This Week / 6 + 7

Let’s play catch up!

The Boys

My husband was out of town for most of the first full week of February. E is a total daddy’s boy and historically has not done super well when he’s had to go out of town on business, but he actually handled the week very well. I was pleasantly surprised. This was the first trip my husband has taken since the baby was born (more on that in a minute).

In other surprising E news, his eating habits are improving quite a bit. He used to be an extremely picky eater, to the point of me basically making him a different meal every night and him not eating any vegetables except one flavor of a Happy Baby puree pouch. We did feeding therapy with an occupational therapist for close to a year and got basically nowhere.  It was extremely frustrating and I wondered if I was raising a kid who would one day only eat food that was white or something. But, since his tonsillectomy in August, he’s become much more willing to try foods he previously refused, or might only take a bite of. He might not ever be an adventurous eater, but I’m glad he’ll at least eat some raw veggies now!

We’ve started working through Art Workshop for Children, a really terrific book of process art activities. So far, we’ve done Workshop 1 (photographic evidence above).

L has started teething (my best guess based on the copious amounts of drool) and is still all over the place with naps. He’ll usually take 3 naps a day, but their timing and duration are fairly inconsistent. I do always try to get him down for an afternoon nap somewhere between 2:30 and 3:30 after we pick E up from school. He’s back to waking up more frequently at night (usually every 3 hours), but since he’s pretty good about getting himself to sleep for naps and bedtime, I’ve decided not to worry about it. Nighttime feeding sessions will be over soon enough, anyway.

Exercise

I managed to get to Stroller Strides exactly once in the two weeks, which is better than none. If I’m being honest, my anxiety has been getting the better of me lately and that makes it difficult to do exactly the things I should be doing to feel better, i.e, getting out of the house and exercising specifically. Baby steps. The weather has been getting a tiny bit better, which always ups my chances of actually making it to a work out, and bribing myself with a coffee afterwards has proven to be very effective.

Reading/Watching/Listening

Solo parenting calls for something light and fun to read. I had Wild Ride by Julie Ann Walker in my TBR pile. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series and I’m not sure if I’ve read anything else by her. It was… okay. I’d give it maybe 3 out of 5 stars. (If you’re a romance reader and you haven’t read this BuzzFeed article about romance novels and the current political climate in our country, you need to.)

After that, I read Roomies by Christina Lauren which is nothing short of amazing. I didn’t want to put it down (or for the book to end), and it’s been awhile since I’ve read something that I’ve enjoyed that much. It’s an utterly delightful love story with wonderfully drawn characters and a few unexpected twists. Honestly, I’ll probably re-read it, which is a very rare thing for me to do, but I enjoyed it that much.

This is Us continues to be amazing and sad and wonderful.

I’ve been binge-listening to Forever35. This is the first podcast that hooked me immediately. I want to be besties with the hosts and just talk about self-care and our nightly skin care routine all the time. Highly recommend if you appreciate a good sheet mask.

Other Stuff

I survived my first week of solo parenting with two. It wasn’t the best.

My doula came that Monday and cooked a bunch of food, so I had lunch and dinner already made for the 4 days my husband was gone. We got the laundry folded and put away. I felt so on top of things.

And then nighttime came, and my anxiety got the better of me, and I could not sleep. I think I finally fell asleep around 2 am, probably got woken up once by the baby, and then E was up around 6:30. So that was fun. I tried to take a nap after dropping E off at school, but no luck. By Wednesday morning I’d basically hit a wall… it’s hard to come back from so little sleep. I begged my mom to come by on Wednesday afternoon, which she did. I slept decently that night, so Thursday went okay, and then my husband was on his way home. Once I got the kids in bed, I congratulated myself for keeping them alive (almost) single-handedly and ordered myself some presents.

Once my husband was back in town, we celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary with a nice dinner downtown and a Lana Del Rey concert. It was fun, even though it was a late night for a Sunday. He also surprised me with a new MacBook because he’s the best and my 5-year-old MacBook Air was basically non-functional.

I finally got going on another knitting project and am making some shorts for L.

Food

Sriracha meatballs – not tired of these yet; my doula made these when she was here and accidentally doubled the amount of sriracha in the sauce. They were so spicy but exactly what I needed since I was battling a cold that week.

Roasted chicken, butternut squash, and guacamole bowl

Vietnamese chicken salad with rice noodles– LOVED this, but I don’t think my husband was quite as impressed

Sheet pan teriyaki salmon– Love the idea of a sheet pan dinner, but this was mediocre at best. However, E did eat a whole salmon filet (not super surprising, I gave him canned salmon frequently as a baby, but he hadn’t had it in awhile; my husband sold it as “grizzly bear food”).

I cooked a few more meals but nothing terribly exciting. A friend also brought us dinner one night which so sweet and super yummy. Tonight we’re headed over to our friends’ house for pizza (and most likely drinks) while the kids run wild and I’m looking forward to not cooking.

