Moms Make it Work: Sarah | Full Time Working Mom at NASA

Today on the Moms Make it Work series, Sarah is posting as a full-time aerospace engineer at NASA and mom to two year old Emma. Wow, right? But wait: she has also been blogging for sixteen years. Yes, seriously. When she emailed me about posting for the series I immediately said, 'Yes, please!' because her job sounds insanely cool, I love her writing style, and really enjoy hearing from moms who love life....and dare I say it? Make it work! Enjoy;)


Hi everyone! As soon as I saw Julia’s MMIW series, I wanted to be a part of it so I’m excited to be here on her blog today! I’m Sarah, I’m 36 years old, and I live in the suburbs of Houston, TX with my husband Jose and our 2-year-old daughter Emma. I’ve had a personal blog since 1998 -- yes, before the word "blog" had been invented! -- and although the first few years are no longer online, pretty much everything I’ve written since 2001 can be found at (Don’t go too deep into the archives unless you want to read the ramblings of an angst-y 20-something just out of college. You’ve been warned!) You can also find me as “saroy” on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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

I grew up in Charlotte, NC and have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech and Stanford, respectively. When I was a sophomore at Tech, I was hired as a cooperative education student (similar to a paid intern) by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. I alternated spending semesters at school with semesters working in Houston, and when I finished grad school in 2002, I joined NASA full-time.
(At the Rendezvous console in Mission Control, February 2011)

For several years, I was a flight controller in Mission Control for the space shuttle, but when the shuttle stopped flying in 2011, I moved to a different group and now work on the International Space Station (ISS) program making sure day-to-day operations on the station are done safely. (Did you know the ISS has been orbiting the Earth since 1998 and there have been people onboard 24/7 since 2000? It’s pretty amazing!)
(Photo by Christine Tremoulet, May 2009)

My husband works for NASA too, which is where we met in 2006 when we both worked in the same building. (Johnson Space Center is like a college campus with dozens of buildings and thousands of employees, and there are a lot of "NASA couples.") We got married in 2009 and Emma was born in 2012. She just turned 2 a few weeks ago, and amazes me daily with how much she is learning and changing and growing!
(Hamming it up for a 2nd birthday home "photoshoot" a few weeks ago)

What else? I like to sew and quilt and craft, run and do triathlons (although I haven't done many in the last couple years), and I just finished my Master’s Degree in Digital Media. I loved creative things as a kid and sometimes I wonder how I ended up in engineering -- but the truth is that I love both, and I like finding ways to mix both my creative and technical sides.

What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?

Being a federal government employee has some big advantages that help make our life work. My salary is competitive within my industry, but I rarely have to work more than 40 hours per week and I have a LOT of schedule flexibility -- I’m allowed to manage my time as I see fit (within reason) as long as I’m getting my work done.
(Floating on the "weightless wonder" -- an airplane that flies a specific flight path to provide short periods of weightlessness aka zero gravity.)

On top of that, Johnson Space Center has done a lot in recent years to promote work-life balance. I can telework from home every once in a while if I need to, and by working an extra hour each Monday through Thursday, I’m able to take every other Friday as a "flex day" off while Emma still goes to daycare. The “me time” that gives me has been invaluable! I can catch up on errands and stuff around the house, and also do a couple fun things for myself like sew or get a pedicure.

When Emma was born, I took 12 weeks of maternity leave. Federal employment policies allow you to use accrued sick leave for the first 6-8 weeks and accrued annual leave after that, so fortunately all but a few days of those 12 weeks were paid leave. (The fact that paid maternity leave is not standard in this country appalls me.) When those 12 weeks were up, I went back to work with zero hesitation. Although my own mother stayed at home for many years, I never really considered it as an option for myself -- I’m happy in my job and career, and I don’t think I would enjoy staying home.
(First official family photo, taken in the hospital, August 2012)
Still, even though I was 100% confident in my decision to return to work, it has its challenges. Like I mentioned earlier, the space station is a 24/7 operation -- so even though my schedule is flexible most of the time, things can change at a moment's notice and is entirely out of my control. If a piece of hardware breaks or a launch is delayed or there is an emergency in orbit, an otherwise normal work week can suddenly become very intense. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often!

