Category Archives: Uncategorized

Momma, You Are Doing Enough

Here’s a secret no one told me about motherhood. Or maybe they did and I just wasn’t listening closely. The secret is, motherhood can be truly all consuming. It can feel like I’m treading, just trying to keep up with the day to day demands. Yet when I look up, everyone else seems capable of doing it all and so much more. There’s the mom with the great career or the one with the spotless house. There’s the mom having fun with friends or venturing across the globe or running a marathon. It seems like no matter how much I do, there will always be more that I should be accomplishing; it will never be enough.

But being a mom, and all the simplicity and complexity that entails, is enough.

So here’s a reminder and reassurance, to myself and to you and to all of us treading through motherhood together, that whatever we are doing is already enough.

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You might think that you should be more doggedly chasing down your career goals; going back into the workforce or pursuing a promotion at you current job. But your time and energy and soul have limits. Embrace those limits and accept that it’s ok to lean out a bit when and where you can. Work and worth are not solely defined by numbers on a paycheck. You are doing enough.

Maybe you feel like you should be pursuing your passions, working on a project with all your heart. But maybe your kids are your passion right now, and that’s ok. Or maybe they’re not, but you’re too damn tired to figure out what your passions are. That’s ok too. You are doing enough.

You may feel like you should be traveling the world; experiencing life and making new memories. But to your little people you are the world; the leader of life and the maker of memories. Embrace seeing the world around you anew through their eyes. You are doing enough.

Maybe you think that you should be working out more. Running and shaping and toning your body to it’s pre-kid self. But your body has been a vessel of life and nourishment, which has shaped it in a new and different and spectacular way. Be kind to it – stretch it and move it – but be gentle on your tired bones. Appreciate all that your beautiful body has already done. You are doing enough.

Or maybe you wish that you could constantly cook up homemade organic and vegan and gluten free Pinterest-perfect recipes that the whole family would enjoy. But at the end of the day, the people and conversations around the dinner table are more important than what’s served on top. You are doing enough.

Perhaps you feel that you should go out more and keep up with friends. But sometimes the magic lies within the walls that surround you and the relationships cultivated with those who share your walls. Allow yourself the space to enjoy the magic moments right in front of you. You are doing enough.

Or you think you should stay home more to catch up on cooking and cleaning and laundry. But those chores will always be there. Sadly, there is no end in sight to the to-do list. So let go for a little while and explore what makes your soul come alive. Sharing this joy with your children is one of the sweetest fruits of life. You are doing enough.

You might be looking for tangibles, tasks to check off your to-do list, and it seems like a day with your children has resulted in nothing. But you are shaping souls, you are crafting character. There could be no nobler task. You are doing enough.

Maybe most days feel like it’s everything you can do just to keep up. Getting everyone fed and changed and fed and changed again is all you manage to accomplish. But you have kept another human alive; this is no small feat. You are doing so much more than enough.

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Motherhood is full of strange contradictions and often we feel like we’re doing everything and accomplishing nothing. But never underestimate how much you are truly doing. The small daily details that may never be seen or appreciated by anyone else are the building blocks to little lives. Each seemingly mundane or meaningless task you are doing is building a strong and sturdy foundation for your children. Your patience and presence through all the endless needs is the keystone that keeps your family standing.

Momma, you are doing enough. You are enough.

 

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Dear Baby Girl

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Dear Baby Girl,

It is impossible to believe that two years have already passed since you burst into our world. The first words I blearily uttered when I saw your sweet face were “It’s ok, it’s a whole new world.” And it was, for both of us. A more beautiful, if sometimes more challenging, world than I ever could have imagined.

In the past two years, there have been countless moments where I’ve embraced the bliss of new motherhood, and just as many where I’ve felt like I’m completely failing at this parenting thing. There have been sleepless nights that felt like they would never end and frustrating days that I wished would end faster. But somehow all that time, those seemingly endless baby days, now feels like it has passed in the blink of an eye.

When you look up at me with those big brown eyes, or reach for me with your soft delicate hand, I still see that new babe who I first nestled in my arms two years ago. The shining light of my life, my beloved baby. But when I take a step back, I see with an aching heart that with each passing day you are less and less of a baby and more and more of a little girl.

No longer do you need me, or even want me, for everything. As you’ve shown with your continually emerging stubborn independence, you are no longer a helpless babe, but a fierce individual with ideas and opinions and autonomy. It’s amazing, yet slightly bittersweet, to watch this growth. Every day you surprise me with your grasp of new words and concepts. You amaze me with your intelligence and compassion and curiosity and quirky sense of humor. In each new situation, I’m delighted to see your sparkling personality shine through.

