The ABCs of being a mom to a toddler.

The ABCs of being a new(ish) toddler mom:

(My thoughts at this second, organized alphabetically because that’s all the organization my brain can handle right now.)

Being a toddler mom

| Alone time doesn’t exist for me anymore. This was proven when I had to go to the bathroom today with Clara sitting on my lap. Evidently a mom really can’t pee in peace (I thought that was just a rumor before).
| Breastfeeding is still happening, but we’re successfully weaning off of it during the day, so I can stick to feeding her at night and in the mornings.
| Cords are her absolute favorite thing to play with. Why have toys when a toddler can carry around cell phone chargers?
| Dropped nap. Clara’s morning nap hasn’t been a thing lately, so we dropped it. I absolutely love being able to leave the house in the morning and having (approx.) 2 hours of free time around lunch!
| Exasperating – trying to write this list with Clara attempting to pull down my computer screen every 4 seconds. Can’t a woman type in peace?! (No)
| Family bike rides around the city is our favorite mode of transportation lately. Clara enjoys it for a few miles before she gets fussy.
| Going to the doctor gets easier with time, it turns out! I thought our 12 month checkup was going to be the worst, but she didn’t even cry when she got her shot!
| Hugs and kisses – Clara has just learned how to give a proper hug and kiss and it’s so stinkin’ cute.
| Ice cream is her favorite treat.
| Jewelry table. She thinks it’s hilarious to run over to my jewelry table and take everything off of it, because she knows I’m going to come and grab her. Oh what a fun game it is… (for her, not at all for me!)
| Kids are so much more fun now that I have one of my own! I love getting together with her little friends and watch them interact with each other.
| Lopsided boobs are what I’m working with right now, because only one of them is still producing a large quantity of milk. It looks ridiculous!
| Miles and miles of walking is what I swear she must do just following Ozzie around the house all day! I should put a Fitbit on this girl.
| “No” is a word that she doesn’t understand, no matter how often I say it! Actually, I think she does understand it but doesn’t really care.
| Ozzie. Clara says ‘Ozzie’ but does not say ‘mama’. What the heck, little lady?!
| Peanut butter on my walls… Why did I think it was a good idea to give Clara a piece of peanut butter toast while she was walking around?
| Quick, grab her before she reaches ______ (whatever it is she isn’t supposed to have)!
| Reach. As a baby, Clara couldn’t reach much, but times are changing! I swear this girl gets taller every day and she is able to reach more and more things. I’m starting to realize how not-at-all-baby-proofed our house really is.
| Summer is so much easier than the winter. At least now we can go outside to play and burn off some energy in the sunshine!
| Tired. I thought the baby stage was tiring but that was before I knew the destruction a toddler could have on a house.
| Under furniture is where Clara most likes to walk/crawl. She then likes to stand up and bang her head on said furniture.
| Very sneakily (like a ninja) is how I leave her room once I put her down in her crib. It’s getting to the point where sometimes I can just put her down and walk out, but sometimes she likes her little head rubbed until she closes her eyes, and how can I deprive her of that?! (I can’t.)
| Will my house ever be clean again?
| (E)xtra fun. Honestly, this phase of motherhood is so much fun. Is it exhausting?! YES! But it is so sweet at the same time.
| Yearning for more breaks. I get seriously worn down after watching Clara for a few hours and need some mommy time off now more than ever!
| Zeal for life is what this girl has and what she gives me! Being a mother is such a blessing every single day.

To be honest, I consider myself more of a baby person  than a toddler person, but I love this phase because Clara learns something new every day and she just cracks herself up! I love it when she makes herself laugh. My mom heart has been so full lately with love of this little one.

(But I would still like more sleep. And to be able to eat without handing half of my snack over to Clara, who will just throw it all on the floor. You know, the little things.)

 

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Choosing to stay in a marriage is not a sign of weakness

I apologize for my blogging being a little bit sporadic lately… honestly I feel like there are certain times in life when I just get a bit bleh about all of the news I’m constantly being bombarded with.

Is there any good news lately?!

When I get overwhelmed with negative information, I tend to turn off technology and open up a book and so that’s where I’ve been lately! (And dealing with a clingy, whiny toddler who still is rockin’ her baby mullet, but that’s for a different post!)

The one story that my mind keeps coming back to, and the one social media won’t let me forget, is the Ashley Madison hack. I’m actually surprised I’ve only heard of a few well-known people who were discovered to have accounts on there – I thought it was actually going to  be messier.

Choosing to stay in a marriage is not a sign of weakness

Of course, the two individuals who seem to be getting the most attention from having accounts with the site are two Christian men, who are famous (in large part) because of their conservative values.

I’m going to go ahead and bullet point my thoughts on this [the lazy (wo)men’s way of writing]:

  • I was not surprised that Christians were (and are) on the site. Christians sin. We all sin. Just because Christians have a relationship with Christ does not mean we don’t hurt God and turn away from Him and His will for us time and time again. I know that as Christians we are called to act like Jesus and to show His love for us by how well we love others, but we all know we fall short.
  • We, as a society, are not owed an apology by a (wo)man who has been unfaithful in his marriage. I understand that when men are public figures we expect them to make a statement and say how sorry they are and blah blah blah, but we are not owed that. Also, we should not use a person’s apology against them. God calls us all to forgive and to forgive again and to forgive again. If these men are truly repentant, God  has already forgiven them, and we are called to do the same. When someone says they have already been forgiven by God I don’t think it’s a cop-out, and (as tempting as it may be) I try to remind myself that it’s not for me to judge whether or not (s)he is truly repentant.
  • In that same line of thinking, I do not believe that these wives should divorce their husbands. I also don’t believe they shouldn’t. Generally I am very, very pro-marriage (obviously) but I’m not in these marriages and would never speak as to what someone should do in their relationship.
  • I don’t like that so many people (on social media) call out women as being weak when they don’t immediately divorce their husbands after an affair is found out. I feel like this happens pretty often: a celebrity, politician, or well known man (or woman) is found to be having an affair, and the public calls/demands that the injured party file for divorce. I don’t think the ‘easy’ thing to do is to stay in a relationship (especially a marriage) and forgive someone who has harmed us and to try to rebuild that trust. I don’t think a woman who stands by her husband is weak, I think she is strong. I think we need to respect women who choose to stay in a difficult marriage and support them in any way that we can. If God is calling a woman to stay in her marriage, why would we, as a society, tell her she’s making the wrong decision?
  • I always think, how would I hope Clara responds if (God forbid) she’s in a similar situation one day? Well, I hope that (if she gets married at all) she marries a man (or woman!) who is loyal and honest with her, and that Tim and I would be able to wholeheartedly support them as a couple from day 1. If they run into a tough spot in their marriage, I hope they love each other enough to work through it with the help of God, community and maybe counseling. Ultimately, I would want her to know that I would support her staying in a challenging marriage and also leaving a marriage and, I would want her to know that she would not be alone no matter what choice she might need to make.

My point is that I believe in marriage. I’m not condoning the bad behavior of others, but it isn’t my role to condemn it, either. I believe that it can be hard work to keep a marriage in tact, but that the marriage bond is sacred and is worth fighting for. I don’t think it’s right for any woman to feel she needs to stay in a marriage for practical reasons (like financial or emotional dependence, for example), but I think if a person is called by God to stay in a marriage, we need to support that! I hope we can empower our young girls to grow into strong women who can make a wise decision for themselves about what to do in any tough situation, but a person deciding to stay in a marriage is not an indication of weakness.

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Posted in current events, marriage, rantings | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The five year plan.

‘Where do you want to be next year? In five years? In 10?’

When I was younger I thought this question was completely practical to think about. I would think ‘Oh, well I will have graduated from college and I want to have a job at a prestigious company and then I would also like to be married…’ Then when I was in my early 20’s it would change to ‘I want to be promoted and get married and have kids and…’

And now when I ponder the question about the future I think, ‘FIVE YEARS?! How the heck will I know what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be, or who I’ll even be with in five years?! So much can change!’

