We did something scary.

Today, I want to use the reality of a new baby in a friend group to talk about something a little deeper.

I want to talk about how to make, foster and grow these friendships so that things like this even get to happen.

So often, the biggest struggle as a mom is the feeling of isolation, loneliness and the sheer act of being alone with non-adults all day, every day.

When I got pregnant with Joey, I had a group of insanely close and loyal friends. None, and I mean none, of which had babies or were planning on having them anytime soon. Adam and I were the first ones.

What followed this was as heart wrenching as it was a blessing – those friends faded, and fast.

Not because we didn’t love each other. Not because we didn’t still want to spend time together.

Simply because life as a mom completely negates the life you had before, in all the best ways.

You come home with a baby and you are new. Your life is new, and the old ways of doing things not only don’t work, but you have forgotten how they worked to begin with.

And so, those friendships change, at first. And then they start to feel distant and not as intimate. And not long after that, you haven’t done anything with them in months and they’ve only met your son once, and he’s now 2.5. 

We are put in this terribly scary place of not only getting to know this little 7 pound bundle of non-sleeping joy, but you’re alone while you do it. And no one else around you is going through the exact same thing. And you so badly want someone to know what this feels like, but all they can do is nod their head and offer you more water, or coffee, or to hold the baby you actually don’t want them to hold. 

Getting up and changing this place I was in was the hardest thing in the whole freaking world. 

I remember the day I did it. I remember packing up Joey, alone, and doing my freaking best to make it to the gym for our 9 am workout. I had been to this exact same class pregnant, just a few weeks before this day. I was entering to familiar faces, but none were “friends.”

It was so hard. I didn’t know how to put Joey in the carrier very well. He didn’t even really like it. He spit up the entire time. My whole body hurt. I squatted and thought my innards were going to hit the floor. He cried. I cried. I sweat through my shirt and through his shirt and sweat stung my eyes and dripped down on top of his head.

I could only lift a small sandbag. Nothing like before. Where had my muscles gone?

I bled. I remember thanking myself for wearing a pad, even though I didn’t think I would need one.

And when it was over, and I felt defeated and still alone and wondering why I left the house FOR THIS, she walked over.

“You’re Nicole of Nicole and Co, right?”

Me, trying to put Joey back into his carseat, fumbling with the straps and praying he stays asleep in the process. “Ya, I am.”

“I follow you, and I hope this isn’t creepy, but you’re amazing.”

You guys, she said these words. She made the first move. 

She was the most intimidating person I have ever known. I had watched her, for months and months and months before, in the advanced class, far from my beginner/intermediate class I stuck to. She did pull-ups unassisted and lapped me when we ran. She had the most gorgeous tattoos, and eyelashes that basically hit the sky.

And now she was 8 months pregnant, in the Moms class at the gym, no longer able to do an unassisted pull-up and getting ready to pop out a child soon. Just like I had done weeks earlier.

All this to say, 2 and a half years later, I watched, encouraged, and photographed her birth her second baby. 

Her love language is touch. She purple shampoos her hair once a week. Her daughter, Madi, wakes up every night between 1 and 2 and comes to her bed. James calls me a dork, and it means I’m in his tribe, now. Zoe is her favorite dog and Ashland once knocked over Madi and almost broke her nose. She has a mole in a place she won’t talk about and her elephant tattoo on her foot is named Fiona.

Tasha was the first friend from my mom tribe, and now, I have these things to say about Kasey and Amy, too. Because we all did the exact same thing:

Did something really scary.

I went to the gym that day. Tasha introduced herself. Kasey invited us on a hike (which I flaked on… I bet she understands now). And Amy gave us advice on how to navigate the newborn days. We all sat there, on the gym floor, with brand new babies, and just started talking. 

Kasey was leaving her job to stay home. Tasha was missing her husband who was gone fishing. Amy was trying to get pregnant again. I was trying to figure out how to work in the studio with a newborn.

We had different, very different, struggles. But we were no longer alone in them.

We have not been apart since this day, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me (and them, I assume).

And then, after the third one of us had her second baby (I’m next, and the last one, apparently), we all gathered around and cheered her on, in the room, together, with her husband.

Because if we are honest with each other, the bond the four of us share is that close – husband kind of close – and it’s the most intimate relationships we have.

We share bodies, sometimes. In the gym, during labor, getting our eyebrows waxed and holding hands at the pumpkin patch. We know each others’ love languages and DO THEM. 

Watching Tasha give birth was the most intimate experience of my life. Even more than my own birth. The vulnerability that comes from birth now matches the vulnerability we all have together, as friends. We were, and are, raw, exposed and vulnerable, and were, and are, there for each other in every single moment of it.

This is something that, as it seems, cannot exist without having children together. At least for us. Our children, the seven of them, is what ties us. Growing them, birthing them, and raising them – together.

Tasha’s birth story is for her to tell, but she blessed me beyond words with the privilege to document the process, and share it with you. 

Scroll through the whole gallery for the sweetest little glimpse into Sawyer’s first moments earthside.

It's Fine. Totally Fine.

 
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I’m calling you out, girl.

You haven’t watched Mompreneur Masterclass. 

I hear you. That’s ok. It’s fine. 

Really, it’s fine.

First of all, if you’re a woman, you know that when another woman says “It’s fine,” she’s lying. And also, it’s not fine. 

The only valid reason for not watching Masterclass is if you are completely and totally content with the way your life as a mompreneur is going, and have no complaints, don’t need improvement in any area of your life and think that every single day is a freaking ray of golden sunshine.

I told you, I’m calling you out.

I KNOW that this isn’t true. Girl, it ain’t true for ANYBODY. Including me, you, my mom and your mom and even those perfect looking moms on Instagram.

Listen, we all need help. We all need someone to tell us that we aren’t alone, and that we aren’t perfect, and that we don’t need to be.

The only true way to become better humans is by WORKING to become better humans. Self improvement, happiness, contentment and education don’t come to us because we sit and let the world pass us by. No, these things come to those who put their own self-care ahead of other things. Ahead of client work, ahead of Bachelorette, ahead of story time.

I know. I just touched a nerve, right?

That’s ok. Do I have your attention now?

When was the last time you put yourself first? The last time you said, I’m going to spend my day working on improving MY OWN LIFE, and not someone else’s?

The ONLY way to be there for our families, for our clients, for our teams, for our God, is to be the best version of ourselves ALL THE TIME. Or at least, as often as we can.

Don’t get me wrong. After two glasses of wine, I’m not the best version of myself. I’m not my best version when I forget to take my anxiety medicine, or when I don’t go to the gym, or when I choose to watch Friends all day instead of the other things I should be doing.

I am not the best version of myself when I tell my husband, “not tonight, babe.” I’m not the best version of myself when I put my toddler down for a nap he may not need because I need some alone time. 

But working daily to be BETTER than we were yesterday is the only way I know how to be my best version. 

Are you sitting here now going, “Well, shit. I’m not working to be a better version of myself at all right now.” Are you still in your sweats and had your husband drop off the kids at school and having your third cup of coffee and thinking about stopping reading this and scrolling Facebook instead?

Told you. Calling you out hardcore this morning.

What if you took the next hour, or your lunch hour, or your hour before bed or the hour that you feel like your husband spends on the toilet (ya…), and watched something that would help you to become a better version of yourself TODAY?

Would you watch it?

I think you should. And not because it’s my Masterclass. But because I want you – beautiful amazing capable Godly momma – to be happier WITH YOURSELF. To feel accomplished, to feel valued and valuable. To not go to bed tonight, dreading the fact that you have to do this all again tomorrow, and already tired. 

I want you to live in joy EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. To eliminate guilt, overwhelm and time loss. I want you to feel better about yourself, TODAY. 

So, you haven’t watched Mompreneur Masterclass.

That’s ok. It’s fine.

St. Christopher | Jan.4th Series, Part 5

 
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There’s no such thing as moving on.

All these things, they are carried with us.

We step forward. We move toward something else.

But we don’t move on.

What we have had, it’s carried with us to the next thing.

Like baggage we can’t lose.