It feels like a daily gift to discover more and more of who you are. This is a gift for which I am not always the best at showing gratitude. So many of our days seem to pass in a blur of diapers and dishes and laundry. You keep us on our toes and never stop moving. Some days, when “Momma” echoes through the house endlessly and my arms and patience are exhausted from constant requests for “up” or “help” or “more,” it’s easy to forget that you won’t always want me to hold you; you won’t always need me to comfort you. But when I lie next to you at night and breathe in your sweet stillness, I remember again the incredible blessing that I get to be the one you call Momma.

Thank you, baby girl, for coming into our world and igniting it with infectious joy. Thank you for your patience as I’m constantly learning how to be your Momma. Thank you for the beautiful beacons of hope you provide throughout the day – your mischievous smile, your unbeatable hugs, your slobbery kisses, and your amusing words. Thank you for the endless well of love and learning that you bring to our family. Thank you for being my first little love; for making me a Momma.

As I watch you grow each day, you make me grow just as much. You continue to push me beyond what I thought was possible – physically and mentally and emotionally – towards a love previously unimaginable. And for that and you, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Happy Birthday, sweet baby girl!

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An Ode to Midwives

I love all things baby, and from the exciting moment I found out I was pregnant, I dreamed of the kind of birth I wanted to have – bringing my babe into this world in the most natural way possible. My husband had vetoed my home birth idea, but I continued to read every birthing book I could get my hands on.  Due to a doctor’s recommendation back in Tennessee, I was seeing a Perinatal Specialist OB-GYN. The busy practice had two doctors, both male, who were friendly and undoubtedly knowledgeable, yet not quite what I had in envisioned in my Ina May Gaskin fueled birth fantasies. 

Midway through my pregnancy, we made a big move that meant not only finding a new home, but finding new healthcare providers as well. After exhaustive research, I was delighted to find a midwifery practice less than a mile from our house – West Suburban Women’s Health in Willowbrook, Illinois. This unique practice combined the skills and knowledge of five doctors and four midwives, all women, to create a uniquely caring team. Though I was initially caught off guard by the difference from my previous practice – no hospital-like environment, no long white lab coats, no loud crowded waiting room – I was instantly enamored with the compassion that I felt upon meeting my first midwife, Karen.  

Throughout the course of my pregnancy I had the opportunity to meet each wonderful midwife multiple times. Karen, Gillian, Patty, and Sherri each had their own unique talents and personalities, but they all clearly shared the same passion for mothers, babies, and the crazy beautiful journey of birth. 

Beyond the care of the midwives, I was blown away by the other incredible resources that West Suburban Women’s Health offers. We took advantage of each and every one of their pre-birth and parenting classes. Being new to the area, it was as much an excuse to meet other parents-to-be – to find our village – as it was to hone our parenting skills. And sure enough, we met some of our closest friends though those classes. Once the baby arrives, they also provide a weekly free new mother and breastfeeding support group which has become my sanity saver; many weeks my sole social outlet. Not to mention the group’s incredible teacher / guru / brilliant Lactation Consultant, Patty Janicek, who has become like a third grandmother to our child. The midwifery mindset spills out into all aspects of the practice, and I am so grateful to be the beneficiary. 

So, when the big day came to give birth, I wasn’t in it alone. By my side stood (and knelt and lay and crouched) Karen – ironically the first midwife I met. She was my champion as I went to battle. Calmly encouraging me through the unknown, firmly pushing me when I thought I couldn’t go on. And as my daughter came into this world, it was exactly what I had hoped for but never could have imagined. Not the fanfare of doctors racing in last minute, surgical masks and yelling and bright lights, but Karen softly saying to me, “Reach down and grab your baby.”

 

This is the way birth should be – surrounded by support before, during, and after the glorious experience. Then walking alongside a tribe of other warrior mommas who are all going through the journey of birthing and parenthood together. 

To My Husband: Thank You

Andrew,

This past year has been a wild and beautiful ride. With a big move and the birth of our first child, and the ensuing chaos of day to day life, there is so much that I haven’t said. So much I haven’t thanked you for.

Thank you for making my ultimate dream come true; for making me a mother to our sweet baby girl.

Thank you for standing by my side and supporting me even when motherhood is more a sleepless reality than a peaceful dream.

