Fun Sized Goals

I am a goal-oriented person and I have a lot of big goals.  I also have a lot of small children.  In recent months, I’ve had to take to take a huge step back and assess what realistic goals look like for a mom with 3 kids under 5.  (Hint–none of my goals).  Part of me is discouraged by this and wants to throw my hands up in the air and cry, “NO GOALS!”  Isn’t keeping my kids alive enough of a daily goal?  Yes, it probably is.  But I’m a goal glutton and I need them.

So, I’ve chosen to whittle my big goals down into bite sized little ones.  Fun sized goals, if you will.  (Remember those ironically named fun-sized candy bars you got when you were a kid?  Yeah, there’s nothing fun about something small when you want something big).  There’s nothing fun about editing your goals either, but in some seasons of life it must be done.  Here’s a few examples:

BIG GOAL:  Run the Chicago Marathon under 4 hours

FUN-SIZED GOAL:  Run 2-3 times a week, any distance, at any pace

My goal for the month of January was to exercise 2 days a week, and I did accomplish it.  I’ll be honest, at least one of those “workouts” involved me falling asleep in the child’s position in yoga class, but hey, I showed up!  When I tried to increase the intensity of my workouts towards the end of the month, I started getting a little run down.  I don’t have the physical reserves right now to train for a marathon, and that is okay.

BIG GOAL:  Completely redesign this blog and post awesome content daily, also revive my covered-in-dust Twitter account

FUN-SIZED GOAL:  Write 2 blog posts a week on this old, basic website

I love to write but I’m not super skilled with WordPress, technology, social media, and design.  I don’t even know what SnapChat is, people.  It’s going to take me a lot of time to get up to speed on that, and time is something I do not have.  Basic blogging, however, is do-able.  Even if I have to write my post of the course of 3 days, using 4 minute chunks of free time, it can be done.  And that is exactly how this post was done.

BIG GOAL:  Read the stack of 20+ books on my shelf I’ve been wanting to read

FUN-SIZED GOAL:  Read one book a month

I love to read, but it’s really hard to make progress when you find yourself face planted in page 4 of the same book, night after night.  My boys are not sleeping great right now and I’m usually up twice a night between the two of them.  This means I choose sleeping over reading 99.9% of the time.  I’m going to count audiobooks and I’m selecting my reading material carefully.  Hence, January’s book was 100 pages, but dangit I finished it!

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I guess it’s fun if you get to eat 3 of them…

The cool thing about this goal concept is you can take pretty much any big goal and “fun-size” it.  If you’re new to goal setting, this is a great way to start, because accomplishing even teeny tiny goals gives you confidence to pursue bigger ones.  Small goals enable you to see progress, which is a huge motivator.  Who knows, you might even find that setting these little goals is actually…fun ;).

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Seven Months Later…

I just realized I haven’t written a blog post in 7 months.  SEVEN MONTHS.  I wish I had a glamorous reason for this massive internet hiatus, like I went full-on Britney ’07 and now have pink hair and speak with a British accent.  Or I have post-election PTSD.  Or I did an honorable fast of all social media because I’m so focussed on winning at life and above all that Snapface and Tweetbook, a la Bill Belichick.  But, alas, my reasons for not blogging are totally banal and uninspiring.  Simply put, I had another baby, and I’m tired.  And busy.  But mostly tired.  I’m #momlife.

Usually after a pronounced absence like this, you might expect a blogger to come back guns blazing with a totally revamped and exciting website.  I wish I was coming back with that too.  But I’m not.  Like I said, I haven’t been recovering at a spa for 6 months.  Instead, I birthed a human.

So basically I’m picking up where I left off, with a stale website design and a million flags in my WordPress inbox telling me I haven’t updated XYZ in months and I have 67 spammy comments written in Chinese that need my moderation.  And I’m not even sure I want to admit another reason my comeback took so long is because I LEGIT LOST MY COMPUTER.  Seriously, the Macbook Air is really thin and slips easily under a sofa, especially when my 18 month old kicks it under there.  I do everything on my phone except blogging, because I need a keyboard to type my posts.  I can’t do it on a touchscreen without getting super pissed off, like an 80 year old with fat fingers trying to write a text on a flip phone for the first time.  And, yes, I’m aware they sell portable little baby keyboards you can hook up to anything, but that’s another thing to worry about losing if my kids didn’t break it in like 3 minutes first.

