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motherhood

Family

Breathing Room

August 2, 2018


Two weeks ago we put the finishing touches on our backyard patio. Our back yard has been, for lack of a better word, a hot hot mess for the last three years. The highlight was last summer when our already gross and muggy backyard got in-ground wasps that prevented us from going outside for a couple weeks. Yes, I said hot mess didn’t I? We dug it all up and put in a huge backyard patio this summer. Now that our girls are getting a bit more independent and our backyard is put back together, this has been the first season we have really been able to enjoy large chunks of time outside the way I’ve always imagined we would when we first purchased our house.

I snapped a picture of myself, sitting on our outdoor couch and READING A BOOK while my girls played in the playhouse because I wanted – no needed – to document that this day had come. I’ve waited 15 months for our girls to be able to truly play together like this and it’s finally happening. Sure, I’m breaking up fights and squabbles and re-distributing toys every five minutes but there are true, uninterrupted pockets of time that the girls are enjoying the benefit of a sibling relationship and I can catch a minute or two for myself in the course of the day.

The last couple months I fee as if we have finally entered into a new, easier, more enjoyable stage with the girls. Prior to that, I felt like we were in a really difficult stage because Collins wasn’t walking well yet, but was into all the things, crawling everywhere, frustrated she couldn’t walk like Ainsley. I felt as if we continued to try doing fun things only to leave the park or the zoo or the outing totally frustrated by the fact that in theory we were supposed to be having fun but I was feeling frustrated more than anything. And, as with every stage with kids, I reminded myself that if you’re feeling stuck in a not particularly fun stage, just hang around long enough and that, too, will change in the blink of an eye.

The last 15 months have been absolutely crazy with two girls, a rapidly growing business, social and personal commitments and more. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably pushed myself too hard this last year. Thinking back to those days with a two-week-old baby in the Rock and Play next to me while I worked in my office? Well, I don’t regret that one bit, but I also look back and can practically remember how TIRED I felt for months on end. About six months into life with two kids we started to find a rhythm that was more enjoyable and manageable than it had been before; we started to see the sun shining a little more with the flexibility and adaptability that a slightly older baby and older toddler provide.

But it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I really felt my body take a big sigh of relief, letting go of tension and exhaustion that I didn’t even know I was carrying with me. As I watched my girls play and giggle in that playhouse, as I let the sun shine on my face and relax while they played, I realized how very tiring the first year with two was for me and how much happier I am to be in this stage right now with these two little girls.

Now that Collins is 15 months old I’ve gotten a good handful of questions about whether/if we plan to have more kids. And I always give the same answer: We hope to some day, but for now I’m just enjoying this stage, this phase, where life feels easier, and more manageable and I have a little bit more breathing room to soak up this stage we are in.

Madison

Family

I’m Thankful for the Hard Weeks

March 21, 2017

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Last week Monday Joe and I had just returned from our trip out to California and I was looking forward to digging into a new week. Fresh off our trip, I had so many good ideas I planned to translate into work and great food finds I wanted to blog about. In my new schedule Mondays are always my at-home days with Ainsley. We go to music class, grab coffee, and do things like run errands, laundry, etc. But Monday morning it became very clear to me that what I thought was a toddler who missed momma was quickly becoming a toddler that was getting really sick really fast.

A day full of cuddles and Curious George gave way to a high fever, irritability and very restless sleep for six days and nights. Of course, we didn’t know that it would last so long at the time, so one day at home with Ainsley for me turned into an entire week, canceled weekend plans and a very tired, emotional and behind on work momma come Saturday. Was it the hardest of the hard? Absolutely not. Was it a really challenging and difficult week? Yes, indeed!

While I’m not eager to have a repeat of last week any time soon, as I found myself reflecting on the week we just had I realized how hard days, weeks and even months give way to such a season of gratitude in my heart. I can, like most people, become easily dissatisfied with the here and how. Sometimes I find myself trudging through a workout or not wanting to do that email follow-up that’s been on my to-do list for a number of days. Or maybe it’s the freelance bookkeeping – admittedly my least favorite part about my job – that I need to reconcile at the end of the month. Sometimes I bring a really crappy attitude to it all when I lose perspective of the gift of work and motherhood and finding a balance between the two.