Thank you for allowing me to stay home with our daughter, to have those daily moments that can never be repeated or replaced.

Thank you for not assuming my life is a vacation just because I’m not going into an office.

Thank you for understanding why you haven’t had a hot cooked meal in the last six months.

Thank you for cooking for me. Feeding me when I’m always starving.

Thank you for wearing wrinkled clothes without complaint because somehow the laundry just never gets folded.

Thank you for forcing me to use paper plates when the thought of washing one more damn dish makes me want to lose my mind.

Thank you for not questioning my parenting decisions and trusting my intuition.

Thank you for reassuring me when I question my parenting deciscions and can’t trust my intution.

Thank you for holding me when it’s been one of those days and I collapse into tears.

Thank you for holding our daughter when it’s been one of those days and she collapses into tears.

Thank you for always trying, even if you feel like you’re just muddling through this parenthood thing. To watch you and our baby girl learn together is a glorious thing.

Thank you for inspring that toothless baby grin that makes the whole world beautiful again.

Thank you for making me laugh when it’s the last thing I want to do but first thing I need.

Thank you for working hard. So. Damn. Hard. Everyday for this family. To tirelessly support the ones you love is not a slight thing and we are beyond grateful for all that you do.

Thank you for being the incredible husband and father, who is so much more than I ever could have imagined or hoped for.

Thank you for being you. Amazing, unrelenting, magnificent you.

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Happy Anniversary, Love. Thank you for two wonderful years as your wife and countless more to come.

Weekend Wandering

As expected, the weekend included lots of laying low and keeping cozy.

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I started the snowy Saturday off with this delicious, healthy, and easy breakfast of quinoa, edamame, egg, and avocado.

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Bella and I decided to brave the elements to enjoy a scenic walk and expend some energy.

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Fetch was played. Sticks were chewed. And someone had a frightful moment when she got a piece of stick stuck in the bridge of her mouth…

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But alls well that end well with a happy pup.

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Hope your weekend was blissful and that your week is off to a joyful start!

Have a Wonderful Weekend

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What are you up to this weekend?  I have/had grand plans of taking Bella to Mardi Growl to let her strut her stuff, but the weather forecast is awfully dismal (29 and snowy), so snuggling up in bed may be a better option… But I am very very excited for my good friend Cathy to visit from Philadelphia and my lovely Aunt Sherry to join us from Kentucky; because having great people around always makes life all the more wonderful!

If you’re stuck inside in wintry weather, here are a few interesting things to entertain…

Have you heard of the Happsters? Spreading happiness is always a good thing in my book.

interesting insights on Stay at Home Moms and Working Moms and why it’s best for all involved to support the hard work behind each family’s individual choices.

Home decor DIY? Yes please!

Don’t these beautiful flowers make you dream of spring?

This book and this book are going on my must read list to educate and inspire my healthy lifestyle and love of cooking. (more on that coming up…)

Wishing happy times to you!

And we’re back…

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So I have this knack for starting things and then just… stopping. Even things that I love, I end up getting distracted and just aimlessly wandering on to the next project. My loved ones can tell you it’s a really wonderful trait, as they so enjoy when I stop in the middle of a project and just leave a mess behind (sorry Mom & Dad & Andrew!).

In terms of writing, it is something I truly enjoy doing, but the reasons for my being absent from blogging go beyond the usual distractedness. For one I was living in a swamp with extremely limited internet access and, surprisingly, it is not all that fun to type up a post on the world’s tiniest keyboard on my phone. Secondly, my computer crashed, which also inhibits blogging and modern life in general. But more than anything, I think what often keeps me from writing more is that it can be rather daunting, especially when writing for an audience. Sometimes I don’t feel particularly inspired or worry about my ability to express myself on a certain subject.

Yet, the fact of the matter is, right now I have too many exciting things happening in my life to keep it all to myself. So armed with a new iPad and inspiration, I’m ready to take on the adventures to come!

Thanks for continuing to share in my journey – hoping that yours is a joyful one as well!

Simple Pleasures

Yesterday something amazing happened… Something I have been waiting weeks, no months, for.

It was something that most people take for granted, but for me it was an indescribable spiritual experience. Something lovely and miraculous all at once…

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I. TOOK. A. REAL. SHOWER.

