Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Love: The Magic of Motherhood

It's no secret that this parenting gig isn't all sunshine and baby cuddles.  There are plenty of late nights, crying (from both sides), and frustrating moments along the way.  Kids make almost everything harder but more wonderful.  And while we say we were "ready" for kids, very ready, you can never really be prepared for all the emotions, fear, stress, and joy that adding a baby will bring.  Parenting is the hardest, best thing I've ever done.

I don't remember how I found out about this book, The Magic of Motherhood, but lucky for me, my library hold came in just time to read on Mother's Day, putting my other books aside for the day.  It's a collection of essays by many different mothers sharing hard stories, happy stories, and the ones in between.

There are stories about infertility, miscarriages, dealing with birth mothers, and medical diagnoses.  There are joyful stories of babies being born, families expanding, and that heart-wrenching love that a child brings.  There are stories of adjusting your marriage to kids and finding your way back to who you were pre-kids, both as an individual and a couple.

I cried.  More than once.  (Maybe I was also more prone to tears and emotions on Mother's Day.)  I smiled, I could relate to so many of the stories.

No two parenting journeys are the same and we all have our own trials and joys.  And this book celebrated many of those, shared in the hard stuff.  I've never witnessed a baby being born but I feel like I understand the emotions a little better.  Many of you may never experience infertility or dealing with birth mothers and maybe those stories would show you a different side.

One of my favorite essays was titled "It's Their Day Too" and was about how days can quickly go downhill, the to-do list doesn't get done, you get frustrated.  But then, remember, it's your kids day too.  And maybe ignoring the mess in the house to go supervise backyard pool time is the better choice.  It'll probably make your kids' day and all those to-dos will wait for tomorrow.  
If I measured each day by my list, the days are not always very good, but when I look at each day like it is their day too, because it is their day, well, then most days are better.  A lot better.
Definitely something I needed to read and really need to remember.  

I would recommend this books to all Moms, but especially those in the thick of the first decade of parenting, the infant/toddler/preschool/early school year Moms.  I've heard many times that these are the toughest years but also have heard that Moms of teenagers and beyond would love to go back to the struggles we face now (maybe they are forgetting about changing the sheets every day and waking up in the middle of the night to a screaming kid?  Although I remember myself as a teenager...I'm in no hurry to parent that!).

It made me (more) proud to be a Mom and feel good that there are plenty of other parents out there facing the same stuff, good and bad, on this crazy parenting ride.  It made me appreciate it all the more.  There definitely is some magic in motherhood.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Lessons in Adulting: Never Pass up the Opportunity to Pee

Sometimes the simplest lessons are the most obvious.  And sometimes the most obvious lessons take the longest to learn.  (Well, not the longest.  I'm sure I have plenty more lessons to learn in my life!)

Here's the thing.  You never hear anyone say "I wish I hadn't taken that opportunity to use the bathroom."  Nobody ever says that.  Ever.

Especially on long road trips or road trips of any real length or when traveling or even just sharing one bathroom with two other people.  You never regret that.  I mean, I might regret going into the bathroom at some point....mainly when a little boy misses the toilet (Is his aim that bad?  Eyesight?  Just likes to miss for fun?  I don't have any (non in-law) brothers!  I missed out on all this growing up!) but I never regret taking an opportunity to use the bathroom.  Or making a little boy use the bathroom. 

Every time we stop on a road trip.  Every time we are leaving the house.  Right before boarding flights. Especially because I've been trying to drink more water and seem to go often.

Also, just get up and go anytime you wake up in the middle of the night with the urge.  I've tried to fall back asleep and then just end up in restless sleep until I finally get up and go.  Just get up immediately, and then get back to the good sleep.  

Never pass up the opportunity.  Your future self will thank you.

Random little lessons in adulting.  And the little lessons might be some of the most important.

Friday, May 19, 2017

{5} Summer Things

It's almost summer!  Actually has really felt like summer the last few days (mid-80s!) even though it was about 44° just two weeks ago (#Indianaweather).  I hate small talk about the weather (hate small talk in general) but the wonderful feeling of not being constantly cold, having windows open, being outside...it's pretty hard to ignore.  I love summer.

A few little things that make me happy about summer, putting aside the big things like lake trips and vacations.  Mostly small things at home that made this season all that more enjoyable!

1) Fresh Produce (Berries)

Our fruit in the winter is mostly limited to oranges, bananas, and canned peaches and pears. I try to mostly buy what's in season (what's on sale) which means in the summer we get all kinds of fresh produce, namely berries, that is just so wonderful.  I could easily eat a container of blueberries in one sitting (and I'm pretty sure I have).  We eat pounds of strawberries in June and I buy raspberries and blackberries whenever they are on sale.  My backyard bushes don't produce enough for us (not by a long shot) but it's a start.  Summer is the best season for fruit.

