Hello, Morning!

Remember earlier in the week when I blogged about how I had a terrible cold and was super worried that the newborn would also catch a terrible cold? Good news! I survived the cold (which is still hanging on, btw) and the newborn didn’t catch it (at least not yet. Breastfeeding ftw!).

Since it appears that I’m not going to die (immediately anyway), I wanted to let you know about some steps I’ve taken over the last few weeks to do something that’s always been out of my reach.

I’m going to become a morning person.

If you see me on a daily basis, you probably know I’m categorically NOT a morning person. That’s not to say I don’t like mornings. I actually love mornings. I love waking up, having a hot beverage, reading a bit, and eating breakfast all preferably while sitting outside or near a window. What I don’t love is doing things in the morning. I hate being forced to get up and rush to get ready for the day and rush to be somewhere. I like having time in the morning. I like mornings that prepare me for the day. Alas, mornings like that rarely happen to me.

Instead my mornings generally go like this–I wake up about 15 minutes late (yes, no matter what time I set my alarm for I wake up 15 minutes later than I need to), I rush to the shower, rush through the shower, toss on some makeup, hurriedly do my hair, toss on some clothes (which will hopefully be easier with my ongoing closet reorganization), make my breakfast smoothie, grab lunch, grab my bag, and head out the door. And that’s just the me stuff. You also have to add in the helping Stella get ready stuff. Sean and I divide this up, so it’s never the same but always had 15-20 mins to the morning routine. Now that Marci is here and I add nursing her and getting her stuff together to the routine, we’ll be looking at another 15-20 minutes to all of that. So we’re looking at probably a 2 hour-ish morning routine before I even make it out the door.

And that’s why I need to become a morning person. Mornings like I described above (i.e. every morning I’m not on maternity leave) cause a lot of unnecessary stress and leave me feeling frazzled for the rest of the day. Much like the closet reorganization, I’ve got a plan. This one is less complicated, but will undoubtedly be much harder to implement.

Basically, the plan is to incorporate the things I love about mornings into my everyday morning routine. Obviously all of those things can’t happen every morning unless I want to wake up for the day at 3 a.m. Since I definitely don’t want that to happen, I’m working on altering those things to fit my schedule. I’ll be incorporating habits to give me more focus, make me more alert, and give me more energy throughout the day. My goals are to give up caffeine (check!), drinking lemon/honey water, incorporating 15-20 minutes of yoga and/or meditation, and, this is the big one, not pick up my phone or hit the snooze button before I’m ready to walk out the door.

Since the hardest part about this plan is going to be, you know, actually doing it, I’m starting it now. That gives be about 8 weeks or so before I have to actually use it to get out the door at a specific time. So far, I’ve given up caffeine (remarkably easy with a newborn) and have started drinking lemon/honey water (surprisingly refreshing and soothing). I’m working on the not picking up the phone part of the plan, but that’s not going well. At some point in the coming weeks, I’ll start doing some yoga after I wake up and, eventually, I’ll start setting an alarm again and not snoozing it.

I can’t say I’m a morning person yet. At least not in the sense that I enjoy doing things in the morning, but I think I’ll get there. And, hey, we’re one step closer. If you’ll notice, I’m actually writing this post in the morning! Woohoo!

Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Naming it is the hardest part.

I’ve got several blog posts mapped out just waiting to be written. This post  isn’t one of them. I’ve succumbed to Stella’s most recent daycare cold and, even though I feel the need to write, I just don’t want to give short shrift to any of the posts I’ve mapped out.

So, here we are.

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My sick station

 

I’m sitting on my couch with some terrible sinus pressure, a runny nose, sore throat and a newborn. A newborn who also has a runny nose. I know this is just a cold, but Stella didn’t get her first cold until she was almost 3 months old. A three week old with a potential cold really freaks me out. I’m waking up every time she makes a noise, I’m sleeping with my hand on her chest or with her on my chest, I”m nursing her as often as possible and hoping that she’s getting antibodies from me.

