Closer to 2 Than 1

My daughter is 18 months and a few days, or “closer to two than one” as a friend of mine pointed out the other day. We had her 18-month well-visit, which was a total sh*t show BTW (Note to self: never EVER schedule a doctor appointment in the middle of nap time.) As we left the check-up her doctor reminded me that he wouldn’t need to see her again until her second birthday. HOW is that possible??? This child is growing at lightning speed and while I hate it and so often just beg time to slow down, I also kind of love it. Luna is the coolest toddler I know and watching her learn new stuff everyday is the best. It makes the whole getting older thing not so terrible.

Aww, sweet thang
Aww, sweet thang

At 18 months she is doing forward rolls, playing with dolls, learning how to listen and kind of sort of follow some directions. While she is still a good eater, she has become pickier. She has started refusing certain foods (like green goldfish, what the heck?) and requesting her favorites…cheese. She LOVES putting things in and out of baskets and purses and then carrying them all around the house. She’s also a huge fan of accessories. Hats, bracelets, necklaces and shoes are all the rage. She has peed in her potty twice (woo!).

ALL the time
ALL the time

stair climber

Her hair is growing, so I can actually put in a bow, which lasts about 7 seconds. I’ve attempted pigtails a couple of times, but I think we both need a dose of Valium to make that a successful endeavor. The girl is obsessed with books and either “reading” them to herself or begging us to read the same ones over and over and over and over. YES. T. Swift is still her fav music and YES “Shake it off” is still our go-to anytime we have an uncontrollable meltdown. She loves being in the water is actually learning to get around in it pretty well.

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Swimming at the beach in Hilton Head.

This summer she has been to the zoo, the aquarium, the beach, Hilton Head Island, Texas, a couple of splash pads, the pool, lots of parks, the library, a few parties and had many trips to Starbucks. It’s always one adventure after another.

water play

JUMP!
JUMP!

She’s still hasn’t mastered the art of naptime or even sleeping through the night, but hey who needs sleep? Can I get an amen Moms? #teamnosleep

"Wait for me Dad!"
“Wait for me Dad!”
Picking fresh berries at Wagner Berry Farm.
Picking fresh berries at Wagner Berry Farm.

AND did I mention my super-advanced little genius has her first joke? Get this, We say “Hey Luna, say “fish””, and Luna says “shoe”. She then immediately cracks up at her own joke. That’s pretty hilarious material, right? I think I’ve got the next Amy Schumer on my hands (Dear God, please no).

On second thought, maybe I just need some sleep.

Me and my girl on the 4th of July
Me and my girl on the 4th of July

Cheers

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Climbing

Over the last couple of weeks I have taken a big break from the blog to try and prioritize my life, get organized and even relax a little. This summer I have started a part-time job, a few home projects, traveled, planned more trips and began training for a half-marathon. (Insert shocked emoticon here). Plus, it’s summer and I can’t help but want time to swim, go to the park, drink iced coffee and spend as much time outdoors with Luna as possible. It’s been a great summer, no complaints here, it’s just been a challenge to do it ALL. I just read an article about happiness and how happiness isn’t any achievement we reach, but working towards those achievements. It’s apparently more important to set goals, work hard and dream…or as Miley once said “It ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”. (Too cheesy? Anyone gag?)

So, I’m climbing. Some days I feel as if the peak is in reach and the next day I feel as if the mountain grew another 500 feet. It’s challenging and I learn a bit more about climbing as each day passes, but the best part is when I pause for a second and look away from the mountain. It’s when I look out and around me. I get glimpses of not only what I have accomplished, but of the people around me, supporting me and making memories with me. It’s quite a sight. I’ve done a lot of pausing over the last couple of weeks.

Here’s a few pics of my journey that you may have missed lately.

