Phew, I’m glad that’s over!

Tim left town for a few days this week, leaving me home alone with the girls for the first time since Isabelle was born. (I can’t believe we got 18 months in without him needing to travel for work!)

I was super, super anxious about him leaving. Our girls don’t usually sleep all the way through the night, and I was worried that I’d be operating on zero sleep for a few days. Plus, we’re in a very challenging time over here with our two toddlers, and as someone who thrives on interactions with others, I was worried that I’d feel really frustrated and isolated without him around.

Guys, he was only gone for three days and two nights and I barely hung on. 

pumpkin-patch-family

But I’m grateful for two things:

  1. That I have a partner who is so involved in the girls’ care that when he’s gone it truly is much more challenging for me
  2. That I have a community who supports me & my family

Thankfully I had quite a few playdates planned and one friend even hosted us for dinner so I wouldn’t need to prep/clean-up the food. Another friend came over with Thai food to hang out for a few hours and provide some adult conversation after the girls went to sleep. Plus, we hired a babysitter for a few hours so I could workout and shower and get some time to myself at the end of the day.

And still. Even with all of this help, it was a really hard start to the week! We had some really fun moments, but it was exhausting to keep up with my two little ones who seemed to think their sole mission in life was to destroy everything in the house as quickly as possible. The energy over here is incredible and I wish they would share some of it with me!

I greatly respect moms (or dads!) who do the daily grind by themselves. Single moms/dads, military spouses, spouses whose partners work long hours… I am so thankful that my SAHM days are relatively short and that I get some relief when Tim walks through the door.

All of this to say that this week more than ever I was reminded that no one is meant to parent in isolation. We’re meant to rely on our partner, community, and family to get through the days/weeks/months/years. 

I’m reminded that it’s more than okay to recognize when things are hard and to ask for and accept help in those times. And then when things are easy, it’s equally as important to recognize when others may need help and to offer it with enthusiasm.

This weekend we’re enjoying some Halloween festivities, watching a few too many episodes of Parenthood, and in between everything else I’m relaxing and binge listening to “Dirty John”. Hopefully if I continue to take it easy(ish), I’ll store up some energy for the upcoming week!

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Thoughts on being a SAHM (an excerpt from ‘Love Warrior’)

Let’s pretend this is Tumblr and I can get away with an entire post being someone else’s content because it’s just the truest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Right now I’m living my slowest life possible (which is still busy by some standards but really relaxed compared to my ‘normal’ life), and I’m consuming lots o’ books. My current read is Love Warrior and I have no idea why it took me so long to pick this up because I love Glennon Doyle. Read her blog. Read her first book. Read ‘Love Warrior’.

Thoughts on being a SAHM (in an excerpt from 'Love Warrior')

I read the following passage and I was like ‘yep, she knows my heart and my head and writes it better than I ever could.’ On being a stay at home mom:

How was my day? It was a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I was both lonely and never alone. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed. I was saturated with touch – desperate to get the baby off of me and the second I put her down I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. This day required more than I’m physically and emotionally capable of, while requiring nothing from my brain. I had thoughts today, ideas, real things to say and no one to hear them.

I felt manic all day, alternating between love and fury. At least once an hour I looked at their faces and thought I might not survive the tenderness of my love for them. The next moment I was furious. I felt like a dormant volcano, steady on the outside but ready to explode and spew hot lava at any moment. And then I noticed that Amma’s foot doesn’t fit into her Onesie anymore, and I started to panic at the reminder that this will be over soon, that it’s fleeting – that this hardest time of my life is supposed to be the best time of my life. That this brutal time is also the most beautiful time. Am I enjoying it enough? Am I missing the best time of my life? Am I too tired to be properly in love? That fear and shame felt like adding a heavy, itchy blanket on top of all of the hard. But I’m not complaining, so please don’t try to fix it. I wouldn’t have my day or my life any other way I’m just saying – it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain – an entire day with lots of babies. It’s far too much and not even close to enough.

Such good stuff.  And the rest of the book, which is a memoir, is awesome, too. Rainy days in Seattle are so much better with a good book in front of me.

I hope you’re having a great week! (Also, I could use some book recommendations, my library hold list is empty!)

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Common Cold: 4 Benroeck Family: 0

Remember how I said (early last week) that my week was going so great? WELL, that was a few hours before my toddler threw up in my bed. At 4am. I was so tired I a considered not changing the sheets and just trying to avoid the wet spot until the actual morning. (Since in my world 4am is the middle of the night and does not constitute as ‘morning’.)

Clara didn’t end up being sick (thank you, Jesus!) other than a common cold, but the other night she said her stomach felt like “a strawberry with pepper.” When she told me this I responded, “well, strawberries are yummy!” to which she responded, “yeah, but not with pepper on them.”

So who knows how she was actually feeling, but she recovered quickly and didn’t miss any activities.

