My Life With Migraines: Parenting Through Chronic Pain

After I had my second pregnancy I started getting headaches.  My doctor attributed them to postpartum and breastfeeding hormones.  We would revisit if we needed to after I weaned.  A few weeks before Kat turned one I got a sinus infection and migraine.  After ten days I went to the doctors office and they gave me an injection to break the cycle, along with antibiotics for my migraine.

The days that followed were the beginning of my chronic migraines.  I would go three months at a time with NO break from my migraine.  Each medication I tried would bring small improvements, but no “cure” and hardly a break.

Even good days, where there was less pain, or maybe a few hours without a migraine, were still so difficult.  I was all over the place emotionally: edgy; angry; sad; scared.  The migraines also left me confused at times.  If I ate ice cream, my husband would have to put it away or I would put it in the refrigerator instead of the freezer – every time.

Being a Mom in Chronic Pain

During all this, I was a stay at home mom doing a few hours of consulting work from home.  If you’ve ever had to take care of a child while you have a cold, it’s completely miserable.  Taking care of a one and three year old was beyond measure, worse than that when you have to do it on your fourth month straight headache.

Before migraines, I felt motherhood could be overwhelming and frustrating.  When you’re in pain it’s hard to not let emotions overtake you.  I had to work even harder to not lose it on my babies all day long.  I was constantly trying to keep myself in check and stay relaxed.  I felt like the worst mother ever.  Shouldn’t I be able to enjoy our fun activities together?  I shouldn’t be on the verge of losing my shit minute to minute, right?

Anyone who’s a mom knows the weight of mom guilt.  I had guilt about wanting to rest instead of spend time with my babies.  Guilt over asking them to play quietly or stop doing something they were enjoying to do quiet activity.  Guilt about weeks of increased TV time.

When you have a chronic illness it can feel hopeless at times.  I felt hopeless.  Many times.  Reece and Kat needed me though, and motherhood doesn’t give out sick days.  Every day the kids wake up early, my husband would let me sleep in a half hour more – lack of sleep is one of my biggest triggers – then I would drag myself out of bed and put on a big smile.

On weekends I would spend more time lying down to try to alleviate the headaches.  I’m a SAHM, so for the most part, I just had to continue on – business as usual – as I would if I had a headache or not.  A lot of things that used to bother me, still did, but I had to let go of a lot of things.  Being upset about the dinner fight, rushing my kids to do things like clean up or get out the door, and sibling squabbles were all things I had to let go of.  Some moments there are successes, other times, not so much and it ends in big blow outs over non-matters.  Days when I stayed as relaxed as possible might not make my pain go away, but it didn’t make it worse.

The Guilt We Carry

Circling back to guilt.  I even had guilt my migraines weren’t worse.  I have a friend who can’t leave the house without glaucoma sunglasses and a wide brim hat on, if she goes out at all.  My migraines aren’t as bad as others…  My neurologist said something to me, that really resonated.  It’s sort of an obvious truth, which held a lot of meaning to me.  She said: There’s no reason to feel guilt that my migraine isn’t worse than it is, my migraine is my own.  She let me know, it’s OK to be mad, sad, overwhelmed, by what I was going through.  It’s a shitty situation.  It could be worse, but it could be better.

After over a year I started seeing more improvements where I was having few hours without a migraine some days, or only a very slight headache.  There was still a long road ahead.  Currently, a year and a half later and doing Botox treatments, I’m starting to have more days without migraines than with.  When I do have bad days, I remind myself to take it easy on myself.  And it’s not the end of the world if I need to let the kids be TV-zombies.

I’m cautiously hopeful.

On the Fly Chicken Wings

The other night I ran to Whole Foods to grab some chicken so my dinners for the rest of the week had more substance than peas and rice.  I picked up ingredients for my normal go-to dinners but saw little chicken wings in the display and decided to be spontaneous.  I’m so chef-y!

Then I got home and realized, I have no idea what to do with these wings.  I know fried wings would be the automatic thought, but it’s always makes such a mess, plus, I don’t have a thermometer to keep a gage on oil temperature.  That determined it.  Baking is the way to go!

I briefly considered just salt, pepper, and oil.  I had gone to the trouble to try and shake my dinner plans up, I’ll try to give these wings a bit extra something.  And so, my chicken wing test creation was born. IMG_1483

It’s simple, doesn’t take tons of prep time, and toddlers (most days) like little wings.  My kids decided they hate bone in chicken that night, but ate it just fine after cutting the chicken up.

