Welcome to the Club

On a lovely fall afternoon I got a text that one of my best friends was in labor. Our group message exploded with excitement about the baby. We all couldn’t wait to see his picture, learn his name and meet him in person.

As the first one in my circle to become a mother, my thoughts shifted to how my friend’s world was about to change. I texted her “Your heart is never going to be the same after today.”

We all know a baby changes your life, but until it happens you don’t really know. That shift in perspective cannot truly be appreciated until it happens to you.

During pregnancy you are excited to meet your child, nervous about being a parent and probably even scared of what the future may hold. But once he or she arrives, the world is knocked out from under your feet and you simply float on this huge cloud of feelings.

I wish I had the words to describe it to her in that text. An overwhelming swell of unimaginable love was about to take her breath away, and all I could think of was “I’m so excited for you.”

I anxiously awaited my turn to visit the new baby. I wanted to see all the new pieces of my friend that would opened up now that she is a parent. I couldn't wait to look at her as she holds her baby and think “You get it now, don’t you?”

Watching someone you love become a parent is a reality check we all would be lucky to experience every once in a while.

To witness that feeling wash over a friend helps me reconnect with my own kids. They are now a toddler and a kindergartner, but it’s easy to close my eyes and remember that knock-you-to-your-knees feeling.

I’m elated to have a new baby in our lives, but I’m also thrilled to welcome my friend to the club. The initiation is pretty awesome.
Me and sweet Mr. A.

Weird Science

In the late stages of my third pregnancy, I am familiar with all the aches and pains. Most people see the weight gain as the biggest change during pregnancy, but I think the wildest changes are what happens on the inside during these nine long months.

You know the scene in a monster movie where you see the man’s hands and feet start to stretch and his face sprouts hair everywhere and his shirt rips as his back arches to complete the werewolf transformation?

Pregnancy is kind of like that. But in super slow motion.

Here are my observations about crazy bodily changes in pregnancy:

First of all- you grow a completely new organ. It’s not enough to grow a person. You have to grow a food source for that person as well. The placenta grows along with the baby, then you birth it and it gets thrown away (or turned into placenta pills, if that’s your thing.)

Your bones get loose. The hormone relaxin loosens all the joints in your body. Good news for your pubic bone during labor, bad news for joint pain the rest of your gestation period.

Your organs get squished. Your baby is growing so your uterus takes up more and more space. I can see my other organs all elbowing each other for space, shouting “We were here first! Back off, man.” Unfortunately, your bladder will lose this fight.

You have 50% more blood. Fifty percent. What does all this extra blood do? It causes nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and all sorts of fun stuff. Of course it also creates that famous “glow” so I guess it isn’t all bad.

This doesn’t even cover postpartum body changes, which I won’t go into because I don’t want to bum out all my fellow expectant mothers. But rest assured, while pregnancy is magical and life-changing and a total miracle, it’s also pretty freaky when you consider all the facts.
This was my 28-week bump before things got rough. Look how cute and optimistic I look.


The Art of Decluttering

Have you ever knelt in a pile of your child’s toys and felt the urge to break one just so you could justify throwing it away?
Or while staring at a mountain of laundry fantasized about setting it on fire?
I swore after our last move to a new home that I would never again allow us to acquire so much stuff. But after the chaos of the holidays, I looked around my house and realized how badly I had failed at that promise.
Our closets are overstuffed, we have enough kitchenware to feed a small army, and a cluster of toys is scattered in every single room.
Minimalism is a big trend in my mom circle right now, and I happily hopped on the bandwagon. Minimalism has many definitions.
Some people want to live with only the bare essentials. Others find it’s about making sure your possessions bring you joy. Many use the minimalist approach to simply declutter to reduce stress.
The concept may seem impossible to a mother because we are conditioned to think that our children need so much. They need all these extra clothes because they get dirty/grow so fast/have their favorite character on the front. Children need all these DVDs because what if we drop cable/Netflix isn’t working/our laptop chargers disappear? They need all these toys because this one is educational/this one was a gift from Grandma/this one she loved as a toddler (even though she is in middle school now.)
In reality, what we all need is less stuff and more space.
For me, being a Minimalist Mom means being very intentional about what items are in my home. Nothing sticks around “just because” anymore.
I’m already feeling the benefits. With fewer toys, my kids spend more time and get more creative with each toy. Laundry takes less time when there are fewer clothes to wash. Chores are simpler when there are fewer possessions cluttering up the house.
At the end of the day, the effort of decluttering has been well worth it. Less stuff to clean and put away – what mom doesn’t want that?
Clearly we need all these stuffed animals. Right? NOPE!


