will only be kids for a short time.

3!

The number 3 has been important to me my whole life. It was my favorite number, then my lucky number, and at 2:22 pm today it’s the age of my Baby J. I remember my whole world changed— I was handed a small wrinkly, warm, wiggly thing — it had stolen my heart before I had a chance to lay eyes on it. As the days went by it changed me, almost as much as it changed itself. He is my light at the end of every tunnel, he is as sweet as honey but as stubborn as a nail — but I wouldn’t have him any other way. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree but man it’s like looking into a little personality mirror and it drives me oh so crazy. As the days pass and I watch him grow and become more and more his own person I become overwhelmed with emotion, on one hand I am proud of all that he has learned and all that he is able to do on his own, on the other I miss having a small, loving creature that doesn’t mind laying on me when I need a cuddle.

Three is an interesting age. He tries so hard to be independent but still needs so much help. His sass is at a whole new level. He knows what he wants but may not always know how to tell me. I can’t imagine life any other way, he is so active and caring, but just like any child he needs to be prodded along in the right direction. He already loves checking on his baby brother and his favorite thing to say seems to be “I OK MOMMY” as he dives into the ground, momentarily stopping my heart. I have a daredevil of a child who fears very little and loves the world of books.

Baby J
0-3. It’s like I blinked and I had a toddler that could talk and walk and had opinions.

As I sit here reflecting on how different my life has become I can’t help but wonder who I would be without him; its a weird thought, but I have changed so much, become so protective and obsessive about his daily life. I have somehow lost track of the person I had been. I have lost my identity, often referred to as “Jason’s mom” or “Jason’s wife” I sometimes feel as though I have lost me. I used to be Wadad, known for how stubborn and capable I was and here I am sitting in front of a computer wondering who I am. I am a wife, a mother, a personal chef, a housekeeper, I am still a person who cares and trusts too quickly and gives all that they can without thinking yet it seems like my identity doesn’t matter nearly as much as being “Jason’s mom” and I seem to be OK with that. My identity has changed and adapted to ensure that my baby boy is the best person I can make him, I realize that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for the sassy, angry, stubborn mess that I call a son, that is the biggest change that parenthood has brought, the fear that I am not doing enough, not being enough, not enough to ensure that he has the best that is possible. As the days pass I wonder, how did our parents make it through the maze of parenthood? How did they know they were on the right track? What are your biggest fears as a parent?

The Battle of the Kitchen

I absolutely hate the kitchen. It is the place I feel most uneasy and that I feel as if I am the most incompetent. From grocery shopping, to meal prep, to clean up — I hate all the aspects and dread meal times like it’s my job. Over the last four years I have managed to bring things that I am comfortable with into the Kitchen World – lists, organization, step by step directions, attempted perfection; it drives my creative husband crazy (the man can walk into the kitchen pull out whatever is in the fridge and make something completely amazing – its so hard to compete with him). As I started my SAHM journey earlier last month I realized that I now have an interesting system that others may benefit from.

My first step is deciding what we’re going to eat. I normally go major grocery shopping every other week so I try to pick 14 meals that I think will work. I scour the Internet (Pinterest, Facebook, Google, etc), a couple of cook books I have and the plethora of apps on my phone to come up with my list. I fill in the meal and the ingredients for each of the 14 days (so that I can keep track of which meals my husband stole ingredients from and I don’t start making a meal that I don’t have the things I need for). You can see the printable right here.

Next I go through my cabinets and mark off the things I already have, I also have a little whiteboard on my fridge where I try to keep track of things I know I’m going to need as I think of them. I keep track of what I need in an organized manner on a nice little piece of paper that I have transferred into a PDF for y’all. It organizes the groceries into categories so I’m not getting bread and then milk and then going back for some bagels.

0AFA2556-E71F-43FE-B2CC-28CF9C2E73CF

When I am done with my OCD organization I hop online, I love shopping at Kroger even though it is a 40-minute drive for me each way. I go through the online coupons and load my card with whichever ones are relevant to my shopping list. Once that’s done I hop onto my iBotta app where I watch some ads and clip some offers. If you haven’t used iBotta it is awesome, it gives you cash back for things you normally buy anyways, go ahead and download it. If you use my referral code we’ll both get a $5.00 bonus for signing up and redeeming your first offer (my referral code is bxotqxc)! It’s a great way to find “extra money”– in the last three years I have made $155.45 (that’s $155.45 that I would not have had if I didn’t follow the simple steps – some stores require you to link their loyalty card to the app and automatically find your rebates for you, others make you scan the items that you have rebates on and the receipt, just follow the directions as you create your account!)

Finally I am ready to go. Grocery trips that used to take me at least an hour and a half are now done in 45 minutes or less, and that includes the time it takes me to argue with my 2 year old, better yet I have 14 meals and all the ingredients I need to make them! I let my husband decide what we’re having for dinner each night and as long as its on the list I am golden, I pull up my recipe and get my life together all without going completely insane and trying to make something on the fly.

