motherhood · Top 10 Tuesday

My Favorite Posts for Motherhood {top 10}

Right now, in the season of life I’m in, I only want to read about two basic things: other mothers identifying with me in the trenches and glory of motherhood and mindless escapism fiction.  I’m not getting a whole lot of the latter lately, at least not a lot of new fiction is making its way to my bedside table, though there’s plenty of Anne and Laura as I read to my 8 year old, which is good because always, always, always those stories have a way of quieting my soul.

But these stories of motherhood….these restore me and refresh me and rejuvenate me long enough to know I can get up again tomorrow, and, once again, say no to candy before 9 a.m. and flip-flops when it’s 35 degrees.

So here’s a simple list of ten posts about motherhood I hope you’ll read if you’re here now or been there before or coming soon to this amazing (and exhausting) season of life.  Of course I’ve included some of my own as well as favorites from other bloggers.

1.  What No One Told Me About Mothering in which I tell the truth that this is hard.  This is my most popular post and the one I received the most feedback about, I guess, because it resonated with so many of us and because God likes to continually remind me that I’m not alone.
2. Beyond My Control in which I write about my struggle with my pregnancy and self-image.
2.  When the Words are Perfect in which I find reminders all around that remind me not to stand alone.
3.  Because Sometimes You Just Break in which I confess that, sometimes, motherhood breaks me.
4.  My Delightful Confession in which I ‘fess up to what I’ve discovered in eight years of motherhood.
5.  My Favorite Baby Gear in which I list only ten of my recommended items for mamas and babies.
6.  When We Just Want It to Matter in which I remind you (and myself) that what we does matter.
7.  Sometimes You Just Want to Quit in which I quit motherhood for five whole minutes and that’s okay.

and to round out the list….
8.  Grace for the Working Mother (and her guilt) in which Lisa-Jo Baker paints words into comfort and encouragement for all mothers of all professions.  If you don’t read her blog, you should.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be tossing a post idea around in my head after a day of chaos and suddenly her words are there in my inbox and they’re so perfect, it’s unreal.
9.  What If Sometimes You Don’t Like Motherhood?  in which Rachel at Finding Joy responds to her responses to this “dear mom” letter. oh and she also just posted this that I love and will probably print for my sister-in-law.
10.  10+ Helps for Really Busy Moms in which Ann Voskamp, whose words are like water for my thirsty heart and whose expressions of gratitude often make me weep, reminds me “motherhood is a hallowed place because children are never commonplace” and “I have all I need for today”. This is framed and hanging in my kitchen so that I can see it and remember.

If you love this, share it, pin it, tweet it, and pass it on!  Thank you for reading my stumbling and broken words….

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings
motherhood · Top 10 Tuesday

For All You New Mamas

I’ve gotten this reputation lately as possibly being someone who might actually have some facts about motherhood figured out because I have four kids.

Isn’t it funny how the more kids you have, the more people think you know because they assume you have so much more experience than them?  I tend to think people with less children than me have the elusive “it” all figured out because they are clicking right along and being all happy-go-lucky with their full-night’s sleep and one load of laundry a day selves.  Me, I’m still trying to find my keys and thinking about washing the crock-pot from two days ago that’s still in the sink.

But you know, I believe that if anyone thinks I know anything about this journey, they think that because of where I am now.  Which is in a place where I understand that no one ever has it together all of the time

So whether you’re a first time mama or a mama like me who still felt like a first time mama every time another baby was laid all sticky and squalling on my chest, this is for you.  Some thoughts and tips I’ve gleaned from four times of bleary eyes and sleepless nights and early precious moments.

