Nobody Said Having Kids Would Be Easy

It’s 4:00 pm on a rainy Saturday, the “witching hour”, as us moms have come to know and dread. You have been up since 6:00 am. You have played with every toy in the house and then some, you have painted, you’ve made obstacle courses, you’ve built a fort, watched tv, eaten all the snacks, and there is still four more hours until the blissful freedom of bedtime.

The kids are now fighting. They have had enough sharing for one day. Your son performs one of his signature wrestling moves on your daughter. She bites him. Crying ensues. You are arguing with your husband about anything and everything from why the kids can’t behave to what to eat for dinner. Your house is in a complete state of chaos. Toys cover every square inch of your home.

You struggle through preparing dinner while your kids hang all over you, pull at your clothes, whine, and rub boogers on your jeans. You somehow manage to get dinner on the table only to watch your son throw all of his ketchup covered food on the floor.

It is now 8:00 pm. You survived the bedtime routine. The kids are finally asleep! Kudos to you. Dishes and laundry can now commence. By the time the house is cleaned up and the chores are done, you are too tired to even start a movie. You sip a glass of wine and attempt to watch Netflix without making lists in your head while your husband snores on the couch next to you.

Nobody ever said having two kids would be easy. It still boggles my mind how one kid feels like one kid, while two kids feels like 10 kids. I follow so many moms on Instagram and wonder what I am doing wrong. How are they making it look so easy while I can barely find the time to brush my teeth? I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually blowdried and curled my hair since my daughter was born in 2014. I don’t paint my nails anymore, I paint a three year olds instead. The only time I am ever able to get showered and dressed is if I wake before my children which means getting up between 5:00 and 6:00 am.

Evenings are even harder. There’s wrangling two kids into the bathtub, and then trying to keep them there long enough to wash them but not so long enough that they start trying to drown one another. There is crying and yelling, ultimatums, and empty threats. At the end of it all, the battlefield that is bedtime leaves you battered and scarred, and you have no energy left for anything but internet surfing and Facebook stalking.

But no matter how tough it gets, and man will it get tough, I wouldn’t change a second of it. Because for every tough second, there are 1000 sticky kisses and “Momma up’s” and sweaty hugs that make it all worth it. And boy, is it worth it.

That’s the funny thing about motherhood.

Read a previous post about motherhood truths, here.

Get To Know Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sara: Boots // Jeans // Top

On Chloe: Boots

On Ryan: Shoes // Top

For those of you new to the blog, I’m Sara, and I am a Nutritionist turned Kindergarten teacher. I have a passion for health and fitness but I am only human. French fries are my vice, and “no fry left behind” is my motto. I’m such a nerd. Seriously, such a nerd.

I live in a Western suburb of chicago with my husband and our two kids, Chloe (3 1/2) and Ryan (1 1/2). They are both January babies, and almost exactly two years apart. We also have a cat that I despise.

My husband is Dean, and he works in Chicago for a Freight Brokerage Company. We have known each other for almost 11 years, and I still have no clue what he does all day. All I know is that sometimes he has to travel, and I get to be a solo parent.

Dean and I met looong ago at a bar called Schoolyard in Chicago on a random Sunday. It was a time in my life when I was still fun. 😉 Dean is the funniest person you will ever meet, has 134,568,971 friends, and is always the life of the party. BUT it took a little while for me to warm up to him. Fun Fact – I thought Dean was incredibly obnoxious when I first met him. Haha.

Anywho, our relationship has been pretty text book – we dated for about four years, were engaged for one, and have been married for five. Dean is still the person that I want to talk to at the end of each day, makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and is my best friend. But yes, he drives me crazy sometimes. 😉

I got pregnant with Chloe one year after we had been married. She entered this world fast and furious. Literally, labor with her was about two hours. When we got to the hospital after my water broke, I was eight centimeters dialated and having NO contractions. But in true Chloe fashion, she decided she wanted out, feet first, so I was rushed into a very quick c-section. And of course, she was the “sassiest” baby in the hospital, or so we were told. Chloe is now the definition of “threenager”. She loves to lock herself in her room with her iPad, and frequently tells me to “leave her alone”. I am absolutely dreading the teenage years. But, full disclaimer, I couldn’t love her more!

