Monday, March 21, 2016

One Hour


In Jamberry world, we call it the "Power Hour". The one hour you give yourself to focus 100% and rock your business.

Well, I've given myself a Facebook "Power Hour" the last two nights. Last night it just happened to be an hour before I decided enough is enough. Tonight I think I got six stories into my news feed scroll and lost interest. Now, thank my girl Shonda for the new-found bravery...but I'm about to say something that will probably piss off a lot of people. Or, offend them. I get that.

Here is what I have learned in my extremely short time "off" Facebook (I'm not "off" I just don't have it on my phone and won't use the browser to see it - hello, that's cheating): I don't give a shit about Facebook.

Of those six stories, one was a birth announcement I've been hoping to see for a week. Every time I saw this friend post about still being pregnant I thought, "Come on, baby! Show your face!". That was the highlight of my Facebook time. The rest? I don't even know what. I think I had 26 notifications. One was a recipe Hubs shared with me. The rest, I don't even know.

While I appreciate being connected with old friends and I love a good dose of nostalgia, social media started to take over my life. No, not started. Social media legit took over my life.

It started when it was my job. My career. It was cool and cutting edge and trendy. Then as it went on it got harder and less fun and more of just a pain in the ass. Add kids into the mix. OOH! social media is fun again. Share all of the things. Don't keep baby books. Facebook is forever. Why journal anything when Facebook Memories exist!?

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the FB memories. Hubs and I look through them every day and reminisce about the stories they tell. But it's the past. It's over. And it's digital, which means tomorrow Facebook could explode and there won't be anymore memories. My life had become Facebook only. If it wasn't on FB, I forgot it ever happened.

I haven't printed a single photo of Mo since he was born. I look at him on Facebook. Why put him on the walls? Maybe because he is our child?! Yeah.

How many aspects of my life have gone to the wayside because I've depended on this social network to remember my life for me?

Yesterday I was thinking about when LW starts dating. I'm not talking about high school prom date type stuff, I mean he's home from college and brings the girl of his dreams with him. In my mind, he and she sat on the couch and flipped through a scrapbook. I stopped myself and realized...there is no such book. Well, there is, but it's mostly empty. I think I stopped after his first few months on earth.

How will she know that he pronounced things with a B instead of an M when he was two? "Jambies" "Thobbus the Train" How will she know that he nicknamed his little brother "Dinosaur Simon"? How will she know that he pronounced his name "Biddy"?

My friends, it's time I wrote things down. It's time I printed photographs. It's time I documented our lives in ways that will last. Facebook is a big business. Huge. But it's not a baby book. And I'm embarrassed to admit that I've relied on it to be ours.

I am now 41 minutes into my one hour on the computer. Like a teenager, I needed a curfew. But I don't need these last nineteen minutes. I don't want to scroll through the clutter and read about things that simply don't matter to us.

These few days have already changed me. I'm calmer. Happier. More focused. I've gone on walks with friends. I've been texting my close girlfriends and talking. Not just complaining.

I like where this is going. I'm sure I'll come back to social media in a more active role but right now leaving all of that mental clutter behind just feels too good. If you need me, stop by my house. Or call me. I have been popping in and out of Instagram periodically, which feels like a good balance.

I'll leave you with this, my favorite line from Year of Yes (which I finished tonight and it's magnificent): "I don't have to do anything about my problems if I am busy complaining and feeing sorry for myself" 

Preach, Shonda. Preach. 

It's high time I stopped complaining and started doing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Do Over // YES


Hi. Hey. It's me. Again.

I'm probably the world's worst blogger. I mean, a lot of people tell me they "love" my blog and look forward to posts and in my mind I like to think I inspire a person here or there but really...I suck at blogging. Because I do this thing where I disappear for months and months. I can't keep up to save my life.

Well, I'm back. Hi people!! Today. I'm back for today.

Last week I participated as a guest in a podcast which will be released in a few weeks. Among other things, I mentioned this year I am making time for myself by reading. I love reading and I've missed it - though reading is like blogging. It's one of those things you love while you do it then months go by and you suddenly feel its absence from your life like a gaping, black hole.

So in this podcast I mentioned that I hope reading will inspire me to write again. I said I miss writing...

...? I do..? Until that moment when it came out of my mouth in its recorded for all of eternity glory, I had no idea I missed writing. Hey, subconscious. Thanks for popping up in the middle of something that's recorded for all to hear. Nice of you to join us.

Yesterday, as an effort to make more time for myself, I deleted the Facebook and Messenger app from my phone. I started to feel the effects almost immediately.

Do you know what happens when I don't check my news feed every 37 seconds? Nothing. Well, not nothing. I pay attention to my kids. I read. I clean the damn house. I fold laundry that's been in a pile for four days (okay so that's still on my list but I really am going to do it today). Nothing BAD happens if I don't check FB every waking moment.