Related: I’ve been thinking about this meal planning method (hat tip to Katrina for linking to it). I really need to simplify our meals and meal planning, especially now that E is eating more of what we eat. Plus cooking is basically just a means to an end for me; it’s not something I enjoy (unlike my older brother, who’s a professional chef) and I’d rather use that time/energy for something that brings me joy.

The Week Ahead

Getting out of my own head.

 

Week in Review/ 5

The Boys

E made it back to school, finally. There was a lot of painting with watercolors this week, plus a playdate with his buddy around the corner. On Saturday he woke up with a cold, so I think he was healthy for like 5 days? Why are kids such little petri dishes?

Meanwhile, L has entered the fourth developmental leap (if you’ve ever tracked a baby on the Wonder Weeks app, you know what I’m talking about). Basically, all the leaps are awful but this one is particularly awful because it’s long (something like 35 days!). He did, however, fully commit to sucking his thumb this week, which is pretty darn cute if I don’t think about the possibility that he won’t give it up in two or three years. The upside is that he now puts himself to sleep even for naps (previously I was rocking him a long time and hoping for the best when I put him in his crib, he was already doing well after middle of the night feedings). He still likes his pacifier while we’re snuggling in the rocking chair, but he’ll usually find his thumb as I’m putting him in bed. So, I feel like we’re kind of on the road to some good sleep, but really I’m just waiting for the day he goes down to one afternoon nap and sleeps for 12 or so hours at night without waking me up. He’s also really angry that he can’t roll from his back to his stomach and is trying incredibly hard to get there. Slow down, kid!

Exercise

I made it to Stroller Strides once, which is better than zero but still far less than I had hoped. However, I’ve also noticed that my milk supply seems to tank on days that I workout. I’m not sure if it’s a caloric issue or a hydration issue or both, but until I figure out how to mitigate that I’m not going to stress as much about how many workouts I’m doing or not doing. I’d love to feel strong again, but exclusively breastfeeding for at least a year is by far more important.

The Artist’s Way

I managed some version of Morning Pages 3 out of the 7 days, plus an actual productive writing session on a fourth day. I did not do any of the additional tasks (surprise?), nor did I go on an Artist’s Date, though I did spend loads of time brushing up (heh) on my watercolor brush lettering skills after my workshop last weekend. I think I’ve finally got the hang of it and can usually produce something I like. Anytime I needed a 5-minute respite from parenting this week (which was… often), I’d letter whatever quote or song lyric that popped into my head (lots of Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath). I have a large sketchbook with watercolor paper that I bought last summer and used precisely one page in, so it’s been perfect for practicing my new hobby (along with my aquash pen and Prima watercolors).

Reading/ Watching/ Listening

I finished Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which I started over the summer (the wonderful thing about essay collections: being able to come back to them 8 months later without being completely lost). Favorite essay (by far): “Goodbye to All That.” I did so much underlining.

I also listened to this week’s episode of Call Your Girlfriend featuring Morgan Jerkins. I was interested in hearing about Morgan’s recently published memoir, This Will Be My Undoing, which I’m mentally adding to my TBR pile. Bonus: Morgan has a fabulous laugh.

Other Stuff

My order of The Ordinary products came in. I’ve heard good things about their skincare stuff but hadn’t done much research. A couple of weeks ago, frustrated with how gross and dry my skin was,  I ordered a few products based on their example regimen for dehydration. After just a couple of uses, my skin looks and feels so much better. I’m particularly loving the moisturizer. I also bought a few things at Target because it was just that kind of week: Smooth Sailing Gentle Resurfacing mask, Burt’s Bees conditioning lip scrub and overnight intensive lip treatment. oh, and I have an amazing new Billie razor. Billie is a subscription like Dollar Shave Club for men and really I signed up because the more stuff I can have automatically delivered to my house without me thinking about it, the better, but it’s actually a really great razor. I hadn’t realized how not great of a shave I was getting with my previous razor.

Something else that arrived in my mailbox like magic: my new caftan from the Dwell + Slumber restock. These were great during the end of my pregnancy and immediately post-partum although right now I’m loving them for sleeping in (with one of my Cake nursing bras).

Food

I don’t remember when we ate what, but I made:

  • redemption salad (yummy, and E surprised me by loving the chicken, which I really didn’t think he would like; he had seconds, which is shocking for a kid who generally refuses most of the meals I make)
  • chicken chili
  • salmon salad (good, though a little prep intensive for this point in my life; I had the leftovers the next day with some canned tuna and an avocado)
  • black bean, quinoa, and sweet potato stew

The Week Ahead

Holding on for dear life.

Week in Review/ 4

Another long week.

The Boys

E was home sick from school most of the week with a tummy bug that started Monday afternoon. I also found out the hard way that letting him have unlimited amounts of cherry Pedialyte was not the best idea, as he is not immune to the effects of Red Dye 40.

