On love and motherhood.

The depths of your love. 

…For your child. When she runs to you at toddler warp speed, arms waving and feet thumping noisily against the ground, squealing and panting in pure joy at the sight of you, to throw her arms around you in triumph. 

When she sleeps so peacefully you just stand and stare in silence. She’s finally still after days of non-stop energy. Her even rhythmic breaths, tiny hand twitches and perfect profile illuminated by the nightlight. You tear up, every time, because you cannot fathom that this was created within you. 

When she melts down, has loud tantrums, pulls your hair and kicks her shoes off, and you love her even harder because you hate her unhappiness in those moments, as trying as they are.

…For your husband. Who stood steadily by your side as you endured the physical and emotional pain of labor. Just as clueless and terrified as you, but forced to be the rock as you both waited for your world to change. 

Who was just as tired as you were, and just as in love with your wee one, but who had to go back to work two weeks later while you had months to bond and learn each other. Who took care of your dogs and your meals and frankly your sanity while you figured out nursing and bottles and went weeks without normal conversation.

Who you form an breakable bond with over the love only you two can know for your child. What an amazing notion that this thing – this love without bounds that takes your breath away – can be known by another?

…For your own parents. Who did this all for you. Who knowingly watch you make the same mistakes and all-knowing proclamations that all new parents do, without ever questioning or judging.

Who stressed over what brand of car seat and high chair to buy you before there was an Internet to use for research. Yeah, chew on that. 

And who feared for the world their children would grow up in, just like you do. 

You hear all the time that having a child breaks open your heart and ignites your  ability to love. I’ve previously compared it to seeing the world in color versus black and white. The way you perceive every aspect of life is forever enhanced and made brighter.

Mother’s Day is not always an easy day. For many it brings joy, but for others it’s the cause of hard feelings and emotions. Regardless of where the day finds you, know that you are loved, and that it’s ok to feel whatever you need to feel today. 

3 Things that Motivate Millennials (Hint: none of them is more money)

millennialsAnywhere you look, there are articles, studies and surveys interpreting the behaviors and motivations of millennials. All this talk is pretty strange to hear if, like me, you make up part of this population. From what I’ve read, we’re a unique blend of entitled, values-driven and mindful young adults. Apparently it was a really big deal that we got honorable mention ribbons at field day in kindergarten, because now we can’t take criticism.

When it comes to our careers, we don’t stay at companies for the 7-10 years our older colleagues did; not because we’re disloyal, but because we become stir crazy if we’re bored. Go ahead and  #blametheinterwebz.We want to be responsible and plan for the future, but we saw the recession destroy the nation’s economy, so we’re less inclined to trust ambiguous long-term ideals. We fear terrorism and war. We are passionate about making positive changes in our world. We love selfies but are more selfless than you think, and we are nothing like the Kardashians.

If you’re ever bored on a Friday night, google “millennials in the workplace” and snuggle up for some really engaging reading. People are dedicating a crazy amount of time and resources to analyze this age group as we start to overtake the workforce, mostly to determine what motivates us. Well, spoiler alert…it’s not money. And think about it – if it was money – that would make things so easy.

If I had to sum up the driving factors for millennials at work, here’s how it breaks down:

