This mom life.

When I was pregnant with Maya, a lot of friends gave me startlingly similar advice – or maybe it was more of a warning? 

They gently cautioned that at some point, perhaps during the pregnancy or soon after baby arrived, I’d panic that I wouldn’t be able to love another little one as much as I loved Lila. As I heard this repeated from so many people, I started to wonder what it really meant. It sounded dreadful but also made sense.

Oddly enough, I never seemed to have this feeling set in – at least not in a way that was palpable. 

I haven’t felt concern that I can’t love these two magical humans enough – heck, it feels amazing to have any one or thing to love this way – but I do have an awareness that I’m able to love them very differently right now. 

A newborn relies on you for everything. Everything. You monitor every sneeze, poop color and potential rash. You google all the things because you have this overflowing desire to protect and nurture her. You’re needed all the time by someone who doesn’t yet know she needs you. 

Love for your older child is different, but just as strong and deep-rooted, because you know her so completely. And she knows you. And shows her love right back to you. 

So, I don’t worry about not having enough love, but I do worry about time. About the logistics of life with two kids, and what that means for all of us. It already feels like there’s no time and endless to-do lists, and I’m not even back to work right now.

If you’ve lived it, you know the newborn stage is sort of all hands on deck. Schedules may or may not happen. Meals are eaten cold and while standing. And days and nights are a continuous blend of fatigue. 

All the while, the days drag on but also pass alarmingly quickly. You spend your days alone with your baby, watching a miraculous little human grow and change. Long hours of rocking and bouncing that prompt you to question your own existence. 

So yeah, time. The simple things are what I miss the most right now. Being able to do bedtime with Lila every night. Having time (and energy?) for actual conversations with Jim (that don’t have to do with burping or bills). I miss having time for spontaneous outings with the family. 

Yet I feel guilty for wanting anything other than the exact moments I’m living, because I know how fleeting this stage is. I know one day I’ll want to be needed this way by two girls who are far too independent.

And as the countdown to returning to work starts, I feel a deep sadness. Not that I won’t be home full time – I don’t believe that’s the best fit for me – but because this time is too short. We won’t be ready to have a 180 transition out of our calm cocoon into fulltime hustle and bustle. 

Soon, days and weeks and months are going to pass by in a stressful frenzy. There will be not be a balance, and there will be more asked of me in different roles than I am confident I can (or want to) handle.

I worry that I’ll miss too much with my kiddos while working, while recognizing that I’ll miss too much of myself if I don’t. 

When I think about life right now, I’m happy I don’t worry about a lack of love, but wish I had a magic button to just have more time.


Week one, with two 

“Oh! My baby is here! She’s so tiny!”

Lila’s been fascinated with Maya’s tiny ears and lack of eyebrows, and is completely calm and sweet around her, even when the baby cries or takes our attention away. She brings a stool to wherever the baby is and stands on it to get a better view of her. She loves to pet and kiss her little sister and tell people that she’s a big sister now. She brings the baby toys and pacis and has been a great helper. 

When we got home from the hospital one of Lila’s first concerns was whether my belly button was back or not. TBD, little one.

“Babies don’t eat food. They only have milk a-cuz they don’t have teef.”

“Baby’s crying, she getting a little bit angry. Maybe she needs a burp? Maybe she wanna eat from my chest?”

Several times each day she’s started dictating some version of, “You’re the mommy, and daddy’s the daddy, and I’m the big sister and that’s my baby sister.”

We’ve had some tantrums of late, but they feel more connected to being almost three and cooped up due to the heat than they do to the new baby. 

Overall the transition has been easier than I anticipated and far sweeter. But the witching hour with two kids is no joke. And that’s why there is wine. 

Eating organic on a budget (aka it doesn’t involve Whole Foods)

Sometimes people act like I’m a lunatic (or a millionaire) when I tell them I buy almost all organic food. Note: I don’t believe I’m either, but am open to feedback 😂. 

I get a lot of blank stares and “it’s too expensive.” But my friends, let me tell you something about myself: I am one cheap mofo đŸ™‹đŸ». Like, I reuse ziplock bags (yep, I’m that girl) and clip coupons like a boss. So if I’m making this work, you can too. 

