balance · parenting

Afternoons

My afternoons have been delightful lately.

I started a new job last summer as a public school social worker. Overall, when it comes to lifestyle, this is one of the best work situations I’ve ever had. My day starts early; I have to be in the building  by 7:15 a.m., which would be difficult for some people but is no problem at all for a morning person like me. During the summers, I’ll be off from school and home with my boys, which will be such a gift. And my work day ends at 2:30 p.m., at which point I am free to go home and enjoy several hours of daytime play with my family before the sun sets at five o’clock.

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These afternoons have become really precious to me. If it’s not too cold outside, Edgar and I bundle up and wander around the farm and down on the NCR trail. We crunch through the snow and Edgar learns to ride the balance bike he got for Christmas. Sometimes Tamara takes Edgar out to play, and I entertain J.J. and veg out the best a mom can, watching old episodes of America’s Next Top Model while J.J. drinks a bottle.

It’s all delightful. The afternoons have always been a tricky time of day for me. When I was drinking, that was my will-she-won’t-she time, the time when I got anxious and stressed and found myself driving to the liquor store to pick up a six pack (clearly I really mean a twelve pack) of beer.

Now, I just feel so grateful that the afternoons are a space in the day when I can have special time with one or both of my boys. I’m especially grateful in the winter, when the days are so short, to have daylight hours in the afternoon to be outside and playing.

 

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books For Two-Year-Olds)

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting on the couch, and Edgar will pick up a book and bring it over to me. “Read,” he’ll say.

So I open the book and wait for him to climb on the couch to snuggle beside me. But then, he walks back over to his bookshelf, and he selects another book. Then he sits down, opens that book, and begins to look through it.  Because the first book he brought me – that was for ME to read.

Does he want me to practice reading Go Dog Go so my articulation improves?  Does he want me to work on my animal sounds for Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? I have no idea. I like to think that Edgar has internalized a family trait: In our family, our books are comforts, coping strategies, stress relievers, and pure joy providers.

Here are some of the books that have been giving two-year-old Edgar comfort and joy

Recommended reading from two-year-old Edgar:

Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead. Just a sweet and silky book about a little girl traveling to visit her great-aunt Josephine to bring her an elephant.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood. This book has a repetitive text that builds as the story progresses. It’s one of the first longer stories Edgar liked.

All Eyes On The Pond by Michael J. Rosen. Love this book. Each page focuses on a different creature in the pond, showing the world from their viewpoint and then zooming out to see the big picture. Very sweet and nature-y.

Trucks Go by Steve Light. I mean – basically a bunch of drawings of trucks with awesome sound effects. Amazing.

Sheep In A Shop by Nancy Shaw. We’re still loving Nancy Shaw’s sheep series! This one Edgar loves mostly because there’s a train in the shop. And then the sheep get all goofy, and the caboose falls over. It’s pretty awesome if you’re a two-year-old.

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. This book is so stinking cute. A mom putting her child to bed, and the kid asking lots of “what if” questions – like, what if I were a one-eyed monster, would you still love me then? (Spoiler alert – she will. Mom always will.)

 

 

balance · goals · parenting

Tired + Tired

It’s mid-January, and I have never failed at my new year’s resolutions so quickly before.

However, this time – TOTALLY not my fault. It’s not about procrastination or laziness or motivation, not at all!  It’s all about my kids.

Baby J.J. isn’t sleeping through the night yet. He’s 4 months old and it’s to be expected. BUT NOW. My Edgar – my two-year-old precious A plus amazing sleeper – has started having sleep struggles.

WTF.

That means Tamara and I just shifted from getting a solid 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night, while the other dealt with Baby J.J. – to now NO ONE IN THE HOUSE GETTING ANY SLEEP EVER.

I am still so so happy and grateful for my little family. The big picture is beautiful and blessed.

The little picture, though? The little picture is a tiny thumbnail photo of a family of four, totally exhausted and cranky and struggling. (With the exception of Baby J.J., who is developmentally appropriately able to function on his consistent diet of 2.5 hour naps throughout the day.)