Working in general means that weekday mornings are never relaxing. Instead, we're rushing around the house trying to get out the door on time. I support regular early morning telecons with space station partners in Russia, Europe and Japan, which only adds to the morning craziness. And when Emma is sick (and she was sick a LOT that first year), Jose and I end up having to play the not-very-fun game of "who has the more important meetings today" to figure out who stays home with her.
(Hanging out after my second post-baby triathlon, June 2013)

I still struggle mightily with not being able to get "everything" done, and with managing my own expectations of myself. (For instance, this month I decided I would make four quilts as gifts for various people. FOUR. Who does that??) This frustration is exacerbated by the fact that I tend to be a perfectionist, and have a hard time asking for help -- even from my husband. I've gotten better at accepting that my living room will indefinitely look like a tornado came through and that sometimes the dishes won't get done right away, but it's hard not to feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of chores and other obligations.

Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
(Photo by Two Feet Four Feet Photography, July 2012)

Right now, yes, but last year, not so much. Adjusting to life as a mom was rough and I might as well be honest here and admit that the baby phase maybe isn’t totally my thing. Whenever I pictured having a kid, I’d imagine things like going to the zoo or riding bikes or helping them with homework -- kid stuff, not baby stuff. I knew that life would be different, but having a child is just one of those things in life that you can't totally prepare for -- I didn't truly know how I would feel until I was in it. I struggled a lot with trying to balance all the things the "old" me wanted to do with all the things (good and bad) required of the "new" me as a mother.
(During a trip to Seattle in May, with Emma helpfully pointing at a bus -- one of her favorite things)

But as Emma has grown from baby to toddler, things have gotten so much better! One of Jose's coworkers told him that once your kid turns 1, life sort of goes back to normal, and that has really proven true in our case. We both feel more confident in our roles as parents, I've relaxed a bit, and Emma can now interact with us which is just so, so, so amazing and awesome! Life with a kid these days is a lot more like I originally envisioned.

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

You know, I think it’s pretty close. Despite my tendency to stress over what is ultimately little stuff, at the end of the day I remember that I've got a happy and healthy family, good friends, and a career that I enjoy. If I could change one thing about my current situation, it would be proximity to family. My husband's family is a 4-hour drive away and getting to mine requires a plane flight. This never bothered me before, but since having Emma I've become keenly aware of how nice it would be to have the option of seeing our families more than once every few months. (And yes, being able to use them as babysitters for the occasional date night!)
(Photo by Two Feet Four Feet Photography, April 2014)

Another thing is that now that Emma is 2, the obvious question for most people seems to be whether we'll be adding another child to our family, and the answer is...I don't know. I have a history of pregnancy loss, and at 36, I now qualify as “advanced maternal age” (geez I hate that term) as well. I don’t know what the future holds...but we'll see!

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?

I do feel confident that I will always be working in some capacity, and it's strange for me to think about how Emma's childhood will differ from my own because of that. My mom stayed at home for years and even after she went back to teaching, she had summers off to spend with my siblings and me. I never went to daycare and only did the occasional summer church camp. In contrast, Emma will always be in daycare, school, or summer camps. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but it's jarring to realize that her childhood will be different than what I had.

But beyond that -- whew. My career goals are something I am REALLY struggling with right now. NASA is a huge organization so even though I’ve been with the same "company" my whole career, I’ve changed jobs within NASA twice already. I’ve been in my current role for almost 4 years and although I really like where I am now, I’m also starting to feel the itch to try something new.
(Me with 6-week-old Emma as the space shuttle Endeavour flew over Johnson Space Center on the 747 carrier airplane, September 2012)

The big question for me is always whether to leave NASA for private industry. I've been with the government for 15+ years and there are a lot of practical reasons to stay, like retirement plans/pensions and the overall combination of high job security and high flexibility. On top of that, the space program is a pretty niche market and I often wonder whether my skills would even translate well to other engineering jobs after having been entrenched in the "NASA bubble" for so long. These questions are all compounded by the fact that my husband has similar skills and the same employer. We talk about potentially moving to other cities that might get us a little closer to family, but aerospace jobs don't really exist in a lot of places so our skills don’t feel as “portable” as those of, say, an accountant or doctor or teacher.