Like the piece of gum in the bottom of your purse, that you leave there each time it comes up to the surface.

Like the potatoes in the cupboard or the mineral tubs in the barn or the collar from your first dog, still hanging on your review mirror.

We never move on. We just move forward.

The sock doesn’t get thrown away after it’s lost its mate. It stays, in the drawer, with all the other socks, waiting until its day when it will yet again be worn, with another mismatch. 

What I would give, some days, to lose that baggage. To get off the plane and leave the airport, with no obligation to pick up the bags stored underneath.

Let them go round and round and round, until a stranger picks them up and looks for a belonging name.

What I would give, to have not written my name on those bags.

But we do. We do write our name, whether we mean to or not. We make alliances and share blood and tears and sweat and wine. And suddenly, our name is written on their luggage tag, never to be removed.

You can store the blood stained shirt in the drawer. You can wear the locket. You can put it all in a box and put it under the bed.

But someday, somewhere, it will haunt you.

It was a Saturday, and I took it off, and lay it on my nightstand. And I will wonder if something bad will happen that day. 

But my black dress’s neckline does not work with this necklace. And it’s been five years. My neck is stained from the chain, the clasp has been fixed three times, and I waited in the store while they welded it all back together each time. I cannot, would not leave it there.

And later, the dress was off and my face washed and the darkness of yet another night, safe in my home, washed over me, I did not put it back on. 

But I did not move on. It’s baggage now, that I can’t wear. Can’t touch. Can’t fathom throwing away. So it sits. On the dresser. Collecting dust and taking my attention each time I dress.

I pray over it. I pray that St. Christopher will keep me safe in my travels. That what happened to him won’t happen to me. Won’t happen to Adam. Won’t happen to Joey.

And I realize. I will never move on. It’s baggage I carry, though no longer around my neck. But the 14 karat gold pendant, I will forever bare its weight. 

Eleven

 
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“Should we be talking about organ donation?”

He stated that it was probably a little premature, but that he appreciated that I had the courage to bring it up.

Megan, our nurse that day, who had walked us back to this room to meet the doctor, had left already. I watched her as she gracefully helped my mom pull out a chair and sit down, she touched the doctor’s shoulder, glanced at my dad at slid through the barely open door.

As if from out of thin air, she reappeared, now half sitting on the table against the wall, with an entire pack of tissues in her left hand.

Ugh, the tissues. It still makes no sense to me how a hospital can carry such terrible tissues. The boxes are extra small, and the tissues, though thick, are the texture of sandpaper.

But she had no tears. Not yet, anyway.

The doctor was casual, just as he was 6 days prior in the emergency room. One ankle crossed over the other leg’s knee, worn out running shoes and a strong 5 o’clock shadow on his chin and cheeks.

His hair, wild long and gray, was being combed through his fingers, his expensive watch glistened in the fluorescent light, making my involuntarily follow the glimmer on the wall beside me.

“But what if something goes wrong?” My mom’s voice was shaky, of course, but her face was stern. Lips pursed and fingers intertwined over her crossed knees.

This was why we were even having this conversation. It was implied that something would go wrong.

The ventilator had been working hard for him for the last 6 days, and a week with a tube down your trachea is the longest a human can stand before it begins to cause a problem.

Whatever that problem was, I envisioned, seemed so incredibly minor compared to the other things we were classifying as “problems.” I stumbled with the idea of us spending more time on a decision about his throat than decisions about his brain.

Nonetheless, here we were. In this room. My dad, still silent, my mom, stern, and me. I stood, my gaze going from the doctor and back to Megan, who finally caught my stare and never let go.

“What would you do if it were your child, doctor?”

I imagine that doctors hate this question.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, I asked him. If he remembered my dad asking this question.

His eyes fell to the floor, then to the wall beside us. Blank and yellow, the same walls we walked that day back five years ago to this very room. “I do, actually. And I had an answer, but it wasn’t the one you wanted to hear.

“Your dad is one of the most real people I have ever had to work with. I was not afraid to tell him the truth, because not only was he demanding it, but you all needed to hear it.”

The truth was this: that he may not make it through the simple surgery of performing a tracheotomy. The simple act of laying him flat could be catastrophic, nevermind the transportation of him to the OR from his quiet, dark ICU room.

He had been responding heavily to noise. We kept the door closed tightly, and the room dark. We whispered when bedside, wore slippers and socks and turned off all the beeping machines. Silence, for him, was the best medicine.

This conversation was “the conversation.” The one you talk about with your family when you are working on writing your will, or after a glass or two of wine and someone asks you where you’d like to spend eternity.

It’s the conversation you have with yourself at 16 when deciding whether to put the little pink organ donation sticker on your driver’s license or not.

You probably, in your entire life, spend less time thinking about this conversation than the 5 minutes we spent actually having it.

How much longer did we want to wait? How much longer could we wait? How much longer were we WILLING to wait?

You cannot answer these questions in a hypothetical situation. You can chat about it with your lawyer all you want, making sure the right person will be appointed to make this decision for you. But it won’t be the right answer. It never is.

There’s a magic number in there somewhere, between WANT and CAN and WILL.

Our magic number was 11. Eleven days.

Come to think of it, wasn't that his motocross number?

The Green Cardigan

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For some reason it’s easy for me to remember what I wore in these moments.

On this particular day, I was wearing these yoga pants from Target. They went up high on my waist and squeezed me tight. I remember because it was the umpteenth day in a row I had worn them. I was too tired to do laundry, and the sitting around in the ICU waiting room brought lots of sugary treats from the church congregation and certainly no days at the gym.

I was also wearing my green knitted cardigan. Adam calls it my grandma sweater. It’s my favorite.

I still own both these pieces of clothing.

And don’t tell Adam this, but I haven’t washed the green cardigan yet. To this day, it sits, folded on the top shelf of my closet, worn only on the days that comfort and tears are at the forefront of my emotional threshold.

Sometimes I can hear the diesel truck engine. A Ford. I can feel myself sliding out of my own seat-warmed driver’s side of my car. I can imagine painting my own home white with navy trim one day. But then I remember. And realize that I will never paint my house white with navy trim, because then I’d be back, in that parking spot in a cute neighborhood adjacent to the hospital, standing in the middle of the street. Crying. In front of the cute white house with navy trim. In my green cardigan.

Nobody could go to work. Everyone that tried, at some point or another, ended up back in those extremely stiff, faux leather seats with wooden arm rests in that ICU waiting room. What would start as an everyday morning would end late, walking from the elevator that smelled of marijuana to your car, parked somewhere blocks away, in the rain. Always in the dark.

From where we sat, there were no windows. Windows and sunlight were reserved for patients. Though, it really doesn’t seem to make sense. If the patient is asleep, and will be for weeks, maybe their families would like the window seat. They were going to sleep through the daylight anyway.

What started as a normal day for many was now a new normal for us.

It had been five days. No major news. Not out of the woods. And now, we knew, day five would be the hardest. But most could not sit for another day or more. Life was waiting beyond those tiled floors and sterile glass doors.

It was my birthday.

Not that it mattered. Not to me, anyway.

Pat and Tommy and Peter and David and Randy had all gone back to work. To their families. To their lives. All out of town. Where their lives were led and grown and nurtured and fostered and built.

These were my people. My parents when I didn’t have my own. My dad’s best friends, my other sets of families that took care of me my entire life.

Of course, they called. So often. More often than I could answer the phone. And because I was the sister, the daughter, it was my duty to keep the public informed. The extended family. The community.

It was my phone that rang and beeped and dinged all day. And I did my best to oblige.

It was my birthday. I woke up to an empty house. The first day in five days it had been empty in the morning. The street had been lined with grandparents’ trailers and RVs, now driven back to their own driveways. My couches and air mattresses and Tony’s bed had been occupied, and my kitchen full of cereal pouring and coffee sipping when I would awaken. All of us to quickly caravan the three blocks to the Neuro ICU before shift change at 7:30 am.

But not that morning. I had slept. Longer than I wanted. And when I woke, it was panic.

Hence, the yoga pants and cardigan, yet again.

