What they don’t tell you about two

The terrible twos carry a lot of noteriety. They’re called “terrible,” for goodness sake.

Everyone tells you the same things, but they all carry the same message:

You’re in for it now.

You’re warned of tantrums and fights and struggle. You’re warned that you’ll just have to bear through them.

And while it’s true that two comes with an abundance of challenges and steep learning curves, there’s so much more to be said about two.

No one tells you that this is the age you get a person. This is the age you get a side kick, a partner in crime, a fellow adventurer.

This is the age of silly, nonsense conversations, stories of horses and planes only she seems to see. This is the age of requests for tickles and cuddles and cookies, for serious chats about pretending to be bears and pies made out of pancakes.

This is the age of mischevious, toothy grins and dancing with abandon. Of singing made up lyrics at the top of lungs and crayon scribbles that are actually people and pets.

This is the age of belly laughs and whispered secrets never told. This is the age of the sweetest “dank you, momma” and the sassiest “I gon ticko you, mommy!”

It’s also the age you enter a new season of mamahood. When you start knowing the solution more often than you don’t. When you catch the sippy cup before it hits the ground and stop the speeding toddler before she knocks the plate off the table.

It’s the age when you carry less and sleep more. When you find yourself relaxing more often than you leap. When you start to trust yourself as well as your child. (Okay, your toddler isn’t still probably lying about not needing to use the potty, but #winsomelosesome.)

Two is the age when you start really parenting, which is great timing because you actually start to feel like a capable parent at the same time.

There’s a lot they don’t tell you about two, and there’s a lot I can’t tell because it would take ten thousand words. But suffice to say, it’s a special, frustrating, magic time.

And I wouldn’t trade two for the world.

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It’s been a long time. I shouldna left you.

Oh…hey. It has been a while, right?

The first post back after a blog hiatus is always the hardest, so here’s to leaping in with both feet.

As you’ve probably noticed (if you’re my dad because you set aside a day each month to catch up on my blog), I haven’t posted in a while. A minute, as the kids would say.

I could give a lot of reasons for it, valid and lazy, but the truth is that I just didn’t feel like it. The last few months have been so busy, and in a lot of ways tumultuous, and I didn’t feel like I could adequately get it all straight in my head, let alone in an online post for the world to see.

To be blunt: I sort of dreaded the idea of blogging. It felt either insincere (SOMETIMES THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON I DON’T WANT TO SHARE) or just not good enough quality (which is saying something considering the random stuff I’ll post on here).

So…I just didn’t.

But then, lately, I started to get the itch again. I also don’t want to jinx myself, but I started to feel a little more settled. I don’t ever really feel like I’m in total control of my life, but I started to feel like I was in a groove again, probably for the first time since Vivi was born.

There were a lot of elements that played into that, and as a means of a brief catch-up, here are a few:

Vivi turned two.

And while this new stage is by far the most challenging I’ve encountered, I think it’s also (dare I say it) my favorite stage so far. Because, you guys? Vivi is a legitimate person now. She has always hinted at her budding personality, but the last few weeks have brought such a burst of new language and actual conversation, and her spunk frankly wows me every single day. She is so funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and she just brings sunshine and charm wherever she goes. I officially feel like I’m spending my days with a sort-of friend and not just a mostly needy baby. That connection has caused a powerful shift in my own mood I didn’t expect.

Vivi was potty trained.

Um, hi, talk about a shift in my mood/relationship with my kid. I was honestly super nervous to potty train this time around after last time’s PTSD-inducing experience. But this time, things actually went pretty smoothly. (Weird how not being stressed to the point of tears can have that impact, huh?) Vivi picked up on the basics on the first day, and now, a couple of months out, I actually feel we can pretty solidly call ourselves potty-trained. (At least 99.9 percent!)

We’ve been in our new home for five months.

I’m not really good at giving myself time to adjust to anything. It’s the curse of the chronic planner—by the time I get to any moment I’ve been waiting for, I’ve already planned five years past that. So I rush myself. I don’t usually take the time to even realize that I’m overwhelmed until I have some kind of breakdown.

So, yeah, super healthy.