With the wings I made quinoa.  I like to punch it up a little by adding some garlic, salt, pepper, and a good drizzle of olive oil while it simmers.  I also roasted cauliflower (just salt, pepper, olive oil), cut up some mango, sliced some cucumbers and reheated frozen peas and corn.  IMG_1484IMG_1477


Ingredients:

3 lbs chicken wings

3 cup flour
1 tspn of salt
1 tbs ground pepper
1 tbs Garlic Powder
1 tbs mustard powder 
1 tbs of dried oregano 
1 tbs of dried thyme
1/2 tbs of paprika – if you think your kids won’t mind, bump it up to 1 tbs 

3 eggs
3 tbs teriyaki sauce
1 1/2 tbs ginger paste


Combine flour, spices, and herbs together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the eggs with the teriyaki sauce and ginger paste.  Cover the backing sheet in oil.  I poured some oil on the pan then spread it with a butter brush.  Pat dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper, then dip into the flour mixture.  Next, dip into the egg mixture, then another dip to cover in the flour mixture.  Shake off any excess flour, and place on the baking sheet.

Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes, flipping half way through.  I cooked using convection so they were ready in about 17 minutes.  If you try it out, let me know how it turns out for you!

Simple Mom Cleaning Hacks

I don’t fancy myself a domestic goddess in the least.  Along the way, I have learned some tips on how to clean our baby gear or hacks on how to avoid having to clean to begin with.  Whether it be from other moms, youtube tutorials, Pinterest, or various FaceBook groups, I’ve learned a few things since having my first baby.  Below are a few tips and hacks that have saved my sanity – or at least crib bedding – at one point or another.  

Bedroom

Bedding: For quick and easy sheet changes make the bed with a mattress protector, fitted sheet, mattress protector again, then fitted sheet again.  This way if you have an overnight leak/accident you can just pull off the top sheet and mattress protector and the work is already done for you.

Uncluttered bedrooms: This might not be a hack, but, in the kids rooms we only keep clothing, books, and a few stuffed animals.  If Reece has quiet time in his room I will bring a toy he picks out into his room.  When he’s done the toys go back in their bin and back to the play room.  So far, this has kept their rooms relatively mess free.

Reece's nursery
Reece’s minimalistic, super easy to keep clean, nursery

Laundry

Meal Time: Use smocks instead of bibs to avoid staining baby clothes for messy eaters. 

Stain removing must haves: Shout, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, Kids & Pets (or some other enzyme carpet/fabric cleaner), and rubbing alcohol.

Poop-cidents: Potty training underwear blow outs are covered here.

Socks: Hang a mesh delicates bag on the side of the hamper for socks so your socks can stay with their match.

Playroom

Crayons: Art project missed the mark and got some crayon on the table or wall? WD40 is super easy. A lot of people swear by Magic Eraser, if you have only one coat of paint, tread carefully. 

Mega blocks and Duplo Lego: there are two easy ways to clean: 1) Throw in large mesh laundry bag and wash on delicate in the washing machine or 2) Soak in the tub with a little bleach and agitate manually (swish around with hands), make sure to follow up with a rinse.

Kitchen

Sour smelling sippy cups:  Do a bleach and water soak, then wash as you would normally.  (1 tbs bleach to 1 gal water ration) Another trick is denture tablets!

Microwave: For the love of all things holy, buy a microwave cover and use it. EVERY time you nuke something.  It will save you so much cleanup and they are super cheap.  I clean my microwave pretty much never, but it’s not because I let it slide.  It just doesn’t have the ick buildup that I had before using a cover.

Inside microwave
This is the inside of my microwave at all times thanks to the cover!

Stove/Counter Black Hole: For the space between the stove and counters use a stove guard.  Maybe this space isn’t a place you think about cleaning, which makes the guard even more vital, but spilled or splattered oil dripping down the sides of the counter and stove is a fire risk if it gets bad enough.

Gas Stove Grates or Grill: Throw it in a trash bag and add some ammonia.  Let it sit for a few hours then rinse off.  No elbow grease needed.

Baby Gear

These tips aren’t “simple” but a lot of first time parents, or even seasoned parents aren’t sure how to clean these items so I added them to the post.

Car Seat: Always, Always! Refer to your car seat manual.  Some seats can only be surfaced cleaned, some hand wash only, and some can go in the washing machine.  If you can put yours in the washer, wash on gentle cycle and use a gentle detergent such as Tide Free and Gentle.  For the base vacuum up crumbs then wipe down base and straps with a baby wipe.  DO NOT use a Clorox wipe, it breaks down the integrity of the car seat.

