Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Yoga: My First Week

Disclaimer: This post was penned while J slept. Please forgive any grammatical errors.

At the end of 2016 I made the word "actualize" my theme and driving force for 2017. If you haven't read One Word and you don't find making resolutions or setting goals to work for you, give it a read. I received the book as a gift from my dad for Christmas and I finished it in just a few days. 

As a kid, did you picture your adult self living a certain kind of life? I'm sure you did. I did too. The only problem was, as an adult, I continued picturing this sort of life...and that was the problem-I was "picturing" it, not living it. I had a list of things I wanted to make a reality this year and one of the items on my list was to attend a yoga class. 

This is all fine and dandy, aside from one minor detail: I get incredibly freaked out by the unfamiliar and super "gymtimidated." The day I hyped myself up to finally go to a class, I took one look at the crowd of super limber, gorgeous, blonde, pony-tailed crowd and turned around and booked it out of there. I felt so defeated and resolved to go the next day no matter what stood in my way: traffic, fear, bleeding limb...I WOULD be there! And I was.

And...I was there the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and so on. One hit of that downward dog was all it took and I was completely addicted.

I'll spare you the list of benefits of yoga. You probably already know them, and it you don't I'm definitely not the person to ask...Google is. For me, I sought yoga for more than the bod (although that was totally part of it); I wanted the mental health aspects of it...and an itty bitty part of me wanted to be able to say, "Yeah, I do yoga-no big deal." Maybe I shouldn't admit that...

I've hinted at the fact that I've dealt with some mental health problems for most of my life. I'd heard that yoga could help people with an array of mental health issues from bipolar disorder to anxiety. Sign me up. I don't know what I expected, but I didn't expect to feel such significant change so soon. 

On the physical side of the spectrum, I'm already feeling longer, leaner, and stronger. I'd love to be a girl who lifts. Unfortunately, joining the guys with all their grunting and selfies and ass-checking-outting, I avoid that corner of the gym. After Juniper was born, my body bounced back and I weigh less now than when I got pregnant! But, while the weight is gone, so is all muscle tone and balance. Yoga is so much more than stretching and meditation. Our instructors kick my butt. By the middle of the class I'm shaking to hold a pose and sweating all over my mat (one of the methods I employ to ensure everyone stays far, far away!). I can see the little changes every day and I love feeling good about my body.

I've also become far more aware-of my emotions, how my body feels, and my breathing...turns out, I hardly breathe! This awareness forces me to be in the moment instead of fretting over the countless things I want to be doing or think I should be doing. I'm learning to simply "be" and accept who I am, where I'm at, and what I'm doing. Less and less do I second guess myself over every little thing. This confidence and acceptance is kind of new to me. For the first time in awhile, I'm confident for the right reasons, as opposed to superficial reasons.

I'm most grateful for the improvements in my attitude. I don't get a lot of me time anymore. If, God forbid, I brush my teeth for an extra minute, there is hollering outside the door by one of my four lovely "roommates" (partner, kid, pups). Getting out of the house and focusing on nothing but my body and breathing in a cool dark room sends me home with gratitude, love, and (some) patience. I walk through those front doors more often with a smile than the resentment and frustration that typically consumes me. Even Erik is encouraging me to continue going because he's noticed how much calmer I've been.

So, why write a whole post on yoga and how it's benefitted me personally? Well, first, it's nice to just share what's going in my life. I know I love reading plain ol' blog posts-ones that aren't trying to sell me something. Second, maybe reading this post pushes you to try something that makes you uncomfortable. I was so worried that these classes would be too advanced for me and make me feel and look stupid. I was worried I'd fall over, worried everyone would be watching me. First of all, I do look silly at times, sometimes the moves are too advanced, and I have fallen over. one notices because they're too busy doing their own yoga thing. Bottom line, love yourself by setting higher standards for yourself and then meeting them. If I, Miss Routine, can bust out of her comfort zone, I guarantee you can! 