This move was actually fairly seamless for us (and so many things about my life got better and easier), but it’s only recently that I could honestly say I felt settled and in a comfortable routine. I’ve started exercising regularly again, which is such a key thing for my mental health, and I have a schedule I can count on. It will probably never be perfect, but it’s good to be here, folks.

I entered my second year of pioneering.

For those not in the know, I spend about 70+ hours a month in a volunteer ministry service doing a Bible education work. This was my first year dedicating myself to that hourly commitment (840 hours for the whole year), and, while I felt confident I would give it my all, I wasn’t really sure what to expect—or if I could even do it. Now that I’m in the second year, I feel like I can relax a bit. Which isn’t to say I’m easing off the time commitment (I’m trying to cram the beginning of my year with as many extra hours as possible with hopes of taking it easy in the summer), but I’ve lost all of the trepidation and feel like I can spend more time this go-around focusing on others and helping to encourage them. That’s a nice feeling.

I have a job I actually love in every way.

I’ve had lots of jobs that I loved…mostly. But with every role I’ve taken on, there were always things I didn’t like. Things I hated, even. Working at Motherly has been a total dream. I get to be creative and write, and I get to do it part-time so I can focus on being a mom and my volunteering. Plus, my coworkers are these amazing, brilliant unicorns who are incredible at their jobs and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That’s pretty special, and it fulfills the part of me I know I would miss if I ever quit working completely. So if you’re a mom not reading, you should be.

I turned 30.

I mean, finally, right? I’m one of those weirdos who actually looked forward to 30. I hear mostly good things. And while it has come with a few negatives (I’m officially one of those people who can “do something” to their neck that puts them out of commission for a few days), by and large, 30 came with a quiet confidence. I’m excited to see what this decade brings.

The funny thing for me is that I don’t know if I would truly say I know who I am—completely, 100 percent. But not in that lost, dramatic “I don’t know who I am!” kind of way. More in the sense that I’ve been surprised by myself a lot in the last couple of years. Things I never thought would happen have happened. Things I never thought I would do, I’ve done.

I feel confident and comfortable in myself, but I’m also open-minded to the idea of changing. That maybe who and what I am now isn’t who I’ll always be. And that’s okay—good even.

And while we’re only just entering November 2017, I’m already looking forward to next year. (Chronic planner, I told ya.) We’re hoping to have another baby. (NOT PREGNANT, JUST HOPING.) We might buy a house. We’re discovering new things and new friends in our new home.

Heck, I might even start blogging on the regular again.

Anyway, I wanted to check in. Partly because I do feel like you’re owed an explanation for where I’ve been all this time, but also because, well, I wanted to.

It’s good to be back.

Slow down.

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Vivi goes everywhere at a full-tilt run now. For someone for whom time must seem to move so slow, she’s in a near constant rush to get to the next thing.

I think she gets that from me. Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about next steps for our family. It’s something we’re always discussing and dreaming about, but just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you take every step at once.

I’m not good at patience. When I know how I want to decorate a new apartment, I want to. It everything at once so it’s done rather than wait and budget. When we plan a trip, I want to pack NOW and get on the plane tomorrow, which is an impossible way of life with a toddler.

When I watch Vivi take off, arms pumping and feet stomping with all their might, I want to scoop her into my arms and snuggle her too tight to let her keep moving. Too tight for her to keep growing up.

It doesn’t work that way, of course. Vivi keeps on growing even in my arms. Just like time will continue to march on whether I’m there counting the seconds or not.

Part of why I’ve continued this blog is because it’s my living diary. It allows me to reflect on so many important parts of my life and be right back in that moment. I thought about quitting it many times, but, in all seriousness, I kept it because I always felt like it would be a nice way to remember my hypothetical child’s life too. That’s a big part of why I’ve kept it around this far. So when I look at Vivi rushing around to the next thing, changing every single day, literally over night, I’m reminded of how important it is to record. To remember.

So relax. Stop and smell the roses. Why be anxious about tomorrow and all that. Like I said, I’m working on it.

And maybe my precocious little toddler is just the daily reminder I need to savor the moment.

