Happy March! I wanted to try something different—a recap of the last month. These monthly recaps are a work in progress, but will most likely include books that I read, any recipes that I tried, and a few other highlights of what I did during the month. With that said, enjoy the February roundup!
What I Read
Admittedly, February was a bit of a reading slump. I started a bunch of different books, but not much kept me reading. I did devour one book early in the month:
No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler
I heard this author on a podcast and was immediately interested in reading her latest book. After a cancer diagnosis at 35 that stops her in her tracks, Bowler questions the self-help industry’s theories that you can achieve anything you want if you try hard enough and life is full of unlimited choices. This memoir was well written and relatable.
What I Made
If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know I’m over the whole dinner thing, BUT, I do love to try new baking recipes when I can fit it in.
This baked oatmeal was a fun breakfast treat. I found it on Instagram stories, so I’m not sure if there is an official recipe yet, but keep an eye out! The recipe called for a blend of the ingredients, which turned the batter into more of an oat flour than a crumbly-type oatmeal bake. Dessert for breakfast—yes please!
All I can say is WOWWWWW. These are delicious and didn’t last long in my house. Plus, they were relatively easy to make (just takes a bunch of inactive time for cooking and setting) and minimal ingredients. If you love peanut butter and chocolate, you need to try these.
What I did
Since I am still on maternity leave, I am trying to get through some house projects. My main focus in February was decluttering and organizing our house. This project is going slower than I had hoped, but I still made some progress. Since I am on the baby’s schedule, I try to break tasks down into 10-15 minute increments to keep it manageable and keep me motivated. One of the organization projects I tackled was a keepsake tote for my daughter. This tote is my plan for managing the artwork and paper keepsakes for my kids. The filing folders are broken down by year and I try to keep just what fits comfortably in the folder. My plan is to throw everything in there that I may want to keep throughout the year and then purge anything I no longer want to keep at the end of each year.
I have been loving the Athletic Mom program. The movements are foundational and the workouts are simple, yet effective. The style of workout has been perfect for me postpartum—not too intense, but keeping me moving.
Well, I’m tired. The baby just hit four months old, which brings a TON of new development. It also brings some sleep issues and clinginess with it. On top of that, the last week has been full with work and personal obligations. All good stuff, but it means most of my energy has gone to the essentials (like keeping my kids alive) and not much else. When I sat down this week to write a post, nothing was coming of it. I would start something, then delete. Stare at the same sentence for twenty minutes. I was panicked-my writing can’t already be fizzling out?! “No,” I thought, “you’re tired.” And, that’s it. That’s the punchline. There isn’t always an elaborate solution to a problem. Sometimes, you just need a nap.
Even though the official start of spring is just a few weeks away, it still feels like there is a lot of winter to get through. Plus, here in the Northeast, early spring can be met with frigid temperatures and a rouge snowstorm. While I try to embrace all seasons, I am not above being grumpy about cold weather and dreary dark days. To combat the winter blues, I was inspired by this post to roundup all the things that are saving my life right now:
- Winter days that feel like spring. The roller coaster weather lately has meant some pretty mild days and I try to take full advantage of getting outside for the sunshine and fresh air without having to bundle up as much.
- The sun setting after 5:30 p.m. We have finally turned the corner where it doesn’t feel like midnight at our 5 p.m. dinnertime. Plus, catching the sunset while we are around the dining room table is just lovely.
- Really simple meal planning. I’ve been in a dinner rut lately (probably because this meal coincides with the “witching hour”), so I’m leaning hard into simple meal plans. Anything that can be made in under 30 minutes or thrown into a slow cooker is my jam. I also try to limit measuring cups and spoons—eyeballing ingredients, especially spices, and pre-made sauces—get dinner on the table faster.
- Grocery pick up. Same theme as meal planning—I’m just not into anything that has to do with putting dinner on the table right now. Groceries delivered to my trunk? Yes, please.
- Mascara. Somewhere in the midst of pandemic life, working from home, and having a baby, the bar for my appearance has dropped very low. I needed just a tiny pick-me-up to make me feel somewhat put together. Enter mascara—simple and effective.
- Grandparents. My kids are blessed with three sets of grandparents that have helped immensely in the transition to two kids by delivering meals, providing childcare, fixing things around the house—really the list is endless.
- Baby smiles and giggles. Enough said.
- AirPods. I spend a lot of time rocking in a chair or swaying a baby in a carrier these days. Having my AirPods handy allows me to listen to all my favorite podcasts.
- Best friends text thread. With a brood of kids, work obligations and just general life stuff, it can be really hard to get together IRL with my besties. Our active group thread helps me feel connected with life updates, regular laughs and commiserations.
- This blog. While I am forever grateful to have an extended maternity leave, taking care of kids all day isn’t the most mentally stimulating activity. This blog has provided an outlet and a way to flex my brain muscle.
What’s saving your life right now? Tell me in the comments.