It’s gotten so much easier and more affordable in recent years that when I do the math, buying organic only adds about $20 a month to our grocery bill, if that. 

I’m sharing some of this info with my challenge group this week, and figured I’d post it here too. I’m not anything close to an expert, but the more I learn about our food system, the scarier it is that we’re even allowed to buy some of the things we see on grocery shelves. 

I’m also not perfect all the time by ANY means – right now there are Girl Scout cookies and a plethora of Easter candy in our house – but here are some of the ways we make sure most of what we eat is higher quality:

1. Shopping at Fry’s. Oh, for the love of everything holy, please shop at Fry’s. They carry their own line of Simple Truth organic products that is cheaper than what regular stuff costs at competitor grocery stores. No joke – at least 50 percent of the food in my house is this brand, from peanut butter to spinach to ketchup and hummus. Plus, Fry’s has the most brilliant CRM program of any retailer, and sends you coupons for exactly what you buy. Download the Fry’s app, and you can pre-load coupons to be added to your account. Just search “Simple Truth” or “organic” and it takes 30 seconds to have these savings applied. And in case I haven’t sold you yet, please remember the Click List…where you shop online, then swing by and pick up your pre-bagged groceries without leaving your car? #solidgold

2. Shop at Costco. First – who doesn’t love Costco? And second, buying in bulk can make sense even for smaller families, because you can’t beat the prices on non-perishable organic stuff here like honey, apple cider vinegar, peanut butter and more. Their organic meat is also the most affordable I’ve found, and you can buy the big packages and freeze it to store it. Also, you get to eat samples while you shop. I like this very much. 

3. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to replace your entire pantry overnight, or feel that this has to be an all-or-nothing type of lifestyle. If you’re interested in shifting to eat more organic, make gradual changes. Start with meat or dairy, then start adding in fruits and veggies, then try incorporating some other staples and condiments. Let it be fun and educational, not stressful.

Eating organic food may not make you feel different in a day or even a year, but if anything is worth the investment, my vote is that it’s your health. 

Fleeting moments to remember 

1. “I threw my popsicle yesterday. That was vewwy unkind. That make you vewwy sad.”

2. “Mommy’s taking me to school? And Daddy’s picking me up? That’s a GWATE idea!”

3. “I dream about piggies and snakes. They sing to me.”

4. “Daddy, you forget my water bottle. That’s your fault.”

5. “We should send this painting to Gtandma because it’s so bootiful.”

6. “Maybe I can help you find Monkey George. Maybe he’s under my bed. Oh, you found him? You were just kidding!”

7. I was so bwave at swimming. I get a donut?”

8. “I give Bruno one kiss. The dogs is our fam-a-wee.”

9. “Mommy, you don’t eat too much food, okayyy? Cause then your baby come out and you have a stomach ache.”

10. Oh! The caterpillar go away! He popped outta his cocoon and is a bootiful butterfly!

A Long Story about a Toilet Paper Rose

I’ve gotten a lot of financial advice in my life, and most of it’s been pretty good. There’s one lesson I didn’t fully learn until recently though, which is there has to be balance. Meaning, pay off debt and save enough to plan for the future, but also, go ahead and use some of  your hard-earned money. Find the balance that positions you securely but supports your sanity.

We save for retirement. We save for emergencies. We save enough to give to charities we believe in. Who’s been a saver her entire life? This girl. 

But today I did something I’ve never done in my whole life and paid to have our house professionally cleaned. Because we have two dogs. And two jobs. And a toddler. 
Because I could not physically bring myself to clean the bathroom with a butternut squash-sized human in my belly. 

Because we don’t have cable and I rock coupons at the grocery store and literally don’t know the last time I got my nails done. 

But I needed this. 

I’ve often thought critically about people who hire house cleaners. I saw it as a frivolous expense and something we could manage ourselves (and I guess it’s easy for me to say because my husband is the one that mops the floors and cleans the kitchen). I just always tend to think about what else I could do with the money I saved…but then I would just continue to save…and never do anything with it. 