I, on the other hand, was wiped out for an entire week with the cold. This is yet another reminder that I’m  in my 30s, because it takes me forever to recover from any illness. Plus, Isabelle also got a cold and wakes up coughing in the middle of every night so we’re all sleep-deprived and struggling over here. (The only thing worse than being a mom to sick kids is being a sick mom to a combo of sick & healthy kids.)

Recap: A week of feeling 'bleh'

Before I became a mother of two little ones I used to see other families with colds and think “why is that family ALWAYS sick?!” and now I know. As soon as one kid gets sick it is a given that the entire family will be out for at least one week, if not more. These little germs don’t mess around.

Luckily, we didn’t have many plans over the weekend so we used it as a time of recovery and took it easy. (So basically it was the opposite of the previous weekend.)

Over last week I did manage to have some fun, though:

+ I went out for ladies night with the women in our small group. One of my friends wrote out some questions for us all to answer and I actually loved having more intentional conversation, because I felt like it really helped us to connect better than we would have if we had just talked about whatever was on our minds. My friend got the questions from Jen Hatmaker’s podcast and some examples were “what is saving your life right now?” and “what was the worst advice you’ve ever received?” I highly recommend coming up with some “deep” questions to share at a social night you have coming up!

+ We kicked off the start of the season for our local chapter of MOPS. I co-coordinate our local group which is a lot of work but so, so rewarding. It’s great to see everything come together and I’m super relieved that we’ve officially kicked it off after months of prepping.

+ I went out for drinks with another friend and it was such a treat because it was the first time I went out with this particular mom without our kiddos or husbands around! It’s such a weird thing in my life right now that I have good friends who I’m never one-on-one with, but I’m trying to make more of an effort to have an actual social life instead of a playdate social life, and it’s so rewarding! It’s really great to be able to go out and connect with friends and curse a little (or a lot) and talk completely uncensored without needing to worry about little ears hearing everything.

+ I started & finished this book, which I’d give about 3.5/5 stars, so maybe you should pick it up! It was interesting enough that I read the entire thing in one day, which is really saying something!

+ We watched the Cubs win some and lose some. I switched right on over to being a Seahawks fan when we moved to Seattle (Da Bears? Who?) but will remain a Chicago baseball girl forever.

Wish me luck this week. I have a lot to get done (all fun things!) and am hoping the busyness doesn’t kill my immune system again. I feel like Isabelle is gifting me with an unexpected morning nap right now, but this could end up with her not taking an afternoon nap so just send all of the sleepy vibes right on over here.

Mondays are my favorite day of the week – I truly feel so optimistic and that anything and all things are possible for the week ahead! Let’s hope I can keep this attitude going…

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Feeling refreshed! (A good old fashioned weekend recap)

It was a good weekend full of everything I love.

Friends, nature (and adventures), coffee, pizza, family, football, the Cubs, church, a good book (The Sound of Gravel), more pizza, a few episodes of my new favorite show (we just started watching ‘Parenthood’), baking, and a great cocktail. I mean, I couldn’t have scripted it any better if I’d tried.

Hiking Heather Lake in WA

Let’s start at the beginning. On Saturday a few friends and I drove into the mountains to do a 5ish mile hike to Heather Lake. We were on a mission to find fall colors, and we did indeed find some! It was a rainy, cool day, and it definitely put me in the autumn state of mind. We left our kids and husbands to fend for themselves, which means we were able to hike without carrying heavy packs! Bliss! It’s so much easier to walk without listening to whining and lugging around toddler weight.

Hiking Heather Lake in WA

*Sidenote: I really appreciate that I live in an area of the country in which I have gal pals who will spend a Saturday hiking & chatting with me. 10 years ago I would have been running along the Chicago lakefront with friends, these days I’m in the mountains. Life is a whirlwind and I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am (and also blessed for the experiences I had before).

Hiking Heather Lake in WA

Four of us are moms with eight kids (and counting!) between us.

By the time we got back on Saturday afternoon it was time to head to the next event – pizza! We celebrated a friend’s birthday at a Paxti’s (a pizza place in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle). There, we were able to watch the Cubs blow a playoff game while also enjoying Chicago style deep dish pizza. It was bittersweet. Well, it was only bittersweet until I got a cocktail in my hand and quickly forgot about the Cubs’ loss. I will say, the dinner was chaos but the very best kind. There were 12 adults and 9 kids, most whom were under 3 years old. About half the kids were having epic meltdowns at any given time, and I was just happy when it wasn’t one of mine.

Hiking Heather Lake in WA

We got home around 8pm and I felt like it was midnight. Parenting does that to me. We spent the rest of Saturday night watching Parenthood, and then after Tim went to bed I read almost all of ‘The Sound of Gravel’ (read it!).