I wake up to the hum of the blender and squeals of our daughter. As I was catching the last few moments of sleep with the baby, he’s started the day with the big kid. She’s deciding what to wear and can’t find her favorite underwear. I slowly peel myself out of bed, trying to not rouse the baby. With the bedroom door softly closed, I quickly trudge downstairs to assure my daughter that her “day” underwear—as she calls it—is in the dryer. It’s not long before the hustle of the morning takes over. Somewhere in the middle of making breakfast, navigating big feelings, and changing diapers, I take my first sip of coffee. The one he was blending for me before my feet hit the ground this morning. A faint smile crosses my face.
During this season, our love isn’t effortless. Everything takes planning. With a preschooler and a new baby, much of the day seems transactional—discussing the logistics and executing the next task at hand.
“When did he last eat?”
“Did she nap today?”
“Do you want to do the dishes or the bath?”
“What can’t go in the dryer?”
“Who’s bringing her to ski this week?”
“Did you serve a fruit with snack?”
This back-and-forth continues throughout the day, making sure our little people are well cared for and well loved. Most days we are flopping into exhausted heaps on the couch by 8pm.
I think back to September 2017, just a month shy of celebrating our first wedding anniversary. We were in Iceland enjoying breathtaking scenery and lots of happy hours. The logistics were very different then—pack our own bags and make sure we got to the airport on time. It was our second big trip that year after spending two weeks in Hawaii on our honeymoon. Our vacation days were the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. At home, our careers were off-the-ground and we had settled into married life (which, admittedly, wasn’t all that different for us). Life, and love, felt easy.
I really loved those days, but the thing is, I really love these ones too.
There are many seasons of love and we decided long ago that we are committed to all of them. Back then, it was carefree traveling, cheering each other on at CrossFit competitions, and weekly dinners out at a restaurant. It was a time to pour completely into one another, neither of us having many other obligations than work and our hobbies.
Now, almost four years into parenting (two of them during a pandemic), it’s my morning cup of coffee. It’s the lunch date that requires childcare, a pumped bottle of milk, and passing the baby back-and-forth as we get ready, but is oh so worth it for an afternoon cocktail and adult conversation. It’s watching in awe as our kids start to form a sibling relationship, hit a new milestone, or otherwise do something utterly adorable, but still sharing a joint sigh of relief when they are both asleep at the same time. Sometimes, since it is 2022 after all, it’s laughing at the same meme. It’s reminding each other in these little moments that the spark is still there under the sleepless nights and physical demands of young parenthood.
The thing about seasons is they always come back around. There will be a time for uninterrupted mornings, big travel, and more time for pursing our hobbies alongside one another. But, for now, I’ll take my morning cup of coffee.
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 “Love Looks Like”.
Easy enough—right? Not so much. If I had a superpower, it would be overanalyzing. Driven by a mix of perfectionism and fear of the unknown, my poor brain just loves to mull (and mull and mull) before taking action. By the time I’ve decided to start, I’m exhausted and need a nap. Here’s how it goes: Have I gathered all the information? Do I have all the tools I need? Have I thought through all possible outcomes? What happens if I fail? What does failure even mean? You know what—never mind, I’ll do it some other time. This paralysis from action can strike me at any time—a little decision like whether to buy a new pillowcase or a big decision like whether to start a new career.
This blog is a perfect example. I had been looking for a creative outlet for months and was interested in writing. Did I actually start writing? Not really, other than half-hearted attempts at journaling and writing my daughter’s birth story (which I promptly finished soon after she turned two). Why? There was no action. Instead, I thought: What should I write about? When should I write? Where should I write? Is it just for me or will I share my work? Am I even good at writing?
I needed to just start.
So, at the beginning of 2022, I sat my butt in the chair and got to work. In the course of a few hours with a baby napping on my chest, I created my website and scheduled my first post. After months of thinking about it, trying to plan it out perfectly, going back-and-forth on whether I should even do it, it was done. I had started a blog in a few hours.
You know what happened after that? I have been writing weekly for the last month. I have other content started. I’m learning how to navigate my website and refine my craft. I have ideas about how I will make the blog better in the future (for starters, including photos on the posts). That simple act of starting created the momentum to take this idea out of my head and turn it into something tangible. And so far, I’m really proud of what I’ve done.
It’s not easy to create new habits, take on big projects, or make any other drastic change to your life, but it really just starts with starting.
It has been a week. We were hit with a blizzard. Plans were cancelled—again. My three-year-old seems to need more of me than ever. My infant is going through a leap (IYKYK). The winter/new baby/pandemic isolation is hitting me HARD. Earlier this week, I was in the midst of frantically prepping dinner in that tiny sliver of time my baby was content. My daughter was swirling around me demanding that I play “family” with her—and it was my turn to be the baby (aka only speak in a high pitched “baby voice”). I could feel my insides starting to boil—can’t I just finish making dinner?! In that moment, I willed myself to take a pause and breath (notice I say willed because this doesn’t come easy to me). I needed a reframe. I was feeling bogged down by the “have to.” “I have to make dinner”… “I have to feed the baby again” … “I have to keep my toddler entertained…” How would it feel if instead I thought about all the things I get to do?
I get to play family with my daughter.
I get to nourish my baby.
I get to cook nutritious meals for my family.
I get to care for my warm and cozy home.
I get to take an extended leave from work.
I get to spend more time than ever with my family.
I get to raise these babies.
I get to live a really fulfilling life.
I can instantly feel my blood pressure dropping. I start talking in my best “baby” voice while I finish cutting the peppers and stirring the chili. My baby holds on in his bouncer just a tad bit longer. Dinner gets made. Baby gets fed. Toddler feels seen.
This isn’t about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses or toxic positivity, rather a way to rediscover all that is going right. That, despite the demands, I can find good in my everyday. I just have to look.
What do you get to do this week?
Here we are at the end of January and I’m finally putting “pen to paper” on some reflections of 2021. I don’t have a specific template that I use year-to-year, but I do find it worthwhile spending some time reflecting on the prior year. Life can sometimes pass me by in a groundhog day type-of-way (especially with little kids), so this practice really anchors me. This year, I’ve created a “Good List,” highlighting some of best things about 2021.
It goes without saying that the highlight of 2021 was the birth of our son. Adding another member to our family brought so much joy after a really tough 2020. We welcomed him at home at the end of October. As cliché as it sounds, he was the piece of the puzzle we didn’t know we were missing and it’s hard to remember life before he arrived.
Homebirth called to me in the middle of my pregnancy and I listened. It took hours upon hours of researching, asking questions, and looking inward to come to the decision to birth at home. The experience was sacred, empowering, and gave me a confidence in my body and decision-making abilities that I hadn’t previously had. (BTW—this isn’t to say a homebirth is the only way to have an empowering experience and isn’t meant as a judgment to any type of birth, all birth is beautiful in my book and I’m simply sharing one person’s experience!).
My husband was on paid parental leave for the first 2+ months of our son’s life. This time, while not without its excepted challenges, was a true gift. You can read more about my reflections on a recent Instagram post here.
Cultivating a Reading Habit
For the majority of my post-college years, I completely lost touch with reading books. I can’t say it wasn’t without trying (anyone else have a stack of books collecting dust on their nightstand?), but I needed a challenge to kickstart myself back into this habit. So, I set a goal in 2020 to read 20 books. Depending on your veraciousness for reading, this may seem measly or insurmountable, but it worked out to be just enough for me. For 2021, I upped my goal to 25 books and can say that I successfully achieved that goal (one of the few). More importantly, this little challenge for myself over the last few years has revitalized a love of reading and created a lasting habit. I plan to stick with the goal of 25 books for 2022—this seems to be the number that gets me regularly reading for enjoyment, crowds out bad habits (I’m looking at you Instagram), and keeps me engaged in what I’m reading (as opposed to reading just for sake of a challenge).
Intentionally Getting Outside
Inspired by the 1000 Hours Outside movement, I wanted to get outside more in 2021. The benefits of time outside are too numerous to name, and I want to instill a love of the outdoors in my kids. This goal really challenged me to find time to get my feet in the grass and my face to the sky on those long winter days, the busy workdays sitting at a desk, and just generally when I’m not feeling it. I didn’t spend anywhere close to 1000 hours outside in 2021, but I spent a heck of a lot more time outside than I would have without getting intentional about it.
It had been a really long time since we had taken a week-long vacation and our first since having kids. After hunkering down for over a year (thanks COVID), it was so refreshing and rejuvenating to take a family vacation. We hiked, ate good food, read some books and disconnected from work obligations. It was also the last big hurrah as a family of three.
Well, there you have it! I’d love to know—what was on your Good List for 2021?
A word for the year. A way to create an intention or overarching theme for the three hundred and sixty-five days ahead. I’m typically a concrete goals kind of gal, but there are two words that keep coming to me as I reflect on how I want 2022 to look: slow and savor.
Slow and savor seem especially important to me in this season. It’s a new year. At the same time, I’m nearing the end of the “fourth trimester,” with my second, and probably last, baby. As I emerge from the newborn fog while the world is taking on resolutions and goals, I feel an itch to hit the ground running. Fill my days with obligations, accomplish more, have something to “show” for my maternity leave.
But, wait. How about slowing down and savoring instead? Slow down my days. Slow down my mind. Savor this special and sweet time of babyhood, of a blossoming preschooler, of becoming a family of four. There is no race to the finish with early motherhood. By the end of the year, my baby will become a toddler and my three-year-old another year closer to kindergarten regardless of whether I stopped to recognize it.
So this year, I resolve to hold onto my baby for one more nap. To linger onto the stories my preschooler is so eager to tell me just a bit longer. Look my husband in the eyes more. Ignore those nagging thoughts of doing more. Let the days unfold as they will. Sure, things will be done, but there is no need to rush. Not right now. 2022 is a year for being, not doing.
And, true to my word, this post is coming out in the second half of January. 😉
Hi! I’m Jessica. Mom, wife, attorney, aspiring minimalist, clean living junkie, and seeker of living a purposeful life. Welcome to my little corner of the internet.