Maya at 16 months

Maya, you are 16 months old! And a non-stop whirl of chattering and activity, full of joy and with lots of new words and interests every week.

You are expressive to no end, very clearly letting us know what you want, don’t want, and would like us to do. You point at things with the precision of a marksman, clearly indicating where you’d like to be carried, or what you want us to bring you.

You adore your big sister and are her constant shadow, often disrupting her carefully planned activities only to become distracted and barrel off in a different direction. She is endlessly patient with you, telling us all the time how much she loves you and that you’re “so adorable.” Lila smother-hugs you every day, and delights in any new skill you master or word you begin to say – she is truly your biggest fan and the pride she demonstrates over you is unexpected and goosebumpy and just really lovely.

Your word count continues to evolve: for a long time the regulars were: mama, dada, mah (more), hi, uh-oh, yay and ni-ni (night night). You call Molly Ma-La, and have a distinct way of pronouncing Bruno that’s more a combination of sounds than actual syllables. Recently you’ve added, bop (stop), noooooooo, bye, cheese (for photos), peace (please), shoe, go, my (mine), share (chair) and ha-ha-ha-ha which is a combination you derived from watching us say “hot” and blow on food. And you graciously say poo-poo when you need a new diaper.

 

You are silly and endlessly snuggly. You love dancing to music. You’re generally the most complacent, happy baby (toddler?!) I’ve ever been around and everyone around you remarks on your sweet, easy disposition.

If something displeases you, you have the vocal chords of a herd of elephants, and the ability to go completely limp – rendering your body very difficult to hold onto.

You also have an endless mischievous streak. Laughing and running away when we tell you no, and peering at us with a grin when you do things you know aren’t allowed to do, like climbing up ALL THE FURNITURE.

You make a beeline to your chair when we say breakfast or snack, and rush to your room when we say it’s time for a change. You love dirt and water and being outside.

We adore you and your magical energy, sweet Maya.

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thank you notes: then and now

Published in collaboration with Paperless Post.

I was raised with a lot of family mantras, but among the most sacred was my father’s doctrine about handwritten thank you notes.

Birthday gift? Handwritten note.

Job interview? Handwritten note.

Exceptional customer service? You know how this ends.

I actually remember one Hanukkah when I had scribbled out some quick and dirty thank you notes (I mean admittedly they were pretty crappy-looking), and received what can only be described as a ‘father knows best’ glare that sent me on my way to rewrite the whole lot of them.

Anyway. I love technology as much as the next person, but I’m a slow adapter. One area I’ve hesitated to really dig into is electronic cards and invitations. To date, I’ve clung forcefully to my paper and pen. I like the idea of electronic versions, but have worried something would be lost without the sound of an envelope ripping.

I love finding the perfect card. I love carefully placing stamps on envelopes. And getting to put up the little flag on my own mailbox for pick up? Glee!

But you know what? Life is kind of overwhelming lately. I just told a friend that week nights sometimes feel like a hamster wheel of dishes and diapers and school bags and work and laundry. I have about 16 minutes of downtime and I can’t say I’m dying to spend them on things like handwritten correspondence.

Enter Paperless Post.

Holy Disneyland of stationary goodness. I was recently invited to check out the site, and am really impressed with how it works. I was able to experiment sending a few cards, and loved the selection of designs and ease of use. It was simple to choose and customize a design, and there were cards for literally every occasion I could imagine.

Some other features I really liked are that you can see when a card is viewed, and you can easily duplicate a past card to send to a new recipient. There are options to create individual cards, group invitations, fliers and more.

I’m not actually planning a bachelorette party right now, but if I was…

And seriously who wouldn’t want to come to a baked goods and board game party? How is this a thing and I’ve never heard of it.

So while I can’t say I’m a full e-card convert, I’m a big fan of this site and will definitely be using it in the future. The convenience factor is huge, the prices are reasonable and the designs are lovely. You can modify every aspect of each card (even the inside of the envelope!), or upload your own logos/designs. I’m hosting a baby sprinkle in a few weeks and have already planned out what Paperless Post format I’m going to use for invitations.