I parked. I hesitated to get out of my car. It was sunny, and I recall the street as it glimmered. Like it was still cold and wet, and the sun was so far away that it could not even warm the most warmable parts of the town. The black asphalt. The bare parking space I neglected to see. The white house’s lawn that shimmered with dew.

My feet moved slowly. And it felt like I was trying to ice skate on dirt. The shoes meant for gliding but the surface just sucking me down instead.

It was my birthday. And he might die today. I hated that it was my birthday.

If you are from the country, like dirt road country, you know that each diesel engine makes a very distinct diesel sound. Adam drove Dodges. Always and forever. I could always pick his truck out of a stream of vehicles on the highway, hear it from three miles away. Even Henry the dog would jump at the sound, before I could even register that it was in fact him. Dodges are a deep, roaring, muffled sound. Like a dragon trying to growl while muffled with a sock. Fords, however, whistle. And if you’re keen and in tune with the boys that drove these trucks, you could differentiate in a split second.

This was a Ford. My heart melted just a little. A little more than it should have. A Dodge would have meant it was Adam. Coming to bring me a birthday coffee or sweep me off my feet for breakfast in another town where nobody knew who I was. But it wasn’t a Dodge. And it wasn’t him.

No, it was a whistle that could have woke neighbors. A whistle that shifted. Down. Down as in slowing down.

And then it stopped.

I was standing center stage. Middle of the street. I had frozen, somewhere between my car and the other side. Listening to the diesel engine. Focusing on the shift from third to second, and then to neutral.

I looked up to see their faces staring at me. The chrome of the bumper in line with my hips. Me facing the passenger side door, window higher than my line of site, but the faces stung my vision.

The passenger door opened with a vengeance. The whistle of the truck continued as arms larger than my own but smaller than my father’s embraced me.

Tommy’s five-day old scruff rubbed my hair, pulling my blonde unwashed strands from their ponytail, his scent of cigarettes and powdered donuts washed over me like a wave would if I had walked into the ocean with no intention of turning around.

Pat drove his truck away faster than a normal circumstance would have required, surely to find a parking spot with room for 6 tires and as close as possible. And Tommy stood there, holding me. In the middle of the street in the Chico avenues.

I don’t know if they came for me. Or for him. Or for my dad. Or for themselves. But it didn’t matter. They were there. And so was I. Disconnected by 200 miles in the everyday. Communication via text or the occasional deep thoughts in the duck blind.

But today. On the day it mattered, neither of them could go to work. So instead they drove. And found me. In the middle of the road. Trying to ice skate on dirt.

You see, I can’t wash that cardigan. That would mean that the smell of Tommy’s cigarettes and the sound of Pat’s truck would be washed out of it. That could never happen. It was the only moment that was mine for months and months, maybe years. The only moment that I can hold in my hands, hold to my face and breath in.

He didn’t die that day.

the Crafted Manifesto

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LISTEN TO IT HERE


READ IT HERE

Businesses are inundated.

Buy this! Download this! You need a logo, a brand! Get your books right and invest in this and get a line of credit!

Whatever the information is, it’s being blasted at us from every angle.

But here’s the real deal. We want to get moving, and be successful, NOW. Not in a year. Not down the road. TODAY. And so, we do our research and decide where our time and money is best spent, because we only have a little bit to get this thing off the ground.

Part of that initial spending is usually a logo. Or if you’re in the lingo, a brand. And we decide how much money, and time, we can realistically spend on it.

Let’s be honest. That’s not a lot. We are putting in so much up-front work for our business, and forking out thousands of dollars and months’ worth of time to design a logo, with a stranger, that may or may not be relevant in a year, is not only daunting, but unbearable.

The reality is this:

Businesses are being held back and they don’t even know it. We are settling for “good enough” instead of “badass.” We are branding ourselves as startups when we start, and we stay that way until we aren’t a startup anymore.

What if we did this:

Brand ourselves as we see ourselves – successful, talented, smart and downright brave. We are ambitious and kind and knowledgeable.

We are not “good enough,” we are GREAT. We are doing something amazing, and our brand should tell that story.

This is the CRAFTED manifesto. To graciously and generously give businesses a shot, right out of the gate. To get them moving, like right now, with something great.

CRAFTED is not just a brand selling brands. It is a girl with a talent and a passion, similar to yours, that wants so badly for all us to be successful TODAY.

I cannot wait to see these brands out in the wild, doing what they were meant to do, and meant to do well.

xoxo for now, my friend!

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Arms of Love

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The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.

The first time I heard this quote, I immediately rebutted with an out loud, “Ya, ok…”

But then, my father in me, started looking at it like a math equation.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 0 = 1

Take it even further.

1 x 1 = 1
1 x 0 = 0

There is no logical way you can add or multiply, and end up with less.

Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. Because I was thinking it, too.

Being alone is important. Self love can only be achieved when you learn to love yourself, by yourself, for yourself.

Let me ask you one question.

During the time you’ve been alone, have you grown substantially as an empathetic, compassionate, emotionally strong and mature human being?

I want to tell you a story about someone I love very, very much. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you my own story.

My sister in law, Em, came up to the house one night, and in deep need of condolence. She was struggling.

After years of focusing on her education, and sacrificing large life moments and milestones because of it, she has found herself very close to receiving her doctorate at UC Davis. She is seriously kicking you know what in the professional education world.

Em has had some amazing moments over the last decade or so. Some spectacular memories, some fantastic opportunities, and has grown substantially as a wonderful, faithful human.

After a very long conversation and a few bottles of wine, her and Adam and myself found ourselves at a crossroads – Emily was craving connection. With us, her friends, someone to grow old with, God, and eventually, children.

For so long, Em has been focused on herself. And yes, she has been madly in love with someone, and thought for a long time she would marry him.

But then she didn’t.

Her immediate reaction was that she wanted some time alone. To focus and finish school. To graduate, find her place in the world of tenure and professing and to settle down. Her hesitation was that love would get in the way of all the hard work and sacrifices she has already made. And it felt necessary to be alone to work on the things within herself she wanted to work on. Those things, she told us, were:

  1. Communication
  2. Prioritizing family
  3. Faith

Since we didn’t have the emotional energy to cross yet another bridge of “what’s next,” we left the conversation at that cross roads.

If you find someone right away, see how it goes. If you don’t, that’s ok, too.

This was the day before I left for southern Cali, and on the plane, I listened to Dale Partridge say, “The fastest way to work on yourself is to bring someone else into the equation.”

This kind of tipped my opinion upside down. Until then, I had always thought that my time “alone” had been the most productive in growth. Upon further recollection, though, I realized that “alone” has a very negative connotation, and in many cases, is completely wrong.

  1. Yes, I had been “alone” when I moved home from college. But then I wasn’t. I had my family.
  2. Yes, I had been “alone” that afternoon, before I found God in the sunset. But then I wasn’t. My angel friend (we’ll talk about him another time) had brought me to Him.
  3. And then I had Him. And I was no longer alone.
  4. Yes, I had been “alone” when I learned I could be alone. But then I wasn’t. Adam walked around the corner and scooped me up and never left my side again.
  5. I have not been alone since.

Mind you, this part of my life happened within a 60 day span, the summer of 2009.

Ok, back to Em.

Upon my return from Disney, I learned that Emily had a date with someone, who we all have known for years. And that she was very excited about it.

That date was two nights later, and here is what her text said to me the next morning:

“Best. Date. Ever. I didn’t really feel like a first date. But you probably could have guessed I would say that. Thank you so much. I have never been so excited about anything or just life in general.”

Never been so excited about anything, or life in general.

I highly doubt Em would have been this excited about life in general after spending weeks alone, working on herself.

Since this date, Emily has called me nearly every day. We text all day, and she came to spend a week with us for Christmas. This is more communication I’ve had with Emily in over three years.

So, with one interaction with another person, who sparked her, she has already begun working on her three priorities. Communication. Family. Faith.

After this, I started journaling about marriage and relationships. Jotting down moments I remember from my own, things I’ve noticed and experiences I’ve witnessed.

None of them that have equated into more, or better, have happened alone.

I plan to write and share more about this theory, but I’d like to leave you with one last thought for the night.