1.  You will sleep again.  Somewhere in between the newborn nighttime feedings and the toddler bed-wetting and the six-year growing pains, you will sleep.  It will happen.  Maybe it won’t be soon enough.  Maybe it won’t be often enough.  Maybe it won’t be constant.  But you will sleep.  I promise.
2.  You need to take a shower.  How water.  Fruity or spicy or just clean smelling soap.  A few minutes of quiet in a place where you can’t hear the baby cry.  Five minutes is long enough to make you feel better, and sometimes this is an even better than a nap.
3.  You will feel better if you get dressed.  I know, that seems counter-productive.  You only have so much time and I just told you to take a shower and get dressed.  But it works, I swear.  Something about real clothes and earrings and a hairbrush will help you start to feel normal and just slightly less sleep-deprived.
4.  You shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for help.  Don’t be a martyr. We weren’t meant to do this alone. It’s okay to ask for help.  People want to help you.  Well, they want to hold that new baby and they’re usually willing to fold a basket of laundry in exchange.
5.  You can let babies sleep somewhere other than a crib.  I’m not looking for an argument here about the best sleep patterns.  I’m just being real with you.  My last two spent the first three months of their lives sleeping in a swing.  Both had sinus and reflux problems that meant sleeping flat was misery for them and for me.  You reach a point where you need to sleep for at least a four hour chunk and if you can get that by putting baby somewhere other than his bed, do it and don’t stress.  Gus sleeps in his bed now and has been there for almost five months.  It’s a short term fix that won’t hurt anyone in the long run.
6.  You don’t have to have everything done your way.  When I have a baby, my mom stays for at least a week.  She cooks incredible meals to make me produce lots of breastmilk, brews more coffee than we drink in a month, washes all the dishes every night, and folds my husband’s socks wrong.  Who cares?  She has a way and most of my ways are hers (learned behavior, you know), but if she does something differently than me, guess what? It’s still done and I didn’t have to do it.
7.  You can survive on frozen pizza and Stouffers.  Once the meal train stops and the cashier at Chic-fil-a knows you by name, you can opt for the ease of frozen casseroles in the oven.  Not only is that simple, look at you, you made dinner!
8.  You won’t be a packmule for more than a couple of months.  You know how to spot a new mom?  The size of her diaper bag.  But take heart, you might feel like you have to take everything so you’re prepared for anything, but eventually you will discover the few things that are necessary and embrace the small crossover bag. Or just toss a diaper in your purse and be on your way!
9.  You can leave the baby and you’re not a bad mom.  When Gus was about two weeks old, I left him with his daddy and went to the salon by myself and got a shampoo and cut.  It was heaven.  When I came back home, I not only felt better physically, I felt better mentally and could once again cope.  So if you have someone you trust, even if it’s just for an hour, even if it’s just to go buy diapers, leave and know you’ll come back a better mom for it.
10.  You might think everyone else is doing motherhood better than you, but that’s not true.  You were meant to mother this child.  Just you.  No one else.  So what everyone else is doing is what works for them, you do what works for you.  I promise, somewhere somebody thinks you’re the one who has it together because you really do.

Linking up with Many Little Blessings.

motherhood · Top 10 Tuesday

My Favorite Baby Gear {top 10}

I’ve been working on this post for awhile in my head.  I’ve added items, deleted, pondered, and given considerable thought to what I really believe are my favorite baby gear items.  I think I’ve finally got it figured out.

If you’re visiting over here for the first time, you need just a smidge of background on me before you read this post.  I have four children, three daughters and a son.  They are 8, 6, 2, and 6 months.  Scroll back up and check out their cute pictures.

In the eight years I have been a mom, I can honestly say I am amazed by how much baby gear has changed.  When I first went to that overwhelming superstore of baby periphinealia to register, I truly had no idea what I needed.  Since I was the first of my friends to journey into motherhood, I couldn’t rely on their opinions either.  Furthermore, eight years ago was a millenia away from facebook or blogs or Pinterest, so I didn’t have that resource either.  Now eight years and four kids later, I’ve been through several rounds of baby gear and am qualifying myself to make this list.

My Favorite Baby Gear

1.  Baby Bjorn  BABYBJORN Baby Carrier Original – Black, ClassicI’ve had friends who have recently had their first babies and they tell me that they have never used their Bjorn and are thinking of getting rid of it before they have another kid and get more stuff.  I tell them this: if you haven’t used it yet it’s because you only have one right now. Wait until you’re trying to navigate the parking lot with a toddler and an infant carrier and a diaper bag and your car keys and your iPhone and a grocery list and an extra set of panties because potty training is almost done.  You’ll appreciate being hands-free then.  We also use ours for most outdoor activities like visiting the Grand Canyon.  Some people say it’s too expensive and they opt for the cheaper option and then tell me it hurts their back.  Of course it does, there’s a reason Bjorn has such high ratings.  It’s the best and most comfortable.  You don’t have to pay $70, though.  Embrace the consignment sale where I saw a half-dozen in great condition for under $25.

