A Shoutout to the Mamas

Being a mother

Once again, it has been too long since I’ve posted. This raising two kids thing keeps me pretty busy, who knew? (I hope you can sense the sarcasm in that.) Plus I’ve started serving again, so there goes my evenings. I am in the process of trying to get my self-hosted blog up and running, but in light of Mother’s Day this past weekend, I wanted to post a little something.

Moms, as a general rule, are incredibly selfless and loving people. I know there are some who have not experienced that with their mothers, and I am truly sorry about that. It upsets me that some people have experienced hurt and abuse from the one who should’ve been there and loved them the most. To them I would like to say that your feelings and experiences are acknowledged, and I think that you are so strong for fighting through it and using your past to make you a better person and mother.

There are also some who have lost their moms, and I am genuinely sorry about that as well. I can’t imagine not having my mom around. I am almost 30, and still depend on my mom to answer questions and offer support. So for those of you who have lost your moms, I acknowledge your feelings as well, and just want you to know that it’s okay to cry and wish they were still around, no matter how long they’ve been gone. You are strong, but it’s also okay to have moments of weakness and vulnerability as well.

Having said all that, the women and moms that have come into my life one way or another are such amazing women. Whether they’re fighting through a situation listed above, or a different hard situation, or just fighting through Monday, they’re all strong women, and I just wanted to take some time to honor them.

It would take me several blog posts to properly honor all the mother-figures who have poured into my life, so I’ll just generalize a bit here. But please know that you have all made an impact on me!

My Mama Friends: What would I do without you guys? It is so important to have mom friends once you have kids. I need someone who understands that our plans won’t always turn out the way we wanted them to, and our important, heart-to-heart conversation will probably be interrupted by a child at least 20 times. And I need someone who I can call in an emergency when my toddler’s finger is bleeding profusely who can calm me down and tell me what to do. They are the ones who treat my children as if they were their own. They are the ones who don’t judge me if my kid happens to eat something off the floor. They are the ones who encourage me and tell me “you can do this” even if it’s from afar.  All my mom friends are amazing women who I look up to and admire, and I seriously can’t imagine not having them in my life.  You guys rock, and I have learned so much from all of you. Thank you for helping me maintain at least a shred of sanity in my life.

Adoptive Mamas: Wow. Whatever the circumstances were that brought you to adoption, you mamas are amazing. To take a child who was not biologically yours, one that didn’t have much of a chance at a happy life, and to bring them into your life and love them as much as you would one you had given birth to is no small thing. Even if you did not birth these children, you still gave them life–a better life than their circumstances did. You reflected the very heart of God when you brought these little ones into your family, and it is amazing to see the difference it makes in both their lives and yours.

Single Mamas: How do you do it?! Being a mom is exhausting no matter what, but when you’re doing it all by yourself, I can only imagine how hard it must be. You provide for your children, love them, care for them, go to work, clean the house, pay the bills, etc. I’m sure you’re stressed and tired all the time, yet you make sure your children know they are loved and cared for. Your strength and determination are out of this world!

Special Needs Mamas and Mamas of Sick Children: Motherhood is hard, but you moms have added burdens. I’m sure you often think “This isn’t fair.” And I don’t blame you. But you mamas are so strong and selfless. The love you put into your children is beyond words, whether you spend your time taking them to therapy, classes, doctor appointments, or waiting in a hospital room or the NICU, hoping to finally hear some good news. You would give anything to make life easier for your littles, whatever the cost. Although I can’t imagine how it must feel, I just want to say to you that you are exactly what your child needs. Even when it feels like you can’t help them, your love and support is playing an huge part in their lives.

Hopeful Mamas: I know there are so many of you longing to be mamas. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to see pregnancy announcements and pictures of smiling women holding their babies for the first time and not feel bitter or jealous. I admire you for your ability to be happy and rejoice with those women who have children, and for your strength in never giving up hope for your dream of being a mom. I sincerely hope that each and every one of you will see that dream come true someday.