Safety is found in the arms of love.

Rest

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This post is inspired in whole by Sadie, my dear friend who has taught me the true meaning of rest, replenishment and self-care.

Tonight, as I sit here in my bed wayyy past my bedtime, I’m reflecting on my year.

And mostly, on how we all hold these extreme expectations for the end of the year. Examples?

Let’s talk creative biz clients. Business owners always have big plans for the end of the year. We are going to send out a brand spanking new mailer, all the bells and whistles, the first of the year. We are going to launch our new line. The new site will be live and the product shop will have made way over our projections by December 29th.

Let’s talk our own work. My books are going to be up to date, I will have completed my 2018 power sheets and goal setting strategy and be on track to start my new year off right with social media campaigns. All of my 2017 projects will be finished, billed and paid.

Let’s talk deadlines. The timeline on the contract says “hope to launch before Christmas.” The job was done and wrapped up with a neat little bow and delivered like a present on Christmas morning and my client checked their email during unwrapping with their children and was so happy to have had it completed for that day that they sent me flowers as a thank you!

Let’s talk health, and food. We won’t overeat. We will have discipline and not eat all the cookies. We will KEEP our workout schedule and if our jeans begin to feel a little tight, we will restrain from yet another cinnamon roll for breakfast and instead eat a yogurt.

Let’s talk relationships. I will be gifting everyone I love something this year, even if it is something small. I will make sure to call all my relatives on Christmas, or even Christmas Eve, and have my Thank you notes written before they get back from their Christmas travels. My husband will know how much I love him because I got him the greatest gift that we was not expecting, and he will love me so much to get me the gift I really wanted but didn’t tell him I wanted. The Christmas blessing will be flawless and my dad will praise me later for doing such a great job. No fights will be had around the dinner table and no one will flake last minute and not show up.

Did any of these things come true?

Didn’t think so.

Why do we do this to ourselves?! This is a legitimate question.

You guys! This is unreasonable. This is way too much pressure!

Winter, these deep dark days of little light and warmth are not meant for us to “thrive.” Yet, we put this weight on our shoulders that just because the man made calendar year is ending, we have to be “complete” too.

Shame on us! If we really listened to our bodies, our hearts and minds and souls, here is what we would hear:

“Take reprieve from the light, and learn to love the darkness. Reach deep within yourself, and rest. Rest with the intent of work, but the work is yet to be done. Use these long nights as they are meant to be used, with sleep and recovery and growth. Darkness invites us to lay low, to take cover from all the bustle of nature and light and competition. In darkness, we use our own nourishment and heal. The cold brings hibernation, a way of living death, so that we may naturally rest, recover and learn to grow again, once the warmth and light hits our souls.”

Yet, here we are, working the week after Christmas. Working the week after our Savior celebrated His human arrival on Earth. Do you think Mary worked that week? I don’t think so. I think she was so astounded by the fact that she, the virgin Mary, birthed a child, the Child of God, that she RESTED. She swaddled and nursed and slept. Her body, her soul and her spirit had been through the most trying of times, and she took reprieve in the darkness, surrounded my wise men and the Holy Spirit and her soul mate, and savored the Savior.

What if we didn’t? What if we didn’t hustle during this time? What if we did what all the nature and spirits are nudging us to do?

Would the world really stop turning? No. Would your business fail? No. Would you feel like you were less than? No. And why? Because when the light and warmth finally does hit your face naturally, and you rested instead of shoveling snow, you can gracefully watch the snow melt the path in front of you and you can walk without falling. You can stand taller and more gracefully tackle your dreams.

This pressure. This pain. This perseverance that is so heavy on your heart this season. Let it go, let it pass without so much as a glance back. And next year, when the days begin to get shorter and the nights colder, take the cue to retreat back into yourself.

If you’re really wondering how it might go, know this.

My goals for 2018 are not set, and my books are a mess. But tax day isn’t until April and my goals don’t determine my dreams. It’s currently four days after Christmas, and frankly, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed that the job isn’t done yet. I’m not sorry I ate the extra cinnamon roll because it was delicious and I didn’t gift anyone anything I didn’t think they’d love and use – and guess what, the people I love don’t need gifts to know I love them.

I’ve cooked and written and slept more than I have in years, just in the last two weeks. My baby is happy as a clam to go down his new slide all day and I’m pretty happy to drink tea and watch him.

My friends, my prayer for you this season is that you take what time we have left to rest, and rest well. Soon, the days will be longer and the temperature warmer and the hustle will start all over.

Resolutions That Don't Make Me Cringe

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This year, my resolution is to make resolutions that don't scare me. 

Feel me?

I feel the need to stop making resolutions for myself that imply that something is wrong with me.

Like losing weight, or eating healthier, or working harder, keeping a cleaner house, or whatever. Most resolutions imply that we aren't doing something well enough, and we need to be BETTER at something that we seem to be failing at.

To be honest, I don't really want to be better at anything. I just want to be a better person. For myself, for my family, for God. So instead of making resolutions that make me feel less than any of that, I am making resolutions that actually make me happy. Things that are totally doable, will make me happy while doing them, and better my life in itty bitty little ways.

Without further ado:

  1. Take care of my skin and stop going to bed with my makeup on.
  2. Wash my hair more than twice a month.
  3. Watch Friends another time all the way through.
  4. Be graceful.
  5. Wear bright clothes.
  6. Play more cards.

Listen. It’s possible to work on the internal, deeper meaning stuff, all day every day. Maybe not all day, but a lot. And in the midst of that work, you forget, or regret, to do other things. Like wash your face.

The same as when you get so caught up in your skin care routine that you forget to pray. It goes both ways.

I think that resolutions should be more about concrete, personal goals, rather than businessy stuff. I can share my business goals another time, but for today, let’s talk about (what apparently is a problem I have) personal hygiene.

Skin care. I have been literally washing my face in the morning, if that, applying my makeup, and going about my day. You guys, that is it. No joke. Under eye circles, eh, I’m a mom. Smeared eyeliner from yesterday, eh, nobody got time to remove that. Mascara from three days ago, well, my eyelashes seem to get longer that way.

No. Just, no. I’ve got blackheads that could stay with me until I die if I don’t do something soon, and my poor nose area is so dry that it has to work really hard to produce enough skin cells every day.

Nope. This year, I am washing my face at night. Exfoliating twice a week. Applying eye cream and moisturizer, and dare I say it, SUNSCREEN. I do live in California, mind you. It is always sunny here.

And for the hair washing thing? Well, I had a nightmare that my dry shampoo made all my hair fall out. And then I googled it and apparently that happens. I’ve got to wash my hair more often.

But my favorite hair day is day 9. This could pose a major problem.

FRIENDS. Here is something I truly believe. Every time I watch Friends, Netflix adds a deleted scene. I promise, it has not been played before. Just today, I watched as Ross told Phoebe something, I swear, he had never said before. There’s no way I missed it 25 other times. This can’t be true.

So I’m vowing to watch it again. And again. In an effort to catch all the scenes Netflix deems needed.

As far as being graceful? This is running in tangent with my 2017 resolution of offering more grace. Not only do I want to offer it this year, I’d like to have some. Attract it, enact it, example it and enforce it. This one dives a little deeper into the deeper meaning stuff. But I'm not putting too much weight on that. I more just want to keep going with my 2017 resolution. So far, so good.

Have you seen my closet sales lately, on my IG stories? You’ll find that most of what I’m ditching is neutral. Why you might ask? Well, I saw some photos of me this last year, and all the ones I like, I’m wearing something bright. Not neutral.

So to the closet I will go and major purge will ensue. And then to the thrift store and Nordstrom sales I will go and purchase all things bright red and black and pink. Because, color. No more beige.

Last but not least, cards.

Once upon a time, mostly the years right after college, we played cards a lot. Mostly because we were broke as a freaking joke and had nothing better to do. But also because it was fun. And with jobs and babies and housekeeping, playing cards has gone out the window. My goal this year is to gather my tribe around my table more often and pour more wine and play more cards. If you’d like to join, please come. It’s quite fun.

Taking a Break

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I didn't need a vacation, I needed a social media hiatus. 

