Holiday Gift Guide for the Exhausted Mom

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I’m in the trenches of sleep deprivation, so this gift guide is a reflection of my life haha. Husbands, if your wife is tired (which let’s face it all moms are tired) this list will help her feel a little more rested, rejuvinated and appreciated! Everyone knows the saying “happy wife, happy life,” so this list is my Christmas gift to you…

Staycation (tell her to go for one night with her girl friends)

I recently did this and we stayed at the Westin Sacramento; It was local, but happens to be off the beaten path near the Sacramento River and various wineries such as Bogle Vineyards, Scribner Bend and the Old Sugar Mill; we felt soooo rejuvenated after just 24 hours of relaxation time

Spa or nails gift card (include a note about how you’ll watch the kids)

I hardly ever feel like I have the time to get my nails done anymore, but always feel so much better after I do; a massage at a local spa would be even better

Maid service

Weekly, bi-weekly or just a one time deep clean; ANYTHING would be much appreciated – trust me on that

Gift card to her favorite store (again, include a note about watching the kids)

Surprise date night “save the date” card

Plan EVERYTHING from the babysitting to the restaurant reservations; tell her to go get her make-up done beforehand so she can feel extra pretty (Mac will do it for free)

A bottle of her favorite wine

If she doesn’t have one but likes wine, anything from Rombauer, Runquist and Frank Family is a safe bet; I’m also a huge fan of Butter Chardonnay

A Keurig

There’s nothing worse than a night of no sleep than a night of no sleep plus waking up to no coffee; snag this one to make her mornings a little easier

A cute coffee to-go mug

Like this Kate Spade one I started using mine at home because I was tired of microwaving my coffee 7,246,376 times each morning; kids make it impossible to drink coffee in a timely fashion

Drop in daycare gift card

The one I’ve used is Kids Camp, but just Google “drop in daycare + your city” to find your local ones; I recommend doing a temperature check with your wife beforehand to make sure she’s comfortable leaving her kids in said daycare

A message for the non-moms

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As much as I hate admitting it, I’m often consumed with thoughts about how friggin’ hard motherhood is. If you accompany me on one of my rare kid free nights out, I’m likely telling you about how I haven’t felt rested in three years and how much I miss going out to dinner or leaving town with my husband at a moment’s notice and how I’m so sick of wiping asses and can we please have a sick free home for just one stinkin’ month? Or maybe if I could please just go to the bathroom without an audience…

The truth is, I’m in the thick of one of the most challenging stages of life and if I’m not careful, my sheer state of exhaustion will make it difficult for me to do anything other than mourn my life before kids when I’m out with you. But I want to tell you that I do actually have a lot of wonderful moments (like the one in the picture above) I just don’t share them with you as often as I share how much I need a bottle of wine to myself because my kids are turning me into a major cray cray. When I’m with you, I remember how it felt to be rested and free to do whatever I feel like doing (within reason).

When I’m talking to you about my life, I feel this weird sense of responsibility to share how insanely challenging it can be – like I don’t want you to feel duped once you pop a kid out and become entrenched in motherhood. I share how parenthood can push you to the brink of insanity, but what I neglect to share is that through all the insanity and frustration is the most perfect little face staring back at you. I grew these tiny humans in my body and they are the perfect blend of me and the love of my life. Does it get better than that? My heart is bursting with a sort of unconditional love you’ve never felt before. And to be clear, this love is there regardless of DNA; this crazy love comes with raising a child.

Every single time I look at my boys; whether it’s watching them laugh, cry, fall, accomplish something they’re proud of, learn something new, taste chocolate ice cream for the first time, throw up all over me or my car, have an assplosion diaper, tell me they love me, throw a massive tantrum, cry for seemingly no reason, give me hugs and kisses, fall blissfully asleep as soon as I take them in my arms (this list could go on forever, but you get the idea) – literally every single moment I have with these boys, whether beautiful or ugly, my heart is consumed with unconditional love and doting eyes and it feels amazing. There is just no other love in this world than the love parents have for their children. This love is like a drug and if it were taken away from me, I’d have serious withdrawals and a massive hole in my heart.

So, no matter how much I bitch about needing a break or how many times I tell you I’m jealous of your freedom, know that if I had the choice to go back and have my babies again, I’d do it over and over and over without hesitation. This crazy love I have for my babies has made me a better person; I’m wiser, more patient and have a bigger capacity to love. Yes, parenting little humans is really hard sometimes, but the rewards FAR outweigh the struggles.