L slept through the night Saturday night. He usually goes down for the night around 7 pm; I fed him again around 11 pm when I noticed him stirring on the monitor, and I didn’t see him again until 7:30 Sunday morning. It was the best night of sleep I’ve had in months!

Peaceful Preschool

Nothing again, although E and I did make some 3-part cards together. I may just drop the idea of working through the curriculum with him since I’d rather do an art project with him in the afternoons. I do love the curriculum, I can see myself coming back to it in a few years with L if I decide to homeschool both boys.

Exercise

Sad trombone. I didn’t work out at all. I can’t remember why I wasn’t able to go on Monday, and the rest of the week was lost to staying home with a sick kid.

The Artist’s Way

Big surprise, I did not manage any Morning Pages or any of the Tasks, though I did read the chapter. And I did go on an Artist’s Date! I took a watercolor brush lettering class Saturday afternoon and it was super fun. I wanted to practice some this evening but decided to be an adult and make sure the kitchen was super clean and I was prepped and ready for the week.

Reading/Watching/Listening

Still reading The White Album (favorite essay so far: “Many Mansions”). I watched this week’s episode of This is Us, which gutted me. I’ve been listening to The Lumineers in the car (and Elizabeth Mitchell in the kitchen when I’m at home with my babies).

Food

Most of what I ate this week was not cooked by me, and not really by choice. I think I had UberEATS 3 times, which is mildly horrifying, as well as take-out sushi and a burrito bowl. I’d picked up groceries early in the week, but did my shopping with the intention of buying meat at Costco on Tuesday, which didn’t happen with a sick kid. I did make this sweet potato black bean and quinoa stew, which was excellent and I’m planning on making again (I halved the recipe and it was still a ton of food). I also made turkey bolognese Sunday night but used diced tomatoes instead of tomato puree and I vastly prefer it with tomato puree.

And we finally went to Costco on Saturday. I’m coming to terms with the fact that we are now Costco shoppers. We were pretty casual about shopping there before, but I think becoming a family of 4 pushed us over the edge.

The Week Ahead

Hopefully, a whole lot closer to routine.

 

Week in Review/ 3

This week was long and weird. A holiday on Monday + “snow” day on Tuesday + bad weather delay on Wednesday. By the time we got to Thursday it felt like a Tuesday but I also wanted it to be Friday because I just couldn’t anymore.

The Boys

E is definitely going a bit nuts with all the cold weather we’ve been having (he actually told me he pulled a girl’s hair at school because “we didn’t get to go outside,” which was a little too self-aware for my taste), but still making progress in settling into his new school (hair pulling aside).

I made L laugh for the first time Saturday night and then he rolled over on Sunday morning. Love these sweet milestones! Unfortunately neither have been duplicated but I’m going to keep trying (especially the laughing one, because who doesn’t love baby giggles).

L has also apparently progressed to the “stranger danger” phase. We had a family playdate with our friends/neighbors (their middle child is E’s BFF) on Saturday evening and L had no interest in being held by anyone other than his own mama and daddy (even though he totally fell asleep in the dad’s arms the last time we were over there). He’s still okay with our doula, (thank goodness, because #velcrobaby) though that may have something to do seeing her more often or still being at home when she’s holding him.

Peaceful Preschool

We did nothing. Maybe this week? The key is having everything prepped ahead of time and ready to go.

Exercise

I had planned on making it to Stroller Strides 3 times but I felt it was too cold for the baby on Monday and Friday ended up being an indoor class due to the weather (I’d have a really hard time making it to the indoor location in time for class). I did make it to class on Saturday morning, as planned, even if it wasn’t quite as nice as I was hoping it would be. I had to cut out a few minutes early because L wanted to eat, but it was still a good workout. My abs are still on vacation (somewhere warm and sunny, maybe?), but I’m gradually feeling a tiny bit more in shape. Honestly, it’s more about the endorphins right now than anything else. Not working out, as I’ve discovered this week, makes me feel a bit bananas. I’m feeling discouraged that I won’t make my 218 workouts in 2018, which is kinda silly because the end of the year is still a very long way away.

The Artist’s Way

I did Morning Pages 5/7 days, which is way more than I thought I did. Still not 7, but better than nothing. I read the chapter and found it very eye-opening, but again, did not manage to complete any of the tasks or go on an Artist’s Date.

Reading/Watching/Listening

I finished Simplicity Parenting and am now going to recommend it to everyone I know. Honestly, it was a huge eye-opener for me and I am fully committed to simplifying our home life (mostly in terms of clutter, and specifically kid-clutter, though we could make improvements in meal times and general routine). E has far too many toys and books and the unconscious feeling of overwhelm might be the root of some of his less desirable behavior (I mean, he’s 4, but there’s always room for improvement). The idea of going through all of this stuff is overwhelming to me, which should have probably been an indication to me sooner. I’m not sure when it’s going to get done, but I’m committing to just doing what I can, when I can, even if it’s for 5 minutes at a time.

