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.

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Turns out I have issues.

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I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person. I have described myself that way numerous times in life (and on this blog). I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyze and (unfortunately) that often results is a lot of self-critique. For better or worse, though, if I have a problem, I’m the first one to know about it.

Or so I thought.

Because then sometimes something happens like my friend Madison talking about postpartum hair loss, and I read it and think, “I didn’t really have that. I mean, I have been hating my hair for a few months lately. It just seems like I can never get the texture I want anymore. And it doesn’t hold a curl anymore. And the color always seems a little off. And OH MY GOSH HAVE I BEEN HAVING POSTPARTUM HAIR ISSUES THIS WHOLE TIME?”

And then, just like that, I don’t think I know anything about myself.

So I do a little internet research and scour the comments of Madison’s post and order some collagen and wipe my brow because PHEW that was a close one.

But then I think: Have I lost touch with myself?

It’s not a crazy thought. I’ve spent the last almost two years consumed with caring for another person. And while I felt super connected to my body during pregnancy, lately I feel disconnected. Adrift. Maybe a bit numb.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. (HA.)

It’s possible that I need a break. We’re going out of town this month to get out of the city and see some friends, and I could not be more excited for a change of pace and scenery. This city is wearing on me, folks, and it’s especially ugly in January.

Maybe a little refocusing is exactly what I need.

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Am I boring you?

I think it’s pretty universally agreed upon that small talk is lame. Right? I mean, do you know anyone who actually enjoys talking about the weather or how “fine” work is?

No. Unless they are a sociopath.

I, for one, would much rather talk about the nitty-gritty of whatever I’m going through. Honestly, unless it’s something about my marriage or you are my boss and I am thinking of quitting, I will tell you all the details of “what’s new” if you really want to hear it.

The thing is…I’m pretty sure my nitty-gritty has even crossed over into mindless listening territory.

You know what’s really interesting and pressing in my life right now? How many times Vivi woke up last night. (Once, around 5 a.m., but then she woke up for real at 6 a.m., which is about an hour earlier than I would like and than she has been waking up lately, which makes me wonder if it’s that she’s teething or if she can hear our neighbor or if that congested cough she started doing a couple of days is something to worry about and OH MY GOD YOU’RE ASLEEP RIGHT NOW, AREN’T YOU?!)

The fact is, while I LOVE motherhood and could actually discuss all the new foods Vivi tried in the last week (shrimp, risotto, chocolate chip cookie) for probably hours, I am not an un-self-aware person. And I can feel your eyes glazing over from here.

So, naturally, the solution here is to talk about more interesting things, right?

Except…um, you do realize that this whole motherhood thing is a full-time job? My day literally revolves around this tiny, big-eyed person, which means I don’t exactly have a lot of time for hobbies.

I don’t have a solution for this. This is more of a request: If you aren’t interested in the kid thing, bear with me. I’m sure the day will come when I have time to do more for myself. And we can talk all about it then.

Hi! Meet My Baby.

I’ve recently discovered a surprisingly additional benefit to having a baby: It’s really helpful if you suffer from any kind of social anxiety.

You might think the opposite. After all, it is true that it’s very rare that someone can walk past this mug without stopping to talk to us:

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But the thing is, it’s actually pretty rare that they’re stopping to talk to us. They really just want to chat with the little lady you see above.

I’ve been pretty surprised at how quickly I’ve actually become invisible when holding Vivi. Whenever we’re in groups of people we know, she’s almost always the first to be greeted. Occasionally, the person will acknowledge me (“And, of course, hello to you, too!”), but sometimes they keep their eyes on the baby-shaped prize.

The thing is, I’m not complaining. Because, yeah, I’m a fairly friendly person. And, in general, I can hold a conversation with just about anyone.

But actually approaching people, let alone strangers? Yeah, that’s a little place I like to call out of my comfort zone.

But talking about the baby? That I can do. I mean, I talk about her all day long anyway. Sure, you can join in on that conversation.

Lately, I’ve even noticed myself subtly adjusting my body to put the baby between the other person and me. Like, “Don’t notice me…be distracted by this bundle of cuteness!”

I like to tell myself I’m encouraging Vivi to be friendlier. But I’m probably just encouraging my own complexes, right?

The thing is, I think I’m okay with that. I mean, technically I am talking to these people, right?

Regardless, I don’t think I’m going to be able to ditch the title of “Vivi’s mom” for a while now. And, you know what? That’s a title I’ll gladly take.

The Time I Tried to Drown My Phone

I’ve had a cellular telephone since I was 15. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s almost 14 years of wedded mobile bliss.

And while I’ve never been what I would call tech-obsessed, I had a pretty good track record with my phones. I’ve never lost a phone. I’ve never damaged a phone beyond the usual scuffs. And nary a cracked screen has tarnished my record of smart phone ownership.

Until this week.

My mom had been in town, and she, Vivian, and I were returning from lunch. Viv had fallen asleep in the stroller, so my mom offered to keep pushing her for a few more minutes while I ran home to do some work. I left her the diaper bag (just in case) but grabbed my keys and tucked my iPhone in my back pocket.

Those words will echo hauntingly in your ears until the end of this post. (OR BEYOND.)

Like most moms of babies, I also had been waiting a while to be able to use the bathroom. So before I started my work, I decided to take care of that little bit of business. As one does, I de-pants’d and was about to take a seat when I heard what sounded like something falling off of our over-the-toilet shelf and falling on the ground. (There was no splash. I always assumed there would be a splash when something fell into the toilet. Either this is not true, or my phone is heading to Rio this year with the U.S Olympic diving team. AND IT’S GONNA WIN.)

You guys. I almost just ignored the sound and proceeded accordingly. CAN YOU IMAGINE?

But, by the grace of the Apple gods, I did decide to see what had fallen. I had completely forgotten my phone was even in my pocket, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw it chilling in the murky depths.

My heart in my throat, I grabbed it without even thinking and started drying it off with toilet paper. And here’s where I made a mistake: I started using it to see if it still worked.

Apparently, according to the Internet, you should just turn your phone off completely to keep the circuits from frying. Alas, my perfect record of smart phone ownership had not yet taught me this life lesson. So I clicked around, feeling incredibly relieved that I was still able to access everything normally.

And then the screen went a weird shade of pixelated gray before the phone died completely.

Fortunately, I am not a total idiot and had at least heard of the ol’ phone-in-rice trick. I removed the case and stuck mine in a bowl of long grains while I waited for my mom to get home. My research (read: Google-ing) also told me to just leave the phone untouched in the rice for at least 24 hours, so I knew I had some time to kill before our fate was sealed.

Going 24 hours without a phone is an almost unheard of feat these days. (Unless you’re one of those people doing it on purpose to prove something. I don’t have that kind of time.) In general, I like to think that I’m pretty good at putting my phone away during the times when I want to be fully present and I don’t consider myself addicted to technology. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I didn’t feel like I had lost an arm or anything leaving the house without a phone.

What I did notice? Daaaaaaaaang, my phone makes my life more convenient.

For one, I store everything on that sucker. From photos to lists of hashtags for clients to time logs, virtually everything of any importance is on my phone because I just know I’ll always have it on me. For another, I guess I just forgot how much more work it used to be to get anything done. With my phone, Vivi can fall asleep on me on the couch and I can still get 30 minutes of work done (albeit one-handed). Without a phone, all I could do was stare longingly at the computer across the room and make mental lists of everything I needed to do when she went to bed that night. Plus, have you ever tried making plans without a cell phone? I had three separate plans that day, and two of them had to be canceled because the back-and-forth communication was just impossible. Not great.

Not to mention the fact that, well, I like to take a lot of pictures of Vivi during the day. (I’ll give you a second to recover from the shock of that statement.) I send them to her family and to Joey so they all feel connected and don’t miss anything of importance. I literally spent most of the day hoping she didn’t hit any milestones because I knew Joey would be so bummed to miss them completely.

So there were a lot of ramifications. But also…there were some good things too.

For one, it’s easy to get tied up in my phone, doing work or just goofing around, even when Vivi and I are hanging out. I don’t think I need to spend every second hanging over her obsessing about what she’s doing (girl needs some room to chill with her toys)(I’m always in the room, don’t freak out), but not having a phone removed the temptation to waste any of our time together. And not worrying about taking photos or videos of her silly antics actually let me enjoy them a little bit more.

I’m happy to report that after almost 36 hours in rice, the phone turned back on. So far, things seem to be running fairly smoothly (and, at the very least, I was able to back up the phone in case it needs replacing after all). Although my research did also inform me that there are numerous documented cases of a phone surviving a swim and then, months later, spontaneously overheating and dying. So time shall tell.

What have I learned? (Besides to NEVER FORGET YOUR PHONE IS IN YOUR BACK POCKET EVER.) Well, I’m still not addicted, and I’m still not one of those people who is going to eschew this brilliant little piece of technology just to prove a point. Mostly I’m just happy I don’t have to pay for a new phone. And I’m okay with that happy medium.

Plus, I also know exactly what to do if you drop your phone in the toilet. These are life skills, people.

3 Things I Couldn’t Flesh Out Into Full Blog Posts

This happens to me a lot. I have a funny anecdote or thought, but it’s not really worth dredging out into a full post. So, instead, I’m just sharing my funny thoughts. That you may or may not also find funny. Enjoy.

Oh, Canada.
Fact: Canadians are the nicest people. (Honestly, it might just be the accent. It’s almost impossible for them to sound mean.) But also, they are just a very sincere, kind people. If you don’t believe me, I humbly submit exhibit A to the court: I once heard two Canadian guys having an argument in which one of them was literally threatening to STAB the other guy’s DOG , but if you were just judging by tones and expressions you probably would have thought they were two roommates disagreeing about which Netflix series to binge next. If that conversation had happened in New York, it would have ended in a triple homicide and a trending Twitter hashtag. Heck, if two roommates disagree about which Netflix series to binge next in New York, it can end in a triple homicide and a trending Twitter hashtag. Canadians are the nicest; game, set, match, eh?

Et tu, sourdough?
I started using natural deodorant full-time recently. I’ve tried this in the past but with, I’ll be honest, a lot of failure. What I’m saying is that I sweat a lot. Natural deodorant doesn’t seem able to handle that. But I found a brand I like recently called Bubble and Bee (after it was recommended by a blog commenter!). And I also learned from friends (who know these kinds of things) that part of the reason why I sweat so much is because of how much bread I eat. To which I’m kind of like, what’s up with that, bread? First, there was the whole carb debacle of the early 2000s. And now this whole sweating thing? What did I ever do to you? BESIDES LOVE YOU.

Mommy craziest.
Have you ever tried reasoning with a seven-month-old? I mean, really, I have these moments where I’m looking at the baby and she’s holding the spoon that I’m trying to feed her with in her chubby little death grip, and I’m trying to pull the spoon away, and we’re just, like, staring each other down while I’m saying things like, “No, sweetie pie, give Mama the spoon. If you don’t give me the spoon, you can’t keep eating and you’ll be hungry again too soon. And you’re going to just splatter food everywhere, which will make more work for Mama.” And she’s just looking at me, like, not even like, “I don’t understand what you’re saying,” but like she does understand and she’s just thinking nonsense thoughts back. “Spoon dorsal fin rainbows and puppy dogs carpet.” And I’m honestly trying to think of what I can say to get through. These moments make you start to question your insanity.

Nothing is gross anymore.

Elegant! Sophisticated! And probably totally constipated.
Elegant! Sophisticated! And probably totally constipated.

I keep going to write a post for the blog, then realizing that all I ever talk about anymore is the baby and being pregnant, then NOT writing a post for the blog because I’m worried y’all are bored, and then just not writing anything ever, and then wash-rinse-repeating the whole cycle pretty much on the daily.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that I’m probably just going to be talking about pregnancy and the baby for a while. Maybe one day something will happen to me that is not related to either of these two things, but I think it’s safe to say that that thing will not happen in the next nine weeks.

Side bar: I only have LESS THAN TEN WEEKS left of my pregnancy? What the WHAT? Who decided that was a good idea?

That was a novel’s worth of preface, so let’s get down to brass tacks.

A sweet friend who also has a daughter recently offered me a bunch of baby stuff she and her girl had outgrown. It was your standard stuff: clothes, a baby carrier (actually, this is not standard, those thangs are pricey, and I’m so thrilled to get one as a hand-me-down!). Then she asked if I would be interested in her previously used breast pads, which she said were much more comfortable than the throwaway kind and would obviously be washed. Or, she asked, did I think that was weird?

You guys. It hadn’t even occurred to me to think it was weird. This is what happens when you become a parent: Nothing is sacred anymore.

And I think pregnancy is to blame.

Bowel movements? Discharge? Gas? Weight gain? When you’re pregnant, these things (and thinking about these things) are all part of your everyday life. You HAVE to talk about it with your doctor, and, to be honest, your girlfriends often want to know the sordid details, whether they are commiserating because they’ve been there or they are curious because one day they will be. By the time I pop this baby out, I will have completely lost sight of what is TMI.

The sad part is that I used to quietly judge parents who did this. Like, nobody wants to hear about your baby’s poop!

But you know what? If I’m telling a story, and part of the story involves the baby pooping, I already know I’m just going to say that and keep going with the story. No shame. (Though I promise not to take or make you look at photos of it. I’m not an animal.)

The fact is, pregnancy tends to wipe away a lot of insecurities (at least for me), which also removes a lot of your boundaries.

Don’t even get me started on the loss of modesty. I mean, you have to be mostly naked in front of another person several times during your pregnancy. (And, I don’t know if you know this, but someone is allll up in your junk when you actually have a baby.)

It’s gotten to the point where I pretty much start stripping down in my doctor appointments before anyone even asks me to.

No, Justine, you can keep your pants on this time.

WHOOPS.

I like to think at some point I’ll balance back out, but that’s probably wishful thinking. Besides, being able to discuss poop, gas, and weight gain now will just make it easier when I need to discuss poop, gas, and weight gain with Vivi’s doctor later. Moms can’t be grossed out by anything, you guys.

To all my baby mommas out there: Can you relate? Will I ever blush at bodily functions again?

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