But this week, with last week still very clear in my mind, I found myself SO eager, thankful and excited to do all the tasks that might otherwise seem mundane. Suddenly doing laundry, making toddler lunch, cleaning up subsequent toddler mess, working through emails and making the bed had an added layer of sparkle. Heck, I was just glad we weren’t watching the same 10 episodes of Curious George over and over! But most of all I was very thankful to have my bright, expressive and even strong-willed toddler back. Seeing her listless and sick for days on end without her usual spark was so incredibly sad; even though I don’t relish the meltdowns and battles of the will that come with this age, I found myself thankful that she was feeling good enough to show off that spunk.

For me, I think one of the best and most difficult parts about motherhood has been that it teaches reliance on God by stripping you of the things you think you need the most. Basic needs like sleep become a rarity and personal space, which for an introvert like me is crucial, can be stripped in an instant. And while it’s important to find rest in the margins of motherhood, God’s grace and sufficiency becomes clear when we don’t have the things we “need” to lean on. (Side note: God’s grace is also very evident in the form of moms who come and spend the weekend with you, organizing your house and doing your laundry…)

I have a feeling that in eight weeks or so, with baby girl is here, I’ll be coming back to read this post and preach to myself as I learn to navigate life with two little ones. ­čÖé

Madison

Family

seeking, seeing and affirming the best

December 14, 2016

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Let me brag on my husband for a quick second, will you? On Monday I returned from five days away with my mom in NYC. My mom took me as her plus one on a fun work-related trip, so our schedule was predetermined, and I was a little nervous about leaving for five whole days. I’ve gone on weekends away, even four days, but five days away from Ainsley (and five days of solo parenting duty for Joe) was a first.

Now my husband, friends, isn’t one to complain. In fact I would be hard-pressed to think of a time when he did gripe or complain about much of anything. He’s my better half in so many ways. Patient, even-keeled, steadfast, adaptable. Being the parent with the flexible job, I spend quite a bit more time with Ainsley during the weekdays, so I made every effort to prepare for three different drop-offs, pick-ups and meals while I was away. Oh, and did I mention that while I was away Ainsley decided that 5:30 is her new favorite time to wake up for the day.

All things considered, I fully expected to walk into a house Monday night that looked a little messy, maybe a little out of place. My baby was happy and things had gone well while I was away, so that was my primary concern. But the house, you guys, the house! It was spotless. Ainsley was in bed. Laundry had been done and, knowing my need for a bath the second I get home from a trip, the tub had been scrubbed and thoroughly cleaned.

Such a long story, right? But the next day I found myself walking around thinking, mediating on how amazing my husband is. How selfless, skilled and thoughtful he is. How well he parents and how easy he makes it look while I’m away. And I started to realize that more often than I would like to admit, I get stuck in a pattern of picking out the bad, rather than the good, about my spouse. I think we all do, right? Little minor annoyances and things that are done differently than I would have them done. But small thing after small thing becomes what I mediate on, leaving me dissatisfied and hard to please. Not really something I hope to be known for by my husband.

Spending my day thinking about all the things my husband does well we so refreshing. Not that I walk around every day thinking about the things he doesn’t do well, but I felt a shift in thought process. Seeking and seeing the good rather than walking through my day with a perspective of correction and criticism.

This attitude and frame of thinking has so many other applications, of course. Meditating on God and His goodness. Our children and their shining qualities rather than their shortcomings. Difficult relationships in our life. Our relationship with ourselves. I’m sure it will take a little bit of practice on my part, but I hope to become a more affirming and less critical person over time, affirming the good in those around me rather than picking out their shortcomings.

Family

Donut Wednesday

September 10, 2016

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This summer Ainsley and I started a tradition called Donut Wednesday. If you follow me over on IG, chances are you’ve seen a few photos of our weekly donut dates, where I take my coffee along with me to the bakery (because the bakery has such bad coffee) and Ainsley orders a sprinkle donut and proceeds to eat all the sprinkles off the top of the donut.

I’m convinced she is my child because she loves sweets just like her momma and has taken to waking at ridiculously early hours, just like her mom.

As Ainsley has gotten older, I’ve been working on being more intentional in my parenting. Slowing down, pointing out the little things, letting Ainsley walk down the street ridiculously slow while she points at every little rock and crack in the ground.