I mentioned earlier that I just graduated with an M.A. in Digital Media Studies, which I earned from a local college after nearly a decade of working on it part-time (including some time off when life got busy). Art and design has always been something I love and when I started the classes, I was single and wanted something to fall back on when the space shuttle program ended -- just in case. Things have changed a lot since then, but now that I'm finished with the degree, I've been thinking a lot about how I could put it to good use. I've done some freelance design work in the past, and have thought a lot about starting a small freelance business...but I don't feel like I'm currently capable of putting in the effort that would require right. I hope to revisit the idea in a few years though!

Tips on how you make your situation work for you:

First and foremost is a daycare that we LOVE. We're very happy with the care and attention Emma gets on a daily basis, and that makes it so much easier to leave her there and head to the office without worry. They provide breakfast, lunch and snacks so I never have to pack food, which saves time and effort as well. It's also located on the NASA campus, which is extremely convenient -- I can easily can stop by for events and holiday parties, and Jose and I are able to trade dropoff/pickup duty as needed depending on our schedules.
(Halloween at daycare, October 2013)

Trading tasks is something we do a LOT, and I think it helps prevent either of us from getting burned out on any single task. The schedule isn't set in stone, but on any given day either one of us might be cooking dinner, giving Emma her bath, reading books before bedtime, etc. On weekends when possible, we trade getting up early with Emma so that each of us gets one day to sleep in.

Since we don't have family in the area and haven't found a regular, dependable babysitter (it's on the to-do list!), we also take full advantage of the "parents' night out" that the daycare does every other month to have a date night. We also designate some Saturday nights at home as couple time. We usually just watch a movie together after Emma has gone to bed, but it's good to know we will spend that time together as opposed to each doing our own thing.

How do you handle mommy guilt?

How do I handle it? Not very well! On weekdays, I only have 3-4 hours with Emma awake on weekdays, and most of that is spent getting ready for the day, dinner, and the bathtime/bedtime routine. Even though I want to work, I have a hard time not comparing myself to the moms I see around me and feeling like I don't do enough. There were a lot of tears (from me!) in that first year, but as time passes I'm learning, and it gets easier. I know in my heart that I am doing the best that I can, and that I'm doing what's right for me and my family, so when my emotions start to get the best of me I just try to remind myself of that.
(Run/walking a 5K together, April 2014)

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

Gosh, this is such a personal decision, isn't it? There are obvious financial implications to consider -- work brings income, but daycare is expensive, etc -- but working vs. staying home is often so much more than that. As long as either option works financially, I really just think women should do what feels right. If you want to stay home with your kids -- do it! If you want to work -- do it! If you are happy, it's a lot easier for your kids to be happy too.

I'd also advise women to give themselves plenty of time to make the right decision. Don't do anything irreversible in the first weeks or months of being a mom or being back at work. While I was excited to return to my job, it was still SO hard to leave Emma at daycare -- but it does get easier! (And if it doesn't get easier as the weeks go by, that may help you make your decision too.)
(Splash pad fun, May 2014)

How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family??

We eat together as a family almost every night -- it's what my family did when I was young, and it was important to me to do it with my own children. This means that we eat a lot earlier than we did pre-kid, but it's worth it. I started meal planning on a very low-key basis a couple months ago to make our weeknights a little smoother; we have a dozen or so "go-to" meals and I just choose 5-6 of those each week. We eat out most Fridays, and often go out to lunch on weekends.

On nights that I know we'll be getting home late (like Thursdays, when we do swimming lessons), I plan to have something super quick like a bag of frozen pasta or microwaving prepackaged seasoned meat and eating it with rice. It'd be great if everything we ate was fresh and made from scratch -- but that's just not realistic for our family. I just try to strike a balance between using convenience foods and eating reasonably healthy, and I think we're doing a good job of that.

I try to grocery shop every Sunday, because I've found that if we push it off to a weeknight, it's about 100 times more stressful. Sometimes we go to the store as a family, and sometimes my husband goes alone.

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

After Emma was born, I spent several months completely overwhelmed and stressed out by trying to keep the house clean. Finally I decided that since we have the means, I was going to hire out whatever I could. When Emma was ~6 weeks old, the guy mowing my neighbor's yard noticed my sky-high grass and knocked on my door. I hired him on the spot and he's been doing our lawn ever since. When she was ~9 months old, I hired a cleaning service to cover the house from top to bottom every two weeks. They do a great job and it eliminates a major stressor for me.

Thanks so much Julia for hosting this series and letting me participate! And if you made it this far, thanks for reading my wordy post! I love hearing other moms' stories and experiences and hope you've enjoyed mine too.

{Thanks, Sarah! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}

The Title of This Blog is Sometimes Appropriate!

I'm sure everyone has seen countless Instagram images of little kids holding the chalkboard signs, announcing that it's their first day of school. There have been many tear-jerking articles circulating Facebook (this one is my ultimate fave) about the same subject. Every August and September of every year, moms seem to have a wide range of emotions about the return to school for their kids. Sometimes relief, sometimes sadness, sometimes excitement, and a lot of times I think it's the pride and disbelief that time could possibly move *this* quickly.

I'll admit that in these 4+ years of motherhood, I haven't given the school-aged years too much thought. Because seriously, the little kid years are no joke and there isn't a whole lot of time to look into the future and imagine what that enormous unknown will feel like. Parenting children who are in school will be a gigantic chunk of our parenting years and we haven't even entered that major phase yet. Until now. Because my first born is starting pre-school next week and I am so freaking excited. And a little sad. But mostly proud and feeling like 'holy crap, didn't we just bring this child home from the hospital?' We plan to enjoy the heck out of this last week of summer before school starts. Even just typing that feels surreal----summers now mean 'a break from school' instead of just more of the same routine from the whole year. Wow.


Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Sure, this 'Junior Kindergarten' step is still fairly small in the grande scheme of things. After all, he will only be there for 2.5 hours each day (next year at age 5 it's all day Kindergarten) which is quite a bit less than his hours at Lori's for daycare. But now he will go five days per week to the school where he will be through fifth grade. And it's school! With a lot of new kids and a new teacher and new routine. NEW TRANSITIONS.

The plan for when I return to work at the end of September is this: I will walk Truman across the street to school in the mornings (love that we are so incredibly close to his school!) and will then head to work on MWF. Tony will get Truman on those days and hang with him from 10:55 when they are released (ridiculous time, I know) until I am home around 4:30 with the other two kids, who I will get from Lori's right before that. We are super thankful that Tony will be in charge of Truman after school and I won't have to stop seeing patients to transport Truman over to Lori's or something. Grandpa time is going to be so much fun for the two of them!

(This photo makes me laugh. CC is picking her butt and Truman is doing some weird collapse into the water. These two are too much.)
Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Also another big transition? Nate started a new job this week! He has different hours and a minuscule commute compared to his previous time in the car. He's still working for the same company but just in a different (closer!) clinic and we are all excited for him and this new job. AND? The best part? Did you notice that I didn't mention drop off at Lori's for Cecelia and Porter in the above paragraph? That would be because Nate isn't starting at work until 10:30 on MWF, specifically so he will be here to help get all three kids ready in the mornings and will also take the little guys to daycare. This.Is.HUGE, you guys. Nate always left at 6:45am every day and wasn't home until 7:30pm two days per week, so this will be amazing to have him home in during the morning chaos before work;) And to only have pick ups on my plate going forward, instead of every.single.drop off and pick up for years? YES. Anyone who works outside of the home and uses daycare will understand this amazingness.

So yeah. Not only is it going to be somewhat bittersweet to see Truman wave 'goodbye' to me next week as he walks into those school doors, but this Wednesday is also his last day at Lori's. Tru has been with her since he was six months old and I made a job switch that meant an in-home setting would be a great fit. Erin had her Henry at Lori's and I asked if there was an opening, and sure enough! The rest is history. Almost four years for Truman at Lori's and she has been such a huge part of his life. I always say Lori is a part of our parenting team because of her role in caring for our kids and it's going to be sad to watch Truman move on from her house. I'm glad she will still have Cecelia for four weeks by herself and then Porter will join his big sister there, once I'm back to work.

But oh, CC is going to miss her big brother while he is apart from her.
Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

I think my big boy will do just fine with this transition. He will surely miss Lori and his friends there but he's ready for the next step. I don't think I will cry next week when he begins his school years, and I'm pretty sure he won't, either. But the importance of this transition still sits right on my heart at times. I hope he loves school and makes great friends. I hope they are welcoming to my sensitive boy and that he finds a lot of good influencers in that big sea of new faces. I hope he has fun! I hope his teacher is amazing and the other parents are, too.

