Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book I Read (May-June)



All the Light We Cannot See 
by Anthony Doerr

I struggled through this book. 
On the positive, it's not as dark and haunting as "The Nightingale
and the two story lines were different than I'd read about before 
(as in, I'd never read a story from the view of the Hitler Youth) 
but the jumping from past-to-present was a little much for me. 
Obviously much smarter people than I loved this book, 
considering it won a Pulitzer Prize. 
But... not for me. 




The Power of Habit 
by Charles Duhigg 

This was one of the first ever books I had bookmarked to read, 
so probably years ago. 
I'd been saving it for a time in my life were I could really absorb it. 
(And I don't mean just New Year's Eve resolutions.) 
Now on this new journey to being a SAHM, 
I decided it was the perfect time to dive in. 

And oh my did I LOVE this book! 
It reminded me of my favorite college courses: 
academic science mixed with real life stories. 
Real stories that ranged from Target's pregnancy-predictor 
to Tony Dungy's football coaching style 
to building the modern day church. 

The real-world application of this book is really outstanding, 
and gave me a lot of ideas on how I want to structure my SAHM life 
to accommodate those habits I want. 





Spark Joy 

by Marie Kondo

The follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. 
This wasn't as life-changing (har har) as the first, but it was a fun refresher. 
I picked up a few tidbits, 
and rather than dedicating an enormous post to the book, 
I'll just list some of the helpful hints here: 

Never keep anything because it may 'come in handy.' 
If you discard it, you will be so much more careful in buying its replacement. 

Store your spaces to 90%. 
Full, but not stuffed. 
We tend to fill empty space. 

The best kitchen is the one that's easy to clean, 
so store as much in cupboards and keep your counters empty. 
This includes dish soaps and sponges. 

Bathroom become cluttered because people fail to use the full height under sink. 
Buy drawers or wire racks to utilize the space. 




In The Arena 
by Charlton Heston

CONFESSION TIME:  
My all-time favorite celebrity crush is Charlton Heston circa Ben Hur. 
Disregard the fact that he is old enough to be my great-grandfather, 
I think his character in Ben Hur is one of the sexiest of all times. 
Even outranking Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Gerald Butler in 300. 
Swoon.  

You can make fun of me, it's ok. 

Reading Charlton Heston's autobiography is like listening to your grandfather tell stories of the good ol' days. 
There's a lot of reminiscing about the "back when ___" 
and a lot of "I refuse to be politically correct" statements. 
Despite disagreeing with him on a lot of his views 
(and he has a LOT), 
I appreciate the honesty; it's refreshing for a celebrity read. 
Despite being pretty long (it took me almost a month and a half to read)
I found this book really enjoyable, if not downright amusing. 

Yes, of course, some chapters are more boring than others. 
Generally it's more interesting if you've actually seen the movies, 
but even those I hadn't seen were pretty fun.  

Also, I'd like to point out that Charlton Heston is one of the very few actors in Hollywood who married once and stayed with his wife until his death. 
So not only is he dreamboat in Ben Hur, 
but he's also a devoted dude in real life. 
Let the swooning continue. 

***


And lastly, I think it's fair to acknowledge... 

Books I Started to Read but Gave Up On:  



I'll Give You the Sun 
by Jandy Nelson 

The "it" book for Spring 2016. 
Bloggers kept talking about this book, 
and someone  said it was "laugh out loud funny." 
Well, whoever that person was, 
their humor and my humor are VASTLY different. 

This book was so horribly depressing that I gave up on it, 
skipped to the end, 
read the last chapter, 
and thought: 
"Wow I'm glad I didn't struggle through the whole book for that." 

My apologies to the literary community, but #nope. 








Tuesday, June 28, 2016

SAHM Goals

When I embarked on my stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) life, 
I viewed it as a job in itself: 
the first week is always rough (and it was) 
and then I would adjust and it would get better. 
There would always be be obstacles and challenges.
but I would figure them out eventually. 

Please know that I don't actually consider SAHM life to be a "job" or "career." 

I roll my eyes at those moms.

