Saturday, August 27, 2016

What Moms Need

I'm sitting in the Health Nut, a local all organic cafe, I'm eating something called a "Dragon Fruit Bowl" that is really just a smoothie in a bowl. Who comes up with this stuff? It's really good. But it is just a smoothie in a bowl. A $8 smoothie in a bowl, but I have no regrets.

I am just here to relax for an hour--I left Reuben with my mother in law. He was happily playing with a balloon when I snuck out. I have zero baby-related items on my person and I left my hair down. Right now I am perfectly happy and relaxed, typing words out between bites of smoothie. (Can we pause for a minute over how weird it is to eat a smoothie with a spoon?)

Anyway, this calm moment has me thinking. What do we moms of young children need? More free time? A maid? A bigger, baby-proof house? A husband who cooks? I will take all of the above, but will it really solve my issue? Will it finally "be enough"?

Every day with Reuben is wonderful. And every day with Reuben is hard. Every day I struggle to come to terms with the roller coaster that is my life. I mean--hourly, it seems, I thank God for my son. I cherish him. But I also pray fervently that daddy comes home early. And I am struck by this utter emotional chasm that exists in my life. It's hard not to know who I am. Am I the tired mom who hasn't showered and is desperately desiring a cookie and a moment alone? Am I the mom who just finished the dishes while baby-wearing and singing childish songs to Reuben while swaying side to side to amuse him? Am I the delighted mom who plays with her child blissfully, reading him book after book and stacking block after block?

The correct answer is I am all of the above. I am all those moms. I do all those things. I can be all that and more. I don't need to be just the tired mom or just the fulfilled mom or just the busy mom. I am ALL THOSE MOMS.

Every time (since becoming a mother) when people ask me "how are you" I feel so conflicted. And confused. How am I? It always takes me awhile to figure out how to answer, and most of the time I just say fine. Because I can't think of just one word that would encompass how I actually am in that moment. I think it's because I am everything at once most the time! Before I was a mom I never had this issue--I was fine or good or knitting or hungry---and these feelings existed more or less by themselves within me. Now "how I am" is much more complicated.

I'm learning that life isn't limited to just one thing, at just one time. It's a beautiful melting pot of all the things. It's possible to be thankful and tired all at once. And I'm glad I realized this, because it took all the guilt out of it. I can recognize a struggle and ask for help while feeling grateful at the same time. And I don't have to feel crushing guilt over needing help, or over not feeling the "motherhood bliss" at that particular moment. No one is happy all the time. Why do I expect to be happy all the time?

I can be thankful I have Reuben and also wish for an hour away from him at a little local shop to recuperate from raising my tiny, unformed human. One feeling does not have to define the moment. I can be more things than just one emotion. I can be more. I can be. And I am. At least, I've finally given myself permission to be.

And that is what Mom's need. Permission to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Week 48

This week was a whopper! My first week where I decided to try vlogging every day! I made it to Friday, and needed Saturday and Sunday off to recoup from all the work. But eventually I want to get to a place where I can vlog 6 times a week and take Sunday off, of course. I love vlogging and sharing my life, and doing it daily without skipping is much more cohesive.

This shows a pretty typical week for me. I stayed home most the week and just hung out with Reuben.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Six Months Paleo

Six months and going strong! I feel like I've finally hit a place where my gut is starting to thrive. I've had gut issues all my life so it feels really amazing to have a tolerably functioning one. I've been having an aloe smoothie daily, as well as eating lots of great lakes jello. I also plan on making myself some bone broth this week to further boost my gut!

We got a instant pot this month. I am in love. It's quick, easy, and delicious. Any crock pot recipe can be made in it--but within 20-40 minutes, instead of hours. It's been a game changer around here, and this tired sleep deprived mama is grateful. My husband also loves using it and has actually cooked meals! If you know my husband--he doesn't cook. Expect he's cooking. Needless to say, I am thrilled and tickled pink.

I also started exercising again after a two month break. I feel fit. My belly still protrudes, even now 13 months postpartum, but I am fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothing and feeling so much positivism about my body.

Here are my current measurements:
Thigh: 23 inches (previously 25 inches)
Bust: 38 inches (same)
Underbust: 31.5 inches (.5 inch lost)
Hips: 42 inches (2 inches lost!)
Belly: 35 inches (same)
Upper Arm: 11 inches (same)

I was surprised to see the numbers, given I didn't exercise much (besides chasing a toddler) since I last measured myself. I still hope to see improvements in my belly. I'm happy, more or less, with everything else. And amused at my content feelings too.

Here is to another month of health.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Big Island Wrapper

I finished my big island wrapper awhile ago but never got around to posting pictures to my blog. Since my DSLR broke and I'm stuck with only an ipad for pictures, I feel a little lackluster when it comes to styling a photoshoot...since it's only an arm's length that I have to work with. Husband really dislikes being my photographer, and Reuben isn't old enough not to try to eat the iPad yet. Oh well. I'll figure something out. Thoughts?

Anyway, Big Island Wrapper is a knitted shawl. I wanted something easy, and I already owned enough of the recommended yarn (knitpicks billow), so I thought: why not? And it knit up fast, too--and I could do it while monitoring my child/not worry about losing count.

I call it a win/win. I did end up crocheting an edging because I liked it better. Would I make this again? No. Will I wear it this fall? Oh yeah! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dear Mom: It Get's Better, Not Worse

Somewhere along the way this started.

"Just wait until 4 months, you'll never sleep again"

"Actually, when he hits 1 is when your life is REALLY over"

"Ugh, you are fine, 2 is the worst age. You'll see."


That was when I realized instead of enjoying watching Reuben grow and learn, here I was thinking I should be dreading his next milestone. Because in actuality I honestly have been enjoying myself lately. And feeling like something was wrong with me, because I wasn't unhappily complaining about how hard everything is like every other mom.

Yes. I am, actually, honestly, having fun! I love watching Reuben grow. Is my life over? Nope. Is Reuben horrible? Nope. Do I sleep? Yep. I mean, parenthood is hard just like most of life--but its rewarding. It's interesting. It's wonderful. I love it.

I found out I love parenthood. I love spending most of my day with Reuben. In my opinion, every age and milestone my son hits makes my life better, not worse. Since he's turned one he's been just the same awesome little person that he was at 11 months, BUT more independent and more vocal. It's a win/win for me.

I mean, yes, I struggle sometimes. But it's not the depths of despair. It's not the end of the world. It's a temporary setback while we deal with Reuben being a little boy with 100% human feelings but the body of a child. It's not an inconvenience to my life. It's a teachable moment, a moment I can give to my son to show him how much I love him and to teach him how to handle himself. It's temporary.

And the things he teaches me! I could go into paragraphs and paragraphs. He teaches me to see the mystery in the small things, the wonder in the world I'd forgotten existed in the humdrum. He teaches me that snuggles with mommy really are the best thing in the world. He teaches me what it's like to see a plant for the first time. And to see the world for the first time. I have a new awe of God--for giving me this little boy to nurse, to nurture, and to grow with.

I'm excited about Reuben turning two. I'm excited about him turning three. I don't live in fear any more of my life being over. My life is Reuben and Daddy and knitting and brownies at 7pm because chocolate. And that's okay. It feels right.

I feel such a peace about it. I didn't realize I thought it would be such an ordeal! But I've found, surprisingly--that it gets better, not worse, as my little human grows.

And that is what I am going to tell other moms.

It gets better, not worse. So enjoy it while you can because it's all uphill from here!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 47

Another week in my life. This week Reuben does some cute things with one of his birthday cards, and I talk frankly about my miscarriage. We also have a scary moment where Reuben gets into something he shouldn't! Also, paleo food! How was your week?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Budget - Month Four

Another month of budgets done! This month we went way over budget due to an emergency room visit that did not have anything to do with Reuben (so don't worry). These things happen.

For the month of April 17th-May 16th we spent 3,400! It was a survival month and a lot of things happened health wise. If the emergency room bills hadn't happened, we would have hit our budget!

Bills  ($308)

  • Netflix: We still have our $7.99 netflix account
  • Internet: We pay 50.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area.
  • YMCA: 75.00 for our gym membership--we have a family memebership now that includs Brian, me and Reuben
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $150 this month.
  • Water (every two months so we paid it last month)
No new bills to report. Same old same old.

Baby Expenses ($372)

1/3 of this was Reuben's new cloth diapers. He went up in size (we previously had the small size prefolds and they lasted until he turned 9ish months) and we bought new diapers (these fitteds) from green mountain diapers. They are 11ish dollars each and I bought 14 so as to wash every other day. We reused the same covers for the diapers. I love cloth diapers, so it was a win/win buy for me, even through they do cost a lot. (And speaking in the present, we haven't used a single disposable diaper since!) The other 2/3 was spent on a new carseat for Reuben since he outgrew his infant one when he hit 30 inches.

Food ($760)

  • Eating Out: 223
  • Brian's Lunch at Work: 114
  • Grocery Shopping: 423
I was shocked when I tallied the numbers from our food budget this month. I actually did it THREE TIMES just to make sure. Remember last month when husband and I decided to buy that farm share? Looks like it really is helping our budget! Our grochery shopping was the smallest it has ever been this month. I am thrilled. I hope we can keep it up! We ate out a little more than normal, but considering this was a stressful month, I'll take it! I also made things like ketchup and mayo to help our budget stay low. Making from scratch was fun, but I decided to keep buying some condiments when I can after how time consuming it was.
Gas ($77)

Brian spent $50 in gas and I spent $27. Yay, driving!

Personal Money (Brian $321, Carolynn $209)

My husband went fishing with my dad this month, so he picked up a fishing license. We also bought a subscription to audible again (I tried it out earlier but canceled it, and this time husband tried it and we kept it!) Husband also bought a blood pressure monitor, a blood sugar testing finger-poking thing, and a oxygen blood level monitor that I included in his personal money (although perhaps that should go in medical? I am not sure). I bought two wool diaper covers for Reuben. He didn't need any more, so these were total spurge buys, but they were used and I love them. I got two for only $20! I also purchased a few things from amazon myself: a totoro backpack for my niece and some totoro sticky notes for annotating my cookbooks, among other things.

Other ($1300)

As I said, we had an emergency room visit that was $993! Everyone is fine, but it was stressful--and another bill related to that as well. These things happen. I am glad we were able to take it in stride. 

The 2016 budget series:

January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16 
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th 
May 17th-June16th

Saturday, August 13, 2016

You are a Bad Mom

I'm a bad mom. You are a bad mom. We are all bad moms.

And you know what? That's okay.

I don't know a mom out there that doesn't want what is best for their family. I know we are all working hard. We are all striving, hour after hour, to raise our kids.

But we can never live up to our own expectations. We can never live up to society's expectations. We are bad moms.

I'm a bad mom because I stayed up late tonight to write a post about being a bad mom when I should be in bed getting the recommend eight hours of sleep before my 12 month old wakes up to nurse at 11:30 at night. And at 3:30. And at 5 am. But I'm also a fulfilled mom, because I took an hour before bed to do something I love and unwind on the internet. But tomorrow I'll be a little sleepy. Maybe I'll have coffee.

I think about it this way: If I already accept the fact that I am a bad mom, how can I go all sanctimommy on a facebook friend or random target shopper? I'm too busy trying to fix my own issues to point fingers at another mom. And if I do need to mention something, coming from a place where I recognize my own failures helps me speak with love and not judgement.

So, when a mom who has her head stuck so far up her skinny vanilla latte tells you to spot your kid at the playground or asks you why Junior isn't wearing a hat, you can look at her as another bad mom and not like the angel God has just sent to help you change your ways. She's a bad mom, she just doesn't recognize it yet. Pity her. And of course she would point out a different parenting style and of course she wouldn't know Junior owns four hats and likes throw them at other kids, so you left them at home. She's not recognizing the fact that she's a bad mother and your a bad mother. Instead of judgment, we should all celebrate our fallibleness and inability to cope on six hours of sleep and skinny vanilla lattes. 

What I am saying is: you are a mom. You are trying your best. You love your kids. You are going to make mistakes. It's stressful enough without other moms pilling on their own guilt and expectations. It's stressful enough when you feel alone in this great big world with three under three and a pile of unwashed laundry and dirty hair.

You will fail sometimes. Maybe more times than you would like. Definitely more times than the public thinks you should.

So embrace it.

Embrace your choice to baby-wear even through "your toddler can walk". That Other Human who opened their mouth to tell you how they think you should tow your teething 18 month old does not have to chase said 18-month old through target or keep said 18-month old from trying to eat the colorful contraptions in the dollar bin. Smile. Or don't. But embrace your choice, because most people won't and you don't have time to doubt yourself.

Embrace bottle feeding. Formula. Breastfeeding. Hats. Gloves. Mismatched socks. Crying. Stares. Cloth diapers. Disposable diapers. Baby led weening. Purees.

I mean, I am not telling you not to research. Research the heck out of everything. Talk to your doctor. Your friends. The older woman at the coffee shop in line in front of you who is holding one kid in each hand and looks exasperated. The lady behind your pew in church. The UPS delivery guy. Okay, maybe not the delivery guy. But you get the idea. Research. And make the decision you think is best for your kid.