And while I have your attention…

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. As usual, y’all restore my faith in humanity almost every time I let myself show a weakness, and I truly appreciate it. 

A night away

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Last weekend, Vivi had her first ever sleepover away from home without me.

It was at her grandparents’ in Long Island, so she wasn’t terribly far, but I’m sure you can still appreciate the momentousness of the milestone.

From the moment Vivi existed, she has been with me. Of course, she has had babysitters and even spent a full day with her grandparents before, but it was a strange experience to be truly separate for more than 24 hours.

Honestly, I was fine. I don’t beat myself up about the fact that sometimes it’s nice to get a break from parenting. Parenting is the world’s most constant job when you’re on, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a moment to not be “on” now and then. To be fair, I kept myself very busy cleaning the apartment and even having a night out with friends (without worrying about the babysitter at home! So novel!). But I do think I could have been okay even if I had spent the entire time watching reality television at home.

It’s such a funny thing how so many people in the world are more than happy to jump down your throat if you even imply that you might enjoy doing something other than doting on your child all day. I think this perception is getting better (or maybe I just surround myself with people who are more compassionate and, let’s be real, honest), but I still feel it engrained in my own thinking sometimes. I actually had moments of guilt for not wishing Vivi was with me every second she was away. Like I should feel bad about enjoying being the person I was before a baby, even if only for a few hours. I’m going to try not to be so hard on myself about those feelings anymore.

That being said, I was SO. HAPPY. when Vivi came home. I swear that little stinker got even more gorgeous while she was away. And it was nice to see that she had missed me just as much.

I’m pretty proud of both of us.

Keeping Time: JORD Men’s Watches Review & Giveaway

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Time seems to go infinitely faster once you have a baby. Everyone tells you this, but it’s a hard thing to believe or even really imagine until you’re in the thick of it.

As a perpetual planner, I probably make it worse by always thinking about what’s next — where we’ll go, what we’ll do. I’m not the best at being in the moment.

Joey is not like me. He’s so much better than I am at being content and enjoying the moment he’s in. He’s always telling me to savor and worry about what’s next when it happens.

Sometimes it drives me crazy…but mostly because I know he’s usually right.

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I actually gave Joey a watch on our wedding day. He had always told me about a watch he had growing up that told him the ocean tides (he grew up surfing), but it had broken. I came across a newer version when hunting for the perfect gift and immediately knew it was what I would give him. That was over five years ago, and, until recently, it was still the only watch I ever saw him wear.

So when JORD reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in featuring another watch from the company, I knew immediately who I wanted to get it for.
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Joey had always liked my JORD watch, and I was so excited to get him one of his own. And as soon as I saw the DOVER Koa & Black style, I knew we had a winner. I still catch Joey admiring the visible gears as they click around, tracking the time.

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Joey and I may not always be on the same time scale, but there’s no one I’d rather spend my time with. I’m so grateful to have him by my side, passing the time and reminding me to enjoy every moment of this crazy adventure we’re on as parents.

Love Joey’s watch? Then I’ve got good news! JORD is doing another watch credit giveaway. Click here to enter for the chance to win a $75 voucher — even if you don’t win, you’ll still get a $20 credit. Then start picking out your watch here.
Luxury Wood Watch
//www.woodwatches.com/widget-article/stopmeifyouveheardthisone

I’ve got a fever…

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I don’t want another baby right now.

I feel like I need to preface with that. I might also feel like I need to say that out loud a few times. You know, remind myself.

Because, you guys? Sometimes I think I want another baby right now.

It’s possible that I’m going insane. Because one minute I’m feeling sweat pool in the small of my back as I rush to pick up a basketful of toys, answer a few work emails (one-handed on my phone), and sneak in a load of laundry, all while simultaneously catching Vivi as she tries to tumble off the couch that she has learned how to climb in the last week, telling myself my life is insane and also that I should probably mop the floor sometime in the next month because Vivi has taken to licking any cold surface she encounters (ugh).

In these moments, I will literally think: I am never having another baby.

But maybe an hour later, when I’ve resigned myself to the toys on the floor and resolved to figure out the emails after bedtime and the laundry is folded and Vivi is playing quietly by herself for a few minutes, I’ll think, GOSH, another baby would be fun.