I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair #circa2007
Luna's favorite zoo animal.
Luna’s favorite zoo animal.
Baby's first canoe trip.
Baby’s first canoe trip.
Her new fav pastime...walking around in Mommy and Daddy's shoes.
Her new fav pastime…walking around in Mommy and Daddy’s shoes.
The library, Luna's idea of heaven.
The library, Luna’s idea of heaven.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.

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Playing at the splash park with friends.
Playing at the splash park with friends.

Take a look around and enjoy your view too. Keep climbing! I swear I figure out this whole juggling act out someday.

Cheers!

Summary of Parenthood

I don’t know why I haven’t kept up with the blog regularly as of late. It’s so often my lifeline as well as my very important connection of each of you, but lately there’s so much life happening that I get in bed and crash. Okay, if I’m being really honest, I get in bed, turn on Netflix, completely zone out, then crash. What I’m trying to say, is that I miss you. I miss you, and I have a quick “how my baby changed my life” story to share. Then, it’s time to crash… Netflix is already streaming in the background.

Luna, my love, my angel child… she has truly tested me in every way this week. I had my first “Stop what you are doing and come home and save me NOW” text to Husband. I needed/need a break from her desperately. I love the kid with every fiber of my being, but for God’s sake child, I need to breathe and maybe even sleep past 5am. Anyways, as I attempted to give her dinner tonight she once again showed me just how well she can act as though she is starving while simultaneously gagging at everything I tried to feed her.

This is Luna having a meltdown after I refused to let her eat a banana peel out of the garbage. BTW, this was not a one time occurrence. She LOVES banana peels.
This is Luna having a meltdown after I refused to let her eat a banana peel out of the garbage. BTW, this was not a one time occurrence. She LOVES banana peels.

She screamed, knocked the spoon out of my hand, threw her food to the dog, kicked, tried to climb out of her high chair and then begged for more food when I took it away. Finally, I just stopped. I stared at her and said, “Fine. Don’t eat. Just scream. I’ll eat it.” So,  I sat and started eating the delicious dinner I made for her. She stared back and for a while we sat in silence. I thought, what the hell am I doing wrong this week? She thought Why the hell aren’t you feeding me cheddar bunnies? Or, so I assume.

She gave up screaming, looked at me a while and started happily babbling. Her babbles made me forget how annoying she was just 30 seconds ago. “I love you, you know. Even though, you are driving me crazy, I love you with my whole heart,” I told her, because it’s true and because I feel the need to tell her this very often. She started babbling back and we began a game of “try to say what Mommy says”. My new favorite game. So, I tried getting her to say “I love you.”

I slowly said, “I” and she very excitedly said “eye!” and pointed to her eye. Yay! She is finally learning her body parts! Now, I was excited and said “nose”, and she touched her nose. Then, I said “lips” and she reached for my lips. Then, I said “ears” and she grabbed her ear. This was the first time she found all four and it was certainly a moment for celebration. We clapped and cheered and said more words and then…THEN she very happily ate the rest of her dinner.

MIRACLE.

By the time she finished eating I had tears in my eyes. I, as I so often do, found myself just staring at this little miracle that has become my whole life. This little baby that is growing and changing and learning so much so fast. How does this tiny little being make me want to pull my hair out and runaway to Mexico and thirty seconds later make me melt into a puddle of Mommy mush, weeping over her adorable baby?

She's pretty cute, most of the time.
She’s pretty cute, most of the time.

I think that is the summary of parenthood. They steal our sanity and hearts constantly. They are killing us and giving us life everyday. They are the one and only beings that can toss our made-from-scratch dinner to the floor, yell at us for cheese crackers and make us completely forget it ever happened with one little wet sloppy kiss (or by simply pointing to their eye). They can bring us to tears of frustration to tears of joy in a matter of seconds.

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Our love for them is unconditional.

Good thing too. Otherwise, I’d have given up on nap time ages ago.

Plus, they’re pretty darn cute.

Cheers.