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Yes, I'm 90% excited to have Truman in school. Only 10% sad and nervous, because I really think my boy is going to slide into this part of his life with ease. And so we begin the biggest chunk of our parenting 'careers': the school years. Wow.

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

Truman + Cecelia: Pool 2014

And you better believe I will be taking pictures with some sort of chalkboard sign. For sure.

Anyone else sending their first born off to school for the first time? Are you feeling the range of emotions, too?

Moms Make it Work: Gaynor | Part Time Working Mom in Scotland

Today on the Moms Make it Work series, we have Gaynor: a mom who works three days per week as an Architect in Scotland. She had 13 months of maternity leave (always SO jealous of our international moms for this reason!!!) and her sweet Holden is two years old now. Gaynor and I follow each other on Instagram and I loved reading her take on how their family makes it work in Scotland. I can't say it enough: this series is so much fun to put together and to read! Enjoy.


Hi, I’m Gaynor, wife to Graham and mum to Holden, who is now 2. I’m an Architect and we live near Edinburgh in Scotland where you can usually find me posting lots of pictures of Holden on Instagram (ourdaybydesign) and occasionally blogging at Our Day by Design. I love spending time with my family & friends and seeing the world.
Animal Kingdom - Dec 2013

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

I was at school with my husband Graham then we got together in June 2003. We bought a flat in Edinburgh and moved in together in February 2007, got engaged in September 2008, married in April 2010 and had Holden in February 2012. Last year we sold our flat then bought a new house out of the city.

Our Wedding - 3rd April 2010
After high school, I went to University for 6 years to study Architecture. After I had completed my 2 degrees, I got a job in an Architect’s office where I gained the experience needed to sit my professional exams. I became an Architect in March 2009 and then after getting made redundant in March 2010 (4 weeks before our wedding) I got a job with another practice and I’ve been there ever since. After having Holden I took 13 months of maternity leave then went back to work part time in February 2013. I currently work 3 days a week, Monday to Wednesday. My parents look after Holden on a Monday then he goes to nursery (daycare) for the other 2 days. Just after I went back to work we sold our flat and had to move in with my parents for 5 months while we waited for our new house to be built. We moved in to our house in August 2013 and have loved having a lot more space for us all, and a little garden.

Holden's Birth - 1st Feb 2012
-What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?
I think I have the perfect balance of working 3 days a week but still plenty of time at home with Holden. I could have gone back full time which would give us more income, however by the time we pay for another 2 days of childcare it didn’t seem worth the additional hassle to us.

Australia - Sept 2012

-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
I’m not sure I really thought too much about it before we had Holden but I always knew I would want to return to work. I was lucky that my office were really happy for me to return part time, as I’m not sure I would enjoy it quite as much working a full week.
Australia - Sept 2012

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

I think it probably is; I always intended to go back to work, I studied for too long to not use my qualifications, and I love having some adult time as well. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved having such a long maternity leave but I also really like being back at work and having the best of both worlds.
Florida - Dec 2013

-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?
I don’t see myself making a career change in the next few years and I think we will stay with our current set up for quite a while. If we have another child I would probably continue to work part time until they are both at school. At least that’s the theory anyway, I may stay working part time, so it may be a case of carrying on until we want / need more income.
Florida - Dec 2013

-Tips on how you make your situation work for you:
On the two days Holden goes to nursery, my husband gets Holden up and gives him breakfast while I get ready. He then has to leave for work so I get Holden dressed before I take him to his nursery across town, before I have to catch my train in to Edinburgh for work. Sometimes it’s a bit of a rush as we aren’t the best people in the morning but I have a back-up train I can catch to work if necessary and so far I’ve usually managed to get my normal one. As I start a bit later than Graham, I have to work a bit later, so Graham does the pick-up from nursery then he either takes him home to make a start on dinner (if he has his work van that week) or he gets our car from the station before he gets Holden then comes back to pick me up at the station.

Christmas Day 2013

My parents are also a big part of it as they have Holden for one of the days that I am working. This saves us quite a lot of money every month and they love it as they get to spend lots of time with Holden on their own. My parents come and stay at ours every Sunday night so that on a Monday morning they can get Holden up which means for that one morning a week it’s just like it was before we had Holden, which really means sleeping for as long as possible then a rushed shower! My parents are both retired now but when I first went back to work, it was just my dad who looked after Holden. Holden absolutely loves his granddad and even now if he’s around it can’t be mummy or daddy who change nappies (diapers) or help with anything else really.
L-R: My parents with Holden in Bath - Feb 2013; My parents with Holden, my nephew & niece in Disneyland Paris - Feb 2014
While we lived with my parents they were brilliant as they would help me get Holden ready for his days at nursery so it was a bit of a shock to the system when we moved out and it was back to just the 3 of us.
-How do you handle mommy guilt?
I don’t really suffer from mummy guilt; I need & want to work so Holden has to go to nursery. I think it is really good for him too as he gets to mix with loads of other kids his age which will really help when he starts school nursery when he is 3, then actual school when he is 5. Holden has always been a really happy baby / little boy and never had any problem going to other people. We live near both our families (except my sister who is in Australia) which means plenty help or babysitters if we need them. A lot of my friends have children and we all work part time so we see a lot of other kids as well which has also helped. We usually spend one or both of the days I have off at the end of the week meeting up with my friends with children at parks, soft play centres, swimming pools & having lunch. We aren't at home that often. Then at the weekend we do things as a family, which can involve seeing friends or family, going to the zoo, swimming, out for lunch or dinner or visiting new places nearby.
Copenhagen - April 2014

-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying at home is the right choice?
You can only decide yourself what is right for you and your family and what is important for you. For us we enjoy travelling and taking trips so we always need the extra income I bring in. We've already taken Holden to Australia, Florida, Disneyland Paris and Copenhagen, as well as a few trips within the UK and we are lucky he's been a brilliant traveller. Also you will probably have no idea if you would enjoy being at home until the time comes. We are very lucky here in the UK that we get so long for maternity leave so we get the best of both worlds with seeing them grow in the first 9 months to a year before we have to even think about going back. That definitely lets you see what being a stay at home mum would be like as well. If we have another baby I would probably take just the 9 months off as last time I was able to save beforehand which I probably couldn’t do as well just working part time.

-How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family?

We are pretty disorganised with meal planning / food shopping and tend to just do it as we need it. My parents are very good to us and organise dinner on the day they have Holden then Graham usually buys what we need on tues / wed then I organise it thurs / fri then we just decide as we go at the weekend. Usually we have at least one meal out at the weekend and quite often I meet friends for lunch on my days off during the week.

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

I do the kitchen / washing (laundry) / cleaning all the bathrooms and Graham does the hoovering / taking the bins out / cutting the grass. I hate cleaning and would happily pay someone to do it however we would rather have the extra money for holidays. We do pay someone to clean our windows though as we live in a 3 storey townhouse and have a couple of skylights. Holden’s toys always get put away / tidied at the end of each day but a lot of the other stuff gets left to my days off or the weekends or whenever we can be bothered. There is generally always something much more exciting to be done than cleaning!

{Thanks, Gaynor! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}

Porter | Six weeks

I really don't have much to say this week. Promise;)

Biggest thing to note is that Porter is still sleeping really freaking well at night. He has done twice-nightly wake ups more often than not, since the day we brought him home from the hospital. And then this week, he even showed off by waking just one time at 3:45am on Wednesday night!!! Seriously glorious, although this was a one-time stunt and my boobs almost exploded in the process. Kind of a big milestone to wake just once though! That would have been an 8 hour stretch without eating for him. Woah. He is now sleeping in his co-sleeper and not the MamaRoo, so we are working our way to being a big boy with sleeping location;)

(note the grin)

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Looks so big here!

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Naps are still all over the place and seriously, this kid wants to be held for all attempts at napping. Even putting him in the swing will mean a short 20 minute nap. But wearing him in the Ergo, or just carrying him around/sitting with him while he snoozes? The child could sleep for ages, easily 2 hours or more. It's anyone's guess as to when he will be sleeping at any given time, although it seems like he is sort of going to bed around 8pm each night. Which also happens to be when his very loud siblings are asleep and quiet. Go figure;)

(I die over this picture)
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More on this baby carrying business...this week I walked with all three kids to the playground twice. I had Porter in the Ergo and pushed T and C in the double BOB and so we were out and about for a solid 1.5-2 hours each time. Little buddy did not make a peep until the very end of these excursions. Also we went to the zoo again as a family and he slept in the Ergo non-stop there, too.