Ryan came exactly two years later. I actually wrote a previous post about Ryan’s birth. He quickly became my little bubba. He is my love and my heart, and the snuggliest boy there ever was. He is such a momma’s boy, always asking for more kisses. He is also the wildest thing there ever was. He has no qualms about throwing himself off the top of the staircase or summersaulting off the couch. My boy, you keep my anxiety levels high and the Xanax flowing.

Dean and I have been very blessed in the in-law department. We are very fortunate that our families get along so well. It makes holidays just that much more fun, and immensely less stressful. No driving from house to house, we just simply celebrate together.

Currently, we are working each day to make the best lives for our kids. We are taking it day by day because, as you know if you have children, life can get pretty complicated.  We have our sights set on our dream home, and we hope to be in it by the time Chloe starts Kindergarten. Upon doing so, I will also promptly get a Golden Retriever.

I hope this post helped you to get to know my family and I a little better. Any questions? I’d love to hear them!

Books I’ve Read Lately

 

Joggers / Top
Kate Spade Mug (similar here) / basket / throw blanket (such a steal!)

Being a working mom with two toddlers, I think that I literally went about two years without reading a book. Not for lack of trying, it was simply I was too exhausted by the time I got both kids in bed to do anything other than stare mindlessly at the television.

Lately though, I have been making a conscious effort to watch less tv and read more books. That actually translates to “watch no tv in order to read a book”. I have a non-sleeping three year old (more on that later) so most nights I’ve got a good solid 20 minutes to myself before I actually need to go to sleep to function properly the next day.

Anyways, I digress.

So like I said, I am making a conscious effort to read each night. Here are five books, with reviews, that I have read lately.

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Honestly, this book for me was hard to get through. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautifully written. It has tons of positive reviews and rightfully so. It has a great plot, and character development but I felt it was slow. It was one of those books that also really made you think about your own life, and what if something like this ever happened to you, to your family. This book usually either made me fall asleep, or start crying because I would begin worrying about my own children. But…I am crazy and worry about ridiculous things so if you are not like me, you’ll probably enjoy this book!

2. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: I loved this book! It is a thriller, and disturbing, as all her books are but it is so well written that you tend to overlook some of the violence and gore. Warning: This book might cause sleepless nights!

3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I loved this book as well! If you are looking for a well written, well thought out story, that is not a thriller – this is it. You feel connected to the characters right away, and are rooting for them the entire time. You will not be disappointed with this book!

4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: Another great, very easy to read thriller that I read in two days which is no easy feat when you have two kids and absolutely ZERO time to yourself. As with all thrillers that I read, I absolutely cannot sleep after reading them. Maybe that’s why I finished the book so quickly? Anyways, I highly recommend this one as well.

5. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: This book was just okay. It’s a very easy read that touches on a very hot topic right now but I felt that it ended abruptly. There wasn’t much of a conclusion. The character development was there but it just kind of…ended. It was strange. I felt like I needed more closure with the characters. I hate being left to wonder. I need a good conclusion, damnit! 😉

So there it is! I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of these books. Currently on my reading list are Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

What’s on your reading list? Read any good books lately? I would love to hear your recommendations!

Untitled

What To Wear For Fall Family Photos

MZPhoto_014MZPhoto_017MZPhoto_018MZPhoto_019MZPhoto_020MZPhoto_021MZPhoto_022MZPhoto_005MZPhoto_007

On Ryan: top / denim / New Balance

On Chloe: dress (runs BIG) / shoes

On Sara: sweater / skirt / booties

On Dean: shirt / denim / shoes

 

I am not a big fan of posed photos, and neither are my children, so I was really happy that Melissa Zimmer Photography captured the essence of my wild and crazy family so perfectly.

We pumped the kids full of snacks for our 6pm photo shoot. I was a little worried about the timing since we normally eat dinner around 5:45, and my Type A self hates to break routine, but I was willing to make the sacrifice for the beautiful light I knew we would get.

