Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tis the season to be simple

Sometimes I surprise myself. Particularly with my reactions to things.

Or under-reaction, rather.

Like when things don't go as planned, and I don't hyperventilate. It surprises me. Or when I don't beat myself up for not hand-making a dozen sentimental Christmas presents for members of our family. It surprises me. Or especially when I don't have the time, energy, or creativity to construe festive holiday crafts or baked goods. It really surprises me.

I've lately caught myself asking {out loud} "Who are you?"

I just don't get rattled these days.

Being a mom to two littles has taught me many things. Most importantly, I've learned to be flexible. To appreciate imperfect. To say no. To seek out simple. To stick to my strengths. To let things go. All things, mind you, that go against the very nature of who I am at my core.

During one of our typical Saturday morning coffee talks, I was explaining these feelings to Gabe. How I, ironically, feel like a more relaxed person since we've had kids. {And since I began my journey of seeking balance, being okay with boring, finding myself, and purging anxiety-inducing thoughts, activities, and jobs from my life.} I no longer try to do it all or be it all. And most importantly, I try really hard not to want it all.

And goodness, it feels so great.

I can remember a time when I was striving to be the best at everything. Even things that I am not good at. Like the time I tried to take up sewing. Or the time I tried to become an expert graphic designer. Or the time I vowed to make dinner from scratch every night. HA. To all of it. Just, HA.

Pinterest and Instagram just make things look so easy. But social media, as brilliant and helpful as it can be, can also spread lies by telling only half-truths; just a sliver of someone's story. And it often used to make me feel like a subpar mom/teacher/person.

But these days, I stick to what I know, the things I am naturally good at. Which is not being the Martha Stewart, the creative-genius photographer, or the sous chef. Yes, I may be a stay-at-home-mom, but I'm certainly no homemaker. No really. I don't have a domestic bone in my body.

And I can actually say that without one bit of shame.

Because all it really comes down to for me is just one simple thing. I want to be the very best mom to my girls. A mom who is wholly and completely present in every sense of the word. And you don't have to be domestic {or perfect} to be a good mom. You just have to love your kids. A lot.

But for me to get to this conclusion meant going through the painful process of letting go.

And let me tell you. Letting go of perfect can be quite excruciating.

Yet oh-so exhilarating!!!

The real test of my "process of letting go" has always been the holidays. Because the holidays especially bring out the need to be perfect by creating-baking-and-memory-making. Nevermind the frenzied bombardment of perfectly-crafted Pinterest Advent calendars or the ever-present reminder of how Grinch-like I am because we don't partake in elf-on-the-shelf.

But I just don't have the time or energy with a new baby this year to even care.

And care, I do not.

But I promise I haven't been a complete Scrooge. We've been creating plenty of fun memories and carrying out some of our favorite traditions.  It's just that simple seems to be the theme this year.

And, what do you know? My girls are still thriving.

Imagine that. Thriving on simplicity!

The fact that I haven't broken out into hives because this is Lyla's third Christmas, and she has yet to get a photo with Santa? That right there folks is a surefire sign of letting go.

This past weekend was one of the best we've had since Adaline's been born. Because we spent the majority of time at home together as a family, and there was no pressure. Pressure that I typically put on our family to squeeze all the typical holiday activities in before December 25th.

Admittedly, my easy breezy attitude was probably kick-started by our first night out sans baby with Gabe's company Christmas party. The evening was filled with live music, unlimited wine, a photo booth, and two party animals never wanting to leave the dance floor.

Oh, wine how I've missed you.

But like I mentioned earlier, I've learned many things since becoming a parent. I forgot, however, to mention the biggest lesson of all: We are old. Mostly too old to stay out past 10. And definitely too old to drink more than 1 glass of wine. I'm pretty sure I stayed on the couch drinking coffee until 2 pm the day after mom and dad's big night out.

Lucky for us, we had nothing on the agenda the next evening. So we decided to uphold the one tradition that I will never, ever rid of. We had our annual watch Christmas movies- drink hot cocoa-sleep by the Christmas tree extravaganza. Although this year, we made a couple minor changes. We added a pizza picnic {because we didn't have the energy to get dressed to go out to dinner.} And we didn't actually sleep by the tree per se. {See the aforementioned lesson of "We are old". And with old comes the deep desire burning from within to get a good night's sleep.}

But oh-my-word did we have a good time. We started this tradition the very first year Gabe and I were married, when we lived in a 700 sq. foot apartment in Dallas. But this year was extra special, for two very obvious reasons. But it's the two year old who makes this whole process of traditions so much fun. Because she understands how special they are: Eating in the living room, consuming sugar that isn't usually kept in our house, and staying up way past bedtime watching movies.