2.  Nose Freida  This is one of those products that you truly can’t appreciate unless you’ve been blessed by a baby with snot that pours like Niagra Falls.  It’s my personal belief that unless you have a degree in nursing, working the “bulb” is an impossibility.  I tried and tried to give Amelia relief with it, until the day my friend Erin, who was an avid researcher of baby products before her first baby, told me about the Nose Freida.  Yes, it sounds gross.  You put one end in the baby’s nose and one end in your mouth and do what?!?  But it works, and it’s really not that gross.  Ever since we started using it, my kids have had less ear infections and slept better when sick with colds or allergies or teething.  You need this.  I’m serious.

3.  Snap-n-Go Stroller  This is one of those products I never saw a need for with my first three.  Why would I purchase a stroller that was only useful during the time in which she was in an infant carrier?  I would just have to get another stroller when we moved out of that phase and who needs two?  Then I had baby #4 and a child who was actually old enough to push a stroller carrying a baby without scaring me and no stroller that the carrier could snap into and he was too little for the umbrella stroller and my sit and stand was too bulky to deal with all of the time….so I borrowed the Babytrend Snap-n-Go from my friend Brooke, who had also done a lot of research prior to her first baby.  I love it.  Truly, I can’t say enough good things about it.  It’s easy.  It’s light.  It has cupholders and a place for my keys and phone and wallet and a big basket, none of which are features on my double.  I might keep Gus in the carrier a little longer just so I can keep using it.  Except that Brooke is pregnant again and undoubtably wants it back.  Did I mention my carrier is hers too?  By the way, you will obviously need another stroller.  Brooke and Erin recommend the Citi Mini, but Brooke won’t loan me that because she’s using it, so I can’t review. 🙂

4.  Huggies Wipes  I’m a coupon girl, so I’ve used a variety of wipes.  Nothing beats free or just pennies, right?  Wrong.  Huggies are hands-down the best wipes out there.  They are thick enough to do the job, come out of the package easily, and are useful for everything from little bottoms to Cheeto fingers on a toddler.

5. Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat, Blue/Green/GrayWe have a small house, so we are always trying to find extra space whenever possible.  I had a very nice Eddie Bauer wooden high chair.  It looked good and was sturdy, but until my babies were almost one, it was always too big.  It also took up a lot of space.  We started using this booster when Annabelle was moving into toddler stage and when we had Amelia, it was one of the few purchases I was insistent we make. (We had sold our previous one.  For some reason, I thought I was done two kids ago.)  This snaps into any chair and saves so much space!  Plus, I can take it with us to visit family or on vacation. The tray comes on and off and is dishwasher safe.  We’ve used it for Amelia from the time she could sit up, and we still use it for her at the dinner table so she can’t escape or reach across the table and eat all the crescent rolls.

6. Summer Infant Swaddleme Microfleece, Blue, LargeThis is another baby #4 revelation.  I would never have purchased these on my own.  I have a zillion receiving blankets in all sizes, shapes, and colors, so I wouldn’t have ever thought of needing more.  Plus, my husband is a pro at making a baby burrito, the practice baby whisperers refer to as “swaddling.”  But someone gave me one of these in a pile of hand-me-downs and one night when Gus was especially squirmy and fussy, I gave it a try.  Tuck in, arms down, velcro secure…and he was out like a light.  It kept him happy because this baby boy of mine likes to feel snuggly secure and our regular tucking method just wasn’t cutting it.

7.  Backpack Diaper Bag  My favorite diaper bag, honestly?  The black messenger backpack you get at the hospital for free because it’s full of formula sample and advertisements.  It’s small, compact, lightweight and perfect, especially when you move out of the early infant stage of needing everything and the kitchen sink when you go somewhere.  So, tuck it in your closet for that day when you’re willing to trade cute for practical.

8.  Infant Swing  We haven’t owned a swing since Madelynne.  She didn’t like it, so we donated it to a family after they had a house fire.  Now I know why she didn’t like it.  It wasn’t one of these that cradles the baby and reminds him of being rocked in the womb.  Another friend loaned me her swing for Amelia because we still weren’t sold on a purchase, and it was a lifesaver.  Then along came Gus and we again borrowed a swing, this time from a different friend because the first was already out on loan.  (This post should really be about the network of borrowing baby gear.)  He has slept more in that swing than in his cradle or crib, mainly because of his reflux.  He only sleeps well when propped up and the swing does this perfectly.

9.  Udder Covers  I know, the name is hilarious.  If you’re nursing and don’t care to nurse in public, but don’t want to be quite as obvious as the woman in the Luvs commercial, you need an udder cover.  Yes, you can use a receiving blanket, but this is so much easier.  Coupon codes to get you one for free are all over, and usually there’s one in that free diaper bag I mentioned above.  If you’re going to nurse, get this, I promise you’ll be grateful.