Thankfully, my computer has been located.  I think my wonderful cleaning ladies found it actually, because heaven knows I don’t go looking underneath my sofa, like, ever.  So once I got this puppy charged up, it only took me 3 hours days to compose this short blog post.  And during the process I think my 4 year old flooded the upstairs bathroom and my 18 month old hit my 3 month old on the head with a box of raisins.  But that’s another story for another day.

So there you have it.  My, um, triumphant return to blogging.

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Be a Smart(er) Clothing Shopper

It’s one of my most favorite shopping times of the year–the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!  I may or may not have already been shopping it for over a week now, since the sale opened to cardholders a week before it opened to the general public.  The cool thing about this sale is that Nordstrom discounts NEW Fall merchandise.  It’s not a clearance sale of old summer stuff.  They have tons of great deals on outerwear, boots, jeans, and sweaters for the whole family.

With that being said, I’ve been overhauling my shopping habits during the past few years.  In my 20s I would go crazy during the Nordstrom sale and buy tons of trendy fun stuff.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a lot pickier.  I dislike clutter in my closet and am moving towards a more streamlined wardrobe.  It’s been a priority of mine to buy fewer higher quality things, instead of many cheaper ones.

But when there’s an awesome sale, it’s easy to get distracted from your shopping priorities.  That’s why I’ve developed a few shopping “rules” that I stop and think about every time I buy something.  Just going over these rules quickly in my head before clicking “order now” on a full online cart has saved me a lot of money and a lot of closet space!

1. Buy what you love.  This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many things you buy that you don’t actually love.  Don’t buy it because you kinda like it but it’s on sale.  Don’t buy it because it “might be useful.”  If you have to stand in front of the dressing room mirror think about it for more than 30 seconds, you don’t love it.  Be picky!

2. Buy what you can wear tomorrow.  This means NO buying something in a size 4 when you are a size 8 because you hope to fit it someday.  It also means no buying something that doesn’t match anything in your closet because you think, “I can buy xyz” to match this later.  Now, when it comes to sweaters and jackets, obviously you can bend this rule a tad.  You may not want to wear a sweater in 90 degree heat but as long as it fits and you have things that will match it in your closet when cooler weather does arrive, it’s fine.

3.  Buy things that are YOU now, not who you want to be.  I’ll admit this has been my biggest shopping downfall as a stay at home mom.  I love silk tops.  I love Kate Middleton’s sheath dresses.  I love high heels.  But I am a mom with kids under 4.  I do not work at a corporate job.  I do not frequent the dry cleaners.  Anything fancy that I’ve bought in the past year has mostly just hung in my closet taunting me.  I’m not saying stay at home moms need to dress like slobs.  But it’s wise to be practical.  Cute jeans and sneakers are great for the playground.  A silk wrap dress and high heels?  Probably not.

With these rules in mind, most of my Anniversary sale shopping this year was for the kids, except for one pair of boots and a non-maternity cardigan for myself that I can wear both now and postpartum.  I hate buying maternity clothes.  They get so little wear and they just aren’t that cute.  Over the course of my 3 pregnancies, about 60% of what I wore was given to me for free as hand me downs from other mom friends and relatives.  The few things I did buy came from either eBay, Old Navy clearance, or Target clearance.

This means I’m due for a MAJOR shopping spree after I finish nursing this little one and finally box up all my maternity clothes for good!  I can’t wait!

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Sometimes, It’s Simple.

I realize I fell into a black hole of blog neglect over the past month and there’s a reason why.

You see, I wasn’t sleeping.  The reason I wasn’t sleeping is because my once sleep-trained 10 month old suddenly stopped sleeping.  I mean, his sleep was WORSE than a newborn, for real.  Newborns pretty reliably wake up every 2-3 hours to be nursed.  You nurse them, put them back in their bassinet (or in my son’s case, on my chest), and they sleep again.  It’s not easy, but it’s simple.

