• Is vacation worth it?

    I know, click bait title, but hear me out. We are freshly off our first vacation as a family of four, and let’s just say mom and dad are a little tired. While I do love to vacation and explore new (and even familiar) places, I am admittedly a terrible traveler. Add the two little kids, and it is really easy for me to make excuses as to why we should push it off. “So much prep!”…“The baby hates the car seat!”…“We will never have enough room in the car!”…“It’s such a long drive” The list could on for days. And while these things are all true, vacation is still worth it. 

    This trip was a good one to ease ourselves into traveling as a new family of four—a familiar place, extended family in tow (i.e. higher ratio of adults to kids), and a lot of kid-friendly activities. Day one turned out to be more eventful than planned—surely expected (does any travel go off without a hitch?!), yet still surprising. Most of the four-hour drive included big feelings for one or both children and me crammed between two carseats in the back of a small SUV pulling all the tricks out of my bag to in an attempt to keep said feelings at bay. We were relieved to finally make it to town. We grabbed a beer (because, priorities) and some groceries, and headed to our rental only to discover it had not been cleaned. I spent the next couple of hours in a tizzy trying to connect with the owner and get the issue resolved while also managing children that were rapidly falling apart. By the end of that first day, I was EXHAUSTED and wondered what we were thinking. If I am being honest, I went to bed with a sense of dread for the week ahead. 

    But then both kids slept relatively well (and continued to for the rest of the week) despite sharing a room for the four of us. And there were the other wins. The big kid tried out her first roller coaster and loved it. The baby happily (for the most part) toted around in our wagon or strapped to my chest. We spent oodles of time with family we don’t see enough. There was a lot of good food and coffee. Neither my husband or I thought about work. All in all, it was a good week. 

    Another thing happened during the week. My family and I spent a lot of time reminiscing about past vacations. We felt nostalgia for the good times and laughed at all the hiccups along the way. I realized that during those years, when I just had to show up for the vacation, I was blissfully ignorant of the work my parents and other relatives were putting into to our travels. And all these years later, there is no doubt they would do it all again, hiccups and all.  

    So, yes, vacation is definitely worth it. 

  • The Mother I Am

    Before having kids, I didn’t really think much about the “type” of mother that I would be. I just thought a mom was a mom was a mom. Of course, I intellectually knew that there were different types of mothers and different ways of mothering, but I sort of lumped all mothers together. Plus, my perception of motherhood was limited to my own mom and other mothers in my family and local community. I figured I was around a bunch of good moms, so I would be a good mom too. 

    Fast forward to pregnancy with my first. I soon learned that there were so many decisions that would define the type of mother I would be. I was bombarded by all the research backed parenting methods and, thanks to the internet, an endless supply of mothers. Being a good mom was no longer the goal; I needed to be the perfect mom. 

    As an information junkie, I relished in taking in all the content on how to mother. I was determined to create the perfect mother by pulling all the right ingredients together. Then, I would simply follow that recipe for success.

    One of the ingredients for my version of the perfect mother was an unmedicated birth. Then I got an epidural and before I even left the hospital with my two-day old baby, I was no longer the perfect mother. I had managed to fail my first assignment. In the four years since my first “failure,” I have continued to measure myself against this amorphous perfect mother. Even though she cannot be adequately defined, I know her as the mother that is always patient and respectful to her children, prepares all her own home-grown organic food, provides her kids with the best educational opportunities, but isn’t overly structured, never let’s her kids watch tv. She’s the mother with the kids that never get sick, the spotless home, a playroom full of heirloom wooden toys. And I can’t forget about her impressive career, while still spending lots of time at home. Really, her qualities are endless. Compared to her, I’m constantly finding myself falling short. 

    But on the quest to be the perfect mother, I often miss out on the opportunity right in front of me. The opportunity to be the mother I am. 

    I want to give myself permission to find peace in this mother. The one that I already am. The one that isn’t “perfect,” but is perfect for her kids. The mother who has infinite love for her kids, but doesn’t want to be around them all of the time. The one who keeps the house just clean enough. The one who can’t keep a Montessori playroom. The one who struggles with arts and crafts, but loves to bake with her littles, even when it means a cup of flour ends up on the floor. The one who keeps journals for her kids. The one who loves being outside, but isn’t bringing her kids camping. The one who practices gentle parenting and still loses her cool. The one who can never quite find the right balance of career and mothering. The one who shows up for her kids everyday. She has a lot of great qualities too. Here’s her permission slip to just be the mother she is.

    This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Permission Slip”.

  • Summer fun list

    Next week marks the official first day of summer! There is always so much anticipation going into summer and how we will spend our time, but the reality for us is that day-to-day life doesn’t really look much different. Enter the summer fun list. Each summer (and some other seasons too), I make a list of fun things I want to do, either solo or as a family. Creating this list helps make summer feel special, reminds me to step away from the “to-dos” and “have-tos,” and is an easy way to look back at the end of the season and reflect on all the fun that was had in the midst of the mundane. Note that this isn’t a lofty list of summer goals—many of these activities are already pre-scheduled or things we would be doing anyways, with a fun twist. With that, here is my list for Summer 2022: 

    1. Family summer vacation. This one is already on the calendar and we are looking forward to our first week-long vacation in a long time.  
    2. Berry picking at our favorite farm. Summer favorite in our house, but it can also easily fall to the wayside if our calendar gets full. 
    3. Try a new (to us) local restaurant. There is a local waterfront and family friendly place that I have been eyeing. We tend to always go to the same places, so here’s to trying something new.  
    4. Visiting one of our favorite local hiking trails. Another one that can get forgotten, so reminding myself that we need to make this happen. 
    5. Getting ice cream. This one is special because it isn’t something we do very often. 
    6. Go on a goat hike. Yep—you read that right. We did this last summer and it was SO MUCH FUN. 
    7. At least one friend get together. Between babies, jobs, and other obligations, this can be really hard to make happen, so I am really hoping to cross this one off the list. 
    8. Attend an outdoor concert. Is there anything more fun than sitting outside and listening to good music?! 
    9. Beach with family friends. We are lucky to have family friends that invited us to their beach this summer and I’m determined to take them up on the offer (hopefully more than once). I am one of those parents that struggle to bring my kids to the beach, but I know the work to get them there will be worth it. 
    10. At least one family bike ride. It has been a long time since I went on a bike ride, but we are getting the bikes in working order and have the kid trailer ready to go! 
    11. BONUS: Read ten books. I had to add this one on because I am a bit behind on my reading challenge for the year and summer is the perfect time to read.

    I’d love to hear what is on your summer fun list this year! Tell me in the comments. 

  • Surviving a solo-parenting weekend

    I’m on the heels of my longest stint of solo parenting—whew! While I love my children dearly, they are a lot of physical work, especially at their current ages (7 months and newly 4). It was a long weekend (no pun intended) of messes and big feelings, but also lots of outside time, quality time and fun. I will say that this time gave me more confidence as a parent, especially a newish parent of two, but I am also super grateful to have my co-parent back. (And, can we give a shout out to single parents and co-parents that are solo parenting for long stretches of time—the real unsung heroes!)

    I wanted to reflect on how I came out the weekend relatively unscathed and have this as a reminder to my future self on the next solo-parenting adventure: 

    1. Lower expectations. This goes without saying, right?! I still need the reminder. Things will take longer, go undone, and new challenges will come up, so give yourself some grace.
    2. Ease up on the rules a little. Sure, it wasn’t going to be animal house, but I don’t need to worry about an extra episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or an afternoon ice cream.
    3. Eat off of paper plates. Not economical or environmentally friendly, but seriously cuts down on clean-up time. I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this until the last day. 
    4. Put myself to bed early. At the end of the day, I just needed to lay down to decompress. That meant some of the dishes might not be done or the house not picked up, but see #1. 
    5. Get out of the house, but no big plans. We opted to stay really local, but did get out everyday. This isn’t a time to jam pack the calendar or do something new, but hitting up some local playgrounds or going for walks is a great way to break up the days. 

    For all my parents out there solo-parenting full-time or part-time, we got this!

  • Rethinking creativity

    What a month it has been. As I write this, my family is riding out the remainder of our Covid quarantine. The virus that we evaded for more than two years finally hit us (the week before my daughter’s fourth birthday i.e. more canceled plans). Before my entire family went into two weeks of isolation, life was full. (To be clear, life feels full at home with two small children, no childcare, and two working parents too 😬). I solo parented two kiddos overnight for the first time. I left my previous job. Maternity leave ended and I started a new job.

    At the end of the day, I didn’t have a lot of space for “creativity.” Or, so I thought? Sure, I didn’t feel like I had the time or space to pour into my blog, a new recipe, or a home organization project, but I can assure you, I’ve been creative. 

    Often, “creativity” is limited to artists—those writing a beautiful story, capturing a breathtaking photo, creating a stunning painting. But, why?

    The reality is that creativity goes into everything we do. It’s not always a blog full of perfectly written posts. Sometimes, it’s the formation of new rhythms and routines for my family. It’s figuring out how to entertain my kids during, yet another, day at home. It’s getting dinner on the table in twenty minutes with as few dishes and ingredients as possible. 

    If you are in a season like me and feel like your creativity is suffering, I see you, and I invite you to rethink how you approach creativity. You’re doing more than you think. 

  • Maternity Leave Reflections

    It is hard to believe I am at the end of a six-month maternity leave. Early babyhood is full of dichotomies—it goes by fast, yet slow; the days all feel the same, yet the baby routines have changed more times than I can count; I want the time to last forever, yet I’m ready for the next phase.  

    When I began reflecting on this time, my first instinct was to think “what have I done with all of this time?,” as if there was something to accomplish, something to show. Thanks to my husband, I was able to turn this notion upside on its head. Maternity leave was meant to bond with my baby and nourish our relationships as a family of four. I can say, without a doubt, those “goals” were met. 

    The tiny ball of squish that entered our world in October is now a wide-eyed babbling baby. A sibling relationship is blossoming. I’m figuring out, through a lot of trial and error, how to be a parent to two kids. Together, we are all figuring out how to be a family of four. 

    There is so much I cherish about the last six months and so many things I want remember: 

    1. The early days when I was mostly staying in bed. Our room felt like a cozy cocoon—the twinkle lights from birth still strung up. My daughter would snuggle up next to me and baby brother, excited for the endless screen time and eating meals in bed. 
    2. Feeling like the world was so small in those early days and weeks. The last few years have been heavy, so the newborn phase provided even more of a reprieve from all of the noise in the world.
    3. The ease I felt as a second time mom, knowing that I didn’t need to be so worried about milestones, wake windows, or justify our family’s decisions to anyone else.
    4. Watching the sibling relationship blossom and change. In the early days, my daughter running in the house from school everyday, eager to hold her brother. Watching him discover his sister, eyes following her wherever she goes. 
    5. The Great British Baking Show marathons during the early days and weeks. If you’ve ever been on maternity leave, you know there is the one show that defines that time. 
    6. Those first couple of months with my husband on parental leave. While we were tired, it felt like we were thriving, and I know that would not have be possible without our time together. 
    7. Our first Christmas as a family of four and the first, of many, matching sibling jammies.
    8. Our first big outing as a family of four—to the zoo for a holiday light show. On our way there, wondering what we were thinking taking kids out so close to bedtime. While the lights were beautiful, the real memory is the massive newborn blowout in the middle of the zoo without an extra set of clothes for the baby (#secondkidproblems). 
    9. The many many walks I went on with a baby strapped to my chest. Getting outside during winter is not easy, but those walks were so needed and cherished.  
    10. Surviving my first day caring for both kids; more laughs than tears.
    11. Learning how to do the day-to-day tasks with two kids. There was and is many a time that I’ve been cooking dinner with a baby strapped to my chest and a toddler standing next to me on her stool “helping.”
    12. All of the baby noises. The grunts, the sighs, the early coos.
    13. All of the firsts. The first roll, which I admittedly missed, but my husband gave me the play-by-play many times over, the first smile, the first bath. My favorite first by far was the first time he laughed at his sister as she jumped on the couch. 
    14. The moments I had with just my older child—taking her to ski lessons, playground dates, a friend’s birthday party. 
    15. The slowness of the days. I don’t do slow very well, but babies have a special way of forcing you to slow down, and for that, I am forever grateful. 

    This short list is just a glimpse of the many memories created during this time (many more I’m sure I’m forgetting), reminding me that this was time really well spent. And, with that, on to the next phase. 

  • How I Find Time to Read

    I recently got the question of how I find time to read, so I decided to turn my advice into a post! For context, I read about 25 books per year, I read only hard copy books (no audio books or kindle), and am a mom to two small kids. There are two key elements for me finding the time to read: habit creation and logistics. 

    Habit Creation 

    In the past few years, reading has become a habit for me. I’m not some type of superhuman—this did (and does) take work to maintain. Here’s how I made reading a habit: 

    1. Identifying why I wanted to read more. For me, it was a combination of fun, wanting to learn more, and wanted to crowd out other bad habits (i.e. scrolling). It doesn’t matter the reason, but it is really important to identify your why otherwise it will be really hard to stick with a new habit. 
    2. Start small. When you are trying to create a habit, there is nothing worse than unrealistic expectations that leave you feeling instantly defeated. This looked like a reading goal of 12 books for the year (or a book a month) the first time I starting getting intentional about reading more. Maybe it’s a book a month, a book a quarter, or even reading for 10 minutes 3 times a week.
    3. I created a running list of books I wanted to read. I find it so helpful to have a number of book titles at my fingertips for when I am ready for my next book to keep the momentum going. I get ideas from bestseller lists, blogs, podcasts, or sometimes just browsing the library. 
    4. Leaving a book when I hated it. Just don’t force yourself to finish a book you hate for the sake of finishing. Cut your loses and move on. 
    5. Always having my next book on-deck. I mostly use the library, but also have my own stack of books at home. When I’m getting close to finishing a book, I make sure to pull a book that looks interesting from my stack, or order a book from the library (this is so easy online).
    6. Having the tools I needed. For me, this is mostly a book lamp and a bookmark, but for you it may include an e-reader or headphones. Whatever it is, make sure you have it. 


    Now to tackle the logistics of when I actually read. My number one strategy here is to always have my book close by or with me. This can be really clunky since I’m not using an e-reader or audiobooks, but it works for me. When I read definitely changes based on the season of life, but here is a list of times I am actually reading: 

    1. Before bed. This can be tough because many times I’m falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but I always try to open my book and find that if I can put my phone down as soon as I’m in bed, I can usually squeak out at least 10 minutes.
    2. As soon as I wake up. This one isn’t happening right now because I’m not waking up until my kids are waking me up, but there have been times where I will wake up and grab my book for a quick 10-15 minutes.
    3. While my kid is bathing, playing independently, at an activity, or watching a show. Again, this won’t always work depending on how involved I need, or want, to be, but I have found these times to be some of the best for reading.
    4. During baby nap times. This is very specific to my current life stage, but maybe you have a a similar forced down time!
    5. Waiting for appointments. If you are headed to the doctor, dentist, oil change, whatever—bring your book!
    6. On vacation. This is probably a pretty obvious one, but I always make sure to bring a couple book choices.
    7. Any other time I have a few minutes. This can look really different from person to person, but if you are having a hard time figuring out when to read, try to find moments during the day where you have a few minutes of down time. Maybe at lunch time, between meetings, listening to an audiobook on your commute? There is probably some time in there you can take back for reading!

    I hope this was helpful and I’d love to hear your tips! Comment below with your favorite ways to fit in reading. 

  • March Roundup

    Spring is here—hooray! I’ve been soaking up the nicer weather and doing a ton of Spring cleaning. Here’s what I was up to in March.

    What I Read 

    Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

    This was West’s debut novel and it was an emotional and heartbreaking tale of a young woman determined to save her best friend from her violent father. The book weaves in topics of generational trauma, racial tension, friendships and faith through the stories of three generations of families in South Side Chicago. The star character for me was Calvary Hope Christian Church, the hub of the community, who takes on a persona to tell many of the most startling moments. 

    Free to Learn by Peter Gray

    Admittedly, not my favorite book. I was interested in this book because it advocates for more free play and self-directed learning for kids. However, the author’s tone towards modern schooling was SO negative that it was hard for me to take anything useful out of this book. If you are interested in learning more about children’s need for play, unstructured time, and self-directed learning, I think there are a lot of other great reads out there that are more relatable. 

    What I Made 

    A new (to me) cookie recipe and some yummy staples in our house!

    Nature Cookies by weelicious

    I’m always on the hunt for baked goods that are “healthier” and easy! I was able to whip these up with my 3-year-old relatively quickly and already had all the ingredients on hand. There are tons of options for swaps for the mix-ins, so you can cater it to your preferences. The recipe made a ton of cookies that lasted us for days. 

    Easy Homemade Beef Chili by Fed + Fit 

    While we are on the tail end of chili season, this recipe is too good not to share. This chili has been a staple in our home all winter—it’s easy, delicious (even to the toddler), and makes a ton of food. The addition of bacon gives so much yummy flavor. 

    Sourdough Pizza by Radical Roots  

    I took my starter out from the depths of the fridge and brought her back to life! We enjoyed this recipe for pizza night and I hope to do more homemade pizza in the weeks to come. 

    What I did 

    Wardrobe Revamp

    I’ll be headed back to work soon and trading my leggings for business casual (whomp whomp). Between pandemic work-from-home, pregnancy and now postpartum, my work wardrobe needed some serious love. I wasn’t interested in heading out to the mall to find new clothes (who is?!), so I enlisted the help of Stitch Fix (an online stylist company). This was my first time using a company like this and I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to create a style profile, which included the price point I wanted to stay in, the service was inexpensive, and it doesn’t require a subscription. Highly recommend if you need a closet revamp and want some pieces that are curated for you.


    With the (mostly) milder weather, I have been trying to get out for walks as much as I can, either solo or with the family. Walking sometimes gets a bad rap as a form of fitness, but it is really a great way to move that has the added benefit of fresh air and stress relief. 

    I hope you had a great March! I’d love to hear what you made, read or did!

  • Growth is not linear

    My baby intentionally rolls over from his back to his belly with ease. He does it again the next day. Then, he doesn’t do it again for more than a week—often just kicking his legs up and down feverishly and struggling to get onto his side. 

    I walk to the door to find my daughter fully dressed, zipper up on her coat and her shoes on the right feet. The next day, she struggles to even start the zipper on her coat. She can’t figure out her shoes. All in all, there are still more days than not that she needs help. 

    In both cases, my children are completely unfazed. My baby happily kicks his legs, eventually rolling back over to his belly with even more strength. Even through some frustration, my daughter tries her zipper every morning, asking for help when she can’t get it just right. And, on those mornings she does it all herself, she beams proudly.

    These are just two of an endless supply of examples. Children are constantly falling down and picking themselves up with little fanfare. Continuing to try, and try again, even when it takes a hundred times. Even when what they could do yesterday is a struggle today. Non-linear progress is just a part of their everyday life. 

    It had me thinking: when did I forget that growth is not linear? At what point did I start believing progress should be a straight shot upwards? I hadn’t realized how long this notion was part of my conditioning. 

    As usual, my children are my best teachers. 

    Instead, I should honor the wobbles, the times I fall down, or just can’t get something right. Because, on the other side, is where the real growth happens.

  • Surface Pressure

    My three-year-old happily dances around the living room as we watch Encanto for the first time. I, too, am bobbing my head to the catchy songs. I’m instantly mesmerized by Luisa’s anthem—the dancing donkeys, the mix of strength and grace in Luisa’s dance moves, her story. Days later I’m still humming the beat under my breath as the words dance in my mind and I realize Surface Pressure is the theme-song for every mother during the pandemic.

    In February 2020, life was finally feeling settled. My daughter was a year and a half old, and my work, social, and family obligations felt balanced after a tough transition into motherhood. Enter Covid-19. 

    At the end of the second week of March 2020, I went home from the office thinking we would be working from home for the next week. By Sunday, childcare centers were closed. 

    Pressure like a drip, drip, drip, that’ll never stop, whoa-oh

    That first week was tiring, but manageable. My husband and I were both working from home and we were able to finagle our schedules to alternate parenting and meetings. Of course there were the stresses of the unknowns of the virus, but overall we were figuring it out and thought it would be a very temporary arrangement. 

    But then that first week turned into another, then into another, until daycares were closed until further notice.

    Pressure that’ll tip, tip, tip ’til you just go pop, whoa-oh-oh-oh

    The months that followed were a jigsaw puzzle of childcare so that we could work. Once daycare reopened (for mornings only), I raced out of the house to be the first in line at drop-off to cram in the maximum amount of kid-free work hours. The afternoons were spent hoping that she would go down easily for a nap (or at least sit in her room quietly) while I worked for a few more hours. I’d finish up my work day after bedtime, only to set the alarm early to start the cycle over again. 

    Daycare never increased to pre-pandemic hours because of staffing and protocols. Work didn’t seem to slow down for either my husband or I. In a time of unpredictable and not enough childcare, we had never been busier—projects stacking on top of projects. The early flexibility and understanding from employers dwindled because the job had to be done.  

    Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, whoa-oh

    And, then there was the runny nose…

    Something that is a staple for most small children from October to March had turned into an anxiety-producing symptom. Was it Covid? Did we need to test? She would stay home from school as we waited for the results. This was yet another never-ending cycle of nose swabs, days out of school, and worry. 

    Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks…

    And then there was the rest of life. Trying to hold it together as we lost a family member and had to say goodbye in full PPE. Soon after that, I endured two unexpected medical procedures in the same month— largely alone—healthcare facilities not allowing additional visitors to appointments.

    Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, whoa-oh-oh-oh

    And all of this with little to no in-person social connection as I overanalyzed every outing and get-together to determine whether or not it was safe enough or “worth it” for the risk of exposure. 

    Most days I felt like I was stumbling through—like Luisa on the tight rope with more donkeys being thrown on each side of pole. I often felt guilty for how stressed I was, being pulled like a rag doll between mothering and working, never really knowing when one obligation started and another one ended.

    The last two years often felt impossible. There was no way to do it all, no way to get it right. The pressures and expectations were never ending. As we round out two years of pandemic life, I’m ready to relax in a hammock with a drink.

    This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Lyrical”.