Okay, that's all for now...I'm off to another class. Bye for now!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 Ways a Minimalist Closet has Changed My Life

Erik and I are in the midst of a complete life transformation via minimalism. We've been simplifying everything from our kitchen cupboards to how we spend our time.  The less physical clutter, the more clearly and freely I am able to think and go about my day. When it came to my closet, however, I was at a bit of a loss, not knowing exactly where to begin. My closet was basically exploding despite the fact that I considered my personal style fairly simple: denim and cotton everything, basic tees, and button ups. Still, I hung on to clothing that was damaged beyond repair, didn't fit quite right, felt uncomfortable, or simply no longer fit my lifestyle. I had low quality pieces that were ten or twelve years old, spanning multiple relationships, schools, and jobs!

Recently, I heard of Project 333 from Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I'd always heard of capsule wardrobes, but I thought it meant throwing away all your clothes, purchasing new, expensive items, and sticking to all white, black, and grey. When I actually visited the blog dedicated to this idea, I realized how mistaken I'd been. I won't go into all of the details, but the basic premise is simplifying your wardrobe down to thirty-three items (accessories and shoes included) for three months. The goal is to make getting ready in the morning easier so as to avoid decision fatigue and to make it so that you wear your favorite items every day, instead of saving them for days that actually matter. Maybe like me, you wrongly believed that most days were rehearsals for some real life in an unknown future.  I'd definitely fallen into the trap of wearing yoga pants and an old top in public most days. Nothing I was doing seemed worth wasting my "good clothes" on whether that was grocery shopping or going out for pizza with my husband. If I wore my favorite items, I worried they'd be dirty or ruined for some special occasion that might pop up before I had a chance to do laundry. By the time a special occasion did come around, I'd spend upwards of thirty minutes trying to decide what to wear only to completely demolish my clean bedroom and end up putting on an outfit that was all wrong-uncomfortable, ill-fitting, not "me." Still, I considered myself a simple, fuss-free woman.

Growing up, I'd always believed that fashion was a superficial interest. Why waste time on clothes when I could be reading? If I admitted to caring about clothes, I feared others would consider me to be vain. Truth be told, I did care about clothes. I loved perusing fashion magazines. By the time Pinterest rolled around, I was obsessed with the Women's Style page. By now I've obviously come to terms with the fact that style is an extension of the self. What you put on in the morning says I'm this or that about you to the world. When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you're not insecure or distracted by how you feel or look. I totally did not get this even a year ago.

Earlier this month, I decided to give the whole capsule wardrobe thing a try, deciding to include accessories in the list of thirty-three items, but not shoes (I have like five pairs of shoes as it is, so no need to limit myself further). I also did not include pajamas, workout gear, or working-around-the-house clothing. My rule, however, was that items from those categories be worn only in their designated places (e.g. workout clothes are for the gym only, not grocery shopping!). By the end, I had a few basic tanks, several dressier tops, two button downs, a denim sleeveless top and a cardigan, two pairs of leggings, three pairs of pants, three pairs of shorts, a few dresses, a couple necklaces,  one pair of earrings, and a watch. 

Every item that made the cut feels good and looks good. I don't have to pull or stretch or yank anything up, down, or around. Although I'm only about three or four weeks into this transformation, I'm already reaping the benefits:

  1. I'm better dressed than I've ever been.
  2. I receive far more compliments now than I ever have. This isn't a goal, but compliments just feel good.
  3. I've become a lot more creative, pairing items I wouldn't normally think go together.
  4. Getting dressed in the morning takes less than five minutes. This gives me so much extra time to: drink my coffee, cook a real breakfast, sleep in, enjoy my daughter, write, and read!
  5. More time to make breakfast means about six dollars at Starbucks a day and over a thousand dollars per year. Is that math correct? I don't know; I'm not a math person, but it save me a lot of money!
  6. I walk confidently everywhere I go. When I was running out in my "around the house" clothes, I always felt kind of scrubby compared to every other else. I just feel like I walk with my head higher now. 
  7. My desire to wear trendy clothes, regardless of whether or not they fit my style or lifestyle has completely diminished. Sleeveless tops and ruffles are adorable, but I've never been a girly-girl, so I simply don't wear ruffles and sleeveless tops.
  8. Every day feels like a special day now. I no longer treat each day like it's rehearsal for life, a life where I'll wear that expensive top or that beautiful dress. 
  9. I don't find myself comparing myself to other women as much anymore. I admire them, sure, but I rarely find myself thinking that if I just had those shoes or her whatever, then I'll finally be happy with myself.
  10. I do far fewer loads of laundry each week. To be exact, I do one load per week-less clothes, less to wash. This is better from an economic and, more importantly, environmental standpoint.
If you're curious about starting a capsule wardrobe, check out this site and just do it! At the end of these three months, in September, I'll let you know how it all went and get started on my fall capsule wardrobe so be sure to check back. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

5 Months with Juniper

This month taught me:

Just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.
Just when you think it can't get any better, it does.

