Sharks, Sunsets and Spring Break

The past few weeks have been tough, so sorry for the lack of updates. (Also, not being pregnant anymore has removed the system I had in place of updating you weekly on my growing belly and list of aches and pains.)

I’m really tired. The Toddler and I have been at odds a lot this week — he’s definitely struggling with sharing his mom, and I’m struggling to figure out how to split my time and attention between a needy two-year-old and a needy nearly-three-month-old. It’s leaving me feeling epically guilty and negligent of both of them.

Sleep has been hard, naps have been sporadic and interrupted and snatched with whatever terrible crutch I have leaned on. The TV has been on more than I’d like to admit, and we’ve had more grazing all-day junk snacks than lunches lately.

(Serious question: How does one establish anything of a nap routine with an infant when there are big siblings in the house?)

Compounding this unsurprising challenge, I have stretched myself as thin as possible in every other area of my life in the immediate aftermath of having a new baby.

I committed myself to quite a bit of freelance work (which sends The Toddler to daycare twice a week, but guess what: An infant still requires quite a bit of care! Oops.)

I launched the Ladies Craft Beer Society website and have been trying to find the time to develop a plan for both maintaining the website and formalizing some of the aspects of the club that have been pretty relaxed since it was created.

I’m also coordinating the earliest steps of a very exciting project–we’re going to be finishing our basement to essentially double our living space–which has meant a lot of phone calls (with either a rooster  crowing or a screaming toddler or both in the background) and people coming by the house and me having to try to clean.

We’ve been busy with social commitments — fun ones, like getting to go to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium for a birthday party — but those still take energy!

The Dad and The Toddler marveling at an underwater world. I took this picture while nursing Baby 2. I would like to sit in front of a shark tank for all future nursing sessions.

Oh, and we also have goats and chickens (and, Oh God, two hives of bees reserved for the near future) that The (very busy with work) Husband are trying to keep healthy and happy.

It’s no one’s fault but my own, but I’m feeling in pretty over my head right now.

Being present has never been a strength of mine, but I was reminded this week that this is a fleeting time, and although it is exhausting, it’s also beautiful. Baby 2 was having a fussy night on Thursday, and the only thing that calmed him down from a screaming fit was being carried around outside so he could watch the sunset. I had no phone, no lists, no free hands–just the weight of a baby in my arms, the sound of my own voice, and the cold March air on my cheeks.

While my biceps ached by the time the sun finally dipped over the horizon, I figured out that my wise little baby was trying to teach me an important lesson: I just need to put one foot in front of the other and try to look at the bright side when I’m having a tough time. (And also put my effing phone away more often.)

A sunset (but not the one Baby 2 and I watched together this week – I was phoneless and reconnecting with him in the midst of a really tough week.)

Fortunately, The Husband has some time off this week, and we’re going to try to strike a balance between tackling our to-do list, finding time to relax/recharge, and figuring out how to make life slightly less chaotic when he goes back to work. Wish us luck.

Sharks, Sunsets and Spring Break

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

The latent sense of not feeling prepared for the baby at the end of this pregnancy is becoming more of a constant buzz in my consciousness as I find myself at the end of my 33rd week of pregnancy. Assuming I go into labor around the same time I did with my first, I have just five more weeks to get my shit together, and my to-do list looms long and neglected while life keeps getting in the way.

At 33 weeks, the baby is somewhere in the 17-19 inch range and anywhere between 4 and 6 pounds, and the estimations from here on out look to be pretty sketchy at best, as babies start to really diverge as they approach their final birth weight/length. Judging by the movements I’ve been feeling lately, the baby is mostly feet. One weird progression I read in my weekly updates is that, while awake, baby is keeping his or her eyes open in utero. I wonder what it looks like in there.

As for me, well…

I think this about sums it up.