I am not a fan of posed photos so we let the kids run around for the majority of the time, bribing them to smile with pizza afterwards.

I chose outfits based on what my very opinionated threenager picked out to wear. You should have seen her trying on dress after dress, twirling in the mirror, in the fitting rooms at Gap. I didn’t want us to be matchy-matchy but since Chloe chose a bright pink dress, I tried to pick more muted/neutral colors for the rest of us. My outfit was a last minute choice since the top I had originally picked to wear ended up being pretty see through in the afternoon light. Dean’s shirt is old but it complemented Ryan’s well. Ryan’s Hudsons are old, and run huge (they are 12mo) that his skinny self finally fits into them.

Our photos ended up being quick and painless. I recommended keeping any family shoots to 30 minutes or less. My kids were done after about 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorites as much as I do!

XO,

Sara

photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography

A Late 2 Month Update!

Yikes! I’m late on this post! I had meant to post a 2 month update on Ryan but at that time we were dealing with lots of sickness in our household. I had a 103 degree fever that lasted 5 days. It was not fun. Chloe was sick, then I got sick, then Ryan got sick. We just can’t stay healthy over here. Does anyone else feel this way? Last winter, when I was still nursing Chloe, she got sick one time. This winter, sans breastmilk, she has been sick every other week for the past 3 months. Then I catch it, then Dean and Ryan catch it. Vicious cycle. So anyways, I’m late on the 2 month post.

IMG_4376IMG_4375

(Poor guy was not feeling too hot when I took these.)

/ Ryan’s Splendid outfit, sold out, similar here / Jellycat elephant /

Here’s where we are now.

Ryan is almost 11 weeks old, and the sweetest baby there ever was. When I found out that I was pregnant the 2nd time around with a boy, I was nervous. Chloe had been the perfect angel baby; nursed easily, slept great, never cried. I had no idea what to expect from a boy, and frankly, after some horror stories I was told, I was terrified. But Ryan, knock on wood, has been such a calm, good natured, easy going baby. He smiles constantly, and I swear he is attempting to laugh. He eats every 3 hours from 8am to 5pm, cluster feeds from 5pm to 8pm, and then we give him a big bottle of pumped milk around 9pm. Then he sleeps from around 9 to 4 or 5 in the morning. I dream feed him for 10 minutes, and he goes back to bed until 8 am (of course, he still has the occasional waking every 3 hours to eat like last night). When I go to get him out of his Rock n Play in the morning, he is all smiles. Yes, he sleeps in the Rock n Play. And he will until I feel comfortable putting him in the crib. It makes me nervous having him sleep flat. Chloe slept in the Rock n Play until about 5 months, and she is the BEST (I just jinxed myself) sleeper – goes down in her crib without a fuss and always has, sleeps for 12 hours overnight, self soothes, and takes a 2-3 hour nap each day.

During the day, Ryan takes regular naps earlier in the day, and is awake much more in the late afternoon and early evening. He likes laying on his back and kicking around, he loves watching his sister, getting his diaper changed, car rides and the stroller, and he’s all about the charm if you talk and sing to him. He doesn’t mind tummy time if I prop him up on my legs (a suggestion from our physical therapist).

IMG_4413

(That face though)

We recently took advantage of the warm weather and enjoyed a zoo day. I brought my Phil and Teds stroller which folds up easily for the car, and nursed on a bench with my Cover Me  Poncho Nursing Cover. Chloe loved the lions and the crocodiles. She was not too sure about the snow leopards and the peacocks who tried to steal her chicken nuggets. Ryan enjoyed looking around at all the new shapes but my January baby wasn’t too keen on the sun in his face.

IMG_4433IMG_4401IMG_4400

Chloe’s pink Nikes / Chloe’s jacket / My Nikes / My purse, sold out, similar here /

As for me, I’ve been working out everyday. I’m running again, attending Shred 415 and pilates classes, and doing Beachbody workout videos when I can’t run outside or make it to a class (My favorites are the Total Body Cardio Fix and Dirty 30).