The moment I knew this was the case? When I remembered what someone I don't know in real life posted about on Instagram, but couldn't remember what my husband was doing tomorrow.

I had this plan, you see. I was going to blog twice a week and post on Instagram every day and take better photos that complimented my brand. I was going to story more of my every day, share and show my work, answer the influx of DMs about how I do my hair and also finish writing my book. 

I totally did this, for like, a month.

And it worked, I have to admit. My following grew, my engagement was off the charts. I was being asked to be an influencer for brands and speak at different meetings and classes and I was also being HIRED. Which is the goal. The ultimate goal. To make money, to make a living off of sharing what I love.

Here's what happened:

I got so busy doing what I loved that I missed also doing what I love. 

It goes both ways - I got so busy sharing that I missed working, and I got so busy working that I missed sharing. 

There has got to be a better way. 

It was like I had my healthy smoothie ingredients all cleaned and put into the blender, and then I turned it on and it exploded all over the counter and on the ceiling and stained my white shirt. Turns out, healthy smoothies kind of taste gross anyway.

There is one thing I am ultra proud of though - I didn't compromise. I was intentional about my priorities, and yes, some suffered, but nothing was given up. Not family time, not my fitness, not my food choices, and not my sleep. 

So what now? Well, I got what I was going for - work I wanted. And now it's time to do that work.

There's a time and a place for putting your head down, working hard, and coming up for air when you need to. I'm in that time, and happy to be there. 

So for the meantime, that meant less sharing, more working. But I know that that won't last. Because there's also a time and a place for screaming from rooftops and sharing all those baby smiles and shoes and recipes and run away dogs.

Ok, but since there haven't been any stories for like, two weeks, here's what has been going down in the Andreini household and Studio 22 walls:

  1. I learned how to make soft, flaky, buttery crackers, paleo style, And Joey is obsessed. As am I.
  2. So many of my friends are pregnant and have newborns and I'm so blessed to be able to be present for them as much as I can be. 
  3. Adam has been literally fishing his tail off. Trip after trip while also working his full time gig. So he's been gone a lot, but when he's home, it's so so wonderful.
  4. Joey has learned this deep scream cry thing that is absolutely horrendous.
  5. I've been working (a little) on the upcoming Mompreneur ecourse that is set to launch next month. So stay tuned.
  6. I've had the same piles of laundry on my bed/couch/floor/dresser/anywhere there's a clean surface for over a week. I just keep moving them around instead of putting them away.
  7. I'm drinking rose at 3:30 pm on a Monday.
  8. I have binge watched Parenthood for the last two days while Joey was at my mom's. I literally didn't even get out of my pajamas yesterday and I worked during the parts I remembered from the first time I binge watched it years ago.
  9. I went shopping with my momma friends at the used baby clothing store in Chico today with the babies after we worked out and it was the highlight of my week. If you had asked me if I would be doing that 3 years ago, I would have laughed at you. And now it's freaking awesome.

WHY I AM MOURNING THE HARDEST YEAR OF MY LIFE BEING OVER

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Let’s be super clear about one thing – this last year was really, really hard.

However, I’ve had years that were full of much more pain, suffering, fear, loss, terror and hardships. But this last year was definitely the hardest.

So why then, am I sad it’s over?

Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not going through baby fever. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to convince me to have another right now. I’m still getting used to this new life, and I’m not about to switch it all up again. My goodness, I barely have enough time to shave my legs on a weekly basis. And don’t even get me started on washing my hair.

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I’m having some pretty serious nostalgia though, about this last year.

We are never going to get this first year back. Not even with another baby. Joey was, and is, Joey, and nothing could ever be the same.

He was so, so hard. Newborn Joey was what we would call, well, INTENSE. And though I can’t exactly explain why, I can explain some of the moments that made it so.

Joey didn’t really sleep. Like, at all, for the first few weeks of this life. So we didn’t really get the whole squishy sleeping baby phase. But once he did start sleeping, it was only at night.

Disclaimer – I completely understand how amazing it is that my baby slept through the night at 6 weeks old and never regressed.

But to be honest, I would have taken a late-night bedtime or a 2 am feeding in hopes of it bringing us NAP TIME.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, other tough things? Adam had to go back to work SO EARLY (like one week); breastfeeding was NOT WORKING; major baby blues (and some managed postpartum depression); and a few other sleepless days and screaming baby road trips and bouts of pretty serious colds and the flue, and we are to where we are now.

But man oh man, will I miss so many things.

The slowness.

I feel like now that this season is over, we will be back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and though I missed that while we were in this season, I don’t really want to go back to that.

Having a baby brings so much slowness to life. Things simply revolve around sleep and food and diapers. So you learn to move slow, in everything.

Rocking baby to sleep is slow, diaper changes are (generally) slow, getting ready to leave to go somewhere is slow, as is getting to that place. Mornings are slow, bedtimes are slow. The slower, the better.

I will miss this slowness. I want so badly to rekindle that in my life. Why do we hurry when we could instead go slow, and enjoy the moment, and not worry about what’s next? We can’t enjoy the time we are in if we don’t slow down enough to see it.

Resting well.

Everyone knows that you’re tired with a baby. But before Joey, I did not understand how to rest. Now, I feel like if there is a moment to rest, I take it. And I do it well. Less time is spent “resting” while on my phone or in front of the TV. My rest includes things like prayer, and sleep, and nourishing my body with food and water. I rest with my husband by having good conversation and I rest with my friends by hearing about their lives.

Being a new mom.

Motherhood was new, and with new comes excitement. And fear. And change. And education. I love all these things. I like feeling the adrenaline of something new, and I like the magic that change can bring. New motherhood is such a huge blessing and privilege, and I so badly don’t want the feeling to pass.

Simple pleasures.

Things like naked butts and water hoses, belly giggles and throwing blueberries, clapping and clucking, head nods and head shakes, new teeth and growing fingernails. It’s so simple and makes us so happy. All our milestones now are huge – like walking and talking and learning the colors and picking out shoes. I will so badly miss the simple pleasures of when a “coo” turned into a real noise and when he learned to grab a rattle, and then to shake it. Watching him learn what music sounded like, or how dancing felt. Seeing him love the softness of a blanket, and the feeling of his hand on my neck while he nursed. So, so simple.

I know there are so many great, great things to come. That toddlerhood has its own loveliness and challenges, just as infants do. And I will enjoy each moment in its own right, and I will look back and feel like this every year that passes.

But right now, I feel as if I need the space to grieve this first year’s passing. I need to mourn the fleeting moments that I so enjoyed.

It’s like having the best night of your life, and not wanting to fall asleep because it will be over, and tomorrow will be different. But I really liked today. It was so, so long, and so, so hard. But oh, was it wonderful.

Testimony of a One Year Old's Mom

I’ve had so many posts scheduled for this day, the day before Joey turns 1 year old. Including:

  • Things I wish my 1 year old would remember someday
  • Why it’s the best and worst year ever
  • How time actually moves too fast
  • How to figure out why the hell the baby is crying

And a few others that now, seem completely insignificant.

So instead, I’m going to write a short and candid post on how I’m really feeling the night before my baby boy turns one year old.

I’m overcome. I feel like there’s no way in hell I could be a parent to a one year old. I mean, that means that a year ago, I gave birth to another human. That I actually grew another person inside of my body with fingers and toes and a heart and eyes. I mean, really. Who does that? Women, apparently. I had no idea, really, what that meant.

But now I know. I know what it feels like, literally and figuratively, to make a human. To raise them for a whole year, and know that it is only a penny’s worth of time in the grand scheme of life. But it seems like eternity, all the while seeming like a small fraction of my short life so far.

I like to think that so far, we’ve raised a good human. I mean, he’s doing great, as far as one year olds go. I think he has a wonderful personality, he’s kind and outgoing and outspoken. He is walking and laughing and playing like a big kid.

I also like to think that he knows Jesus, and knows that we love him, and that he has a profound purpose in this world. I also know that that’s a lot to expect of a human that’s only been in the real world for 365 days.