Around the time he turned 10 months old, my son started waking in the night and STAYING wide awake.  Crying, banging around his crib, playing.  He didn’t want a bottle.  He couldn’t be rocked back to sleep.  He just was awake.  Naturally, this made me desperately consult every sleep website on the internet, my dog eared copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, our pediatrician, my family, and anyone who would listen.  Everyone gave me awesome–and completely different–advice.

Some advised I let him cry it out, others said he was overtired and needed a second nap.  Some said he needed a later bedtime.  Others said he was napping too much and needed less nap.  Others said, it’s just a phase, it will pass.  Others suggested an earlier bedtime.  Still others suggested “he’s only a baby once, just hold him all night in your bed” (NO).

I was armed and ready to do another round of cry-it-out with him when he got really sick.  He had a 103 fever and basically didn’t sleep longer than a 20 minute stretch for 3 nights straight.  It was insane and hard, and I did actually just hold him all night during those nights he was sick (Grandma swooped in and saved the day for one of them, thank goodness).  I also had a chance during that time (when I was awake all night) to really think about his sleep schedule and what was going on.

I had NO problem using a crying sleep training method when my son was 6 months old and needed to transition from sleeping in his Rock n Play to his crib.  He was starting to sit up in the Rock n Play and it wasn’t safe anymore.  I didn’t want him in my bed, so the only solution was to teach him to sleep in the crib.  We used a Ferber method of crying with checks, and it sucked, but it worked.  After about 3 days, he slept great in his crib.

This time around, leaving him to cry made me uneasy.  He wasn’t protesting his crib.  He just wasn’t tired.  It felt wrong to let him scream in his crib from 1-3 am because he was awake and wanted out.  I knew there had to be a simpler solution.  And I was right.  In fact, the solution to his sleep woes was so incredibly simple that I feel stupid for missing it for so long.  At the time, his schedule went like this:

7 am wake up

10 am–nap #1.  He’d sleep like a rock until 1 pm, sometimes 2 pm!!!

3:30 pm-attempt nap #2, but he’d never take it

5 pm–he’d turn into overtired crankypants

6:15–bottle and bedtime

8 pm–wake up, need settling

10 pm–wake up, need settling

1 am–wake up wide awake, want to play

3-4 am–finally fall back asleep

With this schedule I was hopelessly clinging to two sleep principles that have served me well over the years:

  1. Early bedtimes are best
  2. Never wake a sleeping baby

In general, those statements are true.  But my myopic view of them was causing me to miss the big picture: 4 hour stretches of sleep should occur ONLY during nighttime hours!!!  So, how did I fix my son’s sleep?  It’s SO simple.  I just wake him up from his morning nap after 2 hours, before noon.  Sometimes he is still a stinker and won’t take a second nap at 3:00.  On those nights he goes to bed at 6:15.  If he naps from 3-4 pm, he goes to bed at 7:30 or 8 pm.

Since I’ve started limiting him to a maximum of 2 hours for one nap, his sleep has completely transformed.  In fact for 4 nights in a row now, he has slept from 10:30 pm until 6-7 am without waking.  For some reason he still wakes up unsettled at some point between 8 pm and 10 pm, and I go in and rub his back and turn on his crib aquarium.  I don’t mind doing this when he reliably gives me a 7-8 hour stretch of sleep afterwards.

It felt weird at first to wake a sleeping baby.  I felt guilty waking him from his nap when he looked so peaceful snoozing away in his crib.  But it’s been SO worth it.  I can’t believe the answer to his (and my) night sleep woes was so very simple!

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Running During Pregnancy

Sigh.

This is a hard post for me to write because it is NOT going the way I thought it was going to go about 3 months ago.  I’ll start off with some background.

With my first pregnancy, I was paranoid.  I didn’t eat any soft cheeses, I gave up soda, I refused to take tylenol, and I only drank the purest water from a magic spring where unicorns tread.  When it came to exercise, I was too nervous to do anything “high impact”.  So I didn’t even try to run.  I walked 2 miles a few times a week, and that was that.

