parenting

5 Adorable Things My Kids Are Up To Lately

One of the benefits of blogging is leaving words and stories for my kids. I sincerely hope that I live to be 100 and then I tell my boys every story that I possibly can think of about my life, but I know they will always want more, because I know I always want more. My dad died when I was 21, and my heart aches sometimes when I think about all the things I wish I could ask him – all the stories he didn’t have time to tell me.

Right now is a special time, full of adorable and hilarious memories. I do write about my boys a little, but not as much as I could. And, given my lack of bandwidth for deep and meaningful blogging recently, I find myself inspired to write in listicles. Hence, my new plan – writing a list of five adorable memories from my family’s current season of life.

  1. When I’m putting Edgar to bed, we play a new game. I say, “Excuse me Edgar excuse me Edgar excuse me Edgar,” and he starts giggling and says, “What?!” Then I tell him I love him. He BEGS for this game – until he’s in ornery three-year-old mode, and then he says, “DON’T SAY EXCUSE ME MOMMY.” And then we have a talk about using nice voices.
  2. Jonas is talking! He says hi, bye, thank you, and more. AND – as we recently discovered – if we say, “Ready… Set…,” Jonas will say “GO!” with enthusiasm and a huge smile. Edgar loves being the one who says Ready Set.
  3. We started a tradition of the Night Night Fairy coming to visit Edgar before bed. This started when we were having a really hard getting him through all the tasks that need to be accomplished before bed. The Fairy leaves him a book or two, pajamas, and a stuffed animal. He loves it.
  4. Jonas makes this super-duper-scrunched-up face sometimes when he smiles. I started singing him a song to the tune of “Smelly Cat” from Friends: Scrunchy Face, Scrunchy Face, why are you so scrunched up? Scrunchy Face, Scrunchy Face, you are so scrunched! It is a silly and ridiculous family song. Edgar is obsessed with it and loves singing it to Jo Jo.
  5. Edgar is super into the Curious George books lately. I didn’t remember them well, but they are a little longer and the stories sort of meander. (“This story is called Curious George Gets A Medal – but on page 12 he’s running away with a cow from a farmer and then hiding in a night shirt and there’s no medal in sight?”) It’s fun to notice Edgar’s attention span expand and to get excited for reading longer books as he gets older. (HARRY POTTER FTW!)

I haven’t decided how often I’ll post a listicle like this, but I’m sure there will be more. Stay tuned, because these kids keep getting cuter!

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parenting · self-care

What Makes You Feel Like Yourself?

It can be hard to feel like yourself when you are busily parenting all day every day.

You are always YOU. Yet there are different versions of you. Mommy Kerriann doesn’t do all the same things that Just Plain Kerriann does. She doesn’t always like all the same things.

For example – Mommy Kerriann loves the beach, but might opt out of a beach trip under certain circumstances. Mommy Kerriann might decide that the amount of preparation and gear and attentiveness involved with bringing a baby and a pre-schooler to the beach might fall into the category of Not Worth It.

But, Just Plain Kerriann? That girl will NEVER EVER EVER pass up a beach trip. It won’t happen. A spontaneous beach trip that makes no logical sense in the grand scheme of life is one of the things that makes her Just Plain Kerriann.

I often reference one of my favorite podcasts, The Girl Next Door, in my blogging. One of the co-hosts of The Girl Next Door, Erica Ladd, sometimes mentions the times she asked herself this question as an overwhelmed new parent: What makes me feel like myself? 

I love this question. It forces you to think back to B.P. – Before Parenthood. What were you like? What were the things that made you who you are? I think a lot about the kind of mom I want to be, but I sometimes forget what makes me feel like Just Plain Kerriann. I have to squeeze my eyes shut and remember – when I was in college, when I was doing AmeriCorps, when I worked at an outdoor ed center – those times in my life when I felt very Kerriann – what specifically was it that made me feel like me?

