5 Friday Favs and Little Things

I’m hoping this can be a new semi regular series on the blog.  And that may mean monthly.  Or whenever I remember. 🙂  A mix of 5 links and 5 little things on a Friday.

I have so many articles open on my phone that I have read over the last month or so. It keeps going on the back burner to put them into a post.  And I know I just need to do it, so I can start collecting new ones! So finally, here are just a few of the great articles I read in March and April.

5 Friday Favs:

Right around the time 50 Shades of Grey came out, Scary Mommy posted this gem about the 50 shades of breastfeeding.  Nailed it.

This is a much more elegant post than mine last week was about how we only just share a slice of our lives on social media.

Some excellent Louis CK Parenting Quotes in this post.

I Support Your Right to Share My Rights. Really great post from Momastery about LGBT rights. I rarely hear someone so strongly Christian speak on this topic with such a wonderful perspective.

This one made me tear up.  Motherhood is truly the strongest bond.  You’re a mom, you know.

5 Little Things:

Excited for: We leave for Maui in a month! So excited to get back to my home away from home after 5 years.  And to show it to Clare!  Hit me with your tips for traveling with a 15 month old.

Thinking about: How grateful I am that Chris works for Amtrak.  Even when the unpredictability drives me up the wall, I am so thankful that it supports a huge part of our lives and allows me to pursue things I am really passionate about like writing, birth work and my podcast which also can and will contribute financially to our family in small and big ways in the future. But, I wouldn’t be able to be on that path if he didn’t have the stable career that he does, and I don’t take that for granted.

Hoping for: An active summer schedule. Teaching 2-3 zumba classes, maybe getting back into softball (it’s been FOREVER.)  Exercise is a huge part of my self care and when it’s lacking, I can very quickly spiral to bad places.

Setting a Goal to: Finish up Part 4 of my childbirth work and make some headway on some other projects before we leave for Maui.

Loving: Spring weather.  I know it won’t last long before it’s 105 here, so I’m trying to enjoy the cooler mornings and evenings while they last.  Also – pretty much obsessed with the Bare brand cinnamon apple chips.

 

Happy Weekend!

Progress > Perfection

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I’m pretty sure this has been my all out mantra for everything lately.

Life with a high needs “spirited” one year old for this goal-oriented, anxious perfectionist is HARD. Any other mamas with kids as intense as Clare, I know you feel me. I just started reading this book and I find myself highlighting EVERYTHING.

As you probably saw, my 2015 goals were pretty lofty this year…but slowly and steadily I do feel that I’m making progress on them. And PROGRESS is what’s important. As we’ve just finished the first quarter of the year (what?!), I thought it good to do a check in on goals and how things are going so far.

 

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Meditation: I think I’m doing pretty good at this one! I’ve only missed a handful of days, mostly due to the rampant illnesses that seem to be plaguing our house, and I’ve consciously made an effort to never miss more than one day in a row. Sessions vary between 3 and 15 minutes depending on the day, and I do feel like I get more out of the practice if I do it for at least 10. Finding the time that works best has been tricky. When Chris is home, I try and do it first thing in the morning as a part of my morning routine. If he isn’t, I try and kind of do a ‘do over’ of my morning when Clare goes down for a nap. I find it’s a LOT harder if I save it to the evening. My brain is spent, and I am barely able to stay focused on a short one. Apps that I use are Calm, Buddify, Mindful and Headspace. Do you know of any other good meditation apps? Please share.

Five Minute Journal: I’ve also been really good about this one. I like that it includes gratitude, planning and reflecting on the day. I also try to always remember to write in my Mom’s One Line a Day Journal, but sometimes I find myself catching up on a couple days of that one.

Blogging: So far so good on the one post per week. I’ve only missed a week or two, and some weeks I included my post for Girls on the Grid in my count. Once per week is a much more doable goal than writing goals I’ve tried to make previously.

Recipes: We definitely haven’t really been trying out a new recipe per period. We have made a few things out of the baby led weaning cookbook. This green bean recipe is also awesome. And we’ve been making our own corn tortillas. Honestly between Chris’s schedule, Clare challenges and all of the sickness that has been plaguing us, food has dropped on the priority list. Cheese and crackers and hummus and bread have been regular meal staples for me. It’s bad. (Okay it could be a lot worse) But we’ve gotta get a bit better in this area.

Date Nights: This one has been a big fat fail. One of my best friends who was our neighbor and would sometimes watch Clare recently moved away. And when my parents have been up here, Chris has been gone or we’ve all been SICK. Have I mentioned we’ve all been sick?? So we just haven’t really made it happen. We did have a breakfast out at the end of March, but that’s about it. Here’s hoping in the later part of the year when my parents MOVE up here, we’ll get back on track with this one.