Prior to the new year, I decided that I couldn’t wait until J.J. was sleeping through the night to start maintaining my focus on exercise, meditation, recovery, and writing. I recommitted to prioritizing my self-care and my goals despite my current life circumstances.

And yes – this still needs to be true. If my word of the year is NOW, then I have to do this stuff NOW and not later.

When I get overwhelmed, I think about this: If I can write now, I can write anytime. When I think about my goals for the year, my writing is one of my main priorities. And, while things could definitely get harder, I am pretty tired and have limited time – so really, if I can blog regularly and get some fiction writing done right now, even if it’s the bare minimum, then just imagine what I can get done when I start to actually have time and energy!  For me, the most important thing right now is ROUTINE – rhythm and routine. If I can get some kind of routine happening now, with two kids under three, a full-time job, and no sleep – well, it’d be a miracle. The kind of miracle you get when you work your butt off.  

balance · parenting

Happy + Tired

This is my current status, today and for two months before today and probably for several months after today: happy and tired.

That’s what New Mom Life is like.

I’ve been holding off on a lot of things recently, making lots of resolutions that start with As soon as J.J. starts sleeping through the night, I’ll – and I am realizing that I can’t wait until that far-off day arrives. I need exercise and writing and meditation, and I need them now.  

This morning is a good start. I woke up at 4, cuddled with J.J. for a little bit, got him back to sleep, and then came downstairs to do – stuff.  I wish it was just writing on my agenda when I wake up! But, I fed and walked the dog, got dressed, ignored the dishes in the sink, made coffee, picked out an outfit for Edgar – and intermittently, I sat on the couch and I wrote. It’s not much – but it’s what I can do at the moment.

This week, I’m allowing myself to begin to daydream about a longer piece of writing – a short story or a novel. I always have a million ideas in my head, but in this moment, it feels like I need something BIG to work on – something that I can revisit every day. I have several projects in the works, so I might pick one of those, or decide to focus on something brand-new – we’ll see.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that J.J. is here – that Our Baby is home with us, and that we’re a family of four. We are busy and stressed and joyful and delighted. We are oh-so-happy and oh-so tired.

 

 

 

 

parenting · writing

Seasons Of Writing

Life is seasonal, and my writing life is no different.

I’m really proud of myself because I’ve been posting on playful + peaceful consistently (twice weekly) ever since March 2018.  This is a big deal for me. I’m great at starting new projects, but it’s hard for me to do the ongoing maintenance that a side hustle requires – and I did it. I’m still doing it. That is awesome.

HOWEVER.

There are seasons of life that offer more time and space for writing, and there are seasons that offer less.  I was prepared as the fall approached that September and October would be busier – I was starting a new job, adjusting to a new schedule, and I figured that I wouldn’t have as much time to write as I had this summer.

And then, in early September – we grew from a family of three to a family of four. Our hearts exploded with joy. And my life got way busier.

This may seem backwards, but adding a child to our family doesn’t make me want to take a break from writing. It makes me want to write more. It makes me want to ensure that writing is an area that is and always will be a priority.  Having kids has inspired me to become intensely committed to my creative goals, because I want my children to look at me and see someone who went after her dreams with all her heart.

That being said, finding the time to write is challenging at the moment, for the simple reason that I am tired. So tired. Our little one is four weeks old and eats every three hours, and that means no one is getting a full night’s sleep ever.

I’ve been daydreaming about what writing project to tackle next, and I’m starting to adjust to only having five hours of sleep each night. I’ve been keeping up with blog posts, and I’m contemplating the next fiction project I want to tackle. This is all okay – this is a season of my writing life. I am enjoying this moment, when the wheels of my mind are spinning, churning. And I’m excited for the next moment, when I’ll dive into something new.

parenting · simplifying

Infant Care 101

When we arrived at the hospital to meet our new adoptive son, the hospital staff we met would do this thing.

They would start to tell us something about infant care – diapers, circumcision care, feeding, burping – and then they’d stop themselves. “Oh, you already have a child?” they’d say, remembering that we already had a two-year-old at home. “So you know all this already.”

