Valentine’s Day

Valentin's Day Pancakes

 

With kids, each holiday is amplified and Valentine’s day is shaping up to be one of my favorites. Dan and I have been so laser-focused on getting through the day-to-day tasks, it’s nice to hit the pause button and express our appreciation for one another.

Yesterday, we visited our friend Mike’s antique and floral shop and went for a lakefront drive. Today, I had big plans to serve festive meals and take a trip to Rocket Baby Bakery but, we’re a little under the weather. Ingrid and I are spending the day watching movies and cooking shows while Dan attempts to do the laundry.

Watching cooking shows with Ingrid is one of my favorite passive activities. She loves to see how our favorite chefs (Giada and Bobby Flay) create themed menus. And if those chefs start to bake, Ingrid will ask to bake a batch of cookies or a quick bread with her favorite ingredient – chocolate. And if we start to bake, probably say: “What’s that amazing smell? CHOCOLATE!” Her chocolate-dotted hands always give away her chocolate chip-stealing secrets.

If we take naps and have the urge to get moving, we’ll whip up a batch of lactation cookies (for me, of course) and a dozen protein muffins for the family. See my favorite recipes over on Pinterest.

Have a relaxing and peaceful Sunday!

The Fog

Ingrid and Louie

 

Over the holidays, my one of my girlfriends took me and the kids out to lunch. I was attempting to eat while holding Louie and had not perfected the “Mom juggle.” Moms who can effortlessly balance their forks, cocktail and children are like narwhals to me – unreal but they somehow still exist. She offered to take him off of my hands and pay for lunch. I politely declined. She insisted, took Louie and made an off-hand comment that I was “still in the fog.”

That comment stuck with me and provided me with perspective. Much-needed perspective. I have this unrealistic expectation I should be back to my normal weight, the house should be a certain way, my meals should be a certain way, my marriage should be a certain way. Self-induced pressures and anxiety, for no real reason.

As a new mom of two, the message from family, friends and society is clear: do not worry about the house, the laundry, meals or your weight. So-and-so and this-and-that will come naturally. Take it easy, let yourself get back to normal.

Lovely idea in theory but we need clothes, meals and a functioning home. That, and, societies expectations don’t align with the messaging.

Returning to work, by definition, gets you out of that new baby mode. There are positives, it’s good for getting out of yoga pants, routines are established. Things that would have fallen into place organically. Probably when my son started sleeping through the night, which happened a few short weeks ago.

So, what’s the fog? A compounding cycle of lack of sleep, long hours at work, quick meals, repeat. It’s tough.

To say it’s tough, is tough.

We’re forced back to work while we’re still in the fog. And that, not sleepless nights, is the real challenge.

We as a nation need to have kindness for new families. Everyone in the family needs to have kindness with each other, as a new baby is stressful for all. You need time as a family to become a new unit.

Think about how you welcome a new houseguest. Make sure they have fresh sheets, pick up their favorite cereal, they visit, pack up and head home. As a new parent you’re making room in the house and having hundreds of boring, necessary conversations. Conversations about where to store the bottles and “Do we have enough bouncers?” I still don’t know. All of that stuff becomes a conversation and everyone needs time to learn how to welcome this new house guest, permanently.

When Louie was born, he needed space we didn’t immediately have. We were a unit of three and enjoyed a flexible routine. We needed time to welcome this wonderful new being into our home wholeheartedly. This process takes time. It takes time to bond, takes time to understand his quirks, and until the ripe old age of twelve weeks, he’s a unpredictable, beautiful, needy mess. Right around the time the fog lifts, moms are forced back to work – awkward black pump bag in hand – and it’s downright laughable.

The fog needs to be recognized, realized, appreciated and valued. It does not magically drift away at six weeks, eight weeks or twelve weeks. It takes effort, time, and patience. A lot of patience and kindness.

New Baby. New Discovery.

Kids

The most stressful times in one’s life include starting a new job, moving and welcoming a new baby. Collectively, Jamie and I tackled all three over the summer. Our family welcomed little Louis Lee on August 2 – all nine pounds and two ounces. Rather than explain the lack of activity on the site, let’s dive into the joys of parenting.

Last week I listened to an interview on NPR. The host with a lovely, unique name, a requirement for all NPR hosts, was interviewing a travel journalist. The topic: career changes after having kids. I always marvel at the questions women are asked and often think “Would she dare ask this of a man?”