12 Things I Discovered After Having a Baby

While pregnant with Luna, I heard all the typical tips, warnings and advice from basically every single person I came in contact with, stranger or not. I nodded kindly and smiled when they told me all about how much my life would change, but in my head I was thinking very arrogant thoughts. Duh. I KNOW my life will change. I am perhaps the most prepared Mom ever, and I am READY.

I was cocky, so cocky. I began babysitting when I was 12, worked in a daycare in college, taught Elementary school, taught preschoolers, toddlers and worked with LOTS of babies. I knew what to expect, and in some ways, I was really prepared. I mostly behave like the mother of a second child. Eating food off the floor? Putting dirty hands in their mouth? Explosive diapers? Snot and spit-up on my clothes? Forced to look like a fool in public? It’s all totally fine. I have yet to stress over any of this. I knew it was coming.

However, Luna is now a year old and after reflecting a lot on the past year, I realized that I was in many ways not at all prepared for parenthood and have discovered that there are some things you will never realize until you have a kid.

1. There are basically zero healthy drive-thru’s. We are out and about often, and too often I fail to pack myself any food. It never fails that severe hunger strikes when I am in the car and Luna has just fallen asleep. It’s, of course, nap time and the absolute last thing I want to do is wake her up. So, the only reasonable option is to get food at a drive-thru, but where? I’m a vegetarian and try to eat healthy as much as I can. I usually end up at Starbucks, because when all else fails, coffee.

2. Mom friends are imperative. Most of my friends in Tennessee are childless. I never once cared that I was having a baby and no one else was, until I had the baby. It gets lonely and often isolating when you are taking care of a baby 24/7. Also, your baby is sometimes all you want to talk about, and I’m here to tell you that 30-year-old single guys do not actually want to talk about breastfeeding, meeting milestones and post partum depression. In fact, the only people who want to talk about these things are other Moms. My new friends are so important that I may soon be writing a blog specifically for them.

3. Parking at the grocery store is a real challenge. There was a moment when Luna was a couple of months old and the two of us were grocery shopping together. After checking out, we walked to the car and I faced a completely new dilemma. First, who/what do I load first? Baby or groceries? Baby, right? I should get her buckled in safely before unloading the groceries. Then, after everything was unloaded, I looked at my empty basket, then at the “basket return” area 50 feet away… shit. It’s rude to leave your basket wild and free in the parking lot, but if I return it and leave Luna in the car someone is certain to call child protective services on me. I stood there in the parking lot, glancing between the basket return and Luna, debating, when an angel dressed in a Publix apron asked if he could return my basket for me. Now, I always park as close to the basket return as I can get, and Luna doesn’t get unloaded first anymore.

4. My body is so not my body. Having a baby does a number on your body. My hair, nails, skin, eyesight, blood pressure, belly button and even my teeth have changed. I have so much to hold over this poor child’s head.

5. I know where every decent bathroom is located. When you have to breastfeed and change diapers in public, you very quickly learn which stores and restaurants have decent places to sit and changing tables. Shockingly, many places do not even have changing stations. And, in case you’re wondering Nordstroms has the BEST bathrooms. They have a super clean, comfortable, spacious and private room just for Mothers. There are chairs for breastfeeding, enormous changing tables, mirrors, end tables, sinks and very clean women’s restrooms are connected. It’s totally worth walking across the mall.

6. I have never ever had so much respect and appreciation for my parents, and I respected them a lot before I had Luna. Raising a kid is hard, scary and freaking awesome. Luna is only one and I am already so proud of her. My heart breaks when she cries. I miss her when we are separated for more than an hour. I want nothing but the best for her, and suddenly everything my parents said and did (well almost everything) makes so much sense. I get it now, I’m a parent too.

7. You do not need half of the baby crap you will buy, and what you buy you will only use for a very short amount of time. There should be some sort of system in place where all Moms rotate their baby gear from new Mom to new Mom.