I started The White Album by Joan Didion. (Related: if you haven’t watched the Joan Didion documentary on Netflix, you need to.)

I also got caught up on This is Us one night when the baby was super cranky and just wanted to be held. I started watching the show because of Milo Ventimiglia (Rory and Jess forever), but now I’m in it for Sterling K. Brown. If This is Us ever ends (which it probably won’t), I want a spin-off of just Randall and Beth’s family.

Other Stuff

I finally finished my Beyond Puerperium for L. I finished knitting it the night before my water broke, and then it took me ages to weave in the ends, buy buttons, and sew them on. I needed to finish it before he outgrew it!

I got rid of 4 storage containers of maternity and baby clothes at my birth center’s swap on Saturday. I didn’t find anything other than a box of Legos I scored for E, which was almost better because I got rid of a ton of stuff without bringing in anything new.

Food

Not a bad week meal-wise considering everything else that was going on.

Monday- honey sriracha meatballs (I accidentally made these with meat that was a few days past the use by date and then spent several hours paranoid I’d given us food poisoning, but everything turned out fine)

Tuesday- taco salad (a throwback from my childhood: black beans, lettuce, tomato, and cheese over Fritos and topped with Catalina dressing– for sure not the healthiest dinner but it’s pretty tasty)

Wednesday- vegetarian chili

Thursday- gluten-free fish sticks (one of the few convenience meals I can eat right now!) with green beans (and macaroni and cheese for E)

Friday- take out

Saturday- take out fajitas

Sunday- probably chicken, rice, and veggies with honey mustard sauce

The Week Ahead

Finding the bottom of the laundry basket, I hope.

Week in Review/ 2

This week was our new normal and we all survived. I think.

The Boys

E is doing well at his new school, and learning a lot! One afternoon he started talking to me about India, South America, islands, and oceans. I’ve also noticed he’s become more orderly, pushing his chair in when he gets up from the table and much more likely to put something away when he’s done using it. I regret not switching him to a Montessori sooner!

After too many rough mornings getting out the door, I nixed screen time during the week. Typically, he’s played games on daddy’s phone in the morning and then watched a few episodes of something after school. That’s more screen time than I’m comfortable with as it is, and it was obvious to me that it was really impacting his behavior. So we went cold-turkey and it’s been fine. He still asks (sometimes multiple times) to watch TV after school, but doesn’t argue when I say no. Instead, we read a lot of books (usually the same one over and over, which drives me a bit bananas since we have easily 300 picture books) and he helps with L (E loves to spray water on the cloth wipes for diaper changes, and also likes to wipe the “poo poo” off of the baby). We also do something one-on-one once L goes down for a nap (whenever he decides that is).

When we have some time just the two of us, we’ve been doing craft projects like I mentioned last week, or sticker activity books. E is OBSESSED with sticker activity books, and they are actually a little bit hard to find. My godmother gave him one over the Christmas break that was right up his alley (I’ve already forgotten the theme of it, but I think it was farm animals?). Turns out it was from the Target dollar spot, and I was happy to find 3 more besides the one he already did. He whips through them really fast, so I’m glad they were just $1. We did two this week, plus a Kumon Science sticker activity book. The science book is similar to the Kumon Step-by-Step sticker books (Trains, Planes and More / At the Zoo) I found about a year ago that he loved. He had no interest in the pages that were matching games or mazes, but fortunately, the book is mostly sticker pages (with a few coloring pages that he did want to complete). I wish there were more of these because I’d probably buy them, even though they are a little expensive considering how fast he goes through them.

E also had his four-year-old well check this week and it was kind of hilarious how uncooperative he was. The nurse only managed to get his weight, not his height, and he had no interest in participating in the hearing or vision tests. Despite the obstinance, he was given a clean bill of health.

L is still obsessed with his shark toy and gnawing on his hands. He seems to have fallen into a routine for nighttime sleep, at least. He will go down between 7 and 8, depending on when he woke up from his last nap. If I dream feed him before I go to bed between 10 and 11, he will typically sleep til 4 or 5, and then until 7 or so. Still working on daytime sleep, but I think getting a consistent nap routine down will help.

The Peaceful Preschool

I gave E the “A” page to watercolor one day after school and he promptly flipped it over and did a wonderful watercolor on the back. ha! I still want to continue doing activities based on this curriculum but am working on figuring out exactly what that looks like. I had other stuff planned for this week that didn’t happen for various reasons (mostly time).

Exercise

Finally! I made it to Stroller Strides Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. My muscles were screaming but it felt good. The baby usually fell asleep within the first 10 minutes of class if he wasn’t already asleep, which was awesome because he hates the car seat and I was worried he would scream the whole time I was trying to work out. I had planned to go to yoga on Saturday but didn’t make it; I think I just have to give up on any group exercise that isn’t first thing in the morning. It’s too hard to get out of the house at a specific time after that.