Here’s what finally swayed me. I know damn well that when I stop one day to look back on my life, I’ll have far more regrets about missing out on family time because I was vacuuming than I would about spending a bit more this month to make our lives a lot easier. I’ll regret not treating myself once in a while in order to be a better wife and mom. 

This isn’t something we’ll do all the time, but when I got home today, the house looked, smelled and felt fabulous. So I therefore felt fabulous. And please, please just look at this magnificent toilet paper rose I walked in to see in the bathroom. If this isn’t worth a little splurge I do not know what is. 

Everyone has their own approach to finances and I know it’s not a simple one size fits all. But I also know I feel really good about this decision. And that toilet paper rose is a thing of beauty. 

Two and a half 

I sometimes wonder what I was like on a daily basis as a two and a half year old, now that I’m living with one. I’ve probably said this every time I pause to consider a milestone or transition as a parent, but I really think this is my favorite stage so far. 

To be able to sit and have a dinner conversation with your child is just so entertaining. And as I watch the daily evolution of language, independence and personality, I revel in your growth; so much so that I sometimes overlook the fact that you’re still so little. You’re no longer reliant on us for all the things you used to be (you can get your own snacks, brush your own teeth and clear your dishes), but I crave the sweet, fleeting moments each day where you still need mommy and daddy. 

The funniest part of parenting you right now is the spontaneous generation of your thoughts and speech. It’s like a never-ending, in-person sitcom where you’re the writer, director and producer. You wake up singing every single day, like clockwork, and from that moment forward it’s non-stop chatter and observations on the world around you. 

I could never anticipate the hilarious things that come out of your mouth, but man I love observing it all. I never knew kids your age had a sense of humor, but you love hiding from us, shouting, “I’m just kidding,” and saying things that you know are “just being funny.” Like yesterday when you told us rock- flavored ice cream would “siwwy.” You also offered me an espresso when I picked you up from school today, so there’s that. 

Parenting is very different right now than ever before. It feels like there are endless combinations of what can be considered right and wrong, and being a good parent is far more subjective today than a year ago. I’m very focused on teaching you to be kind and to be brave. We talk about what this means every day. Both your dad and I encourage your independence and to keep trying when things are hard (like climbing into the car by yourself or working on a tough puzzle). But we also prioritize letting you evolve as your own individual self (you can choose your own clothes and the books we read each night).

We work to maintain a sense of order and set clear expectations and routines for you, but we also try to avoid creating rules and structure just for the sake of it. We want you to fully and freely enjoy being you before the world starts becoming far more demanding. 

You know you’re going to be a big sister, and you love offering the baby in my tummy food, kisses and a paci. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified for how the change will impact you, but I know you’ll take it all in stride. 

Cool things: you can identify all of your letters and numbers by sight and have about 25 songs memorized. You also make up your own words to songs now. You eat absolutely everything we offer you. You are starting to let me brush and style your hair instead of flipping out when I try. You have an incredible (and somewhat unnerving) memory. 

Favorite activities: painting, using a rolling pin and cookie cutters to cut out play-doh shapes, going to the park, giving all your plastic animals a bath in the tub, jumping on your “trampayeen.”

Dislikes: being woken up before you’re ready, when anything is out of place in your room before bed, having to come inside when you’re playing outside, when someone takes your food without asking. 

Cute recent phrases: “Guess what? I wuv you.” “You put a lotta pepper on your food? You like it spicy?” “I wanna go to the farm, I like pig-wits.” “This our fam-a-wee car. No one else. Just our fam-a-wee.” “You feel a wittle sick mommy? You feeling better?”

Through it all, you’re my favorite human, without a doubt. 

The past few months

The past few months have been
a lot. A lot of good and a lot of changes.

In June I started a big new job. In July, I travelled to Nashville for a conference and a bachelorette party during the same weekend. In August, Lila changed rooms at school, Jim went out of town and I started a year-long leadership academy.

