This Week / 8

Is winter over yet? Seriously.

The Boys

E didn’t get up to anything new this week. He enjoyed some extra daddy time on Monday since my husband was off of work (though E’s school was not closed like I thought it was…), had his weekly playdate with his bestie, and did a few puzzle books. He’s having some issues with the actual work part of Montessori, so we’re going to be working on that at home. I had always intended to follow Montessori principles with him, and then didn’t because I was overwhelmed with learning how to be a mother, let alone figuring out a philosophy and pedagogy that most people don’t practice and I had no previous exposure to. And now he’s 4 and I really regret not doing what I had intended all along, but, hopefully, it’s not too late.

L turned 4 months old and continues to be adorable. We finally made it to the pediatrician, who gave him an A+ and was impressed by how alert and strong he is. We finally had a great night of sleep, with him going to bed around 6:40, waking around 2:30, and then sleeping until 7:30. I wish I hadn’t had insomnia and could have slept better the first part of the night, but I did sleep well the second half.

Exercise

Not a good week for exercising.

Reading/Watching/Listening

I read Austin Kleon’s posts on the why and how of his diaries and went down a rabbit hole of diaries and note taking and commonplace books, which led me to reread Sarah Manguso’s fantastic Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, which is both about motherhood and diary-keeping, and thus completely in my wheelhouse. It’s a super quick read that is unexpectedly dense.

I don’t think I watched anything this week, although I did turn the TV on once and attempt to find something of interest.

I listened to Vance Joy’s new album but I don’t think I like it as much as Dream Your Life Away. Maybe it will grow on me.

Other Stuff

My husband was out of town again, which wasn’t super fun, though this time he was only gone for two nights and just down the road in San Antonio, so on the whole less stressful than him being in California for a week.

I still didn’t sleep, though.

I returned overdue library books, my new notebook arrived (and I’m obsessed), and I went to my PCP for a yearly physical. I still need to go back for a blood draw, which was my primary reason for making the appointment, since I don’t feel healthy at all and want to reevaluate my vitamins and supplements.

Food

I honestly don’t remember what we ate last week, but I do remember making these sweet potato and black bean burrito bowls (I didn’t care for the dressing so probably wouldn’t make again) and these cold sesame noodle bowls (I didn’t worry about the spaghetti, used cashew butter because that’s what I had in the pantry, and did chicken instead of chickpeas).

The Week Ahead

Channeling Maria Montessori.

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/ 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/ 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.

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

I recently upgraded our stroller and since E and I are both thoroughly obsessed with it, I thought I would share our BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

When E was about 4 months old, I hastily purchased a jogging stroller from a consignment store. The snap-and-go stroller wasn’t cutting it for walks around the neighborhood, but since that was all I saw myself doing with it, I didn’t put too much research into the purchase.

Less than a month later, I joined Stroller Strides. We ended up using that pre-owned stroller a lot, and I kinda regretted not buying something a little nicer from the beginning.

Fast forward 18 months. When I was attending instructor training in San Antonio, Farel (FIT4MOM’s Global Fitness Director) mentioned a new Stroller Strides BOB was on the horizon– and it had an adjustable handlebar. As a much-shorter-than-average person (I’m 5′), I was instantly sold. I’m not ashamed to say that I became a little bit obsessed with this stroller. I stalked amazon weekly, waiting for it to be released.

Finally, on September 14th: there it was. I quickly added it to my cart, then camped out by the front door. When it finally arrived, I took a selfie on the porch like a totally normal person:

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

Unboxing the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

E and I made an unboxing video for your viewing pleasure:

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Features & Specs

Per bobgear.com, the 2016 Stroller Strides edition has the following features:

  • Comes with a Stroller Strides fitness classes coupon (valid in US only) and a Stroller Strides Fitness Kit by BOB, including a handlebar console, Stroller Strides exercise manual and SPRI® fitness resistance bands.
  • This product comes with a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes by Fit4Mom. Find classes near you at fit4mom.com.
  • Swiveling-locking front wheel swivels to maneuver tight turns with ease or locks forward for increased stability when jogging or on rough terrain.
  • Adjustable padded handlebar offers 9 positions to create the perfect fit for parents of all heights.
  • State-of-the-art adjustable suspension system offers 3 inches of travel and 2 stages of weight support for an ultra-smooth ride.
  • Easy 2-step fold for convenient transportation and storage
  • Travel system-ready when using the BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter (sold separately). Pair with a BOB B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat by Britax or with other major brand car seats.
  • Air-filled tires on high-impact polymer wheels make for a smooth ride whether on-road or off-road.
  • One-hand recline adjustment lets you quickly lay the seat back with the simple squeeze of a button.
  • Fully upright seating position so your child can see the world on all your adventures.
  • Extra-large low boy cargo basket provides 15% more storage space so you can take everything you need when you’re on the go.
  • Ultra-padded seat with ventilation and a five-point harness keeps your child comfortable and secure.
  • Integrated pockets store snacks, drinks, and other necessities.
  • Extra-large UPF 50+ canopy shields your child from sun and weather.  Includes a large viewing window so you can keep a watchful eye.
  • Enhanced quick-release design makes it easy to securely attach both the front and back wheels.
  • Easy-remove wheels allow the stroller to become more compact for easy storage in tight spaces.
  • Adjustable front wheel tracking helps correct alignment with a simple twist of the knob.
  • Foot-activated parking brake secures stroller in the stopped position.
  • Wrist strap provides safety while running and includes a buckle to lock the stroller closed when folded.

Feature- and spec-wise, the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is the same as the BOB 2016 Revolution Flex. The main difference is that the Stroller Strides edition features the FIT4MOM logo and is only available in blue. The Stroller Strides edition also includes a handlebar console, SPRI fitness bands, a Stroller Strides exercise manual, plus a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes. The bands are a must-have if you want to work out on your own with your baby (I would also suggest a copy of Liza Druxman’s Lean Mommy to supplement the included exercise manual), and nice-to-have if you’re planning to join a Stroller Strides franchise, because bands do wear out, break, and otherwise get lost– you’ll need replacements eventually).

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

A few weeks into owning the stroller and with several classes under our belt (both with me as an instructor and as a regular ol’ client), I can say with certainty that the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is worth every single penny.

Comparing this stroller to my previous stroller, the tires are larger, so it’s much easier to run with. I love that I can adjust the handlebar to a height that’s comfortable for me. The 5-point harness is far more secure than our old stroller, too, which gives me peace of mind when I’m running with E in the stroller (accidents do happen, which is why it’s so important for kiddos to be properly buckled in during class).

The included handlebar console has a zippered compartment and a beverage holder. It is, unfortunately, too small for my 40 oz Hydro Flask, but a standard water bottle would fit just fine. I usually stick my phone in the beverage holder and use the zippered compartment for E’s many snacks (snacks are crucial for getting through a workout with a toddler).

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The cargo basket is roomy enough to fit my mat, bands, Hydro Flask, and anything else we need for work out. There’s also a pocket on the back of the seat that’s perfect for storing anything you want to get to quickly, plus interior pockets for kiddos to stash toys and snacks.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

I’m going to assume the padded seat is comfortable because, like I mentioned, E is obsessed with the new stroller. He insists on riding in it when we go check the mail, a journey he’s been walking for since he was 18 months old. The fact that an almost-3-year-old who’d rather be running and jumping is begging to get in a stroller and ride is pretty telling.

BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The sun shade is extra-large and almost completely shades E when he’s sitting in the stroller. This is great from a sun-protection standpoint and also for stroller naps. The seat is super easy to recline, too.

All in all, this stroller did not disappoint and was worth the wait. I hope this BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review was helpful if you’re in the market for a jogging stroller. It’s  a must-have for moms looking to work out with their babies (check out the duallie model if you have 2 kiddos). Check out FIT4MOM to find Stroller Strides classes near you.


(This was not a paid review, obvi. I’m just completely smitten with my new stroller and Stroller Strides.)