The Artist’s Way

I read the chapter. I did Morning Pages 4 out of 7 days. I did zero of the tasks, even though a few of them sounded fun. I did not go on an Artist Date. I’m tempted to call it quits because if I’m not doing the tasks and I really doing The Artist’s Way? But I think I’m going to keep going.

Reading/Watching/Listening

I finished Dan Rather’s What Unites Us. It was nice to read something that acknowledged the dumpster fire that is the current political climate in our country while still striking an uplifting tone.

I started Simplicity Parenting, which I’ve been meaning to read for literally years. We definitely need to do some simplifying around here and I’m hoping I’ll come away with some inspiration for making this a more child-centered home.

We watched the first episode of David Letterman’s new show on Netflix, and it was good. If you’re missing Obama, it’s a must-watch.

Other Stuff

My postpartum doula came Friday morning which is always so helpful. L is a bit of a Velcro baby (thankfully he doesn’t seem to mind if I’m not the one holding him), but between the two of us we were able to get so much done. Of course, by this evening (Sunday), I was feeling completely disorganized again.

I’ve been slowly cleaning out the closet in the nursery, which still had a bunch of E’s stuff (mostly outgrown clothes). I also organized and bagged up all of my maternity clothes and everything L has outgrown (how is that possible?). Most of it is going to my birth center’s swap in a couple of weeks. I’m thrilled to be getting this stuff out of my house.

We went to Ikea on Sunday (I hate that store) and bought two Kallax units and a bunch of baskets for the play room. I can’t wait to get that assembled and begin the great toy purge of 2018.

Food

I did a small Sunday meal prep with mixed results. I made two batches of muffins, one for E and one for me. I didn’t care for mine and he didn’t seem crazy about his, either. I also made roasted sweet potato, chickpea and kale salad bowls with more success.

Monday- Husband had a work thing and I ate leftovers

Tuesday- taco bowls (ground turkey, lettuce, Spanish rice, avocado, corn; normally I add pico, too, but I forgot it at the store)

Wednesday- Thai slaw with shredded chicken

Thursday- Husband had a work thing, I had take out

Friday- chicken tortilla soup, sort of I started with this recipe from Dinner: A Love Story, but didn’t want to bother frying up tortillas, I didn’t have a jalapeno, and I can’t have any of the fun toppings like sour cream and cheese. I cooked the garlic and onion and added the tomato paste, then added 4 cups of chicken broth (5 seemed like more than we would need), some frozen corn (because it was looking like very sad soup), and about 2.5 cups of shredded chicken that was already in the fridge. We had avocado on top and it was not bad and probably the easiest dinner I made all week.

Saturday- sushi

Sunday- chicken and veggie stir fry with ginger maple sauce

The Week Ahead

Honestly, I don’t even know.

Week in Review/ 1

This week was cabin fever and settling into new routines.

The Boys

E started at his new preschool this week. He’s doing well there, but I’m trying to be sensitive to how big of an adjustment this is for him.

At home, we tried to combat cabin fever by doing art projects. As a kid, I was obsessed with Klutz Jr. books. I haven’t seen those around in several years, but I recently spied some Klutz Jr. kits at Target. E loves a good project (and I love that he loves them), so I snapped one up. This week he made a blue goat from the egg carton animal kit, plus a cat and dog from the pom-pom animal kit. He also painted and decorated three wooden race cars from a kit we got at the craft store.

L also had a big week. He reached a very important milestone: grasping toys! So far he only seems interested in that one toy. He tries to mouth it, which can’t taste that great because it’s knit. I’ve tried to get him interested in Sophie or Gertie, but no luck yet.

He’s sleeping decently at night. Usually, I get a 5-6 hour stretch, and he’ll eat quickly and go right back to sleep. Which is awesome, of course, but I desperately need him to get on some sort of schedule during the day, for my own sanity.

The Peaceful Preschool

I started The Peaceful Preschool curriculum with E this week, really just as a way to make sure he’s getting one-on-one time with me. We started with the Letter A unit. We read How to Make an Apple Pie and See The World (which was new to us and we both really enjoyed!) and E did the A letter identification worksheet from Over the Big Moon. My plan is to do two weeks per letter, so we’ll do some more ‘A’ related stuff this week.

Exercise

I exercised zero times, so obviously off to a great start towards my goal of 218 workouts. In my defense, I did make it out to a yoga class on Wednesday only to find out it had been canceled (more than a little annoying). Planning to be better this week!

The Artist’s Way

I managed all 7 days of Morning Pages, although some days were a little short. I had a hard time doing the exercises at the end of the chapter, both for lack of time and most didn’t feel relevant to me. I also fell short on my Artist’s Date, although I did spend about 20 minutes with The Big Book of Drawing. 20 minutes while the baby naps is about all I’ve got right now.

Reading/Watching/Listening

I finished David Lebovitz’s L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home. It was just okay. The story felt a little dragged out (lots of hinting of what was the come for like 75% of the book, so the ending fell a little flat for me), but it was still interesting (I had no idea the French loved paperwork that much!).

I started Dan Rather’s What Unites Us and I’m enjoying it so far. Predictably, he’s making excellent points about the importance of a free press in regards to protecting our democracy.

I also finished off season 2 of The Crown. That show. So good. The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1 is on my TBR list and I’ll probably do a rewatch after I read it.

My husband and I went to see I, Tonya for our first post-baby date night. Great movie, but not one that’s going to make you feel good.

Food

Anytime I’m really struggling to keep my life together, it’s pretty obvious when you look at what we had for dinner.

Monday- Thai Peanut Vegetable Rice Bowl. This was good but not enough protein for either of us so next time I’d add chicken. The sauce makes A TON (planning on using the leftovers this week), but is the best peanut sauce I’ve made so far.

Tuesday- Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl. I’ve made this a couple of times now, I’ve been doubling the chickpeas and it’s just fine without the sauce.

Wednesday- take out

Thursday- take out

Friday- spaghetti with meatballs and marinara, green beans. E is a picky eater but I can usually get him to eat these meatballs. This time he ate one bite, spit out the second, and refused the rest. Next time I’ll leave out the basil in the meatballs and the red pepper flakes in the sauce to see if it makes a difference.

Saturday- date night at Alamo Drafthouse

Sunday- possibly chicken patties, possibly leftovers

The Week Ahead

Hopefully it’s smoother and more productive!

2018 Goals + One Little Word

My One Little World for 2018 is gentle.

I need to be gentle with myself as I recover from pregnancy. I need to be a gentle mama to my boys. I need to set gentle goals because however much I want to accomplish, I’m in a season of life that doesn’t allow for much accomplishing.

And so, my gentle goals:

1. Complete The Artist’s Way. I’m in a Facebook group that’s starting the book on January 1. I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to keep up. I like doing Morning Pages but it is a time commitment and that’s hard with a newborn who’s not yet on a predictable schedule.

2. Workout 218 times. I shamelessly stole this from Rebecca. I worked out like, 5 times total in 2017 (thanks, pregnancy).  I felt really strong before I got pregnant and I really want to get back to that place. So, I’m hoping to fit in as many Stroller Strides and yoga classes as possible. I’m most motivated to work out in group fitness settings, but if I need to squeeze in some at home workouts, I might learn to use the water rower.

3. Read 52 books. I have no idea how many books I read last year. It’s been awhile since I tracked them effectively. I have a giant TBR pile in my head.

4. Write in the margins. I want to declare some awesome writing goal, like write 52 essays! write a book! But let’s be realistic. I read this blog post a few days ago and it really hit home. There’s still time, and for now, I can write in the in-between.

5. Go to the beach as many times as possible. Always.

6. Figure out what’s next. Do I want to go back to freelance writing? Use my library degree? Something else entirely? I want to have some sort of career for myself beyond raising my boys, I’m just not sure what it is. I hope to figure it out this year.

7. Complete The Peaceful Preschool curriculum with E. He’s in a Montessori preschool 5 days a week, so I’m not using this as a curriculum, per se, but more as a way to be intentional about one-on-one time with him and reinforcing what he’s learning at school. Plus, we may homeschool in the future, so this is a way for me to test the waters in a very low-key way.

Adios, 2017

It’s been my experience that some years are just a lot harder than others. 2017 was a hard year for me. It wasn’t that anything particularly awful happened (and in fact, many wonderful things happened), there were just a number of things that were hard. Because life is like that sometimes. Fortunately, it’s also been my experience that hard years are usually followed by years where life flows a lot smoother.

For most of 2017, I was pregnant (and while I’m lucky enough to get pregnant easily, I do not have easy pregnancies) and parenting a spirited three-year-old (if you haven’t been around one lately, three-year-olds are not known for being agreeable). My husband had recently taken a new job and worked a lot, including several business trips. I felt disconnected from friends and without a community. In the midst of being miserably pregnant, E had his tonsils and adenoids removed. The end of the year brought a hard labor to close out a hard pregnancy. The euphoria of welcoming my second little boy was closely followed by a long road to post-partum healing (including spending Thanksgiving night in the ER).

My One Little Word for 2017 was true. My intention was to focus on what was fundamentally true for me and my family versus what I believed or felt like I needed to prioritize based on the values of… literally anyone else. As usual, I didn’t do such a great job keeping up with the monthly prompts to make my word visible, but 2017 was perhaps the first year (in 4 years or so of choosing a word) that I really felt the impact of a word.