8. We watch way too much TV. I like to have the TV on 90% of the time. Not because I want to sit and watch TV all day, but because I like having the background noise. Being in silence with my own thoughts is rarely a place I want to be. I prefer to have reruns of Friends, The Office or Gilmore Girls constantly playing through the house. It’s comforting, like having an old friend over. However, I do not want Luna to be in the habit of watching so much TV. We have had to change our habits, and we now play a lot of music…  and mix in some TV, especially in the evenings.

9. I miss my family more than ever. I have lived far away from home for about 8 years now, but this is by far the most I have missed everyone. I want my Mommy all of the time! Also, I want Luna to have more time with her Grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin and all of my long-distance friends too. Thank God for Skype and smart phones!

10. My baby wins.  I know that every parent thinks their baby is the cutest. Before we had Luna, Husband and I often talked about this phenomenon, and thought some parents must know that they’re kid is not actually the cutest, smartest, funniest most talented kid. However, now we have Luna, and I must tell you, she actually is the cutest baby ever.

11. Sleep is a luxury I miss severely. I have always been able to function on little sleep, but I was also always able to sleep-in here and there. When I taught Elementary school I usually slept about 4 hours a night, but on the weekend I would sleep-in until my heart’s desire. If I went out on a Friday night, I could stay out until the sun came up and sleep the next day away or enjoy a nice Netflix marathon. Now, if we go out at night I stare at the clock and constantly think “in 5 hours I have to get up… in just 4 hours I have to get up…” I miss you, sleep.

tired

12. The last one is one I have heard time and time again, but I didn’t really get it until I too was a parent. I love Luna more than I ever could have imagined. It’s true, you don’t understand this kind of love until it happens. I love Peter, I love him more than I could ever put into words. I ‘m completely mad about him, but my love for Luna is entirely different. She is our entire world, she’s everything.

What did you learn after having a baby?

Cheers!

How to Be a Successful Parent

Lately, I’ve seen several articles come up in my news feed with titles like 5 Tips to Being a Successful Stay-at-Home Mom, 10 Ways to Win at Being a Working Mom, or 7  Habits Every Best Mom Does Daily. I read a few, out of curiosity. I mean, who knew there were a set number of steps to take to succeed at parenting?? I began reading expecting to feel a little worse about myself afterward, and I wasn’t disappointed, although not exactly right either.

If I were to sum up the advice it would be to stick to a schedule, stay organized, take time for yourself, keep your house clean, meal plan/prep, have date nights…in other words, do it all. I totally understand this advice. These things are important and helpful, but if you are not doing these things daily, (and none of us are, am I right?) I have a sneaky little feeling that you can still be a “successful parent”. In fact, I’m sure of it. So sure, that I made my very own list of How to be a Successful Parent.

1.  Feed your kid. Keeping them hydrated is good too.

2. Give them a roof to sleep under. A tent counts.

3. Do what you can to keep them from harm. Like, running with knives and playing in the medicine cabinet should definitely not be allowed.

4. Lead by example. If you want them to treat others kindly, do the same. (However, slipping up is cool too. They should know we all make mistakes.)

5. Love them. It’s what they need most.

At the end of the day if you all survived, then give yourself a pat on the back because you are one successful parent. Hurrah!

She's alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.
She’s alive, healthy, fed and definitely under a roof.

AND, if you managed to survive the day and clean your house then you most definitely deserve some ice cream.

Cheers!

The Truth Is…

This time of year is hard. It’s great, it’s merry, it’s jam packed full of fun family festivities, but it’s often So SO BUSY. You may have noticed my posts have been few and far between lately. Well, between my inability to say “no” to anyone, Luna, regular life duties, holiday festivities, to-do lists, workouts, traveling, shopping, decorating and what not I have just lost track of how to get everything done. For years, I believed that I could do it all. In fact, I often did “it all”… I taught full time, got my Master’s full time, ran 2 extra-curricular activities and still managed to have a very busy social life. Students called me Super Woman, and to be honest, I felt like it. So, when I decided to be a “stay-at-home” Mom, I thought “piece of cake”. I clearly had no clue what I was signing up for when I quit working to work at home.

