Day 12: The hard days will fade

Today, I read a blog post titled “You Really Do Forget The Hardest Parts of Parenting“.

I had to read it because boy – it’s been hard over the last year; the sleepless nights, the illness and all of the other obstacles life has thrown at us since becoming parents. I haven’t always felt capable, happy, supported, and positive – things I definitely feel right now or at least WAY more than I used to.

While it’s been a bit rough, it’s also been life-affirming, glorious and peaceful too. I’ve had to harness a deep power to push through the rough days and give my little man the best of myself. Being able to do that is what humans do best, but I’m still proud of it.

There have been a lot of dark days though. Fights with my husband, days without a shower or a delicious meal, lonely days without a friend or family member to see and talk to. I’ve wondered if I was going to go insane, if a baby could really cry this much, why babies even need teeth… Lots of those thoughts and days!

Reading that post made me smile – I’m glad there are things I will forget. Not because I don’t want to fully engage in my life, but because I don’t want the hard times to overpower the beauty. Raising kids is anything but easy – true. It’s also everything good and real. I am comforted by the idea that the hard memories will fade. Even now, my husband and I can look back and laugh (a little) about the way we felt on those nights that L just wouldn’t stop crying. We thought it would never end! It does and it will…

Now we worry about him getting too big. We miss the days when he would sleep peacefully on our chest and cuddle us all day. We can’t get him to cuddle now. He’s too busy exploring, reading and bonking his head as he stumbles around the room. It all happens so fast.

Sometimes I do wish I had more women and moms to connect with when I was in the thick of it. It would have been nice to be able to call up another mom of a high-needs baby and get affirmation that it would be OK, that this was just a season. I got through it and next time, I’m going to be that and seek that out more. Being a new mom – it was hard for me to complain (even though it’s not complaining) because I was so excited to be a mom and even when it was crazy, I could never regret this or want it a different way. I felt so lucky to have my son, that it seemed wrong (truly!) to make it sound bad or to admit that sometimes it was bad.

It wasn’t what I expected I guess. I did try to mentally prepare – but this is one of those things that no one can totally prepare for. I knew it would be hard, I knew there would be sleepless nights and it would be initially hard on my marriage. I didn’t know the intensity of some of the feelings though or how it would affect both my husband and me differently and in turn our relationship. I didn’t expect to feel so overwhelmingly in love that leaving him in daycare was physically painful. I didn’t know I wouldn’t want to leave him even when he was driving me absolutely crazy. I had no idea that a warm, sleeping baby could make my world so whole and complete. Those moments are the most blissful I’ve ever experienced on this earth. Holding my sweet boy while he sleeps, looking at his perfect face and feeling that warm breath – it’s divine.

AND YET, it’s hard and that deserves to be discussed because that’s real too. I’m still not great at asking for help when I need it (although I’m getting better at it) and I’m also not great at striking the balance of being honest about the hard stuff – I’m not sure how to be better at that.

I’m going to continue embracing the hard days, loving the perfect moments and being grateful that those hard days will continue to fade.

Cheers to parenting and learning more about life and yourself every.single.freaking.day!

BK

Day 11: Organize, reorder, start again

I love order, efficiency, procedure. I like finding a spot for everything and I routinely claim (rather proudly) that I can find anything in my home. “It’s in 1 of 3 places,” is my motto and I’m almost always right. I know the system I create and why I’d make certain choices. It’s refreshing and nice. I like knowing where things are. It prevents the over-purchasing of goods (which somehow we still do from time to time?) and it helps me spend less time looking for things. I love all of that.

However, sometimes I take it to an extreme. There are times when I have simply run out of space for items – those items then get left for days that turn into weeks because I don’t have a system or idea for it. Yuck! Also, I don’t always clue my husband into my system. So, very often, he puts things in the wrong place. (I mean, he technically doesn’t know it’s the wrong place – but he’s still wrong right? hahaha) OR, he can’t find anything in the house and has to ask me where things are ALL.THE.TIME.

Again, this isn’t his fault. I’ve created a solo system and I’m not solo. I’m a partner in my love story and I need to do better at creating systems with him. THAT is it’s own process – I tell ya.

BUT – while I love organization, I’m not good at the daily cleaning. Bizarre right?

I recently read a NYT article, “Making a Marriage Magically Tidy.” This article could be describing me…something I’m not at all proud of. I am notorious for leaving my mail, papers, clothes and other random articles everywhere. (Newsflash – I do have designated places for most of these items!) I’m great at the big picture systems, not so great at the 50 little life hacks (as my mom calls them) to keep a tidy home as you move through it. Rinsing dishes right away, wiping out/off the sink while brushing my teeth, making my bed first thing in the morning, etc.

My husband is much better at these tiny tasks, even if they aren’t as perfectly done as I’d like them to be. (Again – why am I judging? I can’t even be bothered to do them sometimes.) My poor husband has put up with a lot of mess and clutter over the years. I’ve always improved for short bouts of time, but I slip in to my old habits and then do an insane clean where everything is messy and I’m organizing a closet and then the whole house gets clean. It’s nice for a few days, but it doesn’t last. I have routinely critiqued his disorganized closet with papers shoved in corners, socks cluttering the floor and shirts and pants sitting haphazardly in a laundry basket. Does anyone see his closet? No. Why let this mess bother me when our dining room table looks like its covered in tornado debris? I’m not sure… but it does bother me, especially when I hear that question, “Hey babe, where is my X?”