2) Bike Rides
I have all my running to thank for that tan...

I've mentioned many times that we live easy bike ride distance from our downtown and we will ride down there about once a week in the summer.  We ride to baseball games, the main branch of our library, or just around the parks.  It's a wonderful way to get some family time and explore our city!  And save on parking.  Also very important. 

3) The Drive-In

Definitely very high on our list of favorite things about summer.  We don't go nearly as often as we used to (record: 10 times in one year, I have a spreadsheet to track, naturally.  Which is also how I can tell you this was our 46th drive-in trip in 11 years of marriage, excluding going a week before the wedding, of course).  There is just something so perfectly summery about going to the drive-in, wrapping up in blankets, and enjoying a movie, good or bad, under the stars.  I cannot recommend highly enough.

4) Sun Tea

I drink a lot of sun tea in the summer.  A lot a lot.  I don't ever make sweet tea besides in the summer, on my back steps (or sometimes at the lake).  It is the perfect summer drink.  Costs about 50 cents for a gallon, practically no time, and is delicious.  I enjoy it so much.

5) Backyard pool sitting

This is in my top 5 favorite SAHM activities ever.  Luke gets to play in the pool, I get to put my feet in the water and read.  We both get sun and fresh air.  It is the best way to spend a hot afternoon at home, even when Luke gets very splashy. 

What are some of your favorite little pleasures of summer?  There are almost too many.  Ahhhhh....

Thursday, May 18, 2017

{9} Books I'm Excited to Read Summer 2017

I'm always excited to read a good book but I think I may love summer reading most of all.  My reading tends to be a bit cyclical, reading more self-improvement books in the early months of the year, cozy books around Christmas, and a lot of chick-lit-ish novels in the summer.  That's when most of those types of books are released but I'm also usually up for something pretty light and fluffy this time of year.  Perfect for sitting and reading by the water, either the lake, ocean, or just the backyard inflatable kiddie pool.

I haven't read ANY of these so no guarantees on the quality or content but they are ALL authors I've read and enjoyed in the past which makes them all ones I am greatly looking forward to reading this summer!  (And obviously I'll be reporting back on how I liked them.)  Here's to a great summer of great books and lots of time spent with my feet in the water, cold drink, and book in hand!

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green - release June 6th
I spent a lovely period in 2010 or 2011 reading her entire works up to that point and they were mostly super enjoyable - from the single girl in London books to married mothers in the New York suburbs, I've liked almost everything she's written (although her last book, Falling was a disappointment last summer).  Still, optimistic.  About a mother, her three estranged daughters, and life (or a dying mother) bringing them all back together.  

The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon - release June 6th
I read my first book by her last summer, Mystic Summer, and enjoyed it enough that I'm looking forward to this summer's!  About a mother and her three children (sounds a little familiar...) who are gathered back together again to celebrate their father's birthday.  There is always drama when family is all back together under one roof.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - release June 13th
Her last book, One True Loves, was one of my top 10 favorites last year (and I just received it as a Mother's Day/anniversary present) but I've seen iffy reviews on this one so...cautiously optimistic.  An unknown magazine reporter is picked to write the story of aging Hollywood icon and their stories just happen to intertwine...

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand - release June 13th
Everything she writes is set mostly on Nantucket and almost all during the summer which makes them pretty perfect beach reads.  Have I looked into vacationing on that island after reading her books? Yes.  (It is  expensive? Yes.)   Grown-up identical twin sisters who live on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard switch lives.  Things probably don't go well. 

A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World by Janice Macleod - release June 20th
This is on my birthday list, to (maybe) be bought before I've read it!  That's how much I enjoyed her last book, Paris Letters (mentioned here, here, and here)!  That one was about her journey to living in Paris, this one is about actually making a life there.  I'm a sucker for a good "I quit my life and moved to Paris" story.

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams - release June 27th
My favorite of hers is still the one I read first, A Hundred Summers, BUT I have enjoyed them all.  I read the summary and I can't even make sense to condense it to a sentence or two.  Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach, probably different stories taking place in different decades that will somehow collide (just a guess from reading her other books).  I don't even need to know what it's about; I'm going to read it.

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza- release July 11th
Their last book, The Knockoff, was one of my favorite books I read in 2015 and that was enough to earn their new book a spot on this list.  CEO of a couture wedding dress company is photographed eating baked goods and is forced to lose weight.  A humorous take on fitness obsession (please tell me there will be "athleisure" mocking). 