Toddler in car seat
A clean car seat is my JAM!

Pack and Play:  If it’s only a minor stain use a baby wipe.  If it needs a deep clean, it’s improtant to check if your mattress has a cardboard/pressboard or plastic board.  If it’s plastic it’s safe to throw all parts, mattress and play yard part (collapsed), into a tub to wash.  Soak in warm water, detergent, and Oxi.
If it’s cardboard I would recommend sticking to surface cleaning for the mattress.  If you must deep clean the mattress you might have to get a little crafty.  Cut a slit in the back and remove, wash minus the board, then glue velcro strips where the opening is so you can close it after cleaning.

 

Cute Baby and Toddler Friendship Books

It has been non-stop birthday party season the past six weeks with only one weekend off.  We have had only one weekend without a birthday party, and some weekends with three birthdays.  My go to gift is always books.  So why not gift friendship books for our friends birthdays?  Here’s a roundup of our family’s friendship books favs, newborn up to preschool age.

Sophie’s Busy Day

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Great from newborn and up.  We follow Sophie throughout her day and how her friends help her.  Every page also has a sensory aspect, smooth, bumpy, etc. that children will enjoy exploring.

Bunny and Bee Favorite ColorsBunny and Bee Favorite Colors book

Bunny and Bee have adventures through the forest observing all the colors in the world.  This color learning book isn’t the typical – Red, the circle is red, red flower, red hat, RED – book.  There’s a small story where you follow Bunny and Bee through the forest and you can discuss the colors of the forrest on each page.

Otis Loves to PlayOtis Loves to Play book

Follow a day with Otis the tractor as he plays with his friends on the farm. The illustrations are different from other children’s books being mostly black, white, and shades of grey with Otis being highlighted in red.  Great for newborn and up.  This was a favorite early on with Reece as he has been truck obsessed since what feels like birth.

Little Blue Truck

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way book
This is Little Blue Truck’s sequel, Kat currently has hidden Little Blue so I had to improvise 

A story of friendship, kindness, and helping.  Also good for learning animal sounds.  Dump Truck doesn’t have time for the animals along the way then gets stuck.  When he asks for help it’s Little Blue who helps out.  Little Blue Truck is another book that has been well loved, to the point where we’ve on our second copy!

 

Oliver’s Tree
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Oliver, Charlie and Lulu love to play.  When Oliver isn’t the right size to play in a tree, Charlie and Lulu work together, finding a way for everyone to be included.  This book, at one point, was in the must read every night cycle for 6 months at one point!

Peanut & GrapeSnapseed (9)

Kat was gifted Peanut and Grape from one of our friends.  It was her very first book that wasn’t a hand me down and 2.5 years later it is still a staple in her bedtime reading cycle.  Peanut and Grape are best friends who do everything together.  If you have siblings that are super tight then this book is a must have!

Stick and Stone

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Stick and Stone were once alone.  Brought together by a bully pinecone.  Stick and Stone will always “stick” up for one another.  The story, simple illustrations, and rhyming are all so sweet.  A little wink and nod to the sticks and stones rhyme.

Pigtails: Bonding With My Daughter

Kat has always been a baldy baby.  I thought Reece was a bald baby, until Kat came into our lives.  By the time she turned one she had slight peach fuzz.  Her second birthday her hair started to fill out a little bit, but was only an inch at best.

 

 

IMG_2168
Kat, about to turn 2, and starting to grow some hair. Woohoo!

When I noticed Kat’s hair was juuuuust long enough for a ponytail I had a mini celebration in my head.  I started to try to brush her hair more often, which meant Rich holding her down while I sprayed a liberal amount of detangler and brushed.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I had moments where I considered letting my daughter’s mangy hair go unchecked into the wild, curly, messy mop it naturally wants to be.  She can just wear a hat.  Every day until college.

I should have made more of an effort with clips and headbands from the start, but being a second child these good intentions often fall to the wayside.  Her animosity over hair brushing did not provide hope.  I didn’t let that discourage me.

I, somehow, had to get her on board, maybe even excited.  I got a sparkly cat headband with ears, a small array of hair elastics, and a cute wire headband since the wrap around headbands haven’t been well received in the past.

Kat’s hair turning point happened a little bit by accident.  I put a headband on her, and she ripped it off so Reece tried to put it on.  Of course then Kat really needed the headband and begged to put it on.  A mini fight ensued.  I found a compromise with Kat wearing the headband and Reece wearing a bow clip.  She wore her hair “done up” for the rest of the night instead of the usual twenty seconds.  A break through!