Read 25 Books – Totally on track. 6 down, 19 to go. Reviews of my first 4 here. Books and Podcasts are totally saving my sanity. (Though I am a bit ridiculous in that I am currently reading 5 books at once!)

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Learn to Sew a Quilt: Again, maybe this summer once my parents are up here, and I can plan on someone to watch Clare.

Podcast: This is going really well. Yesterday, episode 8 launched, and I’ve got some AWESOME guests lined up in the coming weeks. More at www.postpartumpodcast.com

Childbirth Educator Work: It’s SLOW going, but I’m starting to get on a better track. They re-did the program, and I like the new structure better, but it’s still very daunting the amount of work I need to get done. But, I do have a mentor, and some childbirth class observations lined up. I’ve joined a support group for other ICEA students in training on FB. Hopefully again, once my parents are here I can get into a more regular study routine, I can observe some births, and get on track to finish it all up in early 2016. I know that sounds so far away…but with the amount of work I need to get done, it sounds scary that it’s even that close.

Couch-to-5K: So I got about six weeks into the program. Now I think it’s an awesome program, and it made me not hate running, once they got to the part where you’re running straight for 20-25 minutes they lost me. But by running in intervals I ran the Girls on the Go 5k in 32 minutes at the end of March. Not too shabby for my first time running a 5K. And I’m going to chalk it up to, I can do running for cardio in a pinch, but it’s not really my ‘thing’. Zumba is. And I’m going to hopefully be teaching 3 zumba classes this summer! Hooray!

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In a perfect world, I’d dedicate several uninterrupted hours per week on my childbirth work and podcast and writing and working on a new project that I’m really excited about. But our world is far from perfect these days. So instead I’m having to make progress in the cracks and crevices of the days. On the fringe.   And that’s okay. Because Progress > Perfection. And DONE is > than perfection.

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My episode as a guest on the wonderful Sarah R. Bagley’s podcast today discusses just that! Please check it out, and the rest of her episodes. Her guests always resonate with me!

 

And remember:

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It’s Hard. Social Media and Reality.

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Sometimes Instagram can be a great source of inspiration and happiness. I love scrolling through pretty pictures, slices of people’s lives. With the adorable “Cat of Instagram” picture, smiling baby or the super inspiring messages from people like January Harshe of Birth Without Fear and my friend Sarah of Scout and Feather.

But other times all of the pretty pictures can totally make me feel worse about whatever trouble is going on at that moment. I guess that’s the catch 22 about social media in general, right? Do the potential harder moments outweigh the benefits or vice versa? I think of it more as a see-saw. Some days I’m the one crying in the bedroom after having a mommy meltdown that Clare won’t stop screaming and I don’t know what’s wrong or what to do to help her for the 5th day in a row. (Thank god for that usually happening when Chris is home to pick up the slack.) Days like that it feels like scrolling through IG is just mocking me. “You don’t have that picture perfect coffee picture next to the beautiful planner with the chipper status.” “You aren’t on that exotic vacation, or hanging out with friends.” Instead, I’m desperately trying to juggle it all, working, primary care giving a very high needs spirited toddler, (sometimes both at the same time) and working on my slow crawl to an eventual career in birth work. Not to mention trying to cultivate other relationships in my life.   It’s fucking hard. Yes, I’m cussing, even though that’s usually not my blogging MO. For that sort of blog you should check out Renegade Mothering and of course the One Bad Mother podcast. Love them.

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But seriously, though. It’s hard and I think it should be okay to say it’s hard. It should be okay to have a meltdown every once in a while. To cry. Get some hot chocolate on a rainy day. And then dust yourself off and get back on the merry-go-round.

I guess I should be setting limits on Instagram like I have been on Facebook and Email. I use the Coach.me (previously Lift) app to track habits and that includes trying to limit my checking of those two. Hard habit to break. But I probably should do the same with IG. If for no other reason than to save myself from the hard days of it making me feel worse rather than inspired.

Some days I AM the one with the delicious coffee and the beautiful planner. Next month we ARE going to Hawaii. I’ve made some new friends on IG, participated in a gift swap through @joyfullyinspired and used social media to make other’s days better and even to leverage partnerships and contacts for various endeavors over the years. MOST days, to talk in childbirth speak, the benefits do outweigh the risks…and so I tend to err on the side of soldiering on in the world of social media.