During the interview, the host chimed in to answer her own questions – she provided personal anecdotes about her own birth experience and maternity leave. She never thought of herself as athletic or having significant physical strength yet, after having her baby, she felt invincible. She couldn’t believe what she had accomplished. That made her wonder – what else can I do? How strong am I, really? What else can I accomplish?

Then, what happens after this monumental moment of self-discovery? Your world becomes small. Daily geography shrinks to a few rooms in your house. The focus, rightfully so, is on the baby. A very important, isolating time.

I had a C-section with my daughter and a VBAC with son. Although the experiences were vastly different, I felt the same sense of amazement and pride. My body was capable of so much more than I gave it credit for. In hindsight, that’s why I became a runner. I never considered running before having kids and told myself I wanted a quick, effective form of cardio. As I type these words I realize that’s was only one little reason. The real reason is because I finally had the confidence in my body and my mental toughness. When I’m facing a tough run or steep hill, I tell myself “You made another human. You can run up this hill.” And, it’s true. Moms do run up hills.

We research doctors, create meal plans and tour daycare centers. We write out birth plans while understanding we only have so much control. We eventually recover from pregnancy and birth. We nurse our babies. We fed our babies. We work hard to craft a life that makes us happy and fulfilled. Then we wonder, if I can do ______, what else can I do?

Things happen when they’re meant to happen and not before

A view I could get used to.

A view I could get used to.

Destiny shmestiny, right? Well, I’m a skeptic of just waiting for good fortune to fall in your lap. I’m a firm believer of going out and doing whatever it takes to work towards your dreams. And that if you just wait for things to happen to you, you’ll never truly be happy.

BUT. Timing is something that I’m mystified by. You can work really hard, you can give it your all, and sometimes it’s a stroke of luck, a fortunate happening, that sets things in motion that are completely out of your control.

And that’s what I’m going through right now. The last couple months were very hectic on so many levels. We decided we were going to sell our house. Right after that, I found out my employer was NOT doing so well and my future with them looked bleak…and short lived. Then there were some weird unexplained health things that I wasn’t cool with (which, so you’re all not freaking out, turned out to be absolutely nothing). And then I got a terrible haircut and it seemed like the world was ending.

Kidding! I didn’t get a hair cut and my hair still looks fabulous, thank you very much.

And then that all culminated with me having my last official day in office last week. I was too busy to be scared. I’d already been going on interviews because I knew that was inevitable. But I’d also been doing a lot more leg work with selling the house (more so than usual, that is) and trying to line up houses to see, and then there were birthday parties to plan and trips to go on and a house to keep show-ready and appointments to schedule and there just wasn’t time for a “woe is me” moment.

So I started this week like I do any week – with a to do list. And at first it seemed like, “Okay, this is fine. I’ll keep busy.” but in the back of my mind I still had this dread that I wasn’t doing what I SHOULD be doing, aka…working a full-time job.

And then things just started happening. Good things. Things that had nothing to do with my to do lists or hard work or networking skills. So as not to jinx those things I won’t go into detail, but basically the house of our dreams was laid in our hands…in our budget and almost all of the details in our favor. The other things? I received two very interesting calls from companies with positions that are better than anything I’ve seen to date. And the kicker, they’re excited to talk to me about those positions!

That’s all I can say on those two things. So, I still think it’s worthwhile to strike out on your own and go after the things you love. But at a certain point, you just have to trust that you’ll get a stroke of luck, or a bit of good timing to push you along even more.

p.s. If I hear the phrase, “When a door closes, a window opens” one more time, I might have to bang my head on a table. So I won’t be saying that. I know it’s true, but that’s such a terrible cliche. I mean, what if you lived in a really tall building. Is that window meant for jumping out? What a terrible thought. And how does that saying apply to hotel employees? “When a door closes, a window opens…but that doesn’t apply here because we have bars on the windows or they actually will never open, so I guess you’re stuck and that’s life, ya know?”

p.p.s. I’m thinking “Hotel motivational speaker” is not a career I should pursue. Just wanted you to know that I realize that.

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Shake it off edition

I’m sure I’ve posted this video before (or maybe that was Lindsay?), but I just needed this today.

I hope you’re all having a happy Wednesday. And if you’re not, well maybe this video will help you shake it off.

Cheers!

