Moms Make it Work: Anne from California

Today we have Anne writing for our Moms Make it Work Series. Anne reached out to me as a blog reader, asking if she could participate in the series as a working mom in California. I said 'of course' and loved reading about her life as a mom who balances it all so well.  She is expecting her third baby any day now, so the 'baby watch' is officially in full force on all forms of social media. Enjoy!


Thank you Julia for letting me participate in this series.  I reached out to her after following along and reading everyone stories, and thought that my story would be fun to share.  As I write this edit, I am currently on my second week of maternity leave and am impatiently awaiting the arrival of baby number three.  I hope by the time this is published she will already be here!

Once again, thank you so much Julia for letting me share my crazy chaotic story. 

About me:
Hi everyone.  I'm Anne, a wife to Jason, Mommy to Keane (4 years), Gehrig (2.5 Years) and Marra (due April 9).  I am an occasional when-I-have-time, make-time-for-it-blogger on Our Adventures In Lala Land and Beyond, and post lots of pics of my kiddos on instragram @mianlwls.

Besides being a wife and mommy, I am a TV photo publicist (a creative department/marketing function) for a major TV and Movie studio.  As with lots of people in Los Angeles, I also have a side gig as a wanna be actor with who auditions for commercials mostly, and day player roles here and there. 




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

There are two things I always knew I wanted to be when I grew up.  First and foremost, I wanted to be a wife and mom.  Second, I wanted to be an actor (I know you are probably thinking "actress" but everyone out here refers to each other as "actor" regardless of gender).  I got bit by the unfortunate acting bug when I was 7 years old, and had decided from that age that I wanted to be in the performing arts.  As much as I wish I could shake it, it won't go away.  There were periods in my 20's where attaining both those goals seemed impossible, and thought maybe I should just give it all up and get 30 cats, and find a "real" job.

I attended UC San Diego, where I changed majors 3-4 times, before ultimately going back to being a theater major with a minor in psychology.  My last semester included a class called "The Business of Acting" which basically prepped me for how to tackle the acting world when I got to Los Angeles.  However, now looking back at it, it failed to train us for how to support ourselves while pursuing acting careers if we weren't trust fund babies.

Three months after I graduated, I worked for a very small production company where I worked as a receptionist for three months.  Shortly after that, I got another offer asking me if I was interested in working as a set production assistant on a movie called LIFE AS A HOUSE.  Since I wasn't thrilled with my position as a receptionist, I promptly left and started working on that set.

The set production assistant job was exciting, new and a bit of a thrill when I first started.  It was working on an actual movie with a decent budget, with well known talent, producers, directors, cinematographers etc. For the first time I got to see all the people and the work it takes to create a movie.  After a few weeks into it though, I realized that I did NOT want to work on the production side of things, and I still itched to be the talent.  I loved seeing actors in action, studying, prepping for their time in front of the camera and longed to be in that space again  It was a huge eye opener for me and made me realize at that time that it was still what I wanted to do.  

When that gig ended, I pursued acting full time.  As all actors in Los Angeles do, I waited tables to support myself in between looking for agents, going to auditions, and going to acting class. I managed to do some extra work, nabbed my first agent, auditioned for A LOT of things, and booked a few, did some student films, and got my membership to the Screen Actors Guild.  I did all the things you're supposed to do to work your way into the the business.  Also fulfilling my pre-reqs as an actor in LA, I was pretty much a starving artist living pay check to pay check. 

My starving artists headshots back in the day when they still did them in black and white, and needed physical headshots.    Everything is now in color and submitted digitally.


Four years into my acting pursuits, my husband moved to California from the East Coast as he had always wanted to live in Los Angeles.   We met 3 weeks later, and the rest is history!  When it became established that he was the one, it also changed my acting endeavors slightly as I knew that the starving artist lifestyle was not going to work, especially if starting a life and family with him was the plan. 

Our Early days 

A year after we started dating, I left my server position which I had for 3 years and started working as a TV photo publicist for the studio I currently work for. It was a job in the industry that I loved (entertainment), but in a capacity that I never even knew existed and thankfully enjoyed. My husband happened to start working for the same company as well, but more on that later. 

I also managed to grab a new commercial agent at the same time I started my new job.  I discovered that I could have a "regular" job and still audition during my lunch breaks.  Who knew?  The job provided the salary and benefits that I needed and had been neglecting while pursuing acting.  Insurance, 401k, AND pension, you know, all that grown up stuff that matters.  It also turns out that so many people in the office that I spoke to were aspiring actors, screenwriters, directors, and some have managed to succeed in their dream and leave the day job.  I was in good company, and still am.  Had I known about this sooner I probably would've gone this way as opposed to the server, struggling artist route. 

After dating for 4 years, we got married in 7/7/2007 (yes we were one of those couples). Not to long after that, we started our family. 