 

 

Since hair brushing was not a pleasant time, I tried to turn it into something fun and exciting.  I sit Kat on the bathroom sink so she can see her self and we brush her hair together.  Once that started going smoothly I added in putting her hair in a ponytail.

The first time I put her hair in a ponytail (and almost every time after) she is so proud.  Ear to ear smiles.  Then she leans over the sink and puts her nose right on the mirror, sometimes she kisses herself.  For all the times she drives me crazy, she has some of the sweetest moments.

Reece and Kat holding hands
The 1st day Kat wore her hair in a ponytail out of the house! Reece is so proud he held her hand the entire day.

Since then we have done ponytails, pigtails, and headbands.  Every time she is so proud.

I sometimes find it harder to connect with my second child.  It takes a lot more work to bond because big brother can take up a lot of the spot light.  We didn’t have the same focused solo time that Reece and I had his first two years.

When it’s time to do hair its a small way to have a mini bonding session every morning.  I make a big deal about putting a towel in the sink so her feet don’t get wet, I get the brushes and hair bands out, then ask Kat what she wants to do today.  She watches me as I brush her hair, sometimes moving her head a little too much in order to see.  It’s a peaceful moment of just us girls in the morning.  After a little bit of girl talk, and mother-daughter bonding over hair, and we rejoin the chaos of our morning.

What do you do to bond with your children?  Big ways or small I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Potty Training Truths From a Second Time Mom

Did you know there’s a 100% guaranteed 3-day potty training method?  Every blog I have ever read has sworn by the 3-day method it seems.  Sadly, I must report both my children must to be defective because it hasn’t worked for either one.  Or maybe the 100% is closer to 80%, or 70%, or, just like all things parenting, it’s a crap shoot.

Parenting isn’t a one size fits all solution, but our experience training our oldest has prepped us for the next time around.

Gear

  1. The first time around we picked the cheapest potty while we were at the store which was a Cars themed potty with multiple parts and made noises.  Yeah, no.  I recommend the Summer Infant Lil’ Loo Potty.  Easy to clean with only two pieces, cheap, and simple.  Less pieces the better.  We have three of these seats, one for each floor and one for the car.
  2. We also like the Gerber potty training underwear.  It’s a little thicker than normal underwear. They won’t absorb like a diaper, but, if there’s an accident it’s not a complete pee pool in your child’s shoes.
  3. A few books about using the potty and wearing underwear are also helpful.  We like Potty and Big Girl Panties.
  4. Skip the Elmo, Disney, whatever, travel seat cover.  They never fit right, slipping and sliding.  If you’re going to get one, splurge.  Otherwise, you’ll have a decoration toilet seat cover, just like us.

Lower Expectations

Lower your expectations, then lower them again.  If all else fails, just lose all hope.

Unless there’s some underlining issue, your child will be potty trained at some point.  Some are 18 months, others, closer to four years old.  Continue to encourage, but keep reminding yourself that it might not happen any time soon.  If you expect this to go smoothly or to be able to use some one specific method, it might be really disappointing and frustrating.  Just as you wouldn’t be upset with your baby when they can’t sit up on their own or walk, this is something that takes time, practice and a lot of patience.

So What The Hell Do I Do?

We ask several times a day if our daughter needs to go.  We walk her to the potty and if she wants to sit on it and not go, that’s fine too.  We also celebrate and will give a hand stamp for any time Kat pees in the potty.  We have to be very aware of cues since a 2 year old isn’t always the best at communicating.  Any time there is pulling on the diaper or babbling that sounds like poop or pee we rush her to the potty.

On weekends when we don’t have plans we will have panty wearing days where we just watch movies all day and try to encourage using the potty.  The 3 days method did not work for us, but there are less accidents on underwear days.

Every once in a while we do freak out and try to make Kat sit on the potty in a moment of frustration wanting to put our diaper days behind us.  Those moments are much, much less than with our first.

Follow Their Lead

Kat was the one to decide she wanted to do potty training.  At 18 months, one day while Reece was at school she walked over to the baby potty in our kitchen (yes, the kitchen, we like to keep it nearby for emergency pees), and started pulling at her clothes.  She couldn’t talk much at this point so I stripped her down.  Then she pulled at her diaper, so I took it off.  She sat down and peed.  A lot.  I was shocked to say the least since Reece wasn’t trained until 3.5.  After that she went several times a day.  Then my husband came home from a work trip and didn’t go again for two months.  This leads to….

Kat on the potty
Kat wants to be just like big brother all the time. She’s “peeing” while Reece does.

