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Sunday, November 8, 2015

thoughts on motherhood (20 weeks) + an announcement

First, the announcement: we're moving to St. Louis!  This decision has been a loooong time coming.  Like seven years coming.  Paul and I have been trying to figure out the best city to settle in, and with Theo's arrival, we were pushed to finally make a decision.  Paul found a good job in St. Louis and that helped confirm it was the right choice for us.  We move very soon and have lots to do before leaving Milwaukee - people to say goodbye to, jobs to wrap up, things to pack, favorite restaurants to go to one last time.  It's bittersweet to leave a place that's become home and people who have become like family, but I think it's the best decision for us right now.  With all the craziness of this move, I haven't been keeping up with the blog well (there's always something!), but here are some recent thoughts on motherhood.  I keep learning some wonderful lessons and gaining wonderful gifts thanks to my sweet boy. 

- Theo's done a little sleep regression and gets up about twice a night lately.  I can't complain though since overall he's been a really good sleeper.  One good thing about getting up in the middle of the night: when I walk him back to his room, he rests his head on my shoulder until I lay him back in his crib.  So simple, so wonderful. 

- Other notes about sleeping.  We take an afternoon nap together most days after work, and I love the excuse to rest and to cuddle.  We've also got more of an evening bed routine going now.  We sing songs as he gets his pjs on, we read a board book, then he gets kisses, and we turn out the light.  Nothing fancy, but I have a feeling I'll remember it my whole life.  

- He's such a good blend of us: Paul's eyes and nose, my mouth and cheeks.  I hope it continues, and with things that aren't as obvious as our facial features.  

- There is so much happiness and laughter in our house.  We were happy pre-Theo, but there's a marked difference in the amount of outright laughter and joy in our house.  I'm so grateful for the gift of Theo in our lives.

- Part of the reason for all the laughter is that Theo *cracks up* at Paul.  All he has to do is look at him, and Paul gets a smile out of our boy.  I got a little jealous that Paul could make him laugh so much more easily than I could, but I got over that because it's just so fun to see my husband and my son having so much fun together.  

- I had a conversation with a friend last night about how I'm still struggling with my new mom body.  Lots of people say that whatever they go through in pregnancy and post-baby are "worth it," and I totally agree that to get Theo here everything I went through was worth it.  But if I had my choice between my pre-baby and post-baby body, I would hands down pick my pre-baby body.  This is something I'm still struggling with and hopefully will eventually make peace with.

- Relatedly, it feels like motherhood is slowly rubbing off more of my rough edges.  Loving so much and sacrificing so much for another person helps you become a better person.  And maybe embracing this part of motherhood will eventually help me make peace with the sacrifices I made to bring Theo into the world. 

- Even though motherhood is awesome, it's hard.  I've noticed that I'm a better mom with lots of support from family and friends and little breaks for myself.  When I feel like I'm going stir crazy and slightly suffocated, a quick fro yo break or walk around the block is surprisingly just enough to make me feel like myself again.  It's good to know that breaks and me-time don't make me selfish, it makes me a better caretaker and a better person.  

- Nursing is one of the coolest parts of being a mom.  It doesn't hurt that it helped me lose my baby weight while eating pretty much whatever I've wanted.  It's going to be tough when Theo moves to non-exclusive nursing right around the holidays.  Cue time for a new exercise plan.

- This Halloween was the first time in years that I've enjoyed the holiday (not counting the year we spent Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts).  I always procrastinate picking out a costume, and then I'm disappointed it's obvious I put together an outfit at the last minute.  But this year was so fun to dress Theo up as a little lion (a hand me down costume from a friend) and take him to a few houses.  I bet next year will be even better since he'll be able to collect his own candy.  

- Time is flying by.  Theo is rolling over and getting closer and closer to crawling.  I look back at pictures from even just a few weeks ago, and he's so different.  Sometimes he changes way too fast for my liking.  I want the sweetness of this time to last forever, but it seems like each new stage has a specialness of its own.  More incentive to actually remember to take pictures of my growing boy!!

Thanks so much for reading.  And thanks for sticking with me with me during my spotting posting!

Friday, October 30, 2015

hand made baby gifts

Life with Baby T has reminded how blessed and loved our family is.  People have been so thoughtful and have gone out of their way to show us how loved Theo is.  Perfect examples of this are all the handmade gifts he's received.  Handmade gifts just feel like getting wrapped up in love.  These are the booties, bibs, blankets, and sweaters Theo has been lucky enough to receive over the past few months.  

Booties from Grandma.  The ones on the left fit him for about a week and will get to live on his bookshelf as a testament to his short lived newborn size.  The ones on the right were made after we found out how big Baby T was.  When he wears them they look like little elf shoes.    

Bibs from a friend's mom.  Baby T just started eating some cereal (pediatrician recommended it for mouth motor skills), and so he got to wear these for the first time.  They are absolutely adorable, they cover up his whole body so food doesn't get on his clothing as easily, and they're machine washable!  They're also durable so I'm thinking we can use them again if we have any more kids.  