  1. I feel like myself when I get to spend time at a coffee shop all by myself with my journal, a book, and my laptop.
  2. I feel like myself when I am wandering around a used bookstore.
  3. I feel like myself when I am being silly, playful, and creative. Like when I make up funny and nonsensical stories to make Edgar or Tamara laugh out loud. Or when I turned Edgar’s bedtime routine into a treasure hunt. (The treasure was a library book we’d read 30 times already, but he didn’t seem to mind.)
  4. I feel like myself when I’m reading a really great book, one that I have trouble putting down and want to prop up and read while I eat my breakfast or read frantically while I’m stopped at a stoplight.
  5. I feel like myself when I blow dry my hair. Like, all the way blow dry it so that it feels and looks healthy.
  6. I feel like myself when I spend time with an old friend.
  7. I feel like myself when I have energy! For me to feel energetic, this usually means I’m running regularly and eating well.

This list is a work in progress, as are most of my lists! I hope to add to it whenever I discover something else that makes me feel like Just Plain Kerriann.

What makes YOU feel like Just Plain You – not Mommy/Daddy You or Work You?

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Who I am as a mother is also who I am as an individual.

 

parenting

Summer Bucket List Update

Today I am checking in on my Summer Bucket List.

This summer has been absolutely fabulous so far.

I also have REALLY not been checking things off on my bucket list. Like, I really haven’t. There are only a handful of items checked off, and they are mostly things that are simple and close to home, like hiking and playing at the creek on our property.

And that is 100% okay! I love having a list of activities to look into when I’m feeling like we need an adventure or an activity. But when it comes down to it, I’m not really a bucket list kind of person. I like to take each day as it comes, and I like to have as much spontaneity as possible. I have been enjoying quality time with friends. I’ve been coming up with creative crafty things to do with Edgar. I’ve introduced Special Time with Edgar, which is the hour or two when Jonas naps in the morning, when we can do things that are challenging to do while Jonas is awake, like painting, yoga, or making rainbow rice. Edgar loves it; I’ve been noticing lately how much he benefits from having one-on-one time with a parent, without that parent having to make sure Jonas isn’t crawling upstairs or trying to eat crayons.

I’m still going to try to check off a few items, and I’m still going to make a bucket list for fall if I can get around to it. I’ll check in on my progress again at the end of the summer.

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parenting

Mommying While Sick

When I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting, before Edgar came home, people would tell me, “You should go out and do all the things you won’t be able to do after you have a baby.”

Sigh.

It was never that simple. And I would never say that to anyone who was a parent-in-waiting like me, true as it may be. Yes, you probably should go out and do all the things you won’t be able to do after you have a baby, like staying out late or taking great trips. The problem is, if you’re like me, you don’t want to do any of those things; you just want a baby to love and snuggle for the rest of your life.

The only time when I was able to appreciate my status as a childless parent-in-waiting was when I was sick.

I hate being sick. I know, everyone hates it. But I really do. I hate feeling limited. I dislike the pain and discomfort.

Additionally, I have a couple of weird mental habits that arise when I’m sick. First, I always think that I’m ‘making it up’ – that I’m either not sick at all or not as sick as I’m feeling. I don’t trust that my stomach actually hurts or that I am actually experiencing fatigue. That’s why things like a fever or a strep test are incredibly helpful for me. When there is a calculable measurement that can be used to pronounce me Sick or Not Sick, it allows me to stop questioning things and just rest.

My second hang-up about being sick is even weirder: I automatically think that if I’m sick, it is somehow my fault. I haven’t been eating well enough, I’m not exercising the way I should, I don’t wash my hands as consistently as a mom with two young kids should.

It all adds up to me becoming a little down, even slightly depressed, whenever I get sick. But Pre-Kids Kerriann would just sink into it all. Not the depression, necessarily. But Pre-Kids Kerriann was really good at just saying, “I’m sick today. Shut it all down,” and then watching Netflix while eating trail mix for the rest of the day.

During the adoption wait, when I got sick, I was very aware that I was “enjoying” my sick days in a way that would not be an option after I became a parent. Once I had kids, I would not be able to spend the entire day on the couch watching old episodes of Veep. Once I had kids, I would not be able to eat all my meals on the couch and have “all my meals” consist of mostly Skittles, which to me are medicinal because they are practically cough drops. Once I had kids, I wouldn’t be able to put off any and all household responsibilities until I felt better, because dirty dishes can wait but dirty diapers cannot.

It was a strange thing to be grateful for during that stressful and painful two years that I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting. But I was grateful. Every single time I came down with a head cold or a stomach bug, I thought to myself, At least you can just be sick right now. This is the one thing in life that definitely will NOT be better when you have a baby.