Now that we’re sharing our space, it’s even more important to have tight systems because we now have to move within my mom’s system – if you think I like order, meet my mother! (This is not a bad thing – truly!) My mom is a big part of why I like order and enjoy organizing. I’ve learned a ton from her!

On the daily, I find myself not knowing where things are, then stopping to think like my mother. Surprisingly, I’m pretty good at thinking like her. Slowly but surely we’re learning and finding a new system. You know what’s really helped?

Having less stuff.

We kept out our favorite things, most of our clothes, and lots of furniture, but everything else is packed up in storage. There is something freeing about living with less. Why do we Americans need so much stuff?

Anyway, as we settle in and continue to create these new organizational systems, I am really looking to include my husband, start being more of a daily cleaner and appreciate the process of it all. One day we will be back in our own space and we will be ready to unpack boxes and once again find OUR system.

BK

Day 10: Let’s talk Lactation

I’m a mom and breastfeeding is a huge part of my life. I love it! I am a total advocate for it and I want to use this post to talk about that. If this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to move on. I want to discuss this though because it’s important and I don’t think enough people understand it. Let me start this post by saying I believe a fed baby is the most important thing. (ie: I am not formula shaming.) Got it? Great! Here we go.

When I was pregnant, I did a TON of reading. Hell, even before I was pregnant, I was thinking about having a baby in the healthiest way possible. I wanted to prep my body and my mind. I wanted to have ALL the knowledge. (This is kind of impossible, but I sure did try!)

I read so many books, I quit eating and drinking certain things, I gave up allergy and other medications… It was extreme maybe, but it was what I wanted to do and I enjoyed the process!

I had always known I would breastfeed, but during my pregnancy, I became even more excited and knowledgeable about that decision. I began talking to friends and family members who had breastfed and they really helped me identify support systems and resources to help me on my journey. I read this book put out by the La Leche League:  The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and this was probably the MOST helpful and informative item. I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It walks you through your breastfeeding journey, what to expect when you start, things to know about troubleshooting and interesting facts as well as a history of breastfeeding.

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I also attended a La Leche League meeting while pregnant. The La Leche League (LLL) is an organization dedicated to supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed. In the meeting I attended, I was able to ask questions, here from new moms and just get encouragement about the journey I was to embark on. My meeting was especially informative because there were two moms who had just had babies not 6 weeks earlier. They were able to offer advice and things they learned from day 1. In this meeting, the leaders were also really honest about what to expect in the beginning. They told us that new moms really need to spend the first 2 to 3 weeks laying in bed, nursing their baby and relaxing. They explained how important it was to feed your baby on demand to help establish your supply. They encouraged you to sleep when baby slept and to let your partner also know what to expect. I am SOOO glad they shared this because I was able to use this to help me and my husband get ready. Both of us totally expected the first few weeks to be very low maintenance and he helped a ton with house stuff, getting me food and water and letting me sleep when baby did.

I left the meeting excited to keep reading my book and armed with a wealth of knowledge as my due date approached. I also joined my town’s Facebook LLL page where moms were able to post questions. I have seriously learned so much through this page. I often just go there to read about issues and see all the responses. Most of the questions are things that the book has addressed or things that I’ve also struggled with, so it’s cool to see so many women commenting and helping out. It’s also great because moms with older babies will post questions and it gives me a little mental note about what may be coming for me in the future. Through that page, I also found Kelly Mom – which is another GO TO website for all things breastfeeding. She has posts on EVERY topic. They are well researched and crazy informative. It’s the BEST!

Let’s get into my journey though… Before I gave birth, I was already super committed to my choice to breastfeed. I worried about it because so many women made it sound difficult. There seemed to be so many rules and things to look out for – you won’t have enough milk, it’s so painful, you have to pump and dump when you drink, on and on and on… Reading the book calmed a lot of those fears, but when so many people are saying this stuff, it starts to wear on you. Also, while I was pregnant, I dreamed about breastfeeding a bunch of times and each time in my dream, it just came so naturally. I remember my best friend Katherine asking if I was worried about breastfeeding and I told her, “No. I’ve dreamed about it a few times and I could feel the milk flow, so I think it’ll be good.” Hahaha. My commitment was even in my dreams!

When my little guy was born, he didn’t latch immediately. He was having trouble and when my placenta didn’t detach, I had to hand him over and let my midwife focus on me. So I was a little worried because I just didn’t get that instant breastfeeding relationship that I really wanted. However, later that night, he latched really well and it’s been pretty great ever since.

I do count myself lucky though because my journey has been fairly easy (so far). My guy has always nursed quickly. Most sessions are done in under 5 minutes, which is super fast and not particularly common. However, that has its own issues:

  • When he was little, his stomach couldn’t handle how fast he ate. So he was fussy, gassy and pretty uncomfortable after meals.
  • He eats every 1.5 to 2 hours. He only ever goes 3 or 4 hours at night. (He’s had a few nursing strikes during bouts of illness or growth spurts, but that’s uncommon. He loves milk!)
  • Sometimes he wants to comfort nurse, but he doesn’t want to eat more, so he gets upset. (This was more of an issue when he was under 6 months.)

I’ve also had no issues with plugged ducts, mastitis or bad latch AND breastfeeding was NEVER painful for me. I think because he eats so fast, I never got raw because he wasn’t on there long enough to get to that point.