Sometimes it’s just about reminding myself that this is just a slice of life. Just a slice of my life and just a slice of others. And every once in a while it’s worth putting our more ‘real’ moments out there – not solely the highlight reels. I like to think that by doing so, we’re reaching out a small olive branch, saying “I’m not perfect. I’m not all sunshine and rainbows and beautiful coffee and workouts and happy mail and smiling babies. I’m also crying in the bedroom after a long week, binging on sweets, panic attacks, cancelled plans, screaming babies, yoga pants-all-day, chaos so deep that sometimes driving to the dentist feels like a break.” I’m both. We’re all both. And we could do with sharing that more.

Raising My Spirited Child

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My little girl is intense. Her reactions are bigger and louder than all of her peers. Sometimes when she yells or squeaks or squawks I am quick to be embarrassed or to want to shush her. I am the one with ‘that’ kid. The one who tells you exactly how she feels – even though we can’t always understand where that feeling is coming from at this point.   But instead of shushing her or being embarrassed, I really want to be proud. My little girl may be ‘the loud one’ now, but she is also the clever and strong and persistent one and so often when I look at her and am completely exasperated by her intensity, by her complete and total ‘need’ for me, I see in through those explosive emotions and intensity that she is…me. She’s headstrong and driven…and yes a bit emotional. But she’s fun loving and giving and sometimes I get these glimmers of who she’s going to grow into and it’s both wonderful and terrifying. Because I know how hard that intensity can crash on the other end. I know how it is to go go go and give give give and then to collapse. And I want to protect her little heart from all of that. But I know she’ll have to learn, just as I have (and still am learning!), to measure and ration her energy. I’m reading this book about raising ‘spirited children’ right now and it’s really helping me to see her intensity in a positive light and to just feel like there are other parents out there who are struggling with the same things.

I think my psychiatrist also helped me see this a bit too. She said something once, quite rightly so, how I am always really concerned that people understand where I’m coming from and that I get really hurt or frustrated when they don’t. And I get upset when I can’t figure something out or things don’t pan out the way I expected. It’s the same with Clare. When she falls or something doesn’t go as she expected, she reacts very intensely. And while sometimes the intensity can really, really fry my nerves, I’m trying to be more cognizant of the fact that in a lot of ways she is a mini me. And I can celebrate her strengths and help her manage her energy and emotions as she grows rather than lament how challenging she can be. Because I never want her to feel like she’s strange because she’s the “tough one,” the “picky one,” the “high maintenance one.” I’ve been all of those things. I want her to know that it’s okay to be that way. In a lot of ways it’s awesome to be that way. So as that book suggests, I’m trying to even change my vocabulary around those things. We aren’t tough, picky or high maintenance, we are spirited, selective and know what we want and need. And that’s pretty neat, if I do say so myself. 🙂 

  

 Do you have a spirited child? How do you manage it? Share in the comments!

There’s a Box For That

You can pretty much find a subscription box for ANYTHING these days. Want fancy underwear delivered to your house? Fresh Fruit? Razors? Soap? Check, Check and Check. There’s box for that. Gifts are absolutely my love language, so getting a surprise on your doorstep each month is an awesome little treat that I always look forward to. Who doesn’t love happy snail mail?? Today I’m sharing the subscription boxes I’ve tried over the last few years. I’d love if you share your experiences with these monthly boxes in the comments section!

Let’s start with the ones I’ve tried but no longer subscribe to:

Birchbox – I’m pretty sure this was the first one I got. Birchbox sends you a few sample sized beauty items each month. The biggest pro of this one is that it’s only $10. However, I like Ipsy better (see below) because their products tend to include more full size items, are more personalized and come in a cute bag each month.

Farm Fresh to You – I miss farm fresh actually. They deliver a mix of organic produce to your door as often as once a week and you can even do only once a month. I enjoyed it while we got it. Every Thursday night I would be excited for the “Fruit and Veggie” fairy to come. But because we also have such awesome farmer’s markets here in Sacramento, Chris and I decided cost-effective wise it made more sense for us to just go to the markets. Though we do need to get more consistent with that.

Conscious Box – I think this was maybe a Groupon or something that I tried? It didn’t really feel like it was for me. You did get a LOT of products in the little box compared to other subscriptions, but a lot was specialty vegan foods that weren’t really my thing. I just tried it for the one month.

Nature Box – Ha, so my friend Steph got me this one as a gift to try. And then she kept forgetting to cancel it, so I think I ended up getting like 4 months of it. It was kinda fun, but I didn’t always like all of the snacks that came with it, so I didn’t renew.

Okay, now onto the monthly boxes I currently get and LOVE!

Ipsy – As mentioned above, I really like Ipsy better than Birchbox. I get 4-5 products in a cute little pouch every month for just $10. I’ve gotten makeup brushes, nail polishes, chapsticks and lip glosses, and some body/hair/face products. I’ve liked most everything I’ve gotten from them. I think I’ve gotten Ipsy for about a year.

Studio Calico – This is a new one for me. I think I’m on my 3rd or 4th month. You can get subscriptions from them for just regular scrapbooking or card making, but I get their Project Life kit. Monica got me hooked on Project Life. I’ve been working on Clare’s first year photo album with them, and I hope to create a family album each year. PL is basically scrapbooking for the lazy (or busy!) and I love it. Studio Calico is $20 each month.

Driftaway Coffee – This is a small coffee roaster out of Brooklyn, NY. While we mostly get our coffee from the local shops here, this is a fun little treat that comes in the mail each month. (You can order it more frequently) What I really liked about them is they send you a sampler of 4 different types of coffee to try first and then personalize your shipments to what you like. We just get the smallest ‘solo’ plan that’s $12. It’s a fun change from our regular Temple Coffee here. You can get your first delivery FREE if you use my referral link.

Citrus Lane – Mommas, Citrus lane is awesome! We’ve been getting it since Clare was just a few months old. She gets age appropriate toys/items/samples each month. Sometimes we get books, sometimes food samples, her favorite teether came from CL. I can’t say enough great things about Citrus Lane. If you would like to check them out, you can use my referral link and get 50% off your first box!

Mommy Mailbox – And last but not least, one of my favorites! Mommy Mailbox launched in December, and my mom got me a gift subscription for my birthday. I love it! You get fun treats each month curated by bloggers to help give moms a little boost. In February I got delicious biscuits and cozy socks, in March an awesome coffee mug and cute tote, among other things. I highly recommend this one to any mamas out there!

I’m curious about a couple of the other ecofriendly boxes like EcoEmi and I have to say I like the idea of the underwear one. Shopping for underwear pretty much sucks, so it’d be nice to have some comfy ones just show up at your door.

What boxes have you tried? Loved, Hated?

Book Reviews Jan/Feb 2015

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Instead of a massive Book Review post like I did at the end of 2014, I’m going to try and do them every few months instead. Here are the four books I read in January and February and corresponding reviews. Please, if you are a fellow book lover, add me on Goodreads!

I am always looking for new books to read, and it always causes me a little bit of anxiety when it comes time to pick the next one to read, because there are just so many good ones! I have over 150 on my Goodreads “To Read” list. Yikes.

January/February 2015 Books:

Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta By Ina May Gaskin – This is Ina May’s most recent book, and it really is different than her Guide to Childbirth or other books. It’s more a call to action of what we need to do to change our maternity care system. I found myself getting simultaneously angry and feeling empowered by it. Some of the ludicrous policies and procedures in our healthcare and insurance systems still boggle my mind. While talking about elective surgery, it doesn’t only discuss elective c-sections, but also breast enlargement and reduction and the dangers. I always joked that when I was done having kids that I would get a reduction, but this definitely opened my eyes to the dangers of those procedures.

The Girl on the Train: A Novel By Paula Hawkins – Look at me, reading Fiction! This was a great novel. I heard it described as Gone Girl crossed with Rear Window and that’s definitely an accurate representation of it. This was a debut novel for Hawkins and she’s a great author. I would definitely read more by her. Being that Chris drives trains, the whole concept of someone seeing something from a train window that drastically alters things really resonated with me. Because who hasn’t wondered about the families living in the houses that you see the back of while passing on a train. Definitely recommend!

Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty – I really like Moriarty’s style. This is her most recent novel, though she has several. Her writing is ever readable and yet descriptive and you really feel entwined with the character’s lives. This one is told from the viewpoints of three different women and how their lives intersect. I guess I’d call it a contemporary mystery? It’s not a “who done it” but full of twists. Just like the Husband’s Secret.

The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty – After I read Big Little Lies, I decided to tackle her book from last year which I already had on my kindle but had never gotten around to reading. I have heard mixed reviews on this one, but I personally liked it. Sure, there were things that the characters did that may not have been believable. And I especially liked the epilogue because I’m always a fan of the idea that everything happens for a reason, and thinking about paths that “could have been.”

I am currently reading: The Secrets of Midwives, The Joy of Less, and Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. I tend to always have one going on kindle (on my phone so I can read while rocking Clare to sleep) one in hard copy and one on audio. I have a problem, I know.

What are you reading? Please share your recommendations!

Capsule Wardrobe: Winter 2015

The idea of a “Capsule Wardrobe” has been popular all over the place in the blogging and podcast sphere lately. I think I first heard about it when Jess Lively interviewed the gal from Unfancy on her podcast. Then my friend Monica did it. So I started by doing a fall capsule. I didn’t get a chance to blog about that one. Mostly just because the fall is CRAZY with holidays and there was no time. So now I have been on  capsule #2 – Winter 2015 (Jan-Mar) and am FINALLY getting around to sharing it on here.  I’ve already got my eye on plans for the spring capsule which I will hopefully post sooner this time.

So basically the idea is you cull your closet down to season appropriate clothing in a certain number. Meaning you don’t throw out your summer clothes during the winter, you just store them so they aren’t cluttering up your closet.   Monica did 50, Elise does 37. I think my fall wardrobe was larger than winter. The number is all up to you. Also, some people count shoes, some don’t. Workout clothes, PJs, accessories and undergarments don’t count.

I really like seeing other people’s capsule wardrobes because they are all so different. Depending on what phase of life you are in, your preferences and what you do on a daily basis all factor in.

For me – I hate jeans….pants of all kinds, really. I still chuckle at when I was working an office job, one day I did wear jeans to work, and my normally very soft spoken, introverted work BFF yelled “OMG, You’re WEARING PANTS!” I’m sure the office thought I typically came to work pants-less. Love you, An. 🙂

So I wear a lot of dresses, skirts, and sometimes leggings. I also teach piano lessons or work from home (or a coffee shop or library) on my childbirth educator work. So, my wardrobe looks a lot different than that of someone with an office job. Or even really probably one of a mom who stays home full time. Some of my beloved pencil skirts from my corporate days got put into storage. Never know when they may come back around.

So without further ado – my capsule wardrobe. Now, I can’t link up to all of the places I got my clothes because well, the majority of them have either come from ThredUP or Clothing Swaps. (More on clothing swaps below)

Here’s what my capsule wardrobe looks like currently.  Apologies for the yellow wall backdrop – it kinda messes with the color. Will do a different wall for spring. 😉 And will figure out the picture formatting better!

17 Dresses

3 Skirts

1 pair of Jeans

4 pair of Leggings

6 tops

15 Sweaters/Layering Shirts

=46 pieces total

Dresses

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Left to Right: Clothing Swap (referred to as Swap the rest of the way) | Swap | ThredUP| Ross | ThredUP | Target | Swap | Ross | Macys like 5 years ago? | ThredUP | ThredUP | ThredUP | Target | H&M | ThredUP| Stitch Fix | Ross

Skirts

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Left to Right: Swap | Target | Ross

Jeans/Leggings

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Nothing special…and I’m pretty sure I haven’t put on those jeans once this capsule. Ha.

Tops

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Left to Right: Target | ThredUp | Ross | Target | TJ Maxx | Ross

Sweaters/Layering Tops

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Left to Right: Swap | Target | Swap | Swap | Swap | Swap | Ross | Swap | ThredUP | Swap | Swap | Swap | Ross | ThredUP | Ross

Another great thing I did with the fall version was turned all the hangers backwards and then every time I would wear something I would flip it around. Then by the end I knew what clothes of the capsule I had actually worn! It’s interesting writing this later in the capsule because I can already see clothes that haven’t been worn these two months.

*A note on clothing swaps – my girlfriends and I get together about 4 times a year to trade out clothes that we no longer wear.  We’ve been doing this for a number of years – thus the fact that so much of my wardrobe has come from them! It’s a great way to see your old clothes be renewed and re-loved and an inexpensive way to get “new to you” clothes. I highly recommend having one!

**If you click the ThredUP links, you’ll get $10 off your first order and I’ll get a $10 credit also! Win, Win. As you can see, I love ThredUP since much of my clothing has come from them. They are an online consignment store that carries like-new high quality clothing for budget prices! Some items are even new with tags. Highly recommend.

**If you would like to try out Stitch Fix, please use my link so I get referral credit! Stitch Fix is a personal styling company. You fill out a style profile and they send you five items. You can even share your style pinterest boards with them and they pick items they think might fit your style. You decide what to keep and send the rest back. You pay a $20 styling fee but that goes towards whatever you keep! I only kept the one dress from my first one, but I’m looking forward to my second fix.

Have you considered trying a capsule wardrobe? What was your experience? Please share!