Joey has experienced so much in such a short amount of time. He has seen so much of our world. He has seen every emotion we could have in a single year: fear, resilience, passion, happiness, contentment, panic, sadness, grief, worry, joy, heartbreak. You name, he’s probably seen us feel it.

We can so quickly forget that our babies can feel, too. If we feel something, they can too. And how hard would it be to feel something, and not know why? Sweet Joey can feel my anxiety, and it scares him. His empathy is already there, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

You see, the first year of parenthood is a perfect disaster. You will probably cry more than you ever have before, tragedy or no tragedy in your past. You will laugh, and sleep, and also be sleep deprived. You will spend more time in a rocking chair than you ever thought humanly possible. Your hips and neck and wrists will hurt. You will forget that you have an identity outside of motherhood, and that your purpose is beyond this bundle of supposed joy that is currently screaming in your arms.

But then you’ll also do what are supposedly stupid things, like have a litter of puppies and a baby at the same time, and realize that it was actually the most fun you’ve had with little living creatures in your lifetime. You’ll drink wine and nurse your baby and forget that that matters. You’ll consume copious amounts of coffee and lose more hair ties than you even bought and break your cell phone more than once.

You’re going to lose handfulls of hair, from hormones and from your child pulling it out of your head (you’ll realize it’s too precious to pull out yourself, so you’ll drink more coffee instead). You can get your body back, or have a whole new body if you want one, it’s up to you. Your job will either be waiting or not waiting, and you’ll be ok with that.

The first year is just like nothing I could ever explain in the amount of detail it deserves. It’s life changing and life giving and life depleting, all at once.

I can’t say it’s been the best year of my life, but it’s certainly not the worst. And frankly, when Joey stands up in the middle of the living room and walks to the puppy for kisses, my heart explodes. And I’m just so happy that we did all that we did this year. No regrets, no questions. Just pure and utter amazement that we are all still alive, healthy and happy. Thank you Lord, for making that my truth.

Anxiety's Name is Money

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So I’m sitting in the studio, working away on fun things – like vectorizing this awesome drawing of a woman with a braid, or researching moleskin journals to have embossed, or creating a wireframe for this new community center website.

Then, I remember it’s Monday, and that means admin. So I do the necessary things of creating some invoices for some recent projects and orders, returning some overdue emails and wrapping up some final files for some spec work I did.

But admin Monday also means I have to deal with real money. And this Monday, it means rent.

I handle all the moola stuff for the office. As in, paying all the bills, making sure we don’t get evicted for having a late rent check and collecting rent and utility money from my great office mates. But to do this, I have to do math, and that stresses me out. And I also have to look at my bank statement. Which means I have to see what the balance is. Which means…

Money gives me anxiety. Money also makes me happy. It’s a love hate relationship. But at this very moment, when I type my username into the little online banking window, and go to press Login, my heart literally ends up in my throat. My heart starts beating really fast, my pupils dilate and I feel dizzy, like I could throw up right here, right now. In an office full of people, clients included. In broad daylight, in my safe space, surrounded by people I love, I had a full blown anxiety attack.

You see, I know what my panic attacks feel like, and I can feel them coming on like a freaking freight train. I know I have a hard time stopping them, and most of the time, once I’m in it, I have to lock myself in a dark room and cry before it passes. To stop them, even if it’s at all possible, I have to distract myself. Fast.

I also have to make sure that there aren’t other underlying issues causing my freak out moment. And then ask myself if I hydrated myself adequately today. And have I had enough to eat, or is my blood sugar plummeting along with my sanity.

Ya, this ain’t my first rodeo.

And they are so stupid. To me, anyway. I mean, I just had an anxiety attack because I was too afraid to look at my bank account balance. I know it’s fine, I’m not overdrawn. I haven’t made any extraordinary purchases that would surprise me. I haven’t received an alert in my email telling me I’m too low, or that there was unverified activity, or that I couldn’t make a payment.

It’s fine. It’s totally fine. Yet, I can’t look. Physically cannot press Login.

So I didn’t. I gave up. I walked away. I went over to the couch and drank some water and looked at some photos of Joey.

Then I prayed. Then I remembered this conversation I had just hours earlier with a dear friend.

Just give it up to Him. Whatever your turmoil, your struggle, your fear. Give it up to Him.

Jesus is not telling me that in order to live a full and wonderful life, that I have to “face my fears.” He’s telling me that I need to let Him handle it. Pass it to Him, and give myself grace.

I gave my fear to Him today. Or at least I tried. Even as I write this, my hands are still shaky. I feel like I need a shot or a nap or a cup of coffee. I think I’m more frustrated that I’m not a “secure” enough person to look at my own bank account balance. That I manage. That I put money into, and take money out of. That number is not a reflection of who I am. Nor how hard I work. Nor my value to Him. It’s just a stupid number.

Anxiety can be so scary. It’s something I deal with Every. Single. Day. And money usually plays a part. Or lack of time.

And to those who also have this struggle. You are not alone. I am here, sitting on the couch, dealing with the aftermath of an anxiety attack, knowing that the rest of my day might be shot to hell because I have to deal with what feels like an anxiety hangover.

And to those who don’t… well… are there any of you?

Motherhood & Co.

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Currently, sitting in the recliner in the living room, watching a rerun of The Voice, looking down to find a piece of half chewed cheese quesadilla stuck to the back of my hand.

You see, I just finished picking up said half chewed pieces of cheese quesadilla off the floor while Adam put a very cranky and moody and teething, allergy induced, pink eyed Joey to bed.

So it makes total sense that there is a piece of it stuck to the back of my hand while I type this.

By the way, it’s still there. It’s safer on the back of my hand than it is on the floor where I might step on it, or on the arm of the chair where Adam will put his hand later and yell at me for leaving it there.

I also just trapped my husband in a not-so-kind conversation and totally set him up to fail.

I also have pink eye. In both eyes.

Earlier today, I let Joey chase and crawl all over Rudy the Roomba, which is not a rare occurrence, fully aware that it is not good for said Roomba, as Joey is quite strong and very capable of breaking it in two. And frankly, as of that moment, I’d rather pay for a new Roomba than get up from my seat to move Joey to a new location with a new toy, knowing full well he will be back to the Roomba in a minute flat.

Also, yesterday, I watched as Joey pulled the dining room chair over on himself. Seriously, stood there, frozen in my tracks, like a statue. It was like I knew that I couldn’t help him, but even if I could, I didn’t know how to. So I just watched, let it all fall, and then picked him after, hoping to God that he was not suffering from a concussion which I think I may have, might have been able to, avoid. If I had just moved.

Joey has a bruise on his eyebrow as well, from falling down on the edge of the coffee table.

Yep, I’m that mom right now.

See, we are all the same. Every night we put the babies down to bed and know that if we kept all the humans, animals, Rudy the Roomba and most of the plants in the yard alive, it’s a win.

But there are some things that are a little bit different, I’m realizing. And putting all moms into the same category as the “organized chaos” type really, actually leaves out so many of us.

Because yes, my life is complete organized chaos. And on most days, I feel like a hot mess. A blessed hot mess, but a hot mess nonetheless. But also on most days, my role as a mom is not the only role I play. And it’s important to know, though I am a mom, this is not my entire identity. And for so many other woman, it isn’t theirs either.

Many of the things we do fall into the cliches, however they roll. Such as the top knot, wine drinking, yoga pant wearing blogger. Yep, I am that mom.

I also am part of a Mommy and Me group, but instead of talking about our baby’s teething situations while sipping too much caffeine, we wear our babies and aren’t afraid to lift really heavy things.

I am a business owner, but I’m rarely ever a business owner and a mom at the same time.

I drive a mommy car, but it’s a badass mommy car, and I take the top off, a lot.

I read books to my baby, but they are things like “People Over Profit” or “Rising Strong” or the latest Nic Sparks book, because he doesn’t care what the book is about. As long as he gets to hear my voice.

Here is my point: you do not have to be ordinary, even as a mom.

This idea that moms “can’t do it all” is very true. It’s also incredibly false.

You see, we actually can. We can do all things. We can do all things well. And we can do all things THAT WE WANT TO DO.