YES being home all day is a lot of work, 
but there is a massive difference between bosses and deadlines
and not going insane with children
I'm not saying one is harder than the other, 
I'm saying they are VASTLY different. 

So while I'm approaching this period of my life like a job, 
please don't think I'm one of those moms who says: 
"I have the best job of all.  Raising my children." 



Barf. 

Moving on.  

I listed out many of my biggest SAHM fears here
And to counter those fears, 
I am setting some light goals. 
(I put "light" because they do not adhere to Corporate's "SMART" goals. )

I'm hoping to review in increments. 
like a 30-day review, 
60-day review, 
etc. 

In all my real job positions, my positives were pretty consistent: 
1. Super efficient (code: I'm shockingly fast at my job). 
2. Pleasant to be around (code: I'm a chatty extrovert). 

My "needs improvement" were usually things like: 
"you need to be a little more discreet about when you don't agree with someone" 
because I am beyond horrible at hiding disagreement or disdain.
Controlling my facial expressions was never my strong point. 
(Are you surprised?) 

Distracted, again. 
Back to the SAHM "Goals" : 


1. Stay busy. 
My #1 fear was boredom. 
A very real fear for a very productive individual like myself. 


2. Stay social. 
This addresses so many of my fears of irrelevancy. 
Maybe I'll only talk about my kid, 
but hopefully I can talk about my kid with other moms who also only talk about their kids. 


3. Spend time on ME: 
Just like for men, happy wife = happy life. 
I think for kids, healthy & happy mom = healthy & happy kids. 


3a. Exercise
Not just running, but yoga too. 
Exercise makes me feel better all around. 
It motivates me to eat healthier and drink less. 
It gives me WAY more energy and stamina. 
All around, I feel so much better when exercising. 


3b. Eat healthy 
With easy access to my pantry, 
I want to focus on making myself fun salads 
and healthy treats. 
The sorts of things I tried to eat at work, 
but very often did not pack well in a lunchbox. 


3c. Reading. 
Reading is incredibly relaxing for me. 
In my worst of worst moods, 
if Adam is home (a big IF), 
I can retreat to my room to read
and about 30 minutes in I'm much calmer. 
Just like exercise, there are amazing benefits to reading consistently 
like this article outlines here


4. Limit Aaron's TV time. 
If there's one massive benefit to daycare (besides socialization), 
it's the lack of TV. 
And staying home, I didn't want to utilize my TV as a second babysitter. 


5. Spend a little bit of time teaching Aaron. 
I'm not talking about homeschooling 
(LOL - but you can read my thoughts on that here), 
and I very VERY much value independent play over schooling, 
but I want to encourage a few basic things like: 
1. Scissor skills (a little LOL on that here)
2. Writing his name 
(So far, as I write this, I haven't started either.)


Well that's all I can think of for now. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

3 is not my favorite age

I've wanted to write this post for a while. 
And I figure I should hurry up and write it before I change my mind. 
I want this documented. 
I don't want my parental brain to forget this later on. 
Ready? 
Here goes... 


3 is not my favorite age. 





The Personality Typing book "Mother Styles" mentions that some people are better equipped for certain ages than others.  
Example: 
Some people may be overwhelmed with the baby stage, 
but feel comfortably at home in the teenager stage. 
It's based on our personality type and how we deal with situations at hand. 

Now that I have an infant again, 
I feel like this is a stage I'm very comfortable with. 
Granted, Oliver is basically the world's easiest baby, but hear me out. 

I was talking to a girlfriend who is due with her second baby in July. 
We talked about how she gets so stressed and panicked when infants cry. 
Even when Oliver started to cry she got stressed. 
But now that her daughter is 2.5, she feels very comfortable and at ease. 
Even the tantrums don't really bother her. 
"She's like my little sidekick," she said. 

Meanwhile, I feel the opposite. 
And then we had a good laugh about trading kids, 
where I take both babies and she takes the toddlers. 
Chuckle, chuckle, haha. 
No seriously, can we do this? 