Nostalgia

How was your weekend? This weekend I was able to spend time with family and a few dear friends who live out of state. I rarely talk or email with these friends but our friendship runs deep and we’re able to pick up where we last left off. After a few minutes of “status updates” we’re able to laugh and say things like “you know how it is.”

This morning, Ingrid, Dan and I watched a few old homemade videos before getting out of bed. We watched Ingrid’s first steps and a silly video of Ingrid at the zoo. Then, we hit play on a video called Playdough and I completely lost it.

While I was ugly crying, Dan explained to Ingrid that I had happy tears, tears of nostalgia. Sidebar – the ponytail wasn’t doing anything.

Tonight, I’m gearing up for the series finale of Mad Men. Over the winter I re-watched the series and fell in love with Don, Rodger, Peggy, Joan and even Pete all over again. I love everything about this show – the costumes, Draper’s facial expressions, Draper’s face, the characters and the ability to keep me – the audience – on its feet. Although I’m not weeping over the show’s end (yet) I do have a twinge of nostalgia and was reminded of this famous and classic scene.

Old friends, videos of Ingrid and the series finale of Mad Men. I’m itching to make a Jeopardy joke right about now (what are “things that make me cry uncontrollably for $600?”), but instead I’ll cut this post off early and leave you with these Top 10 Quotes from Mad Men(#4).

A Very Happy Mother’s Day

This morning, I woke up to the sound of Ingrid greeting our dog Harper. She hopped out of bed and squealed “Happy Mother’s Day, Harper!” then came into our bedroom and repeated the sentiment.

We enjoyed a lazy morning followed by a trip to our favorite doughnut shop and then went clothes shopping for Ingrid. She’s growing like a weed and is on the fence between toddler and big girl sizes. Honestly, she needs clothes because I couldn’t bring myself to visit this section of Target or any sites online weeks before. I’m savoring these moments:

Ingrid ran out of paper during her "nap."

Ingrid ran out of paper during her “nap.”

Instead of focusing the moment she danced around the fitting room cheering “I look like a teenager, I’m a big girl!” in her new clothes.

Then, the baby changes positions. A reminder that I’m 28 weeks pregnant and will be doing this all over again, far too soon. It’s scary, exciting and already feels bittersweet.

This pregnancy is so much different than the first – in almost every way. Sure, I was a nauseated mess for the first four months but now, it’s almost like I’m training for the baby’s arrival. With Ingrid, I didn’t know how exactly our life would change, it ultimately changed for the better. With the anticipation of a new baby, I know the first few months will be a blur. Perhaps it’s another form of nesting, but I want to be able to truly enjoy the first few weeks and months with our new little bundle. To do so, I’m preparing a lot of freezer meals and accepting help from our friends and grandparents. There are numerous spreadsheets involved. The Bump keeps reminding me to “relax and get pampered!” and I’m over here like “No! I need to label freezer bags so I can relax with my newborn and not worry about dinner in August.”

But, not today. Today, I’m going thank Mother Nature for the gloomy weather so I can watch the last Harry Potter movie and enjoy the rest of this magical day reserved for mothers. But not before giving out a whole lot of thanks to my mom or teaching me first-hand about the gift of motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day. Get the Kleenex.

meerkats

Happy Mother’s day! Now let’s do some real crying, shall we?

Okay, but I’m being serious here. Tears shall be shed, because on this day, we show that we are human and we have ourselves a good celebratory cry about why we work SO DAMN HARD all year long.

So without further ado, here are my favorite sappy videos that help celebrate the moms of the world. Enjoy!

This one starts off funny, but you will be crying by the end:

 

A new comer, this year:

 

One of my all-time favorites from the Sochi Olympics:

 

Finally, to end on a higher note, this Coca Cola commercial always gets me. Yes, kids are messy and crazy and frustrating and there are super highs and super lows…but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

Happy Mother’s day to all of the fantastic caregivers out there. Now go drink some wine and fall asleep while reading a good book…because this day is almost over!

 

A clean house equals a clear mind

"Wait...are you sure we're doing this right?"

“Wait…are you sure we’re doing this right?”

Today, I was able to get some deep cleaning done, open the windows, get some things organized, and just in general NOT think about all of the other chaotic parts of our life. It actually made me feel like I accomplished something this weekend and like I wasn’t a complete mess.

So enough with the woe is me schtick. Let’s talk about how easy it is for your kid to embarrass you at Target.

Ohhhh so easy.