I hope you found this useful! I know I wish I had some guidance four years ago. What are your favorite shopping tips and tricks?

Birthday Wreath

My little man’s birthday is coming up so naturally I had to come up with a clever door decoration this year. We’re celebrating his third birthday with a Paw Patrol Theme and I’m sure I’ll have a whole post about all the decorations and the cool things we found for that.

IMG_6971

Tools:

Materials
Wire Wreath, Wire Garland, Ribbon, Tissue Paper

Step 1: Get Your Materials

Make sure you pick the tools you need, the worst thing about starting a project is having to stop mid-project to go get something you forgot

Prep Balloons and Tissue Paper

Step 2: Prep Your Materials

  • Cut your tissue paper into strips that are approximately 2” by 5” then you need to twist them into little bows.
    • I used 1 sheet of each of the 5 colors I chose (green, sparkled white, blue, lime green, and pink)
  • Unravel your garland
  • Cut however many balloons you need in half (I used 5 balloons, but I wanted color variation – you only need one to cover the little spokes of the wreath)
  • Make sure your hot glue gun is hot.

Step 3: Assembly

  • I like to start on the outside and work my way in.
    • I wrapped my garland in two layers, first the colored stars and then the gold stars, through the top two rungs of the wreath, this allowed me to have lots of color and to have less of the actual wreath showing. I used hot glue to secure the wire when I got about eight inches of wreath covered to ensure that it didn’t move too much and stayed as condensed as I wanted it.
    • Once I was satisfied with the amount of garland I had I used super glue and the half balloons to cover the 6 sections where the wreath had vertical wire in it (the spoke looking things).
    • I moved on to the innermost rung of my wreath, I laid my tissue paper out in the pattern I wanted it and threaded it between the innermost rung and the one above it, hot gluing the tissue paper to itself on the lowest rung so it had a nice spring to it. This was definitely the most tedious and time consuming part of the process where I burnt myself multiple times.
    • Once you are satisfied with the fullness of your wreath you can go ahead and cut some ribbon (or crepe paper if you like that better) and secure it in the center of the wreath.
    • Hang it!

The Life of the Mom Friend

Do y’all have a friend who does everything? One who just finds the way to make everything work? Buying a car while your husband is out in the field and unavailable, go ahead and call her — she’ll go to the dealership with you give you the pros and cons on leasing and buying and let you make up your own mind. Need a pedicure, go ahead and call her and she’ll do it herself, watch your kids while you go to get one, or go with you and get it done. Need help with that assignment you’ve waited until last minute to start? She’s a whizz with words. Moving to a city near her and can’t make it down to look at homes? She’s got you, she’ll meet your realtor and go look at the houses – give you her opinion and tell you about the neighborhood, she’ll go to the home inspection and Facebook video your husband. Need childcare to run to the store, a doctors appointment, for a little free time? Home improvement project you need researched? Running late and need someone to grab your kid from gymnastics? She’s got you.

I’m that friend. The one who just wants to help – people ask why I get so involved, what the benefit is to me, why do I care so much? The answer is I like to help. There have been so many times in my life where I wish someone, really anyone, would just step up and out of their comfort zone to help. I’ve been called nosey, bossy, told I’m all up in people’s business for no reason, but I really don’t care. I feel like people need to care about each other and help each other out – they say it takes a village to raise kids, and I want my village to have the best that it can. Often it takes me a minute to warm up to people, I’m not the social butterfly my husband and son are – I’m awkward and never know what to say (Exhibit A) having the two of them as ice breakers is amazing (they have no idea what stranger danger is). I have learned to let them mingle and to just wait for my turn to become part of the picture — I know it’s cheating but it seems to work so well.

Over the last four and a half years my little family has not spent more than a year and a half in the same home, we have moved with the termination of our leases and when we finally decided to purchase a home only lived in it for eleven months before putting it back on the market and moving out of state. Many of our friends have been in the military and so we have experienced a lot of change when it comes to who is in our lives. There are some bonds that seem to last (i.e. Amber) no matter the distance or the circumstances and others that seem to fizzle away as soon as the convenience of being right down the road expires, no matter the promises that are made.