I have had issues with my son biting – I was able to nip that in the bud by taking away the boob for 20 minutes and then offering again. He hated having it taken away and he learned after 3 or 4 times what the consequences of biting would mean. (Occasionally he will still bite, especially when teething, but he immediately stops when he realizes it’s me.)

I’ve also had to deal with the bottle refusal issue. When my son was about 6 or 7 weeks old, we introduced the bottle and he took it no problem. However, we didn’t give him enough practice with it, so later on he refused it. Even now, the bottle is not his favorite, but if he’s hungry enough he will take it. If I’m being honest, I really don’t mind most of the time because I’m not a huge fan of pumping and washing all those parts. Not to mention washing the bottles as well. That is seriously a ton of work and it’s so tedious!

My choice to breastfeed on demand and not pump often has resulted in a so many good things and some hard stuff too. My son is well fed (to say the least!), he has a great attachment to me, he’s been sleeping well since 5 or 6 weeks (as in we co-sleep and he is able to eat while he sleeps, so I don’t have to fully wake up at night – it’s the best!), he has never taken a pacifier and he’s a pretty happy kid. I’ve also not had a lot of issues and I attribute that to both luck and listening to my body to help myself develop a supply and curb things before they turned into issues. YAY! I also don’t have to worry about buying formula, prepping bottles or really prepping anything when I leave the house with him. I’ve always got fresh milk on me. However, it’s not always easy either. My son wants to comfort nurse often and when I’m not around that is hard for both him and whoever is watching him. Nursing the way I do has also meant I don’t get out and have as much free time. I either need to pump bottles to be away or I need to plan short trips around his feeding schedule. I don’t really mind this most of the time, but there have been times when it is hard – especially when he’s super fussy and I need a break. Another random thing I learned is that breastfeeding can affect your libido. This one is hard because it is… my husband and I have always had a healthy sexual relationship. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for us. Luckily, it does start to bounce back and I’m glad we’re in THAT stage of things. Hahaha…

Now that my son is almost a year old, I am proud of this journey and I’m looking forward to continuing it. I have every intention of continuing that journey into his second year. I don’t know if I’ll continue past that right now. I used to feel kind of weird about it, but I really don’t anymore. I am just going to do what’s best for me and my son and what feels best at the time.

This blog could seriously go on and on because I have so much to say, so many experiences to share and I would love for EVERY woman to be able to successfully breastfeed their babies. I know it is absolutely the best thing for babies and it feels rewarding to be able to satisfy such a basic need. I know that it can be hard, frustrating and painful initially – but just like having a child, there are seasons to the different stages. I believe with the right support and encouragement most moms can get through those challenges to breastfeed – even if it’s just for a short time.

In the future, I will definitely write some follow up posts about this topic. If you have any ideas for stuff you’d love to hear about or questions you have, please comment and let me know. I’d love to discuss and I am definitely an open book when it comes to breastfeeding.

Thanks for reading!

BK

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Day 9: Ignoring Ignorance

Oh friends… I wish I were better at this, but I’m not.

When people are thoughtless, ignorant and offensive, I can’t handle it. I get so furious. I read things they post on Facebook or hear things they say and it just stops me, especially when I feel offended by it. Or maybe, it’s more I can relate to the dumb thing they’re saying and I so want to correct them, disagree with them, educate them… but it’s not worth it. I guess sometimes it might be worth it, but there are those times when it’s just not the right time. For example, it’s usually not the right time because:

  • They are not a person who will hear differing opinions (so annoying!)
  • I do not have all of my statistics/details ready to construct a bullet-proof argument (who does?)
  • I need time to figure out why I’m annoyed – is it valid or am I being sensitive?
  • I’m just too (something) to even start the conversation

I bring this up because Facebook has been getting to me more and more. Oh the things people be posting! I mean, really, it’s mostly a select few. I’ve unfollowed some, unfriended others and mostly looked at it less and less. However, it still happens where someone posts something and I get aggravated. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to be able to read it and just let it go, let it go…

This is definitely an area of growth for me. My husband, my mom and even my grandma have pondered why I can’t just move on. My grandma (the farm grandma: see last post) said, “Well, you can’t change the world.” Her point: don’t stress about the stupid, just move on.

They are all right to an extent and I really do want to be able to let these meaningless to me things go. So I googled, “How do you ignore stupidity?”

I found this Wikihow article called, How to Stop Letting Ignorant People Bother You. It has 105 votes at 77%, so I guess it’s halfway decent? Either way, I read through it and while most of the ideas were no brainers, I do feel like they are good reminders that I need to keep at the forefront when this kind of thing happens. They are:

  • Seeing things from the other person’s perspective
  • Practicing empathy
  • Rising above

In my daily life, I often do stop to see things from other people’s perspective. Just ask my husband. I’m always reminding him to think about why that person might be doing this or that or holding that opinion. I struggle to be that way sometimes though because I feel like I’m always thinking of that – why don’t other people?!?! Why do people think it’s OK to make blanket statements and judgments without first thinking? Thinking – it’s a lost art.

I would also say I’m an empathetic person. I try hard to understand and I sometimes take that to the extreme. (However, sometimes I just can’t be understanding…)

I think the biggest one for me was to rise above. They are things I can’t control – especially another person’s journey. I’m sure I have posted offensive, seemingly ignorant things. Was I intending to seem that way? Probably not! I’m sure some of the things I read are people’s feelings now – they probably won’t always feel that way or maybe they will. Either way, it’s not my life and I’m wasting my time being upset by it.