I had become an addict. Now, I like to admit some of my addictions. Sugar is one I'm pretty proud of. I can pound a box of Girl Scout Caramel Delights with a side of Peanut Butter Patties before the first commercial break of Grey's Anatomy on a Thursday night. But my phone addiction? That was one I only half-admitted. It was like a joke to me. "Yeah, I'm addicted to my phone....ha...I can stop tho...anytime I want....." * face....poop* Don't get me wrong, seeing your kids is adorable but it was keeping me from seeing my kids. 

I would set my phone on the rocking chair to change a diaper before I nursed and WHILE I changed said diaper, I would glance over my shoulder at the phone. I felt anxiety build in my chest every moment I wasn't staring at my phone. Scrolling to oblivion.

What did I learn in all of that scrolling? What did it bring me? Turns out, anxiety. It brought me anxiety and helped me learn every possible thing I do for my children is wrong or stupid or will scar them for life so I might as well give them cyanide and dynamite to play with.

But seriously, EVERYTHING was contradictory. EVERYTHING gave me heart palpitations. Regardless of which school of thought I tried to follow consistently, I questioned myself, my abilities and my strengths. Not to mention, I questioned my children. And it left me with no time to actually DO anything. All I did was read about all of the things. I did not DO any of the things. I spent time worrying about the things. Worrying sucks. Anxiety is the worst. Addictions to phones are stupid.

Currently I am reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Now, while Shonda and I have some distinct differences in our political beliefs, I can set that aside and admit that we are shockingly similar. Her attitude, her sense of humor, her vision of her self and her life are almost *too* similar to my own. She's really damn relatable (and writes a mean TV show...or three). As I read this book I realize all the things she does to improve her life, I could do too and improve mine. And I'm not talking like, "I should say yes more often to dinner parties with the POTUS" but more of a positive, self-discovery attitude. "Yes, I would be happier if I spent more time focusing 100% on my kids. I would be happier saying yes to more things that make me happy and doing more instead of dreaming more."

So, what am I doing here? Blogging? Well, turns out my kids don't want me staring at them every waking moment. They like to spend time exploring and adventuring which gives me time to do a little self help via word vomit.

I know, I just added another thing for you to scroll through and possibly cause you question yourself and your choices. Sorry about that. Instead of stressing out about it, think about what would make you happy right now. Then go freaking do it.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Reindeer Food


I have been trying to keep crafts on the schedule for the last six weeks but in reality we don't craft a whole lot. It's stressful for me. LW isn't very interested in doing a lot of the things I have picked out for us or the weather isn't what it's supposed to be for that day to complete the get the picture. 

However, today we finally did one. And it was only kind of a wreck because a certain little brother wanted more attention than I could give him in the moment. No biggy, he's over it. 

We made reindeer food! Once it was done we put it in an empty jelly jar and decorated that to look like Santa. 

We didn't measure anything. I simply let LW scoop or shake all he wanted of each ingredient I offered: oats, ground flax, colored sugar sprinkles and regular sprinkles. 

I wanted to make something that was safe for all animals, just in case the reindeer aren't hungry on Christmas Eve ;-). 

LW really loved shaking the sprinkles out of the container. He had to work at it which seems to be something he enjoys. Plus, it's a motion and sound he's very familiar with from music class. 

As a 2.5 year old this is his first Christmas he is aware of Santa/reindeer/etc. I talked up the project for a few minutes before taking out all of the materials because originally he seemed disinterested. He needed to k LW he was really going to help those hungry reindeer on Christnas Eve, which would help Santa bring more presents. Once he had the full picture of the story, he was more convinced it would be fun. Plus, I added it was going to be "just like making cookies" - a favorite pastime around here. 

What holiday traditions do you do with your toddlers? 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The kind of mom I want to be


Once you are a mom, you're always thinking (or is it just me?) about what "kind" of mom you want to be.

For me, I have a lot of great mom role models.

I remember seeing photos on Facebook of one mom who always made pumpkin pancakes for her kids in the fall. I saw them and thought, "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

I remember realizing that some moms bring their kids on zoo outings when the weather is nice, just because. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

Or the mom who takes her boys on road trip adventures full of educational opportunities and unforgettable experiences. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

What about the mom who always looks effortlessly put together and even when she isn't, doesn't seem bothered by it? "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who calmly reacts in public to her toddler's outburst by giving him a hug. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who goes hiking with her family, nursing and wearing the baby while patiently allowing the toddler to explore and experience nature. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who bounces right back into comfortably taking time for herself, leaving her baby with someone she loves and trusts while enjoying an evening out of the house. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who still goes on dates with her husband, because she knows how important it is to keep the flame alive in her marriage. While they are out, she isn't anxiously thinking about how the kids are or if they are in bed for the sitter. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who goes to baby and me yoga. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who uses "quiet time" as an opportunity to read and be read to by her child. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

The mom who always lends an understanding ear, doesn't pass judgement and never has a snarky remark. "That's the kind of mom I want to be."

