Self-Care January

I am a person of lists. And goals. I love lists of goals. Even lists of lists of goals. So when my friend @thenewchrissy declared that she would be doing monthly challenges for 2019, I jumped on board. We share a lot of interests and values but I modified her a few of her challenges to fit my needs.

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A lot of folks start the year with Dry January. It makes sense considering the overindulgence of the holidays but I wanted to start the year off on a different foot. With only a few weeks left in my maternity leave, I wanted to focus on just enjoying it and relaxing as much as possible before it was back to the grind. Thus Self-Care January.

Self-care on maternity leave (especially at the end of one without pay) is not spa days or days alone in self-reflection or girls weekends. It is a 30 minute bath at the end of the day with a magazine. It is going to the grocery store alone and walking the aisles very slowly. It is choosing not to fold the laundry and painting my toenails instead. It is getting outside everyday.

Having a reminder that I needed to make time for myself was really helpful as I faced going back to work. The prospect of going back to work has, in my experience, been worse than the actual return but it’s still painful.

It’s hard to be present even in the parts of my job that I enjoy (which is the majority to be fair) when I’m aware of all the things I’m missing at home. Is he smiling right now? Is he cooing? Is he thinking about rolling over? (Yes, yes and not yet.) I race home to divide my time between two amazing, demanding children. One who wants cuddles and to be nursed. Another who wants to read books or tell me things like “I ride in Dada’s truck” (it’s not fascinating but it’s still cute). On my first week back of work, Haines was sent home from daycare with a fever and I was ecstatic to spend the following day with him. With Austin safely tucked away at my mom’s, we watched a movie, took walks and played hard. I loved it.

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Still at the end of the day, I was ready for a moment of me. I went to bed at 8. Best self-care decision ever.

February’s challenge is Snail Mail which I’m really looking forward to. I used to be an excellent pen pal but now I’m incredibly inconsistent. This month is going to be an opportunity to get back into one of my favorite activities.

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2019: Seeking Me

2018, oh my. You were a beast. You were a beast to a lot of people. But you also brought me a lot of clarity and focus. And a brand new baby so thank you for that.

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I had wanted a lot of 2018 and I definitely got more than I bargained for (ex. baby). I had hoped for a year of tiny adventures (oops, how about one big baby?) as well as:

  • Save an emergency fund- Yes!! We have a fund that we have not yet touched, although mostly due to the generosity of others. Still that fund is there and holding strong for inevitable rainy days.
  • Keep a clean house- Yep. But then we had a baby so we’ll revisit this one in about ten years. Or more.
  • Learn to balance priorities at work- Honestly I learned to prioritize my home life over my work life which was not my goal. So this is still an area of growth.
  • Be present- Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not but this is a lifelong goal.
  • Drink less caffeine- Sure did. Cause I was pregnant. Now I have two children. So, currently not a goal.

I love the new year.  I love setting intentions and coming up with resolutions. In case you can’t tell, I’m a list maker. I’ve already been working on my 2019 bullet journal (bujo if you’re hip). List after list!

Because I like to go overboard with my lists, resolutions and hopes and dreams for the new year, this year is three-pronged.

First, a word for the year: Perception. I have a tendency to let my perception of events take on a life of its own. I call it spiraling. Something happens to interrupt my day- an incident, an email, a conversation, me- and before I know it that moment that I perceived as negative has attached it to many other negative thoughts and is now spiraling out of control. I start to lose my grasp on reality. The reality is my life is good, my day is good, my children are good, etc. One thing should not knock me off course. With that I strive to take a step back and better evaluate the moments in my life for what they are- moments and not something more substantial.

Part two is 12 monthly challenges. I was inspired by @thenewchrissy’s 2019 monthly challenges and decided to tag along for a few as well as make up my own.

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Part three is a more traditional resolution.