In September, we moved into a new house, and found out we were expecting baby # 2 the same weekend. Then two weeks later, we travelled out of town to be in our dear friends’ wedding. At the end of the month, I had my Valley Leadership retreat out of town – the same weekend I was set to attend a coaching retreat in Phoenix. Naturally I got strep throat that weekend, too, but made it to both retreats.

In October, our old house went under contract. Then my car died – like, needs-to-be-replaced died, so we sold it and started sharing a car for the most part (fortunately Jim has a company car during the week). Then my doctor saw something troubling on my ultrasounds so I started having scans every two weeks that insurance didn’t feel like covering (these were deemed labs, not prenatal care) and I was put on restricted activity (no workouts, waaa). My brother visited from Australia at the end of the month and we had a whirlwind few days with him.

In November, the old house fell out of contract, throwing us for a loop. Lila somehow managed to get two UTIs in the midst of this, which meant some unpleasant visits to urgent care and then a renal ultrasound, which was completely clear, thank G-d. Then it was the election, and the holidays, holidays, holidays — all of which made me question humanity. In December, my ultrasounds thankfully cleared up and the house went back under contract.

In January, we got a letter from the IRS telling us we owed them a lot of money (rude), but some investigating revealed it was an error on the part of a past employer, so that was resolved. Through all of it, I was learning my new job, running my coaching business, serving as a school board member and participating on a couple of non-profit committees. I was trying to be a good wife and mom and friend and human (results: debatable). Oh and today, we finally closed on our old house.

So it’s been a lot when I stop and list it all like that, but not all bad – not at all. So much good mixed in with the chaos.

Throughout all of it, the desire to sell our old house weighed heavily on me. It was a lingering stressor I just wanted to wipe away. So inevitably, the closing today was a long awaited moment to exhale, something I’d been counting down to for weeks. But as I just said to Jim tonight, I think I expected to feel this huge change and sense of relief today…and I don’t. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a good thing. I think it means I finally learned the lesson that I had no control all along, and just had to trust the process. The more I tried to “manage” everything we were experiencing, the less I realized I could actually influence any of it. It took a long time to recognize that and relinquish the white-knuckle grip I’d been trying to maintain on my life.

*10 points to Jim for refraining from shouting, “I TOLD YOU SO, YOU NUTJOB.”

I am an anxious person. I am especially sensitive sometimes. So this season often felt like one ginormous stretch goal in terms of personal development. Some moments I struggled just to exist without knowing exactly how things would work out.

Part of me would like to sound the gavel and declare this chapter in life officially closed, but I know very well that another challenge is waiting just around the corner. One that likely will cause me to chastise myself for ever thinking these circumstances were anything but a walk in the park. That’s life. It’s not necessarily meant to be easy and uncomplicated, but every situation can somehow provide an opportunity to learn or grow. Don’t take that to mean I’ve handled all of this gracefully, because I haven’t. But I can recognize that if things were always peachy, I’d be a pretty crappy mom and wife. I’d be out of touch with my friends, with a narrow perspective and less of an ability to empathize.

One of the lessons I learned through all of this was that despite all the practical things you can do, and no matter how carefully you play by the rules, troubling shit can still happen. It’s not punishment: it’s life. I gained a new (and perhaps more adultish) appreciation for how critical good friends are (those of you who bore the brunt of my angst via text, and checked in on me, thank you – you know who you are). And thank you to my husband who has weathered far more stressed-out-preggo wife moments than any man should have to bear, and yet still rubs my feet and cooks me dinner.

I’ve also gained a new awareness that while sometimes things feel colossally hard, at the end of the day, nothing matters except the health and well-being of your loved ones. Nothing. Not the balance in your checking account, the title on your office door or the number of stamps in your passport. It’s something you hear all the time, but it’s hard to remember some days. I need to make sure it’s on my radar way more often.

The introvert in me is hoping things quiet down a bit for a while. If we’re being totally honest, I’d be on board with sitting alone in a dark room for several weeks, watching reruns of Parks and Recreation under a blanket with a bag of Donettes. We all know that’s not going to happen, but no matter what comes along, it will somehow work out as it should.