On Sunday we decided to take it easy, since the girls had such a busy day on Saturday and I am attempting to keep their schedules ‘light’ every few days to give them a chance to really unwind. So we skipped going to church and streamed the service online (while still wearing our pajamas). Clara and I baked these apple pie bars in the afternoon while watching the Seahawks play, and then we all headed off to our small group where we enjoyed a ‘family’ dinner and great conversation. By the time we got home we were all exhausted in the best kind of way!

Hiking Heather Lake in WA

This week’s already been off to a great start, as well. Clara had preschool today and we went to a friend’s house this afternoon for a playdate in the sunshine and life just felt very smooth. Although, I did spend 2 hours sorting laundry this morning. TWO HOURS. I mean, it would have gone faster if my ‘assistant’ hadn’t carried clothes to random spots around the house, but such is life with a toddler.

I think the last few days went so well because I’m still feeling refreshed from Saturday. I keep reminding myself how important it is for me to take some time for myself, away from my kids. As a stay at home mom I find myself constantly feeling guilty for using weekend time to do things I want to do, instead of spending it as a family. But, I do feel like a more refreshed and energetic mom upon coming back to my kids after a few hours away. I’m hoping I can make this a more consistent habit in the future!

I hope you have been able to find some ways to feel refreshed, whatever that looks like for you, as well!

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Being out and about with two toddlers (is always a challenge).

Thank you to Evenflo for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

Last week we enjoyed our last week of ‘summer’ here in Seattle. Meaning that the temps were a wonderful 70-80 degrees and now we’re down into the 50’s with some rain here and there. Wah wah.

Thoughts on the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller

But, the crazy thing about being in the PNW is that people actually welcome the rain, and I’m included! Bring on some cozy weather so I have an excuse to stay inside and do indoor things. The summer weather is almost too perfect in that I feel like I need to be outside 100% of the time because there’s absolutely no reason not to be.

That being said, last week we soaked up every last drop of vitamin D we could and got out and about almost every single day.

We went to the Ballard Locks, the zoo, and to quite a few parks and friends’ houses.

Thoughts on the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller

I am a person who loves going on ‘adventures’, so it’s vital to my sanity to be out and about.  Unfortunately having toddlers 21 months apart in age makes doing anything a bit difficult practically impossible.

However, I am finding that it’s getting easier and easier to take the girls out together. I don’t know if it’s because we’re down to only one nap for Isabelle (and none for Clara), or whether it’s because both of the girls can listen to basic instructions, or because the girls can hold hands and it just melts my heart, or because I don’t need to pack a ton of things in my diaper bag anymore, or because I’ve had tons of practice… but for whatever reason, being out with both girls is seeming less intimidating lately.

One thing I think helps tremendously is having a good stroller to haul both girls around in. I have learned my lesson and will never leave the house with a single stroller again. A few weeks ago I went to the zoo and brought a single stroller, assuming that Clara would walk. This was a disaster because both girls wanted to ride in the stroller, neither kid would walk… you know how this goes. It was tantrums and chaos.

Then I got the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller and brought it to the zoo, thinking that both girls would serenely ride through the animal exhibits. It’s like I don’t know my children at all. Why do I even bother having expectations?! What actually happened was that Clara put both of her baby dolls (strapped in) into the seats and made me carry Isabelle while she walked alongside the stroller. Carrying 25 lbs through the zoo, while steering a stroller with one  hand, while making sure Clara didn’t run away was no easy task. It was actually really difficult. Not to mention that my friends and strangers all laughed at us and the general scene we were creating. But did I want to risk the absolute tantrum that would have occurred if I had taken those baby dolls out of the stroller? Not a chance. At least the girls were happy (I reasoned with myself), so I gave myself a partial win for the day.

Thoughts on the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller

Then two days later when I returned to the zoo (thankfully it’s a 10 minute drive from our house so we get to go there often!) I didn’t allow any baby dolls and it was bliss. Or as blissful as an outing with a 1 year old and 3 year old can reasonably be. Both girls sat in the stroller and were able to get in and out at the exhibits, no one threw a tantrum, no one had to be carried… I lived the good life for a few hours there.

Thoughts on the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller

I prefer the Evenflo Minno Twin Double Stroller to other models of double strollers we’ve tried because:

  • It’s an umbrella stroller so it (easily!) folds up fairly small and can easily fit into the trunk of my car
  • It’s relatively light weight
  • Each of the seats has a canopy sun shade (or rain cover, as I’ve recently used them for!)
  • Each of the seats reclines, which is great for Isabelle, because she’ll still nap in the stroller.
  • There’s a cup holder for me (which is essential and not always included in strollers… which just boggles my mind)
  • It fits through almost every doorway I’ve tried, which is vital for running errands!

… Plus the price is right and it’s easy to push… I love it!

I’m sure by next week the girls will present me with a new challenge, but I’m glad I’ve figured this one out (for the time being)!

Posted in favorite things, motherhood | Tagged , | 4 Comments