Be me. I want to be authentic as best I can whenever I can. And in a lot of ways, I don’t know what that means. For a few years now I have unconsciously worked to confirm my style, my manners, my preferences to better fit my work or being a mom or whatever. Now I want to figure out- just what are my favorite bands, my favorite books? What do I like to wear? Where would I go if I could go anywhere? What do I care deeply about? Other than lists, preferably. The fog of babies has not lifted but I can see it clearing ahead of me and without wasting any of the preciousness that is life with littles, I will still seek me.

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Reconnecting with this person. Not her clothes though…

 

So Long Summer!

I basically blinked and found September was almost over. It will be Tyler’s birthday in only 3 days, which typically signals the start of fall for me.

August and September were challenging months personally but also marked with wonderful times.

Family:

Tyler’s father, brother and my future sister-in-law came to visit in August for a beach weekend. It was great to have the time together, although the highlight was watching Haines interact with everyone and learn to love the beach!

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My mom moved to town! Unfortunately she only got to spend one night in her new house before we evacuated for Hurricane Florence but her house is still whole as are all of us. I have never lived in the same town as either of my parents as an adult and I’m excited for this new adventure!

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Step 1: Convince your mom to move to Wilmington. Step 2: Let her spend one night in her home before evacuating. 

Haines:

Baby boy has freaking blossomed over the past month or so. Today we played “night night” for probably 30 minutes. This is a great game where I laid down and got tucked in with a blanket and Elmo over and over again. It wasn’t my idea! I hope we get to play it again.

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Regardless Haines is talking and singing nonstop. He is imitating everything we say and do- a very scary prospect- between total fits of rage. We have entered the time of tantrums, which I am not pumped about but recognize as a necessary evil in his growing up. One day they’ll stop. Just like one day he’ll go to college, right?

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Baby #2:

Baby boy is growing away! I had actually lost a little bit of weight in early September, only to gain 11 pounds in the last two weeks. 11 pounds!!

Apparently we only have 5 weeks left until his arrival (assuming he’s as punctual as his brother) which completely freaks me out but I also spent WAY too long looking at baby Haines photos today which made me very glad we’re doing this again.

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On the flip side, our community of Wilmington, NC is deeply suffering right now from Hurricane Florence. There is so much destruction but our house survived intact, as did my mom’s. We have a lot of yard clean up to do but that is a small price to pay. We are incredibly lucky. Flooding and downed trees have devastated homes and our neighboring communities. It is hard to believe this is our town.

If you are interested in providing support to those in southeastern North Carolina, Nourish NC, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Red Cross are good options.

 

 

So long spring, hello summer!

I’m sad to say May is gone. It’s an annual tragedy. May begins quietly, sweet with budding flowers and not too hot. The humidity waiting in the wings but not yet present. By Memorial Day June is not just knocking at the door but full force body slamming it. Humidity has taken over. The heat has picked up and I’ve given in and turned on the AC. Damn you southern summer. I am not strong enough to keep the windows open.

May, as always, proved to be the best month of the year so far.

We went to the aquarium not once, but twice! (Thank you year long membership!) We finally checked out the Children’s Museum which proved to be a huge hit (more on that tiny adventure later).

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Tiny crab

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Standard post-aquarium position

The family trekked to Winston to see my mom, a trip that included a lot of nostalgia cleaning out her attic, walks in my favorite places and the best fried chicken.

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I got another year older, which is one of my favorite activities. I’m glad it doesn’t happen more than once a year but I’m very grateful to continue on this journey!

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Our garden is starting to show life. Our yard is in bloom. We’ve already been to the pool twice, which is proving popular with Haines.

My dad came for a visit, a long overdue trip! As he lives overseas, he hadn’t gotten to see Haines since he was still new to the world. Not surprisingly he immediately took to his Granddaddy.

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Haines is talking more and more each day, imitating all the words we say to him. Baby #2 is growing away (as am I) and I’ve started to feel him kick and roll around. The summer is off to an incredible start.

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Turning 32: Acceptance, Love and Hope

In only a month I will be 32. Today I am in an unfamiliar city, which is pretty much my favorite thing in the world and I am enjoying it tremendously, despite having cried three times already for missing my baby.