Fast forward to 2019, when I am a happy mom with a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old, and I am currently on the mend after experiencing a super-annoying stomach bug for the last three days.

You guys – parenting while you’re sick is the worst. I am not the best mom on sick days. I am disengaged, and I lack creativity. I woke up one day, tired and nauseous, and I knew I had seven hours to get through until Edgar’s nap time. We watched a few episodes of Daniel Tiger, which is a pretty rare treat in our house. I stumbled through making them breakfast. I allowed Jonas to pull every book and every puzzle off the bookshelf. Then I looked at my watch and it was 7:45 a.m. SEVEN FORTY FIVE! It felt like I’d been awake and mommying for 19 hours by that point, and I wasn’t even two hours into the day.

Sometimes I do wish I could magically have one of those Pre-Kids sick days, when I can 100% focus on resting and recuperating. But then – my kids are pretty awesome, and I’m a pretty happy mom. So I will power through my sick days with as much grace and gratitude as I can muster.

brown and white bear plush toy
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balance · parenting

Naptime Productivity

I have days when I rock ‘n’ roll during naptime.

There are two boys under three in my house. Once the second kid’s eyes are closed (or, in the case of the two-year-old, once he is safely stowed away in his room, rolling around on his bed talking to himself), I race downstairs and I immediately engage in a preplanned naptime activity. Usually, this means writing a blog post. Lately, it has meant packing for trips. Sometimes I spread out note cards on the floor and I work on my novel.

The important thing is that I immediately get going with something productive. And, to be clear, I have a pretty broad definition of what is productive. Sometimes what I want to accomplish is watching a soccer game or taking a nap. But even relaxing activities require some prep on my part – like queuing up the game so I don’t get distracted by dishes or limiting my morning caffeine intake so that I can crash while the boys sleep.

Then there are other days. Days when I’ve been so busy running around after the boys that I haven’t given any thought at all to what I’d like to accomplish during naptime. That never feels as good to me.

Those unproductive days end up being okay too. Things get done or else they don’t, and it’s always just fine. But I’m still amazed at how much planning it seems to take just to be a functional human and adult compared to my spontaneous twentysomething self. That girl liked to not plan anything, and it was delightful.

It’s the middle of the afternoon as I type this, and it’s naptime – and it’s one of those naptimes that I didn’t fully plan out ahead of time. I did make arrangements to go for a run while Tamara got Jonas down for nap, so that got done right away. Since I got back from running, I’ve kind of been puttering around – straightened up a little, wrapped a baby shower gift for a friend, read a few pages of Fleishman Is In Trouble. While I love being productive, I also enjoy puttering around. It’s relaxing, in a way, to have a piece of my day that’s a little bit aimless.

Today, I rate my naptime productivity at about a 6, because I wrote this ENTIRE blog post (woohoo!) and ran for thirty minutes. No dishes were done, but you know what? I recently retook the Enneagram test and it turns out I’m a 4, and we’re really bad at getting things done if we’re not feelin’ it. So it could not be helped, clearly.

This post makes me laugh, because it’s as aimless and meandering as a naptime full of puttering around. In Typical Kerriann style, I am going to seize control and turn it into a list of tips for Naptime Productivity right now:

Step 1: Plan ahead! Typically nap time is not long enough to allow for spontaneity.

Step 2: Keep your commitments. If you decided to spend the kids’ nap time reading, don’t let the dirty laundry boss you around.

Step 3: Be realistic. It is RARE for me to write an entire blog post during a single naptime, and my blog posts are pretty short. I feel better when I make a goal like Read a little of my book rather than Read three chapters. Because Edgar and Jonas have no idea how many chapters I’ve read when they decide to pop open their eyes and start Mommying me.

Step 4: Give yourself permission to NOT be productive. Though I haven’t done it much lately, I love napping when the boys nap.  I do feel like Step 1 is EXTREMELY important if you want to nap while your kids nap; you need to be mentally and physically prepared ahead of time so you don’t end up too wired or stressed to nap.

That’s all I’ve got, and I can hear Jonas starting to babble. Time’s up!

white and brown bear plush toy selective photo
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