I need to feel confident enough in my ideas and beliefs that another person’s ignorance regarding them doesn’t aggravate me. There will always be people out there who disagree. That’s totally OK and normal. It can just be hard when it is said in such offensive or judgmental tones – again, not my problem. I do not usually engage and I can continue choosing that or even removing such negativity from my life.

To start, I’m going to keep working on rising above and really moving my thinking away from those kinds of posts and people. I know it affects me and I don’t like that. Next step, is being able to calmly address those comments, especially in person. That step is a long ways off I think!

Do you ever struggle with that? Do people’s posts ever hit a nerve with you? What do you do to handle it?

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest,

BK

Day 8: Heading to the farm

Well friends, my blogging streak had to go on hold because I went to the farm.

It’s not really a farm… well, it is because there are crops growing, but there aren’t lots of animals which is what I imagine a farm to be because of Old McDonald. Ha!

The farm is where my grandma grew up. Her father lived there up until he died and he left it to her and her 3 brothers. About 20 years ago, she moved back to the farm. When she moved back she didn’t have plumbing or water for quite some time. She does now and I learned this weekend that she even has internet… MY, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

The farm has always been this beautiful, safe, sacred place for me. I’ve been going since I was young, when her childhood home was still standing strong at the front of the property. I remember my great grandfather’s red tractor parked on the side. It hadn’t been moved in years and EVERY TIME I visited, I would climb up and sit on that tractor. The seat had that old, worn-out bounce to it which made it even more fun. The big tires were still tough and the steering wheel felt rough in my hands. I LOVED it!

My husband and I hadn’t been to the farm since 2012. That’s the longest time I’ve ever gone without visiting. When we were living in Texas, it was a long enough drive to come to Kansas, and then to have to drive a few more hours just seemed like a lot of work. Also, it’s the big weekends where you are burning (burning off the land) or the whole family is going down, that it’s really fun to visit. Those weekends never happened during a break where we could make an 11 hour drive. This is just another perk of us living in Kansas. The drive to the farm is just over 2 hours – the perfect time for taking a fussy baby on a car ride. (2-3 hours is his max!)

This weekend was perfect in a lot of ways. It was a birthday weekend celebration – my husband turned 38 (old is hot!) and my cousin’s fiance turned 27. It was also my mom’s birthday a month ago.

It was great to get down there and be in that stillness. The land was so green and full. The old cabin looked better than ever with the new cabinets. Even the outhouse was updated and new. (There is plumbing now, but the farm wouldn’t be the farm without the outhouse next to the cabin. When you have to go in the middle of the night and you’re staying in the cabin, you don’t want to have to walk all the way up to the main house.)

The best part though, was getting to take my son there. He’s part of the 5th generation. That’s so crazy! Even though he’s only 10.5 months old, it was still special for me to watch him enjoy this special, family home. His face just lit up while he felt the wind through the trees behind the house. He would make what we call his dumb baby face: mouth open, eyes big, almost muppetish. He absolutely LOVED it! He also got to swing by the campfire and swing off the old tree in the front yard. He loves swinging! It felt right to be around family and have my own son there to share in it.

My husband cooked a delicious brisket that our whole family enjoyed. We took a four wheeler ride around the property and it’s funny how some things just don’t change. I know that land so well. Years and years of walks, hikes, 4-wheel rides through the Easter pasture, by the two ponds, over the small creek and through the lane have left an imprint on my heart and mind. So many memories to recall and new ones to make with my family – it’s a vital feeling.

That, my friends, is worth interrupting my daily blogging. It was important to let that experience and trip have my full attention. HOWEVER, I did make notes of topics and ideas to blog about. So now I’m on a writing spree – get down all the ideas before they’re gone! Get ready to read friends!

BK

Day 7: Settling in

About a month ago, my family and I moved back to Kansas where I grew up. We are living with my mom and her husband… in their basement and this is what we want to be doing, as funny as this all sounds. Here’s the story…

When we had our son in September last year our life was turned upside down. My mom came to Texas for the birth and stayed for a week afterwards. It was awesome to have her there and devastating to watch her leave. I had just become a mom and I watched her become a grandma to our sweet boy. She loved him so much right from the start. About an hour before she left, I found her in the baby room rocking with Lochlan and crying. She didn’t want to leave him and it broke my heart. It was so sad to watch her go. I remember Lochlan was sleeping and I just cried while my husband held me. She continued to visit as much as she could and when Lochlan got older we began daily video chatting so he would know grandma.

In Texas, my husband and I settled into as much of a routine as we could with a new baby. My maternity leave was blissful. Our sweet boy was growing, happy and healthy. I healed really quickly and while life was a huge learning curve, it was a beautiful time. As my leave was ending, I was partly excited about the return to work and partly dreading it. My son was going to be at daycare within walking distance and I was going to be able to breastfeed him throughout the day which was so wonderful and definitely helped the transition. However, it was still tough. I wanted to make sure he was held enough and talked to. The first week of daycare was miserable. He was so overstimulated, he wouldn’t nap during the day and then would sleep all night when we picked him up. That made it even harder.