The Only Expectation To Have Is Setbacks

Every time my husband goes on a work trip, potty training goes from rocky to 90% potty trained.  Then Rich comes home and it’s huge regressions that last days or months.  I cannot even begin to figure out this phenomena.   Some kids only pee in the potty, refusing to poop.  This can go on for a year.  Totally normal.  When poop accidents happen, keep your cool and be prepared.  If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of cleaning poop out of underwear, never fear!  My guide to cleaning pooperware is here to help you out.

This may not be the method that parents want to hear when they are stressing out about potty training, but, what worked for us with Reece was giving up.  After over a year of potty training, we decided one weekend we would give it a break and try again in a few months.  After giving up hope, the NEXT DAY my son started going 100% in the potty, save occasional overnight accidents when he sleeps later than normal.

Toddler in underwear over onsie
Kat decided she finally wanted to wear big girl panties. She went through a phase wearing Mama’s underwear over her diaper and clothes for about a month.

That isn’t to say trying all the different methods others before me have come up with won’t work.  I just found it so stressful trying to make it happen the first time around.  With Kat we read books, ask often, encourage, and have stopped freaking out at how it’s taking more than 3 days, weeks, months.

It may seem lazy, it is, but letting our kids take the lead and not fight with them over peeing helps us.  There’s a lot less resistance with Kat verses when Reece was training.  Now I don’t get upset over accidents which is easier on all of us.  We have other mountains to climb, we don’t need to make this one of them!

Our Family’s Favorite Kindness Books

I’m not always the best interactive mom.  When I join in during play kitchen, my kids tell me I’m not playing the “right” way.  Whatever that means.  Art and reading, I totally shine.  Sometimes, Reece and Kat even prefer MOM to read the book instead of Dad!  It’s kind of a big deal in my house because if Dad is home, it’s alllll about Dada!  In big ways and small, these are just a few of our favorite books that make Reece and Kat think.  Wether it’s about the environment, equality, or kindness, these books help open up the conversation to discuss topics in an age appropriate way.

A Kitten Tale and Grumpy CatIMG_9573

A Kitten Tale is a sweet tale about three kittens who have never seen snow and worry about the day the snow will come, with a forth kitten who excitedly waits to see snow someday.  At the end of the book we discover all the worry is for nothing and snow is fun and exciting.

Kitten wants to be friends with Grumpy Cat but he’s having none of it.  I love the idea that Grumpy Cat, while seemingly grumpy is really just a lonely cat who wants to be friends but doesn’t know how.  Sometimes, when we are scared or lonely, we will behave in ways that reenforce being ostracized.

My husband thinks I’m overthinking these stories. I think it’s a jumping off point for young children.  As these books are newborn and up, the stories are straight forward so toddlers and preschoolers can understand.  I’ve been reading these cat books for over 4 years now.  My son still likes to analyze why Grumpy Cat is so grumpy and how silly it was that the kittens worried so much about something so great.

The Bad SeedIMG_9564

My four year old has a lot of questions while reading The Bad Seed.  “The seed is cracked, he’s broken, will he ever be fixed?”  The Bad Seed is rude and unthoughtful.  We learn, he wasn’t always a bad seed, back in his days on the sunflower.  The book teaches kids if you want to change yourself, it is within your power to do so.  Work hard enough, you can even change peoples perception of you.  You don’t always have to be a Baaaaaad Seed.

Not Quite NarwhalNot Quite Narwhal.jpg

In Not Quite Narwhal, Kelp, a unicorn, is born in the ocean believing he is a narwhal and always feeling a little off from all his friends.  One day Kelp is swept away by an ocean current to the shore.  He learns about unicorns and that he is in face a unicorn as well.  He loves being with the unicorns but realizes he misses his home.  Will his old friends accept him even though he is not a narwhal?

A fun story that incorporates a great lesson about self acceptance, differences in others, and friendship.  Super sweet, Reece loves to cuddle with me on the couch just to read this book, then brings it upstairs so Dad can read it for bedtime.

She PersistedIMG_9559

She Persisted turned out to be a surprise hit in our house.  She Persisted gives examples of women throughout history who have overcome obstacles, highlights their successes, and encourages young girls to pursue their goals.  Even if others say No.

The Sneetches and The LoraxIMG_9582

The Sneetches highlights that differences are nothing more than differences that shouldn’t define who a person (or Sneetch) is.  Told in a fun way that is understandable for toddlers and up.  As an adult, when you are reading the book, you think about how silly the Sneetches are being to let something so unimportant dictate their thoughts and feelings towards others.  What I hope my children get out of this book is something that they can take out into the world around them.  Stars or no stars, such a thing really doesn’t really matter at all.