I imagined waking up early with my happy cooing baby, making breakfast for everyone, sipping my coffee while playing with something educational on the floor with Luna. Our day would consist of Pinterest projects, playdates, baby classes, nursery rhymes, story time, walks in the park and dancing in the living room. I’d cook, clean, blog and complete various DIY projects during naptime. During my free time, (ha. ha. ha.) I’d learn to garden and sew. I’d cloth diaper, breastfeed, make all my own baby food, cook organic healthy meals every day, volunteer, teach Luna sign language and have plenty of time to make my blog and social media improve ten-fold. I’d get so much during the day that I’d get to spend the evening enjoying Husband’s company. We’d have time to snuggle up, enjoy the delicious meal I made and watch our favorite TV shows after Luna’s bedtime.

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until the doorbell rings…

 

You’d think after a degree in childhood development and 6 years of working with children I wouldn’t be so delusional. It’s not like I don’t know other Moms. Most of my friends have kids and I know they are often overwhelmed, but I’m different, or so I thought. I’m superwoman. I know how to manage my time. I know how to get shit done and get it done well. How can I not “stay home” and get EVERYTHING done? Here’s how: a baby.

Babies consume every single second of every single day. I’m not complaining (well, maybe a little). But, mostly I want to inform. Why? Because all of you old parents, new parents, future parents, and never-gonna-be-parents are being lied to every single day on social media. ALL of those Moms (myself included) who make it appear as if they have it altogether all the time are big fat liars. (Or at least they better be.) There is no way, NO WAY, those Moms are cooking meals from the garden she grew, homeschooling her genius children, sewing clothes from cotton she sheared, living in her Pottery Barn perfect home, showing off her ripped abs, making cookies for her elderly neighbors, writing her “how to do-it-all” tell-all, all while wearing designer heels and perfect hair with no-roots.OR, doing all of this plus holding a full-time job. No way. It’s a sham!

You want the truth? Something is missing. Some things are getting put on the back burner, brushed under the couch, locked behind messy closet doors, cropped out of of photos, fixed in photoshop, forgotten and flat-out ignored. The truth is that if you see me post a picture of Luna and I dressed in cute matching outfits with fixed hair, make-up and shoes, then chances are, we ate pb and j out of the jar for lunch, left the clothes in the washer (again) and forgot to feed the pets. If you come over and my house is perfectly cleaned and organized then I guarantee you I have not showered, bathed Luna, or updated my blog in 2 days. If my blog is bumpin’, my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are updated then I either got to sit by myself while Husband watched Luna for a couple of hours, she napped for 3 hours, or my house looks like a bomb just went off.

ALL moms.
ALL moms.

The truth is I am able to do a lot as a stay-at-home Mom. I do cloth diaper, make baby food, breastfeed, take baby classes, go on playdates, volunteer, cook often, blog and even do a Pinterest project every once in a while. But, do I do it all everyday? Hell no. Luna is needy and she’s pretty obsessed with me. Most of my day is spent holding, changing, feeding, bathing, playing with, reading to, teaching and keeping Luna from killing herself.  Every night I wonder where the day went? How does every day go by so fast? How do I never manage to get it all done? Then, I sit down at the computer to write to you, and the second I do, the baby monitor lights up. Luna’s crying and needs me. Then, I remember…that’s why.

And, the truth is, I love it.

So, parents, next time you check you Facebook feed and see a slew of photos of Super Moms looking stunning with their smiling babies in their freshly dusted home, remember that they are most likely burning cookies, running late and skipping their daily runs. They’re not doing it all and neither are you. So, let’s stop beating ourselves up about it. The good news is, none of that matters. So, go ahead and like their status, give them a virtual high-five for getting a third of their to-do list done, take a deep breath, look around your messy house and remember, there’s always tomorrow! Now, go love on those babies!

Cheers!