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My boys without me

I am listening to two adorable baristas discuss giving up sugar. They are tiny, young, friendly and energetic. One is petite with a pixie look and a valley girl intonation. My 20-year-old self wouldn’t have tolerated her in conversation but completely envied her style. The other has an androgynous look and I am drawn to her smile instantly. My twenty-year old self would have followed her all around campus. I’m still eavesdropping.

But in a month I will be 32 which somehow feels more significant when I turned 30. When I turned 30 I was pregnant for the first time which overshadowed everything else. Two years later I am pregnant again, less overwhelmed by the enormity and more…surrendered? My life, in a long term think-about-the-future sort of way feels paused while I create new life, someone else’s life. My mind has shrunk- unable to take in much beyond my house and the people who live there. I know that since becoming pregnant two years ago I have not been as good of a friend as I once was. I forget birthdays and don’t return emails, never on purpose but simply because. 

I no longer write, travel or create crafts often- all of which are my favorite things. There is a half-finished gray knit hat in a plastic bin in my attic among piles of yarn waiting for me, hoping I will come back for it. But I don’t have the time or money (two things to enjoy traveling) or the energy (required of writing or crafting). Although I sometimes long to do one or many of these activities, mostly I don’t care. It’s become normal but in waiting Haines grow and become more independent, I have seen the light. It won’t always be like this. This is just a phase of life where I will do me, as best as I can do me, and this is enough even though it won’t look anything like before.

Normally in a new city I would be racing around, walking every street. Today I worked remotely, found amazing Mediterranean food, bought two books in the book store where I am now very unhurried. I am sipping tea from an actual teacup and saucer. The afternoon light is casting a gentle flow across old wood floors in the café and I’m admiring the energy of nearby baristas while I write.  

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This is a sign of my age right? When taking time to be slow is just as important as seeing the sights? Then again, bookstores have always been “the sights” for me. I am old enough to have only bought 2 books (it’s called living on a budget) but not old enough to know I should go ahead and buy all the books, because books are invaluable. 

I believe the new year really starts on your birthday. I always look to the new calendar year as a fresh start but birthdays are far more inspiring. So what do I want for my next year? What do I hope for 32?

I hope for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

I hope for calm in the face of chaos.

I hope to have a few moments like this one where I feel contented in everything, fully knowing that all is not perfect.

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Ten years of friendship

I hope to spend time with friends and have a few laughs. I hope to hold hands with my husband after the bab(ies) have gone to bed.

I hope to read a few good books and enjoy a few warm summer nights.

And if I am lucky, I hope to get a few good nights of sleep.

All in all, I think this could be a wonderful year.

 

2018: New Year’s Resolutions

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I know I said I was sticking to a theme for the new year but let’s get real, I have a lot of goals for 2018. I’ve been reading all over the place that I shouldn’t have a lot of unattainable goals. Stick to goals you can truly impact and accomplish. These are a mix of goals I’d define as both stretch and within reach (maybe).

Personal Finances: For 2018 I hope to save $5,000. I had similar goals for 2017 but it turned out to be a much more expensive year than I anticipated. Guess what guys, paying for daycare- pricey. Also, if you’ve never had a baby before you probably don’t know how much babies cost. This is totally fair and I probably should have factored this in to my goals. Once someone told me that babies are cheap when they’re very little. Um… clearly you didn’t pay for formula, daycare or diapers.

And in reality, like most people we’re still learning how to be financially savvy. Tyler calls 2018 “The Year of Smart” and this definitely applies to our money. We want to make smart decisions. That’s pretty much all you can ask for. (Dang, this should really be my goal. But I want to save $5k!)

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Home: In the land of new baby, the first priority to drop is cleaning the house. This creates a constant cycle where we don’t pick up after ourselves and every 2-3 weeks I freak out because I can no longer tolerate the state of our home. Surely, there’s a better way to live.