A lot of conversations about recycling, reducing waste, and growing our garden, stem from (no pun intended) The Lorax.  As most know, it’s a story of the progression of a beautiful Truffula forest that is overtaken by consumerism and excess, then pollution.  The Lorax gives warnings which are dismissed until everything is consumed.  Is this the end of the Truffula tress?  Will the humming fish hum again?

What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do With An Idea?IMG_9578

What Do You Do With A Problem? and What Do You Do With An Idea? are beautifully illustrated.  I’ll admit, I love these books more than my children, but I can see the wheels turning during bedtime while we read.  The books are all about avoiding problems/exploring ideas out of fear of ridicule or failure.  When we run away from the idea and problem, it grows and continues to follow us.  Once we embrace them, we learn it wasn’t as bad as we had made it out to be.  In fact, they are pretty great.  Taking on problems and embracing our ideas improve and nourish us.

What to do with an idea - book page

Last Stop On Market Street and Those ShoesIMG_9568

I have a soft spot for Last Stop On Market Street because, like CJ, I also had a Nana whom I had a special bond with growing up.  Nana’s thoughtful answers to CJ’s questions during their bus ride highlight the good and beauty around them.  Nana helps CJ observe the people and world beyond the superficial surface.  Reece asks a lot of questions about the soup kitchen which makes for great discussions about the world outside our house.

Jeremy badly wants a pair of Those Shoes that all the other kids in his class wears.  I think even adults can relate to wanting something out of reach but having to instead, stay within their means to buy what they need.  Themes of the book compassion, kindness, and sharing are all easy enough to understand for adults, but might go over a preschoolers head, maybe in the next year or two it won’t go over Reece’s head as much.  This book is a great jumping off point to start a conversation and explore further in order to really get your child’s mind thinking.

Both books takes place in urban settings and highlight diversity.  Is it just me, or are most children’s books in very rural or suburban settings?  Both are great books for opening up a discussion about diversity with preschoolers.

Good Night Stories For Rebel GirlsIMG_9547

Daughters or sons, it doesn’t matter, Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls is great, highlighting the successes of 100 different women.  Women of all different backgrounds, education, race, incomes.  This is a pretty comprehensive book for younger kids, probably better suited for kindergarten or older, but Reece does like the pictures and can get through a page or two without losing interest.  Since school has started because Reece started coming home saying, “Girls can do [x, y, z].  Catherine can’t do that, only boys can.”  Which makes me glad we can read Goodnight Stories to reinforce that anything boys can do, girls can do also!

What books do you read with your children that have a focus on kindness?

School’s Back

Summer is officially over.  I know, not because school is back, but because we have already been struck with the flu.  Reece went back to school a few weeks ago, and Kat moved up to Toddler 2 in daycare.  Then, the next week Kat had a 103 fever for four days.  All her activities and daycare had to be suspended for most of the week.

I had been really excited for September so I could have two full days of both kids in daycare for work and errands.  It was a little bit of a setback having Kat homebound, but I got a ton of cuddles and we watched movies all day.  Watching movies and TV with the kids is usually my husbands domain.  It was nice to have a (almost) guilt free excuse to hang on the couch and Netflix for days.  Sick baby Kat

Everyone, for now, is healthy and back into the normal school year routines.  We even got a few cute back to school pictures, including a couple with Mom, Dad and Kat thanks to miniphotographer, Reece.

Reece and Kat 1st day school

Back to school
Reece’s photography skills, taking a family picture

Back in the Routine

It always take a week or two to get back in the swing of things.  School starting up again is no exception.  It’s been about a month now and we are back into a groove with our new routine.  Reece and Kat are gone all day Mondays and Fridays giving me an opportunity to get productive with my clients, blog, and house projects.  I even picked up a new client since school started!

The kid’s schedule during the week is pretty packed with only one “free” day.  We hardly ever stay at home all day.  During summer our schedule is more relaxed.  We can avoid going stir crazy by turning on the sprinkler and frolicking in the backyard.  Once winter hits it’s tough to be active without obligations.  This means I’m, probably, one of those over-scheduling moms, but, for our family, this is what works best.

Dance Class

I’ve been working on making a better effort on classes just for Kat.  Reece has other plans when we go to dance class.  The result is either big brother crashing the class of tiny ballerinas like a giant beast or both of them sulking on my lap when I try to keep Reece from participating.  Not the desired outcome.