We are all just winging it. Seriously. Nobody knows how to actually do this parenting thing. But the thing is, though there are millions of things to read and “experts” to talk to, it doesn’t seem like anyone is really sharing the ins and outs of HOW they did it.

We can keep using generalities, or we can talk specifics. And if you really want help with this mommy business, generalities don’t help any of us.

A friend told me, when Joey was a mere two months old, that I was doing it. I was doing what all moms wanted to do, but couldn’t. I was working on my businesses, I was working on projects for my clients, working on my body, my marriage, my faith, my cooking skills, my breastfeeding form, to name just a few.

I remember feeling like that was completely ridiculous. I was just trying to survive. Make it through the day without losing complete control of all I held dear. Turns out, those things I held dear? They held me together, too.

I get questions all the time:

How do you balance mommyhood and your businesses?
What tools did you use to combat your postpartum depression?
How are you able to cook dinner most nights and still get Joey to bed on time?
How did you get your body back so fast?
How do you justify using or paying for daycare?
What do you mean Joey sleeps all night long? How?! (that’s a fun one…)
Or my favorite, “How do you find time for it all?”

It’s time we got specific. It’s time us moms come together and actually outline how to do this thing. How to be a mom. AND all the other things we want to be.

Not one piece of our life that we find important is negotiable. And just because being a mom comes first does not mean that we need to have a numbered priority list, and start from the top and work our way down. All those things matter.

And so, since we all in this together, let’s talk about it together. I’d love to hear some of your really specific questions. About any, all, some, of these things we do in our lives. I want to help, or find some help, and make motherhood not so scary, for all of us.

Something is in the works for this, I promise, and with your help, we can put all the tools together, and have a very real, very candid conversation. Together.

PLEASE SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS!

I truthfully, honestly, want to hear

xoxo

Name *
Name

How To : Be the Best at Baby Showers

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I have to admit, I am not a huge lover of showers of any sort… bridal, baby, engagement, regular (we can come back to that). I am, however, a huge lover of heartfelt gifts. So when the baby shower comes along, though I love any excuse for a good party, the gift part always feels a little weird. Opening up the obligatory gifts in front of everyone, while the crowd oohs and aahs at the seventeenth pack of overpriced onesies is really not something I enjoy, as the gift giver or the gift receiver.

Some of my favorite moments of my own baby shower was when the few people pulled me aside, before or after, to give me their gifts in private. Those moments are engrained in my memory, and to this day, I pull out the bibs or the books or the bottles that were in those gift bags, simply because they remind me of that moment.

I do understand, however, that isn’t always possible. Baby showers hold so much more significance than just the gifts, and the gathering of the people there is the part that matters. Whether you play games or do ice breakers or simply sip Virgin Marys while chatting with your tribe on a Sunday morning, it’s the company that counts.

So if you are going to do the gift thing, however you do it, I have a few tips.

  • If you have had a baby recently, rather than consulting a new mom’s registry, go ahead and take the initiative and buy some things that helped you out. First time mommas, and we’ve all been there, don’t always know what they might need, so their registry will be full of the obligatory bottle warmers and swaddles and crib sheets. And though important, there are things they might not realize they need, in which now, you are an expert on. Share your wealth, my friend.
  • Handmade is great, and keep their style in mind. Coming from a monotone and neutral lover, though I ADORE the handmade things I received, I don’t use them as much as I’d like to, simply because they don’t go with the other things I love. So if you want to do something handmade, keep her style in mind, and try to make something she will for sure use!
  • They are only newborn for like, one minute. Newborn sized goodies are so needed, but remember that they will probably be used one whole time. Instead, opt for sizing up in things, so they can be used a little longer and later. 3-6 month is fab, but the 9-12 month is even more fun, as we get to pull them out later and enjoy the gift for so much longer.

Now that I’m in a season of “friends having babies all the time,” I have got a nice little gift-giving routine down. There are some things that I absolutely must share with my friends, as they were life-savers for me, and then I like to throw something in there that I know they will love, and though I am not really a hand-made type, if possible, I see if I can pull something together (that honestly never happens, but hey, I try).

So here I’m sharing just a small snippet of my favorite baby shower gifts, in hopes it will help another new momma or two out there. God knows it takes a village, I’m just glad to be a part of it!

  • These knotted gowns from Candy Kirby.
    It’s no secret I love these, and I gift them to every new baby momma.
  • Momosas book
    Adam got me this book when we first found out we were pregnant, and it was really fun to be able to feel like I was enjoying a cocktail with everyone else. Especially with the heat of summer towards the end. When a glass of bubble water won’t do the trick, it’s great to be able to experiment with a “cocktail.”
  • Gripe water
    Don’t skip this one. It seems like so many still don’t know about “magic water,” as we called it. It solves hiccups and colic and gas and fussiness. And it’s ultra safe, totally natural and made by mommas. Really, it’s magic.
  • BabyWise
    At first, I hated this book. And I usually put that disclaimer in my card to the new momma before she dives in to read it. It wasn’t until after the first few months that I realized that BabyWise was my lifesaver. It was a fantastic solution for us, and Joey is now one of the best sleepers I know. Even if they don’t want to get “parenting” advice, this book is great for all sorts of advice. We really enjoyed it. (I will do a full review on BabyWise come Joey turning one year old).
  • One of these wooden teething rings
    Remember my comment about matching the momma’s style? Most teething toys are bright and obnoxious looking, but the wooden teething toy trend appeals to everyone, is mighty safe for baby and can work for anyone. We have at least 6 of these in all different sizes and types and colors and they are super easy to throw in the purse for on-the-go. And cute. That helps.
  • Gift card to the app store for this baby monitor app
    This is a new addition to my arsenal, and I realize I should have used it sooner. Now that the weather is nice, I don’t really want to carry around the baby monitor outside while we do things while baby naps. This app goes device to device, so my music playing iPad in Joey’s room transmits to my phone. Has video too, if you are so inclined.
  • This phone case with an easy-hold back
    She will need it. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will.
  • A stack of these washcloths/burp rags a mile high
    Again, no surprise I love these. I give them to everyone. Softest, most portable, durable and high quality out there. Seriously.
  • This snot sucker, nail clippers, thermometer kit from Target
    For some reason, we didn’t have these things before baby came, and someone dropped this gift off on our front porch shortly after. It’s those little things you don’t realize you need until the moment you need them.
  • Gift certificate for one month of diaper service
    Can’t go wrong. Because even though they might be stocked up for the first month or two, that sizing up challenge is real, and Costco is just not feasible on month number two.

 

Seven in Seven

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Everyone talks about how having kids will really change your life. What they don’t tell you is how. How will they change my life? Exactly. Not hypothetically. How is it going to turn my world upside down?

Well, as I’ve found out, they don’t tell you because it is really hard to articulate exactly what it’s like. Sure, you can say some superficial things, like:

  1. Spontaneity has no place with an infant.
  2. Poop and puke will no longer disturb you. It’s everywhere. All the time.
  3. Sleep may evade you. Get it while you can.
  4. Your arms will get nice and buff from lifting this god damn carseat everywhere.
  5. You will fight with your spouse, mostly due to hormones taking control of your life.

Yes, all true. But honestly, those tidbits don’t really give me any perspective on how to actually handle life with an infant. So, my friends, I am here to tell you the seven things I’ve learned in the first seven months of motherhood. Real, practical, you-need-to-know ahead of time things. Or maybe you’re too late and you’ve been there, done this, but still, read this. You’ll laugh.

1.     Some babies sleep. Some don’t. Some sleep at night. Some sleep during the day. And some do a little of both. Don’t believe them when they tell you that newborns sleep all the time. Some don’t. And please, don’t make plans for your post-baby life that rely, or really hinge at all, on the fact that newborns nap. If they do, kudos. If they don’t, well, the whole work-while-they-nap thing goes straight out the window. And if someone ever says to you, “Aren’t the newborn days of sleepy scrunchy babies just the best?!”, kick them. And then ask them to babysit. In conjunction with this life-changing realization I had for myself when Joey was 6 weeks old, I also realized that my no-napping baby was a prime example of a baby that sleeps through the night. Take your wins where you can get them. Mine was nighttime. Yours might be afternoon naps. But seriously, sleep train and don’t make plans that rely at all on sleep. Period.

