A Cape Cod Summer

Friday, July 28, 2017

Back in the day when my brothers and sister and cousins were little, we would travel up to Cape Cod and have these amazing, magical, vacations. The pre-electronic vacations where all there was to do was spend time outside and play board games in the evening. There are only a few things that stand out in my mind from those family trips- burying family members in the sand, the horsheshoe crabs, the creepy tides at Skatet Beach, and whale watching. These were such great memories as a kid and I've always wanted to share those same experiences with my own children.

After lots of back and forth talking and planning, we finally put the plans into motion and visited Cape Cod once again--after almost 25 (OH MY GOD) years. The cousins have had babies making the second round of cousins and we thought it'd be fun to start the tradition again. I'll be honest with you- was I excited about all those fun things we did as kids that were permantely ingrained in my memory bank? Yes. Was I excited about the hellaciously long drive up there to experience those fun things? HELL NO.

We've traveled a lot with Lucca and now with the two boys so I feel like I've become pretty good as far as packing and preparing for car rides. HOWEVER, this trip was without my husband (who usually drives 99% of any trip we go on) and we were caravanning two SUV's with five children and 3 adults total. Honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.

Thank God for coffee and 5 hour energy drinks. A nine hour trip turned into 12 hours- only due to gas fill-ups and bathroom breaks. The kids were actually amazing the whole time- no complaints, we just kept feeding them snacks and everyone was in and out of sleep. I was quite surprised, to be honest. But that last hour, I pretty much lost all feeling in my right leg as we finally pulled into the driveway.

Aside from the brutal drive, we had SUCH a great week. It reminded me of those old-school summers as we stayed in an old cottage in Chatham with zero A/C, no cable, and plenty of outside time. The kids were climbing trees, digging in the sand, hunting hermit crabs, and getting eaten alive by bugs. We had the best dinners, fun days at the beach, epic naps, and fun exploring the quaint little town of Chatham. Since Leo still wakes up at 5 a.m., we were the lone two awake before the sun even rose, so we would take walks down to the beach and listen to the waves and point out all the "tweet tweets" along the way.

We had such a great week with all the cousins and it will be something that Lucca will be talking about for a very long time. One thing I'll never forget was the absolute joy and excitement he had when he kept discovering hermit crabs with my Mom at Skatet Beach. He found so many he wanted to put them in a bucket to keep "fo-ev-ur".

I always thought before kids that taking trips like that seemed so daunting-- how did people DO that with kids? Are they crazy? Yes, it is. And yes, we are. The planning. The packing. The traveling. But when you get there, it's the best. Memories are made. And isn't that better than playing it safe and staying in your house? And I personally feel that the sooner you get past your front door when they're little, the easier it gets. This is all Leo has known since he was been born- he's been to Pennsylvania, Virginia Beach, New York, and Richmond. We spent a week at Lake Anna when he was only 6 weeks old!

You just have to get out there. Yes, you'll have a ton of crap, it will take a shitload of effort to get there (whether the trip is 2 hours or 12) but you'll never regret going and making some lasting memories with your family.

Here are a few photos from one amazing trip! I can't wait for many more adventures with my little family.


A New Chapter

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It's been a whirlwind of change in these last several months. I've started a new chapter in my life, and it's the best chapter yet. I quit my full-time job, my baby just turned one, I've devoted time to a new business venture, and yet the chaos remains the same.