I am blessed; along with Amber I have a small community of moms I know I can count on. I’ve got Keaira who is my sounding board whenever it comes to anything fashion or difficult (thank you for my hair) – I haven’t seen her in four years yet the texts fly back and forth whenever we need each other and the Google Hangouts sessions last for hours. Kristynn was my Baby J’s second mother for over a year and a half: planning a baby shower I had to bow out of, feeding him, changing his diapers, making baby friends with him all while I pursued my career in retail – her timeline for life seemed to match up perfectly with mine until she left me for Texas but some bonds are just a little too hard to break. This brings us to Carissa who I currently can’t be more thankful for – as fate would have it her little boys are less than a year older than mine, Kristynn threw us together on her way out the door, ensuring that Baby J had a friend and that mommy had another mom nearby to depend on. She has watched my kid on so many occasions I’ve lost count and as fate would have it will be less than an hour away from me by the end of next month! We go on so many adventures together toting our kids and trying to ensure we’re doing this parenting thing correctly. I’ve got Amy – she is the sweetest, kindest, most selfless person I know. I strive on a day to day basis to emulate her kindness, patience, and love – watching her with her three boys gives me the hope that one day I will be able to handle my own boys like she handles hers, she is always there to make me laugh with a ridiculously timed snap and to give me advice about how to handle the tough things like potty training.

As my journey into motherhood has progressed I realize that my mother has become an instrumental part of my daily life. We spend hours every day on FaceTime; she helps me cook, answers any questions I have about caring for a rambunctious two year old, and has become my day to day lifeline. As the days progress I seem to become more and more thankful for her. I realize many moms don’t have such a community, they don’t have people they know they can call on a day to day basis and that no matter how tough my life gets my community of moms is something others wish they could have and I understand the struggle. The best advice I can give is be genuine, be yourself – not everyone is going to like you (heaven knows most people tolerate me at best) but don’t hold back. Life is short and people forget rather quickly, dance with the punches and remember it’s not your job to be everyone’s cup of tea: the most important thing you can do is be true to yourself and your family (a lesson I learned from my Js). I always bring all of me to the table, my talent seems to be that I am the Jack-of-all-Trades; Google is my best friend when I have questions, and I have an opinion on everything (just ask my husband).  It took me almost two years in Savannah to make my first friend and that was by accident (thank you lack of work-life balance) I’ve been in Phenix City for a month and have already started my little community of mom friends (my son ran over and asked if their daughter wanted to ride in his truck, completely bypassing both parents who stood their in relative shock), I have no idea if it will last but I can tell you that library dates are so much more fun when your kid knows another kid. Whether you have your own community or understand the struggle of not knowing what to say I hope you join mine, I hope you come by to stay and share your stories, your fails and your victories, your pride and your doubt with me – because life is better when we all understand that no one is perfect and that failure is part of life – go ahead and leave a comment, send a message, shoot me a tweet, however you want to tell me your story.

Friendship

When I opened my mail today I was confused, there was something other than the normal assortment of bills, there was a bright pink envelope that I wasn’t expecting. As I tore into it I realized that my best friend is the worlds most wonderful human being. Thoughtful, kind, selfless, genuine, caring, I could go on for an eternity. She had sent me a Mother’s Day Card with the most wonderful message inside, reminding me that she is always there for me—always more thoughtful and caring than I could ever hope to be.

Amber and I met at college orientation, she was the only other female in the political science group and so I quickly latched on, informing her that whether or not she liked it she was going to be my best friend. She went home and told her mother how crazy I was; yet here we are nearly eight years later navigating this thing called life together. We’ve been through so much together: breakups, bad jobs, poor decisions, graduating, long spells where we can’t figure out how to stay in touch, each of us independently moving down the coast and into a new life, kids, my kid pooping up her arm on our way to Savannah from Boston, we’ve even lived in each others guest rooms for short periods of time. She’s the best thing that I could have ever wished for – she never misses a beat (not a birthday, not a Christmas, not any reason she can find to celebrate). She is my sunshine at the end of every long tunnel and I know that no matter where I am and what I need she will be there.

Everyone has his or her rough patches, the times in life when you don’t like yourself let alone anyone else. I seem to have one every other year where I just immerse myself in myself, finding fault with everyone and everything for about a month, hating life. These are the times she shines, she busts through making way for others. There are many people who have entered my life leaving small traces (memories, changed habits, new ideas or notions) but there aren’t very many who a) want to stay and b) are allowed to stay. Amber is my oldest friend, she is the one who for some reason I have latched onto like Rose latched onto the door while the Titanic sank—she is my life jacket. We don’t always agree with or like each other’s decisions but we are always there for the victories and defeats. She is one of the few people who can say she has supports my decisions no matter how dumb she thinks they are, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell me how dumb they are either.

I hope everyone has their Amber, their crazy who drives over a thousand miles to attend a baby shower and turns around and does it again four months later with a newborn in the car, and then a year later for a first birthday party; the life jacket that they can depend on when the waters get tumultuous. Somewhere along the line she crossed the boundaries of friendship and became family. She cries with me, laughs with me, celebrates with me—she makes me a different kind of me when I’m around her, a better me. I’m so glad I was able to call dibs on my Amber when I did, cause without her I have no idea where I would be.

%d bloggers like this: