Thursday, November 10, 2016

Small-scale gratitude.

This morning, I found myself standing stark naked in the bathroom, fixing a Lego fire truck. How did I get here?

I'm frazzled these days. My kids seem to need more than usual -- Cal shouts for me if I'm not in the room, and Nolan is either clamoring to be held or systematically destroying everything in his path. I keep hearing the message to "fill my bucket," but there are only so many things that I can do while the kids are asleep, and so few that seem to be working while they are awake. And then I while away the time by checking Facebook incessantly and obsessing about the Presidential election, which further frazzles me and accomplishes nothing.

This is meant to be the month of gratitude, and I am grateful on the large scale. I'm grateful to have a husband who works so I can stay home with my kids, to have healthy kids, to be able to have kids at all. I'm grateful to live in a nice house in a nice town in a country that, despite its flaws, is pretty safe and offers much more freedom than most. I'm grateful that I can go to the grocery store and buy food without counting every penny I spend, that my body is essentially healthy. I'm grateful to have faith in God and a belief that everything will be okay in the end.

But I'm struggling with gratitude on the small scale. I struggle to remind myself of these great, grand blessings when I'm standing dripping wet, trying to get impossibly small Lego bricks to go in the right spot. I struggle when I tell Cal no and it turns into the third all out scream fest of the day. I struggle with this niggling cold that has been peripherally taking up residence in my veins for the last few weeks, never developing into something that could excuse me from daily life for a few hours, but never going away, either.

I've been studying gratitude in the mornings, and I'm hoping it comes. I want to be a stay at home mom and have these moments with my kids. Yesterday, I was listening to the Coffee + Crumbs podcast, where they interviewed Christian writer Ann Voskamp (who I've never read but intend to some day). She said that she thinks of these drudging tasks of cleaning and changing diapers and preparing meals only to wipe them off the floor as her way of loving her family, and says she tries to have gratitude for being able to love her family that way.

I would like to feel that way, but right now I'm faking it til I make it.

I think my auto-pilot answer when my bucket is empty is to fill it. Go to bed early, read a book, take a bubble bath, exercise. Makes sense, right? But sometimes my bucket is draining faster than I can refill, and doing all of those self-care activities just feels like another chore, a Sisyphean task of trying to do everything I have to do in a day and be enlightened and self-actualized on top of it.

I think my task today, right now, is to just try and be happy in those moments. To laugh at the spectacle of trying to get ready while two babies literally pull my skin (Did I mention that while I was fixing the Lego, Nolan pinched my inner thigh with his little razor talons!?). To be grateful I have a big house to clean instead of bemoaning the fact that there's alway something else to do. To remember my friends who have hoped and prayed and cried for babies when I would rather hide from mine.

It's cliche to say that I will miss this some day, and it's also cliche to say that I hate when people say I will miss this some day. But I know I will. I look at the way my mom craves holding my babies and misses her kids scattered across the United States. Even though the newborn stage is usually horrible for me at the time, riddled with postpartum depression and unsuccessful breastfeeding and the kind of exhaustion that will truly make you insane, when I see someone cuddling a velvety newborn into their chest, or watch those sweet, new mouths moving in their sleep, I want to be there again.

So I am going to try again to recognize the small blessings in the madness. I will try again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NaNoWriMo Dropout

You guys, I have a confession.

I can't finish my novel by the end of November.

It's so easy to get caught up in the fun of NaNoWriMo, to vow to myself that I will finish a novel in just thirty days, that my house and my children and my sanity can wait.

But guess what? They can't.

I am not happy in a messy house. I'm not happy when I don't sleep or exercise. My children are not happy when I tell them, "Just a few more words!" And I am SO not happy when I'm not reading for fun.

Not to mention, I have a birthday party to plan, a trip out of state for Thanksgiving, and tons of other responsibilities that I don't want to ignore .

But here's the thing. I am going to finish my novel. It's just going to take longer than thirty days.

The whole principle of NaNoWriMo is that you need a deadline to really get into something. And I don't deny that. I have never finished a novel, and writing is always what gets pushed to the back of the line for me. I mean, hello, it's been two months since I've written on this blog.

But I am going to finish this rough draft. I have my own deadline imposed -- at least 500 words a day on the novel. That gives me time to work on other writing projects, read a book, exercise, pay attention to my family, and not live in a dirt heap.

Those of you continuing on, I am so impressed! I am sure you are doing great things! I'm okay with not being just like you.

It's going to take me a little longer, but one of these days I am going to have a novel under my belt.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Goodnight Gorilla Simply Learning Curriculum Recap

This fall, I have been following the (free!) Simply Learning Tiny Tot and Preschool curriculums. I originally heard about Simply Learning from my friend Lorna, who was following yet another free curriculum (Tot School) last year. Basically, this mother of two came up with some great homeschool early learning curriculums for her kids. She first came up with Tot School, which is geared toward 18 months-3 years or so, and has weekly themes with various learning activities. This year, she is premiering her Preschool curriculum, which is made up of two week units based on books. Alongside the preschool curriculum, she has a "tiny tot school" curriculum for 1-2 year olds because she now has a younger daughter. This lined up perfectly for my kids' ages. Cal does go to preschool twice a week for a couple of hours, but I have been wanting to do some more structured activities at home, especially since (I hear) it's going to be raining a lot for the next six months.

We haven't done every activity on her list and are still finding our rhythm, but the first unit, based on Goodnight Gorilla, was a success! Cal looked forward to his "home preschool" activities, and I spent less time breaking up fights in the toy room. Nolan is still a bit young to appreciate the Tiny Tot activities (still only 11 months) but I figure it's a start-- and Cal seems to really enjoy them, too.

Favorite activities this unit:
:: Animal tracks -- we put toy animals' feet in paint and had them make tracks, and then gave them a bubble bath the next day.
:: We put Cal's handprint over a gorilla's handprint and measured the sizes
:: Stamp it, poke it, write it -- The creator of this curriculum provides printable learning activities (also for free! can't get over it!) and Cal really loved one where you stamp the letter of focus (G this week), poke it with a thumbtack, and then trace it.

We also did some additional activities. We went to the zoo to see some of the animals. We also incorporated some other books about zoo animals. Cal read A Sick Day for Amos McGee, The Mixed Up Chameleon, and My Heart is Like a Zoo, and I read Nolan Peek-a-Zoo, Dear Zoo, and an Eric Carle noise-making book called Animal Babies that he is obsessed with.

Today we are starting The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Favorite quotes from Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.

This book resonated with me so deeply. I have long had the monkey of perfectionism on my back, and it is a daily struggle to cope with it. There were so many quotes in Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist's new book, that I wanted to group all the ones I loved best here.

:: "Years ago, a wise friend told me that no one ever changes until the pain level gets high enough." p. 24

:: "Part of the magic of the lake is that it isn't home-- it's away, and away allows us to see the rhythms and dimensions of our lives more clearly." p. 57

:: "And so I began to peer into the darkness, that plunging sense of deep inadequacy. It's always been there. Frankly, I didn't know other people didn't have it. I thought that at the center of all of us was black liquid self-loathing, and that's why we did everything we did-- that's why some people become workaholics and some people eat and some people drink and some people have sex with strangers. To avoid that dark sludge of self-loathing at the center of all of us." - p. 71

:: "He has all the time in the world to sit with me and sift through my fears and feelings and failings. That's what prayer is. That's what love is." - p. 76

:: "In more fundamentalist strains of the faith, there's great value on happiness, constant kindness, selflessness above all else. These are wonderful things... that, over time, make it really hard to say things like, "I need help." Or, "I can't do this anymore." Many Christians, women especially, were raised to be obedient and easy, to swallow feelings, to choke down tears. This has not served us well. This has made it far too easy to injure our bodies and our souls in the name of good causes-- there are enough good causes to go around." - p. 85

:: "My crazy brain has always been my gift and my challenge, and I've tried everything to lower the volume in my head, because things really do get a little loud in there." - p. 94

:: "Brave these days is a lot quieter, at least for me. Brave is staying put when I'm addicted to rushing, forgiving myself when I want that familiar frisson of shame that I've become so used to using as a motivator. Brave is listening instead of talking. Brave is articulating my feelings, especially when the feelings are sad or scared or fragile instead of confident or happy or light.
"Brave is walking away from the 'strike while the iron is hot' mentality that pervades our culture. Brave is being intentional about taking your marriage from 'fine' to 'can't live without you.' Because fine is not fine at all. Fine is like a mesh sieve, enough space for all the important things to slip through, and all you're left with is to-do lists and resentments.
"It's easier to be impressive to strangers than it is to be consistently kind behind the scenes. It's easier to show up and be a hit for an hour than it is to get down on the floor with your kids when you're so tired your eyes are screaming and bone-dry. It's easier to be charming on a conference call than it is to traverse the distance between you and your spouse, the distance you created.
"Sometimes being brave is being quiet. Being brave is getting off the drug of performance. For me, being brave is trusting that what my God is asking of me, what my family and community is asking of me, is totally different than what our culture says I should do.
"Sometimes, brave looks boring, and that's totally, absolutely, okay." - p. 126

:: (John Steinbeck quoted in the book) "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." - p. 127 (I should note that this principle is applied to the character Cal in East of Eden, who, you know, my Cal is named after, so you'd think that I would have figured that out by now).

:: "I'm drawn to music that's more earnest than tidy, art that's more ragged than orderly, people who are just a touch more honest than is strictly appropriate for the situation. I'm finished hustling for perfect. It didn't deliver what they told me it would.
"And so instead: present. If perfect is plastic, present is rich, loamy soil. It's fresh bread, lumpy and warm. It's real and tactile and something you can hold with both hands, something rich and warm. Present is a face bare of makeup, a sweater you've loved for a decade, a mug that reminds you of who you used to be. It's the Bible with the battered cover, the journal filled with scribbled, secret dreams. It isn't pretty, necessarily-- it isn't supposed to be." pp. 129-30

:: "Writing is such good training for the rest of life, if you allow it to be, because it forces you to get comfortable with failure, with the wide range of impossible-to-meet expectations and standards." - p. 171

:: "There are lots of conversations right now about how to do everything better/faster/smarter, how to streamline, multitask, layer, balance, flow, juggle. How to monetize, strategize, and on and on. This is good stuff. Necessary stuff.
"But my jam these days is wasting time, playing, becoming aware of that internal engine that always wants to go faster, faster, faster. That engine is not the best part of me. My heart is the best part of me.
"And I'm finding that my heart loves to play. My heart loves to color and draw, loves to dance in the kitchen, loves to shoot baskets, loves to do cartwheels with my nieces in the front yard.
"What would our lives be like if our days were studded by tiny, completely unproductive, silly, nonstrategic, wild and beautiful five-minute breaks ,reminders that our days are for loving and learning and laughing, not for pushing and planning, reminders that it's all about the heart, not about the hustle?" - p. 175

:: "I remind myself what is true: that God loves me, and that there's nothing I can do in this new day to earn more love-- nothing. And also that there's nothing I can do in this new day to ruin or break that love-- nothing." - p. 205

:: "I have the energy to live well, to dedicate myself to the things that matter to me, and that God has called me to. I have the security to truly rest, to truly enjoy this extraordinary world and all its offerings-- books and art and meals and people and conversations and cities and beaches and night skies. And while I am deeply appreciative of the charms of this glittering world, I feel a sense of patience where I used to feel slight anxiety about the beauty of it: will I see it all? What if I miss something?" - p. 227

Saturday, August 20, 2016

That's the way this wheel keeps working

When I was fifteen or so, I fell in love with this song by John Mayer. We all love to hate on John Mayer these days, with his string of relationships and a Taylor Swift ballad devoted to him, but if his lyrics are any indication, the guy gets me. I found the song "Wheel" at a season in my life when I was saying goodbye and desperately hoping that it wasn't forever. John's refrain that "you can't love too much one part of it" comforted me -- the idea that good things come to an end, and there will be hard, painful experiences, but that like a wheel, life will cycle back to happier days. 

I thought of "Wheel" again yesterday as I was walking on the trail behind my house. For four years, I've lived in Los Angeles, where the change of the seasons is subtle at best. Despite the 97-degree weather this week, I can tell that autumn is coming soon, and the change means more now than it did. For one thing, the weather will change enough that I actually will need to wear warm clothes and may not be able to walk outside or take my kids to the park whenever I feel like it. But on a deeper level, my heart is also clinging to the fact that this is the only time. I've really fallen in love with the Pacific Northwest, and I hope we come back after our nomad days in the Army are over. But of course, there is no telling if we will. The fact that I only have one year here makes me want to savor and cling to every moment, to soak every beautiful moment into my bones. I don't know where I will be next year -- if I will be in a foreign country, or another seasonless climate, or somewhere I love even more. I just know that I love where I am now, and that I only have one chance to experience the slow fade to fall in the Pacific Northwest. 

Of course, the beauty of the wheel is that it comes back around. The beauty of the seasons is that they return. Mayer says, "If you never stop when you wave goodbye, you just might find if you give it time you might wave hello again." I've repeated that phrase throughout my life like a talisman against loneliness. Our impulse is self-preservation -- why fall in love, whether with a person or a city, if you know for sure that you will say goodbye soon? It's easier to hang back, keep to yourself, stay safe. But I believe if we have faith in the seasonal nature of life, everything we miss will come back to us someday. "I believe that my life's gonna see the love I give returned to me." 

People have the right to fly
And will when it gets compromised
Their hearts say "Move along"
Their minds say "Gotcha heart"
Let's move it along
Let's move it along

And airports
See it all the time
Where someone's last goodbye
Blends in with someone's sigh
Cause someone's coming home
In hand a single rose

And that's the way this wheel keeps working now
That's the way this wheel keeps working now
And I won't be the last
No I won't be the last,
To love her

And you can't build a house of leaves
And live like it's an evergreen
It's just a season thing
It's just this thing that seasons do

And that's the way this wheel keeps working now
That's the way this wheel keeps working now
And you won't be the first
No you won't be the first
To love me

You can find me, if you ever want again
I'll be around the bend
I'll be around the bend
I'll be around,
I'll be around
And if you never stop when you wave goodbye
You just might find if you give it time
You will wave hello again
You just might wave hello again

And that's the way this wheel keeps working now
That's the way this wheel keeps working now

You can't love too much, one part of it 

I believe that my life's gonna see
The love I give
Return to me
I believe that my life's gonna see
The love I give
Return to me
I believe that my life's gonna see
The love I give
Return to me

Monday, August 8, 2016

Let's talk about books, baby.

Let's be real for a second -- if you know me at all, you know that my great passion in life is reading. It has been for as long as I can remember, and it is so much a part of me that I can't really tell you why I love it so much. Maybe someday I will swan-dive into some heavy self-analysis and figure out why exactly I can't resist a good story. But for now, just know that I love -- LOVE -- books. 

For a long time, I wrote a book review blog. It was so rewarding. I was never a "big time" blogger -- I've never had the interest or energy in really promoting myself to actually make money blogging -- but I did get some books from publishers before they came out which was really all the payment I needed. My book blogging seriously slowed down after Cal was born, although I did post sporadically for about two years after. Then, I started wanting to focus more on this blog, and writing about topics other than books (motherhood and writing, for the most part). Sometimes I write about books on here, but I'm not very consistent. 

This long and possibly unnecessary introduction is just to say, I love talking about books. It's hard for me to find people that want to talk about books quite as much as I do, and book blogging was a really fantastic outlet for that. Now that I don't have the hour or two a day I used to spend working on the blog, I have channeled my energy into book clubs. Guys, it's kind of crazy. It's like if you say book club, my ears perk up like a cocker spaniel and I run panting to the source. My goal for my time in Washington was to find a book club -- when you aren't going to live somewhere long, it makes sense to join a club to make friends, right? 

I found two in person book clubs right away. The first one is at Browsers Bookshop, and it really was just exactly what one would want a book club to be. The bookstore is gorgeous, and we met in this loft above the shop. We read a bizarre and intriguing book that left plenty to discuss, and all of the members -- all of whom were very different with unique perspectives -- liked and disliked very different things. It was such a good discussion and I felt like a real PNW hipster, talking about literary devices. 

Another one I joined through total serendipity. A man from church invited our family over to dinner our first Sunday here, and I was eyeing his bookshelves (as one does). We started talking about books, and his daughter-in-law mentioned a book club that some women in my ward at church had started. I told her I had been hoping to find one, and she invited me. Hooray! I don't know most of the women in it, so it is maybe a bit awkward that I bulldozed my way in. But I can't wait to get to know some new friends and talk about books (and the book they chose for this month, Cold Sassy Tree, is awesome and I need to finish this post so I can go read it before bed). 

I am also part of four online book clubs, because NERD. Whenever I hear about a book club on a blog or website I like, I usually at least follow along with the pick. I don't always read the book, but if it is a book I am already interested in, I try to read it that month because then I can discuss it with some people. So, House of Lars is reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore, the Yoga with Adriene group is reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda Paramahansa (I will have to write more about him some other time, but he has been a figure of fascination for me for a long time), and the Warrior Moms book group from Postpartum Progress is reading Baby Fat by Pauline M. Campos. (Warrior Moms is a group for women who have had postpartum depression, and I think it is awesome because reading stories of women who have struggled with the same thing I did has been so helpful for me). 

I also started an online book club with some of the women in the writing class I just finished. We were talking about books in the class, and several of us thought it would be fun to discuss books together after the class had ended. 

I'm laughing at myself because it is a little bit out of control, but it also makes me so happy to have "book friends." 

Friday, August 5, 2016

5 things {8.5.16}

1. I would really like to get my groove back with blogging. Right now I am feeling all at sea with being in this new, much bigger house and being responsible for all the cleaning. (I had a cleaning lady when I was working, and I miss her so much). The kids still are a little off with their sleep schedules, and Scott is home a lot right now because his residency hasn't officially started, so we aren't really in a routine. But I would love to spend some solid time writing and blogging.

2. We went to Portland yesterday and it was amazing. I had an existential crisis in Powell's City of Books ("the biggest bookstore in the world" sing it to the tune of "Schuyler Sisters") and almost burst into tears in the aisles because so. many. books. I wanted to buy them all, but I realized the real thing I want is to read them all, and money can't buy time. I really hate that sleeping is a thing I have to do.

3. I know I haven't experienced the rain yet, but I am obsessed with the Pacific Northwest. I have probably said this on Facebook and Instagram and in any other blog posts I've managed to eke out over the last month, but I am obsessed. I told Scott that we could live in Portland and he responded that we need a three hour drive buffer between Powell's and myself at all times so I don't spend all of our money. Busted.

4. When Nolan is really, really tired, he lays his head against my chest and collapses against me for just a moment, and it is literally always the best part of my day.

5. Also in Portland, there was this piano near a fountain that said "Please Play Me" across it, so I did, and it was so fun. I rarely play in general anymore, although I am trying to rectify that, and especially not in public. I whipped out "Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum" by Debussy because that is the one piece that seems to stay permanently memorized in my brain, and it was a blast.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

5 things {7.28.16}

1. We have a couch! It has been a long three weeks of sitting on the stairs or the floor. All the couches we had in the past were hand-me-downs or Craigslist finds, and this is the first one we've ever chosen and purchased. It is huge and comfortable and I keep sitting on the stairs but I am going to remember that I can sit on the couch soon.

2. I went to book club at Browser's Book Store in Olympia and it was fabulous. I love to read so much, and I am afraid I drive Scott crazy with how much I want to talk about books. Being with a group of people who just wanted to delve into this book was sort of magical. And the bookstore itself is pretty dreamy, too -- being there made me feel like I should stop everything else I am doing and just read forever. I hope the eternities provide a few centuries of reading time, at least.

3. I injured my foot running. I think it is plantar fasciitis and I am limping around. I have a race that I am very excited for in two weeks and I am so worried that I won't be able to run it. Anyone have some advice?

4. Living in a place for only a year makes me feel very carpe diem. I was organizing my bookshelves today, and decided to just go for the rainbow look. I've always felt like that would be annoying -- how would you find anything? -- but I love the look, and have a lot of rainbow colors in other places in my house. I figured, if I hate it, it's one year until it all gets packed up again anyway. I love it.

5. I need to stop staying up late and go to bed.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Washington!

We made it to the Washington! Our WiFi and furniture are still lagging behind, though, so I am camped out at a lovely Starbucks where they already know me, because I've been working on a writing class all week.

Our house is beautiful. So far the only furniture we have is a dining room table, a washer and dryer, and a couple of borrowed air mattresses, but I am loving all the space.

There is a lovely greenbelt outside our house -- I can actually see it from the kitchen sink. Not a day has passed that we haven't at least gone out there. It is so green and beautiful, and there are blackberries growing on it that I pick and feed my children. I feel like I am living in some magical nature fairytale.

I have managed to make a few potential mom friends, and am so grateful that people here are so open and friendly. I have even found a book club! #hallelujah Cal's Sunbeam class is large with lots of little boys, and I hope he is able to make some good friends, although he still blesses his friend Josh in every prayer he says, and reminds us to bless him in the prayers he isn't saying.

Also, Winco is the true best grocery store. Even better than Trader Joe's. Yes, I said it. (Although Trader Joe's is here too. And I went to both this week).

There have certainly been challenges already -- no furniture tops the list, children not sleeping is a close second, and the Army is shaping up to be rather difficult to navigate. But we like it here. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reasons I am excited for "the Washington."

As most of you probably know, we left Los Angeles about three weeks ago. We have been on a massive road trip ever since, going from LA to Visalia to Modesto to Tahoe to Elko to Utah to Idaho. (Whew). But a week from tomorrow, we will be moving into our new home. And while there are many, many things I am going to miss about Los Angeles (I am trying to pile them into a coherent essay which will show up here someday), there are also many, many things I am excited about. Whenever Cal talks about our move, he calls our new state "The Washington," and I don't think I will ever be able to call it anything else.

So without further ado...

:: The Chehalis Western trail. This truly is the number one thing on my list. It is an old train track that has been paved over for several miles, and part of it is right behind our house. I have been so nature starved in Los Angeles, something I am just now realizing as I have been spending so much time in the mountains lately. I am so excited to have some nature in my backyard.

:: Living in a house (and not living in student housing)! We have lived in student housing for our entire marriage. I am so excited to live in a real house (and it is yellow! And I have always wanted to live in a yellow house!). I'm so excited to have a bit of space to stretch out, to have a little backyard, and most of all, to no longer have Nolan sleeping in my bathroom! That comes with a whole host of benefits, such as:

   :: Nolan sleeping better because he isn't in our room AND
   :: Being able to take baths before bed because we have a bathroom again

:: Being close to Seattle. I have never been to Seattle, but since I was in college I always fantasized about living in Washington. I love when little fantasies like that come true.

:: Hiking. I am by no means the most hard core or in shape hiker, but I do really love it. I am looking forward to having more opportunities.

:: Sweater weather. I have felt so truly deprived of this in Los Angeles. There is nothing better than curling up under a blanket with some hot chocolate or tea and a book, and this just isn't a thing in Los Angeles. The temperature dips below 60 for like eight minutes and I pile on all my sweaters at once, then I'm sweating immediately. I have heard the rain can be brutal, but right now I am looking forward to it. And since it's only for a year, I think I might not get sick of it.

:: Green all the time. I've been in the desert a lot this month, and I am looking forward to some GREEN.

:: Discovering a new place. One of the things I love about being in the Army (although I may get sick of it by the end) is the opportunity to discover new places and meet new people. I miss my friends in Los Angeles so much, but I am hopeful that I will meet some lovely people in Washington. I am excited to try new restaurants, to explore a new town.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why I make my own baby food.

{Cal, age 8 months}

I've never thought of myself as an overly crunchy mama, although I guess I do baby wear. And I did have a doula. And I do use essential oils. But seriously, in Los Angeles, that is not crunchy. And I had epidurals with both labors, and both of my children have partaken liberally of formula (although to be honest, it wouldn't be that way if I had another choice). My point is, I never would have thought that I'd be the "type" to make my own baby food. I don't feed my family only organic food or have a problem heating up dinosaur shaped nuggets every other day for my 3 year old.

I do use pre-packaged baby food, especially for things we don't have in the house very often (green beans -- Scott hates them; applesauce, because I would never make applesauce from scratch for myself). But for the most part, I make my baby food, with both kids.

I think one of the main reasons has to do with being scarred as a child by having to feed my little brother baby food in the back seat. As a child, I was very, very easily grossed out, and those olive and puce colored jars of slime that smelled like vegetables (which, I might add, I never ate as a child -- I ate one baby carrot at dinner every night and that was it) were my responsibility to feed to my brother in the carseat. And, Jace ate baby food until he was five years old. I'm so not kidding. So I've always had an aversion to those baby food jars. Even now, when I do buy baby food, it is never the jars. I buy the plastic ones or the pouches. I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. I seriously can't deal with it. (I also can't eat bananas because I threw one up when I was 3. I still gag at the smell of them. Okay, I have a few issues).

{Nolan, age 6.5 months)
In a more serious vein, though, as I mentioned above, I wasn't able to feed my babies the way I wanted to feed them. I was so passionate about exclusive breastfeeding, and it simply wasn't an option for me. My babies lost excessive weight in the week after they were born (and yes, I know all babies lose weight -- this was above and beyond the normal amount of weight loss for a breast fed baby), and I was never able to produce sufficient milk for them. I have fought hard to breastfeed my small amount of milk to them, and was even able to give Nolan donor milk as his supplement for his first month thanks to some lovely ladies with extra milk. But I still feel that pang that I wasn't able to exclusively breastfeed. For that reason, when I started giving Cal solids, making his food felt like a special thing I was doing just for him. It felt like an act of devotion to take that extra time and plan for his baby food. I listened to a podcast once that said you could turn any task from dreary to enlightening by adding "meditation" after it, but in all seriousness, I feel like it is a very intentional, special task for me when I make my babies' food for them. I have tried to apply that feeling to making and cleaning Nolan's bottles this time around as well (a task that does feel dreary and disappointing to me, more often than not).

Finally, I genuinely love to cook. My idea of a break is not necessarily not making dinner, although of course there are times when that feels wonderful. It's more just to be left alone while I make dinner, and then to have everyone eat and enjoy that dinner happily (a girl can dream). Turning on a favorite show or podcast and spending an hour steaming and pureeing fruits and veggies, and then freezing them and sorting them into different colored bags, is my idea of a good time. But seriously.

If you are interested in making your own baby food, a few simple how-tos:
* I usually use a Beaba Babycook and my Vitamix. The Babycook has a steamer and a blender, but I do use the vitamix for larger batches, as well as tougher things that don't puree as well or fruits that don't need to be steamed like peaches.
* I freeze them in little trays with lids, but you could also use ice cube trays covered with saran wrap.
* I have a few cookbooks that were given to me, along with the Babycook and the trays, by my cousin Michele. My favorite one is called "Cooking for Baby" and has great month by month information about when it is appropriate to introduce different foods, as well as great finger food meals for older babies.
* I do love cookbooks, but it is also fun to be creative! As Cal got older, sometimes we even pureed parts of our meals for him. We also do a sort of adapted Baby-Led-Weaning where we give our kids a taste of whatever we are having in a form that they can handle.

To finish off, the favorite meal of both my kids (from The Baby Bistro)

Banana Avocado Mishmash
1 banana
1 avocado
1/2 c silken tofu (if baby is over 7 months)

Puree or mash, depending on baby's ability to handle texture. My kids devour this, and it is pretty high in calories. I felt like it helped my kids stay full through the night.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes? I'm always looking for new ones to try!

Monday, May 9, 2016

{A few of my favorite things} 5.9.16

I miss blogging. The other day, my friend Amma asked me if I was still blogging, and I realized that I really haven't been blogging. I've gotten caught up in cleaning my house and finishing work projects and getting ready to move and trying to exercise and eat healthy and any writing has fallen by the wayside. I think I have several posts about recommitting to blogging. Let's add another to the stack.

A few of my favorite things these days:

:: The House that Lars Built. I came across this blog a month or so ago and fell in love. I feel like much of the popular style on blogs these days is very minimalist, clean and white. I love the idea of that, but it is so not me. I love lots of color and big florals (why I will never have a successful capsule wardrobe). This blog is perfect style inspiration for me. I also just bought her coloring book and it is gorgeous but not as detailed as some, which is perfect for me because I like my projects to be short.

:: Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products. They just smell SO GOOD. They make me want to clean (and I have cleaning). Favorite scent so far is honeysuckle, but I have been trying different ones because I had a coupon for $30 worth of free products from Grove Collaborative.


:: Peonies from Trader Joe's. Last year I saw some and thought, "Oh, I will buy some next week," and then they were gone. *Tragedy* I bought myself two bouquets as soon as I saw them this year and they smell wonderful and make me happy. I'm a strong proponent of buying oneself flowers. The emotional payoff is so worth it compared to the cost.

:: My bullet journal. I am a planner addict and have spent tons of money trying to find the perfect planner. The Erin Condren life planners are pretty close, but they are $50 and very bulky. I have even used LDS missionary planners, which are so detailed they come in six week increments. Nothing quite suited my needs. The reason the bullet journal is so great is that you design it yourself. You choose layouts and put them into a blank notebook and that way, you get exactly what you need. And you can constantly change it to suit your needs. It is slightly more time intensive, but since I absolutely love the planning process anyway, it just extends it a little. I have been using an old notebook, but I just bought a bright yellow Leuchtturm1917 that I can use when I use it up.

What are your favorite things?

{This post is not sponsored by anyone -- I'm not that cool! I just wanted to share what I've been loving these days.}

Monday, April 18, 2016

Getting hazed.

A week ago, I became an official stay-at-home mom. Not a mom on maternity leave, or a mom that was going to be working as soon as I found a job -- a mom that, for the foreseeable future, is staying home. I have been wanting this for years, and I am so grateful. It feels so good to know that I am going to be home every day, that I don't have to plan errands around work schedules, that even when Nolan wakes up a lot at night, I am still going to catch at least a few hours of night time sleep.

It is also so. hard. Which I knew, of course. Even when I was working full time, I still spent more days at home than at work. But there is something about being so fully immersed in it, knowing that I am not going to be spending the next day at work, that is different.

The kids are hazing me. Nolan has a raging case of bronchitis, and the only way he will sleep is if I walk slowly while bouncing him for at least 20 minutes. Then I might be able to get him to lie down for 1-2 hours. He won't even settle in our bed, previously our strategy of last resort. And Cal pooped his pants down his leg today and then pooped again in the bathtub. I don't know why people are in such a hurry to potty train. It is so much better when the excrement is contained in the diaper.

In a funny way, it reminds me of work. There were shifts were I had time to catch up on emails, continuing education, and work projects. Shifts where the kids took their oral meds without a fight, where I didn't have to do a blood transfusion (or two or three), where everything happened smoothly. And then there were shifts where the kid coughed up their NG tube, or yanked out their central line, or needed platelets every six hours, or needed busulfan levels (think lab draws every 15 minutes), or needed thiotepa baths, or were getting their bone marrow transplant, or needed PRN morphine every 2 hours, or ALL OF THE ABOVE. Those days, you have to just keep going, praying that you don't cause anything bad to happen and that you can give those patients enough.

Motherhood is like that, except you don't get lunch breaks. You don't get to go home and watch a television show without interruption. If you're like me the last few days, you aren't going to shower or change out of your work uniform (yoga pants). You might be able to count on 45 minutes to try and wash bottles and do dishes and shove some food into your mouth, and then it's going to be back to the slow, bouncing walk, one finger holding the pacifier in.

But then, just when you think you can't take any more, your three year old tells you you look like a princess or that he loves you to pieces, or your baby touches your face and giggles and then sleeps for an 8 hour stretch. The sleepless nights will come again. I'm probably going to get spit up on a few more times before I change this shirt. I may not have scrubbed all the poop out of the tub before the baby started crying, and I definitely didn't sanitize the potty (that's ok, it didn't get used much today!). But there is sanctification in this work, for all its frustrating moments, and I am grateful that it is now my full-time job.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fantasy careers.

Does anyone else have fantasy careers? I have several alternate lives, some serious yearnings that I hope to fulfill some day, others paths I know I will never travel but that are still fun for me to fantasize about.

:: Food Critic
This probably partially stemmed from my love of the movie My Best Friend's Wedding ("I'm not going to give him up to some two-faced, big-haired, food critic!"). But seriously -- to have your life's work be eating and writing about food? Count me in. Also, read Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery if you want to drool over the writings of a fictional food critic.

:: Chaplain
I love religion. I deeply believe in the religion I was raised in, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called Mormons), but I also love learning about other religions as well as other denominations of Christianity. I love learning how people come to God, how they experience faith, and how they interpret the mystical. I think as a chaplain, I would have the chance to experience this in so many different ways. I love talking with the chaplains at work, and I am hoping I get the chance to have some conversations with military chaplains as well. I remember in my freshman year of college, my Honors 150 teacher told us at the end of the semester that she was leaving BYU to become a chaplain, which just sounds so amazing and fascinating.

:: Writer
Okay, I hope this one actually comes to fruition. Right now my fantasy is to have a couple of mornings a week where I could go write, uninterrupted, for maybe 3 hours. It might not happen until my kids are in school, or maybe at some point I will be able to pay for a babysitter once a week. But some day.

:: Lactation Consultant
This is another one that I am hoping I am successful with. I struggled so much with breastfeeding, and my kids and I had so many issues that I feel like I have had the chance to do a lot of research and learn a lot about breastfeeding. I also feel like I have a very balanced view of breastfeeding, as I have had to redefine what I want my breastfeeding relationship to look like as I've worked through the issues I've had. I think those first weeks between mother and baby are such a sacred space, and would love to help women connect with their babies through nursing, if that is their goal. I'm hoping to start working on this in the next couple of years.

:: Midwife/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
This career path has recently been on my mind and heart. When I first started my nursing career, I decided I didn't want to be nurse practitioner. The idea of being responsible for calling the shots was stressful to me. However, recently I've felt that this is an issue of confidence, not ability, and that I could be a very good midwife if I get over my fear of failure. It's funny because in nursing school I had no interest in obstetrics whatsoever. I didn't even complete a maternity rotation because my focus was completely on pediatrics and oncology. However, after giving birth -- once, in a traumatic way and once in a healing, wonderful way -- I really want to work with women and their babies. I also feel a really strong pull to work with women who are experiencing infertility, as I have so many friends and coworkers that have dealt with this challenge. I would love to be a resource and be able to help these women bring babies into the world. I would also love to nurture women after birth -- I feel like it is such a difficult transition where we need as much tenderness as possible. I would love to be part of a birth center where the midwives were able to make home visits. I'm not sure how or when this will happen, but right now my heart is very pulled in this direction, so we will see what the future brings.

:: Stay at home mom 
I have been working for the last three years as a pediatric bone marrow transplant nurse. It has been an incredible learning and growing experience, but it has also been incredibly stressful. I'm looking forward to the days up ahead where I can spend most of my time at home with my children. I know it isn't easy -- there are days when I am grateful that I can drive to work and have space from my children. But I have definitely felt the strain of not being home and the pangs in my heart from leaving my babies. I know that there is more work in my future, but for the next year I am going to be at home, and I am incredibly grateful for that. Balance is a constant struggle, but hopefully with practice I will stay on my feet longer.

What fantasy careers do you have?

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Lately I've been thinking about the different lines that I straddle. I breastfeed and bottle-feed. I work, but I still spend most of my time at home. Sometimes I'm awake all night, and sometimes I'm awake all night and all day. (Kidding.)  (Except not really.)

I started thinking about high school, and how I always hung out with lots of different groups. And college, and how I changed my major seven times and spent six years full time in college (piano, sociology, French, English, psychology, neuroscience, nursing. I managed to finish the last two).

And then I started to think about my life right now, and all the things I want. I want to play with my children and have a clean house. I want to spend time with my husband and go to bed early. I want to read the four books I'm in the middle of so I can start four more, and I want to play the piano more and start playing guitar again, and I want to exercise, and I want to cook a fancy dinner every night, and I really should start meditating and get back to yoga. I want to take a long bubble bath and actually put lotion on afterward. I want to listen to music and podcasts and catch up on my shows on Netflix. I want to become a lactation consultant and have time to write for a few hours a day and maybe become a certified nurse midwife, because why not?

I want too much, and I don't know what to choose. When I wrote about simplicity a few posts back, I wasn't sure what exactly it was that I was craving, but I think it was this -- to know what I want, and be able to pursue it. To have enough wants to fill the day and no more.

I know about priorities, and putting first things first. My husband and children have to be first, my relationship with God second, and honestly, there isn't much time left for anything else, and if there was, it would probably need to be sleep.

But my soul is so, so hungry. I feel like the buffet of life is before me and my plate is already piled high. I have the main course, I have the vegetables, but I want some dessert. Don't get me wrong -- family is what I would choose, and what I have chosen. It brings me joy as it fills my day, but it also pulls me from some of the other things that bring me joy. I guess that is the test of motherhood -- becoming unselfish, learning to subjugate all those other desires and caring for a family. Part of me feels guilty for wanting something apart from it and in addition to it. The other part of me is squeaking Sophie in N.'s face and typing as fast as I can.

I read an essay a few years ago by a woman in "the tired thirties" who wanted to write but couldn't stay awake long enough to do it. There was always more laundry to fold, more places to drive her kids, more meals to cook, more fires to put out. She finds a moment of stillness and revels in it, and then describes her gratitude for her exhaustion and the fullness of her life.

I'm not there yet. I'd like to be, but right now it is so hard to keep my eyes open, so hard sometimes to keep a smile on my face, to show up for my family again and again while my well is empty. Right now, I feel like Sisyphus, rolling my boulder up the mountain and watching it fall to the valley again as soon as I turn my back.

I am surrounded by women who graciously care for their families without complaint. I'm not so naive as to believe that they haven't given anything up, that they haven't also experienced the soul hunger I have. So my question is -- how do you transcend it? How do you make peace with the fatigue and the dinners thrown on the floor and the worry, the inability to get even fifteen minutes in the shower before someone is crying for you? Is this one of those things where I have to take care of myself so I can take care of others (but where does the time come from?) or am I just horrifically selfish for wanting things in addition to my family life?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I read an article by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf today that really spoke to me. He is one of the most inspiring people I have ever heard speak. He is also a pilot, which is why he is in this awesome picture with Han Solo... um, Harrison Ford, and the Berlin Candy Bomber, and why he frequently uses aeronautical metaphors when he speaks and writes. 

This particular article is about landing safely in turbulence. President Uchtdorf states that when a pilot experiences turbulence and needs to land his aircraft, he or she doesn't focus on the gusts of wind and air pockets that are causing the turbulence. Instead, the pilot should focus on the runway, where they hope to land. He describes the way the pilot can't possibly control the wind or the dangerous situations outside the plane, but he or she can control the way they handle the airplane, and they shouldn't fear just because the flight isn't always smooth. He then applies it to mortal trials: 
During those times, it is easy to get caught up in everything that is going wrong and to make our troubles the center of our thoughts. The temptation is to focus on the trials we are facing instead of on the Savior and our testimony of truth.
But that is not the best way to navigate through our challenges in life.
Just as an experienced pilot keeps his focus not on the storm but on the center of the runway and the correct touchdown point, so too should we keep our focus on the center of our faith—our Savior, His gospel, and the plan of our Heavenly Father—and on our ultimate goal—to return safely to our heavenly destination. We should trust God and make staying on the track of discipleship the focus of our efforts. We should keep our eyes, heart, and mind focused on living the way we know we should.
This was such a perfect reality check for me. I have been so overwhelmed -- and frequently, overwrought -- by the difficulties I have been facing. I know that I am so blessed and have so much to be grateful for, but the stresses of day to day life often overwhelm me in this trying period of trying to stay afloat with a husband in graduate school, working night shift, and managing two adorable but uncontrollable little boys -- all without ever getting a full night's sleep. I find myself looking at all the things that are difficult and questioning my ability to ever get through it in one piece. I catalogue my failures and shortcomings and completely lose faith that I can navigate through the fog.

Obviously, I haven't been focused on the Savior and His ability to redeem me from my sins and shortcomings, as well as His strength to bear me through the problems I have that are beyond my control. I have felt like I am drowning, and I have felt like there is no escape, and this is possibly true. I am flying the aircraft that I have -- in this mortal life there are things that will never be perfect. My "aircraft" has a mental illness to overcome, and needs a certain (as of right now, unattainable) amount of sleep to function at its best, and only has so many hours in a day. Things are not going to be perfect. But if I focus on where I am going and who is leading me instead of how my "airplane" isn't in optimal condition, the flight will be smoother. President Uchtdorf says at one point, "Trust the potential of your airplane. Ride the turbulence out."

So today, I am looking forward, focusing on the Savior instead of the madness around me. I'm sure I'll continue to need reminders every day, but hopefully as I practice I will steer a straighter course.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I feel like all around me is the idea of simplicity. So many of the podcasts i listen to, the blogs I read, the people I talk to, worship at its altar. Even leaders of my church have recently been proclaiming the virtues of simplicity. 

I've always rejected simplicity to some extent. I like profusion and color. I have a much higher tolerance for clutter than most people. And most of all, the act of simplifying seems like the opposite of simplifying to me. It seems like there is so much that someone has to do to achieve the standard of "simplified." There are so many routines that have to be implemented, so many chores that have to be accomplished. I tend to beat myself up and give up and let things go back to exactly how they were. 

Lately, however, I have been craving more order in my life. It seems almost impossible to achieve. Our house is so messy. Our carpets have play dough ground into them, our chairs and sofa are decorated with spit up (the joys of having a baby with reflux). We're about to start potty training and I feel like every accident is going to be a permanent badge on the carpet that I will never be able to erase. As far as habits and routines go, the unpredictability of a baby and a 3 year old make the idea of habits and routines seem constraining and impossible to adhere to. I think for me, once I've imposed a routine, I really struggle with flexibility. I feel like deviating from that routine is a failure. So instead I just live in barely controlled chaos. 

So my question to you is, how do you reconcile all this? Before I leap into KonMari/the Art of Simple/Better than Before/capsule wardrobes/Whatever it is that will help me achieve this elusive distinction of "simplified," how can I keep from being obsessive about it? How can I keep from spending crazy amounts of money, having to ignore my children, and imposing arbitrary rules on myself that are really going to make me more stressed rather than less? Does anyone else struggle with this? 

Oh all of you who have achieved clean houses, typical routines, who are able to shower and put on makeup in the morning and get out the door and pay your bills on time, HOW DO YOU DO IT? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

On creative living.

Lately, I've felt this urge to be more creative. It seems like the idea of "creative living" is rippling through society right now, and it has definitely occupied some of my brain waves. In the more mundane moments of motherhood, I find myself wishing I could run away to a coffee shop and write for a few hours -- a simple thing that is as impossible right now as running away to Europe. I feel that creative urge, but the truth is that right now I can only write in ten to fifteen minute snippets, and even that at the cost of precious sleep. 

Tonight, as I walked home from the park with a baby who had been awake for three solid hours (if you haven't ever taken care of an infant, 3 hours is a very long time for a baby to go without a nap) and a 3 year old who was loudly wailing the entire ten minute walk (he really didn't want to go home), the frustration with the mundane tasks in my life was boiling in my head. There's not a lot of glamour in trying to get your kid to stop hitting others at the playground, or cleaning spit up out of your hair, or losing your patience in public. I finally got the baby to sleep and settled Cal in front of Curious George and started making dinner, about an hour later than I should have. It was a meal that I haven't made before, because I recently subscribed to a meal plan service in hopes of eating more healthily (and out of boredom with my own set of 10 meals that I know how to make). As I zested lemons and sliced jalapeƱos (simultaneously wondering if it would burn my baby when I touched him later because the pepper juice was on my hands), I felt a sense of contentment that was more than just the fact that I could justifiably ignore my children for a few minutes while preparing food. 

In a small, simple way, I was being creative. I was making something complete out of fragments. While it wasn't my idyllic, peaceful writing escape, it was redemptive. And I realized that in this season of life, it's okay to have small creative moments instead of big, earth-shattering ones. I don't have time to write a novel right now, although I hope that day will come, when my children are more independent and I'm not working night shifts and my husband isn't in graduate school. But I do have time to make a haphazard blog post, a unique meal, a memory. And for now, that is enough. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Imposter syndrome.

My heart has been so full the last few days. So full, it is growing heavy and overflowing into this probably nonsensical blog post. I'm starting to wonder if mommy blogs grew out of the fact that we experience this overflowing phenomenon often and so we pour it into the ever accommodating vessel of the internet.

The last couple of days have been hard in the typical, I-have-two-small-children sense. Nolan hasn't been napping well and has been waking up more at night. When he is overtired, he won't nurse, which stresses me out, and is a huge topic for another day. In addition, Cal has an ear infection, which he has toughed out remarkably well, except that sometimes (six or seven times a day) he bursts into noisy, snotty tears and needs to be held, and it is inevitably right when I have gotten the baby to sleep but have not yet put him down. To top it all off, Scott has a really bad cold and hasn't been able to sleep at night, so he has been miserable as well. So I've been tired, and feeling burdened.

I've been snappy and frustrated, disappearing into the vortex of social media embarrassingly often. I've succumbed to self pity. And, because guilt is my conjoined twin, I've felt horrible the entire time but continued to do it.

Motherhood is difficult for me, on an identity level. When Cal was born, his birth went very differently from how I'd imagined it (epidural, pushing without sensation, sweet baby placed on my chest. Clearly I'd never been present at a birth). He was healthy, and the complications I experienced were relatively mild, but I emerged from it shaken. Dealing with my difficult emotions about the experience coupled with sleep deprivation and breastfeeding difficulties made my transition into motherhood very rocky. For a long time, I didn't feel like a mother. I felt like the caretaker of a child that I loved so much it cracked my heart open, but I didn't feel like I had the right to that love. I hadn't been able to safely bear that child, I hadn't been able to nourish him with my body, and mine wasn't the first face he saw after he was born -- in fact, it was nearly an hour after his birth that i was able to see and hold him for the first time. The fact that I was unhappy contributed to my feelings of unworthiness.

With time and prayer and getting to know Cal, I was able to (somewhat) overcome those feelings that I wasn't good enough to be his mom. I still really struggled with the fact that I couldn't breastfeed hime exclusively, especially when he started to get frustrated with my low supply and eventually refused to latch on anymore, before I was ready to stop breastfeeding. I also had a hard time once I went back to work, feeling guilty that he was asleep by the time I got home on the nights I worked and feeling like I failed him because I wasn't with him every day. But I started to feel like a mom.

With Nolan, it has been better in so many ways. Being able to have a VBAC was an incredibly healing experience for me. (I absolutely do not mean to say that if you have a c-section, you are in some way deficient. I don't believe that is true at all. But for me, when I had struggled so much with how my c-section went, it was really healing to have a different birth the second time). Being able to hold him immediately and feel happy after he was born instead of broken was so amazing. Breastfeeding has been slightly better, but as Nolan has grown, he too has become impatient with my low supply and turns his head or cries sometimes when I try to nurse.

Last night with the sleep deprivation and other small challenges piling on my shoulders, his refusal to nurse was the final straw for me. This morning I've been thinking about why it's such a challenge for me and so important to me. Many people have told me that in my situation they wouldn't still be nursing. Scott wondered aloud a few nights ago if breastfeeding had stopped being a benefit for Nolan and was now a detriment. While I still haven't decided how I'll continue yet, I realized this morning part of why I care so much.

I have imposter syndrome.

I've never gotten over the feeling that I don't really have the right to be their mother. I think for me, breastfeeding was always this ultimate nourishing act, and because I can't do it, I've always felt like I'm not really a mother. When I'm able to nurse my babies, I have this physical, impossible to deny tether that reminds me -- yes, they are yours. Yes, you have a right to them.

Obviously, this is ridiculous. Breastfeeding doesn't make or break motherhood. And motherhood doesn't come from these early, pivotal moments -- it comes from the minutes and hours of holding little bodies, feeding them -- regardless of how -- clothing them, listening to their stories, wiping their tears. And I don't think of other people as deficient -- it was just this standard I set up for myself.

As I was pondering over all this, I started thinking of this mom I met in the mother's lounge when I was home for Christmas. She was in my parents' ward, the ward I grew up in. By the time she came in, I was giving Nolan his bottle, and I started explaining to her that I nursed and gave a bottle because I feel the need to explain why I am in the nursing lounge when I give a bottle. We ended up chatting for several minutes -- she also had to give her baby a bottle, because she had been in the NICU. We exchanged some milk production increasing tips. It was validating for me to talk to someone else who struggled with breastfeeding and was still trying. In addition, I felt grateful that Nolan had been healthy and born past his due date, rather than too early and struggling for his life like this sweet baby. The experience made a big impression on me because I felt so validated and like I had made a connection. Yesterday, I read a Momastery post about how as women we need to love each other -- even those we just meet (and oddly, that post is down today -- I don't know why, but I do know I needed to read it yesterday). And that is how I felt. I just loved this girl even though I didn't know her, because we had shared one difficult experience and I felt for the other difficult experiences she had that i hadn't shared.

Anyway, yesterday while I was in my social media vortex, I noticed someone else from my parents' ward had commented on something she had posted. We're not friends on Facebook or anything but she had told me her name when we were talking. I was intrigued by the blog post and clicked on it (oh how easy it is to Facebook stalk people...) and it turns out that she had a surrogate daughter that was just born. I read more of her story and it turns out that she had struggled with infertility and wound up having two embryos to transfer. She had one, and a surrogate had another, and they both wound up working. So her second daughter was just born.

This had me thinking more about imposter syndrome. Obviously this little baby was born in a very nontraditional sense, but she is every ounce her daughter. And it is so beautiful, so incredible to me that this woman had this experience. I'm also reminded of one of my friends who had trouble getting pregnant, who expressed to me that when she did get pregnant, it wasn't how she'd imagined. She'd thought of cute ways to tell her husband, but because of her fertility treatments, they found out with a phone call. Her birth experience wasn't what she pictured either. And I also had the chance to chat with another friend yesterday, who has two little foster babies. She didn't bear them or breastfeed them, but they are more her children than they are the children of their biological mothers. She is the one who cares for them -- feeds them, talks to them, loves them, holds them.

All this to say to myself, I suppose -- that yes, motherhood has physical aspects. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding -- they are all common experiences of motherhood. Experiences that most people have. Experiences that are painful to miss out on, for many reasons. But they do not define motherhood. They are not a list of conditions to be met. So while I certainly haven't overcome all my demons, I'm hoping that I can remember that despite my failings, I'm not an imposter. That even if some of my dreams regarding how I mother are not meant to be, I am still mothering. That I give other people grace, and I should give myself some too.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


The other day, I found myself suffering from Instagram envy -- that insidious belief that people's lives really are as beautiful and perfect as they look in that little square. This week I went back to work and I haven't been able to catch up on sleep very well. In addition, it was really my first week alone at home with the kids after being with friends and family for weeks, and juggling the needs of these two sweet but demanding children was wearing me down.

I found myself disappearing into my phone rather than being present with my family. In particular, I kept going back to these photos of a lovely friend of mine who just welcomed two long-awaited babies into her home. Her pictures were absolutely radiant with happiness. I felt the opposite of radiant -- spit-up in my hair, 30 pounds above my pre-baby weight, snapping irritably at my 3-year old, and stress-eating spoonfuls of Nutella.

Then it hit me -- my life could be someone else's perfect little square. Maybe this isn't too earth-shattering -- I feel like the discussion about how real life isn't as lovely as those filtered snapshots has been done before. But I realized that my friends with their sweet new babies are at least as sleep-deprived as I am, that my friends with adorable outfits and perfect makeup also have to go without showers sometimes, that the friends posting about their exciting weekend still had to go back to work the next day. I thought about my most recent picture, of Nolan in this adorable Yoda towel with bright eyes and a smile, and I realized I am living the dream. I can focus on my exhaustion and Cal's whining, or I can focus on the sweet, soft little baby that I get to snuggle with around the clock and Cal's funny comments (seriously, that kid is hilarious).

So yes, I need to focus a little less on the apparently perfect lives of my friends, and remember that for them, there is life outside the square. However, I also need to remember my life inside the square, that despite the fact that life has its stresses and isn't easy, there are these perfect, shining moments that can propel me through.
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