I’m humongous. I can’t stop eating, but also, heartburn. I can’t breathe. It takes me 30 seconds to roll over in bed and a full minute to get up off the floor. My back hurts if I’m on my feet too long (oh, and also if I’m sitting too long). I’ve been super emotional–crying over very silly things, or for no reason at all. My abdominal muscles hurt from being stretched. I’ve had a few dizzy spells. I’m getting to the stage where only really long maternity shirts cover my huge, huge belly. My huge, huge belly that my toddler thinks is a trampoline.

And while I’m starting to look forward to not being pregnant anymore, this past week with The Toddler has also reminded me that I’ll be trading in immobility and indigestion for mind-numbing sleep deprivation.

While I’ve been using it as a blanket excuse for every behavioral hiccup for the past five months or so, The Toddler is finally, truly sprouting two-year molars, and that has manifested in really rotten sleep. He’s pretty miserable, and his parents are pooped. I think it’s affecting his dad more than me, because in the middle of the night, I am the last person The Toddler wants to see. So I get to go back to bed while The Dad tries to soothe him. It’s a good thing we put a twin bed in his room.

Though the teething hasn’t been particularly fun this week, we have pressed on in one important way toward preparing our household for the baby: The Toddler has started going to daycare (though we’re calling it “school”) a few mornings a week. I’ve been both meaning to do this forever and putting it off, first because my freelance work has been so feast-or-famine, and then because I wanted to feel he was fully through potty training before I threw off his routine.

So when my freelance work picked up this week, it ended up being the perfect catalyst for getting him out of the house a few mornings a week. (And, conveniently, the perfect excuse for further baby-prep procrastination.)

The Toddler has been struggling with drop-offs a little, but otherwise has a great time. And so has his mom! I’ve gotten a bunch of work done–mostly the paid version, but this morning I spent most of daycare time blowing leaves that have piled up on our front sidewalk and then did some shopping.

I picked up some stuff for my hospital bag (future post to come–after my next midwife appointment this week I plan to finalize my checklist to share with you) and for those special breastfeeding-time play kits to keep The Toddler occupied. That, too, will be a future post.

In the meantime, here’s hoping those teeth pop so The Husband and I can catch up on some sleep and tackle more of our to-do list.

Pregnancy Week 33: Preparing and procrastinating for baby’s arrival

Embracing the hustle


First and foremost, let me say that the “just” in front of any reference to stay-at-home-mom (i.e., “I’m just a stay-at-home-mom”) diminishes what is a very difficult, very important job. Being a stay-at-home mom of one baby for the past five months is the toughest gig I’ve ever had.

So if you’re a stay-at-home-mom and keeping your children alive and fed and entertained is “all” you’re doing, it’s plenty. You’re killing it. Nothing I’m about to say is intended to diminish or denigrate what you’re doing. Okay? (And cut it out with the “justs!”)


I really like writing. I also really like dabbling in the print design (desktop publishing?) I’ve been doing since I was editing my high school newspaper. Writing greases the gears in my brain when they seize up from all the breastmilk and high chair hose-downs and endless rereadings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear. For some people, self care is getting a haircut more than once a year or browsing their favorite store. For others, it’s typing, alone, over a bowl of ice cream while dad rocks the baby to sleep. Different strokes.

This blog has been a nice outlet for my creative pursuits when I find the time to put my thoughts together. However, we’re working with a pretty thin margin on my husband’s income, so freelancing has been an important contribution to my family since I left full-time work, too (and thus has had to take priority over blogging on many occasions. I just don’t have it in me to try to monetize a blog right now.) Freelancing also scratches the small but persistent entrepreneurial itch I’ve had all my life.

One of the reasons I was afraid to embark on parenthood earlier in my life was the daunting mountain of responsibility that children come with–I didn’t feel like I had enough financial security, even with nonstop full-time work with benefits–to hack it. The irony is, now that I’m home with the baby, living really frugally and making smaller change in weird spurts, I feel less of the suffocating anxiety I felt before The Baby arrived and more of the vastness of possibilities that lay before me.

In addition to money worries, I also feared that giving up my full-time career would mean losing the fulfillment and pride that came along with it, but I’ve learned to embrace the hustle that is gig work. It’s a tough juggle, but it’s also exhilarating to choose projects that excite me and to deliver good work to satisfied clients.

I’ve also started babysitting a friend’s baby one day a week (what a workout!), and today I visited an amazing flexible child care center where The Baby is going to spend a few hours a week so I can grow my business a little bit.

I have far, far less free time than I used to. But I’m also operating at maximum efficiency with the time I do have.

As many obstacles as parenthood throws out for us, The Husband and I are relishing the great privilege we’re realizing we have: We can build the life we want for our family, however we want. Being parents doesn’t mean that we are chained to the traditional gender roles of American families, nor are we condemned to both working 60-hour weeks and missing our kids in daycare all the time.

Yes, for the foreseeable future, The Husband is going to continue to work long hours and have a crap commute (and to come home and summon a second wind so he can bathe, chase and otherwise thrill The Baby while I catch a breath), and I’m going to pound out articles and design annual reports in the stolen 15-minute increments I can find during naps. But none of that is preordained and none of it has to be forever.

In the not-too-distant future, we will finally be able to pay off our student loans and start thinking about the real long term, now that we have a feel for what it’s going to be like. Maybe we’ll save up and start a small business. Maybe we’ll switch places and The Husband will stay home with the next baby while I go back to work. Maybe we’ll get really wild and go off the grid and become self-sufficient preppers. (Unlikely scenario, but it is an election year!)

I don’t know what the future holds, but five months after hesitatingly stepping into the SAHM/WAHM life, I’m so glad this was the choice I made.

Fellow moms (working from home-for money or for the satisfaction of keeping your kids alive, working out of the home, or whatever combination applies to you right now), how did parenthood affect your ambitions? Your perspective on your career? What greases your gears when they get locked up from the parenting drudge work?

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Embracing the hustle

Why I froze my eggs

Because I’m tired, that’s why.

That title is utter clickbait and has nothing to do with fertility. I just made scrambled eggs one morning last week and instead of putting the eggs back in the refrigerator, dropped them into the freezer and discovered them days later when The Husband was trying to make us breakfast.

The sleep regression continues. So today’s post remains a stream of consciousness about life with a 7-month-old.

The Baby’s wacky sleep, though obviously powered by his incessant drive to crawl and climb and babble, is likely not helped by the fact that we’re rearranging The Baby’s room to try to accommodate his fervent need to touch, climb upon and put into his mouth everything he comes across. Baby safe for a five month old is not baby proof at all for a crawling, cruising baby. I am excited to eventually reveal The Baby’s nursery 2.0 (here’s a look at 1.0 from our old house) once I get some projects wrapped. I’m even doing some furniture building, ladies. Get acquainted with your miter saw! As a sleep deprived person, I can tell you, it’s really not that hard. This should not be the exclusive domain of men. It’s super fun.

Uh, let’s see, what else.

We went to the Medina County Fair over the weekend. It was my first visit in probably about 15 years. Here’s a quick shot of me and and my spirit animal.


Me and my spirit animal

I chowed down on some gross fair food, reminisced about the super-dangerous rides and felt mixed feelings about the animals on display. The goat barn was my favorite – I even rescued a pair of goats who were trying to escape their fence and had become caught, so I’m like… really maternal and obviously going to be a super goat owner. I think we’re probably going to hold off until spring so we can get some baby wethers (neutered male goats) in season. I’m looking forward to it!

Summer is almost over. The Husband is getting ready for the first day of school (he works at a school) and my awesome mother’s helper will be starting 8th grade next week, so this is my last week of getting two, two-hour chunks to get work done. I will miss her very much, and I think The Baby will, too.

As summer leans into fall, I am hoping to adapt my daily list-making practice into a week-planning ritual that lends a little more structure to our days. I would like to be more strategic about spacing out work, chores, outings and freelancing so I don’t feel quite so harried every day. I also want to start walking a few times a week, a habit I flirted with in the early summer but that I quickly dropped because it’s been hot and I haven’t been able to make it a priority with everything else.

I am also functioning under the illusion that if I have a color-coded chart of when we do what each day, The Baby will exactly follow my plan and everything will be easy. Ha!

The Baby is awaking from his nap… time to go. Proofreading is a luxury I don’t have time for. I’m the kind of person who puts eggs in the freezer right now, so this is the best I can do.


Why I froze my eggs

Working at home

The baby seems to be (knocking on wood) emerging a little from the worst of the sleep regression, though he still giggles himself into full alertness (how can something so cute be so frustrating) if I try to put him down drowsy in his crib for naps.

Whatevs. Parenting isn’t supposed to be easy, right? If he’s making my heart soar 75% of the time, and the other quarter of that time is spent rocking him and doing deep breathing exercises, I’ve got it pretty good, I think.

The Husband and I will be hosting a Sleep Summit at the end of this week to try to hatch a plan moving forward (a plan that doesn’t involve one of us taking impulsive and drastic measures on a whim.)

In the meantime, my parents have returned from their first vacation in a week. And as much as my 18-year-old self would be doing a spit-take at this next sentence, here goes: I missed them and I’m really glad they’re around.

Both of my parents adore The Baby. My dad is retired/disabled and thus is around during the day when he’s not taking care of my grandfather and is good company as I adapt to SAHM-hood. He’s also great with The Baby. But my mom is FANTASTIC with The Baby and can keep him occupied and giggling for a good long time. Her many years as a home child care provider are really shining now that she’s a grandmother.

She is currently at the park with The Baby so that I can get some rush freelancing work done. This is the first outing The Baby has gone on with someone other than his parents. While a gigantic part of me wishes I were also at the playground with them, I’m grateful to be able to hand him over so I can clock some time and earn some cash.

I came to a good break point while awaiting some feedback so I might go do something reckless like take a shower.

One last thing: Thanks to everyone who commented with well wishes and commiseration and book suggestions and sleep training (or not sleep training) suggestions in response to my previous post. Sometimes motherhood can really knock you off your feet. Thank you for helping me back up. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Working at home

Productivity and the SAHM


Found this while cleaning out my grandparents’ house. As soon as the rush is over…

Tomorrow will mark The Baby’s 20th week on the planet, and my eighth week as a stay-at-home (trying to be a work-at-home) mom.

The “work-at-home” thing has been pretty challenging in the midst of everything else that’s going on right now. It took a lot of work to close on the house and project-manage moving into my grandparents’ house. We had a dumpster on site, filled twice. I rented a portable storage unit that is sitting in front of our garage, filled to capacity with stuff I hope to sell at a yard sale next week (because it is clocking a staggering monthly rental fee.) There is still so much stuff to go through, it feels like a Sisyphean version of that sliding tiles puzzle, except instead of producing a picture of Batgirl, I’m trying to put together a house that won’t kill our son when he starts crawling.  Yesterday we had 1,500 square feet of hardwood floors delivered, and they had to be put on the grass because the stupid POD is blocking our garage, so during naps I’m dragging wagon loads of boxes to the porch, which is littered with remnants of our last few trips to the old house to gather up the detritus from our garage.

Feel free to cut me off here and mock me. Wahhh, you have so much work to do in your ancestral house on a big patch of bucolic land. You can literally see bluebirds out your window from where you are sitting. Shut. Up.

I know. I’m complaining about stuff I should be endlessly grateful for. And I am endlessly grateful. But I’m also tired.

And being tired while I’m trying to nurture my baby’s development, to stay on top of the laundry, to blog, to work and to drag shit from one room in the house to another, is a lot to keep track of.

So even though it might be crazy-making to other people, I have carried my most ingrained work habit to my now SAHM/WAHM life: List-keeping.

I haven’t been at this SAHM thing long, but I’ve been doing this daily list keeping as a habit at my job for my entire career. This habit has been immensely helpful to me at home, so I thought I’d share some tips, adapted to this new mom role.

Take charge of your SAHM day with a well-planned to-do list

Home with the baby? Take charge of your day with a well-planned to-do listStart your list the night before.

Every evening, I start a list for the following morning of what I hope to accomplish. With the 1,000 unfinished things I have to do, this helps me sleep easier, because I know I won’t forget what I need to do when morning rolls around.

Include everything on your list.

I add to the list I started the night before during The Baby’s morning tummy time. And it encompasses almost everything I do during the day, from the most basic self-care (“eat breakfast”) to the house management and errand reminders, to the stuff that feels like I’m not being productive but that is so vital for The Baby’s well-being and our relationship (yes, I write “giggle time” on my list every day to remind me that making my baby laugh is an important duty. In fact, it’s why I quit my  job. It’s been tough adjusting to the reality that time earning money does not equal time wasted… which is another reason the list is so helpful. It puts value on the things I need to do.)

Go low-tech.

I use a three-subject, spiral-bound notebook I found in my grandparents’ pile of unused office supplies. Sure, I could use an app on my phone, but I’ve been trying my damnedest to keep my baby’s eyes off screens, so having a notebook makes it easy to keep up with my day without staring into the glowing screen of my phone (which is another issue altogether that I’ll save for another post). I use the first section for my daily to-do lists, the second section for various project plans (for example, my yard sale plans) and the third section for weekly grocery lists and meal planning. Again, there are tons of ways to do this electronically, but I like having the ability to look at my list without picking up my phone.

Go beyond the check mark.

I’ve started using my to-do list as a daily log in addition to a planner. I’ve been trying for the past few weeks to get The Baby on some semblance of a nap schedule, and I’ve been tracking when he falls asleep, when he wakes up halfway through and how long I hold him (yes, another post topic: my stupid nap training), and when he finally wakes up at the end. I also make little notes about the results of phone calls I have to make to utility companies, etc. Being able to flip back through this not only serves as a helpful resource, but is also a nice way for me to appreciate the progress we’re making.

Be specific and realistic.

Never, never put “finish laundry” as a list item. Because guess what: You will never “finish” your laundry. Instead, put, “do two loads of laundry,” or “put laundry away.” Is your kitchen trashed from one end to the next? You may not be able to “clean kitchen” all the way, but you can probably empty the dishwasher, reload the dishwasher, sweep the floor or wipe down the counters. It feels good to check things off a list, so give yourself plenty of opportunities to do so.

I also find this helps keep me from getting overwhelmed, giving up and sitting on the couch with a carton of ice cream.

Being specific and listing out discrete tasks also makes it easy to pick and choose things that don’t take a lot of time when you have 15 minutes left before naptime is up.

Don’t despair if your day goes off the rails.

Yesterday’s flooring delivery ended up being such a huge cluster that it ate up about two hours of my day, or an entire span between two naps. Other days, I overestimate how much time I have for errands and the baby’s middle nap is screwed. I almost never get everything checked off my list. But after several weeks of list-making, I am very much okay with this, because I…

Appreciate how much work goes into SAHM-hood.

Another reason having a list is helpful is it helps me realize I’ve been productive even on those many occasions when I look around me at the end of the day, to the sink full of dishes and the boxes and the scattered baby clothes. Yeah, I didn’t get around to cleaning, but I paid bills. I fed the baby. I went to the grocery store. I took a SHOWER.

Two months in, this has been a really helpful tool for me for getting shit done and for also not panicking at the existential crisis that is the transition to SAHM-hood. Maybe it will help you, too!

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Productivity and the SAHM