In early January, I checked Sabrina Ward Harrison’s website to see if she was hosting any retreats this year. I’ve adored her since I was 15 and read an interview with her in JUMP magazine. I’ve paged through Spilling Open many, many times. She’s hosted numerous retreats over the years (including one in Italy, I believe), and I’ve never been able to attend for various reasons. This year, before I was tethered to a nursing infant again, seemed like the perfect opportunity. The workshop was called “True Living Experience,” so it was basically meant to be.

That weekend in Madison was truly one of the highlights of my year (and possibly my life!). First of all, how often do you get to meet someone you’ve admired for close to two decades and have them surpass all of your expectations of who they as a human being? Sabrina is truly warmth and light and magic and if you ever have the opportunity to spend a weekend making art on the floor with her, you should seize it.

Secondly, it was great to just be me for a weekend. Not necessarily a wife and a mom. I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s needs except my own. It was also one of the few times I felt healthy during my whole pregnancy. I walked a ton (my pelvic girdle pain mysteriously and wonderfully disappeared that weekend). I ate somewhat normally. I had more energy than I’d had in months! I loved being surrounded by other creative souls. It was just plain good.

Coffee + Crumbs’ Year of Creativity was another highlight. Writing is my truth, and while pregnancy has a way of sapping my creativity, I did manage to write a few things I’m proud of (before not writing for most of the year). I hope to come back to some of the YOC materials in 2018, because I know there’s a lot of untapped inspiration there.

I maintained my Starbucks Gold Card status.

And, we went to the beach a couple of times before our beloved Port Aransas was hit pretty hard by Hurricane Harvey.

I’ve done my usual year-end navel-gazing (as much as I can manage with a newborn and a 4-year-old). I’m waiting for my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter to arrive from Germany so I can revamp my notebook system. My 2018 Hobonichi Techo Cousin, Powersheets, and Your Best Year are neatly stacked next to me.

2018, I’m ready.

Peaceful Transition: My Plan for the First Forty Days Post-Partum

I’m now 27 weeks pregnant, which means it’s time to get serious about getting ready for baby and the post-partum transition. And while it’s likely that I won’t deliver until close to my due date (or even after!), I like to have everything mostly done by 37 weeks, just in case. Plus, in my experience, those last 3 weeks while you’re lugging around a fully formed human being are not a time you feel like busting through a to do list.

So for your benefit (especially if you’re a first-time mom!) as much as my own, here’s my official getting ready list, thoughtfully divided into categories. I’m preparing for a vaginal delivery in a birth center (which means no drugs and heading home 6-8 hours after birth), but most of this list should be applicable regardless of what type of birth you think you’re having or end up having.

Physical

Last time, I don’t think I spent enough time thinking about my own physical comfort after delivery. Not making that mistake again! Even though I had the best possible outcome on the sliding scale of delivery experiences (relatively short labor + vaginal delivery + no tearing), child birth is never going to be pretty.

Obviously, there’s bleeding. Last time I used disposable pads, which I hate. They feel and smell gross, and they contribute to landfills. I especially don’t like the idea of chemicals in such a delicate area after a traumatic event! So this time I’m going to stock up on Lunapads Performa Maxis. 5 should be enough since I can toss them in the wash with the cloth diapers every night. I’m also going to get a few more pairs of my fave Dear Kate undies as back up and to wear solo as the bleeding lightens up. After my first baby, I really wished I had some chux pads on hand to protect my bed for the first day or two. I’m planning to get a couple reusable chux pads; I can put one on my bed preemptively in case my water does break in the middle of the night (not likely), and they’ll come in handy down the road for potty training.

Other necessities:

I’m also planning to treat myself to a couple new sets of loungewear and maybe a pretty kimono robe. It’ll be nice to feel a tiny bit pulled together!


 

I also need to stock up on breastfeeding essentials. Years ago, I posted about a nursing basket I gave to a friend having a second baby. It’s by far the most popular post on my blog, and that’s probably because breastfeeding, especially with a newborn, is serious business. I already have the two items I’ll probably need the most: my Boppy and my 40 oz Hydro Flask. And I’m sure I’ll be referring back to my copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

This time I have the benefit of knowing my own personal challenges in regards to nursing (I tend to get clogged ducts, among other issues), so I can prepare accordingly. I plan to start taking Lecithin after delivery to prevent plugged ducts, and drinking Mother’s Milk tea to help my milk come in (I didn’t have supply issues with my first, but drinking this before pumping made a big difference). A midwife mentioned that routinely using a warm compress might prevent plugged ducts, too, so the Lansinoh TheraPearl hot/cold packs will be nice to have.

Also on my list:



Mental

Post-partum hormones are bananas, and pregnancy hormones aren’t that great, either. With my oldest, I didn’t start feeling like myself again until a month or so after he weaned– at 12 months. So I potentially have another long road of feeling “off” ahead of me. Of course, the hardest period is the first few days and weeks after baby is born. I’m hoping that with a little effort on my part, I can make the transition easier on myself.