Kat at Dance
Kat having a solitary moment at dance class.
Panda dance
Reece joining while the class does a teddybear dance

Gymnastics

When Kat has gymnastics, Reece is a preschool and is forced to be “on her own” even though it’s a mommy and me class.  Most of the time she does not want to do what the class is doing.  I never know what the “right” thing to do is.  Let her wonder around to explore?  Or, stay with the class, follow instructions and wait turns?  Half the time I’m reigning her in, the other half I let her do as she pleases.  This means she’s at the balance beam, unless that’s what the class is doing.  She’s a woman who knows what she wants.  Sort of.

Art Class

After dance is art class.  We have a time gap too small to stop at home but makes us crazy early for class.  Try as I might to delay our arrival we always end up a half hour early.  Sorry Miss Emily!

We have been going to this studio for two years, the teacher knows us well and doesn’t (seem) to mind our early arrival.  She even made an exception for Kat to be in the drop-off class even though she isn’t 3.  Since Reece and Kat are so happy to be together Miss Emily knew she could handle adding Kat in.

Other Ways We Kept Busy

When we aren’t rushing to our classes and school (or napping, whew!) we have still been able to keep busy.  It’s been an unseasonably warm fall, hitting 80F some days in October!  We’ve had stroller walks, scooter walks, fun in the backyard, and trips to the playground and apple picking.

Reece big smiles apple picking
I asked Reece if I could get a picture of him, this is what he gave me.

Kat and Reece apple picking

We even managed to have fun indoor activities with art and sensory projects, baking, and laundry.  Yes, my kids help with the laundry!  It’s not always perfect, sometimes the kids rush to do it excitedly, “Yayyyy time to put the washer clothes in the dryer! Woohoo!!” Other times there’s fighting, yelling, tears and frustration – on both sides.  After a little distraction they calm down, I ask again, and happily help out.  Ohhhh, to be a tiny human.  I’ll miss my little helpers!  Please stop growing!!

Reeces person draweing
Love seeing the evolution of Reece’s people pictures!
Sensory play organizing poms.
Kat and Reece organizing poms for some sensory play. It’s not Pinterest, but they work hard doing this for 20 minutes!

Goodbye September

Before we knew it, September ended.  Not that we can tell, with the 80 degrees weather, which I’m not complaining about!  I think I’m the only one who isn’t.  I love the heat.  I suspect New Englanders have reoccurring winter-amnesia.

September closed out with Dad going away for a week on a work trip and we finally found a lunch Reece would eat while at school (jelly and jelly sandwich).  When Dad got back, leaves were starting to turn and it was time to start thinking about Halloween.  Now, if we can just find our Halloween stuff that we moved during the renovation….

The Mommy Friendship Hustle

Far away, are the easy breezy days of meeting people and making friends in high school or college.  Graduating can bring a sense of starting over, but you work at it and while finding your way in the world, you meet some cool people.  Then you become a mom.  The new life phase can wash away at the momentum you gained growing friendships.  Your priorities, lifestyle, schedule, availability all shift.

I’ve been a mom for four years now, and it wasn’t until recently I started to remotely feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with other moms.  Motherhood is awesome and fulfills me in a way I never realized was missing.  What also comes with it are innumerable responsibilities and a rollercoaster of feelings that can be overwhelming.  I swear, half of the burden of motherhood can be the mental load, thinking about everything you need to be doing, what everyone needs.  Finding a peer you can trust, to talk freely with and unload with, is cathartic.  But how do you find your people?

If you manage to find a prospective mom you think you might click with, you still have to contend with so many factors that go against making friends.  To make new friends you need consistency, the confidence to make plans, availability, and commonality.  Other things as well to be sure, but these are some main building blocks.  Kids throw a major wrench into the mix.

Is it me?

It can feel like you’re the only one struggling to make friendships.  Not so!  There have been so many times I’ve cried or been in a funk over not having close friends nearby or false start friendships.  When we are viewing our friends, acquaintances, bloggers, etc., through the lens of Instagram and Facebook, we have to remember, that is NOT real life.  It’s a projected life that is cropped using only one perfect picture out of fifty crappy pictures or moments.

The Mommy Dating Game

Motherhood is a friendship HUSTLE!  You’ve gotta work it!  When you do meet someone you mesh with, you have to actually meet up a second time to get the ball rolling.  Sounds easy, but damn!

Moms (I mean, kids) are signed up for some many activities and obligations.  Trying to plan a playdate with another Mama is like playing the most complicated game of Tetris Scheduling there ever was.  On the one hand, all those classes, activities, and other obligations are helping moms to get out there and meet new people.  On the flip side, they can get in the way of making plans sometimes.