Of course the perfectionist part of me wishes the photos I did catch were much better quality. But then I remember what's important. And I'm able to look past the grainy iPhone quality and terrible lighting to see the magical memories we created.

And I'm not sure who felt more spoiled: the girls or the pups!

Someone was pretty excited about the idea of a pizza picnic. 

Movie and hot cocoa time!

Then we rounded out our already perfectly-simple weekend with the annual Christmas Cantata at church. Complete with mother-daughter matching{ish} outfits. Which, by the way, was an accident. I know I don't have the best track record for accidentally matching. But I'm predictable. And it happens.

Perhaps the biggest testament to a new, anti-stress me? I didn't google how to photoshop out the Stanley canteen mug out of the background of this photo. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ramblings from my Mommy Brain

It feels like so much has happened in the past six weeks since Adaline's been born. Yet if you asked me what I do on a typical day, I'd probably laugh. Because I would have no idea what to say.

Believe it or not, we've managed to stay fairly busy during my "maternity leave". That's what I'm calling it. It's the time I allow myself to relax a little more than usual and am extra forgiving of myself on the days we stay in sweats until lunch time. "Because", I tell myself, "I have a baby. And a toddler. And it's winter. And it's my 'maternity leave'."

But we really have been pleasantly busy with lots of visitors, play dates, errands (so.many.errands.), and prepping for the holidays. And I've very quickly realized that tasks that used to take me 10 minutes suddenly take me 2 or 3 days. And that's no lie.

We also follow the household rule to make it out of the house at least once a day. Even if it means simply going through the Starbucks drive through. It may take about 2 hours from start to finish, but I do everything in my power to get us out. I surprisingly have yet to throw my hands in the air and say "forget it! not worth the 6 layers of winter clothing and a toddler who loves to dawdle." Which brings me to a question. Will I ever be on time again? Ever?  It frazzles me to the core.

And because it's my "maternity leave", I'm going to go ahead and not feel guilty about writing the rest of this post in bullet points. Because that's how my brain works lately - not complete thoughts, just bullet points.

So. Lately...

... It is no joke when they say to hang on tight and savor these years because you blink and your kids are all grown up.  I thought Lyla's babyhood went quickly. But this? Oh my word, time with two little ones is scarily passing by. These pictures, for example. They were taken two and a half weeks ago. And Adaline already looks completely different. And no longer fits into this nightgown. And has an extra chin. {sniffle. sniffle.}

... Speaking of Miss A, she has been nothing but smiles. And it feels just as exciting as it did the first time around with big sis. I love when babes start smiling...it marks the beginning of "This is my FAVORITE phase". I'm not sure how I'd forgotten the uncontainable joy one experiences when your baby smiles at you for the first time. I was just as much an emotional mess this time around. I mean, when she looks at me and smiles, time stops and I feel like my heart is going to burst right through my chest.

... Like many first-borns, Lyla has always been an observer. That girl walks into a room {with extreme caution, of course} and observes for quite awhile before she lets down her guard and participates in whatever is going on. My little observer, feverishly studying everything around her. I swear that's what she's been doing for the past two years with language. She's always had a large vocabulary, but really has only been speaking in short sentences since she turned two. But all of a sudden, she is having full-blown conversations with us. Conversations that make sense. She can remember and recall things from a month ago, she tells us what she did at school or church, and she reminds us when we forget things. It's mind-blowing.

... We're actually starting to get into a routine around here. Although it may be a loose one, it feels pretty amazing. I've learned, for example, that if I accidentally sleep past 6:45 a.m., the rest of the day is shot. Because then I don't have time to shower. And when I don't have time to shower, we seem to have more tantrums and a lot less productivity. I think it's a scientific correlation: showered mama = successful day.

... Lyla started nursing her babies. It's probably the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Ever.  Monkey see, monkey do.

... Lyla has really developed a love for helping in the kitchen. It started out as a tactic to teach her patience while waiting on meals, but now she loves it. She loves to measure and pour and stir and taste test.

... I still can't get over how easy of a baby Adaline is. I'm not kidding when I say I can count on both hands how many times we've heard her *really* cry. I would feel guilty about this fact. Except Lyla was INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT as a baby. Although I didn't think it was possible to ever love something more than my first born, Adaline is a breath of fresh air. :) And I know a large part of that is that we're so much more relaxed as parents. But I also think God knew that we just really needed an easy baby after little miss scream-for-days-colic-pants.

... My mother-in-law calls Lyla "Goodnight Moon". And it's so true. Because that really is how she talks. "Good night, heater."  "Good morning big girl underwear." And just today as we were leaving for school, "Goodbye Lyla's slippers." Hilarious observation and just so cute.

... If you still haven't started the podcast Serial, you do NOT know what you're missing. I mean, I do think my adrenaline has stepped down a notch after listening to 8 episodes straight in one weekend. But, I get SO excited for Thursdays. And it is the topic of conversation in our house for at least one hour a day. I'm not sure what I'll do exactly when it's over.

... I'm also not sure what I love more. The father-daughter relationship or the sister-sister. They both slay me.

... I don't think anything has me more confused than toddler moodswings. I kid you not. One minute I am texting Gabe telling him how incredibly sweet Lyla is and that I want this stage to last forever, and the next, she's throwing herself down in the middle of a parking lot taunting me with smirks, headshakes, and "NO!"s. Of course that is immediately followed by me thinking she snuck some sugar water somewhere because she's melting my mama heart into a puddle of sap with "I'm sorry" and "I love you Mama". Oh goodness, do toddlers sure know how to make a perfectly sane woman see red.

... We have our first date night planned this weekend. Getting all dressed up for Gabe's company Christmas party. It is time and it is necessary and I am pumped.

... This is the part of my maternity leave that I like to call "The Awakening". It's where you suddenly realize that it's time to start getting out more. It's time to start cooking again {THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have made us meals. Absolute Godsends, you are. Meals are the best gift you can ever ever ever give a new mom}. It's time to be a sociable human being who has conversations with other people besides a newborn and a toddler. And although hanging around the house in yoga pants with my girls has made me happier than I've ever been, it's time for my brain to get some exercise. And to get that exercise, I have quite the project I've finally pulled the trigger on. Very excited to share soon!!!

Although, hanging in our pjs for hours and reading books by the Christmas tree everyday has been a welcomed change of pace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Turkey and Sheeps

I'm not sure when it happened.

But somewhere along the way, Thanksgiving weekend became my favorite holiday. {yes, the entire weekend. not just the day itself}.

Or it at least tied itself with Christmas.

Oh shoot. But I sure love Halloween too.

Can we just count October 31st - January 1st as one long holiday?

Anyway. I love Thanksgiving. A lot. Every year I look forward to going to Gabe's grandpa's farm. And now that Lyla gets excited about things and even remembers them, it brings fun to a whole new level.

This year, I didn't get to enjoy all the hustle and bustle of farm animals and shooting skeet and going on a 3 mile after-dinner family walk because of the whole newborn thing. It was super-freezing out, and you know, babies eat like every 15 minutes.

But Lyla sure had a grand time.

The whole way to the farm, she kept talking about how she couldn't wait to ride the "sheeps"(goats) and see the "titty tats" and "chitzens"(chickens). It's amazing that she remembered them from last year. And she was so excited to eat turkey and "pumpin pie".

This year, we had nearly half the crew that we normally do at Thanksgiving. Which was probably around 20 of us. And it was nice. Since I was stuck inside with babe, I got to catch up with everyone. And go back for seconds and thirds.

I don't know what it is about the Thanksgiving feast. Oh wait. Yes I do. Everyone brings their "specialty dish". Not to mention everyone in Gabe's family has quite the knack for cooking. So I obviously look forward to it 364 days of the year. And since it's only one day of the year, I tend to cram my plate to the brim. Couple that with breastfeeding, and I've got myself an excuse to go turkey-sweet potato casserole-cranberry sauce crazy. Oh. And the rolls. I go overboard on the rolls. It's an unspoken rule of mine.

So, while I stuffed my face, Lyla got to ride the goats and shoot with the boys.

And this year was extra fun on the way to and from the farm. Gabe introduced me to the #1 podcast at the moment - Serial. You guys. I can't even. There is just so much for me to say about this brilliant {true} crime story. So much, that I'm not even going to say anything. Just go check it out. I will say that we listened to over 4 hours in the car and then came home, put the girls to bed, and listened to another 3 hours while sitting next to the space heater. Like olden times.

I can't wait for Thursday when the next episode airs.

Anyway. It made for a super car ride.

Then the weekend continued with Christmas decorating and sugar cookie baking with the fam.

Lyla took her decorating duties seriously. And she named every.single.ornament as she strategically placed them on the tree. She especially loved "dad's drums", the "pickle", and the "dancing cow with boobies".

And she took particular interest in the tree we put in her room this year. She got so excited the moment she saw it, she ran in giddily screaming and clapping "THANK YOU CHRISTMAS!!!" I haven't even turned the tree lights on yet. {Mostly because the cord is too short and I can't find our extension cords anywhere}.

Sure makes me excited for Christmas this year.

And I had every intention of creating a super cute advent calendar with activities for us to do everyday. But let's get real. I have a new baby. And...I don't even have time to shower on a regular basis. Let alone create some DIY project I found on Pinterest.

But I am happy to report that I've learned to let things like that go.

Because it's more about living in the moment at the moment.

Thanksgiving weekend was perfect. And although we didn't have the chance to do our traditional watch Christmas movies and sleep by the tree on the day after Thanksgiving, we're going to find a way to squeeze it in somewhere among all the Christmas goodness in the next few weeks.

And if it is even half the hit that Thanksgiving was, Christmas is sure to be a good one this year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Newbies are my favorite

So here I am. Having the greatest morning with my girls - something that is either hit or miss these days - and ready to gush about the fuzzy newborn phase here on the ol' blog.

But somewhere along the way, I forgot that having a baby toddler throws all plans out the window. And makes a routine-focused, schedule-oriented, type A gal like myself want to shave my head and run around the block a few times. At least that would be something I would have complete control of. And I would get some much-needed fresh air. 

Anyway, having a new baby {and a two year old} is just a roller coaster of emotions to begin with. It's all "Oh my goodness you're so cute, and I want this moment to last forever and ever" and "Seriously? We've been trying to get out the door for an hour now, you're already on outfit #3 for the day, I just got on all 4 layers of winter gear for both of you, your sister has to go potty, and you choose now to spit up all over all three of us?"

If you haven't read this article yet, stop what you're doing and read it now. The whole thing. And if you've ever had a newborn, you will laugh until you cry. Because it is true. Every single bit. I'm just waiting for her perspective on a day in the life with a newborn AND a toddler! :)

Anyway. Where was I? So my girls and I were having the greatest morning. I actually had the energy to make a decent breakfast for Lyla, the three of us shared some cuddles, we had our own story time, and then went for a looong walk to the park. Oh my goodness the sunshine and chilly breeze never felt so good.

Then we got home. Lyla made it very clear with some shouts and stomping that she was hungry, and I couldn't remember for the life of me when I had eaten last. Needless to say, both of us were starving. While Lyla nibbled, and I nursed the baby, she had to go potty. So, I took her back to the bathroom.  {And let's be honest. It isn't nearly as simple as it sounds. Because Lyla is still having a wretched time pooing on the potty. So we go back and forth back and forth at least a dozen times with lots of tears in between. All to have her not go. The poor kid is terrified.}

When I returned from the 11th trip to the potty, I realized my plate was empty. I rubbed my eyes to make sure they weren't deceiving me. Nope. Plate still empty. The dogs had *somehow* gotten onto our dining room table and ATE MY LUNCH.

The whole thing.

They are so lucky I was having a good day with my two year old. Because all I did was yell some choice words and put them outside for a good long time. Oh. But I had thoughts of putting them up for adoption on Craigs List.

I wish I was kidding.

Then, of course, I felt guilty and was all "Oh doggies, I love you. It's not your fault. I realize your'e going through changes too. But you really have to start behaving."

But seriously ya'll. Do you have any idea how much energy it takes these days just to rummage through the empty cabinets and then actually make something for lunch...only to have it eaten by your dogs while your'e taking care of your toddler and newborn?!?!

But I did feel bad after my lashing. So, we kissed and made up. And I invited them on my lap.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I'm ready to talk about what was originally on my mind. Which just so happened to be newborn sweetness. Because here we are. Four weeks into life caring for a second newborn.

Ahh. The newborn phase. You either love it or you hate it. Or a little bit of both.

I mostly love it.

Ok, who am I kidding. I absolutely wish that I could go through the newborn phase at least a dozen more times before I leave this earth. Newbies make me realize the why behind families out there who are 19 and counting. In fact, I'd have a newborn once a year if I could skip labor, if said newborn had the super-human ability to sleep through the night on day one, and if I could skip the toddler tantrums and teenage angst.

They're just such marvelous, interesting, quirky, and hilarious little creatures.

I loved this phase with Lyla, and I love it with Adaline. Miss A, our precious little bug, has been such a delight from the moment we brought her home. She's so easy going, and just easy all around. Oh, and she's a cuddler. Yes - my last baby is a cuddler! Thank goodness. Because I'll be a little sad when she's no longer a newborn. Which, by the way, when are babies technically no longer newborns? Is it when they grow out of newborn-size diapers? Because we just hit that point yesterday. And I refuse to call Addie anything but a newborn. So if you tell me she's no longer a newborn, I'm going to find a way to squeeze her insanely long torso into a newbie diaper.


There's just something about their smell. Holy moly does the newborn smell get my pheromones going, or what. Gabe thinks it simply smells like dirty baby. I, however, would love to bottle it up and turn it into a perfume. I'm really not kidding. Call me crazy, but I think I'd make a fortune.

Oh and the little noises. Those sweet, quirky little noises that have Lyla asking if Baby Adaline okay? because she's never heard any other human making these noises. The tiny mouse-like squeaks, the grunts, the little sucking noise with the pacifier, and the snorts. Oh newborn snorts, how I love you.

Then, they have their distinct newborn movements. Gabe calls these movements "animatronic"- definition being "robotic devices to emulate a human or animal". And that's so completely accurate. Newborns have these robotic movements that seem so calculated yet so spastic at the same time. Lots of flailing limbs, head bobs, and of course the non-stop rooting. Love em' all.

They make me laugh, I tell ya. Like how they stare at the strangest things for hours - things like the couch cushion or the white wall. Or how they are so animalistic in that first latch on while nursing. Or how they have that "scare reflex" where they all of a sudden will throw their arms in the air while sleeping like something scared the bejeebies out of them. I catch myself laughing all day long.

Um. And can we stop for a moment and talk about the reality of how easy newborns really are? I mean seriously. You can put them in a chair, bouncy seat, swing, or any other nook in your house, and they will stay there and contently sleep for hours. I mean, my best friend's mom didn't come up with the term "neglect-o-matic", when referring to a baby swing, because she thought it sounded fancy. It's because you stick a newborn in any ol' spot, and they're happy. And you might unintentionally forget about them. Unless of course your newborn has colic, which my firstborn did. Then, you're screwed.

And call me crazy? But I actually get a twinge of excitement in the middle of the night when I hear those first cries before the BIG cry which means "Feed me right now no really right this very instant right now!" I look forward to the one-on-one time without the buzzing of a typical busy day. I mean sure, I have bags the size of golfballs, but this time period is short in the grand scheme of things. And I will sleep again. And once I do, I'll miss our middle of the night one-on-one encounters.

Oh my goodness, there's just so much cuteness. The unintentional smiles while sleeping, the little fists rolled into balls while nursing, the face perched on a hand while sleeping, the big stretches when first waking up, and the faces. Those sweet newbie faces. My personal favorites are the kissie-lip-pucker face, the catching-flies-while-i-sleep face, and the infamous scrunch face.

But my absolute favorite? The way they curl up into the fetal position, and snuggle up into that sweet spot between your shoulder and neck. Ahh. And you can feel the warm skin of their cheek on yours. Just a warm little ball of love. I could do that all day everyday for the rest of my entire life.

Oh. And fuzzy after-bath hair. That's the best.

Ok. I think that covers it.

But thank goodness I have a baby, you guys. Because all this talk of newborns is giving me baby fever over here.

Adaline, I just may squeeze you into newborn diapers for the next 6 months. ;)