But good chaos. It's always good chaos. 
I can honestly say, that I finally feel happy again. Not that I wasn't happy to begin with- but my heart just feels full now. I had a goal to be able to walk away from my desk job that required 6+ hours in my basement with my two kids by June-and when I woke up on that Monday morning without having to drag everyone downstairs and put them in front of the TV- it was a glorious moment. 
Lucca had been counting down the days for this to happen, and out of habit he was ready to pack up his breakfast and head to the "dungeon" (the name I had given my workspace for the past three years). When I reminded him that I didn't have to work anymore, that we could actually enjoy our breakfast at the table and snuggle on the couch before our day began, he couldn't contain his excitement. I couldn't contain the tears. I'd been waiting for this for a long, long time.
Quitting my job, especially at the beginning of the summer, was the best decision I've ever made. I've been able to take trips with my family, go on daily adventures, set up slip-and-slides in the backyard...or have a day with no plans at all except a long walk in our neighborhood. We are experiencing summer for what it's worth. Sunburns and bug bites galore. And I've loved every second of it. I know that everyone is benefitting from this- I'm a happier mama because I get to spend more focused time with my family, my kids are happy because I'm more present, my husband is happy because I'm not stressed out and crying to him everyday to come home from work early. A win-win for all.
But that's not to say that with this change doesn't bring new challenges and sacrifices. We've essentially gone from two incomes to one (while I am still able to bring in money with my Rodan + Fields business and work on my own time) so we've had to refocus on some priorities for our family. That means the house projects have slowed down a bit and we've got to count our pennies a little closer than we had before. Is it a risk? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. Was it the answer for our family? Absolutely.

Working outside of the home, working from home, not working at all-they all have their benefits and their not-so-good qualities. What I know is, that I tried to make it work. When I finally thought I got a handle on things with one kid, the second came along and it was back to square one. I felt less connected to my kids, especially with Leo, who I basically just tried to corral in certain sections of our basement so he wouldn't be pulling out cords, climbing on things, or getting in some kind of trouble. I dreaded every single work day. I felt guilty as a mother that my 3 year old watched at least 4-5 hours of TV on any given day. I felt guilty that I hadn't actually sat down and spent the day playing with my new baby. I can't tell you how many sobbing phone calls I gave my husband in the middle of the day, saying "I'm going to quit.. today is the day." I stuck it out for as long as I possibly could, and when the day finally came--it was a huge weight lifted off my chest.

Things will be different, yes. It will always be an adjustment. Not everyday will be rainbows and butterflies and there will for sure be moments that I wish I could have some time to myself. But this is the best thing for me and for my family. I can focus on whats truly important, and that's being the best mom and wife I can possibly be, and filling my heart to the brim with happiness and love and giggles from my tiny humans.

My Facebook Village

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Before I had babies, I always thought I was just destined for motherhood. It was my calling. I always believed I'd be pretty good at it. I would be loving and nurturing. I'd read books all the time with babies snuggled on my lap. I'd do all kinds of fun crafts. I'd take them on special outings and be the fun mom. I'd link up with all these cute, fun moms I'd see going on walks in masses while I was pregnant. They'd be my friends. Our kids would be friends. 

Then I actually did have kids. And when I had my first, it was during a time when we had just moved into a new neighborhood, I'd quit my full time teaching job, and I didn't know a single person around me except for my Moroccan neighbor across the street that patrolled the streets like a neighborhood watch. I'd always go for long walks with Lucca as a baby and our dog, and he'd always stop me to play with him and fill me in on the latest gossip. For awhile I felt like he was my only friend. I had his number in case of emergency. He was a good person. 

For months I forced myself to take Lucca to the library for storytime, going the same days every week to give myself some kind of routine. There was always a playtime after, but I always felt silly sticking around when Lucca couldn't even sit up. I'm not the type of person to strike up conversation over baby talk, so after the 30 minutes I'd pack up and leave to go home. We'd go to the playground on nice days, and once Lucca could sit in a swing I'd occasionally have small talk with parents happily swinging their babes in the middle of the day. It felt good to be out, but I'd always tuck him back into his stroller, and walk the few blocks home back to our little bubble. That's what it felt like, anyway. 

When I was about 8 months pregnant and sitting in our new house waiting for Lucca's arrival, I found out who those stroller-walking moms were, and joined a neighborhood moms group on Facebook. From what I could tell, these chicks were already friends, they'd done playdates on the regular and threw fun parties and moms-night-out events. I didn't do much with them until Lucca was almost 5 months old. I mostly just sat back and read posts like the awkward girl in the back of the room with nothing to say. Occasionally I'd chime in needing baby advice-- the usual, "why isn't my baby sleeping anymore", "what are your suggestions for the best stroller" type of thing. 

Then when it was finally warm enough outside, the stroller walks started up again and I couldn't wait to be a part of it. A time of day where I had to "be somewhere", I could exercise, and meet new people. My usual rigidness of naptime scheduling went out the door on those days. I kept Lucca awake just to be sure I'd make it to the walk on time. I was desperate for adult interaction. Desperate for mom interaction. 

I did this for a long time, never really building any actual friendships but rather just the occasional "oh hey!" when I'd run into those moms at the library or playground or grocery store. It wasn't until Lucca was almost two that I actually hosted playdates, met up with moms at Starbucks, or attended any group events. 

Then finally, I found my village. And Thank God I did. I never thought I'd ever be "that person" to meet friends online, but that's what I did. That's what I had to do. It took me a really long freaking time to find girls I clicked with. And actually had things in common with-- not just the fact that we both had kids. It's difficult making friends this way. You want to be yourself, but show your best self so that you are well received. You want to be honest and not be judged. All my life I made friends BEGINNING with common interests. And now, I had to learn this ass-backwards way of making friends as an adult and find people I really clicked with. Adulting is hard, man.

Thankfully, I have my village of moms now and haven't felt lonely or in a bubble. I could share my second pregnancy experience with other pregnant moms. I could ask for help, I could lend help. I've had to put myself out there and though it took me a really long freaking time, I'm so glad that I did. I look back on those early months with Lucca and now realize just how lonely I was during that time. Funny how that works out, right? How motherhood can make you feel so incredibly lonely if you don't have the right support around you. 

I've found my village, and I'm so incredibly thankful. Thankful to find people who make me feel supported, understand when kids are just assholes, understand when you just need to vent and complain and have a glass of wine at 4 p.m. (or the occasional margarita on "taco night"). Thankful to find people who will help you out in a pinch and be able to return the favor. Five years ago I would have laughed at the thought of making friends online. But being a part of this little group has normalized my feelings of motherhood (happiness, sadness, frustration, guilt, etc..) and has helped me find a great group of women I never would have met otherwise.

If you're a new mama and a bit of an introvert, go ahead. Be that quiet person in the corner of the Facebook group. But do get yourself out there, on your own time, in your own way. Chances are you'll meet people who are a lot like you, and hey, your kids might even like each other too. 

Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg. I'm eternally grateful.

This Is My Place

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It's Sunday morning, around 9 a.m. and already I feel like I've accomplished a lot since rising before the sun came up. The kitchen is clean. The living room is clean. Baby is down for his nap. The boys are on a Home Depot trip. I should be napping myself, probably. These midnight and 3 a.m. wakeups are taking the life out of me.

Yesterday was a fun day. A fun, girly adulting day. I attended a brunch hosted at a friend's house, which basically was an all day event as I didn't return home till 6 p.m. It was wonderful, it was refreshing, I met some new, interesting people, and I wore clothes. Like, real clothes. Pants with a button. And makeup. And jewelry. I'd been freed from the confines of my home for 6 whole hours without ever worrying if the baby was going to swallow something he'd discovered on his new crawling conquest, or trying to keep up with my three-year-old playing superheroes and "chase".

It's funny really, because I did have such a great time, but on the way back (an hour drive from the city back to the 'burbs) I kept thinking how good it was to be going home. I've had these feelings lately, dying to leave, to get a breath of fresh air, to be by myself for a bit or to see friends, but then I reach this limit where I feel like I'm recharged enough and need to get back to where I'm needed. Not that G can't handle anything while I'm gone, but it's just that feeling. "They need me. I need to go home."

And with all the shitty things happening in the world as of late, I worry being far from my family. And by "far" I mean literally leaving for a few hours to run errands. I never really had this type of anxiety before, or maybe I did and it just grew with the added responsibility of having a family to "protect", but I feel safe at home. As much as I'm clawing at the walls to escape my house by the middle of the week, they are my safety net. I find it difficult to "take my time" while I'm away sans-kids, because my mind is always here. I like it here. As crazy and loud and stressful as it can be. This is my place. 

It's important to get out, take a vacation, get some "me" time, some husband-and-wife time--I'm all about that. Trust me. I learned from the very beginning that those times to reboot are crucial to be the best mama I can be. I need to be myself. I need to engage in conversation that isn't always about praising someone, going potty, or constantly asking, "Are you hungry?" all day. I plan things on the weekends so I have something to look forward to. Greg and I have mini getaways to remind ourselves that before there were four of us, it was just the two of us. Every mother needs that. Every parent needs that. It's just that once I get my foot out of the door, I have instant FOMO combined with worry (something could happen to me...or them) and I just want to be back with my crew.

And such is motherhood, am I right? The constant back and forth. And that's okay. This is where I'm meant to be. This is what I was meant to do. Love on these babies, teach them to grow into kind, loving, wonderful human beings. Be here. Be present. And be okay with the fact that sometimes I just need a break, and when I do... everything will be just fine.

And so, as I ramble on.. I will end with this:

"Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own."      -Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons

183 days.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Well, we've made it to the half-year mark. Our Leo bug is 6 months old. I don't know how that happened so quickly. Honestly, I think I've been sleep walking up until this point. My teeny babe is now a chunky babe, sitting up, fighting everyday to crawl and keep up with his big bro, squawking and screeching and more or less keeping us on our toes every minute of every day.
It hasn't been easy.
And I say that, because our first was easy. We got lucky the first time around. Round two? It's been tough. We've almost had to re-learn the early stages of parenthood because we got to bypass all the hard stuff the first time. I don't know how many times we've said "WHY IS HE DOING THIS!?" or "WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG!?" When in fact, he's just a normal, 6 month-old-baby. Duh.
Leo apparently doesn't love sleep like the rest of us, and I've literally never been so tired in my entire life. I'd really love to set up a camera to record what goes on between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am. in our household. Two zombie parents shuffling from room to room, begging one kid to be quiet so as not to wake the other. Bathroom trips. Running into door frames in the pitch black. I've racked up quite a few bruises on both sides of my body just from trying to be stealth going in and out of bedrooms. It's been a painful, sleepless journey.
And all in all, it's been a rewarding one. Someone told me when I was feeling anxious about having a second baby that giving Lucca a brother was one of the greatest gifts we could ever give him. And I think about that all the time now because seeing Lucca with his baby bro is one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. He makes him laugh. He's attentive. He calms him down when he's upset. He knows what he wants and needs. He's never jealous of him or resentful. Leo is so incredibly lucky to have him as a big brother. 
And everyday it gets better and better. Leo is more aware of his surroundings, showing his own little personality and interacting with Lucca more and more. He's desperate to be on the move-- he watches Lucca jump and dance and play around him and he wants nothing more than to be doing that with him. I'm lucky to be able to enjoy these moments between the two of them. 
But it's been hard to not want to look ahead and anticipate everything that he'll be learning soon. He's so frustrated being immobile at the moment that I often wish he could crawl across the floor and do what he wanted. But I know with that comes even more challenges. Baby-proofing. Making sure all of Lucca's teeny tiny crap is put away so he doesn't choke on anything. Chasing after the animals.
I've been trying to just enjoy where we're at now.  I just don't feel like I've had enough time in the day to truly soak in everything about Leo, and I hate that. There have been moments where I just cry and think that I don't really know him. I don't have the luxury of just the one-on-one time with him, snuggling or playing, or taking trips to the library. A lot of the time I feel like he got the short end of the stick because we're always on the move and working around his big brother's schedule. But unfortunately from what I've learned, there's just no other way. This is life with two. And he doesn't know any different. But I do. 
So in those moments of midnight wakings, I try so desperately to just rock him a few minutes longer. Just staring at him, taking a mental picture of how he looks in my lap, sprawled out with a grin on his face. Because really, that's the only time I have alone with him. I want him to have that same bond with me that Lucca does. I wish it came easily and more naturally, but often it feels forced. Like, "hold on a second. I need to stop time right now and enjoy this moment". 
And especially with the holidays, Lucca was so excited about Christmas and Santa and visiting family and friends, it's been busy and hectic and so focused on him. I know, babies can only do so much, but I wanted to remember Leo's first Christmas just as vividly as I remember Lucca's. 
Does it ever get easier? Or am I just putting too much pressure on myself to make each moment count? And make each moment count with each kid separately with just as much importance. 