My favorite mom dress

For all I know, in five years I could be a mother to three kids. Or I may still just have one kid. I may be in Chicago or maybe something will have happened with Tim’s job and we’ll be living abroad. Perhaps I’ll have decided to go back to work in the same field I used to work in, or maybe I’ll still be at home, or maybe I’ll be back in school to learn a new trade. Basically, I have no idea where I even want to be in five years, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

If anything, the whole concept of a five year plan has put pressure on me that never needed to be there. You see, I used to think that I needed to live by my five year plan, and have an entire outline of my life planned out. For instance, when I was younger I decided (because I liked the number) that I would get married at 24, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel the tiniest bit of anxiety as that age came and went, with me being no closer to marriage. Like, I had actually convinced myself that this had to happen in order for the rest of my plans to fall into place – talk about pressure!

I think five year plans can possibly help guide us in a direction we want to go. Like, if we know we want to get a college degree in five years, we should probably start applying to college now. Some things take a bit of foresight, I suppose.

But really, I prefer to think about life in terms of where I want to be right now and maybe even where I want to be within the next few months, and I wish I had always lived this way.

My favorite mom dress

I wear this dress (similar) far too often, but it’s so comfortable that I just find myself continuing to throw it on day after day! I consider it my perfect ‘mom’ dress for the park.

One thing that not having future ‘plans’/expectations has given me is confidence in my present. When Tim starts talking about the stress of not necessarily knowing where he wants his career to go in 5-10 years, we find a great amount of comfort just thinking about how right now he is exactly where he wants to be, and I’m assuming God has big plans for him in the future that He’s just waiting to reveal.

Right now I want to stay home with Clara, so I am. I’m trying not to worry about what this means for my future job prospects, because I know this is best for us in this moment and I refuse to diminish my confidence by worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. Right now I want to be living in the city, so when people ask about whether we’ll move to the suburbs when Clara starts school (in 4-5 years) I honestly say I have no idea, but my current self does not want to be in the ‘burbs.

I try not to say I will ‘never’ do something, because I’m sure my future self will not even recognize certain aspects and opinions of my current self. My current self is making decisions based on our current income, family situation, and relationships, and these will certainly all shift over the next half decade – if not sooner.

This is what I do know about what I want my life to look like in 5 years:

— I want to be continuously improving as a wife and mother.

— I want to know God better than I do today and growing in my relationship with Him.

— I want to grow the relationships with those in my community.

— I want to read and take photos and find joy in everyday activities.

— I want to participate in my community in any way that I can and allow God’s love to shine through me.

I’m not in a rush to plan or think of anything else. Maybe it’s because I’m satisfied where I am so I don’t need to dream about the future. Maybe it’s because 5 years ago I hadn’t even met Tim, never could have dreamed how much I would love my daughter, and was traveling 100% in a job I didn’t love. My life was really, really different than it is now. So a lot can and will change and I love that. I embrace new things and challenges and changes. I thrive on it, really.

I have no idea what my next 5 years will be like, and I doubt any amount of planning will prepare me for what’s in store, but I’m already excited about it.

Do you have a five year plan? Do you find that future plans help or hinder you?

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Posted in being an adult, being introspective | Tagged , | 19 Comments

New thing I tried: Mystery shopping.

One thing I’ve learned in my life is to never say you’ll never do something.

Especially about parenting before you become a mom.

Eventually I will write an entire post about parenting things I said I wouldn’t do that I totally did. (“Oh I would never buy all organic foods!” – Needless to say our entire household eats mostly organic fruits and veggies now.)

But that is all for a later post. This post is about another thing that I really never thought I’d do: Mystery shopping.

Earn money by mystery shopping!