Month five was a good one. My favorite so far. If it weren't for a.) the healing process, and b.) the depression afterwards I'd definitely be okay with one or two more of these kids. Most days are fun-exhausting but enjoyable-but it's those days that push you too far that have ya thinking never again.

I debate whether it's a good idea to get all the crazy and chaos of babyhood out of the way at once, or do I let my life kind of calm down before setting it all in motion again? Or do I just call it one and done?

Oh, one other thing I learned this month, as evidenced in the following photos: I am not above bribing...

Unfortunately, Juniper dropped in the percentiles. I don't know how accurate our scale is, but she ranges between fourteen and sixteen pounds. But she is lo-o-o-ng.

Spring has me all giddy in this area. Already I'm stocking her closet with rompers and floral dresses. Being a girl mom is fun.

Sleep Habits
Sleep training begins in ONE month! I am so ready to get my bed (and arms) back, although I have loved having my baby girl in my arms every night.

Naps are hit or miss. Once in awhile she'll whine herself to sleep in her crib. The next nap will have her screaming her head off in my arms. I've learned to stop trying to control the situation and just roll with it. I'm not a bad mom because I "give in" and hold her, and I'm not a bad mom for letting her cry sometimes.

Eating Habits 
Ever since I found out she was small for her age I slowed breastfeeding and started pumping more. I know, I know-the exact opposite of what you're "supposed" to do,  but I wanted to be certain that she was getting as much as necessary and it turns out she was only eating about two ounces before boredom set in and she began squirming out of my arms looking for the dogs.

I pump before work and bed and if she wakes in the night, I BF, otherwise it's formula. We're using Earth Organics. So far she digs it.

In other news, she refuses her bottle unless I chant "Chug-a-chug-a-Ju-Ju"
So long, pride!

We started solids too!
Banana = Love
Sweet Potatoes = Double love
Avocado = Ugh, I'll eat it, but I'm not gonna like it.
Carrots = Well, if bananas aren't an option, I guess this will do.
Cereal = Dafuq is this?

I really thought it'd take awhile to get her familiar with eating real food but after one bite she was like a little bird coming back for more.

Added bonus: all these extra calories got her from napping for maybe five minutes to twenty to forty minutes. Woo hoo!

Size 2 or 3 Honest and Babyganics. 
Now that she is rolling over with ease, diaper changes have become a complete race to the finish line.

I'm surprised her hair hasn't turned blonde yet with two blondes for parents.
It's still reddish.

Eyes have only gotten bluer. 

She looks to me exactly like a combination of Erik and his youngest sister. When she sleeps or makes a weird face I'll suddenly see my dad's side though.

We were looking at her next to her cousin Phoenix the other day and realized she doesn't have the girliest features. She looked like a little tomboy next to her cousin! 

Sugar Butt.
Miss Mae.

First hike over Easter weekend! I forgot the sunblock and the bug spray-naturally.
Laughing and laughing.
Rolling over both ways with ease.
"Play dates" (more like co-tummy timing) with her cousin and her BFFs Ellie and Annabelle.
She comes up on all fours and rocks or catapults her self forward. So so close to crawling.
Her first Easter.

#1 favorite-when I hold her hands so she can stand and walk.
Kisses all over all the time.
Sophie the Giraffe.
The outdoors.
Tags! She finds them on everything and wants nothing more than to chew on them.
Her reflection. Put her in front of a mirror and girlfriend is feelin' herself.
Snuggling with mama at night.
Pinching. Pulling. General violence. Her new thing is grabbing your face as hard as she can.
The dogs! She just watches. 
Toys that make noises. Or light up (e.g. her Einstein).
And, of course, God Bless You and Goodnight.

The blender. When I was mixing up some carrots in the magic bullet she started shaking. It broke my heart to pieces-I felt so bad. She'd never been startled before by it until then. I still can't think about it.
Avocado is not her favorite. She'll eat it, but not super enthusiastically.
Being put down. I really have to trick her: slowly moving away, talking to her from the other room. And, I'm not above bribing.