When I was pregnant with my son, my paranoia had waned, but I was really nauseous and sick during my early weeks of pregnancy.  I had been in pretty good running shape when I got pregnant though, so after taking a month off, I started jogging around 10 weeks.  I continued to jog, eventually becoming a “walk/jog” until I was 20 weeks along.  At that point, I personally felt too uncomfortable to run anymore.  My center of gravity had shifted and it just wasn’t pleasant, so I switched to walking.

And now, pregnancy #3.  I was in the best shape of my life when I got pregnant.  I had begun preliminary training for the Chicago Marathon.  I had almost no nausea or morning sickness with this pregnancy (unlike my first two), and I felt great running.  Once I knew I was pregnant, I slowed my pace by about 30 seconds per mile, but I was still running about 15 miles a week (3-5 miles at a time), at about an 8 minute mile pace.  To be honest, things were going great, and I was thrilled that I was going to be able to maintain a good level of my fitness throughout this pregnancy.  I even hoped to compete in a local 5k when I’d be 15 weeks along.

And then everything changed.

One afternoon in April I was outside playing with my kids.  I was literally just standing in the yard and I started to bleed.  A lot.  I called my husband at work.  He came home and I put my feet up and rested but the bleeding continued and then the cramping started.  I have never had a miscarriage before, but I thought that must be what was happening.  I called my OB who basically just said to keep an eye on it.  As the night progressed, things got worse.  I was bleeding so much, so fast, that I started getting dizzy and faint when I stood up.  So we went to the ER.

In the ER, we waited a long time and my bleeding started to slow.  I finally made it back to the ultrasound room around 3 am and was shocked and delighted and a tad delirious when I saw my baby on the screen, bopping around like nothing had happened.  I couldn’t believe it.

At a follow up appointment with my OB, I was diagnosed with a placental tear.  90% of the time, these heal on their own and don’t cause any further problems.  But in the meantime, I was put on modified bed rest until my bleeding stopped completely.  It took 2 weeks.  I knew my pregnancy running was over.  Even though it wasn’t strictly forbidden, my OB advised I avoid any high impact exercise for the remainder of the pregnancy.  I never want to do anything that might jeopardize my baby.  Giving up running is disappointing, but I feel very blessed with a healthy pregnancy, especially after the bleeding scare.

So, I’m on a running hiatus for now.  My goal is to resume running in January 2017, when my littlest is about 2 months old.  I eventually will run the Chicago marathon.  I’m not committing to 2017 yet until I see how things go next winter with 3 kids under 5!

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An Unscheduled Summer

This summer I’m trying to keep things simple.  I’m pregnant and I have a 10 month old and 3.5 year old.  I really don’t want to be hauling the kids around to a gazillion activities in the heat.  Maybe this makes me a lame parent, but I prefer to call myself an unscheduled parent.

It’s hard being an unscheduled parent in a scheduled world.  There are SO many things you can sign kids up for these days.  Soccer, Ballet, T-Ball, Camps, Nature Days, Summer Preschool, foreign language immersion, VBS, and swimming lessons.  You feel like your kid is going to fall behind in life if they don’t do everything RIGHT NOW.

But with my 3 year old, I’ve found that less is more.  She needs a lot of down time.  Too many activities make her prone to melt downs and burn out.  When I was on bed rest in my first trimester (I had a placental tear and a big bleed at 10 weeks, but all is well now), I felt guilty that I didn’t take my kids out of the house for an entire week.  They played with the same old toys and did nothing new.  When I apologized to my daughter for our “boring” week, she gave me a blank look and said, “I’m happy, mom.”  And she was.  That week was a big wake-up call for me.  Even though I was admittedly going bonkers cooped up inside, my kids were content.