My Own Mama: Well, I don’t really know where to begin. You’ve been making sacrifices for me before I was even born, starting when I decided I wanted to come out on your birthday and ruined your birthday dinner (and then I didn’t even make my appearance until the next day. How rude. haha). Without your love and support throughout my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. You taught me hard work, and to never settle for less than my best (as evidenced by all the re-writes you would make me do on my papers). You taught me how to be a mom. And even though we have different opinions on some things, I truly wouldn’t know how to be a mom without you around. So thanks for everything, and remember: Only the best moms get promoted to grandma. 😉

My Mother-in-Law: If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to marry your amazing son and be a mommy to our two wonderful boys. “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough to say for that! You did a great job raising A, and you have accepted me as your daughter unconditionally. You radiate love! Thanks for being a wonderful mother-in-law to me and grandma to my boys.

Like I said, there’s no way I can possibly list all those who have influenced and encouraged me throughout this journey as a mother. But you are all noticed, honored, and loved. You are amazing!

The Days Are Long…

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As I’ve previously stated, and the one thing that all moms across the board can agree on, is that motherhood is hard. I’d go out on a limb to say that it’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. Yes, it is also the most rewarding. But there are some days when those rewards feel few and far between, right?

Last week, my husband was out of town all week, so it was just me and the boys. All day, every day. It was exhausting and stressful. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends and family that came by to let me get a shower, bring me food, and generally just make sure I was staying sane.

This week, my best friend is in the same situation. Her husband is out of town all week, so she’s solely responsible for their two kiddos. Although these weeks seem like the longest weeks of our lives, in the grand scheme of things, they go by quickly, and for the most part, we all come out unscathed.

While Alex was gone, I spent most of the week counting down the days and hours until he returned. But I find myself doing that even during normal weeks. I’ll look at the clock and think “oh my gosh. It’s only 1 in the afternoon.” Or Jack will be having a meltdown while I’m trying to make dinner and I think “Lord help me, there’s still 2 and a half hours until bedtime.” When Gabe wakes me up at 3 AM to eat, I think “ugh, how much longer until you can sleep through the night?”

I need to stop doing that. I saw a quote online the other day that said “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m not sure who said it, but they were right. Although sometimes the days seem never-ending, in the long run, time flies by. I cannot believe that my first son will be 2 years old in just over 6 months. And my second son is 2 months old today, already! I feel like it was just a few months ago that we were bringing Jack home from the hospital. Now he’s gone from a baby to a little boy, and his little brother is growing just as quickly.

When Jack was a newborn, I remember trying to get him to go to sleep one night. I was still full of postpartum hormones, and I was exhausted and at the end of my rope. I stood next to his pack & play, bouncing him up and down, and I thought “I’m going to have to bounce him all night for him to stay asleep. I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. I’m never going to get to sleep again.” And I just burst into tears.

Yes, it was a very dramatic thing to think, but in that moment, I was dead serious. You think some crazy things in your new baby, exhausted, hormone-riddled state of mind. But the point is, we got through it. I also remember talking to Becky one day, and I was so frustrated because Jack could not keep his binky in his mouth to save his life, and every time it fell out, he would wake up. So I was constantly up and down at night and during naps to put it back in. Desperate, I asked “When will he finally be old enough to pick up his binky and put it back in his mouth by himself?” She kind of laughed and said “Um….not for many months.”

And then one day, I stopped, and I realized: he could put his binky in his mouth by himself now. Yeah, it did take awhile. I mean, they don’t really have the dexterity and coordination needed for that task for awhile. But it happened. I wasn’t putting his binky in his mouth forever, like I thought I would be. Every season passes, and it passes faster than you expect it to.

Someday, sooner than I think, Gabe will be sitting up, and crawling, and not so dependent on me all day every day. And Jack will be able to feed himself with a spoon without making as big of a mess as he does now (hopefully), and dress himself, and communicate more with his words. And then they’ll be in school someday. And then someday they’ll be teenagers. And I don’t really like thinking past that.