10. Graco Pack ‘N Play Element with Stages, OasisGone are the days of the humble playpen, much to the disappointment of my mom who raised seven kids and swears by the protection of the playpen.  Instead, we have pack-n-plays and they are so much more than just a safe place for a baby to roll around if you’re concerned about leaving them on the floor.  We have used ours for the obvious reasons and we have traveled with it extensively, but by far, it’s most convenient feature for our large family?  It doubled as Gus’s nursery for the first six months.  It was set up in our bedroom and because it has a piece that snaps on for changing, I used the bassinet for his clothes and diapers.  Underneath the bassinet, I stored all sorts of extras like bags, bottles I didn’t need yet, diapers and wipes, toys, blankets, etc.  This piece is multi-useful.  It’s also the only piece of baby gear that has been around for all four of my kids.  For some reason, I was never quite ready to sell it, and now I’m incredibly thankful.

So what do you think?  What are your favorite baby gear items?  By the way, now I’m thinking that next week’s top 10 should be the best items to buy on consignment since I would get almost all of this there.

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings
Top 10 Tuesday

Blogging Hiatus: 10 Reasons Why

I know you all are suffering in my hiatus from blogland.

I know I am.

My husband pointed out that this would have been a great time to have guest bloggers and I reminded him that guest bloggers still require me to have computer time free from school-filters that inhibit my ability to post.

Truthfully I think he’d rather I make supper.

But tonight I’ve got about 8 minutes to tell you what we’ve been up to that’s keeping me so busy, so what’s the perfect quick catch-up?

A Top Ten Tuesday list of course!

Ten Reasons I’ve Been on Blogging Hiatus
Gus doesn’t like having a working mommy, even if it’s only temporary.  So he makes his opinion known in the only way he can: he attaches himself to me and nurses nearly all. night. long.
It requires two hands to pack lunches that are better than the school cafeteria pizza and cheese sticks.
At some point laundry has to be folded.  Or at least removed from the dryer.
Sixth graders need a lot of help opening lockers.  Then they expect their teachers to remember and recall at will their exact combination 24 hours later when they still can’t open it by themselves.
MOPS starts next week!!! 
(and for some reason it’s okay for me to be in charge of that)
I had over 600 unread emails in my inbox.  Not kidding.  I might be a digital hoarder.
My brain is on overdrive for 18 out of 24 hours and right now, my thoughts won’t settle into coherency.
I have been spending a little too much time on Pinterest because it’s not blocked by school filters and is a good distraction when I’m pumping.  Again.  For my apparently starving baby.
I am easily distracted by things like facebook, email, and the Harvard Baseball team.
Once I sit down, I’m too tired to move again.  Even if it’s only ten feet down the hall to sit down again.
Ever had a great excuse for not doing something you love??
1000 gifts · amelia · family · · joshua · madelynne · Top 10 Tuesday

Those Perfect Moments

When you’re a mom
especially a mom of 
little girls
and just one sweet tiny boy
it’s easy to get caught up 
in the moments that are hard.
I posted that last week
so this week
I thought I’d share that 
in life
in motherhood
there are plenty of 
perfect moments
fleeting and quick
but if I could just freeze 
this time
I would.

Madelynne all curled up in our armchair reading chapter books all by herself ignoring the chaos around her until her baby sis climbs up too.

The noisy baby napping nearby who grunts and sighs and purrs non-stop when I am trying to nap but who curls into my chest and is quiet as can be.

When Amelia wakes up her hair is everywhere all swirls and curls and sweetness.

Just one day when we all got along (mostly) and I reinstated some confidence in myself.

Handfuls of not-quite-ripe blackberries they and their favorite boy friends are picking off the bushes.

Dishwasher humming, dryer thumping, crockpot bubbling, babies all at rest.
and big girls at art camp 🙂

Long nursing sessions when we’re just both so content.

Eight little feet that will bring the Good News
we pray.

Clutching her “star bucks” Annabelle says, “Mommy, did you know the library has a room where you can buy stuff?”  The library is our new favorite summer place.

Trying for a perfect moment sometimes gets you one better.
It may not have been the original vision, but it’s ours.

Linking up today over at Growing Home and Many Little Blessings.

and all photographs are courtesy of MBShaw Photography.

Growing Home Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings