Books I Read in April & May

I read 11 books over the past two months – yay! I thought that having a baby would slow down my reading progress, but during breastfeeding I’ve been committed to reading more books instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media. So far, so good!

I’ve read a wide variety of books, too – some easy fiction, some non-fiction, some memoirs, some parenting books… a little bit o’ everything – most of which I would recommend to others.

Book Recommendations for Summer!

Books I Read in April & May:

// The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – I wish I had read this book before I had read The Love Song of Miss Queenie, because it all would have made more sense, I think! I don’t think this book is a ‘must read’ but I really enjoyed it and would recommend both books.

// Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm – Honestly, I was expecting to like this book more than I did. While there were some good quotes in it and some nuggets of wisdom I took away about dealing with anxiety and overcoming the power of fear in our lives, I sadly didn’t love it. However, I’m going to look into different books by this author because some of my friends love his work and I feel like I must be missing something or maybe I just read this book in too much in a rush or in a sleep deprived state.

// Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting – I consider this a ‘must read’ for every parent or person taking care of a child. I love Janet Lansbury’s blog and basically everything she says/writes. The style of childcare she talks about just really, really resonates with me.

// The Lake House – An interesting story line with some mystery and some twists… yes please! It’s the prefect light read for a nice summer day, and I highly recommend it! I will say that there was a certain aspect of this book I was disappointed in at the end, but I couldn’t put it down until I was done, which is basically all I look for in a novel!sa

// When Helping Hurts – My small group through church read this book together, and I thought it was interesting but repetitive. The book discusses how we (as a culture and as a church body) can help other people and organizations without causing them more harm than good. I thought some of the points were thought-provoking, but then the chapters got repetitive. If you’re someone who is passionate about volunteering (domestically or internationally), I would recommend skimming this book to understand the main concepts, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read every word.

// Love the One You’re With – Another great (easy) summer read! This was the first book by Emily Giffin I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. This book was kind of about the path (in love) not taken, and the reader waits to see if the main character regrets being with her current guy when her ex comes back into her life. Cue dramatic music. This book won’t take you long to read, and it’s worth it if you want something quick and easy and entertaining.

// A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies – My friend (thanks, Kait!) gifted me this book and I really enjoyed it. It’s a fictional book but it’s based on a lot of research about raising children in seven different cultures around the world. I now have a better appreciation for how uniquely babies are raised in different places around the globe, but also how similarly we do things and how (as moms) our decisions for our children are all made based on what we think we know and what our society tells us and what we truly believe is in the best interest of our children. This isn’t necessarily an easy or entertaining read, but it’s truly enlightening if you are interested in how babies are raised and how moms (to-be) are treated in other cultures.

// What I Know For Sure – I can’t believe I hadn’t read this book sooner! I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it. It’s such a quick read, but I only read a few chapters each day so I could really think about Oprah’s words. I think this woman has so much wisdom! I love her anecdotes and honesty in writing about what she’s learned over her lifetime thus far and it really made me think about the things I know for sure. I think this would be a great graduation gift or a gift for a girlfriend who might be in a bit of a rut.

// If You Have to Cry, Go Outside – Confession: I didn’t know who Kelly Cutrone was until I read this book. I had never seen her TV show nor did I know she even had one until I Googled her. This lady is intense and I wish I would have read this book when I was 22 and just getting started in my career. I honestly think this is a great book for young women just embarking on a career or new job, bu it wasn’t as relevant for me at my current life stage. That being said, I kind of wanted to take on the world after reading it, so I would recommend it!

// No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame – Another Janet Lansbury book! Seriously, at the very least, check out her blog, and then if you like what she says – read her books! I loved this one because we’re dealing with some toddler behaviors with Clara and I thought her ideas on how to react were refreshing and insightful. But, her blog pretty much covers everything in her books, so it’s not necessary to buy her books unless you would rather read in that format.

// My Life on the Road – Another strong woman I never knew existed is Gloria Steinem. Of course, after reading this book I can’t believe I didn’t know about her and I actually felt a bit bad about it! This book is about Gloria’s life on the road (obviously, per the title) and I learned a lot about her and the feminist movement in general. It really made me appreciate how far we (as a society and a gender) have come, but also how far we have to go. Also, it made me appreciate how much effort it has taken to get us where we are today.

What are you reading right now?

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Weekend Links

Happy three-day-weekend to you! I hope you’re enjoying it. I’m spending mine nursing a very fussy (and evidently hungry) newborn and attempting to convince my toddler that she can nap while I ensure her baby dolls sit on the potty. Yes, this is a real concern of hers. Every time we put Clara in her crib, she tells us certain baby dolls need to go potty and she will only sleep after we find those specific baby dolls and carry them out of the room, with promises that we’re taking them straight to the toilet.

I hope I never forget funny (albeit exasperating) things like this. Being a mom to a toddler can be a true joy.

While I nurse Isabelle I read quite a bit (both on my phone and in print) and these are some posts I found especially interesting.

links for your weekend

Things I’ve Read on the Web:

// Enough: “These castles we’re building will not last, you know. One day we’ll breathe our last, the name we built for ourselves will fade, and others will quickly step on our ashes to take our place. I’m a businesswoman, and I have no problem with working hard, making a living, and growing a business. But when we forget who we are and why we’re here, we’ve missed the point completely.” (here)

// Simplicity Leads To Happiness In Children (And Here’s How To Do It): “Slowing down feeds our souls and nurtures our families. No matter what parenting style we practice, this topic unites us.” (here)

// Three Steps to Gracefully Say No: “Saying no is a learned skill. It takes practice to gracefully decline activities and commitments. But when we learn to say no to things that don’t fuel us, we will have more room to say yes to those things that do. Be courageous, friend.” (here)

// The Average American Today Is Richer than John D. Rockefeller: “Honestly, I wouldn’t be remotely tempted to quit the 2016 me so that I could be a one-billion-dollar-richer me in 1916. This fact means that, by 1916 standards, I am today more than a billionaire. It means, at least given my preferences, I am today materially richer than was John D. Rockefeller in 1916. And if, as I think is true, my preferences here are not unusual, then nearly every middle-class American today is richer than was America’s richest man a mere 100 years ago.” (here)

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One of Those Moments

This is my first week as a stay-at-home mom, and guys, it is hard. Like way harder than I even thought it would be.

At any given moment I can’t decide who my favorite child is – the whining toddler who is destroying my house or the screaming newborn who can’t get herself to sleep and who won’t let me put her down?

Motherhood is messy. And it’s exhausting.

But then came a moment. (I feel like all moms must know this moment, the moment when motherhood is worth it. A moment that God gives us moms to inspire us to keep on going through the tears and messes and tantrums and diapers.)

A sweet moment in the chaos of motherhood.

The other night Clara woke up a few hours after we had put her to sleep. She needed to go to the potty, so I took her and then, instead of putting her back in her crib, I decided to sit with her in the rocking chair for a while. I needed a break, and I also needed to connect with my independent toddler.

Since Isabelle is usually attached to me and Clara has a strong preference for Tim when he’s at home, it was a rare moment – just us two. My oldest daughter and me.

She let me hold her in my arms and was totally still, which is quite the rarity. And then she looked up at me, and in her eyes I saw a child instead of a baby.

There may have been tears shed.

My baby isn’t my baby anymore, she’s my “big girl” as we often tell her. Isabelle is my baby. But the secret that I don’t tell her is that Clara will actually be my baby forever, too.

After a few minutes, her head started getting heavy and I reluctantly put her into her crib so she could get some rest (and because – if we’re being honest – my arms were tired). She fell right asleep.

There is nothing sweeter than a sleeping toddler, of this I’m convinced. It’s hard to believe that such a peaceful little being can cause so much chaos in her waking hours! 

So as I spend my week chasing Clara while pacifying Isabelle, I’m fueled by the knowledge that this is a season and babies grow up and that there are rare moments of true joy and peace to be found in the midst of this current chaos. Sometimes those moments come when we’re playing, but oftentimes the moments come when we’re doing nothing special at all – when I’m answering yet another cry in the night that could have further worn me out, but instead fueled my spirit.

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Going from One to Two

I anticipate that I’ll be writing a lot of posts on this topic. A lot.

If I even survive to tell the tale… gulp.

I get asked often how the transition from one to two kids compares to the transition from zero to one kid.

My thoughts on the transition from one kid to two

In a nutshell: it’s all difficult.