Like I said, I’m possibly probably insane.

That’s why they call it baby fever — it elicits this excited, irrational state where you are not making any sense.

Recently, I tested a bracelet for work that helps you track your fertility cycle. (Again, not trying to get pregnant. It really is just for work.) One day, an alert popped up reminding my that my “fertility window” was about to begin.

And my FIRST thought was, oh, it would be fun to try to get pregnant again. It would be fun to be pregnant again.

You’ll be relieved to know those were split-second thoughts, followed immediately by actually laughing out loud at myself and returning my attention to Vivi who was pulling her play kitchen apart and spreading her tiny wooden “groceries” all over the floor for Bogey to chew on as she tried to gnaw on his plastic ball with her free hand. (At least the kids are sharing?)

I do not really want to be pregnant right now.

Actually, that’s another element to this: Vivi. Like most parents, I think she is literally the greatest kid to have ever walked the earth. Joey and I have at least one conversation every night about how great she is. I’m not just saying that to be cute. We say the words, “Vivi is the greatest” almost every night. I love her in a way I didn’t know I could. And even though I’m always grateful for a chance I get to do something for myself or on my own (thank you, village of fantastic people who help to watch her!), I am always, ALWAYS so happy to see her again. And for one thing, the thought of changing our relationship makes me a little sad. And for another, it’s hard to imagine loving another kid the same way.

I know this is a thing – every first-time mom thinks they could never love a second kid as much, and then they have said second kid and somehow they just do. But I really just think it’s something you have to experience before you really believe it.

Regardless, though, I’m not ready to change anything. I am so satisfied with Vivs, and, if I’m being real, I am legitimately concerned that another kid would break my sanity right now. Let’s talk again in a year or so.

So, fertility window, you’re staying shut for now.

Hitting our stride

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Sometimes I feel like I can barely remember how I felt when Vivi was first born.

I don’t mean the good things. The good things are so indelibly burned into my brain that I don’t think anything short of a lobotomy (or, you know, something like this) could ever get them out. I’m talking about the bad stuff.

I swear, you guys: I know I was stressed out and exhausted and overwhelmed and tense all the time…but I can only barely remember what it felt like.

It must be like giving birth. I know it hurt like WHOA and that I threw up a dozen times and was kind of hating life near the end there, but all I can remember is that I powered through it and felt like Superwoman at the end. Superwoman with the cutest, most amazing baby ever.

Almost ten months after that day (good LORD, time, will you stop breaking my heart already!), I can honestly say that I rarely feel like the mess I know I was at the beginning anymore. It’s not that I’m the perfect mom — I’m not. It’s not that I have it all figured out — I do not. I just…don’t beat myself up the way I used to.

I don’t expect perfection from myself because I know Vivi doesn’t either. We’re both fed and clean(ish) and happy, and that really is good enough for both of us.

When I first had Vivi, I was also just beginning this crazy world of freelance, part-time work, and that was scary and overwhelming too. (Remember this panic-induced all-nighter? Yeah, not fun.) I remember one day feeling like I was just being bad at everything and wondering if I had spread myself too thin. Maybe I couldn’t do it all. Maybe I couldn’t do anything.

I’m glad I was able to shake those feelings off eventually. Or, rather, glad I gave myself time to adjust before deciding I was just a miserable failure.

And now? Now, I actually feel confident in my abilities as a mother. My friend Madison once said that she felt like she was truly the best person to be her child’s mother, and I completely get that now. Now, being a mother just makes me so, so happy. I still feel all the feels from this post. Now, I feel like Vivi and I have a routine that works for us and makes everything seem so much more manageable.

In short, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. In so many ways, whether that be motherhood or my new career or my relationships or even things like my health and fitness. Things just seem to feel even and peaceful.

And I know that even putting that thought into print is a guarantee that everything is about to change and I’m about to face a whole new bunch of challenges, but, you know what? I actually feel confident in our ability to face those, too. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they took their time getting here.)

Side note: If you haven’t had your fill of mush yet, I highly recommend going back and re-reading this post for the photos alone. That spiky hair and tiny baby smile? I die.