4.15.2014

Baby #3: 28 weeks

4.15.14: Twenty-Eight weeks

(note the perplexed, adorable children)
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Fancy camera is going to come out for the rest of this pregnancy, mark my words:
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I'm feeling pretty good for the third trimester! Still having some occasional back pain if I do too much, still totally exhausted some days, still with variable amounts of patience for pretty much everything. Nate's extra hours at work have been getting to me lately, and combine a lot of solo parenting with pregnancy and a daughter who is ridiculously emotional/tough right now? Recipe for disaster. I'm trying to be kind to myself and force some 'mommy time' whenever I can. And I'm a little scared about how mentally sane I will be by the end of this pregnancy...but yet again, I'm hoping that consistently warmer weather will help us all not to kill each other. But it snowed yesterday, so there's that. No comment.

Still sleeping well for the most part, a little more tossing and turning to get comfortable since I really like to lay slightly on my stomach. I officially can't really do that anymore;) Sometimes I will wake up totally ready to start the day at 5 am and other days I am DRAGGING at 7 am. And night time is the same: some days I am exhausted by 8 pm and other days I can stay up until midnight without a problem. No naps this week, so I don't know why my sleep varies so much. Still have not woken up just to pee in the middle of the night yet. I'd say that is a pretty big accomplishment at this point! I can tell that I'm stopping more often during my work days to pee at random Starbucks/McDonalds/gas stations now compared to before in this pregnancy. This is when working in home care gets really interesting and really annoying/tiring. Twelve-ish more weeks, man. Then twelve weeks off. YES.

I should really force myself to 'officially' exercise more and eat less often but I just don't have a ton of will power this third time around. Maybe because I know my relative inactivity and dietary indulgence will be short-lived, temporary, and not the norm for the rest of my life I can embrace it and enjoy it. The fatigue from being a mom of two kids, nearly 33 years old, working part time, solo parenting more than ever, and juggling all.the.balls---it's no joke. So no, I will not kill myself to do an exercise DVD when I just want to lay on the couch and veg after a loooooooong day go-go-going with my kids all day. And yes, if I want a chocolate Jo-Jo cookie after dinner I will have one or two. And cereal before bed. I'm all about the 'treats' for myself these days.

Speaking of treating myself, I just realized that I barely even think about alcohol anymore. It only took five+ months of being pregnant to dry out! Ha. That might change with warmer weather when a cold beer is perfection.

Also, lots of time spent on nursery projects this week. Separate posts in the works, but the crib is finished and assembled (!!), I bought some amazing prints for the walls, bought two stuffed animals, and a wooden peg family of five on Etsy. There are at least 10 other items in my Etsy cart at the moment---although I love DIY additions to nurseries, this time around I kind of want to buy all of the handmade things other people have made;) I also had Nate hang a top-secret name/wood project (DIY by me this time) and I finished painting a few other random projects. Big nursery week, for sure.

Picture break!

I love this girl sometimes. She seems like such a big girl and yet, she's still my baby for now. Cecelia loves to say 'baby' and butcher his actual name while she pats my belly and kisses it. Too much cuteness.
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Watching Frozen for the first time with my boy! His sister allowed us a solid 5 minute stretch with the movie before I had to entertain her with other things, but it was a fun moment while it lasted.
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Solo parenting Saturday, including Truman's swimming lessons. Good times. Pale children. Tired mommy.
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As much as I love pregnancy and soak it in often, I am also getting excited to be 'not pregnant' anymore--back in my own, active body, and no longer feeling a bit out of sorts when I look in the mirror. I love my bump and marvel at the changes---our bodies know how to make to grow a human being. Isn't that amazing? But thinking about joining the gym this fall and carving out some solid 'sweaty treadmill time' with three (!) kids in the gym childcare center a few times per week. YES. Until then, cheers to walking the dog and chasing my kids being activity enough. I miss running and sweating during a great workout but not enough to actually do it right now;)

Baby boy is still quite active and it's almost painful at times. I swear his movements wake me up more at night than anything else. Kid just doesn't stop. I think he especially likes to jab various body parts into my belly button, and I can almost make out little elbows/feet at times now. So weird!! I'm getting spoiled and if I stop to think, 'Hmm, he hasn't moved in the last hour or so,' I get very impatient and want him to move right away to reassure me. And luckily, he usually does as soon as I poke him! I swear he must be my most active baby so far and I love it. I have my 28 week appointment this Friday, where I will take the glucose test, and after that I start going in every 2 weeks. Crazy talk. How is it time already?

I just cannot wait to see his little face, smell him, cuddle him, nurse him, introduce him to his siblings. See Nate as a dad to TWO boys. Adjust to life with a newborn again. Baby's birthday seems like forever away but scary-soon, too. I.Cannot.Wait. My nerves about labor and delivery and the transition to three kids pale in comparison to my excitement for it all. It's going to be a wild ride but oh, so very worth it. I'm frequently overwhelmed with gratitude for this pregnancy in case you can't tell. I really do love it so much.

Let's now overanalyze various bump pictures, shall we?

Yesterday morning I took my usual weekly selfies for this post. I noted that my bump looked really small but didn't think much of it. As the work day went on I started feeling bigger, my stomach felt totally stretched/tight, and by the time I got home I *had* to take more pictures to compare. Sure enough---my bump in the evening was much higher than the morning. I think baby boy shifted upwards into my boobs somehow, maybe from sitting in my car/with my patients for a lot of the day? Very odd. I guess it's normal for him to move around and change the shape of my bump but I've never noticed it like this before, especially not in the third trimester!

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Here is my 28 week post with Truman. I was still running 3 miles, 3 days per week back then? How? Wow. I nearly pee myself with a brisk walk these days and have zero motivation to be a runner while pregnant. I was also excited to find our Pediatrician and still love the guy. In fact, we finally have Truman's 4 year appointment today. Crazy to think it's been that long since we first met the doc.

Here is my 28 week post with Cecelia. I was busy painting our entire house and getting through my first pregnancy cold. Ha. Pretty sure I've been a lot more sick this time around than ever before, probably because of those two little kids we have to give us such interesting germs!

Best moment of last week was definitely Erin's gender reveal. It was seriously so much fun to be a part of their big moment, I can't even explain the emotions on my end! I've hoped for her third baby to be a girl for a long time...maybe years? Knowing that OF COURSE a healthy baby boy for #3 would also be wonderful. But especially since having Cecelia, I so wanted Erin to get the experience of a daughter. And now they will! And being the first to know baby is a GIRL was such an honor, and taking their pictures in our back yard as they found out? Priceless. I have never cried at my own gender reveals but this time? Yup. Too emotional to contain it!

(they closed their eyes while I placed the correctly colored cookie in their hands, after I peeked at their sealed US picture before this. I was shaking so badly right here, I have no idea how this is not blurry)
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Erin is just a bit excited. And airborne. And Dave was so CERTAIN he only makes boys. What a moment!!
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Later that evening, at the official reveal for Erin's friends and family: Andrea, Erin and myself. They are both 19ish weeks here and I'm 27ish weeks. Team Green, Team Pink (!!), and Team Blue.
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Something about sharing our third/final pregnancies together makes me extra emotional. What a journey we've all been on together since we first met as newlyweds! Pregnancy and growing a family are a trip, man.

I'll end this post with these two goons. Can't believe we get another little human full of personality like these guys!

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4.14.2014

Moms Make it Work: Sarah from Spain

We have another international mom posting for us today (besides our beloved Canadians)! Sarah lives in Spain and I have 'known' her since our wedding days (i.e. seemingly forever). I was excited for her to offer her story to our series because living abroad with a young family fascinates me. I studied abroad in Madrid and miss it dearly but I cannot imagine raising my family there--so different and so amazing. Sara truly 'makes it work' as a full-time working mom in Spain with two, going on three kiddos. Enjoy her post and you can find the rest of the Moms Make it Work series here. And if you or someone you know lives abroad and would like to contribute to this series, I would love to hear from you! International moms who make it work are a category on my 'must find more of' list for this series, right now;)

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When I saw that my blogger friend Julia was hosting a blog series about how moms "make it work" I was thrilled to read all the entries, and inspired to contribute my little story.  Julia and I have been internet friends for about 7 years now, our first connection was made on a little message board called "The Knot" where we bonded over Alençon lace dresses with sashes and DIY invitations.  Turns out Julia also studied in Spain where I live.  We further connected a few years later over our pregnancy losses which happened in the same year.  I believe that she and I are kindred spirits and I am so glad we "found" each other online all those years ago and continue to keep tabs on eachother through the social media worlds of Facebook, Instagram and blogging.  I unfortunately don't blog much anymore but you can find some previous "mommy abroad" type posts at Babbles and Bibis.  These days I mostly just have time to "overgram" my cuties and other life stuff, you can follow me on IG at @saritagemba.  I don't know how I lived life before my iPhone.

Without further ado, here is my submission for how I, as a fellow mom, living abroad in Europe, "make it work"!




What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?


I am from a small suburb of Boston, Massachusetts where I graduated from high school with every intention of getting into the business world and eventually settling back into my hometown area and starting a family at a young age. Little did I know how my life would change once I got to college and discovered the great, big world beyond my little bubble.



The decision to spend my junior fall semester of college abroad in Seville, Spain in 1998 was a pivotal one.  As soon as I stepped off the plane and began my adventure, I immediately felt at home in a place so foreign to me and I found myself wanting to drink in every little thing the Spanish culture had to offer.  I immersed myself fully into my study program and met so many amazing Spaniards who taught me how different and amazing life could be.  While the rest of my friends were crying the whole time they were abroad, I cried the entire way home.  I knew I had to get back to Spain somehow.



I won't cover the next 10 years of my life in detail because it's complicated and involves a long-term relationship with a Spaniard including two weddings and two international moves (but luckily, no children).  It finally occurred to me in 2008 (just a few months AFTER our huge Spanish wedding) that I was not happy in the relationship.  I had changed as a person since moving to Spain permanently in 2004, and I couldn't continue to pretend that everything was perfect with us when it was so clearly not.  Our separation was a dark time in my life but luckily it was short-lived as I serendipitously met the man who IS the love of my life only a couple months later.  We had a whirlwind romance, quickly discovered we loved everything about each other, and soon decided to move in together and start a family.  I don't remember even thinking it was crazy at the time because it just felt SO RIGHT.  Five and a half years later, it still feels right and we are happy as clams.









pre-parenthood



Daniel and I met in October 2008, moved in together in March 2009 and began to "look for a baby" (that's the literal translation of "trying for a baby" from the Spanish - makes me giggle every time) in Summer 2009.  We found out I was pregnant right after my 31st birthday in February 2010  We were ecstatic, and our beautiful daughter Manuela (named after Dani's mother) arrived in October 2010. 






celebrating our first Thanksgiving together as a family

I'm sorry, but look at this face!!

We immediately wanted another baby, but I tragically suffered an early pregnancy loss with what would have been #2 in October 2011.  Following that loss, I ended up having some health issues and underwent gallbladder removal surgery in April 2012.  That summer, after my recovery, we got pregnant with our adorable son, Lorenzo who was born in March 2013.  



Little Lorenzo

He was born with kidney issues that we are still dealing with but which we hope will be resolved soon with corrective surgery.  The name Lorenzo in Spanish is associated with the sun and we feel so blessed to have this little ray of sunshine light up our lives.  Lorenzo and Manuela are 2 years and 5 months apart and simply adore each other.






my two little buddies


We just recently found out that we are expecting #3 in early Fall.  It was a bit of a surprise, but we are thrilled to be growing our family and having so much fun in the process.



Here we are at Seville's Spring Fair, shortly after Lorenzo was born!

That's the personal/family background (sorry that was long and complicated), now on to my career/schooling:  I graduated from a small liberal-arts college in New England with a self-designed major/minor combo in Hispanic Studies, European History and Modern Dance, with the intentions of entering the business world and perhaps some day doing an MBA.  I ended up working in Human Resources, in both the high-technology and manufacturing industries, before deciding to make the move to Spain permanently.  Upon arrival in Spain, I made my entry into the world of international education and student travel, because it is my passion to help other students like me fulfill their dream of immersing into another language and culture.  I started working my way up at the same company where I studied abroad, and am now an administrative director where I focus on preparing proposals for custom study abroad and educational travel programs, together with my colleagues in our U.S. office and worldwide locations in Spain and Latin America.  I also have direct contact with the students at our Seville location (where my office is located) and help them plan their independent travel.  I absolutely LOVE my job and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.






Here I am accompanying an American student group to the beautiful village of Arcos de la Frontera in southern Spain



I currently work full-time while raising two small children (and a 3rd on the way!)  People ask me all the time how I do it, and I hope this post will help to answer that question while offering a unique perspective from an American mom living abroad.


What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 



The best part for me is that I feel completely fulfilled by the career aspect of my life while still having lots of quality time with my children and being able to be a mom.  I don't think I would be able to accomplish this if I were living in the U.S.  Spain does a really great job of providing help to families - including affordable daycares (you U.S. moms would cry if I told you how much we pay!), long maternity leaves (16 weeks off, 100% paid!) and a supportive atmosphere from family, friends and the workplace.  In Lorenzo's case, he was born in March which meant I was due back to work in mid-July but since my company closes for the entire month of August for summer vacation (another score for Spain!) I got to have almost a 6 month maternity leave with him.  It was amazing.   Now that I'm back full-time, I work 40 hours a week but since I am in contact with counterparts in the U.S., this often involves after-hours work (my daily office schedule is generally 8:00am-4:00pm and Spain is 6 hours ahead of the East Coast U.S.) which allows for me to be flexible and work from home if I need to follow up on something, or set up a Skype call, etc.  The best thing I ever did was to work from home on a part-time basis during my second maternity leave, which I believe gave my company the faith they needed in me so that I could continue to fulfill my responsibilities away from the office and thus allow me to control my own schedule.  It has done wonders for my productivity levels and has overall made me a very happy employee.


Also, my husband and I work really great together as a team and complement each other beautifully.  I wouldn't be able to do it without him.  In our current arrangement, I take care of Manuela and he takes care of Lorenzo.  Manuela goes to pre-school right near my office so I take her in with me every morning and pick her up when I'm done.  It's a long day for her but she has fun and learns a lot!  Dani gets Lorenzo to daycare where he spends the morning and has lunch, while Dani works his morning shift.  Dani then picks him up at 2pm, is with him during his mid-day "siesta" break and naps with him until I get home in the afternoon.  I'm alone with both kids all afternoon while Dani goes back to work until about 8:30pm (this is a typical Spanish schedule - Dani owns and operates a storefront graphic design business which opens in the morning, closes for "siesta" and reopens in the evenings).  We currently live in an outlying suburb of the city of Seville so our daily commute is about 30 minutes, but we just moved here so we're still adjusting, and will probably have both kids at school/daycare in the village by September.  That will probably mean a solo commute for me every day once I go back to work after baby #3.  It might also mean getting some help at home here in the village as opposed to having both babies in daycare and both of us running around like chickens with our heads chopped off all day.


I will probably jinx myself for even bringing this up, but another " best part" about our arrangement is that so far my children have proven to be excellent sleepers, which helps us to be almost fully-rested for our full days at work.  Any sleep we need to catch up on after a whirlwind week, we can do on the weekends.  It's not uncommon for us all to take a big, fat nap together after a big lunch on Saturday or Sunday.  God Bless the Spanish Siesta.  Since Day One with Manuela, we have always used a "rotation" schedule for late-night parenting so that at least one of us is always getting a full night's sleep.  It has worked wonderfully except, of course when I was breastfeeding the first few months and just had to suck it up...but both of my kids went to bottles before I went back to work, so that worked our nicely.


The biggest challenge is the day-to-day coordination which requires lots of planning ahead and tons of communication.  If one of the kids gets sick, obviously there's a huge monkey wrench thrown into our plans, but we just deal with it as it happens and luckily we both have flexibility to be able to stay home if needed.  We usually trade off these responsibilities so it doesn't just fall on one person.  I'm still not quite sure how we're going to do it with three kids, but I'm sure we'll figure it out!  

A unique challenge for me as a mom abroad is that obviously I don't have my family here.  They are there "electronically" but it's not the same.  It makes me sad that my kids will grow up only experiencing for the most part only one side of their family.  It's economically prohibitive for us to travel to the U.S. more than once a year (if that).  I absolutely love my big, crazy, extended family and since having kids it has hit me hard how permanent and life-altering the decision to move abroad has been.  I have to put in extra effort to be in touch via social media, Skype, etc. and talk a LOT about my family with the kids so they don't forget about them.  I hope as they get older we can arrange for longer visits in the U.S. which will hopefully also contribute to their bilingual language skills (that's a whole other complicated topic that could be seen as both a benefit and a challenge in my situation).  If you're wondering, I speak to the kids in both languages (as much English as possible), my husband only speaks Spanish, and they watch TV only in English.  They're still little to know how this is affecting them, but my dream is that they one day end up to be fully bilingual.




posing with Santa (or "Papa Noel" as they like to call him) in my hometown while visiting the U.S.



Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?


Since my entry into motherhood was such a whirlwind, I honestly never really thought about it!  Back when I was a kid and dreamed of being a mom, I guess I did picture myself as a SAHM or perhaps working part-time.  My mom was a SAHM and I was very aware that she did not feel fulfilled so perhaps that has subconsiously driven me to make both worlds work for me.  Economically, you have to have two salaries here in Spain in order to live at all comfortably.  We have pretty much just made decisions as we went for what made sense at the time and what made us happy, and so far things have fallen into place.


Is this your ideal situation?  If not, what is?


I do believe this is my ideal situation for now.  Perhaps once I have three kids I might feel differently, but for now this works for our family and I can honestly say I feel fulfilled and happy.  Obviously, if we were to come in to a lot of money that allowed one of us to not work, or work less, and focus more on the children that would be fantastic, but I don't see it as a necessity.  I do see that perhaps instead of having the two younger kids at daycare, we might try to find a trusted at-home care situation which is fairly common around here and might be more affordable and allow us more flexibility with our jobs if we have someone at home with the babies. 

Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set-up staying put for the long haul?


Absolutely not.  My career and my children are completely compatible and I am definitely in this for the long haul.



Here are Manuela and I modeling in the flamenco fashion show for American students at my place of work.  So much fun!

Tips on how you make this work for you?


Organization - I am a highly organized person by default and so coordinating all these details on a daily basis is in my nature.  I have also had to learn to let go of some things - like not beating myself up if I forget to buy Manuela's favorite mid-morning snack and she ends up with the same crackers in her backpack all week.  Communication is SO important.  By the time Dani gets home from work in the evenings, we're usually too exhausted to recount our day so sometimes we'll chat on our phones on our way to work the next day to communicate anything important (i.e. a typical message from me to him: "Did you see the note from Lorenzo's daycare teacher about his bum being red?  Make sure you put diaper cream on him!".)  Make the most of your time with the children - as much as I have to be available for work in the afternoons, evenings and weekends, I do take moments to "turn it off" (like bedtime and a week-long family vacation each summer) and focus only on them.  Also, Dani and I do our best to make time for each other.  Sometimes that means allowing ourselves the luxury of a babysitter (so unheard of here) so we can go out alone, or sometimes that means one of us staying home while the other one goes out with his or her friends.  We both recognize the need to blow off steam and have some "me" and "us" time.


How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role?


I try not to focus on the guilt and keep things positive.  There's really no need to even label it "guilt".  You just have to accept your situation and make the most of it.  I simply consider myself lucky to be able to fulfill my desire to have a career and be a mom at the same time.  I have never felt overcome with guilt from either not being at work to be with my kids, or not being with the kids to be at work.  I feel very satisfied with the balance.

Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside the home?  Or struggling to decide if staying home is the right choice? 

In my case, my advice is for new moms struggling with returning to work outside the home.  Clearly, you have to want to do it and know it is right for your family.  If you feel laden with the decision, you will only be miserable about it and should explore alternatives.  When you do return and know it is the right decision for you, know that each day will get progressively easier and better until you find your rhythm.  

Thank you, Julia, for allowing me to share my situation here with the other moms reading this series.  It is wonderful to have the support of an online community and share the ways we "make it work" in all our different situations as moms!

Full series found here

4.10.2014

Moms Make it Work: Megan in Kansas

Today we have Megan posting for our Moms Make it Work series, one of my 'internet friends' who happily agreed to write her take on this post. Megan is a SAHM to two adorable boys and I love her view on 'grace in parenting.' So true that we all need to grant ourselves a little more grace and not dwell on guilt. Thanks for sharing, Megan. Enjoy!


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Hey all!  My name is Megan, and I (very sporadically) blog over at Girl Meets Life, but will most likely be found more on Instagram as @megkeith.  I’m married to Tyler, and we have two amazing boys, Jaxon who is 5, and Cohen who is 3 ½!
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Wow Julia… how far back do we even go?  We met on the D&R board of The Nest back in 2005? 2006?... something like that.  We’ve been “blog buddies” ever since and I have loved watching our two worlds change sooo much since those good ‘ole D&R days!

Anyway… here we go!

-What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

I am a small town Iowa girl through and through!  I loved my childhood and met my sweet husband in high school when we started dating in 9th grade!  I’m honestly trying to remember what I wanted to be when I grew up… it changed daily!  I felt called to go into Music Ministry, so I packed up my small town Iowa girl bag and left for Colorado Springs, where I graduated with a degree in Music Ministry.  My high school sweet heart, then fiancé, attended college in Denver, so we got married at the young age of 18 and 19 and started life together!  After he graduated, we moved where his first job took us, to Palm Springs, California.  Since then, we’ve moved 7 other times!  It’s been a wild ride, to say the least, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything!
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Oh, okay, back to my career.  After I graduated from college, I kind-of took on this “house wife” role, and because we lived in each place for such a short time, I never got back into ministry.  I took a couple different bank (management) jobs, and though it was something I never really loved, it helped pay the bills! 

Then one beautiful July morning, we found out we were pregnant with our first baby!  During my entire pregnancy, I thought I’d be the one exception to the Moms who had a hard time coming back to work… I remember telling my boss “see you in 6 short weeks!” as I left for maternity leave, honestly thinking I’d look forward to coming back.

Ha. Ha. Haaaa!

Jaxon rocked my world in the most amazing way, changing my heart forever.  Due to our tight budget, we knew I needed to work, so most days I cried the entire commute there, while leaving my precious baby at home or with the sitter.  I hated, HATED, every moment away from him and we started trying to figure out how I could stay home, something I never thought I’d want to do!  Unfortunately, we were never able to make our financial situation work out “on paper”, so I continued to work… until one day, I (very very unexpectedly) got let go from my job.  I’m sure you’re expecting me to say “yayyy!”, but 2 months prior to this, my husband had also been laid-off from his position, so I was the sole income at this point.  It was a heart wrenching situation, where he ended up taking a temporary job in Colorado, away from us, and so many other hard obstacles we faced for about a year. During this time, we ALSO found out I was pregnant again!  Because Tyler was away for work, and because I was pregnant, I stayed home with Jaxon (still thinking it was only temporary), but The Lord somehow worked it out that I never needed to go back to work.  Man, it’s been tough, and most months we still REALLY struggle financially!  But my dependence on HIM has grown ten-fold!  And I love the way The Lord KNEW the deep desire of my heart, to stay home with my babies, and even though His way of giving this job to me was by going through some REALLY hard situations… I now have the best job ever!  I am not sure if I would have ever been able to trust Him enough to provide for our finances, if my job wouldn’t have been taken from me unexpectedly.  I can almost guarantee I’d still be stuck at that bank, hating it!  Every time I “relive” our story, I am reminded of HIS goodness, HIS faithfulness, and how He truly does have our best interests at heart.

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So anyway!  Besides being a Full Time Mama, I am also super heavily involved in our church. I lead a couple different ministries, as well as serve on our worship team.  I also have my own photography business, Megan Keith Photography, and am heavily involved in our gym as well.  Sometimes I love being so busy, other times I wish I could drop everything and just focus on my babies.  I need to somehow find an in-between… but that’s another post for another day.  :)

-What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

Let’s start with the hard parts.

Umm… where to begin.  :)

The ways I struggle with MY identity (outside of being a Mommy), feeling like I don’t get enough “me” time, Mom guilt (ughhh!), feeling tired constantly, never being able to NOT be at work, sick days or lack-there-of, trying to juggle my many different responsibilities, fighting this unrealistic expectation to “have it all together”… do I need to continue?

But the best part?  It’s cliché, I know, but just being with my babies.  I love that my “job” is to be a Mom.  Anything else above and beyond that is just extra.  I’m their person… I’m the one caring for them, loving them, playing with them, cooking for them, comforting them.  Even on the long, hard, exhausting days, I am so thankful that I was chosen to be their Mama.
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-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?

Honestly, I can’t even remember what I expected it to be like.  Other than knowing I would never let my kids do this, this, or this… all things that my kids currently do.  And knowing that I would never have a child who acted out in public… haaa!  Everyone is the perfect parent BEFORE they actually become a parent, yes?

-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

For now, I think it is.  I am so thankful for this “content” feeling I have most days.  Just happy with where we are.  Yes – there’s always something that could be better.  But I have a husband who adores me and works hard for our family, and two boys.  Life is good.

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-Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?

Ideally, I’d love to work in ministry again at some point.  My dream job would be to be an Admin for a Worship Pastor part time, while my boys are in school, so I could still be home with them when they are home.  On the other hand, I can see myself happy just being a homemaker and Mama to the boys when they get home from school.  Thankfully, that’s a few years off!  So much could change by then!

  -Tips on how you make this work for you?

For me, I have found I am the best Mom to the boys and the best wife to Tyler when I am consistently spending time with the Lord, AND when I also have alone time to myself to do whatever I’d like.  Whether that’s a mid-day nap time show I like to watch, or sneaking out in the evening to a coffee shop alone, or spending time with friends… it doesn’t really matter what it is, but I have to have time to myself.  It makes me a better Mom.

Another tip: BEDTIME!  Not only yours, but be consistent with your kids bedtime as well.  Not only will this help with behavior issues, but manohmanohman, I LOVE my quality time with Tyler after the boys go to bed.  Usually we’re just watching something on TV that isn’t a cartoon, but we’re together.  Without little boy interruptions.  I always struggle the following day if we don’t have this time together the night before!
tylermegan


-How do you handle mommy guilt?

I don’t think it matters what position you find yourself in, there’s always some kind of guilt attached to it.  Working Moms feel guilty that they don’t spend “enough” time with their kids, Stay at Home Moms feel guilty for not contributing to the family finances or for “wasting” their college degrees. 

For me, any time I feel guilty about something, I just try and change it.  So, maybe my kids watched way too much TV that day and now I’m feeling guilty about it… the following day I just try and monitor closely.  Maybe one day I feel guilty about spending too much time on my computer editing pictures (or on Facebook, ha!)… the following day I try and only get on while they are sleeping.  I’m a work in progress.  I like to believe there’s lots of grace in parenting!  And on the days that I feel like I absolutely screwed up in every way possible, they are there the next morning to greet me with the biggest hug and kiss, and we get to start over fresh.  I’m so thankful for grace!

-How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who does that task in the family?

I do this task, as well as most tasks around our house!  Every once in a while I will recruit Tyler’s help, but 9.5 times out of 10, I take care of it.

I meal plan one week in advance, and grocery shop every week and a half.  If I wait until week 2 to grocery shop, we end up eating out because we’re out of food, and if I grocery shop 1x a week, I spend too much per month!  So I have found every week and a half is just about perfect. 

When we first got married I was horrible about meal planning and our grocery bill and eating out budget was ridiculous!  Now, because of our tight budget, I have to stay on top of meal planning and grocery shopping.  Our youngest son, Cohen, LOVES to be on “the go” so I usually bring him with me… that’s one of our ‘treats’ we do together while Jaxon is at school!

I know a lot of people dread this chore, and it’s not my favorite thing ever, but because I am a “planner” by nature, it’s something that comes fairly natural to me.

jaxon


-How do you keep the house clean? Power cleaning after bedtime? Staying out of the house as much as possible? Cleaning while kids are awake? Purging stuff often?

Each day, I pick up the house.  Whether that’s throughout the day, during nap time, or in the evening, if I don’t spend time picking up each day, I lose my mind.  So that is is an EVERY day priority for me.

I also try and do some light cleaning each day.  Whether that’s a load of laundry, vacuuming, organizing a closet, etc… I try and do something small each day to stay on top of things.

Then, usually one morning a week, I clean like a crazy lady.  Yep, my kids watch too much TV that particular morning of the week.  I spend 2-3 hours DEEP cleaning my house and am usually done by lunchtime.  (one perk of living in a tiny rental home!) If we happen to be home that weekend, I spend my Saturday doing this, while my husband watches the kids.  I love the way I feel afterwards!  I’m a weirdo and don’t hate cleaning.  Even though it’s also not something I love, the way I feel afterwards when my house is clean is priceless!
cohen


-When do you find time to blog? 

Ha. I don’t. :)
I need to be better about this though, because I genuinely miss it and know that one day I’ll regret not staying on top of it!

family


(Thanks, Megan! Find the rest of the MMIW series here.)