I think there are a lot of kinds of moms. And I think every one I know is pretty damn great.

This week is Thanksgiving; a time to be thankful for all the things in our lives. In the spirit of the holiday, I'd like each of you to think about the kind of mom you want to be. Then stop, and realize that you probably already are that kind of mom. Be thankful that you are a mom. And you're freaking awesome at it. Thanks for being here. And thanks for being so cool being you.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Nursing Essentials


Nursing my second baby has been a completely different experience as nursing my first. There is a certain confidence that comes with nursing your second baby, I think. I'm much more comfortable nursing in public, or anywhere really, in front of anyone. A lot of that comfort comes from having the right "gear".

Since I know lots of mamas about to have their second or who just had their second and are exclusively nursing, I thought this post may be of use to a few of them. Here are my favorite nursing essentials this time around:

1) Bamboobies
I could say this over and over - these nursing pads are THE best. I leaked A LOT with LW and Mo in the beginning. Here and there I still get a little sore from some distracted nursing so I still take these out and use them with a little ointment, even now. They're definitely a must have from day one.

2) Gilligan & O'Malley Nursing Tanks
It takes a few weeks for your supply to regulate, which means early nursing breasts are just too big for fitted bras. Nursing tanks come into play and I basically lived in them for....a few months. Now my supply has regulated and I can wear bras I feel good in (stay tuned for that item). I still wear these tanks to bed every night - having proper nursing attire makes nursing even more enjoyable. I didn't have any for LW other than bras and wow is my experience more pleasant this time having clothes meant for nursing in. For whatever reason I prefer the Henley version of this tank top specifically. They just feel nicer than the standard version, to me.

3) Soma Nursing Bra
I'm not sure if Soma had the Full Coverage Contour Nursing Bra when I nursed LW but when I needed new nursing bras for Mo I bought one and I LOVE it. It feels like a "real" bra - full coverage and support - but you can nurse in it in a snap. It's wonderful. I also have a few of their Full Coverage Unlined Nursing Bras and I really like the feel of them, I just prefer the Contour model.

4) Undercover Mama Nursing Tank
They call this tank the "basic essentials" and that is the perfect name for it. When paired with your favorite nursing bra, this top is a slam dunk. It's fitted and slimming, nice and long and works with any clip style nursing bra. LOVE love love this tank. I only have one of them, but I could wear it every day.

5) Latched Mama Hoodie
This one I told you yesterday that Hubs got me for our 4 year anniversary. I had been following Latched Mama on Facebook for a while, always heard good things and even bought one as a gift, but never opened it to inspect before I wrapped it. W-O-W is this hoodie nice. Living in Chicago, the weather gets really dang cold and calls for loads of layers. This hoodie is pure perfection. It's fleece lined and crazy, ridiculous levels of soft and snuggly. I will be wearing it A LOT this winter and I think it looks sporty enough that I can keep wearing it beyond this winter, when I'm no longer nursing a babe.

Hopefully that helps some nursing or soon-to-be nursing mamas fill in their list for Santa ;-)

Did I miss anything? Tell me your essential nursing items in the comments on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some Updates


Hi! I feel the best way to share some updates is by photo. So here we go. 

Billy still isn't ready to potty train. No biggy! 

Hubs and I just celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary. He got me a Latched Mama nursing hoodie. Not only is it SUPER warm and awesome quality, it's so snuggly, it induces baby nursing naps. My favorite kind of naps. I endorse this product 100%. I could own one in every color. I love it. 

I've been researching sensory toys so Christmas is both fun AND beneficial for LW. I found a deal on a jungle gym on and jumped on it yesterday. Merry Christmas, LW!!!

Mo sits up now!!! He is getting stronger every day and watching his development is amazing. 
That said, I'm glad I did my research and I am sticking to my guns on not introducing solids before his 6 month birthday. Not only is it best for his tummy and enzymes, all of the signs he's showing that he's ready definitely doesn't mean he is "ready". I've started giving him one breast milk pop every day while we eat family dinner. He can reach for it, pick it up, get it in his mouth (most of the time), but once it's there he sucks and spits the liquid back out. His reflex for gagging is still too far forward. He's not ready to have other things in his mouth yet. I believe he will LOVE solid foods when he's ready, but he's just not ready yet. In more ways than one. 
I got a babywearing hoodie. It's the best. Thing. Ever. Can you tell I love hoodies?! 