Because as long as the difficult days seem to be, they’re really passing by in the blink of an eye. And as hard as it is to have babies and toddlers, I feel sad when I think of the day that they don’t want to snuggle with me to read a book or take a nap. Or when they don’t need me to kiss their boo-boos. Or when they think that they’re too cool to hang out with their old, un-cool mom. Or when they get married and a new woman enters their life. So I’ll stop checking the clock every 20 minutes, and wishing that time would speed up so that I don’t feel so stressed and sleep deprived anymore (although I don’t believe that’ll ever fully go away, anyway). I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself that this moment will pass, quicker than I’d like, and I’ll cherish the time I’ve been given with these precious boys.

What Moms REALLY Need

Everywhere you look online (especially if you frequent Pinterest), you’ll find lists of things that women “need” for motherhood. What you need to pack for the hospital, what you need for the first few weeks at home with a newborn, what you need to entertain your toddler while breastfeeding your newborn, what baby clothes you’ll need, what apps you’ll need, and on and on. But I’ve come to realize that there are a few basic items that every mom of littles legitimately needs, whether it’s your first kid or your fifth. These items actually are a necessity, especially if you are a stay at home mom in danger of losing her mind on a daily basis.

1. First and foremost, coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, you may want to start. But really, any source of caffeine will do. Sometimes if I don’t have time to make coffee in the morning, I just drink some Coke. (I know, a super great way to start the day.)

2. On that note, you will need a good, tall coffee cup with a lid. Preferably insulated. Because you will not be drinking that coffee while it’s hot, let’s just be honest. Even if it’s not insulated, having a lid will help it stay hot longer. It also gives you the ability to drink coffee without feeling paranoid that you’re going to spill it on your two month old baby who refuses to be put down.

3. A Netflix subscription. Or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or something. This is for when you’ve taken up residence on the couch for various reasons such as: feeding a newborn, a sick child, a baby napping on your chest that you’re scared to put down for fear of waking them up, etc. Last winter, Jack and I both got sick and basically didn’t leave the couch for about three days. I managed to watch the whole first two seasons of Scandal. Don’t judge me.

4. A basket or caddy to keep remotes close by. Do not, I repeat, do not get stuck on the couch in the aforementioned situations without the remote nearby. Otherwise, you’re stuck watching Doc McStuffins long after your kid has fallen asleep, and why torture yourself like that?  You can also keep things like your phone and some snacks in the caddy. (Hey, sometimes you get stuck on that couch for a LONG time.)

5. A Kindle, or some other e-reader/tablet device. If you begin to feel like your brain is turning to mush, what with all the Netflix-ing, you may want to try to read something. However, if you’ve ever tried to read a book with a tiny human crawling all over you, you realize this is easier said than done. I’ve found that it’s much easier to read on my Kindle than an actual physical book. This kills me, because I would rather read a physical book. But, the Kindle is great for trying to read with kids around. Plus you can check your email, play games, listen to music, etc. Helpful if your phone dies or you forgot to grab it before you sat down to feed the baby or something.

6. Easy to grab snacks. Because half the time, you will forget to eat, and the other half, you won’t have time to eat. One day last week, I realized I hadn’t eaten yet that day and it was already 3 PM. Hangry (hungry/angry) Mommy is not good for anyone. Grab a granola bar or something.

7. A really good diaper bag. Because it’s basically going to be attached to you for the next couple of years. I personally recommend something with a lot of pockets, and more room than you think you’ll actually need. I’m a Thirty-One consultant, and we have some amazing bags that can be used as diaper bags, but the important thing is to get one that you like and won’t mind carrying around everywhere you go. Make sure it’s stylish and functional. It’s a hard search sometimes, but it can be done.

8. An abundance of hair ties and yoga pants. Where do all the hair ties go? Let me know if you ever figure this out. I can have one in my hair and one on my wrist, and by the end of the day, they’re both gone. Moms should buy stock in hair elastics. And yoga pants. That’s basically all I wear now. I know it’s time to do laundry when I run out of clean yoga pants.