Running On Empty

Saturday, November 12, 2016

You know when you're driving your car and the gas light comes on-- and every mile more that you drive you feel like you can make it just a little farther, just a little bit longer... so you push it to the limit-- but you've gotta give up or you'll be stranded on the side of the road? 
That was me this past week. Except not with my car. With myself.
I finally reached my limit. The interrupted sleep (waking up literally every 2-3 hours for either the baby or Lucca), balancing work during the day and keeping everyone entertained and happy, putting dinner on the table, trying to maintain my sanity. My tank just ran out.

Let me explain at what point I finally reached my limit...
This past weekend I drove down to help my mom with my sister's kids (while she was on her own mommy-mental-vacay). On the way back, 15 minutes into our car ride on I-95, Lucca exclaimed that he had to go potty. It was so urgent, and of course (which now I feel bad for) my first initial response was, "What!? We just left the house. And you already went potty!"
But he was right. Because what I saw from my rear-view mirror was barf. And a lot of it. Just spewing out of his mouth like a fountain. 
I got off at the closest exit, pulled over into a hotel parking lot, and was terrified to see my son with vomit covering the back of my seat, the front of his clothes, lodged into the buckles and straps and dripping down his car seat. 
I literally just stood there and didn't know what to handle first. I carefully unbuckled him and lifted him out of his seat and onto the ground. I started stripping his clothes off, shaking off the puke onto the ground. "DONT GET IT ON MY FACE!" I tried so hard to roll up his shirt before pulling it over him, but alas, it smeared across his forehead. My poor child was standing in a parking lot in 50 degree weather in his Mickey Mouse undies like a mannequin while I tried to wipe him down with baby wipes.
But then panic began to set in, because as I was pulling out more and more wipes to clean him off, I realized I only had about 20 left in the pack and I still had to somehow manage to clean off his seat. I dressed him again in clothes from his overnight bag and put him in the front seat while I tackled the next step in this debacle. I then had to literally ration out wipes to make sure every piece of vomit was cleaned up. 
This was my worst nightmare...
...That is until Leo, who has now realized that the car is no longer moving, decides to start screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. 
But yes, my friends. It gets worse. While sitting in the front seat, Lucca shouts out again that he has to go potty. But instead of having to puke, he was holding his rear end for dear life. I ran to the back of my car and pulled out our portable potty seat. I threw it underneath him and I can not even begin to tell you the sounds that came from his little body. 
Yep, now this is my worst nightmare.
For the next 15 minutes or so, I encouraged Lucca to "stay put and make sure it's all out" before I even attempted to get back on the road. For the most part, everything was cleaned up, and once he was finished I put him back in the carseat. I drove over to the closest gas station and dropped off a big ol' bag of puke and diarrhea and thought to myself "I'm so sorry for the person who must clean this trash can" and then, "This would never happen to Greg".
The rest of the drive home was quiet without anymore surprises. The boys both fell back asleep, but my car smelled like death and I've never wanted to be home so bad in my life. When we pulled into the driveway, they woke back up and I just wished I had a pause button at that very moment. I just needed a friggin' minute to get my shit together before I pushed on through for the rest of the afternoon.
The remainder of the week we dealt with on again off again tummy troubles, the usual sleepless nights, Lucca coming back into our bed at 4 am (stupid daylight savings time), and by Wednesday I was D-O-N-E. My body ached. My mind was mush. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I had to cancel a girls night--one that we'd been trying to get on the calendar for weeks, but I just couldn't do it. That night I literally blacked out on the couch at 8 p.m. and woke up the next morning not even knowing when I went to bed.
My husband could see I was drowning, and he stepped in to wake up with the boys the rest of the week. I called my mom for help, like I always do, and slowly but surely I'm returning to my normal self. The greatest gift G could ever give me was a one-night stay in a hotel room, from where I am blogging now. 
Peaceful. Quiet. Perfect
I needed this so, so much. I needed to stretch out in bed, get a full night's sleep without any cries or any feet kicked in my face. I needed to watch my own TV shows, eat my own dinner. I needed the silence. I needed to be alone.
Slowly, my tank is filling back up and I think I'll be ready to conquer another week. Because wow. Last week was a doozy. I think I've hit my quota for this month of "Crazy-shit-you-can't-make-up-because-this-is-motherhood". It can't get worse than that, right?
Tomorrow is another day...