I planned on doing a fun activity/project every day for the next two months. Since the holidays aren't chaotic enough, I thought I would add fuel to the flame. Well, I've done three so far. Two on the calendar and one just because we felt like it (twice). Turns out that like everything else, if I over plan, I under deliver. I'm sure we will do several of the planned events along the way and they'll be awesome. 

That's all
For now!! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Parenting is Hard: Sensory Needs


I feel like I've always been an "aware" parent. I am aware that my older boy LW is a climber. He's always been ahead of the curve in physical activity and motor skills.

From taking him to Kindermusik since he was 4 months old, my husband and I learned he's a very kinesthetic learner. We know he learns best when asked to complete a physical activity while listening. If no physical activity is given, he creates one by bouncing in our lap, running back and forth across the room or jumping like a frog.

Lately it's become very apparent in more areas than just Kindermusik class. He acts out physically at times we feel are inappropriate and it's been infuriating.

I found myself posting on moms groups and asking every mom I know "How can I help him?" or saying things like "What is wrong with my kid?" "Why does he do this when no other kids around are doing that?" and I think things like, "Do all kids do this? Or is it just mine...?" (which is a horrible, sinking feeling)

Let's rewind a bit further. When Mo was born, LW started stripping his clothes off as a regression, which we took then as a sign he was ready for potty training. He would spread and smear and "play" in his poop.

For as long as I can remember, I've needed to take LW for a car ride fo get him to take a good nap. When he was in a crib he could CIO for a while and go to sleep, but once he was in a bed he couldn't be contained and lulled to sleep. He had to be driven or strapped into the stroller.

When I brought these things up on Facebook begging for help, a few occupational therapist friends kept using this word "sensory". The first time it was brought up I heard it as a taboo word. "MY kid doesn't/couldn't/won't have sensory issues" I thought. "Sensory issues are for kids with....issues. LW doesn't have issues" And yet, I kept asking the same question to my closest mom friends, "What is wrong with my kid."

Well, it's taken two and a half years of parenting...but today I was served a big ass freaking dish of humble pie.

While we were at the zoo today, LW bolted. And he bolted again. And again. And by the end of the day I had lost track of how many times he'd done it. I got home, exhausted. I didn't know what to do and didn't understand WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MY KID. Punishments typically have no effect on him. It doesn't bother him to be told no, or time out, or ouch, or mommy is sad, etc.

While talking it out over and over and over with some of the same mom friends I had a realization that the common thread through all of his misbehavior was that he was craving something else. He doesn't have sensory issues he has sensory needs - and every child has sensory needs!

That's why he learns well when he's DOING. He listens best when he's given a TASK. He responds quickest when he is RE-DIRECTED. He challenges me most when I am NOT challenging HIM enough.

I started my research by googling and found this amazing series called Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors by Lemon Lime Adventures. As I read through the list of different behaviors I could relate to one in this category, one in that one...and then when I got to "Movement" it was like every article was written for LW.

Can’t Hold Still for Lessons | Preschool Powol Packets
Climbs & Jumps on Things | Golden Reflections Blog
Clumsy | B-Inspired Mama
Hanging On Everything | Mama OT
Hyperactivity   | Wildflower Ramblings
Over-reacts to Everything | Kids Activities Blog
Won’t Sit Still When We Read a Story | Growing Book by Book

I poured through every article over the last two hours in between diaper changes and during nighttime nursing sessions because I am so blown away. I feel like a sponge. And finally I feel like someone "gets" LW. So many of the suggestions given in these articles are things I've been implementing over time with LW because it seemed like something he would enjoy or things that other moms suggested. Little did I realize that it was complete mommy intuition taking over. I knew he needed these things. I just didn't *know* I knew. You know? 

Hubs wanted me to make it clear when I wrote this post that LW doesn't "have anything wrong with him" and he didn't want me to "start diagnosing him with problems". Quite the opposite. Now I feel like I've finally found my parenting niche for toddlerhood. I feel like I've found my people. 

Now when he bolts instead of saying "STOP!" and "DON'T!" and "I SAID NO!" I know to redirect with "Hurry, hurry! Run to this slide!" or "Stop and jump like a frog!" or "Time to twirl". He bolts because his body NEEDS to move. He also NEEDS to learn to listen to direction and respect the space around him, but since I'm just learning how to help him, he is not the one at fault here entirely. 

I'm so excited. I can hardly stand it. Sensory play has been a passion of mine for a while because I love letting him experience new and interesting things but this research has unleashed a beast inside of me. 

I am so thrilled to have even more tools to help my child grow to be his best self. He doesn't have issues. He has needs. Now I know that. Now I can help him. Now we can learn together. 

There's nothing wrong with my kid. There are simply things I can help him with to grow and make him even better.