And than when someone questions that decision in the checkout line of target, look them square in the eye and state, with perhaps a smirk, that Junior with the boogery nose is your little angel and goodness if you aren't his mommy and therefore completely qualified to make any and all decisions regarding his person.

You are a mom. Your opinion matters more than anyone elses in your child's life.

You might be a bad mom. (Honestly I think we all are to some extent because we are all HUMAN and all humans struggle with something) You might be a worried mom. Or a tired mom. Or a frazzled mom. Or a running-on-coffee-day-two mom.

But you know what word matters most? Mom. You are a mom. Add any other word you want--and it still doesn't take away from the simple fact that you are, indeed, a mother.

So own it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Week 46

My baby turned ONE this week. WOW! It's been one year since I underwent that awesome thing called "labor" and delivered a healthy baby boy. And by awesome I mean the most painful thing in the world I have yet to experience. He was also very tired whenever I tried to take a picture of him. Argggh. Such is life?

I can't believe he's ONE! A whole year. He's not a little infant anymore. He's a toddler!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Rainbow Crochet Puff Hat

I am obsessed with rainbows. I have a rainbow fish didy babywearing wrap, and a rainbow blanket for my son's room a rainbow puff hat. Somehow all three of these things must make it into a picture together.

For this tutorial you will need worsted weight yarn and a 4.0mm crochet hook and an obsession with rainbows. You can download and view the PDF file here on Ravelry, and see the YouTube tutorial on my channel.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What Being Behind Feels Like

I want to talk about something. Ever since I popped out a baby I've dealt with this nagging feeling of always being behind. Behind in dishes. Behind in laundry. Behind in washing my own hair. Behind in figuring out what I should cook for dinner.

I'm always behind.

And it bothers me. Every day I wake up wondering if I'll get anything done in the next 12 hours and every night I go to bed with a list of things I regrettably didn't get done. It's a cycle. I hate it.

So one day enough was enough and I strapped Reuben to me and tried to catch up. I did the laundry. I did the dishes. I figured out a meal plan for the entire week and even meticulously calculated a ingredient list. During his nap I swept the floor and picked up his toys and didn't spend a single minute sitting down and scrolling facebook or knitting.

And you know how I felt?

Exhausted. And also like a bad mom. Because instead of reading my kid a book I washed the dishes. And instead of singing him a song and sitting with him while he played blocks, I was hastily doing laundry. And instead of making sure I took some alone time for myself while my kid napped doing nothing and recuperating from chasing a toddler, I did more chores. Sure, my house was cleaner than it had been in a long time but my kid was a cranky mess from receiving no attention from me that day.

And instead of feeling behind and guilty that I'd gotten "nothing done," I felt guilty for putting chores and laundry ahead of spending special time with my son. I spent most of the day feeling anxious and rushed as I went from task to task trying to "get everything done".

Yeah. Screwed either way. Mom life is great, right?

I can't do everything and spend time with my kid. It just doesn't work. Also, I can't spend all day with my kid and think I'll get anything done at home. There has to be a balance. For my sanity and his.


I can do one or two chores and spend time with my kid and make time for myself. Little bits of everything. He won't die or grow up with isolation syndrome (is that even a thing?) if I play silly songs with Larry while folding some laundry and making faces at him. And I don't need to feel bad about getting a chore or two done and making my kid wait or play by himself, either. He is not my world. Chores are also not my world. I don't need to feel bad about it. It's okay. Different days bring different challenges and a revolving hierarchy of priorities. I repeat, It's okay. Breathe.

So I might not get my laundry done and the dishes done and the carpet cleaned all at once. But I can do the laundry and read my kid a book and write a blog post. We can live with that, right?

Little steps. No guilt. No judgement. He's happy and smiling. I made pancakes, we are all happy and fed here. The dishes can wait until tomorrow. I don't need to compete with the version of life in my head. I don't need to compete with my pre-baby self. Everything is new. I need to relax.

I'm not behind. I'm not ahead. I just am. And that's okay.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Week 45

This week I only vlogged once--I was recovering from having a miscarriage and just trying to take it slow and easy.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bear Boot Cuffs

I love bears. I think I am attracted to all sorts of cute, kawaii animal things since having a baby. Thus, I made boot cuffs. With bear faces on them. Because, why not?

This simple crochet pattern uses worsted weight yarn and a 4.0mm crochet hook. You can download it here! Would you ever wear these bear boot cuffs? I would!