Then our son continued to get sick and we hated leaving him at daycare, so our family made the decision for me to leave work. We also began discussing the lack of help in Texas. We had great friends, but we didn’t want to go out as much and we began to see them less and less. We also didn’t always feel like we had people we could ask for help. I know friends probably would have helped, had we asked, but there were so many times that it was 11 pm and we were exhausted and Lochlan was fussy and we thought, who is really going to be OK with coming over at this time of night to watch our crying kid for us for an hour or so? Maybe a billion hands would go up, we just felt like we shouldn’t ask that.

To be frank, we had an incredibly tough winter. He was sick a lot and teething and we got sick a few times too. It was a difficult season of life for us and it hit us hard. We began to think more and more about moving closer to family. We also started to crunch the numbers financially and it seemed like we could make some smart financial moves as well.

We weren’t really ready to go all in yet, but it was an idea…

Eventually that idea grew and grew, until we felt like it was absolutely the best thing for our son and we thought why not give it a shot.

Eric applied for teaching jobs, we prepped our house for sale and we waited. Eric had 3 interviews and ended up getting offered a job at my high school (which I think is so cool) and our house sold very quickly. Everything just kind of fell into place for us. We were able to pay off some student loans, move our family to Kansas and begin taking in life with family around.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Leaving Texas was heartbreaking. We left the home our son was born in and the first home we’d bought together. We painted all of the walls and hung up so many pictures and pieces of art. We created lifelong memories there. As we drove away, we cried for our home.

When we first arrived in Kansas, I began to wonder if we’d made the right decision. I missed our friends, our home and the life we had built. Now we were sharing our space, unpacking parts of our things and starting over. I was returning home after 11 years… it’s been weird.

It’s going to take time to truly settle in and we were both prepared for that. We are giving it that time and reminding ourselves of the reasons we made this choice. Seeing my mom with our son every day is the best way to remind us of how positive this is. She is so sweet with him and he just adores her. We’ve noticed Lochlan is more vocal and he’s really doing amazing with the transition. We are also exploring our new town… checking out restaurants, breweries and other attractions. It’s fun trying to figure out where our new spots and go-to hangouts will be. It’s all different and similar for me.

When we began telling our friends and other people about our move, we would tell them we were moving in with my mom at first. They would always ask, “Well are you looking for a place?” Sometimes we would say “No, we are going to live there for awhile and save money.” Other times, we would say, “Yeah, we will start looking once we get there…” The truth is we like being around family and having that support. It’s great for our son and it gives us a chance to get settled and save money. It’s going really well and it may end up being a year or two before we make a new move. Only time and opportunity will tell….

For now, we are soaking it up, adjusting and staying open-minded about all the possibilities. The biggest thing we are looking forward to is creating a community: making new friends, getting closer with family and continuing to write our story together.

I guess there really is no place like home…

BK

Day 6: Giving grace

Hello again! I am really enjoying taking this time to write every day and I’m starting to be able to write earlier and earlier which is very good for my sleep!

The other day on Facebook, I came across a blog post titled Giving My Husband More Grace. I follow several mom blogs/city blogs because I find a lot of the content both interesting and super relevant to my life as a new parent. In general, I find parenting topics, relationships and people’s viewpoints very engaging.

This post was basically talking about how this mom is patient with her children, but not as patient with her husband. I can TOTALLY relate to this… I would say most parents or caregivers can relate. Children are so innocent and they are still learning so it makes sense to give grace. However, we expect adults to be on their game all the time. It’s unfair and the more I think about it: limiting and hard.

Reading that post made me think more about life and why I’m not as good at being patient with my husband and really with other people in my life. I decided to tell my husband about it and he agreed that he also isn’t as patient with me as he wants to be. He thinks of it like a credit card – our kid is just racking up that bill and it leaves us shortchanged. We simply don’t have more patience to give.

I think this is a great analogy, but I don’t want to use that excuse. I don’t want to live in a state of patiencelessness (yep, new word) while raising my babies. I don’t want to have constant spats or feel so bent out of shape. The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized that most of my impatience stems from minor things that just happen to hit nerve buttons for me.

Here’s some examples of times where I had little patience and looking back, I think, really?:

  • Coffee grinds left on the counter
  • Clothes not put away out of the dryer
  • Not reading my mind and knowing exactly what I wanted him to do… (HAHA! I wish this wasn’t true, but it is)

I mean, this list could go on and on because I’m a bit of a control freak about the things I care about and it’s so easy to catch someone not doing something. I know for a fact, my husband could make a list of all the dumb stuff I don’t always do… like rinse off my breakfast plate in the mornings right away. (I usually have scrambled eggs with cheese and that cheese is tough to get off!)

That’s the thing about life though – there’s always a ton of stuff to do and it takes practice and routines to keep a household running. When you add in an unpredictable baby, time with friends or family, working out, doing something for yourself and other random clerical tasks, it can be a lot to juggle and to remember to do everything. My husband and I both thrive on routines and when one small part is different, it can really throw us for a loop. It’s in those moments that we lose patience and we feel frustration. We are desperately in need of consistency and a slower pace sometimes.

It makes me realize that I have to give grace because I want that too AND some of the things we want to get done or have ready aren’t really all that important. Maybe our home won’t be show ready everyday and maybe dishes will get left in the sink sometimes. We may forget the laundry or forget an insurance card on the way to the doctor. These things are small and simply not worth the pressure and stress they sometimes impose. I know that I don’t want my children growing up in a home feeling that lack of patience and stress. I want my kids to remember a loving home where everyone enjoys life, helps out and creates beautiful memories together. The routines will get better and I fully believe in striving to be as efficient as possible, BUT I refuse to live a life that is made up of only routines and getting tasks done. I want a life that is peaceful, joyous and full of gratitude.

A few months ago, I bought and read a book called, How not to hate your husband after kids. It was recommended in a parenting magazine and I thought, I need to read this. I didn’t buy it because I hated my husband. I bought it because it sounded interesting and because I was curious what the book would say. The transition to becoming parents was hard on our marriage and I wanted to see what this book could offer.

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It was such a great read! It was funny and insightful. This woman really goes on a hunt for answers to her questions and her frustrations. She talks to anthropologists, psychologists, and even spends a ton of money for an intensive 8 hour therapy session with one of the top marriage counselors in the country. I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I won’t say too much more. I learned a lot from that book and I feel like it helped put me on a path to being more understanding of my husband and starting to talk more about my feelings, my needs and my wants. I also learned that I needed to lower some of my expectations initially and show appreciation when my husband helped.

After reading this book, I learned that I’m one of those women who wants to have control over certain things and the way they are done. Instead of sharing that with my husband and showing him my preference, I just take over and then become resentful. That’s not my husband’s fault – it’s all mine! This book has really helped me let go of some unhelpful feelings and move forward in healthier ways. It was also fascinating to read about some of the studies she shared from top researchers and experts, as well as get their advice all in one place. If any of this sounds even remotely interesting, I think you should check it out. You will laugh and think about relationships in a whole new way.

Navigating life after a baby is different, hard and also the BEST THING EVER. We love our little man so much that it makes getting through the hard stuff a little bit easier. I am so glad I read this book a few months ago and it was refreshing to read that woman’s post the other day; a little reminder to keep giving that grace and to remember what I want my life to be. Sometimes life is chaotic and stressful, but if I don’t make a point of calming the seas and really appreciating life as much as I can, then I will be in a constant of state of tension.

As a final note, my husband actually let me know a few days ago that he had noticed me being more patient and doing less nagging. He said it was really helping him to feel better as well. That felt really good because I had been working on it and it wasn’t always easy in some moments to make the choice to change that habit.

Thanks again for reading!

BK

*Iamcoolandtalented.wordpress.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Day 5: My mom is stronger than me… kinda

One of my biggest goals is to be healthier and fitness is a crucial part of that goal. In general, I’m not in love with working out. I get bored easily.

I’ve learned over the years that I’m more of an activity work-out person. I’ve done kick boxing, TRX, running, elliptical, tabata, yoga, pilates… I could stick with any of those for about 2 months, but then I’m bored. My body has mastered the challenge and I don’t feel the same rewards. (Let’s be honest, I never mastered yoga or pilates… can anyone master those?)

Right before getting pregnant and during my pregnancy I wasn’t working out regularly, so my muscles have taken a huge hit. Especially my legs. I’ve always had powerful legs from being just a big kid and playing soccer steadily from a young age. However, after almost 2 years of little exercise, I’m finally paying the price.

Now I’m back at the gym, (my hometown gym from when I was young and I keep running into people from middle school and high school, it’s crazy?!?!), getting a routine going and attempting to fight the initial boredom. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a fit, sexy mom. I want to be able to be active with my kids and keep up. I also do enjoy feeling strong and capable.

My husband has been super helpful by putting together an ease-in program for me. I have 3 weightlifting days and then 1 day off to recover. This is what my work-out looks like:

Day 1:

  • Dead lift: 3 sets of 5 reps (This is by far my favorite lift.)
  • Row: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Ab work of my choosing
  • Cardio: 30 – 45 minutes

Day 2:

  • Overhead press: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Power clean: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Lateral raise: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Flutter kicks: 3 sets to failure
  • Cardio: 30 – 45 minutes

Day 3:

  • Squat: 3 sets of 5 reps
  • Lunges: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Tricep overhead extension: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Push ups: 3 sets of 8-12 reps/failure
  • Ab work of my choosing
  • Cardio: 30 – 45 minutes

What I enjoy about this plan is that I never spend a ton of time with weights. It’s quick and tough especially after being pretty inactive. I’ve been doing this workout for almost 3 weeks now. I’ve missed a few days… but I’m seeing progress in almost every session and I’m feeling the soreness after every work out – and this is what keeps me motivated and excited!

Also, my mom has joined me for my last three work outs. It’s so encouraging to have a partner to not only push you, but keep you accountable. I’d been bugging my mom to join me for awhile. I’m so glad she has.

When I first started bugging her, she was like, “You know, I’m stronger than you.” I was like, “No way. I carry this baby around all day, you’re old…” The things one should say to their mom.. haha.

For our first workout together it was the Day 2 cycle: mostly upper body. My mom DESTROYED me! I mean I guess it wasn’t total destruction, but she did more weight and more reps, so she wins! Her response, “I’m strong, and I’ve been strong for longer.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, you win the upper body round, but let’s see you beat me on leg day…

I OBLITERATED her. I mean not just a little more weight – I’m talking like 30 to 50 lbs more weight on squats and dead lifts. I was pretty proud of myself!

I think it’s awesome that my mom has a strong upper body and I’m so glad she’s my partner. She pushes me to max out on my lifts and to really go for it. When I’m by myself, I notice that I get a little scared to push too hard without a spotter, so I’m super pumped she’s by my side.