A Toast to Hot Mess Moms

The illusion of the “perfect mom” is officially shattered. I’d like to thank the Internet for this wonderful revelation. If you are a fan of “Scary Mommy” or “The Honest Toddler," you know that entire websites are dedicated to “Hot Mess Moms.”
Everyone knows a Hot Mess Mom. Many of us consider ourselves to be one. It’s incredibly liberating to see women embrace the imperfect side of motherhood. So many of us are letting go of the pretense that we have it all together.
We admit we sometimes sniff a pair of our kid’s jeans and determine they are worthy of one more day of wear. We brazenly drop off our store-bought cookies at the school bake sale, leaving the “Sale” sticker right on front. We Pin a hundred healthy crock pot meals but still end up in the drive-thru for dinner.
What fascinates me about the Hot Mess Mom is the rose-colored glasses through which we see each other.
I see moms in the school drop-off line and I wonder how they manage to get their hair and make-up done so perfectly. Meanwhile, I have wet hair and yesterday’s mascara under my eyes.
I feel like I’m wearing a Scarlet H, labeling myself the Hot Mess Mom of the day.
But then I realize another mom may be behind me in line wondering how I always remember to return books on library day or to pack gym shoes for P.E. (Spoiler alert- I don't. You just only see the days I do remember.)
She doesn’t notice my wet hair and my raccoon eyes, like I don’t notice her kid’s lunchbox is full of leftover pizza.
Hot Mess Moms have waved the white flag in the “Mommy Wars.” We don’t have time to argue about appropriate screen time or the mortal dangers of jarred baby food. We’re too busy trying to keep our sanity because parenting is hard.
Instead of sitting in playgroups and trying to one-up each about our kid’s achievements, we like to share a bottle of wine and bond over how sticky our kitchen counters are. And we are in no rush to clean them.

Cheers to the Hot Mess Moms.
Me, every night after bedtime.


Read Together. Every. Single. Day.

As a child, my mother read to me every night. Her rule was 20 minutes of reading for every child at bedtime. Even when she traveled out of town, she would leave behind a cassette tape of herself reading. We would follow along with the book in our hands.
Not surprisingly, reading to my daughter seemed natural – and is beneficial to her.
So in honor of my mother, I drafted a few tips for parents who haven’t hopped on board the Reading Train.
1) Read Together Every Day.
Every. Single. Day. Bedtime is ideal because you can relax and snuggle up on pillows. If your schedule doesn’t allow that, then read during breakfast. Read immediately after school or daycare.
Make the time, because 20 minutes a day can have a lifelong impact.
2) Don’t Rely on Screens.
Many gadgets or apps will “read” to your child. Those devices cannot take your place.
Your child needs to hear your voice, see your lips move and watch you trace words and turn pages. A computerized voice does not have the same effect.
3) Mix It Up. I can recite “Moo, Baa, La La La” by Sandra Boynton in my sleep because my daughter wanted to read it every day until it “mysteriously disappeared” from the bookshelf for a while.
Visit the library to keep your book selections fresh. If you are stuck with a favorite, make it fun for yourself. Use silly accents or crazy voices. Your kid will enjoy it and you won’t get as bored.
4) Bring Reading Into the Real World.
Point out signs in the grocery store, read billboards, spell out traffic signs for your kids. Let them see how reading is used in daily life so they understand the importance.
5) Don’t Stop Just Because They Can Read.
My 6-year-old reads on her own, so I could easily say, “You’ve got it covered. Here is a book, good night!”
But we still read together at bedtime. Sometimes she reads to me, other nights she wants me to do it all.
I’m not rushing to the day she no longer wants me to read to her, and I hope you won’t either.
I'm so grateful for CeCe's aunties who also recognize the importance of reading together.


Time Together is In the Cards

When my 5-year-old became a big sister, she was excited about most aspects of the job. She loves to read to her little brother, to help with bath time and to keep him calm on car rides.
One thing she doesn’t love is sharing her parents’ attention.
Making quality one-on-one time for multiple kids is easier said than done.
The needs of a baby are so immediate and then daily chores pile up.
Despite my best intentions, I know I have often failed my daughter with prioritizing our alone time together.
We’ve found a new trick that has worked wonders in our house.
My mother gave me a gift card for frozen yogurt and told me to treat CeCe when she needed a special outing.
I gave that gift card to CeCe and told her that this was a ticket to get frozen yogurt with just mommy or daddy.
That gift card became a ticket that she used wisely.
The prospect of frozen yogurt didn’t tempt her too quickly – she kept that card until a weekend when she wanted me all to herself.
Too often a child’s need for attention comes out in misbehavior. Instead of getting angry, we found a way for CeCe to clearly communicate that she needs more time with me.
By handing me that card, I know she needs my attention.
It doesn’t have to be a gift card to have value. We plan to make coupons for trips to the library, the playground or other adventures she dreams up.
By giving her a physical object to redeem for our time, we’re giving her the ability to recognize what she is feeling and ask for help in remedying it before it spirals into a meltdown or tantrum for attention. A small piece of paper has changed our dynamic.
We have recaptured some of those sweet alone moments that used to be our everyday reality.
Now I find myself looking forward to the next time CeCe wants to cash in on her coupons.


My Favorite Things- The Wrapy

I am a huge proponent of babywearing and all it's benefits. I've used stretchy wraps, ring slings and structured carriers with both of my children and I was very pleased with the Wrapy. 

Wraps can seem intimidating when you unfurl the length of fabric, but the Wrapy created a great visual instruction manual with the product. It's easy to follow for inexperienced moms and a quick reference guide for those of us who need a refresher!
Who doesn't love the snuggles you get from babywearing?!
The Wrapy was very comfortable and flexible. Whatever your shape and body type, it can be adjusted to suit your body without any straps or clips to press against you. I like how soft the fabric is on my skin and my son's skin. It comes with a handy drawstring pouch for storage when not in use.

Babies truly feel as if they are being cradled in the womb when placed in a wrap, and it gives moms the ability to use their hands for other tasks while providing comfort to their babies.

If you are in the Lexington area and need help with babywearing, check out the Bluegrass Babywearers on Facebook.