So this summer, I’m signing up my daughter for ONE sport, and the rest of our summer will be unscheduled.  Yes, this means a lot of long days.  This means some boredom.  This means she’s outside at 9 a.m. playing in the backyard and singing/screaming “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs (sorry neighbors!!)  But it also means freedom, spontaneity, no rushing, no being strapped in strollers and hauled around in cars.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s good for kids to just play outside.  Starting in Kindergarden, their little lives get very scheduled and it only increases with age.  For kids ages 0-5, why not just let them be kids?  This will be a summer of exploring, wandering, unstructured play, and spontaneous adventures.  And I’m perfectly okay with that.

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I Tried It: Ibotta

I decided to add a new blog category dedicated to me trying and reviewing new things.  Some of these things may or may not be new to you.  Right now on my list of things I’m hoping to try soon:  Stitch Fix (after baby), Grocery Delivery, Snapchat, and Running a half marathon (after baby).

Todays I Tried It is the Grocery/Rebate App Ibotta.

I’ll be honest, I think couponing is fascinating, but I’m just not into cutting paper coupons.  The most extreme my couponing goes is using the Cartwheel App at Target, when I remember.  But I’m always looking to save money on groceries and when I heard about Ibotta, I decided to give it a try.

It’s pretty simple.  It’s free to sign up.  Ibotta logs tons of rebates for tons of grocery stores.  The major ones I shop at are all included (Target, Whole Foods, and Jewel).  The only place I shop at that isn’t on the app is Trader Joes. I’ll admit a lot of the rebates are for items I will never buy, but they almost always have something I can use.  Most of the time they have a diaper rebate ranging for $1-$3 for Pampers or Luvs.  They usually have generic rebates too like for “any brand” of eggs or milk.

To use Ibotta, you log in, search for the store you’re shopping at, and add the rebates you want to your shopping list.  Sometimes they make you watch a stupid video that’s like 20 seconds long, but most of the time you just click and add the rebate.  Then you go shopping.  Save your receipt.  After you’re done, you scan the barcodes of your rebate items into the app, take a picture of your receipt, and viola–they load the cash rebates into your account.  The cash can either be transferred to your Paypal account or used to redeem for gift cards.

I’ve had the app since April and I have added $28 of rebate savings to my account.  Not bad for a month of use, and honestly the whole process is pretty painless.  Your Facebook friends can be on your “team” too and sometimes you get bonus rebates as a group…etc.  Overall, I am glad I signed up, especially since it’s free and easy.  Who doesn’t want an extra $30 a month?

If you want to sign up and join for FREE, download the Ibotta App from the App store and be sure to add my referral code so you can be on my team and get a $10 bonus when you redeem your first rebate!!!  My referral code is: kmadgbm.

Happy Saving!

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Mom Frump Slump

I’m recently climbing out of a major mom frump slump.  You know what I’m talking about.  You wake up one morning (usually after weeks of being up with kids in the night) and look in the mirror and realize you are gone and have been replaced by a frumpy middle aged mom.  Your skin is blah.  Your hair is limp.  Those bags under your eyes are packed and ready for a vacation to Styleville!

The main cause of my slide into frump town was my third pregnancy (I’m 15 weeks with baby 3).  The first trimester is so, so cruel.  My 9 month old was teething and waking a ton, my 3.5 year old had as much energy as usual, and yet I felt nauseous, bloated, and yuck.  I also have been at that pregnancy stage for awhile now where I’m waiting to look just a little bit pregnant instead of just a little bit fat.  This is made worse by the fact that I have a 9 month old, and I’m sure people assume my stomach bulge is leftover from him.  Nope–I’m pregnant again, people!  It happens!

When you hit the frump slump, you need to take a immediate action.  The action you probably want to take is to give up hope and wear yoga pants, no make-up, and top knot every day.  I did this for awhile.  But then I realized it wasn’t helping the situation.  So I chopped off all my hair.  This was a good start.  Then I highlighted it.  This was a better start.  And then I made myself start putting on a minimum of 2 make-up items per day.   Usually this means tinted moisturizer and tinted chap stick.  It takes about 50 seconds to apply.  But it makes me feel like there’s still hope.

Now that my hair is short, it’s pretty easy to style quickly.  I’m also starting to fit into my smaller maternity dresses.  My first trimester acne is clearing up.  There’s light at the end of the tunnel!