Mama's Feelings
If I ever get time I'll update everyone on the whole baby blues thing. This has been hands down the easiest month so far-not because she's easier, but because I've fully settled into this mommin' thing. We're able to get out for longer periods now that I'm not nursing as much. She is able to be distracted when she gets bored or angry. Mostly though, I just feel like I've relaxed a little bit. As Erik put it, he tries to fit her into his life, while I made her my life. 

Oh, and the warm weather and sunshine-the baby blues are no match! Even so, remembering how bad it was in the beginning, I've truly reconsidered wanting to have anymore. I'd love her to have a little sister and we'd both love a little boy but the pain, the healing, the sadness-no thank you.

I don't know what happened, but over night Erik pulled a 180. Of course he loved her before, but he wasn't super interested in doing much with her until this last month. I think he's more likely to want more than I am.

Favorite Moments and Things to Remember
The way her legs kick when she's on her belly and she's a.) pissed, or b.) elated
How the phrase, "God bless you and good night" puts a pause on any and all crying, no matter how severe.
Her morning smile.

Looking forward to
Her baptism/dedication on Mothers Day.
We've booked three of our four camping trips for this summer and fall. I cannot wait to see her digging in the sand, snuggling up next to the fire, and going for wagon rides around the park.

Monday, March 13, 2017

4 Months with Juniper

This month was both harder and more enjoyable than the preceding. Month four was all about attachment and rule breaking. I don't know how or why, but I became super attached to Juniper this month. I wanted to hold her all the time; didn't mind her sleeping in my arms; and felt overly protective when anyone else held her. It's also the month I broke every "mom rule" fed to me by the array of parenting books I consumed during pregnancy. She slept in our bed with me. I picked her up whenever she cried. I ditched the schedule. I let her play past her nap time. All in the name of survival. And, ya know what? I've never felt freer as a parent. More on my thoughts on parenting styles later though.

She hovers between twelve and fourteen pounds and really hasn't gained any weight this month. We'll find out if this is cause for concern at her next wellness visit on St. Paddy's Day. She is long and lean, although her cheeks say otherwise #chipmunkbaby

Oh how I love dressing my baby girl up. I've got online shopping carts packed to the brim with rompers and bonnets galore. We had our first accidental mommy-and-me outfit moment. Sadly, it wasn't matchy-matchy leggings and tunics, but instead matching oversized sweats and neon blue tops. 

Sleep Habits
Oh boy...
Where do I begin? 
We definitely had a taste of the four-month sleep regression this month. At its worst it lasted about two-and-a-half weeks. Week three is here and I think we're on the tail end of the nightmare. I know moms who were up with their kids every hour so I feel bad complaining and then I stop mid-sentence because I can't formulate words out of sheer tiredness and I stop feeling guilty about complaining. 

My eyes have been bloodshot for weeks now. I'm living on ineffective caffeine and practically sleepwalking through life. She fought me on every nap. She'd fall asleep in my arms and I'd go to put her down and from dead sleep she'd start screaming. What did I do? Slept with her on top of me or in my arms every single night. And, before anyone wags their finger at me and says "ba-a-a-d habit," please allow me to wag a finger back while you tend to your own perfect child. I'm following my motherly instincts and doing what needs to be done to survive and hold on to my sanity. 

Eating Habits 
Some days breastfeeding is so easy. I think to myself, I could probably do this for a year.
Other days I literally tell Erik, I'm quitting. I'm done breastfeeding.

I can't quite pinpoint what makes nursing so difficult. On one hand it's so much easier than making up a bottle and convincing her to eat. On the other hand, it's still so taboo to breastfeed in public so I always have to make sure I'm home when it's nearing feeding time. Covers are great but maneuvering a wiggling tot under tangles of cloth is no easy feat. 

Unfortunately, I've been having some major schedule changes lately and my supply has dipped to an alarming low. I was so hellbent on quitting nursing at six months and I feel like a complete jerk because now all I want to do is make it a full year and it's becoming harder and harder. While the regular bra and getting dressed without thinking about how easily I can nurse in it sound wonderful, I also feel strangely guilty and emotional. She's pushing away from me and getting frustrated regularly and it truly hurts my heart.

Size 2 Honest diapers

She's still a little strawberry blonde with big ol' blue eyes, hence the nicknames Little Red or Little Blue.
She's still got the chubbiest round cheeks and a little butt chin too!

Munchie, Juju, J, Miss Mae, Junie Bear 

Scooting! We practice this daily. I place a line of balls a few feet away and with hoards of effort and a little time she scoots right to them and snatches them up.
She seems to recognize her name now.
Y' baby girl has laughed! They're few and far between, but that hasn't stopped me from trying oh so hard for another one!

#1 favorite-when I hold her hands so she can stand and walk.
Playing Superman.
God Bless You and Goodnight, Grandma Wishes, Goodnight Little Love. She grabs onto the pages (and tries to eat them) and looks from page to page.
Being on her belly.
Kicking around on her play gym.
Watching the dogs do dog things.
Chewing on her fingers.
Her pink elephant luvy, Mr. Pinky.
The mobile my mom made her.
Mr. Wubzy her Wubanub.
Talking! She is always hollerin' about something!
I don't know if she likes me wrist tattoo, but she is always trying to grab it when spotted.

The car seat. I think she gets flashbacks to Florida haha.
Not being able to get to her toys. Scooting is still a real task for her.
Other than that, she is a pretty happy go lucky kind of gal.

Mama's Feelings
For the most part and most days, I feel good again-mentally (not so much physically).
I'm frustrated though by the lack of support for moms! Most of the help I get comes from my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and my dad and stepmom. But, they're not here on the day to day so it's tough for me to manage anything other than Juniper. The pressure to do everything else though-making dinner, keeping the house clean, looking presentable, giving attention to anyone other than her-is still there and it is hard on me.

Mu name is Mama now. 
Erik's is still Erik. 
We all adapt to parenthood at our own pace.

Favorite Moments and Things to Remember
When she gets bashful and buries her face in my arms after I feed her. 
Her wide open mouth smile when we play Superman.
The first time I made her laugh by taking a wipe and running it along her jaw and chin.
When I say Hiiii and she mimics me (*tries).
When she kicks furiously in excitement.
When she hears Erik or I's voice on the phone and stares at the device.
Reading God Bless You and Goodnight from memory because I've read it over one hundred times.

Looking forward to
I'm oh so excited for her to join us at the dinner table. The closer we get to a normal life the happier I am. 
Taking her up to camp this summer. In the process of booking our trips now!
Beach trips.
Every morning waking up with her.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How I Told My Husband I Was Pregnant

A few months ago I shared my struggles to get pregnant in a two part post, which you can read here and here. Today, about one year from when Erik and I found out I was pregnant, I am sharing how I gave him the good news. At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, I've lived my life so differently from that day forward. Here is how it all started...

I woke up early that Saturday morning; it was still dark out. Erik and I had gotten tattoos the night before-a way for me to stick it to the (fertility) man. I can't have babies so I might as well do whatever I want. Until the disappointment I'd experienced that month in finding out I wasn't pregnant (I'd been so sure), I 'd grown accustomed to updating my fertility tracker every morning while I lay in bed. I was fighting the urge to do so that morning. To access the app, as trivial as that sounds, would be admitting I still wanted a baby-no thanks. I was far too stubborn and hurt to put myself through another year of fertility tracking and all of  the neurosis which that entails. Finally, I put my phone down and got up to drink my weight in coffee-aka the life force. In the back of my mind though, I thought, caffeine is damaging to babies...maybe I should take a pregnancy test just to be safe. If you've ever gone through the trials of trying to get pregnant, you're familiar with the inner debate about whether or not you should take a test. You want to because you're excited; on the other hand, you don't want to be disappointed...again. Screw it, I thought. Let's get this over with. I

If you've read my two posts about my struggle to get pregnant, you already know that I wandered into the bathroom that morning and took the test. Unlike the countless other tests I took, however, I didn't stare at it for two or three minutes hoping at the last second the single line would double. This time, before I had time to really wake up, I was staring down at two blue lines.

As you know, I'm a planner. If you look at my Pinterest, you would find a board specifically for pregnancy reveal ideas. During football season I would present Erik with a baby-size Lions jersey. On his birthday, I would let him unwrap a onesie. At Christmas I would hang an extra stocking. When it happened, I would be equipped with an arsenal of cute, clever ideas. If only I could get pregnant!

It was early March-too late for his birthday, too early for anything St. Paddy's themed.

It didn't matter. In that moment, I was paralyzed. I could do nothing but stare down at that cheap little dollar store test in disbelief. So, I did what I always did in panicky situations-I went to my husband. He'd know what to do.

The bedroom was still dark when I went back in. I sat at the foot of the bed. Erik had (and still has) a way of playing dead in the mornings to avoid things like getting me coffee or making me breakfast or taking a random trip to Home Depot for whatever project I've fancied up. Boy has learned. Anyways, I sat at the foot of the bed and just stared at him. He didn't budge. Finally, I kind of nudged him back and forth. His eyes peeked open just a bit and he tried to pull me back into bed-trying to avoid whatever crazy idea I had that morning. I sat erect-not moving, not speaking. Finally he realized something wasn't right.

What's wrong?

I couldn't answer. He probably thought the worst-something terrible has happened. But, I just couldn't form the words.

Aud, what's wrong? Talk to me.

I sounded like a little mouse when I finally muttered, I think I'm pregnant. 

He stood up, although not fully awake, and I led him to the test. When he finally made sense of what he was looking at (he consulted the instructions just to be sure) he hugged me, tears in his eyes. It would be the second time I saw my husband cry (once when we married and again when Juniper was born). That is a moment I will remember until the day I die. But, I don't think I'll ever forget what happened next...

Suddenly, he let go of me and stumbled into the living room, pulled on his boots and coat, and started heading out the door. Two minutes of knowing he was going to be a dad and he was already trying to bolt. Awww hell no. 

Erik, what are you doing?!

I'm going to get you more tests. Not some dollar store test.

I started laughing. My husband is a doer. If I mention wanting something in passing, he is on Amazon ordering before I even finish the sentence. This moment was no different. I tell him we are bringing a human being into this world and he takes action-we must confirm this is real.

I explained to him that a false negative is likely; a false positive-not so much. He agreed to come back inside, but only until the sun was up. You better believe, when CVS opened, that boy was in the family planning aisle sending me photos of pregnancy tests asking, which one? It took several tests to prove to him that I was actually pregnant. He even had me take one the next day to ensure I was "still pregnant."

We spent the entire weekend hovering between incredible excitement and a deep fear-the kind you don't want to acknowledge. I can tell you that more than a few times we asked each other, is it too early to be excited? That weekend we were completely and entirely consumed by Juniper before she was even a Juniper. Flash forward one year later and not much has changed. Our lives are all about that girl-her early morning smiles, her midnight wails (groan), how brilliant we think she is when her two slimy little fingers reach up for her rattle. If ever she gets a brother or sister, maybe I'll put my big reveal plans into action...maybe not.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Permission to be a Mom

Women wear a lot of hats. Within the obvious titles-wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, professional, stay-at-home-mom-there are innumerable roles we must play and holes we must fill. As wives we must be confidante and encourager. As career women we meet deadlines and reach goals. As mothers the holes and roles are infinite. For me, these countless duties and to-dos leave me frazzled and fatigued. I find it somewhat jarring, as I'm sure many of you do, to shift among these various roles. I'm teacher all morning, mama all day, and wife in the evening, in addition to housekeeper and cook. Let us not forget that we are individuals with hobbies and goals and dreams of our own! There is no break and most of these roles overlap for us. I don't believe any other group plays as many roles as women do-even those without biological children still play mom to somebody or something.

If it isn't apparent, I am a perfectionist with high standards for myself. Unfortunately, there is no room for perfectionism in motherhood. Naturally, this adjustment results in this recurring thought that I am falling short of what I could and should be doing. I'm constantly left feeling anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, and guilty. In essence, I wrongfully believe that I'm not good enough. I think this is a product of my generation. We praise the women who "do it all." The ones who always have a fresh face of makeup on, who find time to run every morning and attend a yoga class every night. The women who raise four perfect little children whose clothes always match. The women who work eight hours a day and still have a four course meal waiting for their partners. Women can do anything men can do, we are taught, and so we do everything men addition to everything women are "supposed" to do. This reminds me of the saying, "You can do anything, but you can't do everything." In other words, just because we can do everything-everything that was denied our great-grandmothers-doesn't mean we should or need to do it all.

