April 30: Exercising as a mom of three + Running Music

Last time I blogged daily in August of 2013, I covered the topic of Exercising as a Mom of Two. And then a reader left this comment:

"I would love a post about exercise and reclaiming your body after kids, how you have lost the baby weight and your goals for future fitness, how you prioritize being healthy, etc. you are so inspiring!"

Not sure about the inspiring part but I will touch on this topic again and will list a few workout songs I'm into these days, too.

Regarding 'reclaiming' my body after three kids? The third time around has been a little harder, honestly. Either that or I've been more focused on it and weighed myself much more frequently, especially knowing that I didn't have prolonged nursing on my side anymore. I hate to be a head case about the scale but it's I toed the line a bit there.

I gained forty-three pounds with Truman and lost it all by nine months, and I don't remember weighing myself too often to see how quickly it left me. (One week PP post here, two weeks PP post here, and eleven months PP post here.) I gained thirty-four pounds with Cecelia and same thing: definitely gone by nine months but I can't say that I was weighing myself regularly (two week PP post here). With both Truman and Cecelia I was nursing like crazy that entire time (to a year with Truman, sixteen months with CC). Plus, we trained and ran half marathons before those children turned a year old.

I gained less weight when pregnant with Porter (31 pounds), I lost the first 20 pounds really quickly (one week PP post here), and then hung onto the final 10 for what seemed like forever. Porter stopped breastfeeding at six months and that is when I really ramped up my workouts to be consistently three days per week, and I no longer had to worry about killing my milk supply with a few hard workouts. So I figured the rest of the weight would just fall off with increased workouts, but it's been a slower....at least in my head it has been.

The last time I weighed myself I was two pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and I'm nearly ten months postpartum. Two pounds is practically nothing, since I can easily justify that being extra water or a big meal or heavier clothes I'm wearing when I step on the scale;) We have been training for a half marathon for the past four weeks, which is slightly later in the postpartum time frame than what we've done in the past. Even though I was working out consistently from about six months until now, I think my body needs this extra mileage to really melt away the final ten pounds. And I never really thought breastfeeding burned that many calories for me past the first few months, but maybe they are right and it really does! Go figure.

So yes, I basically have my body back according to the scale just a month later than I did the previous two times. My pre-pregnancy clothes started fitting around three months postpartum but of course things are shifted and a little wonky past the milestone of: Pre-Preg Jeans Fit, Holla! I'm blessed with super-great genes because I didn't get any stretch marks from my pregnancies (thanks, mom!!) but the skin of my stomach has always taken a solid six months to bounce back. Nothing too horrible, really, but if we are talking about terrifying body changes post-babies? My boobs. Oh, my poor little girls, you guys. Lest you want to hate me for being back to my pre-pregnancy weight already, let me just tell you about my tats.

I was an A/B cup before kids but they were a nice, perky set of smallish boobs that fit my frame just fine. Pregnancy always brought on a fantastic rack in the C/D range, and postpartum would initially bump my girls up to DDs. INSANITY for this flat chested mama and I did not enjoy those prime-breastfeeding tatas. I'd take my pregnancy boobs any day, though. Because now? I cannot even. I haven't been fitted for any bras since Porter stopped nursing because I cannot bring myself to know whether or not size 'negative double A' exists. Practically concave over here and I'm grateful for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but really wish my chest wasn't comparable to a twelve year old boy sometimes.

I like to dream about a boob job, and even my OB said, 'I wouldn't think bad of you if you got one.' AWESOME to hear that from a medical professional, right? OMG. But besides the cost and the pain and recovery and all of that, I would be so nervous that fake boobs wouldn't be ME, you know? I'm athletic and wouldn't know what to do with big boobs that I've never truly had, and I would be afraid they'd look totally foreign and....fake;) I don't know. For now I am comfortable enough to rock my pancakes and don't mind showing a little rib bones where cleavage is supposed to be on V-neck shirts, but whatever. I don't think I would ever actually go through with a major surgery just to make my chest bigger, but I'm sure I'll talk about it plenty in the meantime!

Now for the actual exercise part of this post: I should note that I generally enjoy exercising, specifically running, and I liken this to being a high school athlete. #HasBeen, for sure, but I've always been physically active and looking for fitness goals. But this has certainly changed now that I'm a mom. Mainly because 'me time' gets less and less with each subsequent child and the logistics of making time to exercise is no small feat. I'm sure many of you can commiserate here.

One thing we did after Porter that we hadn't done prior to his arrival was to buy a gym membership including the kids for childcare. During my maternity leave and through part of the fall, that is how I exercised: by hauling my crew to the gym on my days off, exercising on the treadmill, showering alone (!!) and then carting everyone home. This was fine for awhile, but then it got a little hairy with Porter's nap schedule, Truman started school, and then Cecelia didn't want to be at the gym without him. I did not like forcing CC to be in the playroom on our days home together and it really broke my heart to see her cry a few times when I left. So onto plan B.

I started going to the gym at 5:30am a few days per week, while the children slept and Nate slept. This was a little more challenging when Porter wasn't STTN, but as soon as he stopped nursing I knew that even if he *did* wake while I was gone, Nate would be more than capable of making him a bottle. That transition away from nursing was rather freeing for things like this---the ability to be away and not worry about breastfeeding really helped me to stick with a morning workout routine. Our bigger kids might wake up early for the day but they always stay in their room until their Tot Clock turns yellow, which is 6:55am.

So when I went the gym on cold, dark, dreary, winter mornings I started viewing this as my 'me time' and like a little luxury built into my day when I can do something nice for myself. Staying in shape, pushing myself to become more fit, sweating, focusing on myself for a bit----all of these things are really important to me. And I really really enjoy the post-workout sense of accomplishment, too. Sets the day off right! But the way I make exercise a priority is that I see a direct correlation to how frequently I exercise and my mood. If I skip exercise for a stretch of time, I start to get really crabby and annoyed at myself. I know that I'm a better mom and more capable of handling the ups and downs of any given day after a good run.

I think the worst part is physically getting out of the bed and into the car, to drive to the gym. Once up, it's usually a fantastic work out and a great way to start the day. I like to chant things like, 'I will be tired if I get up now, or if I get up in one more hour, so might as well get up and go to the gym,' to help me get out of bed. And it's really true---I don't find that sleeping an extra hour, skipping the gym, makes me feel any more rested. If anything, I feel more energized after exercising and more tired if I skip it. Of course, solid sleep prior to the alarm makes this 100x better.

Now that it's getting nicer out and the sun rises by 6:00am, I prefer to run outside in the mornings, skipping the drive to and from the gym and skipping the treadmill. I don't despise the treadmill really, especially since our gym has TVs on each treadmill and I can get my Bravo/HGTV fix there. We don't have cable so it's rather thrilling to watch a few missed shows while running---but then again, the 5:30am slot is rather hit or miss for good shows on any station. But running outside will always be my favorite. Who can top views like this with early morning sunshine and fresh air??

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And clouds like this! Scenery.
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So yes, I prefer to run as my mode of exercise. We are training for a half-marathon in June, so I usually run 3 or 4 miles on Tuesday and Thursday early mornings with a long run on Saturday mornings. We are up to 6 miles for our long runs right now. The weekend run is when Nate and I train together, so my in-laws will watch the kids for us. How many times do I have to mention their sainthood?

(post-run sweats from this morning)
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I will sometimes run outside with the double stroller, pushing Cecelia and Porter while Truman is at school. I might attempt to have Truman ride his bike next to the double BOB monstrosity at some point this summer when I have all three at home with me. But really, I like running alone MUCH better than pushing 75# of kids and stroller in front of me (duh). I have mentioned to Nate that I would love to get a treadmill in our basement, too, and maybe I would do that instead of a gym membership this fall. We usually put our membership on hold through the summer anyway, and NOT having to drive to and from the gym (that is five minutes away) would be great once it's dark in the mornings again.

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The other form of exercise I really like are the classes at our gym---there's a bootcamp class, an interval class, and a treadmill class that I did for awhile in the early mornings. But then I somehow hurt my back and probably wasn't ready for such intense exercise after Porter. I needed to work on my core a lot more and now I'm just back to running--my tried and true favorite. I could get really into yoga or maybe a spin class and should probably start lifting weights again, but I'm not willing to wake up at 4:30am to get a BIG work out in on those mornings. But maybe someday!

As for my goals for future fitness that the original commenter asked about, I am a big fan of half-marathons for setting a goal and following a program to achieve it. Halves are a great distance for us and I enjoy the whole process of training as much as race day. I have run one full marathon and know that there's no way I could ever dedicate the time to that training again, at least not until all of the kids are out of the house! But I would like to focus on my posture in the next few years, using my personal PT husband to help me strengthen my upper back and my super weak butt muscles so that I can perhaps prevent an injury going forward. I would be really devastated if I got hurt and couldn't run and my mental sanity would take a beating as well, so I have been asking Nate to give me a tailored routine for strengthening my weak areas. He hesitates to advise me with anything because I can be defensive (not me!) but now I'm actually ASKING him to help me out, so I'm all ears, Nate!

With this outside running (sans treadmill or beloved cable TV on said treadmill), I had to make a new playlist for music because I despised the older stuff I had on my iPod shuffle. Now I just use my phone and we have Spotify, so I created a playlist of 'running stuff' that I can share with you now. I like dance/techno stuff and rap music for running apparently---does that make me hip or super old? I can't decide.

-Animals-Maroon 5 (Cecelia and Truman love this one, is mildly inappropriate at times if you listen to the lyrics, but they love to howl when Adam Levigne howls)

-I Can't Stop Drinking About You-Bebe Rexha (I just like this one for the beat. Found it randomly on Spotify)

-Truffle Butter-Nicki Minaj (SO TERRIBLY INAPPRORIATE for any children within an ear shot, especially the non-radio version. But I can't help it, it pumps me up for some reason. We shall not discuss specific lyrics here. XXX rated, yikes)

-We Found Love-Rihanna (Have always loved this one so much, is kind of techno and okay for kids if we happen to have a dance party)

-Where Have you Been-Rihanna (Love you, Rihanna! I like to pretend I am an excellent dancer while running to this song. It's quite the sight)

-Heroes (we could be)-Alesso (good one, kids like it, too)

-Shut up and Dance-Walk the Moon (another kid appropriate one, but I don't love the phrase 'shut up' so I act like they are saying 'shush up'. Ha, I'm sure Truman and CC don't buy it)

-Roll The Bass-Major Lazer (I actually hate this one but Truman loves 'the fast part'. Gives me a freaking headache, way too much techno for my tastes).

-Get Low-Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz (classic college bar song. Really prefer the edited version, the unedited one is shocking!)

-Ruff Ryders Anthem-DMX (Sticking with the college theme, I feel very hard when rapping with DMX)

-Yeah!-Usher (oh, college, I loved you)

-Turn Down for What-DJ Snake (Obsessed, and it always reminds me of this YouTube video of the boat crash. And then I can't stop laughing. OMG, their sunglasses flying--hope nobody got seriously hurt, but I cried laughing at this the first time I saw it. I hear this took place at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri which makes it that much more funny.)

I think that is it for this topic. Did I miss anything?

(Thus ends my daily blogging this month! I only skipped one Saturday, can't believe I have posted this frequently but I like it. I like it a lot. Writing every day feels cathartic and kind of special. I wasn't able to keep up with e-mailing friends and probably didn't get to chat with Nate as much in the evenings, but it didn't feel like too much of a sacrifice to focus on the old blog daily this month. I even have a few more ideas drafted up, hope I can keep the momentum going and continue to post semi-frequently here going forward.)

April 29: Workday Evenings + Dinnertime Alone With 3 Kids

Apparently I'm doing a breakdown of our days, sort of like a mini-DiTL but much more generalized and probably not as interesting. A typical workday morning is here, a typical day at home is here, and now onto a workday evening. FUN!

I get Cecelia and Porter from Lori's at 4:00 pm on my work days. If I have time after my last patient, I will come back to our house, change clothes, drop off my giant work bag, and get Truman from Tony so he can ride along with me.

We get back home from Lori's by 4:30, and if it's nice out we may play outside in the driveway or even on the playground at school for a bit. Sometimes Porter is starving and exhausted from his super social day and will not tolerate anything but his high chair and lots of food. Sometimes Cecelia is incredibly sweet after Lori's, excited to see her big brother and myself, and other times she is quite tired and extra emotional. It varies and because of that, we might just start the dinner process right away when we get home.

At the latest, I'll start making our dinner at 5:00 with Porter in the high chair in the kitchen with me, Cecelia and Truman running around/chasing each other/usually playing pretty nice at this point. They are both incredibly hungry by now so I'll start by slicing up some of the fruit for them, or throwing a GoGurt tube their way. Porter likes to get started with his dehydrated strawberries and bananas (also CC's fave!), or apples, or cheerios. His favorite food in the entire world right now are the Gerber Lil' Crunchies cheese puffs. Not sponsored (I wish!) but this kid could literally eat an entire container of these in one sitting. I reserve these for a Big Dog move when he is especially famished and not tolerating the healthier options I've given him (i.e. everything is thrown to the ground in defiance).

Favorite freeze dried fruits---not nearly as messy as the real stuff, easy to transport, etc.
Dehydrated fruit

New favorite greek yogurt, so yummy!
Greek yogurt

More on what I make for dinner after this little rundown, but my motto when serving three children dinner without my parenting partner? Whatever works, keep it simple, and make it as fast as humanly possible. The natives get very restless and nobody can function when hungry, during the witching hour, after a long day. So: easy and fast always win in my book!

We usually sit down to eat around 5:30 and I'll begin by spoon-feeding Porter either his favorite Greek yogurt, or perhaps one of the baby food purees he deems acceptable. He totally prefers all finger food but he also needs a super full belly so I don't mind feeding him part of his meals, too. I'll alternate between feeding him in the high chair, feeding myself, hoisting Cecelia up and down from my lap as she prefers to sit on top of me at dinner, and asking the big kids to please sit down and eat and STOP GETTING UP TO GRAB TOYS/RUN AROUND!

I have come to realize on these solo parenting evening hours (witching hours) that my children have an internal clock. They can happily feed themselves and sit relatively still for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and after that? Totally a battle to get them to focus on dinner, perhaps because they are full or perhaps because they are over sitting down at the table. If this was a true family dinner with Nate present, it would be more feasible to really push for a longer time at the table. But because he isn't home for dinner four out of the five week nights? Whatever works! If the kids are hungry they will eat and if not, they know they won't get anything else before bed (unless I cave and provide a granola bar or something later, in the name of preventing starvation).

Anyway, dinnertime is getting better on work nights now that I honestly don't care if the big kids finish their meals. If they *do* clean their plates then they can pick a small dessert but it's their choice if they want to eat everything or not. And it's my choice if I want to get all worked up over them not sitting at the table for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

For all of the chaos that dinnertime with three kids and one parent brings, there are a lot of really fun moments, too. This is the time of day when we really get to discuss what each of us did while we were apart. Truman will tell us about his favorite parts of school (library day? learning center? fifth grade buddy day?) and about what he and Tony did (played soccer, went to the hardware store, played in the basement, etc). Cecelia tells us about Lori's and Porter just squeaks and tries to add his two cents where appropriate. The big kids usually get very into potty talk at the dinner table and I used to ask them to save it for later but a little poo-poo-pee-pee discussions never hurt anyone. Plus, Cecelia and Truman both have the most amazing belly laughs that usually emerge when a 'booger butt' comes flying out of the other's mouth. So yeah, it's hard not to chuckle at their 3 and 5 year old humor sometimes;)

I usually start cleaning up from dinner by 6:15 and then we head upstairs for bath time. All three kids get a triple bath on Mondays and Wednesdays but that will probably change now that the big kids have soccer on Mondays. Porter could actually use a bath every day but meh, two or three times per week seems like enough for my dirty bird.

I'll take Porter out of the bath first around 6:45, to end his love affair with violently splashing the entire bathroom. He gets his jammies and starts his bedtime bottle while laying on Truman and Cecelia's rug. Then the big kids come in and get dressed, entertaining their baby brother further by getting all of their remaining energy out for the day. Porter sometimes stays up a bit after his bottle if he's in a good mood, so that the baby can see his daddy before he passes out for the night. (Porter, not Nate).

Usually I lay Porter down around 7 or 7:15 and usually Nate texts me to say he's leaving work around 7:15-7:30. Occasionally he doesn't get home until 8pm on these nights (Fridays are actually closer to 6pm) but luckily it's more like 7:30 when Nate typically comes home after his late Mondays and Wednesdays. It's always been like this---his latest nights are also my work days. But he will have new summer hours starting next week and things are going to change a bit! See what I mean about things changing as soon as you feel settled in a routine?

Once Nate is home around 7:30 or 8 Truman is usually nearly passing out from exhaustion and CC isn't too far behind, but it's not a question: they have to wait up for daddy to do bedtime. If Porter happens to be awake he may sneak in on the action, but more than likely he is already asleep. Nate takes over bedtime responsibilities and does 3 books, teeth brushing, and 3 songs. I come in and make up 2 stories for the big kids, take CC to the bathroom one more time, and kiss them both goodnight.

Then from about 8:30-10:30 we have the post-kids-bedtime glory of watching Lost, loving on the internet, and actually conversing as husband and wife.

It should be noted that as I'm typing this up, we had a 'wild card' night when things derailed quickly. Everything was awesome and happy and LALALA EVENINGS ARE FINE when all of a sudden, everything fell apart. I'll blame it on bath time, because the kids were splashing an absurd amount and I was scared Porter was going to tip over and I yelled too much and ended up cutting bath time short because it was ridiculous. Then the big kids turned off their ears and weren't listening to me, which was fantastic, and Porter vomited all over me to the point that it was literally the most puke I've ever had the pleasure of wearing. And that includes my college years, so you know this was bad. Cecelia got a few time outs, voices were raised, and yeah--just a tough evening when everyone was cranky and we all apologized to each other at the end, so that's good. Thankful there is always tomorrow to make amends. Also thankful for wine.

Therein concludes my mini-DITL, otherwise known as 'what do you do all day?'

But I also wanted to touch on a few meal ideas in the same vein of doing whatever works, as quickly as possible, to keep everyone fed while in survival mode with three kids and one parent. Holy cow, I am literally the opposite of a food blogger and I doubt anything I can write here will be particularly inspiring but maybe some of you would like a few simple recipes/ideas, too?

First and foremost, meal planning works very well for our family. Nate and I stand in the kitchen on Saturdays and go through the fridge, and decide what we want to eat for the week. We also make a running list on our phones (the 'Reminders' app) throughout the week for groceries that are running low. So if I grab the last gallon of milk from the downstairs fridge, I immediately add 'milk' to our list. Same for anything else that runs out mid-week, so that when we meal plan we are really only adding to the list of basics we already need.

Since I returned to work after Porter, we have been relying heavily on our freezer meal stash. See my freezer meals post for details, but it's bee awesome to pull at least one meal per week from the basement freezer. I hope to continue a few big batches of freezer meals throughout the spring and summer.

Our meals for the week usually consist of one freezer meal, one leftover/fend for yourself meal, and always pizza on Friday nights. Remember, Nate is not home for dinner Monday through Thursday right now and even pizza on Fridays can be iffy if he gets off late so EASY is key for me!

Also, really should have thought about this post more than a day in advance so I could actually have pictures to correspond with each meal but OH WELL.

This week:
Mon-Hot Ham and Cheese on a pretzel bun. Seriously obsessed with this one lately. Pretzel buns make everything amazing, we get nice deli ham each week anyway, and then we use provolone cheese. Heat it all up in the oven, add mustard, and voila! I usually make a side salad with this one, or else fruit or something. No picture but you can imagine that it's very tasty, yes? I will show you one of the mixed bagged salads that we really like a lot---prefer the ones that come with dressing and croutons but this was good, too!

Dole salad blend

Tues-Chicken Fajitas. Really good, fairly easy. Nate got home abnormally early this night so I had him grill the chicken breasts I was thawing on our gas grill. I do *not* man the grill alone, totally not my thing, so I will use the Foreman if needed. But the big grill makes the meat taste so much better so this was a bonus! I also had the forethought to quickly defrost even more chicken breast, and asked Nate to grill it for the next night's dinner. We sliced up bell peppers and onions, used flour tortillas, made guacamole on the side, and seasoned the meat with our Penzey's 'fajita' seasoning. Loved it, will probably make these a lot this spring/summer. Served with chips and guac. Truman even tried the chicken breast and deemed it 'gross'. Typical.

I had two of them, but forgot I was trying to take pictures of dinners and ate one before I remembered. ;)
Chicken fajitas

Wed- BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad. One of our favorite summery meals, haven't made it in forever but we remembered it randomly last weekend when meal planning. My original pin on Pinterest had been removed (!!) so I had to scramble and found something similar. But really, you can add anything to this and it will still be good. We used grilled chicken breasts from the night before, and I also made the quinoa the night before. Then the night of this dinner, I pulled out canned corn, canned black beans, chopped up some tomatoes and avocado, added mozzarella cheese, and also BBQ sauce. DONE. We used to also have ranch dressing in there with the old recipe but I went without and it was awesome. The little kids actually did eat some of this, too.

Bbq chicken quinoa

Thurs-pizza. Usually frozen pizza, no shame. We have a small size cheese for the kids and then Nate and I split a bigger 'fancier' one with leftovers for lunches on the weekend. Also have a side salad and beer, duh.

Friday-traveling this week, but usually would do pizza here and leftovers Thursday night.

The week before:

Mon-Chicken enchiladas from the freezer stash with avocado and sour cream, chips. Love these so much, never gets old.

Tues-Hot Ham and Cheese with fruit and chips. Apparently this is becoming a weekly thing.

Wed-Falafels. We like the frozen kind from Trader Joes, I make Tzatziki sauce (cucumbers and dill with plain yogurt), add feta cheese, hummus, and avocado all wrapped up in a tortilla. Sometimes we will splurge and buy sprouts but they go bad so quickly. And recently I decided falafels always feel like something is missing, thus the addition of feta, hummus, AND avocado. Really like this version. Serve with fruit. Would have been a very nice picture for you, huh?

Thurs--Tilapia, frozen kind from Target. I got wild and wanted to bread it and it turned out alright with breadcrumbs and an egg to help them stick. Pan fried was the method of cooking but we also like to bake our fish. Steamed fresh  asparagus with garlic and parmesean, and frozen scalloped potatoes from Trader Joes were our sides. This was a night when I waited to eat with Nate when he got home, so we made this together around 8pm once the kids were asleep. Very good with red wine even though I know white is supposed to pair with fish. Love me some red wine!

Friday-frozen pizza

Other go-to favorites:

-Chicken Stir Fry--soy sauce, mmmmmm.

-Au Jus on pretzel buns--roast beef is so freaking good. And I love sandwiches, obvi.

-Nachos-beef with taco seasoning, avocado, black beans, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream.

-Burritos or Tacos--usually one Mexican meal per week around here.

-'Big Fat Salads'--spinach, lettuce and/or kale as a base. Or perhaps one of the bagged salad blends as a base. Then carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, avocado, bacon, hard boiled egg, and my favorite poppyseed dressing.

-Breakfast for dinner--can't go wrong, might have overdosed on this for awhile there.

-Grilled cheese and tomato soup--another winter classic.

-BLTs--anything bacon = yes. We try to keep bacon frozen for whenever the mood strikes.

-Cheeseburgers--on a pretzel bun, of course! Prefer from Nate's grill instead of my Foreman.

-Brats--we are in Wisconsin, after all. Good from the Foreman, too. Usually have frozen brats as a go-to throughout the year.

Meals for the kids: Porter gets his yogurt and/or baby food plus anything off my plate. Tonight he had avocado, black beans, and corn plus a small cheese quesadilla. Cecelia likes to steal my food off my plate, the exact same food provided to her on her own plate is not as good as mine I guess. I usually make Truman and Cecelia a kid meal that sometimes overlaps with the adult meal and sometimes not. Tonight they each had a part of a cheese quesadilla, yogurt, apples, and Cecelia had some of my quinoa salad. I would love to have all three of our children eat the exact same meal as Nate and I, but Truman is just so picky and I'm just so not up for the challenge of changing that right now. So we blend what they eat with what we eat and it works!

Dinner for CC tonight (Truman's very similar, no way in HELL he would eat a tomato though):
Kids dinner

Truman's lunch the other day:
Trumans lunch

Porter at dinner, a big fan of quesadillas. Also, his diapers tomorrow are sure to be AWESOME!
Porter at dinner

Some of their favorite meals: all beef hotdogs, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, PBJ, turkey breast, breakfast (waffles or pancakes), and cheese pizza. I usually try to get a fruit (bananas, apples, strawberries, and pears are their ultimate favorites) and some added protein served in there as sides to their 'main dish.' And again, Cecelia really will eat the adult meal without issue and so will Porter for that matter. Truman is getting there but he sure does have his routine set on a few different foods----sounds a lot like me as a kid (and as an adult!)

Really like these hot dogs lately!
Beef hot dogs

My lunch the other day when I realized I wanted to do a post like this. Very informative, yes?
J lunch

There is a reason why blackberries are not my favorite fruit for Porter.
Porter loves blackberries

Thus concludes my final mini-DiTL and a food post for you. Very much 'real life' and the opposite of elaborate food blogger, I know!

April 28: Days at Home

My days at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays are much more relaxed in the mornings compared to my work days. It's really nice not to have a strict schedule on my days wearing my SAHM hat. Truman still has to get to school by 8:20 but there's no daycare time frame and no patient schedule for me to focus on, either.

BUT my home days contain a consistent amount of chaos plugged throughout the entire day. Being home with three kids is not EASY at all, OMG. But it's like the stress gets drawn out from the time everyone wakes up, until the time everyone goes to bed instead of being smashed into the pre-work hours and post-work hours. Chaos still abounds but it's not quite as concentrated into a few select hours.

A general run down of my days at home, in the name of memory preservation since routines seem to change as soon as everything feels semi-settled! 

Mornings at home include me waking up around 6:00 and running outside before the big kids get downstairs, which automatically sets my day off in a positive direction. Like I said on IG, nothing like a 3-4 mile jog to provide me with endorphins and energy to tackle the day with my loves. Even if the kids completely kick my butt two seconds within stepping inside the door, at least I had that 'me time' to fake a sense of peace! I have become a huge fan of morning workouts and could technically run before work, too, but nah--I prefer to stick with my days off. One less thing to cram into the work morning routine that way.

I get back from my run around 7:00 right when the big kids are coming downstairs. Nate has already made the coffee and it smells like heaven---especially since I could (in theory) drink it at a more leisurely pace on these mornings. Porter might already be awake and chugging his bottle in the sunroom. I'll usually change his diaper and his clothes after that. I'll start breakfast for Truman and Cecelia but I don't have to force feed my daughter, since she isn't going to Lori's on these days and therefore is not on a time schedule. Hallelujah.

Also, it should be noted that Lori does feed CC breakfast there, so I'm not even sure why I bother at home on my work days. I guess I love breakfast so much myself and believe that the kids should also eat a hearty one to avoid STARVATION but in reality, they might not need to eat a ton immediately upon waking. Light bulb moment over here. Glad I've typed all about our morning routines because it's helped me realize pushing a 'real' breakfast on C and T might not be totally necessary. Truman could probably just have a yogurt at home quickly, then his snack at school will be just a few hours later. I usually pack him a Cliff bar and a GoGo squeeze applesauce for his snack and I'm sure that would be a good second breakfast in a pinch.

ANYWAY, back to my days at home.

Nate leaves for work around 7:15 so I'm on my own for child prep after that. I'll encourage Truman to eat, get dressed, and brush his teeth before I walk all three to school around 8:10. If Cecelia is still in her jammies and isn't too hungry, fine by me. Porter might need two breakfasts on a day at home, so he can probably squeeze one in before our school trek and one again after. I either eat breakfast before school or once we arrive back home, too---breakfast flexibility for all!

Once we have successfully deposited Truman at school, CC and Porter and I walk home and begin our 2.5 hours without the eldest. I must say, having 'just' two children seems quite simple these days even though Truman is consistently the easiest one of my bunch anyway. I think no matter how many kids you have, it always seems easier when one of them is elsewhere---but having two kids never felt easy when it was just Truman and Cecelia. And having two kids is NOT easy in general, don't get me wrong. I just think this must be some law of the universe: subtract one tiny body from the mix for a short time and succumb to the feeling of being needed by less people. Definitely a true scientific fact, unless one of the present children is also the dominating factor in life (ahem, Cecelia) and then science gets thrown out the window because said child equals three children at times. She's a pipsqueak but she is a force to be reckoned with, that girl!

This seems like a good time to give a specific example about how Cecelia's mood makes or breaks a day at home. Today, Cecelia literally woke up PISSED at the world. Actually, she woke up calling for me and since I was on my run, Nate went in to check on her. That was highly offensive for her and she wailed and sobbed and cried 'no daddy!' for a good 30 minutes while I was away. I got her to calm down when I arrived, but it really started our day off with a bang. She proceeded to whine, throw Truman's card game on the floor, refused to pick it up, and then needed a string of time outs in her room to decompress. By 8:30, when we returned home from school drop off with another round of tears because someone bumped into her on a slide, I texted Nate to say that I felt like a failure of a mother. Because OBVIOUSLY my daughter hates me and hates life and OMG she's so strong willed. I really dislike feeling like I'm constantly trying to break her, or discipline her, or teach her that she cannot always get her way. It's exhausting when we have mornings (or days) when we butt heads. I hate seeing her cry, it breaks my heart....but at some point, it also angers me because I cannot help her and it's pointless to reason with a two year old. OMG. Anyway, this is an example that serves as a nice reminder for me: being at work is sometimes easier than being at home. At least my patients appreciate me and don't cry 75% of the time I'm with them (slight exaggeration). <sigh> #girlmom #savesherdramaforhermama #loveheranyway #butwoah

SO! during Truman's school we will sometimes run an errand or two, but Porter's beloved nap schedule rules our lives. He goes down around 9:00 and most of the time, I will take a shower at that point while CC plays in the bathroom with my makeup or jewelry. She'll eventually finish her breakfast, I'll eat mine if I haven't already, and we will probably begin a load of laundry. We will clean kitchen counters, dishes, etc if feeling an extra burst of caffeinated energy. Cecelia really does adore 'helping' me with housework and kind of eats up the 1:1 attention during Porter's morning nap. I do my best to really praise her for being a big helper and sometimes we just need to hug it out if the morning has been rough. But other times, she's been silly and playful and happy without the drama. I mean, I hate to only mention the challenging times with my little lady. She is so loving and hilarious and sweet most of the time. Her hugs are the best, her giggle infectious, and she definitely adores her brothers. I *think* she loves me, too;)

Once Porter wakes up from his first nap, around 10:00 or so, he gets a bottle and then we fill some time with playing/dancing/puzzles/laundry. If it's really nice outside, we might head over to school slightly early but our standard is walking out the door by 10:50 for Truman's 10:55 release. Living across the street from school does NOT suck, I tell you.

Truman loves to play on the playground with his friends for awhile after school and most of the time Cecelia and Porter allow this. We head home by 11:30 or 11:45, and *this* is the pivotal time in our day. Just a few months ago, CC would have to go down for her nap immediately because life was just too much at this point. But lately I've been attempting to get a real lunch into all three children and myself at the same time. This is monumental, yes.

If I can successfully navigate the choppy waters of three hungry and rather tired children, I like to feed everyone, push CC's nap to 12:30, give Porter a bottle after that and then put him down as well, no later than 1:30. Many times this winter, we would do a playdate with friends from about 11-1 after school but before naps---which was always a great way to pass that critical time. Truman gets his iPad time during a part of the duel naps and I get cracking on phone calls and paperwork for my next day on the job. If there is time remaining after that, I might enjoy some 'veg out in front of the computer time', before changing laundry. Truman and I will color or do a craft project until one of the babes wakes up, usually around 3:00.

The hours from the end-of-naps until bedtime are witching hours to the max. It could go either way: CC and Porter might wake up super happy, or they might be angry at the world. It's anyone's guess really. Many times I sneak in a few photos of the children at this time of day. Again, it could go either way, but who could ever complain about getting to spend time with these little angel faces?

Heart eyes x 1 million
happy porter 9.5 months

Truly, not even posed--Truman just snuck in the frame last minute.
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Yes, Henry, I will rub your belly right after those two giant baskets of laundry are folded. Help a sister out, will you?

My girl, matching ponytails, and her amazing little profile.
CC and Julia

This boy wrote me a 'Happy Birthday' sign in chalk with Yaya on my birthday. Sweet boy.
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Post-naps: Porter gets another bottle, and CC gets a snack (or a super late lunch if she refused before her nap). We usually play outside at this time of day, either in our driveway or we go to a playground. Lately Cecelia is obsessed with swings and would seriously ride them for hours upon hours. Sometimes I oblige her, because Porter also loves swings and Truman is happiest chasing other kids on the slides. Occasionally we'll do a Target run, walk to Starbucks, do a library trip, or an afternoon playdate with friends.

Dinner time on a Tuesday or Thursday means I can either feed the kids and then eat with Nate when he gets home, or if I'm starving I'll eat with the kids and Nate can re-heat his meal later. I start making dinner around 5:00 and we are usually sitting down around 5:30 or 5:45.  Porter is in his high chair the entire time I'm cooking and Cecelia is either sitting on the counter and stealing food as I prep it, or she might be playing with Truman nicely. Dinner time with the three children is getting easier with time but it's still pretty freaking hectic without Nate to help in the madness management.

Nate usually gets home from work around 6:30 these nights, and we all get a little excited to see him walk through the door. JUST A LITTLE BIT. We'll all play and I will clean up dinner before the kids start their bedtime.

Porter gets a bottle around 6:45, jammies, and I get to rock him for a bit before he goes down around 7:00. Truman and Cecelia are heading upstairs with Nate around this time for their routine: jammies, 3 books, teeth brushing, 3 songs by Nate and then two made-up stories by me. I walk out of their room to complete bedtime around 7:30 or 7:45.

After that, if I haven't eaten dinner already (jammed it into my mouth while telling the children to eat their food), Nate and I will make our dinner together. If I already ate, then Nate will reheat whatever I made for the two of us.

Then begins the wonderful evening hours with just Nate and I laying on the couch, talking, watching TV, and likely on our laptops. The past few months we have been binging on Lost--up to season three, no spoilers please! This is when I will blog, catch up on emails, and may need to do more paperwork for my 'real' job. Adult bedtime is somewhere between 10-10:30 and occasionally we might pass out on the couch first. Oops!

So yeah, days as a SAHM--the highest of highs, the lowest of lows!


Today, I'm thirty-four years old. I'm 'in my thirties' as Nate says. It's all relative, of course, but I feel both young and old on any given day, or at any given hour of the day.

I've definitely entered the phase in life when I forget how to answer the question, 'How old are you?' I reflexively want to say 'Thirty,' but apparently the last four years have blurred together more than I knew. Where is the pause button? I need one of those for my birthday this year.

I do know that life at thirty-four is pretty fantastic. By no means do I feel like I have everything figured out, but I am starting to feel the wisdom I've earned in the past ten years. Experiences, changes, growth, an evolution of me. Was that deep enough for you? I'm happy, healthy, and loved by the best family and friends. I know my twenty-four year old self would be pleased.

Ten years ago I was getting ready to start my clinical rotations for my Masters degree. I was dating Nate, living in St. Louis, and preparing to be an adult in the real world. I vaguely remember this time in my life but not in great detail and hindsight tells me that life was much simpler, with less responsibilities. But there was so much unknown ahead of me back then, so much potential. I'm sure I could feel the electricity of it all--would we get married? Have kids? Where would we live? Would I like my career choice? I'm not sure how far I looked into the future but I think I understood the possibilities were endless.

Today I am married to Nate for nearly eight years, we moved from MO to WI to start our next chapter together, I have three of his beautiful children, a dog, a house, a job, a mini-van, and we are totally adults. Auto insurance, life insurance, home owners insurance, medical insurance, taxes, 401ks....responsibilities, man. We have them. The boring parts of being an adult that nobody really prepared me for are always there, gently reminding us that we aren't kids anymore.

And that's fine by me. Those kids of ours. This marriage. Our amazing family. Supportive friends. Life at age thirty-four is awesomely humbling sometimes, especially when I really take a breath, take a step back, and truly look at it all. Sometimes I can step outside of the daily grind, the nap schedules, the toys strewn across the floor, the laundry, the kisses goodnight, the phone calls from work, and the persistent To Do list. And when I get that moment of clarity, that's when it hits me how truly blessed my thirty-four years have been. Of course there have been hard times. But right now? Now is a great time in life.

I still feel like there are so many unknowns ahead of me in the next ten years. So much potential. This is an exciting time and yet, one that is decidedly more settled and comfortable. Full of responsibility but full of routine, and laughter, and sleep, and intense happiness right along side the intense frustrations.

Thirty-four years old, wow. I'm celebrating with a full day at work (again: adult), then Truman and Cecelia's first soccer practice tonight (again: a mom). But we made the whole weekend a birthday celebration, so I suppose the day-of can be completely ordinary. Nate and I went out for a date night on Saturday, we had a big salmon dinner with Nate's parents on Sunday, and I felt the love all weekend. There were fancy store-bought cupcakes, forced pictures with our offspring, presents and candles.

My helpers.
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It's not a family picture without a nose picker!
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Real, real life. Blurry, but happy.
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'All I want for my birthday is a picture with the kids.' Ah, yes.
Mom and kids for her birthday

Cheer up, boys!
Mom and kids for her birthday

It was a good try.
Mom and kids for her birthday

Thirty-four, 'in my thirties', and feeling reflective with another birthday under my belt. Thankful for each and every year.

April 26: Workday Mornings

They just aren't my favorite. At all.

Workday mornings come with the added hustle and bustle of getting myself ready for work (both physically and mentally) plus getting all three children ready for either Lori's or school. Nate is home on these morning to help crack the proverbial whip but for some reason, I feel like my whip is cracking hardest on everyone on those Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. (Read: psycho mom). I mean, my workday mornings are when I find myself becoming a giant nag, especially when I have to light a fire under Truman's butt to get moving: 'Please eat your breakfast. Take another bite. Keep eating, stop playing, we are going to be late to school. Please keep eating!!!!!' Throw in a tantrum or five by Cecelia, a hungry/fussy baby that is ready to nap before we get out the door, a possible ill-timed diaper blow out, a minor injury to any child after not listening and running/falling down, the constant whining/just waking up for the day mentality and the need for me to be professional and presentable? Yep, you have a recipe for YELLING and I hate hate hate starting our day off on the wrong foot. We have both good and bad workday mornings of course, but the bad ones really stick with you---you know?

So yes, Nate is also home to help me on MWF before work---he adjusted his schedule this way on purpose when I returned to work after Porter. He is usually the one who walks Truman over to school and he then does the daycare drop off after that (usually, unless it makes more sense for me to drive that way, if my first patient is near Lori). Nate is truly awesome and on the rare occasion I have to do a workday morning alone, I want to cry into my (very cold) coffee. Not really, but it's much harder to do without Nate and I'm glad to have my teammate present for three mornings per week. I still think I'd trade the help in the a.m. instead of having him home earlier in the p.m. but I don't know...the evenings are a different post entirely. But that is our trade off: I have him home for three mornings to help but I fly solo almost every single weekday evening instead. We are looking very much forward to Nate's new summer hours that begin in a few weeks. He might even be able to eat dinner with us more than one time on a weekday!

But I wanted to write out a bit of the tasks that need to be checked off each workday morning, since I did a weekend day for my DiTL this quarter. I never want to forget the craziness of working outside the home and also using childcare outside the home, with two separate drop offs for our three kids (school and Lori's). Organization is *key* for these kind of mornings and it's definitely been a work in progress since adding a third child to the mix. I think we are hitting our stride but sometimes the yelling happens and I vow to do better the next day. 

Also, if we had a nanny life would be so much easier in the mornings. Or if I didn't work outside of the home.* OR BOTH:)

A typical workday morning:

I wake up at 6:15 and head downstairs where I make the coffee (8 cups usually, freaking best part of every morning--I start looking forward to coffee before I go to bed at night), let Henry outside, open the blinds on the lower level of the house, and clean up a few dishes/unload the dishwasher if needed. Then I start setting out the big kids' breakfasts: whole milk, vitamins, apples OR a Gogurt, and sometimes half of a frozen waffle with peanut butter (and Nutella if I'm feeling extra fun). Nate is in the shower at this point and Porter might be waking up around 6:30-ish. Sometimes Nate will bring Porter down with him after the shower or sometimes I will go and get the babe.

Porter's routine is that he needs a 6 oz bottle STAT and we usually let him lay in his Breeze playard  in the sunroom for this 'Mr. Independent' bottle boy. He also needs a diaper change, to get dressed for the day, and after that he is happy to rotate between playing with toys on the floor and sitting in his highchair to throw food at Henry. So the bottle, diaper/clothes, then play and some high chair time makes up the entirety of Porter's morning from about 6:30 or 6:45 when he wakes until 8:40 when Nate takes him to Lori's.

Back to my routine: once the big kids' breakfasts are ready to be consumed (although they are still sleeping upstairs) I move on to making my lunch for the day. This was something I always used to do the night before a workday but for some reason I just don't have the energy to prep in the evenings. Note to self: try to make it happen to cut down on morning time stress. Usually I just make a PBJ, bring an apple, some chips, and two gigantic bottles of water for my day in and out of the car. And once Porter is done with his bottle in the other room, I'll usually jump back and forth from the kitchen to the sunroom to get him dressed, set him up to play, or else I'll just sit him in the high chair in the kitchen with me so I can keep going with my check list. 

After my lunch is made, I will make and eat my own breakfast. Lately this always consists of a ham/egg/cheese sandwich on an English muffin. Usually I eat standing up in the kitchen while I tend to Porter/the dishes. Nate comes downstairs around 6:45 and the big kids come down at 7:00. Their tasks for the morning include eating breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing their teeth. One would think this could take maybe 10 minutes TOPS but hahahahaha, it's usually a struggle to condense this routine to 1 hour for Truman (walks to school around 8:10) and 1.5 hours for Cecelia (out the door to Lori's around 8:40 or so). 

Once all three of the children are happily/peacefully/JOYFULLY eating their breakfasts without any fighting or whining (sarcasm), I head upstairs to take my shower around 7:15. Many times CC comes with me and will bring her breakfast with her into the bathroom---the opposite of appetizing, if you ask me. I take my shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, brush my teeth and head back downstairs around 8:00. If Cecelia stays downstairs and isn't my big 'helper', I can usually get myself ready faster than this. 

Nate and Truman walk to school around 8:10 and CC usually tags along. I get a few minutes with just mister Porter and adore that quiet time together. Then Nate and CC come back from school, we all get various bags ready for the day (Lori bag, work bag, lunch bag, etc) and I help load the offspring into Nate's car by 8:40. This is when I will say that forgoing giant winter boots, snowsuits, big winter coats, hats and gloves is the best thing ever. We still have to layer outerwear but someday, my friends, we will be able to walk directly out the door without any bundling. And it shall be glorious.

I might check my work phone quickly once everyone is gone, then load my haul into the van (work bag, lunch bag, two ginormous water bottles). Do NOT miss my pump bag on mornings like this! Again, sometimes I will take CC and Porter to Lori's before my first patient but not so much lately. Either way, as I pull out of the garage, I already feel like I've run a marathon most of the time. But it's also a big accomplishment to make it out of the morning alive, so (fist pound) to everyone on a time schedule with small children. Ain't no joke, man.

A picture to summarize our mornings: I am ready to wear my PT face but the lighting makes it look like I have a bit of a lazy eye or something. And Cecelia and Porter both needed to be on my lap for breakfast and they are not expressive at all. But hey, Friday morning!
Before work with the littles

*{disclaimer: I don't think staying at home is easy, by any means. More on my 'days at home' schedule and the separate kind of stress in another post, coming soon to a blog near you.}

April 25: Hunting for a Denim Shirt

As a spin off to my 'dress me' post, I feel like I need to specifically discuss my quest for a denim shirt. Because the 1969 Deconstructed one from Gap? Nope.

It's a TALL, size small. And although it looks alright from the front, it's perplexingly short in the back. THIS IS NOT A PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT, PEOPLE! I posted these pics on Instagram and immediately took them down after a few minutes with multiple comments about how this reminded others of my pregnancy pictures. No. Same mirror but nothing to report in my womb. Will have to take selfies in a different mirror going forward.

Denim shirt gap

Denim shirt gap
I rolled the sleeves but the arm length was actually okay. It's the torso length that bugs me.

Originally $69 but I got it on sale for $35, so not terribly inexpensive but it absolutely feels like it will shrink after the first wash. I would like to promise that I'll never dry it but let's get real--my clothes need to adhere to the 'survival of the fittest' mentality. I do too much laundry, too frequently, to put forth the added effort of air drying certain pieces of clothing. High maintenance clothing will not last here, I'm afraid.

So anyway, I had high hopes for this shirt. I envisioned wearing it with black leggings, with a pair of salmon colored chino shorts (yet to be purchased), or my bermuda black shorts. I was going to be a hip mom in this shirt. And instead, I am reminded yet again that buying anything that isn't ridiculously long is a bad idea.

Nate's comment on this shirt was 'cute, but it makes me nervous---don't you think if it shrinks you'll never wear it again?' Yes, dear husband, you are right. But I want to love this shirt! But I returned it with sadness in my heart.

I hunted online for 'tunic length denim tops' last night. It was highly entertaining. Nordstrom, JCrew, Banana, and some frightening things on Amazon kept me up until the wee hours of the morning without any results.

This one from H&M might be taking the 'longer length' to the extreme but perhaps this is the direction I'm going because I'm being psychotic about length.

But this one from SoHo Girl is on point, yes?? Longer in back at least, great for leggings. Acid washed and her pose = wow. You're welcome.

Seriously though...This one from Talbots might be a winner. The reviews aren't great however, many saying the fit is odd (super tight in the shoulders and overall runs small). The model makes it look amazing though, right?

Or this one from J.Jill but I don't love the bottom hem here, and I think I want it a little more fitted.  (Also, sorry, mom but apparently with J.Jill and Talbots selections I have become you and it makes me feel very mature and anti-Forever 21. Love turning into my mom but I didn't know I was officially ready to start shopping in her stores, either.)

This one from Orvis seems super promising---it's 30" long which I measured just now and that would be *plenty* long. What is 'Tencel' fabric, anyone? I see this a lot during my hunt. I would pay $74 for this shirt if I loved it and if I could wear it spring/summer/fall with lots of options on the bottom.

So I want it to be long but semi-fitted, but not TOO tight. Good pockets would be nice--not too big or odd. Can't be too tight on my shoulders. Has to be the right shade of denim. Not cost a fortune but I will pay for good fit. Sucks that most everything 'tall' can only be found online because the process is much more difficult to order online without trying on, then waiting for it to arrive, only to return it later. 

No idea why this is proving to be a difficult feat! Anyway, I'm on the hunt and get a little obsessive with these things sometimes. I loved all of your suggestions in my other post about where to shop and have been diligently looking online ever since! (Updated with many many more pictures and links after some great comments on this post!)

Madewell: $79.50. Too oversized? Great color and length although not listed as a 'tall.'

Nordstrom: $99. Pricey, maybe a bit too baggy, but I really dig it for it's tunic-style.

Lands End: $45. Too shiny with that Tencel stuff? Comes in a TALL and is supposed to be a tunic!

Lands End: $60. Another 'tall', not as shiny as it's not Tencel.

J.Crew Factory: $50. Not a 'tall' but seems long as a tunic. Not a great picture but a commenter has this and loves it.

Eddie Bauer: $80. Is a 'tall' and is super cute. Tencel!

Loft: on sale for $33. Is a 'tall', definitely a high-low tail. 

Loft: on sale for $33, is a tall, but no collar and I can't decide if I love that or hate it.

Boden: $75. Not a tall, would probably be too short, but I love this look for some reason. Would never pull off the 'tucked in' version though.


I did buy this Nike workout top (that will likely be an 'everyday top' for me) last weekend. Good length, kind of fun ruching at the sleeves at the wrists, and not a pastel, that's for sure!

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Also went to Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth, tried on approximately 25 tops and this was the only semi-winner. I should have just bought the sucker but I didn't because I don't love the color and it's an XS which is NOT normally my size. So that makes me nervous that my shoulders will bust out the seams after one wash---but excellent drapey-ness and length here!
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April 24: My Childhood vs. My Children's Childhood | Part Two

{Part one here}

The family unit: 

One weighty fact about both my childhood and Nate's childhood? Both of our parents are still married, my parents celebrating forty years (!!!) next month and Nate's parents celebrating thirty-seven years this fall. Pretty amazing, right? Obviously, Nate and I have great marriage role models and I certainly hope that our kids will also be able to say their parents stayed together. That is not a 'given' anymore and I am so grateful that my parents still love each other after all these years. Truly inspirational and sometimes they are a little sickening, actually (love you, mom!) ;)

Aside from not experiencing divorced parents, Nate and I also came from a family with two children and we each have a younger brother. Two first borns being married to each other is another topic for another time--my mom and her love for birth order discussions would love to write that one! But being a family of four was our standard growing up. So now that we have made a family of five, our kids will know a bigger family than we ever did. I like to think this means more love and more chaos and more siblings that they can love/hate with time. Our kids will probably have to share bedrooms because of our larger family in a three bedroom house, and Nate and I didn't get the experience of sharing rooms with our brothers. Actually I think Nate and Jon did share a bedroom for awhile when they were really young but not for long. Really hope that Truman and Cecelia keep loving each other enough to share their room until it's no longer appropriate!

Also, the spacing of children is quite different for our children compared to Nate and I as children. Nate and his brother are four years apart, and I'm six years older than my brother. Truman is 27 months older than Cecelia, who is 25 months older than Porter. So yeah, our three children are quite a bit closer in age than Nate and I were to our siblings growing up. Not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but the family dynamics will be different for each of our children. I hope that our kids have close relationships to each other with their smaller age gap, although I'd say that Nate and I both have good relationships with our own brothers with a bigger gap. I also think it's neat that our two boys are the same spacing as Nate and his brother. Those two certainly competed with each other and fought growing up but they are close now---I can't quite picture Porter and Truman fighting or competing with each other but I'm sure it will happen! Actually, our wild card daughter will probably give both of the boys the most trouble anyway.

When I was an only child. And when dad had a killer 'stasche and Mom's glasses were amazing.
little Julia with Mom and Dad

One topic that the original commenter mentioned in her suggestion for this blog post, was the mother's role of working outside of the home or staying at home with the children. Ah, a topic near and dear to my heart! My mom and also Nate's mom stayed home when raising their small children. Both of our moms returned to the work force eventually---Nate's mom went back to work when Nate was in middle school and Jon was in third grade. My mom had a craft business when my brother was really little but didn't go to work outside of the home until I was in middle school. So Nate and I both grew up with stay at home moms who were also home with us every day after school. This obviously creates a different upbringing than what our children will have, since I work part time outside of the home. Our kids have gone to daycare, even if just a few days per week, and Nate and I didn't go to daycare (although I think I went for maybe a few months when my mom originally returned to her job as a social worker, but then she quit and stayed at home). I'm hoping that once Truman, Cecelia, and Porter are all in school (cannot imagine this time in our life, but I know it's coming!) I will be home with them once the school day is over, just like our moms were for us. It shouldn't be too difficult for me to be at home by 3:30 on the days I work, and I suppose I might even work five days per week at that point. But assuming I'm still in home care, I can probably swing being finished with my job at the end of the school day. That feels important to me right now and we'll see if it does play out to be a big deal in the years ahead.

Bonus dental comparison: Both Nate and I had braces growing up, my brother did not need them (LUCKY MICHAEL!). I'm certain all of our children will need braces with their parents genetics of bad teeth. But I think I'm also wearing a Hypercolor tee shirt here, so that makes up for the teeth, right? That six year age difference was certainly apparent here, as Michael was still adorable and so young as I entered into the more awkward pre-teenage years.
Julia and Michael

What else should I have covered with this post? And have you thought about your childhood compared to your kids' childhoods? 

April 23: My childhood vs. My children's childhood | Part One

Another topic from a commenter:

"Here's an idea for you (that may take more thought than you want to put in), but maybe a post about how your kids' childhoods are/will be different than yours, and feelings on that? I've been thinking that over a lot lately and since I don't blog, I'm passing the idea to you :). I grew up in a rural area with a SAHM; my son is a city kid with two full-time working parents. As he gets older, I'm realizing there are some idealizations of my childhood that I have to let go of, and also some really amazing experiences my kid will get that I never had access to. Maybe that's way too deep ... but an idea. Pictures are totally fine too :)"

I find this to be an interesting comparison and one that I haven't specifically pondered until this comment. My initial reaction was that my upbringing and also my kids' upbringings will be quite similar, which is a subconcious goal of mine since I had a wonderful childhood (Nate, too!). But I guess when you really get down to it, there are plenty of differences to discuss as well. I hope it goes without saying that everyone has different childhood experiences and upbringings and that is totally fine by me! Just because I was raised one way doesn't mean it's the 'right way' or that someone else who wasn't raised like me is missing out. I feel the need for this disclaimer before I touch on a few heavy topics of childhood and priorities in raising children. This is just my own personal story and the ongoing story of my children. Differences are good! Okay then.

Big city versus small town upbringing:
I grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri which is the commonly forgotten Capital in the middle of the state.  I thought it was a 'big city' with a population of about 45,000, which was gigantic compared to the tiny farming towns surrounding us in JCMO. My high school was huge since there were only two in our city: public (mine, graduating class of 800) or private (much smaller but still a huge competitor of ours in athletics). The size of my high school compared to the size of my hometown is kind of interesting, since I never realized other truly BIG cities had suburbs with their own schools, own little world, and their own culture. You either went to the public high school or the private one and that was that. 

My kids are growing up in a suburb of Milwaukee that has roughly 45,000 people living here, which is basically the exact same size as my hometown. And in case this isn't already known: we live in the same suburb where Nate grew up, and his parents still live in Nate's childhood home just a mile away from us. But the big difference is that our suburb is a part of the Milwaukee metro area that has 1.5 million people calling it 'home.' So Truman, Cecelia, and Porter are definitely 'city kids' compared to myself. 

And one of our favorite things about this suburb is the walkability: we can walk to school, walk to the downtown village, walk to playgrounds, etc., which feels very city-like. I definitely did not live in a walkable town growing up, we didn't have sidewalks, and my childhood home was built in the 1980s instead of our current home from the 1920s. That part doesn't really matter when it comes to 'upbringing' but I think our neighborhood and suburb have a much different feel than my hometown, too. I'll call Truman, Cecelia, and Porter city kids---but city kids in a suburb. I was a small town city kid with a side of farm girl;)

I went to St. Louis University and had a bit of a culture shock as I realized that I was considered a small town girl. Not to mention that when I chose a Jesuit college I didn't have a clue as to how different I'd be there since I was not Catholic and 90% of the kids there were at least 'sort of' Catholic. I think a lot of the city kids thought I was a po-dunk-farm girl-atheist or something, which was shocking since I believed myself to be a city girl with a solid religious background (more on that part in a bit)! My family did technically own a beef cattle farm, although faming wasn't my dad's primary job. Dad is a CPA who would change out of his business suit into his denim overalls and steel toed boots in the evenings to inseminate a cow or something crazy. So yes, I guess I was a bit of a 'farm girl' but we didn't live on the farm and I've never driven a tractor;) 

More on my experience being somewhat of a religious outsider at college: I remember the first Ash Wednesday I experienced while at SLU. My friend Keri came to class with ashes on her forehead and I was perplexed, telling her that she had dirt on her face. Ah, I learned so much about Catholicism in college because of the religious studies we were required to take, but also because of my numerous Catholic friends in college. I have gone up to the front of church at more Catholic weddings than I can count---getting a blessing with my arms crossed over my chest instead of receiving communion became more comfortable for me with each subsequent wedding. Which brings me to another topic when comparing childhoods.

Although I went to a public high school, I attended a Lutheran grade school from kindergarten through eighth grade. Which is ironic because we went to a Baptist church--one that was a very prominent feature of my childhood as we went every Sunday, most Wednesday nights, did vacation bible school and Sunday School, and my mom was employed by our church for many years. Papaw was even the very first pastor at our church, so it was definitely a big part of my childhood. But my dad grew up Lutheran and attended the same grade school that I did, so I had a nice blend of denominations as I formed my own faith base. Lutheran grade school, public high school, Baptist church, and then a Catholic university. This could have become quite confusing for me but I am thankful for the variety of religions I've been exposed to over the years.

As for my kids: Nate was brought up Catholic but married me in an art gallery with my Baptist grandfather officiating;) And now we attend a Lutheran church because I consider Lutheranism a nice compromise between Catholicism and Baptists. Nate and I really enjoy our church mostly because it's laid back, geared towards families with young children, and the pastors are fantastic. But one way in which my kids will have a different upbringing than my own? We do not go to church every Sunday (shame, shame--I have Catholic guilt for this without being Catholic). For awhile when it was just Truman and even into the baby Cecelia days, we did make it every-other-Sunday and I believe someday we'll make that a priority again. But right now during this chaotic stage of life with three very small kids, it's just not. I believe we can still teach our children about God and faith and religion without going to church every Sunday. 

For instance, Truman is really into this storybook Bible these days:
All Photos-306

We will read stories from it and discussions are prompted about God, Jesus, faith, and being kind to others. Truman also loves any of the stories that have to do with battles and death and I sort of forgot how intense a lot of the biblical stories can be. I mean, the crucifixion in general? BIG topic of discussion and something that I'm sure we will continue to talk about for years to come. At least, I hope we do! Cecelia doesn't 'get it' yet but reading stories with Truman is one way that the kids are getting exposed to religion without attending church every Sunday. Plus, Christmas and Easter are both opportune times to steer the kids towards the real meaning of these holidays. But of course, opening presents and eating candy are a hundred times more kid friendly than the birth and death of Jesus. BUT ANYWAY, religion was a huge part of my upbringing and it's also a part of my kids' lives. But probably not as prominent as it was for me as a child. When discussing religion at all, I feel the need to say that everyone is different here and it's alright if you weren't/aren't religious and don't want your kids to be either. I hope talking about faith isn't offensive because yes, it can be a sensitive subject!

Already touched on this one, but Nate went to public schools for elementary, middle school and high school, then met the love of his life at a Jesuit college;) I went to private grade school/middle school, public high school, and was Nate's love of his life at the Jesuit college. Nate even attended the exact same middle school and high school that our kids will attend, different elementary schools only. Our kids will go to public schools until college and then I will pray with everything I have they choose a state school after high school. Private colleges are beyond my comprehension for tuition costs so hopefully all three of our children are GENIUSES and get extremely awesome scholarships somewhere (that goes for a state school or a private school, actually). Be geniuses, kids!

So size of the city=different, religion=same but different, and schooling choice=same. More on the concept of the family unit next.

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