9. A strong stomach. Because the amount of spit up, puke, poop, and chewed food you will have to clean up is astounding.

10. A sense of humor. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. And to be perfectly honest with you, I have many, many moments as a mother where I feel like crying. Sometimes a good cry is what you need, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But just remember to look at the other side of things as well. Being a mom is hard work, but it’s also extremely rewarding work. Try to find the humor in your day, and if things aren’t going as planned, laugh it off and try again. Tomorrow is a new day. Plus, your kids don’t care if you think you’re screwing everything up. All they know is that they love their mommy, and their mommy loves them. In their eyes, you can do no wrong, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy the time you have with your littles.

What’s Your Word?

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think I gave up on making them once I became a jaded highschooler and realized they were pretty pointless if you couldn’t keep them up past February. So the new year has never really been that exciting to me. However, this year, I just felt differently about things. Maybe it’s because I’m turning 30 this year and that’s been a little bit of a “wake up call” for me. Or maybe it’s because we are a family of four now, and it’s making me realize how grown up and old I really am getting. Whatever the reason, I’m really looking forward to this year, and felt strongly about doing some new things.

Resolutions still aren’t really my thing though, so even though I had some ideas about things I’d like to accomplish this year, I didn’t particularly want to make some declaration of everything I was planning on accomplishing this year. Then when I inevitably lose my motivation, it just makes it even more depressing to know that I failed in my grand plans.

So I had these ideas and thoughts about the year building up in my head, but no real plan for them. Then, while perusing the internet a few days into January, I found a discussion about your “word” for the year. “What’s your word?” everyone seemed to be asking. And the replies were very diverse and inspirational. I had never heard of people doing this before, but it looked like everyone had picked a word that they wanted to represent their year; a word to focus on as opposed to just a “resolution.”

A word for the year is more like a theme rather than a resolution. I liked that idea, and it seems much more attainable than making these lofty goals and then feeling like a failure if they don’t work out. With a word for the year, you get a lot more grace. It’s much more flexible. And it’s not just about what you can do to make that theme happen, it encompasses everything you’re hoping for this year, whether that’s something you can make happen, or if it’s something you have to believe that God is going to do for you.

When I thought about my word for the new year, I immediately thought of “change.” I’ve been feeling like this is going to be a big year of change anyway, and there’s a lot of things I’m hoping will change, both personally and for our family. However, a few days later, I also thought of “intentional,” because while I was pondering all this new year stuff, I found a lot of things that I want to change involve me being intentional about things. It’s time to stop just sitting idly by and letting life happen. I need and want to be intentional about my life and my relationships in order for any change to happen. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It’s time to change things up a bit.

So I ended up with two words, which kind of defeats the purpose of your “one word” for the year, haha. But I think they make a good pair: “intentional change.” I’m excited to see what’s in store for me, Alex, and our boys, and focusing on my words gives me a lot more anticipation for the upcoming year than I usually have. Here’s to a great 2015!

Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and why you picked it! Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Unappreciated Moms

So, I had these great, intelligent, thought-provoking ideas for this blog post. And then…well, life happened. The past two days have been rough. The boys have been fussy, and at least one of them has needed something every moment of the day. I would love for there to just be an hour–30 minutes, even–where both boys are content and don’t need anything. But sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I love my boys, and I would never regret becoming a mom. But, wow. It is hard sometimes. It’s crazy how much it changes your lifestyle. Someday, when my boys are teenagers and they start complaining about how I’m not cool, and I don’t understand them, and I’m so old, I’m going to pull out old pictures of myself and say, “Do you see this? Mommy used to be young, and pretty, and fun, and cool, and you know what happened? You guys.” Haha

But for real. I used to blow dry my hair, and wear miniskirts and bikinis, and accessorize, and go out whenever I wanted to, and stay up all hours of the night (for fun, not because I’m feeding tiny humans). For the love, I actually used to wear yoga pants to look cute, not because they were the easiest thing to throw on (or because they’re stretchy enough for my post-baby body to be comfortable in). My best friend, Becky, and I talked on the phone today because we both needed some adult conversation, and I said, “Remember how when we were in high school, 9 am seemed so early? We would’ve NEVER called each other at 9 am. But now, we’ve been up for hours.” “Oh my gosh,” she replied. “It’s only 9? I’m ready for lunch.” lol