I’m sitting on my couch, feeling pretty terrible myself, and feeling anxious that my newborn also feels terrible. This feeling–the feeling that you’re more worried about someone else than yourself–really only has one name.

Motherhood.

I’ve felt it before. Of course I have. I have a two year old. It’s new and different now though. Feeling it for someone other than Stella is new and different.

Motherhood is old and new all at once.

Transitioning

Earlier in the week, I posted that spring had finally come to the Bluegrass. Well. I was wrong. The last several days have been cold and rainy and just generally depressing. Blah.

But.

Today is officially the first day of spring. Today or, to be more accurate, this evening is the vernal equinox. I’m not sure why, but equinox and solstice days really speak to me. More than any other days of the year, these days feel sacred. They mark the transition between seasons and phases of life.

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I never have or attend any sort of celebration for those days, but I do quietly mark them on my own. Today I’m planning my garden, starting some seeds, and spending some time meditating on the transition from winter to spring.

The transition from hibernation to full waking life.

From dark to light.

From old to new.

A transition.

That’s what this day is for me and that’s why it feels so important and so momentous. The vernal equinox marks the beginning of a blank slate and represents hope.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this new season brings.

 

Spring has sprung!

Here in Kentucky, spring has finally made an appearance. Of course, it is Kentucky. So, even though the last several days (maybe even the last week!) have been absolutely gorgeous, it’s entirely possible that winter could show up again at any moment. The changeability of Kentucky weather really makes those of us who are native Kentuckians live in the moment. You have to enjoy nice weather because it could, and does sometimes, change within minutes.

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My little family has been outside enjoying the warm weather for days now. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking an afternoon walk with Marci and later going to the park with Sean and Stella. Both are my favorite for different reasons. When I walk with Marci I get a little alone time (perfect for recharging my introvert self). Sometimes I spend this time just listening to nature, but mostly I listen to audiobooks. I discovered my love for audiobooks when I started commuting longer than 10 minutes andnow I listen to them all the time. It’s a great way to get things done while also “reading.” But I digress… These peaceful walks with just my thoughts or a book are a sharp contrast to walking with a toddler. Walking with a toddler is so much fun. Stella is amazed by everything. Puddles, grass, flowers, worms, birds… they’re all new to her and watching her discover all of the newness of the world is so gratifying. Her amazement makes me appreciate and see things in a new way. Her discovery of all the newness is the real spring.

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On being an introvert

It probably comes as no surprise to most of you to learn that I’m an introvert. In fact, if you’ve been reading the blog for a while you may remember that I’ve mentioned that fact before. Under the very best circumstances, being extremely busy or very social for extended periods of time is exhausting to me.

I realized earlier this week that having a newborn exacerbates my normal introvert tendencies to super-introvert level. I think its because there’s really no alone time when you have a newborn; either the newborn is with you or the toddler is with you or you have visitors (who are hopefully not expecting you to entertain them). Regardless, you’re never alone and if there’s one thing I know about myself its how much I need alone time.

That realization led me to think about being an introvert in general. On one hand, I’m very glad that in the last several years introverts have been getting a lot of attention. Growing up, everyone thought I was shy and a loner. I neither of those, but being categorized that way from an early age shaped my personality. From that perspective, I’m glad that introversion is becoming more widely acknowledged and understood. BUT I also feel like being an introvert is that “cool” thing to be right now. I just want to go on record now as having been an introvert before it was mainstream.

Coincidentally, a few days after those 3 a.m. realizations, I came across a very interesting link on the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog (have you discovered that blog? No? You should totally read it.). The link was to a blog called Introvert, Dear and was to a post about the 4 types of introverts. That’s right. Apparently, there’s not just one kind of introvert. The four types identified are social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. I took the quiz at Scientific American and my type of introversion is thinking. I read the description of thinking introversion and it’s basically a description of me. So, at least for me, the quiz is accurate. Even if it’s not accurate, it’s pretty fun.

Spring cleaning

The suspiciously un-blizzardy weather (I can see the grass!) we’ve been having the last few days has me thinking about spring cleaning.  I want to clean and organize ALL THE THINGS, but since I’m only 10 days postpartum I’ve decided to baby steps (Ha! See what I did there? Baby steps…) and do small tasks for now instead of taking on the BIG ONE (the garage) immediately. I’m going to be reorganizing/cleaning/clearing most areas in my house over the next few months as part of a move to a more minimalist lifestyle, so you’ll probably be reading quite a bit about my “spring” cleaning.

First task is my closet. Why is the closet first? Two reasons. First, I’ve gotten much too comfortable wearing leggings as pants. Don’t misunderstand. I LOVE leggings. Especially when pregnant and postpartum. But I can’t in good conscience keep wearing leggings as pants like 3 times a week.

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Exhibit A: My outfit today.

Non-legging related reason to start with the closet: Right now I have  3 different wardrobes and that’s 2 too many. I have a regular wardrobe for spring, summer, fall, and winter, a maternity wardrobe for fall and winter, and a postpartum wardrobe for spring/summer. To make matters worse, portions of each are all currently in my closet. It’s a mess.

So, how is this closet spring cleaning going to work? Slowly and in baby steps. First, the maternity wardrobe goes into storage. I’m not sure that I’m finished with it  and 10 days postpartum is too soon to make final decision. Next, I’m taking a good look at the postpartum wardrobe. Obvs this is the wardrobe I’m wearing now and if my experience with Stella is any indication, I’ll be wearing this wardrobe for several months (probably into the early fall or even winter) and will need to add a few pieces. After that, I’ll be going through my regular wardrobe. Even though I won’t be wearing it for a while, I know what I wore and what I really didn’t and can go ahead and pare it down before I actually start wearing it again. Finally, I’m going to edit my accessories. Shoes, jewelry, bags, etc. I have tons of accessories because I’ve always had the mentality that more options are better than fewer options. Now it’s time to face facts: at this point in my life, more options overwhelm me and I can’t decide which pair of red shoes I should wear and just end up wearing black instead.

The end goal of all of this is a capsule wardrobe. I’m really drawn to the idea of a capsule wardrobe because, as I mentioned with the accessories, I don’t really have the time or energy to have a lot of clothing options right now. I want to be able to reach into my closet and know that whatever I pull out is going to go together.  I’m doing this with the stylebook app and my Breastfeeding Friendly Closet pinterest board (because for the next 2 years or so my wardrobe also has to be breastfeeding friendly).

Things got rolling today when I started gathering up maternity clothes (minus my favorite Old Navy tanks which have made the leap from maternity to full-time wardrobe) for storage. Tomorrow I’m planning to pull the postpartum wardrobe from storage and begin the process of adding it to stylebook and evaluating what I need to add to it. Of course, all of this is contingent on a newborn so things may or may not go according to plan. This is going to be a long process (probably), but I’ll provide updates to let you know how/if its working out along the way.

Parenting books that don’t suck

After Stella was born (and let’s be honest, before) I bought and read A LOT of parenting books. I mean, like a lot of books. This time I pared down the list significantly. Why? Because before I read a lot of parenting books that, frankly, suck. To save you guys time, I’ve made a list of my favorite parenting books… you know, the ones that don’t suck.

So, why did I pick these 10 books as my favorite parenting books? Because they’re actually useful, easy to read, and offer intuitive advice. It’s that last one that’s most important to me. The books I read that I hated gave advice that went against everything my intuition told me to do. I read books that told me to fed my baby on a schedule, to only let the baby sleep in a crib, to let the baby cry x-amount of minutes before picking them up, to introduce solids to make the baby sleep through the night, etc. None of those things felt right to me. The books on this list reinforced what I naturally felt I needed to do to care for my baby and gave me confidence that I really needed as a first time mom.

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From top down:

1. Baby Led Weaning, Rapley and Murkett, $8.44 at Amazon.

If you’ve never heard of baby led weaning and have an infant, you have to read this book. Baby led weaning is the easiest and least stressful way to introduce solids. The idea is simple: you follow the baby’s lead in introducing solids. First, you wait until baby is old enough to grasp pieces of food. Then, you give them age appropriate food and let them play with it/feed it to themselves. The overriding rule is “food before one is just for fun.” This book really helped me not stress about whether and how much Stella was eating… and it’s so much easier than trying to spoon feed purees. Basically, this is the lazy parent’s way to introduce solids.

2. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League International, $12.55 at Amazon.

This is a new book for me this time around and I love it. I wish that I had had it when Stella was still nursing. It’s fantastic and addresses pretty much any question you might have about breastfeeding in plain language. Plus it has these tear out sheets with helpful information for the first few weeks.

3. The Breastfeeding Book, Sears and Sears, $14.37 at Amazon.

I got this one when Stella was about a month old and I wished I’d had it before. Like “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” it has all the information you need to have when you first start breastfeeding. As you can see from the picture, it’s shorter than “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” The length makes it an easy read for the first time really exhausted mom.

4. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, Rapley and Murkett, $11.07 at Amazon.

This is a companion book for the Baby Led Weaning book. I’ll be honest, some of the recipes aren’t great. BUT there are some good ideas for meals in here and a lot of the recipes can be made a lot better with a few alterations. The issue with the recipes that aren’t great is that they’re a little bland for an adult palette, so that’s an easy fix. What I really liked about this book though was that it had ideas for meals that I wouldn’t have thought of (like oatmeal sticks) that Stella loved.

5. Mother Food, Jacobson, $20.38 at Amazon.

If, like me, you spent several months worried that your milk supply was low this book is a life saver. It has lots of info about foods and herbs that are good for increasing milk supply and recipes that include those foods and herbs. Once you’ve read the book, it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet. Oh, and bonus, it has also has information about special diets while breastfeeding.

6. Sleeping with Your Baby, McKenna, $12.17 at Amazon.

I never intended to bed share, but it happened and is unexpectedly awesome. This book, which is a really quick read, tells you how to bed share or room share safely. It also includes information about the developmental benefits of co-sleeping (however, you choose to do it). The author, James McKenna, researches infant sleep at Notre Dame’s Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory.

7. The Baby Book, Sears, $16.14 at Amazon.

I literally can’t say enough good things about this book. It has so much information and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve consulted this book at 3 am to decide whether I’m crazily overreacting or if there’s an actual problem. (Spoiler alert: I’m always crazily overreacting.) It has everything from how to treat a fever to developmental stages to normal baby sleep.

8. The Discipline Book, Sears and Sears, $12.70 at Amazon.

This isn’t a baby book. It’s more for toddlers, but it’s been so helpful for me. It really helped me understand how toddlers think and why they do they things they do. Hint: It’s not just to annoy me. There’s a lot of information about discipline techniques in there too, but the best thing for me was learning why Stella does the things she does.

Not pictured but also don’t suck:

9. The Vaccine Book, Sears, $11.97 at Amazon.

Vaccines are a hot topic these days. If you’re on the “I’m so confused about vaccines” side of things, this is the book for you. Dr. Sears is very pro-vaccine (like most doctors), but the book includes plain language information about all vaccines on the CDC vaccination schedule. There’s a recommended alternative vaccination schedule that ensures kids get all the vaccines on the CDC schedule at a delayed pace. I don’t use the alternative schedule, but did use the information in the book to develop a different schedule with our pediatrician.

10. Beyond the Sling, Bialik, $12.88 at Amazon.

This is really a parenting memoir, not a parenting advice book. I really like it because it’s an honest portrayal of life, with some helpful tips, when your parenting style is not exactly mainstream. I’m not as far out of the mainstream parenting as Bialik is, but I do share a lot of her “crunchy” parenting attributes. It was really refreshing for me to read about how she deals with other people’s opinions regarding parenting choices. ‘Cause everyone has an opinion about how you parent and when you do things other people don’t (like nurse a toddler) the comments can be a little hurtful.


Hopefully this list will save you some time and book money. Comment with any additional parenting books you think are must reads!