Every Direction

I use Instagram for three things: keeping up with all of you (& my non-blog friends), inspiration for my Animal Crossing island (#nerdalert), and parenting information.

Let’s hone in on that last one.

Recently I started following some new (child) sleep experts and questioning every single thing I’ve done for M and her sleep habits. (Fear not- I question my parenting every hour of every day. All parents do…) It got me thinking… when it comes to parenting, advice and research is thrown at you from every direction.

Let’s think about a generic law. You show up to a store at 6:17pm and try the handle, only to find it locked. You notice that they closed at 6pm. What do the laws of the land dictate? You shrug your shoulders, turn around, and try another day. Breaking in would be wrong.

Ok… same situation, but apply the rules of parenting. Door is locked.
Well… some experts would suggest you jiggle the handle. Try tickling or stroking the keyhole to inducing unlocking.
Or you might try talking to the door about why it’s locked and whether or not it thinks that’s a good idea. If you’re more hands on, you might spank the door or shatter its glass to teach the door a lesson in defying you.
Try putting the door in time out and return 2 minutes later to see if anything has changed.
Maybe you don’t believe in locked doors. While locked doors might protect the herd, it’s not good for you and your family. You prefer open doors and plenty of sunshine.
**And there are no true consequences for any approach you take.**

That is a silly example, but it’s how it feels to read conflicting parenting advice on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

“You can’t co-sleep with your kid, you’ll crush them.” // “You put your child in a crib at 4 weeks?? Do you WANT them to die from SIDS?!”

“French fries will poison your toddler.” // “You know they make jar baby food, right? You don’t have to puree like a hippie.”

“Don’t give your child peanut butter(/eggs/fish/etc.) until they’re a year old.” // “Give you baby peanut butter before 6 months to reduce allergic reacts.”

“Breast is best.” // “Fed is best.” // “Goat milk is best.” // “Formula is full of sugar.”

“You must adhere to a strict and early vaccine schedule.” // “Make sure you talk to your doctor about spreading out shots and eliminating unnecessary ones.”

You get it.

It’s exhausting. (Arbitrary rules exist in more than parenthood, but this is trench I’m stationed in right now.) Like… give me a tried and true manual and I will follow the rules. Don’t give me this “Some experts say…” bullshittery.

Also… is fussing the same as crying it out? Because I would argue no but please don’t call the baby sleep police on me.

So what do you do? I don’t know. This isn’t an advice article. I’m just as clueless as the rest of ya.

A while back Kristen commented that she goes by, “Eat the fish, spit out the bones.” I can get on board with that. So here’s my not-tested, nonexpert-approved parenting advice:

Learn who your kid is. It’s tough because babies are potatoes but as they grow and their personalities emerge, change some of your routines and activities to foster their growth (and energy and sleepy cues and hunger pangs).

That’s the best I’ve got. Also- watch out for sleep regression and one-year-molars; they’re a true b*tch. I’ve heard the two-year-molars are just as gnarly. Will report back.

Best of luck, guys.

Baby Talk: What I’ve Learned

Being a mom is both nothing like I thought it’d be and everything I expected. I’ve always been introspective but motherhood really brings it out in me. What else am I supposed to do while rocking a fussy baby alone in the dark at 3am…?

Here are some truths I’ve learned over the past +13 months.

These are the good ol’ days.

Yesterday, today, two weeks from now. There is some “good ol” in every day. The newborn stage wasn’t for me, but looking back we had lovely days just lounging around together (because I was too exhausted to move). M is a freaking monkey and I am dead tired by the end of the day, but when I ask for “snuggs” and she wraps her arms around me and bite-kisses me, I know I have it good. And there are so many good ol’ days to look forward to with her.

You trade one mess for another.

As I hang Moo’s clothes in her closet she sits under my feet and unpacks the bins of bows and hats. While I wash dishes in the sink she squirms in her highchair and rubs spaghetti sauce in her hair. It’s chaos and the only way through it is understanding that if you want to get anything done, you simply trade one mess in for another.

There is no good & bad- just baby.

We were so proud of ourselves for training M to sleep in her own bed. But at 4am when she just wants to be held you know what I can’t do? I can’t bring her to our bed because she thinks it’s playtime. I love that we have a super little eater but you know what she does when I have ANYTHING edible in my hand? She fusses and cries because she wants a bite. She knows where her nose is but sticks her finger in it if you ask about it. She loves the dogs but sometimes won’t leave them alone. There’s no good and bad… there’s just a baby figuring it all out.

