September 13, 2017

A Must-Read Book for Every Mom!



As a mom of a raging toddler who tests every ounce of my patience, makes me question my every move, and keeps me chasing after her all day long I find that sometimes my stress impacts me more than I thought it ever would after becoming a stay at home mom....I truly feel like I am a "hot mess" sometimes! Luckily I have a husband who supports our family and is fully engaged with our daughter, but I sometimes feel like I do not know how to be the mom I want to be. I have so many behavior management tools in my back pocket from teaching special ed and sometimes I think (or even say), "What the hell do I do?!?" when McKinley talks back to me in her babble shaking her finger at me or tells me "no." Side note: I have learned it's not even worth it to get into a back and forth battle with your toddler....they will win! I unboxed M's little potty the other day and on the box it says 18 months-3 year. OH.MY.GOSH! I do not even know the first thing about potty training! How do you do it? She is only in size 3 diapers and I need to start thinking about this?!? 

“You're just a mom, You feel useless and essential at the same time. You feel like everyone is doing a better job than you and that nobody understands what you're going through.” **

In any case, when I have a moment to reflect I think about how much growth as a mom I have done over the past year and a half. I learned from my own trial and error. Reading "how to.." books isn't the practical way to parenting. It's by following your gut and getting a feel for your own child. It is amazing what M picks up on simply by watching me or seeing things in her environment. She knows the movements to washing her hands because she sees me doing it throughout my day. She has learned to push buttons on her toys and pretend play with a mixing bowl and spoon by watching me during playtime or in the kitchen. 

I read a fantastic book recently called Confessions of a Domestic Failure and think the author totally gets the reality of being a mom. The author tackles the struggles that every mom can relate to while keeping you laughing the entire way through from weight to household chores to feeding to being a "Pinterest Mom". 

“Dear Pinterest, When we first started dating, you lured me in with Skittles-flavored vodka and Oreo-filled chocolate chip cookies. You wooed me with cheesy casseroles adjacent to motivational fitness sayings. I loved your inventiveness: Who knew cookies needed a sugary butter dip? You did. You knew, Pinterest. You inspired me, not to make stuff, but to think about one day possibly making stuff if I have time. You took the cake batter, rainbow and bacon trends to levels nobody thought were possible. You made me hungry. The nights I spent pinning and eating nachos were some of the best nights of my life. Pinterest, we can’t see each other anymore. You see, it’s recently come to my attention that some people aren’t just pinning, they are making. This makes me want to make, too. Unfortunately, I’m not good at making, and deep down I like buying way more. Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m starting to feel bad, Pinterest. I don’t enjoy you the way I once did. We need to take a break. I’m going to miss your crazy ideas (rolls made with 7Up? Shut your mouth). This isn’t going to be easy. You’ve been responsible for nearly every 2 a.m. grilled cheese binge I’ve had for the past couple of years, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. Stay cool, Pinterest. PS. You hurt me. PPS. I’m also poor now. Xo Me 10” **

The book follows the main character, Ashley Keller, who is a career girl turned stay at home mom while she tries to navigate through being the perfect mom. I swear, every mom should pick up this book and commend themselves for just surviving another day of mommyhood. There are so many, "I know, right?" moments in this book you will feel so great about yourself and the job you have done with your kiddo(s). 

"My reality? Aubrey screams me awake at 5 a.m. every morning and I’m about six months behind on the laundry that’s taking over my living room like some kind of poisonous mold. Forget about all of the cute outfits I thought I’d be putting my firstborn in. Every day my daughter wears one of four pairs of footie pajamas. She can’t even walk and the feet are getting worn out from use. Two of them are stained: one from a diaper blowout (since when does infant poop stain?) and another from red wine (don’t judge me). I wear the same three pairs of black yoga pants and a rotating army of stretched-out tank tops that can barely contain my jiggly muffin top." **
So go grab a copy or download this book onto your Kindle, pour yourself  glass of wine, fill your tub up with a bubble bath, and start reading this book pronto! It will be a great pick-me-up! Don't be too hard on yourself. Your child will not know the difference and at the end of the day, all they want from you is your attention and love. Hang in there, mamas. You are doing a fantastic job! 

💗Lauren

**Excerpts from Confessions of a Domestic Failure

September 8, 2017

September is NICU Awareness Month


September is a month that brings out boots and scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, apple orchard visits, football, and many other fall activities and traditions. For us, this month also represents an enormous amount of gratitude and blessings for our family. McKinley was born 8 weeks early because I suffered from a disease called preeclampsia. I had an emergency c-section not knowing how things were going to unfold. We were blessed, EXTREMELY blessed to have a healthy 3-pound baby girl who only needed time to grow in the Loudoun NICU. I went into this journey absolutely blind. There was nothing that could prepare myself for an experience like this. First off, I was too sick to visit McKinley in the NICU for the first 24 hours after she was born. When I WAS barely well enough to walk myself in, it took all of my strength and energy to get there. I had almost 40 pounds of fluid on me and was swollen from head to toe. The sights and sounds of a NICU are ones you never forget from the first visit to the last. The beeping of machines. The alarms. The alarms. The alarms. The equipment buzzing. The tiny little babies in incubators. The tubes. The scrubbing of your hands each time you enter the NICU to the point that your hands are practically raw. The kind nurses who put a smile on their faces to greet you and assist you every time you go in. There are so many emotions around the experience that you don't have time to even process them one at a time. I struggled with being on the postpartum side of the birthing inn and hearing all of the babies in their mother's rooms with them, seeing them get to go to their discharge class, and finally getting to take them home. When I was discharged, I didn't get to take her home with me. I had to leave her there. Did it ever get any easier? No, not really. The ups and downs that came with a baby in the NICU made me find strength within that I never knew I had. She suffered from mild jaundice so we were unable to hold her for a few days. Then she pulled her feeding tube out of her nose...twice. Also, meeting with all of the specialists and worrying about the upcoming scans and tests that needed to happen, just in case, made my already horrible anxiety even worse. While all of these things I could never wish upon any new parents to have to go through, I found peace with the NICU nurses that took care of McKinley while we were and were not there. They taught us how to change the tiniest of diapers, how to give her a sponge bath and eventually a tub bath, how to hold such a fragile little baby, just listened as I spilled out all of my emotions and thoughts, and were shoulders to cry on when I needed it the most. We learned to celebrate the milestones both big and small. McKinley graduated from the NICU and came home 3 1/2 weeks after she was born, just in time for Easter. We owe so much to the team of nurses, specialists, and neonatologist who helped McKinley thrive and come home healthy. They are inspiring. It may not have been the ideal childbirth and infant experience, but we truly love our preemie. 

💗-Lauren

September 6, 2017

Welcome + Tinkergarten Trial Class



I am so excited to begin a lifestyle blog to share with all of you! Since becoming a new stay at home mama with our daughter, McKinley, I have been reading blogs written by moms all over the country and even some who are my friends! Now, WHY am I doing this? I love to find all kinds of fun activities for my daughter to participate in now that she is a tiny toddler! So some of these posts will be about her world! Others will be about mine! Some of the things I love to do include cooking, travel, reading, and Virginia wine. I will be blogging about all of these topics as well! Basically, I will be blogging about all mommy things! 

This first post is about an outting McKinley and I ventured out to yesterday at a local park. The class is called Tinkergarten and is spreading nationwide! The concept is outdoor learning through play for children 18 months through 8 years old. They have seasonal sessions you can sign up for that are 8 classes long. Our trial class was quite an experience since McKinley seems to be more and more independent and free-spirited as the days go on! I was so nervous because when we got there, she was the YOUNGEST!   We began our class by exploring our "outside classroom" which is basically the park and picking up "treasures" she found. McKinley was so--- excited to pick things up and place them in her pail including flowers, leaves, grass, sticks, and bark. Once the class started, they sang some songs, read Stone Soup, and got playing! For about 30 minutes, they "made" stone soup through  pretend play with the items they collected at the beginning of class. Now this is where it got hard for me since I am a control freak! The leader encouraged the parents to take a hands-off approach and to allow them to just explore and play on their own. I was truly AMAZED by how McKinley picked up on skills through observation and parallel play. She used a big ladle and bowl to pretend to spoon out the pretend soup with. She stayed involved for almost the entire time! When things were wrapping up with clean up she became less interested. Class ended with a snack and goodbye song. I really loved the concept of this class for her. She seemed to respond well to older explorers who modeled things for her through play. We are looking at signing her up for the fall session in Leesburg, VA because I want to encourage outdoor play and get to enjoy the fall weather! Thank you to my dear friend, Sarah, who suggested this trial class to me! Has anyone else tried out Tinkergarten? 

💗Lauren