I think one of the greatest strengths you need for the infant stage is STAYING CALM
That I can most certainly do. 
I don't get frazzled or distraught over much. 
When Oliver cries, I look to comfort him for sure, 
but my blood pressure doesn't rise in panic if he doesn't stop crying. 
I feel confident that I can eventually diagnose the problem 
(more often than not: "here, take this boob!") 
and it will eventually be all ok. 
It may take a while (like those terribly awful witching hours) but eventually everything will be okay again. 
No need to panic. 


With a toddler, the greatest virtue you can have is PATIENCE
BAHAHAHAHA. 
If there was ever a virtue that I epically fail at, 
it's patience. 
I have no patience. 
None. 
Zilch. 

So when I'm tired or sick  
and Aaron starts those 3-year-old antics, 
my patience drops out from under me in 30 seconds flat. 
And we all know what a toddler does when a parent loses patience... 
it just gets worse


Of course, in all fairness, 
there are things I love about this age. 
I love the things he says. 
Watching his little mind connect the dots. 
Every now and then he'll say something 
and all I can think to respond with is... 
"Wow, yes, you are right about that." 
Because I never thought of it that way. 


So yes, I still love my child and all. 
But let it be known that this stage is not my favorite. 


I'm not sure what sort of virtues you need for elementary school, 
middle school, 
and those dreaded teenage years. 
I'm hoping I will be much more stocked in those virtues than the ones needed now. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SAHM Fears

Well I did. 

So many unknowns. 
Of course there will be many rewards, 
but there will also be many frustrations. 

Having been home for a month on my own already, 
I can start to address a few of the fears below.
But I still want to list them here 
(purely for documentation purposes).  


My fears may be irrational. 
And shallow. 
And silly. 
But I promise that they are 100% honest.  


***

Will I be bored? 

I am a productive individual. 
I like to accomplish things. 
I like trying new things 
and experiencing new things. 
And while my 7-4 job in corporate finance wasn't exactly thrilling
I was always doing something.  
Yes, to some extent, doing stuff at home is within my control. 
But some days it won't be, and those days terrify me.

***

Will I lose my sense of self-worth? 

"Hi, I'm Emily. I work in finance." 
 That has been my intro line for as long as I can remember. 
To pause my career for an indefinite time, 
is a little terrifying. 
I decided long ago that I didn't want to be a corporate ladder-climber, 
but at the same time, 
it's hard to imagine Emily-NOT-the-employee. 

***

What will other people think? 
 This is a much bigger fear than I like to admit. 
In my opinion, obsessing over people's opinions shows weakness and insecurity.
But the truth is that I AM a little worried about what people will think. 
With the exception of one girlfriend, EVERYONE I know is a working mom. 
Friends.  Family.  All of 'em. 

And if we're being TOTALLY HONEST, 
I've always held working moms in just a tiny bit higher regard simply because 
I can identify with the struggle. 
It's not that I ever looked down on SAHMs, 
but I always said the term "working mom" with pride. 
Like I deserved some sort of busyness award or something (snort). 

***

Will I become less relevant? 

 Combining the two above, 
my self-worth and others' opinions, 
I don't want to lose my grip on the real world outside of motherhood.
I don't want to be that obnoxious person who only talks of her kids
 (although to be fair, that may have already happened 3 years ago when Aaron was born...). 
I don't want to become so absorbed in our little self-designed schedule, 
that I forget what it's like to have "real" commitments to a full-time job.  




***

Will I regret it later in life? 

This fear can be flipped on a working mom, too, obviously. 
We all fear regret. 
We all wonder if we did the right thing. 
My mother always says staying home was her best decision, 
but I have also read countless stories from other moms 
who later in life wished they had done even a little part-time. 

***

Will I appreciate my children less? 

Probably the worst possible thing a mother could say. 
But is it true? 
When Aaron is going through particularly obnoxious stages, 
it IS nice to get away and go to work. 
To leave the house wishing Adam "good luck" for the next hour, 
before he too can drop Aaron off at daycare 
and wish the teachers "good luck." 

 *Except, oh wait, Adam doesn't get home until kids are in bed!

***

Am I going to hold this over my kid's heads? 

Again, same lines as the one above. 
I never want to find myself saying: "I sacrificed so much for YOU." 
My mom stayed at home while I was growing up 
and when she talked about sacrifice, I rolled my eyes. 
Mom, I don't care! 
Go back to work, I don't care! 
Kids don't care about this kind of stuff. 
I don't ever want to be that mom going on and on about her sacrifice

*** 

Will I shop too much? 

Laugh all you want, but this is true. 
When Adam went golfing on weekends, 
the #1 activity Aaron and I would do together is shop.
Now I have EVERY. SINGLE. DAY to shop. 

*** 

Will I get fat? 

I always pack my breakfast and lunch (and sometimes dinner). 
It forces me to plan out my calories in advance. 
And I never carry cash so vending machines are out. 
I tend to snack a lot on the weekends, 
and I worry about having 24/7 access to my pantry.

 *** 

When will I work out? 

I utilized the 45 minutes between work and daycare to go for a run. 
It was an awesome decompression from the workday. 
But with two kids at home... when am I supposed to do that? 

***

Am I okay with a lifestyle that doesn't involve extra paychecks? 

Same concept as shopping. 
To preface this, Adam and I have always lived on one income. 
I was the sole breadwinner while he was in law school. 
Then once he got a job, my entire paycheck went to saving for our second home.  
But still, the idea of losing that very hefty chunk of cash is a bit terrifying. 

***

Again, as I said above, some of these things I can start to address now. 
But I'm sure they will continue to evolve over time. 
Some old fears will be squashed. 
New fears will pop up. 
We will see. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

SAHM

I graduated college in May 2007, 
and started work three months later (where I met Adam). 


Over these past 9 years, I have ALWAYS been employed.  
I may change jobs or change companies, 
but I've always worked


As of today, I gave my notice to my company.  
I am a stay-at-home-mom. 
Or SAHM if you prefer. 


My last day of short-term disability was Monday (8-weeks paid for c-section), 
and I would've been unpaid through mid-July anyway (the rest of the 12-week FMLA), 
so it was appropriate to give my boss as much notice as I could.  


Adam and I have been talking about this for a while. 
With Aaron, I had to go back to work because Adam was in law school, 
we had a mortgage, 
and um, yeah, kind of need money for that. 
But with Oliver it was different. 
Adam has his job at Big Law Firm, 
which adequately covers our needs, 
so this time it was actually an option. 


I've been drafting a post about my fears of being a SAHM.  
The truth is that I have a lot of uncertainty about it. 
But I want to at least give it a shot. 
See how I do and all.  


Of course, I already have a solid month of practice. 
As I wrote in my 6 week postpartum update
I've already been "learning" how to be home. 
Learning how to maximize my time and all that. 
And it's been fun; it really has. 
But the fears and uncertainty are still there. 


In short, Adam summed up our decision perfectly:  
"It's not a contract. 
If you decide you hate being a stay-at-home, 
then you'll just go get a job again. 
But you won't know until you try." 

Yes. 


Aaron with Oliver when Oliver was just 1.5 weeks old. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

6 week update

6 weeks postpartum. 
How goes it? 

It's busy for sure. 
Distracting may be a better word. 
Lots of stuff I want to do but haven't. 
I have 26 unread blog posts in bloglovin. 
26! 
And I don't want to half-ass read them so I set them aside to read later when I can devote more attention (HAHAHA). 
Meanwhile my own blog falls into the realm of "every other week" post. 
I'm sure no one is missing my mundane updates on life but I want to write them down so I can remember since clearly my memory has gone to shit. 


So where was I? 
Oh yes, 6 weeks postpartum. 


Let's start with the one everyone cares about: BABY 



Sleeping & Eating

Oliver sleeps about 4.5-5.5 hours a night, nurses, then another 2-3 until morning. 
He seems to average one good swing nap a day and the rest are spent in the wrap or on-the-go (the perks of being 2nd kid). 

He nurses well enough but often confuses me with these short 4-6 minute sessions 
(Aaron in comparison would latch and chill for a solid 15 min). 
I'm starting to only nurse one side per feeding to see if that helps. 
Verdict?  Meh. 