Handwritten cards and thank you notes will always be one of my love languages, but sometimes change is ok. Or even good.

 

Lila is 4!

Dear Lila,

It’s hard to believe you’re four. Or maybe, it’s hard to believe that your dad and I are adult-enough to have a four year old?

On a daily basis you astound us with your ability to make us laugh and be present. You are full of energy, big ideas, love and mischief.

You love: dinosaurs, obstacle courses, swimming, drawing, playing/digging outside and reading stories.

Your favorite foods: pizza, avocado, grapes, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, popsicles and mac n cheese.

What people tend to comment on when they meet you: your articulation and vocabulary.

What surprises me about you: you have zero fear when it comes to bugs/dirt. You insist on sleeping in long pants and long sleeves, even in the summer. How much responsibility you take for caring for your sister. The fact that you could stay in the bath for hours. That you are as extroverted as I am introverted.

My fears for you: that as the youngest student in your class, older friends will infringe upon your innocence. That you could lose your passionate love of nature. That you’ll experience unkindness, and the veil of ignorant bliss bestowed upon children will be lifted.

You love to laugh. You are always moving. You can play by yourself for hours, but prefer to have Mom or Dad involved. You are incredibly tolerant of your sister, despite her inability to follow the rules you’ve learned yourself.

You are so fun. And funny. And endlessly amazing. You are brave and kind. You are thoughtful and have big emotions.

I sometimes have to pause just to remind myself that this is real life – that you are, blessedly, ours. Because truthfully – you seem far, far too magical.

great moments in family vacationing

We took our first real family trip in July, and spent a week in Maui.

It was beautiful. It was enchanting.

It was relaxing…with a heavy dose of kiddo juggling, misaligned nap schedules and being those people with small children on a six-hour flight.

I could tell you about all the beautiful places we visited, or amazing meals we ate.

I could go on and on about the gorgeous beaches and wildlife surrounding us at every turn.

Or, I could share a few absolutely ridiculous moments that really added some flair to our adventure.

  1. When our flight was descending into Maui, there was a fair amount of bouncing just before we landed. It wasn’t exactly turbulence, but more of a roller coaster feel, where you can feel your stomach rising and falling. Most of us have experienced this; my three-year-old, however, was baffled by this funny new sensation, and had a hard time describing it. So, at the top of her lungs to an entirely silent flight, she proclaimed, “WHEN WE GO FORWARD LIKE THIS IT TICKLES MY VAGINA!” And my husband partially died inside. I mean, you are supposed to teach children the proper names of their body parts.
  2. On the same flight, we let Lila play with slime, which effectively occupied her for quite some time. Until she rolled it on her pant legs and we learned that slime does not come off of clothes and sometimes you just have to rock the hot-pink-slime-on-your-jeans look because mom didn’t pack extra clothes in the carry on.
  3. Lesson learned: when you rent a car online and it says “Suburban-like vehicle” that does not mean you have reserved a Suburban or anything like it. It just means that Avis heard your request and may or may not give you the size and type of car you need and will act really superficially sad about it but not actually resolve the situation.
  4. One day we spent a lovely morning at a local aquarium, but by the time a few hours had passed we were hot and sticky and very ready to go. As I got Maya out of her stroller I noticed that she had shoplifted a large container of body butter off the gift shop shelves, and contentedly gnawed through its wrapping.
  5. The house we rented was extremely accommodating, and shared that they had a Pack N Play, high chair and stroller available for us to use. Shame on us for not asking for details, because when we put Maya to bed the first night, we realized it was a travel size Pack N Play, for infants. About the size of our microwave. She somehow made it work, but it was a little cozier than expected.
  6. And along the same lines, there was indeed a stroller, but it was a cheap piece of crap umbrella stroller that handled about as well as a wheel barrow. On our last night we happened to notice the other, BRAND NEW designer stroller sitting right upstairs, that we could have been using all week.
  7. We made the magical drive up to Haleakala National Park to visit the dormant volcano crater. Drive up = beautiful trek through the clouds. Drive down = so that’s what it feels like to be carsick. So. Many. Switchbacks. Side note to all my Moana fans, legend has it that Haleakala is where demigod Maui lassoed the sun. He’s real.
  8. On the Road to Hana, we stopped for a short hike, after which we rewarded ourselves with fresh pineapple popsicles. We thought giving one to the teething one-year-old was a good idea. And it was, until we realized the sticks were pieces of sugar cane and a total choking hazard. So I then climbed into the backseat of a moving car on a winding road to extricate said choking hazard.
  9. While on the aforementioned hike, Lila had to go potty and the only option was porto-potties. This did not go over well. “THESE POTTIES ARE DISGUSTING. WHY IS THERE POOP IN THERE? WHY DID NO ONE FLUSH THEIR POOP AWAY?” So, we held it until we reached a more hygienic alternative.
  10. Take the redeye home, they said. Your children will sleep, they said. Well, ours didn’t. Lila managed to stay awake the entire time except for about a half hour. Maya was up every 10 minutes when a noise or bright light interfered with her slumber. We had our first family all-nighter!