(napping while mommy makes a busy bag for a blogger swap)
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Car rides still pretty much suck, but sometimes he will hold back on the hysterics for the first 10 minutes of a ride. I took him out of the van once we arrived at Lori's to pick up the big kids one afternoon, and brought him inside to visit and get a change of scenery. That seemed to help him avoid an epic meltdown while he waited in the van for me, since I think he really hates to stop moving once we are driving. Also, having Truman available to hold the pacifier in Porter's mouth will sometimes help cut back on the tears. On my days at home with all three kids we basically plan our activities based around where we can walk to avoid the van at all costs. Just not worth the terrible screaming!

(attempting this little white noise sound mating thing, and it *might* help a little bit.)
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Porter is nursing really well and fairly often, but he does like to snack and fall asleep mid-suck throughout the day. If I were trying to set any sort of schedule with his eating and napping it would be really difficult because he does these little partial feeds all day long sometimes. But really, he is a great little nurser and doesn't spit up much, seems content after a feed, and I can tell when he is hungry and fussy versus just tired and fussy. Big time!

Sometimes when I wake up and look at Porter, I swear that he has grown overnight. His acne is gone all of a sudden and it was totally there just last weekend. His head looks bigger (and is nearing the size of Cecelia's already, seriously!) and he just looks so much older than his six weeks of life on this earth. Like a real baby and not as much of a squishy, wrinkly, pathetic newborn. Don't get me wrong, he is still perfectly pathetic and helpless but he's much more alert and SMILING all of the time at me, and OMG. I can barely handle him. He's just the best and his head smells like a dream. Trust me on that one.

(I mean...)

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He is still incredibly chill so if he's crying, he is probably hungry or tired. If he is just tired and sort of doesn't know what to do with himself, needing encouragement to fall asleep, a few things work like magic. First, he loves being swaddled. He also loves to be carried, loves his pacifier (needs it to be held in his mouth at times, very high maintenance-hehe), and will calm down with 'shhhhhh'ing. He might need to be burped and may be working on a wicked poop if he's still grunty and irritated but usually it's not too difficult to calm this child. Please don't jinx me, dear internet. I'm just reporting on how it's going right now but I know it may change!

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Cecelia's six week post: ah, yes. The bottle wars, a baby that was spitting up huge amounts of milk, wasn't quite as fussy anymore but I realized week four was the pits, and sleep regression. THANK YOU LORD that none of this applies to CC's little brother right now. Of course, the good things about that post were that I was already running (huh? I thought I was a rule follower and waited until six weeks exactly) and had 134 oz in my freezer stash. Woah. I know I've been slacking about pumping but I just counted it up and I think I'm at 88 oz this time. Which is still great and all but now I'm feeling competitive with my old self...because I DID use every ounce at the end of the year mark and avoided supplementing with formula because of my breastmilk stash. Gah. Oh well, I still hate pumping too much to care at the moment.

Truman's six week post: wow, overachiever Julia! I was already attempting crib naps? Huh. Truman was napping 20 minutes to 1.5 hours at a time and I'm pretty sure Porter naps a lot longer than this time frame. Well, maybe because I'm usually holding my newest baby boy and am not at all concerned about moving him to a crib for naps. I'm not even being strict with laying him down anywhere for naps, let alone the official crib--whatever works at this point! Also, Truman looks like a freaking giant baby in that post already but I was just now starting 0-3 month clothes. Poor dude was probably losing circulation in his NB clothes before this! Plus, I did not even mention nighttime sleep so that's also annoying to me right now---apparently T was doing well? I had no clue that Truman didn't like the pacifier at this age. Really happy Porter is all about it.

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(I got the classic sibling-in-diapers shot I wanted!)
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My big boy is basically just rocking the six week marker. Can't believe how quickly it's going but at the same time, my pregnancy seems like a different lifetime. And I'm not at all sad about that one.
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