Me and Becky, pre-kids. We looked good. ;)

Me and Becky, pre-kids. We looked good. 😉

The past few days, I haven’t been able to eat like a normal person, or change out of my yoga pants, or really do much of anything for myself. All because I’ve been too busy taking care of the munchkins. It’s amazing what you sacrifice when children enter your lives. Moral of the story? Go call your mom! Give her a hug! Write her a note, take her out for a nice meal…you have no idea what she gave up to take care of you, and you won’t until you have kids of your own. Moms are the most selfless people in the world, I think. I know I appreciate my mom and what she did for us so much more than I ever did.

Thank goodness for mommy friends who understand.

Thank goodness for mommy friends who understand.

This is definitely not my deepest or most eloquent blog. I am super tired right now, and my brain is basically mush (that’s what Clifford and Sesame Street will do to you). But, I think it’s an important subject to bring up. We need to appreciate our moms more, for sure. But on the same note, moms need to appreciate this time with their babies too. I can’t believe that Jack is already almost a year and a half, and I know Gabe will grow up just as quickly. Although this time in my life is exhausting, I know it will be over before I know it. So, I will appreciate this time in my life, and find joy in the chaos, and relish their babyhood. And someday, I hope they will appreciate everything that I’ve done for them, and realize how much I really do love them. (And if they don’t, I do have pictures to prove it.)

Banned Book Challenge

Because I am an overachiever and apparently don’t have enough going on in my life (please read that sentence in an appropriately sarcastic tone of voice), I decided to do a book challenge this year. I stumbled across a list of reading/book challenges that someone posted on Facebook, and I thought it’d be fun to have a specific challenge to meet, rather than just saying “this year, I’m going to read more.”

Some of the challenges were pretty intense, and I’m trying not to overload myself TOO much. So I finally settled on the Banned Books Challenge over at Buckling Bookshelves. I like the way the challenge is set up: there are different levels, and you can commit to reading as many or as few books as you want. They can also be re-reads, as long as you read them in 2015, and they’ve been banned and/or challenged in some way. Then after you read them, you post a review, and link to it on her blog.

I decided on the banned books challenge, because part of my Before 30 bucket list was to read 20 classic books that I haven’t read before. You know, the ones that everyone is “supposed” to read, but somehow you never get around to. Like high-school and college reading list type books. And a lot of the classics have been banned or challenged such as Fahrenheit 451, Catch-22, Brave New World, etc. So I figured I could knock out two things at once, and complete the challenge and my bucket list with the same books. I’m aiming for the “Rabble-Rouser” level, which is 6-9 challenged books, but I may try to read more, depending on how it goes.

Side note, have you ever researched the most challenged and banned books? There are some ridiculous ones on there. Like Winnie the Pooh and Green Eggs and Ham?! I mean, what the heck. Even Little House on the Prairie is on there, and I read that when I was like 7. And if you know my mom, you know she wasn’t letting me read any controversial book at age 7. Haha

So, I’ll be doing reviews of the books I read on here, which will be interesting. I’ve never really written book reviews before, so that’ll be something new. I am looking forward to doing a lot of reading this year though. I remember back when I didn’t have to make myself read for fun. I still love reading, but there are just so many things that take priority over it now. It’s sad, but hopefully since I’m being more intentional about it, I can do a lot more of it this year than in years past.

I’m almost done with my first book for both the challenge and the bucket list (because I coincidentally started reading one that happens to be a challenged book way back before Christmas–shhh), so I may be posting a review for that later this week!

A “Short” Bio

Since I’m trying to refresh this blog and I (hopefully) will have some new readers stopping by, I thought I would just do a short post to introduce myself and the other “characters” that will be showing up in my posts on a regular basis. 🙂 I need to rewrite my profile on here, so until I get that done, here’s a much more updated “about me” section.