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave - release July 11th
I enjoyed Eight Hundred Grapes last summer (which I know I read inflatable pool-side).  A culinary star who gets hacked and all her secrets come out.  She's forced home and to an estranged sisters (maybe a theme for this summer's books?).   I have (a lot of) sisters and while none of them are anywhere close to being estranged, I get sister drama.

What to Say Next by Laura Buxbaum - release July 11th
The only YA on this list!  Two unlikely teens befriend each other, which could be the one-line summary of almost every YA book I've ever read.  And I've liked most of them.  So, sold.   

Tell me what you are looking forward to reading this summer?  A favorite place to read?  Our front porch will always be a favorite if I can't be next to water!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Balancing Work and Play

Matt had last week off from work.  We take a vacation every year and he takes a lot of long weekends in the summer but we also aim for a whole week with no plans.

No plans to leave our property that is.  Plans to get things done around the house?  Most definitely.

We gave ourselves a pretty ambitious to-do list for this spring, not wanting any major projects to cut into the summer like the porch foundation one did last summer.  Those projects all just happened to come to a head during his week off.

About 2 months ago we sat down with the calendar and roughly mapped out our weekend plans (Easter, a confirmation, some wedding/baby showers for me) so we could get all our planned projects done by the end of May.  (This was most definitely my idea and not Matt's.  I'm definitely the "plan every aspect of our lives" person in this relationship.) 

So last week was spent doing things like putting 9 coats of paints on various doorways, painting and installing ~100 feet of quarter-round, painting ~100 feet of baseboards, caulking the quarter-round, and putting two coats of paint on the upper half and ceiling of our bedroom.

And that was all just in one day.

We got to put the house back together (YAY!!!!!) but also wrap up more details on various home projects (building shelves in the closet in Matt's office, building a vent cover for our return register that we discovered was half covered by plywood, installing a chair rail in our room, prepping for more shelves being added to the front room, etc.)

We never have a shortage of home projects.  Never.

A few years ago we could put in 12 hour days on projects.  That worked.  Now we have a cute little, ~33 pound distraction.  It can be a challenge when Matt and I just want to go go go on projects but we also have to do this little thing called "parenting".

We also want to do fun family things, especially when Matt has weekdays off.  So despite our house being torn-up and a plethora of projects, we took a 2 day trip to Cincinnati to go to Kings Island.

Every September, for 8 years, we went for GE Day (two of Matt's brothers worked there at various times) when tickets were about $20 and the park wasn't as busy.  A few of these trips fell during my college years when we were dating (and I was in school in Dayton), a few when my sister was going to college in the area, and half in our married years.  I had also taken a few family trips starting when I was 5.  We had fond memories of the place and a few of the pictures are on our rotating computer backgrounds that Luke sees.  He's been asking to go for a few years.

So, having gotten some money for Christmas that was supposed to be spent on something for the family, we went to Kings Island.  And it was wonderful.  Luke was thrilled with the two coasters he got to ride (and everything else he rode, Boo Blasters being the favorite).  Matt and I took advantage of their parent swap so we could ride their two best coasters (The Beast and Diamondback) without both having to wait in line.  We got free water and saw one of my college friends.  It was chilly but a wonderful day.  We spent the night nearby afterwards just to make it more of a family adventure, like our ski trip in March.  We visited Luke's godfather, went to IKEA, and made a stop at UD on the way home.  It was a lovely family time.

It also made us feel a lot better about all the time we were going to devote to projects over the next few days.

We took a family zoo trip another morning and Matt and Luke ran errands together which Luke always seems to find more exciting with Dad than with Mom (maybe because Matt takes him to Lowes where he can sit on lawn mowers while I take him to Jo-Ann to look at fabric?)

I kept wondering if I should feel bad about all the time Luke was spending playing in the backyard, visiting with our neighbors (we have great neighbors) and being messy.

Then I realized that's the kind of childhood I want for him.  I want him to know and be comfortable with our neighbors.  I want him running around in the backyard.  I want him exploring and trying things on his own and being independent and playing.  We didn't park him in front of the tv so we could paint (at least not the whole time...he did get a few shows in there) but running around in the backyard (while we had kitchen windows open so we could hear him)?  That sounds like a pretty good way for a kid to spend the (almost) summer.

I love that he's comfortable playing outside on his own and that he can entertain himself when we are busy.  I'm a Mom, not an entertainer.  And I love reading him stories and playing Duplos and hearing his crazy, imaginative stories, it's also nice he can play by himself.  It's wonderful for many reasons.

We are far from having this parenting thing figured out but every so often there are glimpses that we might be doing something right.  Even if it is just showing Luke the beauty of DIY projects.