As I get stronger and stronger, I definitely want to add more weight exercises, but for right now, I am feeling proud of my progress and my work to get this routine off to a consistent start. I also feel like I’m already starting to notice changes in my body. I totally have that mom belly – the area where your muscles stretched. I know it’s normal and that time and exercise will help those muscles improve. I definitely don’t feel super self-conscious about it, but I want that toned tummy look.

Do you have a gym routine? What keeps you motivated and prevents boredom with your work outs?

BK

Day 4: Stop the sugar!

So tonight I wanted to talk about my journey to be healthier. I’ve learned a ton over the last 5 years and I’ve made a lot of huge changes. I’ve stopped eating processed and packaged foods (for the most part). I no longer drink my calories – no tea, soda or juice. I actually know how to cook and do it regularly (although like I mentioned in my last blog, I need to get back to that). I eat WAY LESS sugar and sweets especially in just regular food. I used to be a pop-tart and breakfast-cereal-eating queen. Sometimes I do miss those cinnamon pop-tarts…. with a glass of milk…. I’ve also learned to try new foods and my taste buds have changed accordingly. All of these changes have helped me keep off the 50 lbs I’ve lost since college. Success!

However, that’s not a complete story. I still struggle with food and I don’t think any one besides my husband really knows how that affects me. After having my son and breastfeeding, I needed extra calories. Totally normal and awesome, BUT I began slipping back into some of my old habits: using food to cope or seeking out certain foods that had that nostalgia taste from my childhood. That behavior really got out of hand, especially during times of stress or little sleep. Um, welcome to life as a new parent.

So I decided it was time to take drastic steps. Let me be clear though, I wasn’t really ready to take steps because eating delicious food is fun! I knew I wanted to scare myself with knowledge. (I have anxiety and it works for me. Case in point: In 5th grade I was a part of the DARE program and they told me that when you smoke, drink or do drugs, you kill brain cells. Then they said, “You don’t want to kill the brain cell that tells you how to breathe.” Nope. I sure don’t. That was enough for me. Also, I now know this isn’t true, but I’m still not into smoking, drinking excessively, or using drugs.)

Anyway, I know sugar is bad and I wanted to learn more about it to help me change my behavior. So I went to Google and researched books about sugar. I ended up purchasing two different books. Click on the pictures below to learn more and purchase them if you feel so compelled! They have been life-changing for me!

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I started with Sugar Blues and found it to be a very compelling read. While it was published in 1986, this book’s information is still extremely relevant. My google search told me that many other sugar books reference this work and believe it was one of the first books to address sugar and it’s devastating effects. Many critics point to it’s lack of sources, however current books remark that those studies had not yet been developed and now that they have been, his anecdotal evidence now has the scientific backing he lacked in the 80s.

It was very history heavy, but I loved that. I found the history of sugar and it’s effects around the world to be eye-opening and hard-hitting. Every few pages and sometimes on just one page, I would stop and tell my husband about the information and stories I was reading. I literally could not talk about anything else for days after reading this book.

Next, I went on to read Food Junkies. I felt a little weird buying this because it specifically addresses food addicts and I really didn’t think I was a food addict… until I read this book. Hahaha.

And honestly, I may not be for sure, but I do know that I identify with several behaviors of food addicts. I also learned that there are a lot of food disorders and they can often overlap each other and overlap with other mental health disorders. When this happens, it can be really hard to pin down the exact cause of the unhealthy eating or eating behaviors.

This book certainly solidified that I am in fact an emotional eater. Lots of people say they are emotional eaters (and maybe lots of people are), however, I think I’m affected in a super unhealthy way. I have been able to identify trigger foods that are kind of my gateway to binge eating. Some of my trigger foods are chips and salsa, French fries, and pretty much any dessert. As soon as those items hit my mouth, I’m thinking about what else tastes delicious and when I will get to eat it.

Food Junkies really opened my eyes to food addiction and helped me to reflect on my own behaviors. While my binges may seem small or normal to the outside person, inside I know the feelings that are driving my behavior – and it’s not fun.

So over the last few weeks, I’ve cut out most sweet items and desserts. That’s a huge step for me because my sweets consumption was OUT OF CONTROL.

Next up is cutting sugar from other food items. Sugar, unfortunately, is added to so many items. It’s in condiments, bread, baked goods and pretty much anything in a box, jar, bottle or bag. It’s going to be a tough task, but I’m up for it. I want to be completely sugar free by my 30th birthday – October 9.

I don’t know if I’ll live the rest of my life sugar free, but right now I feel a very strong conviction to take this step. I want to live sugar free and see how I feel. I am so ready to not have cravings and to not have sugar and feel like I’m fighting the urge to eat delicious food at every meal. It’s draining.

Do you struggle with food? If so, I’d love to hear your tips and strategies for staying on the straight and narrow. If you feel like you need more information, I would really recommend checking out these books or doing your own book hunt to find a book that speaks to you. Food addiction is a very real problem in our society and I am totally convinced sugar and processed foods play a huge role.

BK

*Iamcoolandtalented.wordpress.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Day 3: What am I doing?

Hey, it’s only 11:34 pm tonight. Going strong!

Yesterday I shared about my new planner and I mentioned the Passion Roadmap. It’s your step-by-step guide to mapping out your goals.

In the activity, I am supposed to set a timer for 5 minutes and ask myself, “If I could be anything, do anything or have anything, what would it be?” It also says to be as specific as possible and that you don’t have to justify your ideas or even make them realistic, just go.

Check out an example of the Passion Roadmap below. #thattooklongerthan5minutes #showoff #minedefinitelydoesnotlooklikethis

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It sounds awesome, right?

It is! And it wasn’t. As the timer began, I quickly realized that I don’t know what I want or where I’m going… I didn’t have specific items to write down or goals or anything super concrete.

Let me give you a brief backstory. Before having my son, I scored an amazing opportunity to be an Assistant Principal of Operations. After teaching for 5.5 years, I was ready to leave the classroom and move into an operations/strategic role with a school. When I read about the position and interviewed, I was so excited about the job description and the challenge. When I got the job, I was ecstatic. It was a bit of a reach for me, but I knew I would work my ass off to prove myself. (And I did!)

A few weeks after landing the job… I found out we were pregnant! It was the best surprise because we’d been trying for a year and it had been hard waiting. However, I now found myself in this weird place – dream job, finally pregnant with the love of my life and I’m moving into the future without really knowing what that future will look like.

While pregnant, I worked hard and fell even more in love with the job and the daily challenges. I was being pushed to achieve and improve and I was a part of a team that celebrated that and showed gratitude. It felt exhilarating! I spent most of my free time thinking about my job, responding to emails and feeling really good about the course I was on. At the same time, I was pregnant! So my body was changing and I naturally spent a lot of time thinking about that and prepping. BUT our boy wasn’t here yet. My job was my baby.

Then he arrived and my job just didn’t have the same pull for me. I did miss work and the feeling of accomplishment, but I had a new number one. When I went back to work after my leave, I was internally miserable. I realized I had to resign and be home with my kiddo. I knew that was the best decision for my son, for me and ultimately for our family.

Fast forward to now, it’s hard for me to picture my life and my goals for the next 5 years. Why?

Well… we want to have more kids. I want to stay home and raise those kids. I don’t want to work and juggle all of those things. Staying home was a values-based decision. We believe strongly that having me home is the best for our son. So it’s hard to be like, “In 5 years, I will have moved up and will be making X amount of money. I will go on X many vacations and be doing X.”

My plan is like, “Um… I’m going to raise kids, have more kids, recover from those kids… breastfeed FOREVER.” That’s a plan, right?

As my timer on this Passion Roadmap ran out, I realized that my line of thinking isn’t totally right. Life doesn’t stop while I have kids and raise them. My life is always going and there are things I want to do with it whether I’m working or raising kids. I noticed, once I started really writing down ideas, that my goals and ideas to have a focus. It all came out to 3 things:

  1. I want to be happy and fulfilled
  2. I want to lead a healthy lifestyle
  3. I want to have deep, meaningful relationships and a community

While it may seem hard to plan for such broad ideas, it’s actually not. I’ve already started making some headway into each of these categories and I’m going to ensure that continues. Here’s how I’m doing so far and the steps I’m taking to bring these goals to life.

To be happier and more fulfilled, I’m currently:

  • Making time to blog, read, and work-out
  • Spending less time on my phone
  • Using my planner to record positive things happening in my life

Steps I still need to take:

  • Making more time for stillness both individually and with my husband. Hygge is important!
  • Find time to create – through sewing, scrap booking or crafts. I have always loved this and I miss it.
  • Cut down on wasted time. (I feel like I’m the BIGGEST time waster.)

To be healthier, I’m currently:

  • Working out 4-5 days a week
  • Eating less sugar (I read two books recently that have really helped me commit to ridding my life of sugar, more on that soon!)
  • Not going out to eat/grabbing fast food as much

Steps I still need to take:

  • Meal prepping for real! I used to be so good at this, but it does take time and I always have an excuse for why I can’t. No more excuses!
  • Start up a family garden again
  • Meditate. I have read a ton about this and I really believe I should do this. As soon as I commit, I will make sure to tell y’all ALL about it

To find create/hone relationships and build a community, I am currently:

  • Nothing? (I literally sat here for a minute thinking, what have I been doing?)
  • Joining local Facebook groups about things I’m interested in and commenting (It’s a slow start, but it’s something. I should also note that we JUST moved, so my community here is pretty small and I’ve got some work to do to build it.)

Steps I still need to take:

  • I need to go out and meet people (I’m shy and my anxiety can get the best of me. Add a kid into the mix and it’s the perfect excuse to stay home. Terrible.)
  • I need to follow up with friends near and far and do a better job of cultivating and investing in those relationships (This is clearly my biggest area of growth!)

So, there it is. My passion right now is my family and me! While my goals are broad, they are important and worthy of attention.

Sometimes I feel a little weird about these goals because not everyone is able to focus on things like this. Some people are on the daily grind to keep their electricity on or to have food for their family. I am lucky to have a supportive family and husband. Also, my husband and I have worked hard to eliminate as much debt and wasteful spending from our lives as possible to be able to have me stay home and raise our son. We sat down and discussed what was most important and we seek to live that out in our lives as much as possible. (That’s probably a post for another day, but I wanted to mention it because it’s real and I do feel a little weird about my goals and what my life will look like for the next few years.I don’t think I should feel weird about it, which is why I’m working to enrich my life and be more confident about the life I’m choosing to lead. It’s a good one and I feel blessed to live it.)

Anyway, whether you buy the Passion Planner or not, I think the exercise of thinking about your future life and what you really want is always fruitful.

What would your Passion Roadmap say? How will you create and achieve your wildest dreams?

Thanks for reading,

BK