At which point, I would politely encourage them to continue. Because in my head I was screaming, That was two years ago! I remember nothing! Please do not send me home without some reminders if not some sort of infant care graduate level course.

It really is strange, when you think about it. I have to be recertified in CPR every two years, and I have to take 40 hours of training every two years to maintain my social work license. But to take care of an infant – which many would say is one of the most important, challenging, and serious jobs in the world – I can walk out of the hospital after a quick chat with the doctor. (Oh, and after watching about 45 minutes of infant care videos, which Tamara and I watched absent-mindedly while also excitedly texting family and friends with the good news that our family had a new adorable member.)

And now, we’re home, and we’ve been “home” with our new son for two weeks today. And you know what? It is easier this time around. We know how to do the basics – changing diapers, making formula, cleaning baby bottles. When our first son, Edgar, came home, I was terrified of making formula. It sounded complex, like it would require concentration and precision, neither of which I had much of as a brand-new mom.

This was a myth, one I created all by myself, because making formula is more like mixing some Crystal Light iced tea that anything else. And this time around, I knew that already. Though I maintain that calling it “formula” makes it sound way more complex and intimidating than it needs to be.

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I’m off from work for six weeks, and we’re starting to settle into a nice routine during our days. There is something about newborn care that really helps me to be mindful and present. There is a simple rhythm to my days with J.J. – he eats, I change his diaper, he plays, he sleeps. While he sleeps, I wash bottles, make new bottles, straighten up around the house, try to tackle some simple acts of self-care. (REAL simple. Like, I might take a shower today.) When Edgar gets home from school, either Tamara or I take him outside to play. There are simple things that need to get done, and there’s not much time to do it all – so only the most basic and most important things get done.

I love this rhythm. I would love to carry it with me as J.J. grows and as our lives move back into more of a regular day-to-day routine. For now, I am thankful for the simplicity, rhythm, and joy that come with this sweet and special time of life.

 

books + reading · parenting

Edgar’s Faves (Best Books List For 22-Months-Olds)

I love these books posts, but I am mostly writing this one today because there’s a lot going on and I want to keep the blog consistent! Keep it simple – that’s one of my mantras this week.

Edgar had a sleepover at his cousins’ house recently, and we sent some of his current favorite books with him as a comfort. I love that – the fact that books are a comfort. They certainly are for me. We had a last-minute overnight trip recently and I packed ten books. TEN! And I needed every single one of them.

Recommended reading from 22-month-old Edgar:

Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Edgar loves the silly monkeys who mimic the cap seller in this book. It’s a winner with me, too.

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell. Edgar loved this book, eventually, but it started out as an obsession of mine. I purchased it as a gift for many of the toddlers I know, and reading it is such fun. Plus you get to give lots of hugs while you tell the story!

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood. Oh, my goodness – cutest book ever! We first read this at Tamara’s parents’ house. This might be one of my absolute favorites. It has an adorable plot, but Edgar loved it even before he understood the plot. (Honestly? He still might not get it. Go read it – it’s kinda meta!)

Baby Present by Rachel Neumann. I can’t remember how we stumbled upon this book. It actually reads like a short meditation. The text starts like this: “Breathe in, baby. Breathe out. You are perfect just as you are, sitting in the here and now.” When I read it to Edgar, I feel like I am taking a moment for myself, a moment of meditation and quiet mind. Those moments are few and far between when you’re caught up in the chaos of parenting young children, so I have appreciated this book oh-so-much.

Bringing The Outside In by Mary McKenna Siddals. A nature lover’s dream book!  So sweet and lyrical. It follows a group of kids playing outside throughout the seasons, and uses rhyme and repetition beautifully.

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. A classic! I love this book and its counterparts, If You Give A Pig A Pancake and If You Give A Moose A Muffin. 

Hairs by Sandra Cisneros. A children’s book by the author of The House On Mango Street! This is a beautiful and poetic book. I was actually surprised when Edgar started to love it so much! There are few trucks. The moon doesn’t make an appearance. For some reason, he just loved it.

Edgar and I hope you enjoy!

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