Post wedding gondola ride where I tried really hard not to fall asleep. 

We always wanted three kids.  I was already 31 when we got married and was paranoid about fertility, and didn't want to wait too long.  Had we been younger I probably would've waited a little longer to get more of the financial stuff in order, but I didn't want to regret waiting to have money stuff settled and "perfect" and find out that I had fertility issues.  With my age paranoia always around, we started trying for a family after our first anniversary.  Then in October 2009, our first son Keane was born.

First family picture with Keane in the NICU.   

Nineteen months after having Keane, we had our second baby, Gehrig.

Brothers meeting for the first time. 

Our first photo as a family of four.


Then I took a 2 year breather from being pregnant and a one year break from nursing.  My biological clock was continuously ticking in my ear during that hiatus.  We had decided after having Gehrig that we were going to start trying for our third child the month I turned 37, and well, happy birthday to me!  July 2013 ended with a positive pregnancy test, and we are expecting our baby girl, Marra, within the next few weeks. 

Expecting baby #3!  
22 weeks pregnant

34 weeks

The boys giving some love to their baby sister.  (35 weeks)

My husband and I had always agreed that I would work full time until we felt more caught up with our nest egg (see above in regards to starving artist days) and feel that we have enough saved up in the children's college fund.  As much as I would love to work a little less to have more time with the kids, I also don't want to be paying for it when retirement comes around, nor do we want our kids to be saddled with the student loan debt that my husband and I had (we happened to pay off $45K in the school loan debt we had in the past 2 years, but that is a different post altogether).  I have a great fear that we will be in our 60's with no money and end up asking my grown children for financial support.  So to keep that nightmare from happening, I need to work now, and am happy to do so.  Our goal is in the next five years to feel a little more caught up so I can have more options as to changing my career path, if we feel that's where we need to go.  For now however, this is where we choose to be.

On location for a photo shoot. 
After maternity leave, back to work I went (and will go after this baby is born) with the kids in full time daycare.  Fortunately, the boys daycare is on site or "On The Lot" as we say, which makes them a two minute walk from my office.  It makes my life so much easier and lessens the mommy guilt that I suffer from because I have the ability to visit them throughout the day, take them to lunch, or even read a story to their classes.  Even when they are having a rough day, I can get a call from their teachers, walk down there and do my best to console or talk them through whatever issue is happening.   

My husband and I had been working for the same company since 2004, until recently that is.  Before this recent change, we had the luxury of  carpooling and dropping off the kids at daycare together.  We had lunch dates with each other every other day, if not more.  We worked a lot, but we also saw each other a lot.  That changed as of last summer since he has done a career switch as a restaurant manager as it his dream to one day open up his own restaurant.  This has been quite the transition since we went from seeing each other all the time, to seeing each other for a few hours when either of us gets back from work.  As you know, restaurants are not M-F, 9-5 gigs, and so our time spent together and his time spent with the boys has probably been cut in half.  However, we know this is our choice to live like this.  When we do have time when all of us are together, we do not take it for granted and we make the best of it.  We also know that this scenario will not be forever and are hoping to change it within the next 12-24 months.  Right now that I am on maternity leave, that has changed a bit and I am enjoying seeing him more, but I know once I'm back to work, back to the half days of seeing each other will begin. 

What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges?
Best part of course is that I have had the family I had always dreamed about.   I'm still in awe that my husband is mine and my kids are MINE, not due to the fact that people sometimes think I'm their nanny  .   I am so in love with this little family of mine and can't believe how lucky I am that I have what I have.

On balancing my job and being a wife and mom:
Fortunately my job is exciting and fun, so I usually don't mind going to it everyday.  Of course there are days where I am sick of the commute, wished for more time at home with the boys and to just get house stuff done, and the usual office politics that I could do without.  I think that is just about every corporate gig though, so I really can't complain, and just learn to deal.  Thankfully there are a lot of pluses that outweigh the negatives on most days.  Our childcare situation is fantastic.  The boys love their school and their teachers.  If I didn't have that I am sure I would be more of a wreck.  Having the ability to see them at a moments notice, take them out to lunch, read a story to their classes before lunch, nap time or play time is fantastic.   One of my favorite things to do is take my son to lunch at the commissary, share an ice cream, and then go back to his class, help him brush his teeth, and then tuck him in for nap time.  I know I am so lucky that I have the option to do that during my lunch hour.

Lunch with my biggest boy with "New York Street" as our view.    

Keane post Thanksgiving program. 


Once the baby starts at the daycare when she is about 6 months, I can walk down to the daycare and nurse her as opposed to pumping throughout the day (yay because I hate pumping!). Another great bonus that the preschool offers are extra curricular activities that we can sign up for extra fees such as soccer, gymnastics, karate and ballet.  They also have a hair dresser that comes once a month to cut their hair.  All these little perks have been great as it cuts down on the errand running on our weekends.  Needless to say, I love our childcare situation. 

I also love the environment of working in the TV and Movie business.  I love working on my shows and walking on the lot and seeing lots of the most popular shows and even movies being created before my eyes.  I always get a big kick out of that even after being there for 10 years.  I also appreciate the fact that if I have an audition, I can just go during my lunch hour and dont have to explain to anyone where I'm going.  Unlike the days when I was waiting tables, where I would have to worry about getting shifts covered. If an audition happens to take place not within "lunch hour" boundaries, I just don't go, as I know this job is more important than booking an acting gig at this time. 

Lastly, if not for the support and true partnership of my husband I don't know how I would manage to juggle all of this.  Every morning he wakes up at 5:30 or 6 and does all the morning prep and also gets the boys ready for the day.  This is even after nights where he'll come back from the restaurant at 2 am.  I always tell him I can manage and he doesn't have to worry on those morning, but he still does it anyway.  On days where he has the mornings off, or the whole day to himself at home, he cleans the house from top to bottom (he's the neat freak out of the two of us).  On those same days, he also makes dinner so that when we get home at 7, all I have to do is heat it up and not spend an extra half hour or 45 minutes cooking.  On nights where he's working and we come home to an empty house, he'll assemble an elaborate track on our Thomas the Train for the boys to play with to let them know he's thinking of them. On days where he opens the restaurant, he picks up the boys from school so that he can have some more one on one time with them.  He really is such a hands on husband and father, and I truly would be lost without him helping me balance all of it.


On The Biggest Challenges....
The biggest challenge is the fact that the work day and the kids day at daycare is very long.  Our childcare is great, but that still doesn't make up for the fact that it's still a really long day.  Before we had the kids, we lived a mere 4 miles away from the office and it would take me 10 minutes at most to get there.  When we moved to "The Valley" once Keane was born, that became a 14 mile commute which equals 45 minutes in Los Angeles traffic on a GOOD day.  It usually takes an hour.  My work day is 8:30-5:30 which means we are out of the house at 7:20 to accommodate traffic and drop off times, and it also means we're home at 7pm.  Before 7:20am we obviously have to get the boys dressed and fed, and this has to accommodate for any meltdowns that may occur ranging from they don't like these spoon I gave them to eat with, to they want to wear their Angry Birds t-shirt and not what we picked out the night before.  The boys don't know any different so they are used to it, but it absolutely kills me on certain days that their days are that long, and we don't have more time at home in the evenings to spend with one another.  It's pretty much, dinner, bath, books and bed when we get home, and very rarely do we have any play time in between.  KILLS ME.

Right now that I am on maternity leave, it is a little different as I am not rushed in the morning to drop them off, and we pick them up 2 hours earlier.  THIS would be the perfect schedule if at all possible at some point, but in our current non maternity leave lives, it's not possible.  

My carpool buddies. 

Another challenge that we are currently facing which I mentioned above is the fact that we do not have as much time with my husband as we used to.  We went from working in the same office and seeing each other all the time, to seeing each other partial mornings and evenings on weekdays, and half days on weekends.  We do once a month full days off that we consciously make an effort to have.  Frankly, it sucks but we are making it work for now.  I have friends (both men and women) who have families and work as police officers, firefighters, and doctors who have waaay worse hours, so for me to whine about our situatuation would be stupid, because it's manageable.  We do plan and hope to make changes because it doesn't change the fact that it's hard on him to not see us as much.  We do make sure that when all 4.5 of us are together, whether it be early in the morning or in the evening, we make the best of it.  About 3 nights out of the week all of as are at the table having dinner.  I live for those nights especially our traditional Friday pizza and movie night which the boys talk about all week long and discuss what movie will be viewed. On weekends where he works nights, we have big elaborate breakfasts together and make sure we go out for a little time in the sunshine before he leaves for work at 2pm.

Sunday morning family time.  

Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?
It's definitely not ideal, but it's what works for now.  I would love to have a shorter commute, a 30 hour work week so I can have more time at home with my husband and the kids.  If we are talking about ideal situation and dreams here, it would be actually making use of my SAG membership and booking a job once or twice a month which would probably actually equal my current salary  and working a freelance gig part time, whether it be in photo or a job in casting.  (On a side note:  acting is REALLY lucrative if you book the right job.  I have a friend who booked a Doritos commercial when she was 8, and that one commercial paid for her New York University education.  Flo in the Progressive commercials, easily a millionaire.)  If I had the dream of booking an acting job once a month while doing freelance work, it would allow me to be the mom chauffeur to all the activities for the kids once that part of parenting begins.  That would be the dream/ideal situation.  I am however a realist and know that if anything, booking an acting gig would be more of a fun one day, once a year, type thing which would help me supplement our income, and I'm perfectly fine with that too. 