I don't think I am alone in feeling guilty for doing less. Americans must do, do, do; produce, produce, produce. There should be no down time, no relaxing. There is always something we should be doing as mothers. When baby is napping, there is laundry to do, dishes to be loaded, dinner to be made. There is no time to nap, read, or Heaven forbid, shower! It is in the home that I feel most torn. When my daughter is awake, it is play time. While she is rolling around on her baby gym, I am thinking, "Okay, she is calm. I have about ten minutes. What task should I complete?" When I stick her in her swing and begin checking off my to-dos, I feel a powerful guilt wash over me. All of these sayings run through my head, "She's only little once," "You're gonna miss this," and so on and so on. I'm constantly feeling torn.

One Sunday service cannot flip an entire lifestyle on it's head, but God can. Since Juniper has been with us, we've made it to church more often than not. That time is sacred to me. For one hour each week my daughter is taken care of and my husband and I get some alone time with God and fellow Christians. Coincidentally, the first series upon our return to church after our daughter's birth was focused on aligning our family with God's intentions for what a family should look like. While the entire series provided a gamut of truths, one particular lesson stood out to me. For the life of me, I cannot find my notes from the service, nor the exact verse. I want to say it came from Proverbs possibly, but essentially, the verse said that our children are not ours. They belong to the Lord and raising them is our greatest stewardship (I swear it had the word "stewardship" in it, but all Google searches have been fruitless). When our pastor shared this, I felt a sense of relief come over me. There it was in the scripture. It didn't say my greatest job is to be everything to everyone at all times. It said my number one job was caring for this little one. In a sense I felt as if God was giving me permission to be a mom, to dedicate myself to this little girl and to focus my time, love, and energy towards raising her up to be a good human being (one thing this world needs a little more of). I also felt permission to let go of the resentment and bitterness I'd been (and sometimes continue) to harbor towards my husband. I didn't have to envy my husband's freedom. I was now liberated too.

That doesn't mean I should ignore all other responsibilities of course. I took it instead to mean that family comes first; everything else must fit around it. It means that I don't have to feel guilty for wanting to snuggle up next to my daughter and read to her while the dishes sit untouched. I don't have to fret about what I should be doing when I finally get her down for a nap. I can use that time to write, enjoy a cup of coffee, or nap, or do yoga-because taking care of myself is an important part of being a good mom. In many ways, dedicating myself more fully to being a mom has liberated me to do less and do better. In so many ways, this experience and this message have made me into something my feminist self has always feared-a mom who has been changed by baby, who has a little less time to herself, who wants to be a good homemaker. Just because we can do it all, doesn't mean we have to do it all at once, or at all. Instead, I'm following my heart and my instincts and letting go and letting God sort of out the details while I carry out this most important job.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

3 Months with Juniper

Month three was a good month. Everyone promises it gets easier at three months and more fun at six and so far, I agree! I actually really look forward to coming home from work now and playing with Juniper (instead of being terrified to walk in the door). Her little personality is beginning to show. Super playful, but quiet and observant at the same time. While she is getting bored more easily now, she is totally part of our laid back, down for anything family. Motherhood has changed every aspect of our lives, but it hasn't stalled our adventures. To all those people who told us, "Never have kid,"  y'all were wrong because this shit is fun. 

Weight/Length: Fourteen pounds! The pediatrician recommended we start waking her through the night to get in another feeding in order to put some more weight one her. I almost laughed when my husband informed me of this. I'm not ruining a perfectly sound sleeping schedule. My child is not going hungry. We call her Munchie for a reason.

Clothes: I love putting her in bows and little headbands! She's wearing 3-6 month clothing now. I love when she suddenly fits in the next size up. It's like getting a whole new wardrobe for Barbie as a kid (although mine always ended up naked with frizzy hair and one legged).

Sleep Habits: This past week she has suddenly taken to waking up an hour or two early...meaning four or five in the morning. I know it's too early for the four month sleep regression, so I'm thinking this was an early sign of the three month growth spurt that wreaked havoc on our trip to Clearwater, Florida this past weekend.

Eating Habits: Three months to go and I'm done nursing! I know I'll probably miss it, but I look forward to missing it. I don't care what anyone says, it still hurts now and again! I know I should see a lactation consultant, but when?! We're in the process of researching homemade formulas. I'd like to raise her to be vegan and let her make her own decisions when the time comes. Maybe I'll change my mind later. Formula costs a fortune! Combined with the fact that human milk is the ish when it comes to nutrients, I totally get why moms nurse for years! It may be selfish, but I just don't want to go that long. 

Diapers: Size 2! Still going strong with the Honest brand that everyone promised I would ditch due to the cost, quality, or unavailability. I have no complaints about them. They're way cuter than the other brands anyways.

Appearance: I swear her face changes daily! Her eye color is definitely mine, and so is her nose. The rest is all Erik, although the red hair could come from either side. 

Nicknames: Munchie is most common these days, due to her insatiable appetite. JuJu, JuJu-on-that-beat, J, J Bear, Junie Mae.

Firsts: So many first this month! She has learned that she can roll over from back to belly and the reverse, although she certainly hasn't mastered this yet. When she can't roll over (which is 9 times out of 10), she growls and turns red in the face-got her mama's temper. She has also begun grabbing at things whether they are dangling above her or in front of her during tummy time. Her smiles have become more frequent and so much bigger! Erik even got her to giggle (once)! Needless to say I was a bit jealous. Most notably, girly-girl flew on a plane for the first time! She hardly made a peep. My biggest fear was being those parents with the baby crying bloody murder for two hours straight. Fortunately we got to be "those parents" at a restaurant the next day. Yay for firsts! I quickly swept her out of the restaurant and calmed her down on the beach, but she was practically inconsolable so I had to chug my drink in record time and scarf my meal down like there was no tomorrow. I know with time I will give less of a fack, but it was a first for me and I can't lie-I got teary-eyed because I was so stressed out!

I walked away for two minutes and came back to find she'd ripped two sets of her links from the baby gym! #babieswholift

J Bear's first super bowl!
Likes: ROUTINES! She was a hot mess without her routine while we were in Florida. I too am addicted to my routine. Hopefully she gets some of my better traits too!

She also likes to taste anything and everything. If she can grab it, it's in her mouth! 

She loves when I sing to her, especially songs from Moulin Rouge. This is sad because I am no Carrie Underwood. I'm considering banning music from our household so all she ever knows is my singing voice. I'll have a forever fan.

Dislikes: She's becoming more and more intolerant of formula. Also-not the biggest fan of dirty diapers. Weird. Oh, and after Florida, she no longer falls asleep on car rides. Instead she screams her head off until we park. 

Mommy's Feelings: Being a mom is actually kind of fun now. It's super time-intensive, but it's not grueling anymore. Erik has been forced to pick up the slack (whether he likes it or not). Before becoming a mom I just assumed parenting would be fifty-fifty. Nope. I was bitter about this in the beginning. Sometimes a little lotta resentment still sneaks in. I got pretty frickin' aggravated on the plane when my arm was falling asleep two hours in due to plump ass in my arms, not to mention the fact that I smelled like spit up the whole ride home and I look over and see Erik's happy ass playing some damn zombie game on his phone with his little neck pillow behind his head and his precious little pretzels in hand. Five minutes later I look over and see his mouth hanging open as he slept. I thought, "This mother f-----." 

On the bright side, I'm two pounds away from my pre-baby weight, but I still have little mini-bouts of feeling depressed and mourning our old life. Manageable now though.

Favorite Moments and Things to Remember?
She kicks when I read to her. She gets so angry when she can't flip over. When she is truly sad, her little bottom lip curls over into the cutest darn pout. Her sleepy smile in the morning. When she falls asleep while eating I mock-scold her saying, "Junie MaeAnn!" and her little eyes pop open and she starts eating again as if she never stopped. I can just picture her teachers ten years from now doing the same thing and her little head popping up and her feverishly writing as if she never stopped. When we drop her in the bath, her arms spread wide and her skinny legs fold closed, crouching tiger, hidden dragon style. When we move towards her saying "Hereee weee comeee" her eyes close before we get there in expectation of our kisses.

Looking forward to?
Hiking with her this summer. Beach trips. Camping all over Michigan. Giving her solids. Baby swim class. All of it makes me smile.