Welcoming Clara (our first baby) into our family was challenging because – hello, everything in my life changed! Everything. I became a stay at home mom, I had to make new mom friends and join new mom groups (which-  even though I loved meeting new people – was also intimidating because I had very, very few mom friends at the time), Tim and I had to actually schedule date nights and find babysitters, I had to figure out breastfeeding and baby sleep schedules and navigate the world of baby products, and my social plans started involving a lot more coffee and a lot less tequila. Plus, a lot of my relationships changed, including my marriage. Then there were all of the physical changes with my body to adjust to… Basically nothing in my life went untouched.

Welcoming a second baby was hard, too, of course.

To start with, it was really challenging being pregnant with a very-young toddler, because I simply lacked energy. (I still feel guilty that I’ve spent half of Clara’s life pregnant and not operating at maximum-awesome-mom potential.)

Now it’s difficult because I have two young kids to take care of! I mean, that pretty much says it all, right? At any given moment I’m trying to breastfeed one while the other one is telling me she needs help going to the potty. Or breastfeeding one while the other one needs to be fed, too. Or breastfeeding one while one wants my attention for any number of reasons. It turns out it’s very difficult to multi-task while a child is attached to my boob.

(So far parenting two little ones under two has been manageable because Tim has been on paternity leave, but that all changes today, as he goes back to work. Gulp.)

Welcoming the second baby has definitely been easier in certain ways – thank goodness. I was so laid back with Clara that I was convinced I couldn’t possibly be more laid back with a second kid, but I am! For instance, with Clara I used an app to remember when she last ate and slept… I haven’t used it all this time around. Maybe I will in the future when I want to start tracking naps, but for now, I’m technology free with this baby. Also, I knew what to expect for my c-section recovery and breastfeeding, so those processes seemed to go a lot smoother this time around. I spend a lot less time on Google (researching every little thing) and more time bouncing a crying baby while asking Clara to stop whining. I feel even more confident with baby Isabelle, and I’m grateful for that because I feel less emotionally exhausted by the newborn phase.

The thing that has made the biggest difference, though, are the mom-friends I now have in my life. When Clara arrived on the scene I had almost no friends with babies, but now I have relationships with dozens of moms! It makes a world of difference to be able to talk to women who understand the trials of motherhood – and who can celebrate small successes (She pooped in the potty! She slept 4 hours!), as well.

So to answer the original question, about whether it’s harder to go from zero to one kid or one to two kids, my response is: Going from one to two kids has been more challenging, but I feel like I have more resources this time around to tackle the difficulties. And going from zero to one kids was definitely more life changing.

Moms with more than one kid, did you think it was harder to go from zero to one kid or from one to two kids?

 

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Things I’m Loving

Life has been going by in a blur of activity lately.

Which is kind of crazy since I’m supposed to be recovering from childbirth, or something. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m terrible at resting. After one too many hours in bed or on the couch, I get an almost depressed feeling. I’m great at doing relaxing activities (yoga, walking, running, drinking coffee with friends…) but alas, sitting on the couch and physically resting/recovering is not my thing.

Although, the cure to this is a good book. Right now I’m loving this book.

Things I'm Loving

Other Things I’m Loving Right Now:

  • This lamp that Tim bought me for my birthday. (Only the most romantic gifts are given en la casa de Benroeck.) But seriously, it’s perfection.
  • Having a sleepy newborn. I love the newborn phase because my babies come out huge and hungry and sleepy and this one loves to snuggle with me! Yes, I will take all of the newborn snuggles, please.
  • Avocado toast. Can you believe I ate it for the first time the other week (at Fat Hen) and only made it for the first time this week? I know, I know, I have been missing out. Here’s the recipe I used and loved.
  • Clara’s communication. She’s just starting to put words together into phrases and I absolutely love being able to communicate more effectively back and forth with her. But then I realize my baby isn’t a baby and she’s turning into an older toddler who will then turn into a kid and then I want to cry. Darn hormones.
  • These leggings that I wear all day every day. I can wear my pre-pregnancy jeans (Hallelujah!) but they aren’t comfortable with the healing incision, so I’m still all about everything elastic and loose.
  • The goodies I just purchased from a consignment store in town (for Isabelle) and online via ThredUp (for me). I love buying ‘used’ (sometimes it still has tags on it!) clothing!

What are you loving right now?

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