Today I took Jackson to Target after his nap. We were mostly picking up cleaning supplies and then trying to find a rain coat for him (success on both fronts, if you must know).

While in one section of the store, he proclaims that he found a ball. We weren’t even near a toy section, but lo and behold he holds up this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ball like it’s the Ring of Sauron (my precious). He’s so ridiculously happy he found it.

And personally, I was happy too. It was an incentive to keep him in line while we were wandering through Target. “If you’re good and stay by me, maybe we can get that ball.”

Except that….it wasn’t your normal ball. It’s shape was not exactly round, but more like when you smash 30 bouncy balls together and call it a day. It never went where he intended to bounce it. Which resulted in a lot of him jutting out in front of someone or their cart and me going, “JACKSON, WATCH OUT!”

Did I get a “Sorry mama!” Of course not. The little twerp looks at me and says, “No, YOU watch out mama.” Luckily for him, he wasn’t screaming it at me, but more like lazily using my own language against me like a teenager distracted with video games. I really didn’t even have a response but to sigh and then pull him over towards me.

Then at one point after repeatedly telling him to hold on to the ball, not to bounce it, he let it fall and then broke away from my grip. He went for it, but a woman stopped it with her foot. She and her husband looked at me with this weird expression that seemed like a mixture of pity and confusion.

I, of course, went into embarrassing mom mode and sputtered out the following, “Argh! I’m sorry. It just doesn’t…it’s not like a regular ball…it’s like one of those…” but before I could even finish, she just pushed it back over with her foot and then turned around and walked away.

It was awkward, to say the least.

And yet, I just kind of laughed it off. It was almost comical how disheveled and frazzled I looked at that moment, letting my kid run around Target with me. But he was so happy to play with that ball. And I was okay putting up with it….this time, at least. So really, it may have cost my dignity and three dollars, but all in all, that’s a price I can afford to see him light up for a couple minutes when he’s not being a complete psycho (which I’m told is just a phase, and I’m holding on to that for dear life).

Tomorrow it’s back to reality. Normally, I’d look forward to going back to work and digging in, but as the tables have turned, it was nice to get some real work done on the house this weekend – both house projects and cleaning some much-deserted areas of the house.  And also nice to see some friends, be outside and play with footballs, basketballs, baseballs and even odd-shaped bouncy balls.

So happy Sunday to you. Regardless of how you spent your weekend, I hope you got to find a couple moments to take a breather before the work week begins again.

The calm before the storm

Me: Jake, get in the shot. It's a family shot.  Jake: Wait I'm not rea--

Me: Jake, get in the shot. It’s a family shot.
Jake: Wait I’m not rea–

Today is technically my Friday. The next two days I’m taking PTO and I’ll return to the office on Monday. What are my big plans? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I scheduled this time off a couple weeks ago anticipating that I would need it. Right now, work is in our not-so-busy season, so it makes sense to take time off before it heats up again in a couple months. So that’s not the metaphorical storm I’m referring to in the title of this post. It’s the storm of change starting to swirl around our home life.

I’m finding, much like everyone else on the planet, that I’m a creature of habit. I didn’t realize how much this was true until I started to be confronted with these changes.

Here’s what’s going on in our house.

Potty training

is taking off. In a good way, though! Jackson is taking to it really well, but because he’s too short to get on the potty, he still needs our helps to get undressed, wipe, etc. Honestly, I could relay the adventures for the past month, but there aren’t too many horror stories. So yeah, go us!

New toddler bed

We’ve had over a week with his new toddler bed. Or should I say, The PAW Patrol bed.

Crib turned toddler bed turned PAW Patrol hangout.

Crib turned toddler bed turned PAW Patrol hangout.

That was quite the adjustment for the first week. There was a lot of training and enforcing the rules of not getting up to play or going to the potty 800 times. He’s doing well at night. He only came into our bed once, the first night, and then after that he would call for us if he needed something. So week 2 is going better. Now, it’s just funny to see how his morning rituals have changed because he can just go roam the house for whatever he wants. Case in point – this morning he came into the bathroom to find us getting ready. I thought he had just woken up. Turns out, he had been up, gone down to the living room, found Jake’s iPad and navigated to the App store where he was just about to purchase something related to Super Why (a PBS show). But it wasn’t working and he needed help. So THEN he decided to go find us. Ummmm…alright. Lesson learned. Keep the Apple TV remote and the iPads out of reach before we get downstairs.

The nightmare that is selling a house

The real REAL storm, though, is preparing our house so that we can put it up for sale in June or July. Ugh. It’s the WORST. Have you been through this? Since this is our first home that we haven’t rented together, we’ve never had to go through the “selling” part of it. We’ve only ever had to figure out which house to buy and cleanly break off our rental agreement. Oh to be in that luxurious situation, now.

Here’s the kicker, we’re not even close to listing it yet. I mean, we’ve just started down the path of DECLUTTER EVERYTHING, so you ask why am I complaining? Because it’s already hard. It’s already disruptive. It brings out the worst in us (okay maybe just me). It’s a break from our typical weekend routine and it’s just all around stressful.

We have too many conversations around, “No, here’s what we NEED to do to get the house ready” and we’re both novices so it’s really just one “man’s” opinion against the other’s. Not to mention, there’s the almost three-year-old who isn’t totally cool just doing his own thing. There are moments of that, yes, but for the most part it’s a lot of divide and conquer in our house. Jake will work on the basement while I play stomp rocket with Jackson in the park. I’ll look through the boxes that Jake wants me to sort through and he’ll play dump trucks in the living room and change the channel eight million times for a boy who can’t make up his mind. And nap time? Yes, that’s the one time when we can both work on something together. But as a parent, that blows SUPER hard. Excuse my language, but it does. Do I want to take the one opportunity to rest and relax and gather my senses to go dive through boxes and clear out clutter and make hard decisions? No. Never. But that’s our life for the next…however many weeks.

So I grumble. But I’ll do it. I’ll pitch a fit and disagree…but I too just want to get the damn thing sold.

And this orneriness from having to do things I don’t want to do (yes, I know I sound like a teenager. I get that vibe too.) has ripple effects in other areas of my life. If I’m going to spend 2 hours sorting through boxes than I’m sure as HECK not going to go workout. Two icks in one day? Nope. Dinner? We’ll see. Cleaning? Well what’s the point. We’re just going to get it all messy anyway. Reading and writing in my spare time? No, I need THAT spare time to make up for the loss of my weekend spare time.

You see? It’s just disrupting everything. I become a person with excuses, not an overcomer of obstacles. And I don’t like being this person. So I very much can’t wait until we’re in our new house. And I’m glossing over SO many steps that need to happen so let’s assume that will be November of this year…the perfect time for work to get crazy again.

Stop complaining? Yeah. I should. 

I was just about to hit post on this bad boy when I went out to our About Us page to quickly glance through what had been written almost a year ago. Man, we were certainly chipper, back then! Okay, okay, we still are. But here’s the passage that struck me. It’s the part near the bottom of the page…

Why are we here? Because we follow our passions and our passions include motherhood, careers and being good to ourselves. We don’t wake up and stumble upon happiness. We set our alarms a few minutes earlier so we can enjoy coffee before the rest of our household wakes up. We run during nap time. We want to be rock stars in the office. We work hard in order to enjoy a glass of wine (or three) at the end of the day. Like you, we strive to be happy and we design our lives to make it happen.  

Am I living up to this? I know my alarm hasn’t been set in over a week, that’s for sure. And maybe I can’t run during nap time (see above), but am I taking some time for me? Not as much as I should, but tomorrow and Friday are a good start. Am I rock star in the office? I mean, I guess there’s always room for improvement. But finally, am I designing my life  in a way that works towards being happy? Some days it doesn’t feel like it, but I know it’s because I’m the middle of the journey. So I think that answer is yes.

So here’s to a little time off, a little R&R, and maybe a little extra coffee over the next two days…before the storm continues on.

Instagram

Sunday runday + Sunday funday + meal prep and getting real with the laundry situation = pass me another beer. 🤗

Enter your email address to follow Happy by Design and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Happy by Design

Thoughts about motherhood, wellness and life.

Blog - Coffee + Crumbs

Thoughts about motherhood, wellness and life.

Inspired to Share

Thoughts about motherhood, wellness and life.

Motherly

Thoughts about motherhood, wellness and life.

MKE Moms Blog

a resource for Milwaukee moms

A Cup of Jo

Fashion, Beauty, Design, Culture, Food, Relationships, Motherhood

Thoughts By Natalie

A blog about simple + stylish living by jewelry designer Natalie Borton

Jamie LeRoy

Writer of things