A beautiful quilt from my aunt.  I cried when I opened up the package the quilt arrived in.  My aunt is so talented, and to think that she spent so much time on a gift for our little baby - one that he'll hopefully hold on to for a very long time - is so special to me.  

A knitted blanket from Grandma.  My mom sent me a picture of this a few months before Theo was born, and it made his arrival seem much more imminent and real.  She also correctly predicted his sex and added blue to the blanket.  We use this blanket almost daily, and with any luck Theo will use it as his blankie in coming months and years.  

A knitted sweater from a family friend.  I also cried when receiving this at one of my showers.  I may have been a slightly emotional pregnant lady.  

And one last knitted sweater from Grandma.  My mom was finishing this present up during the week she stayed with us after Theo was born.  The stitches are absolutely beautiful, and I wish I hadn't miscalculated Theo's size and missed the window of opportunity for him wearing it.  Crossing my fingers for baby #2 having more time in it.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

maybe next year porch garden

And I'm back from a long blogging break!  The last time this happened I was experiencing really bad morning sickness.  Not so this time.  I just spilt curry on our computer keyboard, and we had to send it off for repairs.  <face-palm> 

Today in an effort to be better about sharing all stages of projects I begin, I'm posting about the end of my porch garden season.  It doesn't look nearly as nice as I would have liked, but I think there was some joy to be found in it even in its imperfection.  

I started the season off with gusto, but with having Theo in mid June, the garden really didn't stand a chance this summer.  Between spending my extra energy on my baby and making half hearted attempts to clean our apartment, I severely neglected the garden.  Pedro and Diego tried to make up for my lack of effort, but their gardening attempts usually involve eating lots of dirt and green tomatoes.  Even in these dire circumstances, some of my nasturtiums bloomed, the oregano survived a couple of weeks of no watering (oops), I harvested a cucumber, and the wildflower mix gave me a couple of flowers.    

Pedro, the gardening beagle.  Notice the lack of lettuce growing in the bed behind him.  That's what happens when beagles try to garden.  Eating dirt > letting lettuce grow.  

Maybe next year we'll do better porch garden.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

finding joy in tidying (final check in)

While enjoying delicious curry a couple weeks ago, I dumped a bunch of sauce on our computer keyboard.  And then half the keys stopped working.  <groan>  While the computer is being repaired, I recycled an old photo.  Thanks for understanding my necessary awkward blogger move. 
It's been a little over a month since I read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and began to organize our apartment.  I didn't finish everything within my allotted month (didn't really expect to), but I made really great progress.  Our apartment feels lighter, it stays cleaner, and I enjoy spending time in it even more.  My mind feels less cluttered in our house.  

I've been continuing to clean stuff out, but I lost a lot of my momentum when I got to the tougher things.  Papers were exhausting to go through, I realized I have a big emotional attachment to lots of my old mixed cds, and things just stopped feeling straight forward to clean out.  But I found this list of stuff to get rid of and that has been helpful for making a game plan for the rest of the apartment.  

Here's the final list of things I cleaned out/organized during my month of cleaning: 

- All my clothes (in closets, dresser drawers, and storage under my bed)
- My accessories, jewelry, shoes, jackets
- Our pens 
- Our towels and linens
- All of our books (including cookbooks)
- Some papers (including all my financial, student loan, and medical papers)
- Front closet 
- Pantry
- Tea
- Movies
- Art supplies (what a task!)
- Night stand 
- Dishes and serving stuff 

Marie Kondo says that you should clean stuff out in a specific order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, photos/memorabilia.  I learned in this challenge that "miscellaneous" is way too big of a category, and if you don't have a list of things to go through in a specific order it's really easy to get stuck and give up.  She has some things in her miscellaneous category, just not enough for me.  Because as this challenge taught me, I have waaaaay too much stuff!!  

A few other thoughts about tidying up since my last update: 

- Embarrassingly I noticed that I have duplicates of some things because I bought things I already had at home.  I just didn't remember I had them because I have too much!  How unnecessary.  I'm hoping that keeping things organized will help me remember what I have so I don't buy and consume unnecessarily.  

- I realized I had a similar problem with grocery shopping.  I would buy things we already had, then waste one thing or sometimes even both because I didn't have a plan for using them.  This challenge has surprisingly lead to less food waste, more effective grocery shopping, a better meal plan, and using stuff from our pantry.   

- One challenge of getting rid of stuff is actually getting it out the door.  I had gone through some stuff before Theo was born, and it's still sitting in a box in our basement waiting to be donated.  With this month's challenge, I've been more intentional about following through on tasks liking dropping clothes off at the shelter.  If I hadn't, boxes of donations would probably be gathering dust for another year until they just ended up in the garbage - or just as bad - coming with us to our next apartment. 

