Postpartum Summer Staples

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Personal style and my ability to create something that looks good and feels good have always been aspects of my identity I enjoy. I am a firm believer in the “look good, feel good” philosophy. As I’ve been adjusting to how much my identity has changed in the last year, and trying to be patient and just go with the flow, one thing that just BUGS me to no end is that I can’t seem to find my mom style. 

In my head I want it to be pulled together, functional, affordable and classic. But I also don’t want to buy a ton of clothes for every 10lbs of weight I lose so I’ve been hobbling together outfits that are some odd mix of stuff from my bin in our garage of my pre-pregnancy clothes and a few pieces I’ve purchased in the last few months. Oh, and it needs to be easy to wash, hide my pooch, and cool enough to wear in 95 degree weather in 100% humidity. 

Because clothes that fit all those requirements don’t exist, or I just haven’t found them yet, most days I am wearing some or all of what you see here. Pretty humble, but super comfy. That’s the name of the game this summer. 

1. Old Navy Chambray Shirt // 2. Old Navy Ribbed Tanks // 3. Old Navy Compression Crops // 4. Old and comfy Birkenstocks handed down from my mom

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Motherhood at 7 Months

Early last month, Evan stopped sleeping through the night, classes ended, John and I were bickering frequently, I had mood swings all over the place, and was feeling exhausted while also trying to get back into a running routine. Deep down I was also pretty scared about being home with E all summer, and was facing a lot of resistance from myself in just settling into the role of “stay at home mom” despite that was my choice. Lots of talking, crying and writing later… I am heading into month seven of motherhood in a MUCH better place.

  • I’ve started to be able to recognize my (hormonal) mood swings better and have tried to be very open with John when I’m feeling a “low mood.” It has helped me feel understood and cared for, but it’s taken me being willing to be more vulnerable than I ever wanted to be to make that happen. It’s been worth it for all of us.
  • My confidence as a mama is growing every single day. Being home with him has helped me see how much I actually do for him, and how much he responds to my efforts. He’s going through separation anxiety right now and while that can be frustrating and sad at times, I try my best to never let him see that – I know he’s going through this period because he has a healthy attachment to me, and that makes me feel so good.
  • Focusing on having fun with him is so much easier now as he’s getting older. We read books, we play games, we (I) sing songs, and I try to do as my mom does and “make everything fun.” Mostly, he practices crawling and I cheer him on, catch him, etc. But I sneak everything else in there for some diversity. He is one determined baby!
  • Looking to E as my report card for how I’m doing as a mama and turning off the other noise has been a game changer. I was trying to find feedback and encouragement for a “job well done” all around me, and falling short. After his 6-month checkup it kind of clicked: big picture, I am rocking this mama thing. I mean, I’m making mistakes and am just doing the next right thing all the time, and I never really know if anything I do is “right” or “wrong” (those two words really don’t seem to exist in parenting)…but I’m rocking it. John and I have a healthy, happy, thriving, vibrant little person in our home who is meeting and exceeding milestones. That doesn’t just happen. We didn’t just get lucky. We have done that.
  • I made a summer bucket list with the best of intentions, and I’m so glad to have done it. However, I greatly underestimated how much effort a sleep schedule is and I recognize we’ll likely not get to a lot of things on that list this summer, and we’ve already done plenty I didn’t expect. As such, I’m updating it as we go, so by that end of summer it’s an accurate representation of our summer highlights. It’s a living list instead of a to-do list.
  • John and I are working on our marriage one chapter at a time, every night. We’ve been having quick and light dinners on the patio after E is in bed, chatting about our days, and reading one chapter from this book every night. His dad gave it to us for Christmas in 2012 and after a recent argument, I remembered it, and we started working through it. We’re going on a month of doing this and it has been such a bright spot during this transition period. We both recognize our marriage is the seat of the happy home we both crave and I’m thankful every day to have picked a man who is willing to do the work.

— By next month I imagine we’ll have a crawling baby and life will be so vastly different than it is right now. That “time is flying” cliche is so true in parenthood, and it’s a good reminder for me to enjoy every stage. Even when sleep deprived. 🙂

Making a Sensory Board

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Evan is obsessed with textures. For about the last month he’s gone through life with both hands extended, looking to grab, smack, and scratch on anything and everything in his path.

I pinned this idea for a DIY sensory board a while back and finally made a point to get it done. I raided my box of random craft supplies and wandered around the house looking for anything I could add that would be safe but interesting for little hands. Then I grabbed a piece of cardboard and my mini-glue fun and got to work.

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Materials I ended up using:

– shells

– wooden coin from a pub

– fake leaves and flower

– tin foil

– the top of his oatmeal container (sort of a Tyvek material)

– random assortment of textured/ patterned paper

– a photo (randomly in my craft box?)

– foil

– a water bottle cap

– crumpled piece of tissue paper

– piece of the front of my first mother’s day card (black and white, had a neat bumpy texture)

– bloodstone

– smooth rock

– foam letters

– paper embellishments (from Amy Tangerine)

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Obviously this is not anything I would let him play with unsupervised, but so far, he loves it. Sadie is a big fan, too.

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Other cool DIY ideas for sensory play:

Nature Sensory Board // Zipper Board // Sensory Play Date or Party // Rice, Noodles and Shapes

 

Low Days

 

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I’ve come to realize it’s not so much the actual hours in the day, but the mental “always on” of motherhood that makes time seem like a speeding train.

Motherhood is like that project you have that you lose yourself in completely, only to look at the clock and realize “it’s 4pm?!” I’ll take that over boredom any day, but as a person who was never bored before becoming a parent, feeling this day in, day out has been a struggle. I’ve spent months thinking “next week will be different” and while each week is surely different, it’s never better or worse, but just a different version of the same loop.

I’m home with E during the week this summer so I’m adjusting to what it feels like to be a stay at home mom. I thought it would be easier than being a working mom, even compared to being a part-time working mom like I was just a month ago. And in some ways it is easier (mainly, the wardrobe) but in many more ways it is not.

Possibly it’s just an adjustment phase, but I really don’t think I am my best self when I’m “on” around the clock. I’m not sure it’s possible that anyone is. And perhaps therein lies the truest difficulty of motherhood: needing to be your best self for your children despite there being days when you just aren’t.

This last month of being home has been full of lessons, and I think my truth is that adjustment into motherhood seems to have less to do with if I am home or not, or how many hours I spend at work or with Evan…but rather, that there is a tiny human who occupies my brain 24/7. And as that tiny human gets bigger and starts moving around more, and is less like a tiny human and more like a tiny person day by day, he occupies even more of my heart, my time, and my thoughts. Motherhood is consuming. And it’s supposed to be.

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However…

deeply crave time to write. To think. To be “off” for even just an hour or two without interruption or an ear tuned to a sleeping baby. Writing is how I process the world. How I grow, and adapt, and feel alive. And I so need that, especially during transitions.

Getting that time makes me feel excited to dive back into singing songs and reading books and being 100% there with Evan. Not getting that time finds me cranky, distracted, and exhausted in a way that is at once physical and mental. It makes me feel lonely, and sad and in general, just LOW.

For months I’ve felt this way, and I haven’t been able to explain it well.

I thought there was something wrong with me for feeling it. There isn’t.

I thought it made me a bad mom. It doesn’t. 

I thought I would grow out of it. I haven’t. 

If anything, as he gets older I am finding I need this time, and feel the need for it even more acutely. Like water. Or needing to use the bathroom. Food. Sustenance.

Being creative is one of my greatest strengths as a mama, but it is also something I have to truly nurture as a person.

Realizing these things, admitting these things, means I need to be make a point to be intentional about the time I have and how I use it. I have to be stingy with the hours I have help, and I have to figure out how to juggle cultivating a strong marriage, getting back into shape and nurturing my work, while being a mama first and foremost. I have zero answers.

But I’ll figure it out. Because I have to. I owe it to my family to have fewer low days, and I owe it to myself to nurture the very parts of me that make me, well, me. Motherhood hasn’t changed that, and I finally feel confident enough to say that I know that’s okay.

P.S. It took me about seven hours between thinking about this, to getting out of the house, to finding a place to work (at the library, after I couldn’t find a seat at Starbucks). And I have 15 minutes left to hang out before I have to get home. But it was so worth. I needed to open my heart up and type through this stuff. It’s silly to anyone who doesn’t have the same need, but for those of you who do understand, as always, thanks for reading.

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And if anyone has figured it all out, I’m all ears. 😉

Motherhood at Six Months

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There were moments in the early months when thought the people who talk about how much “fun” parenting is must seriously be crazy.

At times, parenthood feels like living in a world where your own thoughts, wants, or needs are controlled by a tiny pause button, namely, your baby. And at times, this does not feel good. For me, it’s been one of the hardest adjustments. However, the “fun” thing?

I get it now.

Evan’s smiles make my day. His giggles are infectious and define pure joy more than anything I’ve ever experienced.

He is curious and skeptical and careful with who gets smiles, yet he is friendly and enjoys meeting new people.

I’m partial, but he is seriously the funniest baby I’ve ever met. He makes me laugh like his daddy does, so we know where he got it…

At six months, I love:

  • reclining in the chair in the nursery with a light blanket, a cup of coffee, iBooks, and Evan dozing in my arms
  • wearing him on our adventures (mostly Target at this point, but looking to change that this summer )
  • his light-up-the-room smile whenever he sees me (it’s mutual)
  • our best days, when there is no agenda (and mommy gets to eat breakfast)
  • Eau de Evan

That last one, there? Seriously…there is no better smell on earth than your baby. I will remember this until the day I die and it is one of those things I just cannot do justice to by description. It’s powerful and biological and raw and pure; it is such a magical part of the connection we have, and  I just never expected it would mean so much to me.

So far, figuring out who I am as a mama seems like a lifelong journey, which I also wasn’t expecting. In the last six months I have had some of the most difficult and wonderful days and weeks of my life. There are many aspects of this new role, this new life, this new identity that feel like un-molded clay, but it also seems some elements are taking shape, and slowly, I am feeling more and more like “myself” with each passing week.

Above all the hormones and mood swings and overwhelming feelings, I know one thing without a doubt: I love this tiny human more than I ever thought possible, and that love grows each and every day, just like he does.

Happy Mother’s Day

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I picked this book up after seeing it pop up on a few Instagram feeds recently.

While the title sounds overtly religious, the short essays are actually quite focused on Buddhist ideals of compassion, meditation, being present and surrender.

As a celebration for the mothers I know, and the journey I am on as a new mama, I thought I’d share a few quotes I really enjoyed from this book.

Happy Mother’s Day!

“Jon Kabat-Zinn, a meditation teacher who writes about mindful parenting, suggests we think of our children as Zen masters housed in small bodies, who come into our lives to push at all our fixed ideas. They are our best teachers, he says, and one way or another they will teach us whatever hard lessons we most need to learn” (87).

“In surrender, I clear a space in which something new can grow. I place my faith in something larger than me. I trust” (92).

“I needed to accept that in order to mother fully, I had to take care of myself, and that I could not meet my children’s demands 100 percent of the time. But I also discovered just what it is that they need more than anything else: me. My full attention. My face in front of their faces, making eye contact” (171-2).

“There will be years and years for baseball, but you can only dig your way to China when you’re five” (199).

“I know now that balance is not an achievement in itself, but a journey – and I am always on my way there, never fully arrived” (201).

“The boy who meets my gaze at the breakfast table is not the same one whose cheek I kissed the night before… To love them is to let them go, bit by bit, day by day” (217).

“Loving them, I grow. Growing, they learn to give love back” (219).

Starting Solids

At his 4-month well-visit, E’s pediatrician said we could start introducing solids, if we wanted. We made the rookie mistake of trying some oatmeal on the same weekend he was recovering from his shots, and we ended up with a miserable baby. I tried avocado a few days later and he had a similar reaction. I think his little gut just wasn’t ready yet. We waited another two weeks before we tried anything again, and we noticed E was less satisfied with his bottles, and drinking more and more as the days progressed.

Out of pre-teething desperation, one day I tried a frozen banana in a feeder and he loved it!  We did that for a few days, and then tried some prunes. He wasn’t crazy about prunes, but tolerated them, especially from my mom. A few days later my mother in law fed fed him some sweet potatoes and he scarfed them down! Since then we’ve tried peas with mint, green beans and pears, but sweet potatoes are a clear favorite. We’re also adding the oatmeal back in as a major part of his diet now that we know he’s handling the other foods well, and that seems to be working so far. A little backward from the way most people do it, maybe, but it’s working for E.

Accessories/Must-Haves 

We’re currently using organic packets from Plum, Happy Family and jars of Earth’s Best First Foods. He loves his Nuby 3 Stage Bottle (we use it in stage two) for water, and is freakishly good at holding it for himself. We have two sets of spoon attachments for the packets of food we’re using, but I’m finding he actually eats better when we use these baby spoons. Not sure why I bought those out of the hundreds of options available, but they do the trick. We also realized pretty quickly that a pack of waterproof (non-teething) bibs was a necessity, and these are so great. After he’s done eating I just rinse them under the faucet and so far stains haven’t been an issue. Stains on his clothes before we realized we needed those bibs? Different story.

We have a high chair that was given to us by a family friend but it broke within a week of us using it, so we just ended up getting the same high chair my in-laws have. Simple, slim, and inexpensive. Easy to clean, easy to use. We may end up with something different once we’re in a house with a dining room table, but I have zero complaints about this so far, and I think it would also be great for travel which is a bonus some of the more expensive chairs can’t offer.

And just like that…my baby is eating! My mom’s going to try apples this week, and we’ve got butternut squash on the horizon as well. Once he starts eating larger quantities of food I plan to take time to make and freeze his favorites, but for now, it’s so much fun seeing what he likes!