2.     Hormones do take over. But they don’t have to. There is help out there. And honestly, I’m really going to say, out loud, this next part: there will be moments of utter and complete and enraging sadness. Moments when you ask your mom, “Did we make a mistake having a baby right now?” And then bawl so hard because you’re so hungry and your clothes still don’t fit. Literally. I had a total meltdown one afternoon because no one told me that I still wasn’t going to be able to wear my favorite clothes, not because they didn’t fit, but because BREASTFEEDING. Sorry, still no sundresses with sleeves or anything you can’t pop your boob out of in less than 5 seconds. Nevermind sleeping on your belly. Pregnant? Sorry, no belly sleeping. Boobs full of milk? Sorry, still can’t belly sleep. Ok, rant over. But really. Sadness is a thing and it’s ok. But don’t deal with it alone. Be honest with your spouse about how you’re feeling. Yes, they will think you are being ridiculous, but it doesn’t change how you’re feeling. See your doctor. Be honest with them. There are ways to cope. Most importantly, if someone asks how you’re feeling, don’t say, “Great!” Say, “Just ok. Hormones are no joke and I’m learning how to deal.” Most likely, it will open up a conversation that will lead to great things.

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3.     Good baby gear. Worth it. You can see my post on Joey’s favorite things here, but in short, get the good stuff if you can. I’m talking things like car seat, stroller, bouncer, carrier and swing. So worth it. They don’t break, they keep your baby in the perfect positions which makes them happier, and will most likely last until the next two or three babies grow out of them. Just sayin’. Speaking of good baby gear, let’s talk working out. I’m convinced that God’s greatest gift to women is baby wearing gear. Get one, really doesn’t matter which, and wear those babies while you do EVERYTHING. Including working out. Squats and tricep dips and rows and lunges and backpeddling. Get with it, wear that baby, and get your body back. Pronto. You’ll feel like a badass afterwards, and it’s really fun to tell your husband that you can do more squats than him, even with a baby strapped on you. Word.

4.     What babies cost. Ok, I looked, and there really isn’t a good “baby budget” worksheet out there that I can find. If you find one, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll be making one soon as a free download y’all can have. The world needs it. But anywho, what they cost. Plan ahead. The first few months, honestly, isn’t too bad. Mostly because you, and the baby, won’t be doing much other than trying to figure out how to breastfeed, sleep and shower. And I’m not exaggerating. But after that, when their diapers get a little bigger, their clothes a little longer and their appetites a lot larger, the cost goes up. Add in daycare, extraneous medical bills (that we are still getting from the hospital, 6 months later), and the fact that you want to literally buy everything that your baby will fit into, you’ve got yourself a little extra mullah going out. Just prepare, is all I’m saying. Oh, also, moms, those first few breastfeeding months, you’re going to be SO FREAKING HUNGRY. Your grocery bill might be a little out of control there for a bit. Just go with it. It stops.

5.     Ok, now to some of the good stuff. The stage where they sit up but don’t crawl is the freaking best. I’m talking like right at six months, give or take depending on your baby (also, baby-accomplishment envy is a total thing. Sammy, I’m looking at you, you little scooting 7-month old). Sitting cross-legged on the floor and playing with literally anything (water bottle, report control, dad’s notebook) is the most invigorating and relaxing thing you’ll ever do. Pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure bliss. Floor. Baby. Blanket. Happy. The end.

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6.     Let’s talk dinner dates, plans with friends and the such. Ok, for the first few months, my suggestion is to take that baby to everything. Make plans. Go out. Visit friends. Have the steak dinner. They may or may not sleep through it. If they don’t, I promise there is someone that will help you. In our case, our favorite restaurant also happens to belong to a friend of ours, and she just walked around with Joey while we ate our food. Or if you’re at party, people love to hold babies. And feed them. And rock them. Let them. They make baby noise-cancelling head phones. Use them. Go to your church that is too loud. Go to Sunday brunch after. Honestly, you can still be so freaking social. Just make sure to have your diaper bag and maybe a pac-and-play in the back of the car. We’ve set that thing up in the most random places. Seriously though, go anywhere you want. In our experience, that whole “spontaneity is dead” thing didn’t exist. We just took Joey with us.

7.     You are allowed to leave. As in, leave the baby with Dad or Grandma or Auntie. And go. Joey was four months old when I left for 3 days to go with friends to Napa. Him and Adam were GREAT. Before this adventure, Adam and I had a multitude of date nights, a say-cation or two and a day trip while Grammy and Papa took the reins. It’s healthy for you, and the baby, to have some time with other people. The baby will do so much better than you think they will, and so will you. Happy mom, happy baby. And visa versa.

So, seven in seven. Which, coincidentally, is what I’m drinking tonight. We’ve officially made it into the second half of Joey’s first year. It’s been the hardest, fastest, longest, most grueling and the most exciting year of my life. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s definitely not a sprint either. If you can stroll, smell the puke covered roses, and then skip and hop and then maybe run backwards a bit, but then remember that if you walk too fast, you’ll miss it. Your arms will be buff from lifting the car seat, sleep will have a new role in your life, and you and your spouse might spat (ok, probably but that’s the hormones talking, remember?).

I’m so excited to see where the next half of this year is going to take us. Honestly, you feel kind of under water for the first little bit. At least we did. But now, a measly few months down the line, we are swimming smoothly through the current. And by swimming, I mean playing in the dog hair on the floor while we marvel at Joey’s ability to roll over, yet again. It’s the best.

Why God Invented Wine

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Hey you.

Ya, you. Feeling a little down?

What is it with this season? Every entrepreneur I know is major struggling right now. Like, we need to have a major vent sesh over some wine. Preferably on a patio, with twinkly lights and no babies and where the wine is free. Because, to be totally honest, we are all feeling broke as a joke. And no, this is not a joke.

Here’s the thing: we get the ebb and flow of business ownership. Highs are super high, and awesome, and usually really productive and most often turn a nice little profitable paycheck at the end. But then we hit that low… when we feel like we’ve officially run out of ideas, energy and money.

You at a low? Ya, me too. So are my friends.

Rach said today, “Let’s just build a compound where we can self-sustain and create things, together!” I agree. But it’s not feasible. We know that, you know that, and God didn’t teach us to run away and hide from our problems.

Though to be honest, I’m totally down for a neighborhood full of my best friends and where we could all walk to a collaborative studio right down the street and our kids could all play in the court and we’d have intellectual conversations over cheese plates on the front porch.

#tangent. Whatevs. It’s a nice daydream.

There is no answer. I would love to be able to write a blog post that has all the answers, that contained enough motivational words of wisdom to pull us all out of this funk and prove to us that we were MADE to do this.

There is no proof, either. We are trusting God, the universe or whatever higher power you believe in that what we are doing is the path that was laid for us. Our prayer today is simply “Isn’t it time for some proof?”

We haven’t earned anything. There is no magic equation that equals “you did this, so you get this as a reward.” Everyone goes down their own path, has their own journey. Some are similar, some feel parallel, and some feel so different from one another that we wonder if there is a possibility that we aren’t both human.

My only tidbit of knowledge is this today: you are not alone. There is no need to sit on your kitchen floor eating mac and cheese and drinking wine, alone. Worst case, at least call me so I can do that with you. Best case, remember that there is someone else out there (eh hem!) doing the exact same thing.

Oh, one more tip. Some great advice that was once given me. Don’t quit when you feel like giving up. You know the saying, “When you’re going through hell, keep on going.” You will make a much more rational, educated and clear headed decision later. It’s ok to quit (or so I’m told, it’s a hard concept for me), just do it with a clear head on your shoulders. Not crying on the couch while watching Chip and Joanna wishing you could be them.

And also (see, I wasn’t done), don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be embarrassed, don’t feel like a fraud. Trust us, our doctors, therapists, mom’s cell phone and now this tribe all know us well. Your bank account balance is not a representation of your success, and neither is your current email inbox.

Wine?