Sunday Night Ramblings

Monday, October 31, 2016

This time last year I had just found out I was pregnant--I was trying to keep a secret from friends and family that we would be expecting another babe. (Which was really difficult because I had already planned a night out for my birthday then had to dodge drinks all night). Man, how quickly time flies.. and how quickly life can change. Things are a lot different now, to say the least.

Now we have a three-year-old, a 4 month old, and bigger bags under our eyes (if that were even possible.) but the love has grown so much since Leo came into this world. It's so hard to imagine what life was actually like before we had a roly-poly baby as part of our family. And wow, why did we EVER think that having a baby was so hard?

I mean, I get it. As a first time mama I was right there in the depths of Crazytown, feeling completely overwhelmed and thinking this was the most difficult thing I've ever experienced and how the HELL were we going to make it...because until that point in our lives it WAS the most difficult thing. But fast forward a couple years, throw in a preschooler with lots of opinions and non-stop energy and you tend to forget the baby phase. And hey, 3 years later and we still aren't sleeping so we've got that part down.
Life with two has been fast-paced, often times chaotic, but somehow it works. Honestly I don't know how, but somehow we make it through each day alive with mostly everybody happy (there's always tears at some point) and we wake up the next day and do it all over again. As a mama, I have great days where I feel like I'm completely balanced, winning at life, winning at mommy-hood, and then there are days where I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for 10 hours straight. 
I still struggle with the work-at-home stress and guilt from not giving my kids the attention they deserve. I cringe everytime Lucca asks to cuddle on the couch or play a game with him and I have to tell him for the millionth time "Mommy has to work".  I hate hearing my own words. Or when I transfer Leo from the floor to the bouncy seat to the swing, anything to keep him occupied--when all I want to do is just hold him and make him giggle. 

But it is what it is. I realize our situation is a lucky one--but that doesn't mean it's not hard. It was difficult with one, and now having two that both want me and need me 24/7 has presented even more challenges. I wrote a post before that I never feel like I can give 100% to anything.. my time and my attention is split in so many ways, and when I feel that I put more into one area, the other suffers. I don't know how to make a perfect balance to where I feel like I'm a great mom, wife and doing a good job at work. And on top of that, making time for myself. Because honestly, if you're feeling crappy, how are you supposed to make everyone else happy? 
Seriously people, how do you do it? Or do you just go through life knowing that one will always get the shit-end-the-stick? Because if that's the case, then that really sucks. There's got to be some way to do it. And it's crazy the pressure we put on ourselves to make it all work. You look at people all the time and think they've got it all figured out. I don't have it all figured out and so wish that I did.. like even just a little bit.

That's my Libra talking. Balance. I need the balance
My recent 30th (!!) birthday has got me all reflective and wondering if I'm doing this whole thing the right way.  Or the best way. I guess I always imagined by this point in my life I would have it all figured out and not have any of the worry or doubt that I do now. Maybe I'll have this all worked out by my 35th birthday?