You find a focus & you obsess.

It seems like moms fixate on one or two things. “I MUST breastfed and my worth is based on my success… We WILL follow baby led weaning to the T and we will not supplement with purees… My child NEEDS to sleep X amount of hours in the morning and X amount at night to ensure perfect REM sleep”…
I’m the sleep mom. And it’s paid off, but I have been the sleep police with Moo since week 4. It’s funny how parents pick one or two areas to OBSESS over. Pay attention- because we definitely do it.

And perhaps the most bitter truth…

She will never love me as much as I love her.

It sucks having this realization. Then I realize how much my mom actually loves me. And K’s mom loves him. And really how much any half-decent mom loves their kid. And there is no possible way for that child to love their parent as much. It’s selfish to wish that she would, but dang…

And on that note…. I’m going to go scroll my phone and watch newborn videos.

What has parenthood or aunt-hood or guardian-hood taught you?

Thirty Years Old

Hello, again. Saturday is my 30th birthday. Tomorrow is my last day “in my twenties.” I don’t think I’ll wake up feeling any differently on Saturday, but it’s a strange transition nonetheless.

I loved my twenties. I went to India, graduated college, moved out of my parents’ house, adopted several puppers, married K, had my little Moo, bought and sold a few houses, traveled, found my (fingers crossed) forever job… It was a decade of discovery and growth and freedom. I squeezed a lot into those ten years. K was with me for all of it, too ❤️

I momentarily freaked out when I hit 25 but I have no qualms about 30. I truly have everything I want and I’m excited to live my life in that mindset. We’re comfortable, we’re in love, we’re happy. Is 2020 a weird sh*t show? For sure. But personally I’m entering my 30s with confidence.

As such, I thought I’d share 30 thoughts/tips/pieces of advice that I live by…

  1. Look up.
  2. People, animals, and experiences will make you rich. Things will not.
  3. Speak clearly and learn to communicate well. It will alleviate so much heartache.
  4. Spending money to get your dog(s) groomed is worth it.
  5. When you can help someone, help them. When you need help, ask for it.
  6. Pay attention to what and who bring you joy- then invest your time & energy there.
  7. Find your people and show up for them. Quality over quantity.
  8. Know how to calm your mind: pray, read, meditate, write. I prefer sitting in the dark.
  9. Clean your dishwasher & washing machines. I guarantee they’re gross.
  10. Same with fan blades.
  11. The miracle of aging is a gift. Accept your mortality & appreciate your longevity.
  12. “No” is a complete sentence.
  13. Eating chocolate before bed makes for some really weird dreams.
  14. You’re not for everyone. Everyone’s not for you. See #23.
  15. The most rewarding things are often the hardest things.
  16. You can do hard things.
  17. Less really is more.
  18. Order a side of gravy for dipping when you get fries at Dairy Queen. Trust me.
  19. Eat your veggies. And if you don’t like veggies, change how you cook them. They’re delish.
  20. Honesty is the best policy but sometimes silence is the best option.
  21. Respect your sig. other & give him or her the benefit of the doubt. They are on your side.
  22. Drink more water.
  23. It takes all kinds of kinds.
  24. Wild animals are meant to be wild.
  25. The grass is greener where you water it. (K says this a lot actually.)
  26. Adopt don’t shop.
  27. Always try to be kind. You don’t always need to be nice, though.
  28. Absolutely positively NOTHING is guaranteed. And no one owes you a damn thing.
  29. It’s not a good deal if you can’t afford it.
  30. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours brighter.

Just call me the Audi Lama. I kid, I kid. Sometimes (often) I fail to take my own advice, but over the past three decades these are the things I’ve learned bring me the most joy and serenity.

What am I doing for my birthday, you ask? Getting a professional manicure (FINALLY! I’ll be masked up, obvi), going on a family hike, and playing a board game at home. Coming into my 30s like a mad woman! 😉

I More Than Love You

Last week we kicked off our trade show/travel season at work. It’s a six month chunk with roughly nine potential shows or competitions spread throughout. (We also do a trip in August.) I spend a great deal of time with my husband regardless, but traveling together pushes us physically closer for longer stretches of time in higher stress situations.

So natural I got to thinking about our marriage.

I really enjoy my husband. I think he’s funny and witty and smarter than even he knows (and, trust me, he thinks plenty highly of himself). He’s sarcastic and not romantic (in the traditional sense) and not nearly as sentimental as me, though, so I don’t always tell him how gosh damn wonderful I think he is.

But I realized this weekend- five years post wedding & 11 years after agreeing that we should, in fact, date- that I ought to tell him sometimes.

I drank a few adult beverages one night on our recent business trip and *accidentally* gushed to a mutual friend about how our business’ success is 50% luck and 50% my husband (plus all the people we’ve had cycle in and out over the last 6 years, self included). I told them that K has a large ego so I’d never tell him this, but he’s so damn smart- socially & logically. He has no business or engineering education but he’s really done something incredible with the company.

The applicable part of this story is that I have these thoughts about K but I don’t ever tell him. Maybe our marriage is rare, but I doubt it. Chances are there are some “obvious” things you admire about your spouse (or grandma or brother or best friend) that you don’t tell them because… well… why would or should you?

So I’m encouraging you to tell them. It makes your marriage or relationship or work experience or neighborhood that much better. People like being told that the things they’re doing and saying every single day are being noticed and admired and appreciated.

They say to tell loved ones that you love them. Or to say thank you more often. Or to spend quality time with people. But I also encourage you to notice what you admire or appreciate about someone & tell them.

28 Things (because I’m turning 28)

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s weird to be turning 28 because I feel like I was 18 or 22 or even 25 just last week. It’s weird to say I’m 28. I’m not bothered by it, I’m just confused about how I banked 28 years of life and where the past decade went…

But anyway, here are 28 things I know:

  1. Avocados are delicious. It took a while for me to acquire the taste, but YUM.
  2. You need to be passionate about something, even if it’s not what the cool kids are passionate about.
  3. There are no “cool kids.”
  4. Be friends with people you trust and love and want to succeed. It’s ok to not like or not get along with everyone, but when you find your people hold on to them tightly and lift them up and cherish those relationships.
  5. Horses are still terrifying.
  6. Sometimes it’s about who you know, but it’s always about how you treat them. Always.
  7. Kindness costs nothing but you’ll pay dearly for anger or hatred.
  8. No means no, silence means no, and walking away/resisting means no. And you are allowed to say no whenever the hell you want.
  9. Kids do not equal success. Owning a home does not equal success. Traveling all over does not equal success. YOU get to define your own success. Don’t hand that power over to society.
  10. Facebook sucks. If you have the willpower to quit it, you should. I don’t yet.
  11. Read more. Learn more. Talk with people from different walks of life. Educate yourself about what’s going on around you.
  12. Practice empathy, but don’t internalize all the world’s drama. It will 100% destroy you.
  13. Find role models. And change role models if you need to. Inspirational quotes actually go a long way.
  14. Meditation, prayer, yoga, exercise, gratitude journals… they all work. Get in the habit of doing something that works for you.
  15. Don’t let your fears control you. I’m still working on this one.
  16. Pay attention to who is excited to see you and to see you succeed and to share in your special days. Return the favor and love them completely. (This includes pets.)
  17. If you’ve ever thought about getting a dog, DO IT. And adopt from your local shelter.
  18. Pay attention to what you put in your body and on your body.
  19. But also, eat dessert whenever you gosh darn please.
  20. Cake and pizza are suitable breakfast foods. I don’t like pizza or (most) cake, but I’m giving you the go ahead to eat it for breakfast.
  21. Spend your money responsibly. I don’t mean save it- I mean research where your money goes when you make purchases and know who or what you’re supporting with the swipe of a credit card.
  22. LaCroix is gross. Sorry, but it is. (Hahaha. If you like it that’s ok, too.)
  23. You don’t need to find a life partner, but if you happen to meet “the one” make sure that person fully respects you & encourages you.
  24. I know it’s a popular phrase right now, but “self-care” is a real thing. It’s as easy as taking a bath, sleeping in on the weekends, or pouring yourself a cuppa tea and reading a few chapters.
  25. Go freakin’ vote. And don’t ignore politics. These things are happening in your world and they will eventually effect you. Stay on top of them.
  26. Learn the difference between effect and affect, who and whom, then and than, their they’re and there, etc. I’m still working on that first one.
  27. If you partake in the drink, know what cocktails you love and learn how to mix them correctly.
  28. Be unapologetically yourself. If you love Harry Potter or Disney or superheroes or fantasy or baseball or the beach or whatever. There is NO normal. There really aren’t any rules when it comes to being you. Identify what colors or things or people or places make you happy, and then invest in them wholeheartedly.

And that’s all I’ve got. Off to eat ice cream & donuts because I really don’t like cake that much.