If you find yourself sliding into the mom frump slump, don’t fret.  There’s a way out!  I recommend starting with a change to your hair, and then going from there.  If it’s really bad, go to a makeup counter and have your make up done.  Then buy a few new things.  You’ll feel like you have to use them since you spent money on them.  If you’re pregnant or nursing or between sizes, focus on what you CAN buy, like accessories, shoes, or make up.  Climb on up out of that slump, and keep on momming!

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Our Furry Friend

My 3 year old wants a puppy.  I would like a puppy too.  And 7 consecutive hours of sleep, and a 2 week hawaiian vacation, and a magical unicorn that poops 100 dollar bills.  Alas, we can’t have everything we want.  The reality is that right now this house cannot handle another mammal that isn’t potty trained.  So I tell my daughter, “Someday.”  And by someday I mean that glorious elusive day when all of my children are in school M-F from 9-3 and I can sit on my sofa with that puppy and read a book, perhaps take a nap, take a long lunch….ahhhh.  But I digress.

So, no puppy.  But mother nature has chosen to intervene and give us a furry friend of our own.  We call him Bandit.  Bandit is a raccoon who has taken a particular liking to our trash cans.  No matter how tightly I secure the lids, or what heavy objects I place on top, Bandit will open them and forage through our trash for food scraps.  The dude is relentless.

He is also fearless, a very bad trait in a wild animal.  When we walk outside at dusk and catch him in action clawing at our trash can, does he run away?  No, he does not.  He looks right at us.  Almost as if laughing at our pitiful attempts to secure the trash lids.  Then if we step closer to him, he s-l-o-w-l-y lumbers over to a nearby tree and waits for us to leave.  Then later he resumes pawing through our trash and leaving wrappers galore in our driveway.

The other day I googled, “How to get rid of raccoons”.  The results were not promising.  Suggestions popped up like, “spread predator urine, such as from a mountain lion, in the affected area.”  I am not sure where in suburbia one acquires Mountain lion piss, and I am not even sure it would trick Bandit.  But I am sure it would probably scare away the UPS guy, the neighbors, and any solicitors (on second thought…).

I realize the simple solution to this problem is to haul our trash cans inside the garage.  But we have a detached garage, and this requires a lot of extra hauling.  Plus, I feel like it would be letting Bandit win.  And I don’t want him to win.

So for now, Bandit and I remain at an impasse.      image

Meet Bandit.  Yes, That is Our Tree.
Meet Bandit. Yes, That is Our Tree
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Other Moms

One of the hardest–but most important–lessons you have to learn as a mom is that you are not other moms.  You are you.  And you are the kind of mom that you are.  Motherhood can be isolating and frustrating.  It is so easy to look at other moms and wonder why/how they do what they do and if you could/should be doing it too.

Other moms have 4 kids and still keep a super clean house.  Other moms work part time from home.  Other moms stay in awesome shape no matter how many babies they have.  Other moms seem to breeze through their pregnancies.  Other moms have kids who always pose perfectly for photos.  Other moms cook up amazing meals from scratch while their children play quietly (ha).  Other moms have more children than I do and yet still manage to get 4x as much done each day.

The truth is, we’re all different.  Every mom has strengths and weaknesses.  We tend to focus on other’s strengths and our own weaknesses.  This is especially true when we are in a hard season.

This past week was a tough week for me.  The weather was bad and we were cooped up in the house a lot.  My 9 month old son just started crawling and finding every single crumb/lego/Shopkins on the floor that my 3 year old left behind.  He also has been waking a ton at night, and I’m exhausted.  We’ve had too little sleep, too much takeout, and not enough sunshine.  I’ve also had major writer’s block and haven’t updated my blog as much as I had hoped.

This is the kind of week where it’s easy to go on Instagram and think that every other mom in the world is doing a better job than you.  Maybe they are.  They probably aren’t.  They may even think that you are doing better than them.  But, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that you do the best you can do with the resources that you have.

You are not other moms.  You are the perfect mom for YOUR kids.  So keep on momming and being you!

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