And it’s not the most natural thing in the world to me – doing the same puzzle fifteen times or going to the park for the third time of the day or looking at rocks in the landscaping. Sometimes it feels dull. Sometimes, when Ainsley is having a day and seems dissatisfied with everything, including me, I can let that little voice in my head tell me that I’m just not very good at this motherhood thing.

When I’m at work I consistently feel good at what I’m doing. Sure, I have days where I question things, but figuring out the right words for a freelance article feels easier than negotiating with a toddler who isn’t sure what she wants.

I’ve been thinking a lot about slowing down in all areas of life, working hard at things that don’t come naturally and giving myself grace when it doesn’t come┬áright away. I’ve been reading Present Over Perfect, which came at the perfect time in this season of slowing down.

In the past I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lacked discipline. I’m a procrastinator by nature, pushing off the hard for what’s fun, easy, and provides instant gratification. But motherhood isn’t about instant gratification. It’s a season of watering the ground, again and again, waiting for the seed to come up. Believing that all the watering, day after day, will eventually yield the fruit you dreamed about when you planted the seed.

And it shows, very little by little. A “thank you” or a random show of affection. When Ainsley puts her toys away on her own or shares a toy with a friend. The glimpses are fleeting at this age, hard to come by for sure. But I’m waiting, being patient and believing that the fruit will come if I continue to water the seed, day after day.

In recent months┬áI’ve been inspired by women who are modeling ┬áintentionality in their posting, their motherhood, how they interact with social media and others. If you’re looking for resources yourself, I’ve listed a few of my favorites below!

Laura Wifler // How Intentional Mornings are Changing My Life 
Shauna Niequist // Present Over Perfect 
Risen Motherhood // Ep. 27 Intentional Motherhood: It’s the Little Things
Design for Mankind // Well Done (every mom needs to read this!)
Food Loves Writing // An Essay on Parenthood, One Year In 

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes

Building Your Mommy Tribe

April 4, 2016

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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When we moved back to Iowa last year I was a little nervous about finding new mom friends. Sure, I grew up in this small town, but I had no idea what to expect living here as an adult. Thankfully, we got plugged in fairly quickly and I’ve been working on building relationships with other women and mommas in the area. I’ve learned that new mom play groups are a necessity for both my sanity (especially during the cold winter months!), Ainsley’s enjoyment, and for building community. Since my new schedule is fairly flexible, I have Tuesday mornings with Ainsley. Two Tuesdays each month we head to mommy-toddler play group at our Church where the kiddos play and the moms sip on coffee and chat.

Last week instead of hosting the gathering at the Church nursery, we took the party to my house where the moms sipped on homemade lattes and the kiddos played in the ball pit and ate snacks. Opening up your home to others can feel so vulnerable, can’t it? Like you’re saying, “Come on in and see what I’m really about!” But over the years I’ve grown increasingly comfortable with doing so, finding a nice rhythm and routine to entertaining that doesn’t stress me out but feels a little special at the same time.

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Despite my best efforts to make healthy food for Ainsley’s lunches each day, she has been going through a fussy phase and has a mind of her own about what she will and will not eat. For our little mom and toddler gathering I kept the food easy and kid-friendly by serving snacks, which are always a hit even if lunch and dinner are hit or miss!

One thing we certainly do not have to beg her to eat is the Gerber Lil Beanies that we had at our party. These bean-based snacks contain protein + fiber and no artificial colors, which is super important to this momma. Plus, they taste pretty darn good, too! (I may have snacked on a handful or two…) Oh, and did I mention that the first ingredient is actually beans? I appreciate that the product is true to its name. I snagged a few cans for our party at our local Walmart while shopping for groceries a few weeks back.

Here’s what we served at the party, in case you want to recreate something like this with your momma friends!

For the Moms //
Homemade Latte Bar (with an assortment of milks and flavorings)
Homemade Blueberry Muffins
Fresh Cut Fruit (for the moms + kids)

For the Kiddos //
Gerber Lil Beanies
Gerber Yogurt Melts
Gerber Lil Whoos Baked Snack Crackers
Gerber Graduates Animal Crackers

Madison