Baby-Wearing, Pacifiers, and Baby Acne

Oliver's biggest loves: 
1) being worn. 
 2) being swaddled with a pacifier. 

I've gotten more than my money's worth out of my solly wrap
one of the few things I bought new for baby #2. 
It is strikingly similar to the Moby I used with Aaron but so much lighter-weight, prettier, and easier to transport. 
I also get a lot of compliments from other moms while out-and-about. 
Usually the conversation starts with: 
"What wrap is that? I have the moby but that looks much better." 
Trust me, it is. 



As for the swaddle / pacifier, it's a very new thing for me to have a baby with a pacifier. 
Aaron didn't care for pacifiers at all. 
For swaddle, we use the Aden & anais blankets that made my Top #10 Baby Products for the first year
For pacifiers: MAM pacifiers, for no other reason than my sister-in-law uses them and they looked good, although I will say the sterilization case is quite handy! 

On one hand I love the pacifier as a soothing device. 
LOVE IT. 
At night when he's at the height of his witching hour, 
it's so nice to soothe with a silicone device rather than my boobs (ouch). 
On the other hand, I'm terrified by everyone's pacifier-weaning horror stories. 

Witching hour baby selfies


The best news this week is that Oliver's acne seems to be clearing! 
It started at 4 weeks, gradually got worse, and now seems to have subsided. 
So much nicer to kiss those little cheeks without pimples! 


How about me?


The Gross Stuff

I JUST this week stopped bleeding. 
It had become pretty sporadic, but enough that I still needed a pad at all times just in case which is annoying and gross. 
So glad to have that done! 


Exercise

As for exercise, I'm walking with Oliver for an hour (~3 miles) twice a week. 
First he was in the wrap, but as it got hotter and hotter, 
I switched to the stroller so the two of us wouldn't die of heatstroke. 

Last week my first run was 1.1 miles. 
It was a lousy run (I thought the fat was going to giggle right off my thighs), 
but I've kept at it, and just today did a 2.0 mile run, 
and it felt GREAT. 


Weight Loss

I had stalled in my weight loss around 3 weeks postpartum, 
then picked up again last week (when I started running), 
only to gain a lot back from our trip to the lake this past Memorial Day. 
Damn that flowing wine! 


Mental Postpartum

Mentally I feel really REALLY good. 
Better than with Aaron when I was always anxious and worrying. 
 But with Oliver it feels very much more relaxing. 
Having him in a pack n play by our crib is a big part of it I think, 
but I'm sure the exercise and eating healthy helps too. 
In general, having a baby again feels very second nature. 
I know there will continue to be differences (wrote about my predictions here), 
but overall I feel like: "okay, I kind of know what I'm doing here." 



Probably the biggest adjustment, 
if we're being honest, 
isn't so much the second baby himself as it is learning to be home.  
My maternity leave with Aaron was a very simple couch routine I wrote about here
While that was nice in its own sense, I do appreciate the busyness of life. 
Every week home is a fun challenge: 
How do I maximize my time to get it all done? 
Errands. 
House chores. 
Food prep. 
Exercise. 

I have time where I'm totally sans children (when my sister comes), 
times when it's just Oliver (Aaron at daycare), 
and times where I have both.  

I like planning fun activities with Aaron, 
whether it be a zoo trip or just eating watermelon on the deck. 
On one hand it'll be awesome when Oliver can join in, but I'm relishing the ease with which I can transport him everywhere in the wrap while I focus on Aaron. 

And speaking of Aaron... 

I suppose it's only fair to include Aaron in this 6 weeks postpartum. 
As in, how is Aaron doing 6 weeks in with "baby brother"? 
In a word: outstanding. 
Expectations: EXCEEDED. 

He is gentle and sweet and shows ZERO sign of jealousy
and its freaking amazing. 

The cutest change he's made is adopting his Monkey as "his baby." 
He nurses Monkey and burps Monkey and changes Monkey. 
And OMG my heart melts every time. 
So much cuteness I cannot handle it. 

At the lake house, Aaron burping monkey


And that's a wrap! 

Until next time... 
so like, 2-3 weeks from now?