  • Having my placenta encapsulated. I did this with my oldest, and could definitely tell when I had to forgotten to take them. Potential placebo effect? Absolutely. But for $200 I don’t really care.
  • Making our bedroom super cozy and functional. In The First Forty Days, Heng Ou calls this “creating your nest.” I spent a lot of time snuggling my newborn in bed, and I absolutely plan to do that again. Knowing I’ll be spending so much time in bed makes me want to make sure our bedroom is a pleasant place to spend a good chunk of time. Since we had E, we’ve upgraded our bed to a super comfy Tuft & Needle mattress (it was our Christmas present to ourselves this year and we’re still giving ourselves pats on the back for it), and added a TV (I love watching TV in bed and I don’t care how bad it is for my sleep– which has been awful since I was a little kid, so I’m not really making it any worse). I still need to order and install blackout curtains (and get rid of the ugly window treatment that came with the house!) and new bedside lamps. I also want to add a bunch of plants (particularly some low-maintenance air plants) and an essential oil diffuser.  Function wise, Baby has a lovely vintage Jenny Lind cradle I scored from our birth center’s Facebook group. I’m planning to add a lambskin to make it extra cozy. And I’ll set up a diaper changing station on top of our dresser. I’m actually looking forward to holing up as much as possible the first six weeks!
  • Anticipating a hard time. Journaling has always been my anchor during rough times. With that in mind, I recently worked through Esme Wang’s gorgeous e-course, Rawness of Remembering. Much of it won’t be applicable until I’m actually in that rough time, but I’ve picked up a few good tips and rituals (being Catholic, I felt particularly drawn to her suggested practice of praying the examen, a Jesuit prayer, at the end of every day), and I like knowing I have the course material to return to at any time. Another great resource is her (free!) e-book, Productivity Journaling with Limitations. I recently purchased my first Hobonichi because I was so enamored with her morning ritual. I’m also going to make sure my nightstand is stocked with things I enjoy doing: plenty of reading material, an easy knitting project or maybe an embroidery project (I’m loving Sarah K. Benning’s patterns), a coloring book and colored pencils (I picked up a copy of Moods in Motion, a postpartum coloring book, at a maternal mental health conference a few months ago), and obviously, my notebooks.


Environmental

We have some big home projects to tackle before Baby arrives; we’re getting new carpet installed on our stairs and replacing the flooring throughout the second floor. Thankfully, the wheels are already in motion for this and we’re leaving the hard work to qualified professionals. Once that’s complete, we can work on getting Kiddo #1 set up in his new big boy bedroom and playroom. The nursery just needs a few small tweaks to get it ready for Kiddo #2, so I’m not too concerned about that (mostly setting up the crib again, patching some holes from a curtain installation gone awry, etc.). And I’m going to have the house cleaned from top to bottom (I think my days of trying to keep up with the housework myself are behind me, at least for now). I’ve also been decluttering and reorganizing as much as possible, which feels great and will make room for all the extra “stuff” a new family member will bring.

The other big task in this category is stocking the freezer and pantry. I think I did a pretty good job of this the first time around, and it was oddly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to tackling it again. This time, The First Forty Days will be an invaluable resource. I have a feeling I will be particularly depleted after this pregnancy (while I’ve done a decent job taking methyl folate, I haven’t been taking a multi-vitamin prenatal, although I really need to try again now that nausea seems to finally be in the past). I’m planning to make and freeze the following soups from the book:

  • Quinoa, Lentils & Greens
  • Creamy Kabocha & Red Lentil
  • Seasonal Greens

Plus the Oats & Chia Congee.

I’ve also been thinking about my favorite freezer-friendly meals that I can make in advance, like the turkey bolognese and turkey chili from Dinner: A Love Story. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post on what I actually end up making and freezing.

I think that covers it! Easy-peasy, right? Currently, my plan is to work on house prep and freezer/pantry stocking in August and September, then do an online shopping spree of anything we need (baby will need some clothes, and I’d like some new muslin blankets) in late September/ early October when I’m feeling truly miserable.

33 / a to-do list

Today I turn 33. It’s a confusing number because obviously, I’m 33; I’m a mom, but also, I don’t feel all that different than I did in college. Which was getting to be awhile ago. But I don’t believe in alternative facts, so it must be true. I’m 33.

I’ve always liked that my birthday falls more or less mid-year. It’s an excellent excuse to re-evaluate and set new goals. And so,

Things To Do at 33

  • Write snail mail
  • Write a list of 100 dreams
  • Write a book
  • Write blog posts
  • Continue writing in notebooks
  • Just write
  • Continue learning how to be a better daughter, friend, wife & mother
  • Fill a sketchbook
  • Drink more water
  • Stretch
  • Pray
  • Be gentle

Should keep me busy.