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?
I don't intend on leaving my industry because I do enjoy it.  I can see myself shifting roles within the next 5 years.  Whether it be in my current position with new responsibilities, or a different role altogether.  I would love to stay in my current position with more responsibility, but with the flexibility to do more work from home.  We currently have that ability to work from home (which I have done many nights after the boys are down) but we currently do not have a telecommute policy in place.  If I could telecommute 2-3 days out of the week and just come in for meetings and photo shoots, that would be perfect in terms of balancing my life at home.  If that were to happen, I could see myself staying here for another 10 years. 
Once this little girl is born, I am definitely plan on being more active in working on pursuing acting roles.  As I mentioned earlier it will not be a career switch as I would've envisioned when I was in my 20s, but more of a hobby/side gig to help supplement our income.  If I book one commercial a year (which hopefully shoots on a weekend), that would be more than sufficient to fulfill my financial goals and scratch my chronic itch to act.  

Do you have tips on how you make this work for you?
Like many of the previous posters and as I mentioned above, this works for me because my husband and I have a clear vision of what our goal is as a family. We also work very hard together to achieve our goals, as well as make sure all the little day to day things are taken care of.   Together we make sure to make an effort to spend quality time with the kids and each other despite our chaotic schedules.  His help and support is absolutely crucial in making all of this work.  I truly feel lucky to have him as my husband and the father to my kids.  

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

I don't really know if I handle it or just live with it.  I'm Catholic so I'm supposed to feel guilty about something at all times right?   In all seriousness though,  it's always there, I don't really know if there is anything I can do to change it.  When I'm with my boys I do my best to be present in the moment, and make sure they know that I am paying attention to them.  Not cleaning the house, or thinking about unfinished work, or making dinner, but attending to their needs and the attention they deserve so that they know that they are loved.  When I'm with them I just push the mommy guilt aside and enjoy the time I'm spending with them.  The guilt usually creeps when I'm working and missing them, and at that point there's not really much I can do.  I could go and visit them at school, but I can't do that every hour and disrupt their day.  I have it, I live with it, but I don't let it cripple me or influence the way I parent my children.  I accept that I do feel guilty for not spending as much time with them as I would like, but I still do my best to be the kind of mom I want to be for them.  I hope one day they come to understand that this time I spent at work away from them was also for their benefit.  My mom was a working mom, and I truly appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me and my brother.  I do not resent her one bit for not staying at home, and I hope my boys  kids (gotta get used to that since a girl will be in the picture soon) will feel the same way about me too. 


Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? 

If you have thought long and hard, as well as discussed with your significant other what works best for your family dynamic, and your decision is to return to work, then all will be okay.  It is really hard thinking about leaving your child with someone else, especially the last few weeks of maternity leave where your anxiety can be at an all time high, but once you get back to work, all is fine.  I believe the key to this is also finding childcare that you absolutely LOVE.  Not like, not "they seem okay."  You have to LOVE the people that are taking care of your kids.  Search high and low for that perfect caregiver because it makes all the difference in the world, for you, your significant other and for your babies.

Also, if you happen to go back to work, and it's not working out, you can always change things.  I have had many co workers realize that going back to work is not working out for them, and they do what they need to do so that it becomes possible for them to stay home instead.  Nothing is permanent, ever.  You can always change things to suit the needs of your family and what makes you happiest, and as long as you prioritize what is best for you and your little ones, it will all be fine.

One last thing to note:   Do your best not to compare your situation with others.  Do not listen to people who try to make you feel guilty for your decisions.  What works for you is what works for you and that is the bottom line.  You do not love your kids less for going back to work (even though some people have actually suggested that to me!), the same way you would never say a stay at home mom doesn't "work" because we all know that stay at home moms work so hard at what they do, and it is just as grueling, if not more so than being in the work place.  We all do what we do because we love our families, and we as parents should respect everyone's choices, as they should respect ours. 

Moms Make it Work: Lauren from Missouri

Today I am featuring Lauren in our Moms Make it Work Series, one of my original 'internet friends' from back in our wedding planning days in St. Louis. Although I miss Lauren's blog, I'm happy to follow along with her growing family on Instagram, Facebook, and emails. Super excited she agreed to write this post, since she is a little busy with a brand new baby (!). Enjoy!


Hi!  My name is Lauren, and I am a 30 year old mother, wife, and 5th grade teacher.  I once blogged at Live, Laugh, Love and now I just Instagram at @lhcass. My husband, Mike, and were married in 2008, welcomed our first son (Ethan) in 2011, and just had our second son (Will) only 5 weeks ago.  We live in St. Louis, Missouri and enjoy spending time with our family and friends in our new home (that we are constantly updating and improving).  I was so honored when Julia asked me to be a guest blogger for this series.  Julia and I “met” seven years ago (really?) through an online wedding forum in St. Louis, and actually met in real-life once for a blogger’s brunch.  I will say that writing for this series is definitely a bit intimidating, as I am not a witty, funny, or extremely awe-inspiring writer, like many of the ladies that have been featured.  But I do feel like my working situation is somewhat unique, as I work full-time during the school year, and I am a SAHM during the summer.  I get the best of both worlds, and I look forward to sharing our story.
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What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher.  As a young child, I used to take worksheets out of the recycling bin at school, and bring them home to teach my siblings and neighbors kids.  I loved to babysit, teach, and work with children, and education seemed like a perfect choice.  My mom got an education degree, but stayed home with me and my siblings, and I always figured that was what I would probably do, too. 

I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Mizzou (University of Missouri- Columbia) in 2005.  I got my first job as a 5th grade teacher, working in the district from which I attended and graduated.  I started taking night classes in 2007 to work toward my Master’s Degree, thinking that one day, I would become a principal.  Finally in 2010, I got my Masters in Educational Administration.  After the birth of my first son in 2011, I continued taking courses and completed 30 hours of night classes to get my MA +30.

For the past 9 years, I have taught 5th grade in the same school and I really love it there.  Next year, I will be teaching 2nd grade for the first time, and I cannot wait.  I was feeling like I was in a professional slump, and I am looking forward to this change.  I am currently enjoying my maternity leave, and will return to school for one week at the end of the year, before summer vacation.  

Additionally, three months ago, I decided to become a distributor for the health and wellness company, It Works.  I am looking forward to earning some extra income over the summer, while enjoying time at home with my boys.  So currently, I am snuggling on the couch with my new baby, and enjoying every single minute of being home with him during my maternity leave.
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-What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

            There are some incredible perks of being a teacher and a mother.  The first (and most obvious) is summer vacation.  I get to enjoy June and July with my children and those 10 weeks are absolutely incredible.  I try to jam-pack them with tons of summer fun and plan to get out of the house for an activity every single day.  Last summer, Ethan and I enjoyed stroller fit class, music class, a week long day camp, carousel rides on rainy days, and swimming lessons.  We enjoyed many trips to our AMAZING zoo, met with friends for playdates, and swam in our neighborhood pool.  During the summer, I feel like a rockstar mom.  I absolutely live for summertime and I’m getting anxious for it to roll around again.  Of course, it will be a bit different this year with a 3 year old and 3 month old, but we will figure it out.

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            There are also some challenges of being a teacher and mother.  I think most people do not understand that a teacher’s job never really ends.  Although I am only in my school building from 7:30-5:00, I still have hours of work to do when I get home.  Emails to read and reply, papers to grade, curriculum to learn, and lessons to plan.  We can’t just leave our work at school…it comes home every single night.  I will say that I had to make a big change in my life when I became a mom.  I had to stop.  I realized working at home wasn’t an option anymore and I need to make a change, which meant being more productive at work and arriving earlier/staying later.  Realizing that and making that change, was life-changing for me and my family. 

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

          Honestly, I did not think that being a teacher would be as hard and as time consuming as it is.  Education was very different when I was a child than it is today.  There are many more expectations for teachers now, and along with that comes a lot more paperwork, standards, time, and stress.  As a teenager and even college-student, I ultimately pictured myself as a stay-at-home-mom.  But once I entered the workforce, I realized that there were many great moms in my school that make it work. 
         The first time around, maternity leave was VERY long.  The crying, the exhaustion, the crying, the diapers, and did I mention the crying?!?  It was hard for me, and I was actually really excited going back to work.  That surprised me!  I missed my friends, my job, and feeling “productive”.  I missed getting dressed, showering regularly, and putting on makeup.

I am currently in my 5th week of my second maternity leave, and I am LOVING every second.  A non-colicky baby, endless snuggles, and a great sleeper has me suddenly thinking if I really want to go back to work.  Again, this is surprising me!  But in the end, I know I will go to work in August, and by that time, I will probably look forward to going back again.

            Before I had children, I thought that I would be a principal.  That dream is definitely on the back-burner right now.  Although I can see myself ending my career as a principal, it is something that I do not want to think about until my children are grown.

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-Is this your ideal situation?  If not, what is?
            I don’t know.  Although I LOVE my summer break, the school year is very stressful and I often feel overwhelmed for the 10 month school year.  My daily schedule feels crazy- dropping off the boys (next year at 2 different places), working a full-day, picking up the boys, cooking dinner, eating, bath time and bedtime, then cleaning up, maybe talking to my husband, and finally falling asleep.  It doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for quality time with my family during the week, and I am usually falling into bed exhausted.

            I wish that there was a part-time option within my building and school district.  I feel like being home for a few days during the week would be such a wonderful balance that would leave me feeling much more relaxed and less stressed.  It is hard to find the time for grocery shopping, cleaning, blogging (which is why I don’t do it anymore), errands, working out, and grading papers when all I want to do is want to spend time with your husband and little ones.  I am jealous of moms that get to work part-time.  I do think I would love that in my life.

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-Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?
            Although I may change jobs within the education system (principal, professional developer, specialist), I do not see myself completely changing career paths.  Being a teacher isn’t a job, it is a career and a passion.  I have spent too much time (and money) receiving advanced degrees, and I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else.  If I make any change at all, it will be to stay home with my children for a few years, but ultimately, returning back to the classroom.

-Tips on how you make this work for you?

-Working together with my husband has been so important.  For the past 2 years, he has woken early to get our son up, dressed, and fed, while I just have to focus to get myself ready for work.  I really commend those mothers that are able to get themselves and their children ready and out the door on time without help.  It takes a lot of planning and organization, which are two areas where I’m seriously lacking.  I cook when I get home from work and dinner is ready by the time my husband is home.  He cleans up the kitchen while I bathe my son(s) and he comes up to put him (them) to bed.  (Since we haven’t found a rhythm or schedule with our second son only being 5 weeks, it’s hard to say what we will do in the future.)

-Spending some time each week on ME helped keep my sanity.  Before I got pregnant with Will, my sister and I woke up early on Sunday mornings and went to a personal trainer.  It was wonderful to get out of the house (without a diaper bag in tow) and push my physical limits to become a healthier version of me.  I ended up losing 30 pounds (and of course, got pregnant)!

-Getting some friend time is also so important.  During the week, I am not good at calling to chit-chat with friends.  My girlfriends and I are making an effort to get together at least once a month for brunch, a girls' night, or even a sleepover to reconnect and I think it is so necessary.  Even just an email chain during the week helps with feeling connected.

-Meal and menu planning and prep have been really helpful.  During the school year, I like to schedule our meals for the week, so I can get right to cooking when I get home.  This also saves a lot of money when grocery shopping for the week!  I also go to a place called Time for Dinner in St. Louis.  I make 12 meals over 2 hours that are all ready to go straight into the freezer.  Add a bottle of wine while cooking and you have a great girls' night that will make the work week much easier.

-Remembering to cut myself some slack.  My house is never really spotless (thank goodness I have an OCD husband that loves to clean), my 2 year old watches more Team Umizoomi than he should, I miss workouts all of the time, we aren’t eating organic, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, and I lose my cool every now and then.  I’m not perfect, but I’m doing my best.  I am constantly telling myself to choose to leave the guilt behind and stop comparing myself and my family to others.  I am the best mommy for my boys, and that’s all I can do.

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

                I can honestly say that I don’t feel a lot of guilt by going to work.  Of course, there have been days where I have asked myself “Why am I teaching other people’s children instead of my own?” but those days are few and far between.  Because I feel like my job is incredibly important, and because I know my boys are being cared for while I work, I don’t feel too bad.  I enjoy being able to contribute financially to my family, and I know that we would not be able to enjoy our current lifestyle if I didn’t go to work.  I don’t want to live by a budget and I want to be able to send my kids to music lessons, soccer camp, and go on family vacations.  For us, we would not be able to afford many experiences we enjoy. 

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

            I can only speak to moms going back to work outside of the home.  Those first few days are hard, but honestly, the anticipation was worse for me than actually going back.  If you are happy with your childcare provider, it will make all of the difference in the world.  Ethan loved his in-home sitter for the first two years.  Now, he adores his preschool teachers and is learning so much at school.  He gets to spend 2 days a week with his grandmothers (my mom and my mother-in-law each take a day), so I feel confident that he gets all he needs during the week.  Lots of love, learning, and fun.  It totally makes being at work much easier.

           If you are miserable at work, stay home.  Life is too short to be unhappy.  You have to decide what is best for you and your family, and no one can tell you otherwise.  Go with your gut and follow your heart.  This time in our lives is fleeting and we all deserve happiness, whether that means working full-time, part-time, or staying at home.  Good luck to all of the mamas out there and thank you to Julia for letting me participate in this awesome series.

Baby #3: 25 weeks

3.25.14: Twenty-five weeks pregnant!

LOL at Nate in the background.
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Things to note from last week:

Cecelia did, in fact, get sick as I feared. She puked all over me on Tuesday morning and was generally miserable all day long. Which means Wednesday and Thursday were also messed up for routine and work, etc etc. So many disgusting diapers, laundry, scrubbing floors and couches and every other surface in our house, and then my paper-thin patience with this weather and sickness. But we made it through somehow and everyone seems well for now. PLEASE, let it stay that way!

I bought myself some tulips at the store just to pretend like it's really spring. They make me happy so therefore they are worth it.

I got my first video of this baby kicking away. Little show boater is always so active at night, especially. I love this part of pregnancy more than words. And this baby boy does not disappoint in the kicking department. I'll wake up at night and feel him moving. I notice him moving during my work day, while walking, while sitting, pretty much all of the time. Sometimes I actually feel a bit of panic when I don't feel him kicking me non-stop. Luckily he will ease my mind within a few minutes and I know he can't always be so active once he runs out of space. My active baby boy---will never forget how this feels.

(video of his kicks)

Friday I had my 24 week OB appointment and it was mostly uneventful, but fun to talk all about the baby (as always). He is measuring one week ahead which isn't that big of a deal, but it's never happened before with any of my other pregnancies. I knew he had a growth spurt in the last month just by how I'm feeling and my belly size, and sure enough I gained 6 more pounds last month bringing the total up to 17. Eesh. At first that seemed like a lot but I guess it's right on par for a 30-40 pound weight gain (was 43 with Truman and 34 with CC). I could absolutely reign in my appetite a bit and demonstrate a little more self control with food, I suppose. And since that appointment I have been back on the exercise band wagon, too. I wish I had kept track of the weight gain progress with CC's pregnancy but it was all on some app on my phone and I don't have it anymore. I'm guessing it was probably about 17 pounds at this point but who knows? Trying not to care too much.

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Oh yes, I forgot that I have been writing at this blog for many, many years and have the ability to look back on my previous pregnancy ramblings to solidify things like weight gain progress. I see that with Cecelia at 26 weeks I had just gained 8 more pounds in the preceding 4 weeks and was freaking out about being up 20 big ones at that point. Interesting! I guess I'm not far off from that this time around, either. And with Truman's pregnancy I was up 18 pounds at this 25 week mark. So basically, all 3 of these pregnancies are the same for weight gain around the 25-26 week mark. I suppose the third trimester is when it starts to vary more for me. Why do I find this fascinating when I'm sure nobody else cares in the slightest what I gain and when?

Last weekend was a marathon solo parenting weekend for me. Nate left for St. Louis on Friday morning and didn't get home until midnight on Sunday night (Monday morning?). He was at a course for work all weekend and I geared myself up for three bedtimes alone and a lot of parenting hours to clock without my partner in crime. But truly, the weekend was awesome mostly due to my amazing in-laws helping out with dinners on Sat and Sun and they also came to Truman's swimming lessons Saturday with us. Having myself plus YaYa and PaPa there made Truman feel very proud and provided extra hands to keep Cecelia out of the water during his class. They are seriously the best. I texted Nate that I love his parents so much and definitely married well based on them alone. Ha!

(Ring Around the Rosie---YaYa is the best)
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And PaPa is the best--have you ever read this book 'How to Babysit a Grandpa'? New favorite! Love it.
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The kids blew me away with great behavior and were a ton of fun for most of the weekend. We were productive but also had plenty of time to play and laugh and bond over us missing daddy;) I have decided that I can tolerate weekends without Nate better than some weeknights---weekends are always the best no matter what, and weeknights are just exhausting after work/daycare and without a spread of a few days strung together to make it feel more relaxed. Not that I *want* to solo parent for a weekend again but I was just surprised by how painless it really was. It had been awhile since I did this weekend alone thing and maybe the kids are just at better ages now.

We did a LOT of puzzles and had fun treats like popsicles while daddy was away. Duh.
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I also pulled out my nice camera and did not regret that choice with these sweet baby faces.



And even things like grocery shopping on a Saturday morning with both kids seemed unbelievably sweet/pleasant last weekend. Probably because these stinkers were doing things like holding hands in the grocery store. I mean, come on!
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And finally, crafting makes me happy. Wine corks make me happy. Why not pair the two together and then take pretty pictures of my masterpiece to make me happy?

Best moment of the week: Truman requesting numerous hugs and kisses at bedtime on Saturday night. Then saying, 'I love you every time I see you, mommy.' I almost cried and cannot get over how sweet my boy is. A moment for the record books (blog) for sure. File this one under 'Things I Never Want to Forget....Especially When He is a Teenager and Thinks I'm Totally Lame.'

Another fantastic moment? My hour long prenatal massage on Sunday. After feeling very ragged with four rounds of illness in this house (Cecelia, Truman, me, and Cecelia again) and like my mental sanity is becoming questionable, I decided that it was high time to schedule a bit of mommy pampering. Once I realized that Nate was going to be gone all weekend long I scheduled an hour long massage at my hair salon and asked Lois if she would watch the kids during that time. This is where I mention my love for my in-laws again.

Like a lot of moms I know, I have a hard time doing nice things for myself and tend to put myself last after caring for others first. So guess what? My massage was MUCH needed and glorious---I believe it was the first one I've had since I was about 16 weeks pregnant with Cecelia. It was worth every (pretty) penny and I was almost snoring a few times. Laying face-down on the table with a belly hole cut out? Wonderful in itself. The massage was amazing, too, although she might have been a little rough because my upper back was incredibly sore the next day. Still amazing to be so relaxed and pampered for that hour. On a whim, after the massage was over, I decided to try out the steam shower they have in their dressing rooms. I wasn't really sure what it was---a dry sauna? An actual shower? Turns out it was a regular shower with added steam, and for someone like me who takes the hottest showers possible it was a DREAM. Now, add the luxury of showering without little hands pounding the shower curtain the entire time? Unbelievable. Plus there were all kinds of fun/fancy shower products to use. Blow drying and straightening my hair alone, without being rushed? Lotioning my horribly dry skin? Heavenly. All of it. I almost think the quiet/hot shower and getting ready after was just as enjoyable as the massage itself. I left there feeling rejuvenated while vowing to do this more often. Just like I did two years ago after my last 'spa day'. ;)

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(plus they have my favorite Aveda tea there, so I was already happy from that little treat)

Another really cool thing about this past week (and then I will actually talk about the pregnancy a bit for this pregnancy post) was that Nate and I got to have the afternoon off work together on Monday! I believe this might have been our very first 'Nate and Julia' day without kids in forever, possibly. He was supposed to work the afternoon but his schedule got rearranged and my afternoon fell apart, too. The kids were at daycare, so we walked and got lunch together, followed by Starbucks, and then a bunch of random errands. As a couple. While talking as adults sans distractions. Talk about a great way to reconnect after a weekend apart! Much needed and appreciated. Yay for communicating with my cute husband!

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(must include the lunch photo---drooling just looking at it)
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One errand we ran was to pick up Truman's bike we got him for his birthday. And we decided to also get Cecelia a 'Strider' bike (no pedals, a balance bike...Google it!) for her birthday, too. Knowing our little spitfire, we figured that if Truman is riding around on his new bike we pretty much *had* to get her one, too or all hell would break loose. We also chose to get Truman a traditional bike with pedals and training wheels since he is....cautious and figured our wild child girl will do great with the balance bike. We let them try the bikes out in the 34 degree weather and so far so good! Now we will just wait for the temps to become more tolerable for some real fun, but it's wild to see our kids riding bikes. So.Freaking.Big.

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(Yes, we still have some snow but do you see that there is grass, too??? This is a big deal because when I finished typing this post last night, I took Henry outside and found a fresh blanket of snow everywhere. Weeeeeee! Bye, grass!)

Back to this pregnancy and not just a weekly is my 25 week post from Truman's pregnancy. And here's Cecelia's 25 week post. Mostly I like to read back through these to remind myself what I should be saying right now. Just like with Cecelia's pregnancy, yes to the feeling like bending over is getting more difficult and the 'eating everything in sight' phase is totally in effect. And yes to TONS of hiccups in there. I forgot that we were in the midst of many home projects at this point last time, not fully moved into our house yet but working over here all of the time. Aw, memories. I admire my energy from last time and now think my select nursery projects this time around are really nothing compared to transforming an entire house 2 years ago. Although, side note about baby boy's nursery: it's really coming along and I love it so much already. Sometimes I will just sit in there and stare, dreaming of all I want to do. And dreaming of bringing our third and final baby home to this nursery. (tear).

Sneak peek: I'm collecting owls, I guess.

And the kids each painted a birdhouse for their baby brother. These turned out SO cute!

Apparently I had my first stranger notice Truman's pregnancy at this 25 week mark and thought I was 'really showing' now. Hahahaha. Whatever, Julia from 4+ years ago. I can't even with that belly shot. I shall provide the final paragraph of that original pregnancy post because I find it highly amusing. This was me at 25 weeks pregnant with Truman:

That's it... jumping back on the fitness train, and packing on the lbs marks my twenty-fifth week. I really love being pregnant you guys. At least right now, at this point in the process, I'm feeling incredibly happy and blessed and ready to pop out another 3 after this one. But I suppose I should bite my tongue until I experience the glory of labor and delivery, the frenzy of living with a newborn, and lack of sleep. Call me naive but I cannot wait:)

Everything and nothing has changed this time around. I still adore being pregnant and frequently want to cry over my love for the process. I still believe I could 'pop out another 3 after this one' in some ways, but in other ways I feel very at peace being finished with this stage of my life. I still get excited thinking about labor and delivery, life with a newborn, and the changes it will all bring. Even now as 'an old pro' I cannot wait, even though I know it will be hard as hell along with being more amazing than I could have imagined back then. I could have never imagined how life would change going from 0-1 kids and it's every bit as special and exciting going from 2-3. Every bit.
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