  1. Flexibility: We will work long hours, we will get amazing results and we will be loyal and driven at all times. But we aren’t going to do it in a desk from 8 to 5. No. Freaking. Way. We’ve grown up in a world where technology has transformed the very nature of how we work, and being chained to a desk is deflating, to say the least. It confines our creativity, forces us to make unfair trade-offs with regard to other parts of our lives, and makes us feel untrusted to perform without being monitored.
  2. Inspiration: Working for and with people who inspire us is a non-negotiable. That notion that we’re entitled? Well, we are when it comes to who we need as role models. Millennials thrive and perform best when working with leaders who drive us to be better each day. We don’t care about your degrees or resume, we want to emulate what makes us feel good and energized, and that is found in inspiring leaders.
  3. Recognition. Recognition isn’t found in certificates, plaques or cash. Those things are nice – and I suppose they each have a place – but meaningful recognition, the kind that retains employees and sends them home fulfilled each day, is fostered through trust, mentoring and a supportive team. The best bosses I’ve had weren’t the ones who gave me framed certificates or fought to get me raises, but the ones who recognized my work by giving me new and amazing opportunities, and throwing me into projects way over my head so that I could be pushed to learn on the fly. Recognition needn’t be connected to a particular accomplishment, but should be an underlying part of the culture in any effective organization.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to see what the world perceives me to be, but it’s also frustrating. The very nature of millennials is that we are dynamic and evolving – a transitional generation amid others that are more clearly defined. As millennials continue to comprise a majority of the working world, I have no doubt that the organizations with a keen eye on what motivates and engages this demographic are the ones we will see succeed.


An update from Toddler Town.

Verbal explosions arrive just as friends warn they will, and just when you’re afraid they won’t. They are equal parts fascinating and alarming, and can be broken down into the following categories (think: Jeopardy): animals/animal sounds, exclamations/commands, names, random objects and body parts/clothing.

“I’ll take repeated monosyllabic screams for $500, Alex.”

Here’s a current break down:

Animals/Animal Sounds
Jaff (giraffe), dowg (dog), cah-cah (kitty cat), owl (pretty solid pronunciation here), buh (bird), duh (duck), cuh-cuh (chicken), moooooo (that’s a cow), hoooo-hoooo (synonym for owl – get your mind out of the gutter). She oinks like a pig and roars like a lion, and when she whinnies – I just die.

No. Ohh noo (each word two syllables). Uh oh. Whoa. Uppa, dow, ow (up, down, out). All duh (done), muh-muh (more), MY (mine, always shouted), herro, hiiiiii, buh-bye.

Mama. Dada. Buh-ba (baby). Liiilahhhh (any time she sees her reflection). Oh, and ELMO.

Random Objects
Cah (car, with a Boston accent). Vroommmm (applies to cars, trucks, buses, trains), ba-ba (ball), chay (chair), buh-bull (bubble), puh-pull, yerro, guh (purple, yellow, green), bhah (bath). Side, siii (slide, swing).

Body Parts/Clothing
Nose, elbow, tuh (toe), shoooz (shoes), sah (socks).

She also makes this really consistent yet indistinguishable sound for airplanes – no clue – sorry kiddo.

This is in no way a brag list. The deeper I get into motherhood, the more I face this subtle sense of competition some parents seem to generate around kiddos hitting milestones. #letthembelitte should be followed with #letusstayhumble. At any rate, I list these things in blog form because I want to remember them. (And let’s be honest, my pre-mom memory is on unpaid leave.)

I love this phase and the endless discoveries. I love watching her decisions and intentions come into play. Her physical strength and determination astound me along with her sheer understanding of just about everything. There are frustrating moments, and messy and loud moments but mostly purely magical moments.

Pardon the peanut butter on my pants 

As I wiped peanut butter off my slacks with a wet paper towel in the women’s restroom this morning, a younger female colleague walked in. Initially I was kind of embarrassed and tried to cover up what was happening from this innocent person still safely cocooned from the madness of parenthood. 

But, ever-phobic of awkward silences, I played it cool for about 1.5 seconds before blurting out an enthusiastic version of, “My daughter wiped her peanut-butter hands all over me while I was washing yogurt out of her hair, and I thought I got it all, but guess not!” 

And this gal 10 years my junior gave me a compliment more meaningful that she ever could have planned. 

“I can’t believe you’re a mom before you come in here, that’s just so impressive that you do all that. I can’t even imagine. You’re awesome.”

I’ve been given all kinds of advice as a woman in the corporate workplace, some spot-on, other pieces wildly offensive. The ones that really irk me though are the pieces that seem to detach motherhood from a woman’s career – rather than letting the two intermingle. 

“Don’t ever tell anyone when you’re thinking about getting pregnant, people will write you off.”

“When you come back from maternity leave, you can’t cry or show that you’re emotional, it sends the wrong signal.”

I understand this advice, I really do. And I recognize that it’s always been well intended, offered up from those who’ve traveled this road before me. But it supports the outdated idea that work-life balance is easy…”I shall work now without a thought of my family for nine hours, and completely transition to home life as the clock strives 5!” 

There’s no perfect balance in any one person’s situation, but I wish there was a greater focus on work-life integration – how to support employees at work so they also feel supported at home. It’s not realistic to compartmentalize our lives in ways that stifle important parts of it. 

If you’re showered and wearing matching shoes when you come back from maternity leave, you are a champion human being. And if you can balance your family commitments and still show up ready to kill it at work each day, you deserve every possible type of recognition. Not just kudos for wearing a lot of hats, but support and flexibility when you need it to keep all the planes in the air. 

That funny little interaction this morning was such a refreshing pat on the back that it’s ok for more traces of one side of life to bleed over onto the others, even if it ruins your outfit. 


Lila at 18 Months: Outside! No! More!

I posed the following question to Lila this weekend, “Sweetheart, do you feel like you live in a foreign country for giants?”

Because seriously.

This tiny human babbles to us in a language we’re just beginning to be able to comprehend, and navigates a world where she can’t reach, see or maneuver the things she wants on a daily basis.

This age is so fun and so hard. Fun because we are really starting to communicate. You answer no (and occasionally, yes) to questions and express consistent demands. “More!” “Outside!” You have so many more words than even a few weeks ago (outside, owl, sock, open, apple, elbow (or Elmo, hard to say) and so many awesome animal impersonations.

You are content to spend hours outside in the backyard and on walks, and love your slide and playhouse. You like to watch and mimic what mom and dad do, which is a great help in yard work. You do not like to go to bed.

We know when you are happy, angry, tired or scared (verses early infancy when there were fewer distinct emotions). When you hear loud trucks or motorcycles, which previously were ignored, you now start repeating, “No, no, no, no” and run to use to be held. Confession: I do not mind this one bit.

A new favorite pastime is climbing into your plastic laundry hamper so we can push you around the house in it like a racecar. You are also fascinated with buckles of any kind. You can buckle yourself into your highchair and swing and it is a painstakingly slow process that we DARE NOT interrupt. You wave at airplanes and tell strangers “hi” and “buh-bye” everywhere we go. You love to climb and are remarkably strong, I often can’t get things out of your grip without a proper distraction.

You went through a dramatic food throwing stage for a few weeks that seems to be passing, but you have definitely moved past the garbage disposal stage of eating. Now you are still into most foods, but too busy to sit and eat. You prefer to grab a bite, run around, come back for more and repeat.

You love school but drop off is still a dramatic event most days where I hear you screaming my entire walk out. I’m told it’s your age, and that it’s normal, and that it passes 30 seconds after I leave, but it’s the worst part of my day to leave you screaming. The best part of day, that has me speeding the whole drive home, is walking in to get you. As soon as you see me you shriek and smile and run over laughing. Best. Thing. Ever.

I feel like we are friends, you and me. That may be a silly thing to say about a toddler who can’t really verbalize much yet, but it seems completely fitting. I am in constant awe of you and of our connection in a pinch-myself-is-this-real kind of daze. I constantly ponder the miracle of your creation and how truly remarkable you are. How fully you embrace parts of your dad and me, but also how parts of you are innately unique.

It’s weird how fast and how slow time goes at different moments, but ever since you were born I’m so much more aware of time. Of days starting and ending, the culmination of a month, the significance of a year. I think that’s an entirely new perspective gained as a parent. No matter how fast or slow it goes, it’s amazing to spend it with you.


18 2

Current Faves

For snacks: These pre-sliced organic apples from Costco are everything. Like most things from Costco they come in a ridiculously large quantity for an obscenely low price, rendering you useless in the battle of “but will I eat them all?” But they’re good for you and individually packaged (sorry Mother Earth) and they complete me.


For #momlife: Oh Jessica Alba, as if we didn’t already love you enough, you’ve gone and made the most lovely toxin-free home and beauty products and this spray makes toddler bath time just a delight. Because Lila totally needs a haircut but I will slay you if you try to trim those sweet baby curls. Until then, this will get us by just fine.


For the fitness: Hammer & Chisel is the newest program from Beachbody, and while I was flat-out convinced I’d never like anything as much as the 21 Day Fix, I’m kind of obsessed with this one. I’m such a brat about giving new programs a chance when I have one I like, but this one’s been awesome. Very much my style of fast-paced lifting and strength training, with unique moves and tons of different approaches.


For spontaneous dance parties: I’m sorry, have you not heard this jammy? I dare you to listen to it and not get at least a little head bob going, but my money’s on you really getting into it. I am straight GANGSTER when this comes on, you know, in my 2007 Volvo sedan, driving to my corporate job.


For germ blasting: This is the oil that got me interested in oils in the first place, because it is the most amazing immune system booster ever. EVER. I diffuse it in the air, use it topically on me and Lila, and when I feel a cold coming on I drink a tea made with a drop of it. I cannot get through winter/cold season without it. My friend Jennelle is the oil guru who introduced me to this. If you want it, find her.


For drinking: I’ve developed a slight infatuation with chai lattes, for two reasons. One being that they are delicious, and I can make them in our Keurig, and two being that I finally have something to order at Starbucks which, for years, has been a cause of great angst. I don’t drink coffee, and I like tea but don’t, like, need it. So every time I go to coffee I have this paranoia of having to order something I can’t figure out in a foreign coffee-talk language. Thank you chai latte for sounding fancy and tasting wonderful. PS Dunkin Donuts (my special place) will make them with almond milk.


For the fact that it is awesome: We just got new carpet in our bedrooms, and the padding it made from recycled Nike shoes (it’s a material called Nike Grind). As you can imagine this is wonderful because it it super cushiony and good for the environment, but also, when I work out in my bedroom now it really ups the home-gym vibe. My floors are Nike, friends.



From baby to toddler

At 17 months I’m tempted to start saying, “she’s a year and a half,” verses “17 months.” I’m not quite ready to commit to years though — too soon.

Your vocabulary is growing and your emphasis on certain words is pure enthusiasm. 



You’ve certainly mastered shaking your head when something isn’t to your liking, and sitting or laying down and throwing a fit when we take away something you still wanted or attempt to corral you in a direction other than your desired one.

You are fascinated with the outdoors and love exploring in our backyard and walking around outside. Picking up rocks, putting them back. Pulling leaves off plants and handing them to us. Marching triumphantly to the mailbox.

You’re incredibly agile and strong, often catching yourself before you fall in precarious situations, and somehow landing on your feet at the bottom of the slide. You love to climb things and sit in chairs, and play in your kitchen.

You give hugs and kisses upon request and wave hi and bye. You are an excellent night sleeper but aren’t a big fan of long daytime naps. 

You are so genuinely happy and inquisitive. Animated and chatty. You are pure mischief at times and it’s hard to reprimand you without laughing, even when you pull my hair or throw carefully chopped organic food on the floor by the handful.

What a joy it is to parent you. There’s no other way to describe it. 

I feel guilty quite often that I’m not with you during the day while I’m at work, especially when you have a tough day or don’t feel well. I imagine no matter what a mother chooses, the guilt will always lurk like a quiet shadow. My hope is you will look back on these choices as us always doing our best for you. That we always tried to achieve the intangible balance parents seek. 
Lila we love you. We are so blessed by the way you’ve elevated life to new meaning.