Sincerely,

A mom of two boys under 3

10 Tips to Avoid the “Baby Blues”

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In my eighth week of being a mom to two boys, I’ve been reflecting on how much smoother this postpartum period has gone in comparison to my first.

I was truly traumatized after giving birth to Porter (you can read more on my first birth experience if you’re curious). My OB literally thinks I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. During the immediate months after I gave birth, I would wake up in complete hysterics. I had sudden flashbacks of lying on that table, unable to communicate while they were cutting into me. I didn’t want to be touched and would subconsciously and sometimes consciously push Ryan away when he tried to hug me (his love language happens to be physical touch, so that was just great). It was pretty bad. I would obviously be a horrible candidate to fight in a war.

On the other side of the spectrum, this planned C-section was a complete breeze. Aside from having major abdominal surgery, I felt good physically AND mentally. But I don’t think that’s the only reason I’m doing better this time. During the past 2.5 years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things about myself. I now know what I need to do to keep myself out of crazy town…for the most part haha ;).postpartum-depression

But really, my mommy meltdowns have been much fewer this go around and I’m able to objectively identify what I need in order to regain my sanity. This is what works FOR ME. This is not a solution for everyone, but I do think it might be helpful to anyone suffering from a little case of the baby blues. Not to confuse this with PPD. If you think you have PPD, get off my blog and call your doctor.

1. Don’t slack on your hygiene

Take a shower Every. Single. Day. Seriously ladies, don’t skip taking a shower just because you’re a mom. You’ll feel better if you just give yourself a quick wash. I’m not saying you need to wash your hair/shave your legs every single time, but at least rinse yourself and do a quick soapy wipe down. With that being said, don’t go too long between hair washes and leg shaves. It will boost your mood to have clean hair (even if you let air dry) and smooth legs. Put on some yummy smelling lotion afterwards.

2. Put on your make-up and WEAR LIPSTICK

Again, I’m only talking about what works for me put on some lipstickhere. There’s actually some science behind the psychological benefits of wearing lipstick. I’m like Speedy Gonzoles doing my make-up these days and I’m usually interrupted midway through, but I always make the effort to do it and I always feel better afterwards.

3. Get dressed

Even if you want to wear leggings. Don’t wear your spit-up leggings if you can; try to keep a clean pair on hand even if that means you need to buy a few more. And pair it with a cute top/shoes/jewelry.

4. Do your laundry 

Even if you don’t have time to put it away. During this newborn phase, you’ll often find piles of clean clothes throughout my house.But isn’t that better than piles of dirty ones?

5. Get out of the house

I cannot stress this enough! Sometimes I cringe at the idea of loading up all the baby crap, coordinating feedings/diaper changes/snacks/ etc. in order to leave, but I ALWAYS feel better when I get out of the house. It’s so very important.

6. Make plans

After I had my first, I sort of became a hermit for a while. I was having a hard time and my solution to isolate myself wasn’t helping. Sometimes you might hesitate to make plans because you aren’t sure how your day will go. Will the baby be fussy? Will you be extra tired from a bad night sleep? Will your toddler be testy? Who cares? All of those things will still be your reality whether you sit at home and feel depressed, or get out and see your friends. I’ve found that Porter’s behavior actually improves when we go out and have play dates.

7. Stay hydrated

There’s research suggesting that dehydration actually affects your mood. So get yourself a CamelBak, Hydroflask or whatever and stay hydrated.

8. Drink coffee (if you’re used to drinking coffee)

This is a no brainer, folks. Caffeine is your friend. I often have an afternoon cup to get me through to bedtime. Hopefully that habit will end once Preston starts sleeping through the night.

9. Take time to yourself

This one is the most important, but hardest one to do. I still struggle with mom guilt when I tell Ryan I need to leave the house BY MYSELF. What is it with motherhood that makes you feel guilty when you do things for yourself? But it’s sooooo important. It will make you a better mom and wife.

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You all knew this was coming. If you’re not a wine drinker, you should be. It’s a mood booster for me after a day of twonager melt downs and newborn crying. Obviously if you don’t drink, just disregard this one.

 

Photo credits:

Family photo — Hilary Blair Photography

Postpartum woman — http://borgenproject.org/postpartum-depression-abroad/

 

 

Prepping for the second kid

 

“One is none, two is ten.” My mom always used to say that and frankly, this terrifies me. In ten short weeks, I’ll be a mom of two and I’m not quite sure how the hell I’m going to pull this off. I know it’s possible – I see people do it. One of my best friends just had her third! I know it’s not a big deal to society to have two kids. But in our house, I feel like it’s going to shake us into utter insanity.