So this year I just want to do some pretty basic picking up after myself. Tyler and I have starting washing our dishes and fully wiping down the kitchen after each meal. This may seem like adulting 101 but I feel like we’re relearning every aspect of life right now. We’re putting the laundry away the same day it got washed  and cleaning the bathroom on a regular basis.

Basically, it’ll take nothing short of a miracle to maintain this but I’m still holding out hope!

Professional Life: I wear several different hats in my role at work, because it is a role that constantly evolves. This is awesome as it allows me to be challenged but I often feel pulled in several directions and constantly worry about dropping one of the many priorities I am juggling. I think this is a pretty common experience for individuals who have just reached the point in their career where they’re truly challenged.

Now it’s just about being able to balance my priorities, learn some project management skills and advocate for myself. Sometimes you have to say- TOO MUCH! This is a goal I don’t expect to reach, just aim for. I’m growing, y’all.

Mama Life: The number one thing I want to do as a mom is be present. Yes, I want to be present as a friend, a daughter or a wife but being present as a mama is my number one. This is harder than I would have thought. Haines can be…boring. It’s not his fault- he’s a baby! He’s adorable to watch and he just started to ask me to read him books which makes my heart explode but sometimes I’d like to have a conversation that isn’t, “Don’t put that in your mouth!” or “What a big boy you are!”

So being present  is equally about being present when we’re together and taking breaks that allow me to focus on him. This weekend Tyler was off work. We took Haines to a party on Saturday where Tyler was primary baby watcher and Sunday I got to go to a coffee shop for two hours with Better Than Never Blogger, Chrissy. This little moments are what excites me to run back to my baby bubba.

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Haines after a run. 

Health: Almost everyone looks to the new year with a health goal. Tyler has started running which naturally has amped up my own fitness routine. We RAN 3.2 miles on Saturday (with breaks). Although I do have periods where fitness falls down the list of priorities, most of the time I feel pretty good about that area of my life.

Right now, it’s caffeine. Every since this baby entered my life, my soda intake has skyrocketed. I don’t drink coffee so this is my main fuel for life. No matter what I tell myself at the beginning of the week, by Sunday I’ve drank 3-4 Dr. Peppers. Pre-pregnancy I had one a week. I need to get back to that.

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Little Ol’ Me: There’s one last goal I want to keep in motion for 2018. For a long time, this has been in the forefront of my interactions but I’m not yet where I want to be. The goal is simple- communicate honestly, openly and regularly.

Don’t let things build up. Don’t sugarcoat unless absolutely necessary. Give of my authentic self whenever possible.

Goals:

  • Save $5k
  • Clean the house
  • Learn balance at work
  • Be present
  • Drink less soda
  • Communicate regularly and honestly.

When I lay it all out, it seems like a lot. I probably should have stuck with Tiny Adventures. Here we come 2018!!

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Pass the Gratitude

I normally anticipate Thanksgiving with a bit of caution. These last few years it has come with a sudden tsunami size wave of homesickness for Austin. Every year our friends hosted a huge annual Friendsgiving and while many people would drop by before or after (or both) their family celebrations this was always my main event. I haven’t celebrated the holiday with family in so long I only really associate it with friends. It modern times it has become simply a celebration of gratitude…and gluttony. I am so grateful to have found good friends I would venture to call family. Imagine, people who treat you well even though they’re not related to you!

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This year November did not bring homesickness (well, just a twinge maybe). The negative in me attributes this to having been sick all week when I was due to feel the biggest surge of Austin love but it’s obviously little bubba.

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I’m worried about a thousand things…

  • Is Haines choking on a leaf from our floor?
  • How will we have light if he keeps trying to unplug all our appliances?
  • How much longer can I keep him out of the bathroom trash?

…but Thanksgiving hasn’t occurred to me yet. We’re going to a friend’s house where I don’t care what they’re cooking. I’m sure it’s tasty and warm and feels like the holidays. Normally I would spend all day cooking my favorite foods but today I made a dish that I could live without. I feel well for the first time in four days and I spent the day playing with Haines.

Now I’m surrounded by napping boys and a sweet pup. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Also, pretty dang thankful for this guy.