Awkward moments aside, this was an incredible trip. Once I never would’ve taken without my husband and brother encouraging me forcing me out of my comfort zone. And I’ll treasure ALL the memories – good, bad and somewhat silly.

There is No such thing as other people’s children.

Originally posted by Glennon Doyle / Momastery

“you have to understand
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land”
HOME by Warsan Shire 

“I do not understand how people refuse to understand.
Why do we feel more worthy of safety because we were born on the right side of an imaginary line?

We are people born on third base convinced we hit a triple –while folks outside the ball park starve. We ask them to stop trying to get their children inside for food and shelter. We tell them — we tell parents — to let their children die and stop bothering us about It. When they refuse: We take their children.

America is an experiment and we are failing.

We are repeating our history – we took babies from African mamas and we took them from Native American mamas and we took them from Japanese mamas. This is who we have been. And it’s going to take those of us who believe in Making America Great For Once to keep showing up, to refuse to go numb — to refuse to look away until those babies are out of those cages and back in their parents’ arms. Love will win but only if we refuse to give up.

There is No such thing as other people’s children. Together Rising is still collecting for lawyers and social workers for detained children. Go to Momastery to see our detailed transparent work. Every penny we receive goes toward advocacy for and reunification of these families. Give your tax-deductible gift here https://app.mobilecause.com/f/tyb/n

A super-long post about exercise and eating

In January I started a 13-week fitness and nutrition program called 80 Day Obsession. I’m a huge fan of the trainer who created it and loved her prior programs, so I was pretty jazzed about this one. Especially because its unique design was not for weight loss, but for muscle gain and definition.

I’m one of those people who genuinely enjoys working out and eating a fairly clean diet, but this program was pretty different for me, for two reasons.

  • First, most of the six weekly workouts I’d be doing were an hour long, whereas I usually stick to 30-minute workouts.
  • And second, the nutrition component involved timed nutrition (basically, eating certain amounts of specific types of foods together, at set intervals. That second part definitely took some getting used to, because it required a lot more planning and thinking ahead for each meal.
  • And did I mention there are 80 unique workouts in this program? Yeah. You never do the exact same one twice. Chew on that.

To quickly summarize, weeks one and two were difficult for me. I felt moody, hungry and tired pretty much all the time. I also wasn’t sleeping much because #motherhood. In week three I switched from evening to morning workouts and started feeling incredibly good.! I was seeing physical changes and felt focused and energized. I bumped up brackets in my eating plan (read: more food) and was no longer very hungry in between meals. Things were looking up.

Weeks four through six were good, and I stayed super consistent with the timed eating, although I felt bored with most of my meals (disclaimer: there are TONS of things you can eat and recipes to enjoy while sticking to this program, but I work fulltime and have two young kiddos and the energy for that just wasn’t there). I was getting sort of grossed out by eating so many eggs and so much more meat than I typically do (disclaimer #2: there is a vegan option for this program, I just didn’t feel it was for me).

Starting in week seven I still followed the timed nutrition, but found myself cheating a bit between meals and reaching for sweets. Doing this during Girl Scout cookie season was not wise.

In week eight I found myself really disliking the timed nutrition. I was just over it. Not that it was that difficult or restrictive, I just started to recognize that it wasn’t a good fit for me and my relationship with food. I was bored and sick of having to plan so much. Basically, the more I had to focus on what I needed to eat, the more I wanted to shove candy bars and marshmallows in my face. This is exactly why I’ve always preached about balanced eating…because the all-or-nothing approaches make me resent something (healthy eating) that I typically love and embrace.

As the program concluded, I did see impressive physical changes, with lots of lost inches and a huge increase in my strength and endurance. I hadn’t pushed myself this hard physically in years.

I also did a lot of thinking and came to these conclusions:

  1. Three months of timed nutrition and 100 percent clean eating firmly solidified my deep love for wine, baked goods and chocolate. These things make me happy. They are not bad or forbidden. And they cannot be ignored. I love these things and don’t care if they contain grains and sugar and didn’t exist in the paleolithic era. Sucks for dinosaurs.
  2. I don’t feel as well on a diet high in animal protein. I don’t really like meat and I never crave it. Eggs are ok, but in moderation. I mean, when you think about where they come from…it’s sort of filthy. I’ve read a lot about eating for your blood type, and know that I’m predisposed to not respond well to animal proteins, so this isn’t shocking.
  3. Before this program, my portions had gotten a bit out of whack. This program taught me how much I needed to eat to actually feel full, and how much better I felt when I spaced my protein and carbs out more throughout the day.
  4. I WANT something sweet after every.single.meal. I don’t NEED something sweet after every.single.meal.
  5. I love vegetables and they can be a great main course, not just a side or a snack.
  6. I don’t like regimented approaches to eating, no matter how long they last or what they’re designed to do. I get that for a lot of people these plans work as a reset or pseudo detox but I definitely do better when I stick to smart choices and portion sizes but don’t have to overthink it. LITERALLY every female I know struggles with some sort of food or eating issue, and we can blame society or fashion magazines but the fact is, this really sucks, and if there’s something you’re doing that triggers bad feelings or behaviors, stop. Don’t do it. Accept that it’s not a failure but a sign to do things differently.
  7. I was not pushing myself nearly hard enough in my workouts leading up to this. I was seven months post-partum and was using that as an excuse to just coast and fit in exercise in when I had time. This program challenged the hell out of me physically. Never before had I felt such muscle fatigue or had to push myself mentally this way during workouts. I feel awesome and stronger than I have in years.
  8. I can do hard things. Like get 4 hours of sleep with a sick baby, and still wake up at 5, work out, stick to timed nutrition and work all day. I can do it because I made a choice to do it, and I had a ton of support (Jim, my friends, my accountability group, and daily interactions with an online group of other health coaches and the program creator).
  9. I like when my daughters see me working out and eating healthy foods. It gives me an opportunity to talk about being strong and healthy. Not only does it show them that I value taking care of myself, and that some small chunks of time are for me to fill my own cup.
  10. Weight looks different on everyone, and the same person can look very different at the same weight, depending on their amount of muscle. I’ve seen people complete this program who look NIGHT AND DAY different, and lost tons of inches, but not ONE POUND. My weight went up and down throughout the program, ending just about exactly where I started, but I did see a big difference in how my body composition changed, and dropped into smaller clothing sizes by the mid-way point. Moral of the story? Sometimes that mythical “goal weight” isn’t where you’ll look or feel the best.