10 Free Things For You and Your Baby to Do (Outside of the House)

Just because I am a stay-at-home Mom now does not mean I have to “stay at home”. In fact, we rarely spend a full day at home. There’s tons to do with kids around town, but what about babies? It’s taken me 8 months, but I’ve compiled a list of free stuff to do outside of the house with a baby. Why? Because I like to save money, I love finding little daily adventures and I need to get out of the house often for my sanity. Luckily, Luna happens to love getting out as well.

1. The public library. I wrote an entire post about this magical land of free books, movies, magazines, internet, computers and kids’ areas. We are lucky to have lots of libraries where we live and they all offer programs for kids, even babies. At least once a week there is a “mommy and me” type reading going on somewhere.

2. Public parks. We go to the park almost every day. We run or walk and push Luna in the stroller. We play on the playground. She is a big fan of the swings and has just started crawling through tunnels. Sometimes we bring a picnic blanket and just let her do as she pleases. I talk to her about the trees, sky, birds, bugs, grass, big kids and whatever else we see. We’ve even met other families this way.

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3. The grocery store, especially Whole Foods. Our local Whole Foods is awesome and offers a weekly Kids’ Hour. There is a local performer every week who will sing, bring puppets, dance and entertain your children for FREE for an hour. It’s AWESOME. I like to pick up a cup of coffee and chat with the other awesome Moms while our babies clap and bounce a long to the music. I have to admit, just being at Whole Foods makes me feel like Super Mom…even if I can rarely afford to actually grocery shop there. I also like taking Luna grocery shopping with me because I like to talk to her about the food I’m getting and she likes looking at EVERYTHING. She has become such a little ham and smiles, giggles and flirts with every single man in the grocery store.

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4. Starbucks.  The “free” part of this suggestion is debatable. It is technically free to go to a Starbucks. It’s up to you if you want to purchase something to eat or drink. You must know that I couldn’t have this list without mentioning a coffee shop. This is another daily visit for me and Luna. I KNOW it’s like a huge waste of money to a big bad company, but I happen to like Starbucks and we have a nice little group of “regulars” that we visit every morning. There’s something very special about getting coffee at place where everybody knows your name and your baby. Plus, Luna is addicted to chewing on Starbuck’s cups now.

5. Local parades and festivals.  All small towns have these right? We’ve taken Luna to the Live on the Green Music Festival, the State Fair and the Crafts Fair. She can’t do much, but she does enjoy watching everything happen around her. There’s music, food, new smells and often puppet shows.

party animal
party animal

6. Anything that involves animals. Kids love animals, but the zoo can get expensive. We have a local wilderness center that has free weekly lessons and shows for kids. There’s also free petting zoos at several fairs and if you live in the woods like me then you will likely find animals by just going on a walk. Luna loves watching animals, especially her own dog and cat.

7. Take a trial class. I want to sign Luna up for a gym/music class this winter since we won’t be able to be at the park everyday, so I recently started researching local classes for babies. Turns out that most of these “gyms” offer a free trial! Perfect! We get to try them all out to see which one we like the best and get some fun free play time too! We actually met a new friend this way and now see them at least once a week.

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8. Visit people. Your kids need to build relationships with your loved ones and the only way to do that is to allow them to have time together. Visit your friends and your family. Let them play with, feed, snuggle and entertain your little one. We have always let Luna be around lots of people. So far, she seems to be quite the social butterfly. I just hope she continues to enjoy spending time with other people.

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9. Go window shopping. On rainy days we like to walk around the mall or Target…or both. We make mental notes of the latest products in Sephora, try some Teavanna samples, hit up William Sonoma to see what smells so good, check out the deals at Baby Gap and stop at Starbucks, of course.

10. Take a hike. We live in Tennessee so we are fortunate enough to have many walking trails. Some are stroller friendly and some require me to wear the baby. I enjoy the exercise and Luna adores looking at the sun rays shining through the tree branches. Good times.

What do you like to do with your baby when you need to get out of the house?

Cheers!