Honestly, I thought mystery shopping consisted of going into a grocery store and comparing prices of cereal in like eight different places. Did I dream up this scenario? Is this what some mystery shoppers do? I have no idea. All I know is that when Brittany told me she did mystery shopping and enjoyed it, plus made some extra cash doing it, I was intrigued and signed up for a company that offers some shops in Chicago.

I was very pleased when I found a few shops near me that I could do reviews on. These were shops I’d go to anyway, so I signed up. All I had to do was visit the store, ask a few (specified) questions so an associate, and answer a long review about my experience on the mystery shopping site.

But stores aren’t my favorite places to mystery shop – my favorite mystery shopping experiences are at restaurants. Tim and I have gone on two date nights over the last two weeks for free at trendy places in Chicago. These places each reimbursed us up to $220 for our meal/drinks and also paid us about $20 (each) on top of that.

All I had to do was enjoy a night out with my main squeeze and accurately review my experience! 

We also went to a brunch and a casual dinner and (of course) got paid to do so!

Now this is not a sponsored post and I don’t get any referral bonus for telling you about mystery shopping. Really, I just want to spread the news because I wish someone had told me about this earlier! Living in Chicago makes it a bit easier for me to mystery shop because there are a lot of opportunities here. So if you’re in a big city, I think it would definitely be worth checking out –  I’m constantly being offered opportunities at bars and restaurants I can’t even take advantage of due to scheduling constraints. I’m sure there are also a lot of opportunities in the suburbs of major cities, but I can’t speak for smaller towns.

A little advice:

  • Don’t pay to be part of a mystery shopping company – no reputable company will make you pay anything.
  • Only accept jobs that are convenient or offer a service you need done or product (like a meal!) you want.
  • Make sure the reimbursement a store or restaurant is offering is going to be enough to cover expenses. Tim and I went to one casual restaurant I knew I wasn’t going to like and the reimbursement only covered half the meal. So we basically had to pay to do the mystery shopping at a place we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to go. It was still fun but I wouldn’t do it again.
  • Don’t expect to make a ton of money. Basically, I love mystery shopping because of free meals at expensive restaurants, and anything else I get is nice, too. After about a month of mystery shopping I’ve had six assignments, for which I was paid $97 in addition to being reimbursed for $433 worth of meals. Clearly the value is in the free date nights, for me!

I hope you give mystery shopping a try! Happy shopping and let me know if you love it (or hate it)!

Have you done mystery shopping before?! Would you try it?!

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Posted in consciously evolving, shopping | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

The common cold claimed two victims over here.

Well it looks like I kind-of accidentally took a week off of blogging. Sigh. I wish it was because I was on some tropical vacation with limited internet access, but no such luck. Instead I was at home with my germ-infested daughter who was miserably sick for a few days and now has made me even more miserably sick for a longer duration.

How to get the common cold from your babyI’m not sure how to avoid getting sick when Clara is sick (which thankfully has only happened twice in the first year of her life!) when I need to do the following every single day:

  • Kiss her a bijillion times
  • Wipe her nose
  • Take things out of her mouth constantly
  • Change her / bathe her / wash her hands
  • Play with toys that have of course been in her mouth
  • Cuddle her lots and lots when she can’t sleep
  • Etc etc.

If an acquaintance/coworker is sick I don’t even want to go near them, but when my baby is sick, full physical contact is required and I love being able to comfort her. So here I am, feeling more blah than ever, with the knowledge that there’s probably nothing I could have done to avoid this spreading of germs.

Of course, when Clara was sick she had energy to go to the park, run around constantly, and generally never stop moving until bedtime when she would become absolutely miserable and unable to get comfortable. She was grouchy and clingy, but still carried on with her everyday activities. Me, on the other hand, I feel like I’m pretty much dying of the common cold over here and have zero energy to do anything.

So either I’m a bigger wimp than Clara (totally possible probable) or kids are just way better at bouncing back from illness, in which case I feel especially old.

Unfortunately, moms don’t get sick days so I’m off to the playground for a bit!

But tell me, aside from hand washing, is there any way that you parents have managed to not get sick when your kids come down with something?!

 

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