Would I do this again?

Probably not. It was a good experience and I learned a lot and gained so much strength, but the strict eating structure isn’t for me. And that’s totally ok. I mean, the name of the program is 80 Day Obsession – the entire goal is to become obsessed with your fitness and nutrition, so I get that I signed up for that. But I think that looking ahead I’ll still use a lot of the workouts but follow my gut (no pun intended) when it comes to eating.

Do I recommend trying 80 Day Obsession?

Yes. I’m all for new experiences, especially ones that teach you about how to be healthier. That being said, if you tend to struggle with food issues, or are unaccustomed to intense workouts, then maybe not.

Any secrets to making the program work?

Shakeology is a freaking miracle product. I’ve had one of these superfood shakes almost daily for more than three years, and they’re an essential part of my health. I also used two products from the Beachbody Performance Line throughout the program: Energize and Recover – and holy moly these made a WORLD of difference. I will continue to use both. Plus, this program incorporates a weekly self care day, to stretch, foam roll, take an Epsom salt bath, get a massage, etc. I love that.

What’s next?

This month I started an entirely different type of program, called 2B Mindset. This is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m learning a lot. Naturally, some of that learning is pretty uncomfortable, but it’s challenging  in good ways.

This program is solely focused on healthy ways to eat, without counting calories, or containers or making any food off limits. It’s keyed into helping you address emotional eating and lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight) without feeling deprived.

Here’s the craziest part: there’s no exercise. None. If you do want to exercise you can, but this is a fully immersive focus on how to gain control of how you view food, plan meals, and eat to feel full without going off track.

I am LOVING it. It’s a complete 180 from 80 Day Obsession, and that’s ok. It’s been amazing to explore a new approach and very freeing to start shedding some of the negative thought processes I have surrounding food and exercise. I strongly recommend this program, which is all available online (the content is all in short videos).

Happy to answer any questions, and hope that in sharing this you might find some amusement or helpful information.

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Maya is ONE!

Dear Maya, you are ONE!

It’s so hard to believe we met you a full year ago. You’ve brought indescribable joy to our lives and added a new dimension of love to our hearts.

Everywhere you go, people remark on how calm and happy you are. Even when you’ve been sick or tired or schlepped all over the place, you are almost always quite content and rarely stop smiling.

You delight in simply being held (by anyone), observing the world around you, and absolutely love to snuggle. You weigh 22.3 lbs, are 30 inches long (both about the 80th percentile) and your head is in the 94th percentile #bigbrain. A month ago you had two teeth, but now seven have broken through. You have amazing baby curls that I hope never go away.

You are fascinated by: my electric toothbrush, climbing into Lila’s bed, and drinking out of water bottles

You are mischievous when you: pull all the toilet paper off the roll, try to eat dog food, and pull your sister’s hair

You like to eat: pretty much everything, but especially green peas, veggie straws, strawberries and cheese

You can say: hi, yay, uh oh, more, mama and dada, and love to wave and clap and sign ‘more’ or ‘all done’

You love to: walk with your push-and-go or holding dad’s fingers, splash in the bathtub, and play in mom and dad’s bed

Parenting two marvelous humans has been a harder transition than I anticipated, but in unexpected ways. There are the simple logistical challenges, like managing two nightly baths and story routines, but also the less visible ones, like the guilt of having to put you down to tend to your sister, and spending far less quality one-on-one time with Lila.

There’s also the exhaustion. You finally got tubes about a month ago, but for the six months preceding that miracle, you were sick pretty much constantly. You were a trooper, but…no one slept particularly well as a result of chronic ear infections. We had a lot of unplanned sleepovers in your room.

We’ve found a balance though, and watching your evolving relationship with your sister is all the reinforcement we need that things are going in the right direction.

We love you and your magical spirit and are thankful every day for the privilege of being your parents.