That probably doesn’t sound like anything special at all, but let me tell you – it was. It had been over 2 months since I had bathed outside of the trailer. Most of you probably don’t know what trailer showers are like. (Or if you’re my cousin Chip you’re apparently surprised that I still shower at all… promise I’m not that much of a hippie folks!). But let me give you an overview of my thought process when realizing I was getting to take a non-trailer shower:

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“You mean I can stand up straight and my head won’t hit the ceiling? I have more than 6 minutes of hot water? The water pressure will actually allow me  to get my hair wet? I don’t have to turn the water off between every step? I can turn in a full 360 degree circle without knocking everything over or falling out and suddenly finding myself in the ‘kitchen’?”

So yeah, it was truly amazing. And all thanks to my wonderful friend Sarah who let me get ready at her place prior to a pizza party with friends. Little did she know what joy she was bringing to my life. With just 10 minutes in a real shower, I felt about like this:

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Or probably more accurately like this…

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As you go into the weekend, I challenge you to take joy in the simple pleasures in life – whatever that may be to you. It’s easy to overlook or take for granted the little things, but those are often what matter most – the small brushstrokes that make up that beautiful big picture. I’m hoping that your day, and all the days to come, are filled with life’s loveliest things and a pure abundance of happiness and joy!

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All photos were found through Pinterest. If you haven ‘t discovered Pinterest yet, you need to. It offers a wealth of beautiful pictures, inspiring words, DIY projects, recipes, and anything else you can imagine. Simply lovely.

Gators and Panthers and Snakes – oh my!

We’ve set out towards our first long-term location on the trailer travels, which is Big Cypress National Preserve! We couldn’t be more excited to leave the frigid temperatures of the mid-Atlantic for the sunny shores of south Florida. Just one minor hesitation (for me), which is the excessive amount of predators that will be our new neighbors on the Preserve…

We are going to be smack dab in the middle of Alligator Alley, the scenic thuroughfare that runs West to East across south Florida, carrying tourists from the Gulf Coast of Naples to the metropolitan beaches of Miami. Most visitors are wise enough to stay in their cars and admire the wildlife behind the safety of a metal shield. We, however, are not only foolish enough to stop and explore, we’re also setting up camp for the next 4 months and volunteering to walk through swampland filled with beast of all sorts (more on our new job later).

I’d be lying if I said hadn’t spent the last couple of days intermitently looking up statistics on alligator attacks and planning my escape route when (not if) one comes after me (serpentine run!). And apparently its not just the gators we have to be on guard from. We’re also in prime panther country – did you know Florida had panthers?! Me neither…

And then there’s the snakes. Not just the indigenous ones – which are more than enough to make my skin crawl – but also the giant pythons that people buy as pets and then illegally relase into the wild when surprisingly they grow and are then too large or too expensive to feed (hmm, what do you think happens when such people have children?). In any case, this creates a situation where non-indigenous (gigantic) snakes are now thought to be breeding in south Florida.

Needless to say, I’m just a wee bit nervous about all the potential predatory threats. But when you decide to go on adventure, why not make it as adventureous as possible? So we’re on our way to spend the winter in the swampland and I’m hoping the predators and I can form a friendly alliance (or at least just a mutual “stay away from me” fear).

Apple Carving

If you’re like me and leave everything to the last minute, you may now be scrambling for a Thanksgiving dish that will both impress and delight the tastebuds of your guests.  This apple salad (adapted from the wonderful Ramshackle Glam) could not be easier or more delightful.

Since I didn’t have all the ingredients for the original recipe – as is usually the case – this is my adaptation.  Really most of the ingredients can be substituted with whatever dried fruits, nuts, cheeses and dressings you have in your pantry.

Apple Salad with Avocado & Dried Fruit  (serves 4)

What you need:

4 Apples – I prefer Fuji or Honeycrisp

2 Avocados, diced

1/2 cup mix of dried Cranberries, Blueberries and Pomegranate Seeds

1/2 cup roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup crumbled Feta

1/2 cup Poppyseed Dressing (or other slightly sweet flavor)

What you do:

1. Slice off top of each apple and set aside. Use a small paring knife to cut the center out of each apple, being careful not to break the shell.

2. Chop the centers of the apples into 1/4″ pieces, then mix in a small bowl with the rest of the ingredients and pour your salad into your apple bowls. Set the reserved apple tops on salad.

3. Relax and let others enviously admire your creations as they spend hours preparing their contributions to the meal.

I will not actually be making this for my Thanksgiving meal, as I try to avoid venturing into the kitchen craziness other than to get a cold beer.  But if you’re feeling slightly ambitious, this is a great low-effort option.

Happy Thanksgiving!