- Our house is staying cleaner (other than the donation boxes hanging out in random places).  My clothes are staying organized, and my bedroom and bathroom are actually less cluttered because i don't let my dirty clothes pile up.  Our mail also doesn't pile up as badly.  Overall our apartment just feels more awesome. 

 If these posts have inspired you to clean up your own space, yippee!  My recommendation is to have a game plan and to tackle your stuff in a specific order.  Set aside an average of thirty minutes a day for at least several weeks.  This helped me tremendously.  I don't think I would have made as much progress as I did, and I don't think my changes would have stuck if I had just done a little here and there.  Committing to it as a project was a big part of my success.  And finally, don't be afraid to just jump in.  The work I've put in as paid off ten fold in the level of enjoyment I experience in our house.  

Good luck!  And thanks for reading!

More reading: Finding joy in tidying up (first post), Tidying check in #1

Monday, October 5, 2015

oscar romero painting

Life's little coincidences and serendipities can be very special.  One such seredipity happened recently with the painting above. 

I created the painting about eight years ago for a mentor at my college.  The painting depicts Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was murdered in 1980 by the Salvadoran government while saying mass.  I had painted it as a thank you for helping with my Jesuit martyrs painting project, but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture.  My mentor moved to Central America, we lost contact, and I thought that was it - never seeing that painting again. 

And then a couple weeks ago someone from my college mentioned seeing a painting I had done of Oscar Romero.  I tried correcting them saying the only painting I had ever done of Romero was a gift, and there was little to no chance it was the same painting.  But amazingly it was the same painting.  My mentor had come back to the college for a visit and gifted the painting to campus ministry.  And eight years later, I have a picture of my Oscar Romero portrait.  I'm hoping to get an official picture taken so I can make prints; we'll see how that goes.  

It feels appropriate that this painting would come back to me (in a way) while I'm working at a center named after the Archbishop.  Life is funny sometimes.  

For more information about Archbishop Oscar Romero and his recent beatification, click here

Thursday, September 24, 2015

goodbye summer, hello fall

Each year I seem to have different feelings about this time of year.  Some years I can't wait for the arrival of fall so I can snuggle with a cozy blanket and warm cup of tea.  Other years I feel so sad saying goodbye to summer, and I'm not ready for the warmth and sunshine to end.  And other years (like last year), I'm pregnant and nauseous, and all I care about is feeling better. 

This year is one of mourning the end of summer.  I've been associating sickness with autumn because of my intense morning sickness last year, so I really haven't felt super joyful about the change in season.  Day by day it gets a little less intense, so hopefully by November I may finally be feeling pumpkin spice everything. 

One objectively awesome thing this time of year is the lighting.  The sunshine seems to come in at the perfect angle, especially in early morning and late afternoon.  I captured some of these photos during a walk around the neighborhood with Theo last week.  Even if I don't feel great about fall right now, I feel pretty great about these pictures.  

Happy early fall! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

refound jewelry

Refurbished jewelry is basically new(ish), free(ish) jewelry.  And that makes it my favorite kind of jewelry.  I mentioned last week in my tidying update that I had a friend redo some of the broken jewelry I had come across in going through my stuff.  She did a great job and offered an amazing deal, and now I feel like I have all kinds of new pieces that I love -- when really it's all my own stuff that's just been stored away.  

This necklace was a birthday gift from my sister that broke one of the first times I wore it.  The chain was fixed, and now it's good as new!

I wore these earrings my wedding weekend, and I felt so sad when both sets broke because I thought that was the end of them.  These were both updated with new hooks.  

These necklaces both belonged to my grandma.  Both broke several years ago, but I held on to them in the hopes that I would someday fix them.  The thing about "someday" is that it often doesn't come -- unless you read a book like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that inspires you to make "someday" today. 

I had been holding on to this little trinket for years.  I've had it for so long I don't even remember where I got it, but I have the vague idea that it might have belonged to someone on my mom's side of the family.  My friend added it as a little charm to the beaded necklace so it makes that piece extra special.  

This necklace was created from a necklace my sister bought me in Mexico about seven years ago.  The string it was on was old and frayed, and I didn't wear the necklace anymore because of that but I still loved that wood piece.  My friend upcycled it using an old bracelet I gave her, and I love how it turned out. 

This last piece was built from a set of earrings I received from a nun who taught me some Swahili years ago.  I loved the wooden earrings so much I held on to them even after one of them cracked.  The intact earring was upcycled into this necklace using some other fun beads and that same bracelet as the one above.  

These necklaces and earrings bring me a lot of joy, and I'm so happy I finally have them available to wear instead of just sitting in boxes.  It's symbolic of the effect tidying has had on me and my house.  I'm rediscovering my possessions and utilizing what I have to great effect. 

If you like what you see, you can check out my friend's Facebook page here.  She's Milwaukee based but ships her creations across the county!  

Thanks for reading.  Look for more tidying updates in the coming weeks!