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Maybe I should provide some background so I don’t sound like I need therapy. I mean, I probably do, but wine is cheaper so I go that route when I’m not knocked up.

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Our transition to one kid was NOT EASY. I know some people have a smooth transition into parenthood, but that was not us; it sucked us into long term survival mode.

Not to compare, but I’m going to compare. Some babies are easy going and start sleeping through the night at three to four months (some even earlier). These same kids might even be relatively well during their first and second years of life. These babies probably don’t have GERD, chronic ear infections, or weird autoimmune issues that pop up. They also probably don’t want to nurse every 30-45 minutes and are willing to be put down, or at least “worn” in a baby carrier. These parents are often fooled into thinking ALL babies are easy and might even judge other parents for having a hard time – I begrudgingly wish all the judger parents will have terrors for second children.

Porter gave us a hell of an introduction to parenthood, but the sleep deprivation was the most challenging part. It wasn’t that he was still waking up to feed, it was several wakings per night from pain because he had chronic double ear infections from about four months to eight and a half months, before we finally resorted to ear tubes. So the wakings were more dramatic than just a nursing session – he was upset, often had a fever and suffered from chronic diarrhea from the antibiotics.

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Just before his surgery

But even after the tubes surgery, he still got ear infections! The difference was that the tubes relieved the pressure/pain and the infections were finally treatable. We would routinely go into the ENT to have his ear’s cleaned out, which was traumatizing because he had to be held down wearing a straight jacket and would stare at me with horror as he sobbed. Hello mom guilt.

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Our happy boy a few days after surgery

We just had a rough time. We wondered how the hell people have more than one kid.

Then suddenly, Porter’s illnesses stopped (aside from the common cold, etc.), the ear infections became less and less frequent, we were consistently sleeping through the night, the GERD was a thing of the past and we felt like we could breath.

Then baby fever started to kick in, and bam, we conceived.

We went from, “holy shit how do people have more than one kid” to “I sort of get now how people have more than one kid” to “let’s have another kid” to “we’re due in March with our second kid” in a very short timeframe.

 

So here we are, preparing for baby number two, hoping and praying we get a little lucky this second time around. Would love a relatively painless c-section, no GERD, no constant illnesses, no chronic ear issues, a baby that likes to be worn, a baby that lets us sleep longer than three hour stretches sooner than eight and a half months.

Porter, we love you and wouldn’t change anything about you. You made us stronger as a family and you’ve grown to be the sweetest most loving two year old boy ever. I predict you will be a gentile giant – a big boy with a big heart. But I can say with 100 percent certainty that we just don’t have it in us to have another you ever again. So please, baby Preston, cut your parents some slack and be jackpot baby.

If you have any good baby vibes to send our way, please do. We need them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Peasy Pot Roast

IMG_5915For nights when you don’t have the time or energy to make a complex meal (most nights for moms), this is a great recipe to have in your bag of tricks. It’s delicious, cheap and SUPER EASY. Bonus: it makes a ton of meat and it’s versatile, so you can enjoy eating the leftovers without getting totally bored.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 3-ish lb beef chuck roast
  2. 1 package of onion soup mix
  3. 1/3 cup soy sauce
  4. Water
  5. Pepper

Here’s what will make it extra good:

  1. 1 cup of red wine
  2. 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  3. Garlic salt

Directions:

Whisk together the soy sauce and onion soup mix inside of the slow cooker. Add the chuck roast, top with the garlic and garlic salt/pepper. Pour in the red wine and 5-ish cups of water (depending on how thick your roast is; the goal is to submerge the meat). Cook on low for 10 hours.

Your house is going to smell like heaven while it’s cooking and when it’s done, the meat should fall apart when probed with a fork. I like to be extra scrappy and save all of the excess liquid – I store it in mason jars and freeze it for later. Beef stew anyone?

We’ve eaten the meat as-is with yummy sides, but we’ve also used it to create French dip sandwiches and beef stroganoff. The possibilities are endless really. Hope you enjoy! xo

I Lost My Two Year Old

That moment we as parents fear the most. You hear about it, but hope will never happen to you.

That moment you look around at a store, park, mall, beach – WHEREVER – and you suddenly realize you don’t see your child. You are immediately consumed with shear terror. With tears streaming down your face, your blood pressure sky rocketing into panic mode, you start asking if anyone has seen your child. You provide a brief description. He’s two, has light hair and wearing suspenders. A tiny thought passes through your mind — will you ever see him wearing those cute suspenders again?

It hits you like a ton of bricks and it all happens in seconds.

Your sweet child you love so deeply — someone you would willingly die for — has vanished on your watch. The guilt/fear/panic/hope – you are flooded with these all-consuming emotions, while trying to stay rational enough to find your child.

Holy shit. I lost my two year old while at The Fountains playground. Did this really happen to me? Did I actually lose track of THE MOST precious gift God has given me? Well, yes. Yes, I did. What the hell is wrong with me.

I’m the parent who’s always right there IN the playground with Porter. The frequency of occasions I’ve judged other moms who actively ignore their kids at the park/playground is embarrassing considering that I can’t stand judgey moms. Hypocrisy at its finest.

I was there that day within the confines of the fenced off playground area, being a slight “helicopter parent”. I was RIGHT THERE! I wasn’t the mom sitting on the bench OUTSIDE of the fenced playground, looking down at my cell phone, or chatting with a friend completely oblivious to my hysterical toddler who hit her head on the slide (yes, that was something I witnessed that day).

How did this happen to me? Well, that’s precisely why I decided to share my story and risk being majorly judged by other parents. I looked away for maybe three to five seconds at a time while I attempted to chat with my nine months pregnant sister-in-law, who was sitting uncomfortably on a bench just next to the playground. My neck was getting a major workout, as I was constantly looking at her, then back to Porter and sometimes my four year old niece and nephew. Porter was happily going up the ladder, through the tunnel and down the slide over and over again. I knew he was having fun, since he kept yelling “fun” at the bottom of the slide.

Suddenly, I looked back to the playground…scanning…scanning…scanning…no sign of Porter. I do a lap (thinking he’s just in the tunnel portion of the playground). Nope. Is he on a slide? Nope. After a couple panicky laps around the playground, I realize he’s gone.

There were about 15 kids packed in that playground area, so the gate was being opened and closed on a regular basis and apparently Porter decided to make a run for it. And boy does this kid know how to sprint! With tears streaming down my face, I began asking other mom’s if they had seen my boy.

While I was inadvertently creating a mom search party, my sister-in-law ran over to the splash pads (not far from the playground), which was when she saw him wandering into the roundabout (yes, where cars drive) heading straight for the large fountain he loves so much.

She found him and brought him to me. I don’t think I’ve ever squeezed him so hard in my life. All the other mothers watched with sympathy, some maybe with a little judgment in their eyes, but that’s ok. I don’t care. I have my sweet baby boy back in my arms.

My normally squirmy two year old let me hold him as I cried a cry that was new for me. Dear God, let that be the one and only time I cry that cry.

THANK GOD. And thank you to my sister-in-law. This lesson was learned with a happy ending and I’m well aware of how lucky I am. If you have kids or plan on having kids, I hope you can remember my experience and that it gives you a little extra jolt of precaution so that this doesn’t happen to you.

18 month shoot - Ashley Spoor Photography

18 month shoot – Ashley Spoor Photography

an open letter to my mom

Dear mom,

Mother’s Day has a whole new meaning to me. I have never in my life doubted your unconditional love for me, but I don’t think I really understood how much you loved me until I held Porter in my arms for the first time.

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I’ve gotta say, I don’t really see myself as being THAT lovable, yet you’ve shown me your unconditional love throughout my entire life, and still do to this day. You showed it when I was a colicy baby crying for hours on end and refusing to take a bottle. You showed it to me through your patience during my toddler years of telling everyone “I want to do it by me-self!” even though I obviously could not do it by “me-self.” You showed it to me as a kid when you never hesitated to put my needs before your own – even when dealing with the loss of your father and a divorce in the same year.wedding 0031269119_10201365140986756_424735678_oB704

You continued to show your unconditional love for me when I became a sassy teenager, through all the drama of growing up – the challenges I faced with boyfriends, girl “friends,” classes, cheerleading, going away to college, choosing a major, joining a sorority, my move to LA after college and everything else you can possibly think of that’s associated with growing up. You were my shoulder to cry on when Dad would disappoint me over and over again – even into my adulthood. You were there for me through breakups, new jobs, no jobs, countless moves, falling in love, getting engaged, my wedding, pregnancy, buying a house and having Porter. Even through the birth of my baby, you continue to treat me as if I was still your baby – and now I see you showing that same level of love to Porter and the twins – you are turning out to be as good of a Nana as you were a Mother, which makes these kids pretty lucky if you ask me.

The point is, you are always there, cheering me on through the good times and the bad and I never feel any ounce of uncertainty of your unconditional love for me. So thank you for always being there, no matter what, and for loving me even when I’m unlovable.

Happy Mother’s Day

All my love,

Bethany Lynne