I’m Kristin, and I’m 29 years old. I am kind of panicking about turning 30 this year (only about 9 months away, actually!), so a few months ago I made a list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 30. I have done exactly zero things on the list so far, but I do have high hopes of getting at least a few of them accomplished, so those adventures may show up here as well.

Although my “bucket list” for 30 remains virtually untouched, I still have a lot in my life that I’m proud of.  I am married to a wonderful man, Alex, who balances out my perfectionist, snarky, type-A, grammar nerd personality. He makes me laugh even when I absolutely do not want to. We’ve been married for five years (six this August!), and have known each other even longer. We were great friends for awhile before taking the leap into dating, and we still have that wonderful friendship in our marriage.

Alex and I have two little boys. I am one of “those moms”–the crazy ones with two small children that you see in the grocery store and you think “how–and why?–does she handle that?” Yep, I’m a two under two mama. Our son Jack is 16 months old, and our son Gabriel is one month old. We definitely did not plan on having two so close together. Gabriel was a big surprise, but a happy and welcome one. It has definitely been an adjustment, but we are excited to see the two of them grow up together so close in age and have a built in best friend.

Jack is one of the happiest kids I’ve ever seen: goofy, curious, always wanting to be right in the middle of things, and constantly making me laugh. He’s also very outgoing and friendly, which is hilarious, because Alex and I are definitely more on the introverted side. I don’t know where he got it from, but I hope he keeps his outgoing  personality and sense of adventure throughout his life. Jack loves doggies, spinning in circles, milk, cookies, his binky, Mega Bloks, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and being loud. He is a super sweet kid, and is becoming quite the helper. He’s a great big brother already. However, he definitely has an attitude and a little bit of a dramatic side, and can be very stubborn at times. Can’t imagine where he got that from….*ahem*.

It’s hard to say much about a one month old’s personality. So far, Gabriel seems to be a little more serious than his big brother, but he is very observant. If something catches his eye, he stares very intently, and I would love to know what’s going through his little head at those moments. He’s a big eater and has grown a lot since coming home from the hospital. I’m thinking he might eventually be the same size as his “big” brother (Jack’s always been a little peanut).

I received my Bachelor’s degree last May, which is something I had been working towards for years. I majored in English and minored in Communications. I was so excited and proud to finally finish. It wasn’t easy, especially with a little one (Jack was born about 2 weeks before I was supposed to go back for my last semester), and I had many moments where I just wanted to quit. But I’m definitely glad I finished, and the pride and joy that I felt when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma made it all worth it.

A little more about me, and then I’ll wrap up this post that is turning out a lot longer than I planned. I’m the oldest of four children, and I grew up in a tiny little town in Indiana (for size reference, by “tiny,” I mean that I actually grew up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods, and the town closest to us didn’t even have a stoplight). We were all homeschooled, and we had a pretty great childhood. My family moved to Florida the summer I turned 18, which I thought was the worst experience of my life, but I ended up loving it. I fell in love with the beach (in fact, I wrote a tribute to it awhile back), and made some good friends, had some awesome traveling opportunities, and of course met Alex there.

Now I live in the arctic north (okay, it’s just PA). I am currently in hibernation for the rest of the winter, and desperately missing the beach and warm sunshine. Although winter is a bit of a shock to my system, we’ve had some great opportunities, and made some really good friends that are really more like family.

Some of my favorite things include: reading, writing,  the beach, Coca-Cola, making lists, buying awesome new pens and notebooks, Sharpies, Post-Its (I’m sensing a theme here), laughing, candy, cinnamon gum, and Netflix binges.

Okay, that’s all for now. I feel a little narcissistic after talking about myself for so long, haha. Hopefully it wasn’t too boring, and I promise that in future blog posts I will talk less about myself. 🙂 I have several ideas for the blog, so my posts will probably be quite a mix of things. Of course, the biggest thing in my life right now is mommy-hood, so that will probably show up quite a bit, as well as book reviews, my adventures before I turn 30, and things I’ve learned through my experiences in the past. If you’ve stuck with me this long, thanks for reading, and I hope you come back to read future posts!