First Base, and Beyond

While you are meeting people at these cool kid things, you typically don’t have a lot of down time to talk and connect.  This is where it gets awkward.  You think someone seems could be cool and you want to “take it to the next level” by doing something outside of class.  You’re basically back in the dating scene.  Only instead of guys, you’re trying to catch a mom friend.  Remember when you thought dating was soooo hard?  Mom dating, is a whole other level.

Then, say you do find that miracle day where the stars align and you can meet up.  Congratulations!  You’ve made it to second base!  There is a 1000% chance a kid will get sick, have a poopsplosion all over the car seat making it impossible to drive anywhere, some family emergency, or some other crazy issue will arise for one of you.  Boo!

The Setbacks Can Be Killer

If it’s not you that had to cancel/reschedule, then you’re thinking, “Did I do something wrong? What if they just aren’t that into me? Maybe I came off too strong?  Or not strong enough?!?!”  Stop the downward spiral.  Avert! Avert!  Your logical self understands.  After all, it could have just as easily been you that had to cancel for all the crazy reasons that happen when you have kids.  Still, it’s hard to not feel insecure or slighted sometimes.  And this can happen multiple times before actually succeeding in both of moms showing up for a date, I mean, play date.

Get Out There, Then Be Ready to Repeat

You must put yourself out there.  Way out there.  I think I’ve had more play dates or mom nights out that have been rejected or cancelled, than have happened.  It can get a person down.  I know how easy it is to get discouraged, just keep at it. I swear, took FOUR YEARS for me to find and connecting with new people.  While I’ve gotten to 4th base with some moms, I would still say we are in the honeymoon phase of our dating.  I do think the outlook is promising!

Mom besties
This is one of my mom besties. She lives across the country, but we make it work. My motivation to get out there and connect with other Moms near me.

Haste is Waste

It’s not to say it won’t happen next week, or tomorrow even.  Remember though, any friendship needs time.  Sometimes in our haste to connect with other people we overlook the fact that maybe there isn’t much substance.  Sure, you both have kids the same age, and that can go a long way, but similar parenting philosophies, love of gardening, or whatever, other real interests are needed in any friendship.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome!

Remember when you were out there in the dating field?  Didn’t you think you had a ‘type?’  You still must look around and be selective.  As a Mom, you don’t have time (I mean literally, the schedule is packed) to date moms that you don’t even care to hang out with.  I know it seems like you can’t be, but you need to!  This isn’t high school.  A core group to keep you grounded, save you from your kids, show up for plans.  This will only happen if it’s the real thing.

Keep perspective by knowing motherhood is perfect for no one.  Again, don’t get sucked into the social media projection.  Successes and setbacks are all part of finding cool moms.

If you can relate to this, please, please share!  Better yet, let me know how you work through the mom dating scene or how you persevered and found a mom bestie!

Missing Items or Missing Brain?

Parent or not, there are always items you misplace, daily even.  Things you might routinely lose: your keys, phone, TV remote, or wallet.  These are items pretty much everyone can relate to misplacing regularly.  After kids, the list seems to increase exponentially.  Pillows from your couch can go missing for days.  I don’t even know how that can even happen, but it can.  We have packed everything up, moved, gone through everything while unpacking and still been unable to find outfits, books, or tools.

I’m not sure if it’s mom brain, or sneaky kids, or just complete loss of your bearings, but items just seem to disappear into a black hole, never to return when you become a parent.  

The list is endless, but these are my top missing items offenders:

  1. Nail clippers
  2. Thermometers
  3. Butt cream
  4. Shoes/socks
  5. Lovies
  6. Half eaten food
  7. Fridge magnets (Especially the ABC’s magnets)
  8. Toothbrushes
  9. Sunscreen
  10. Shoes

There are even multiples of most of these items (I’m talking about you most of all nail clippers!) and still we are unable to unearth it when we need it.  Below are just a few found (or half found) items over my past four years of motherhood.

Missing socks
Socks with no pairs
Shoes in dishwasher
Just… Why?
Moms shoes in play kitchen
Oh yes, right where I left them…
Shoes on play kitchen
The kids kitchen is a popular place for shoes
Unmatched socks
More solo socks
Kale in the play kitchen
Found this real kale cooking in the play kitchen

If you are in the same boat as me, always check the play kitchen first!  Did I hit the mark, or miss something in your top 10?  I would love to know.  Please tell me I’m not alone!