I. Love. To. Sweat.

IMG_4352

I’ve also lost about 8 lbs. I’d like to lose 5 more. That would get me right back at my pre-baby weight. I’d love to lose 10 more but know that with nursing, I’ll probably hang on to that extra 5 for awhile. I’m still not comfortable in my pre-baby clothes. I swear, my body bounced back so much faster with Chloe. Moms of 2 kids, why is it so much harder with the 2nd? My body is just so…different. None of my clothes look right on me.

And I go back to work in a few weeks. So I’m savoring every last moment with my precious baby boy; soaking in his scent as much as I can, kissing his perfect sweet cheeks. I am excited to see my colleagues and my students but cannot even imagine being away from Ryan. Although I will miss him something fierce (and truthfully, I already do), I am most anxious about my pumping schedule at work. When you teach, you can’t just walk out of the room when it’s time to pump. I figure if I pump before work (but how do I time that with needing to nurse Ryan??), and then pump twice more at work (but when???), I should hopefully be ok. The thought of my supply going down causes me major heartache.

Moms: How do you make it work??? I’d love any suggestions!

Terrible Twos, Maternity Leave, & Where We Are Now

Remember that Luv’s Diapers commercial  where “2nd kid, every mom is an expert?”

When Chloe was a baby, if we were leaving the house, her diaper bag became an arsenal of every possible thing we could need; whether it be a grocery store run or preparations for the zombie apocalypse, we were ready. I had everything from diapers to wipes to paci wipes to lotion to hand sanitizer to water bottles to blankies to burp cloths. Anything you can imagine was in my diaper bag. With Ryan, I throw a diaper in my purse, and we are out the door.

It’s a funny thing how much more relaxed you are with the second kid.

We initially thought that our newborn would be the tougher to handle, the more difficult of the two kids. We quickly discovered how wrong we were. Remember, newborns sleep an average of 16 hours/day. Newborns are easy to drag around in a carseat. You can easily plop a newborn down in bouncy seat, or wrap in a Moby, and get dinner on the table. Our two year old, however, is an energizer bunny combo Tasmanian devil. She. Does. Not. Stop. Moving.

And the terrible twos are real. It is an intense and heartbreaking time. I feel like I am walking on eggshells around my kid – you never know what might set her off, when she might snap. Maybe you poured the apple juice into the wrong cup; lets scream for 20 minutes. Maybe I refused to rub oatmeal in my hands; lets hit mommy and throw things.

Now, we all know just how EXCELLENT maternity leave in this country is. I love my job. The thought of not working never really crossed my mind. And I’ve actually found that I am a better mother when I am working. But with the job that I love comes 60 work days of unpaid maternity leave. If I do not return to work after those 60 work days, I lose my beloved job. Wah Wah.

If I’m going to be home for three months with the baby, wouldn’t I also want to keep my daughter home with me as well? Three months is not a very long time when we are thinking about a lifetime. Am I a horrible mom for preferring to continue to send her to daycare so I don’t have to deal with the Tasmanian devil while nursing Ryan? Doesn’t it make sense to keep her home for 3 months and save quite a bit of money?

We decided it was best to continue to send Chloe to daycare for many reasons. First, I need time to bond with Ryan. I was lucky enough to have almost a year home with Chloe before I decided to go back to work. It was wonderful. I learned what to do to make her smile, what every cry meant, I knew exactly what she needed. She became my whole world – the air I breathed. I also need this time, uninterrupted, with my son. I need to learn him inside and out.

I do find solo time for Chloe when I can. I’ll pick her up from daycare sans Ryan, and take her to Starbucks for a treat. Yes, I have a child who requests Starbucks. But in her defense, she also requests Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. She’s very well rounded 😉 …and I’m up for mother of the year.

Second, I need to rest and recuperate after all that my body has been through. I need to nurse in peace and quiet. I need to watch daytime tv in the same sweatshirt I’ve worn for three days in a row with my son asleep on my shoulders, and not feel guilty about that. I need his scent to linger with me, long after I’ve put him down to sleep. I need to be able to shower without someone screaming at me to find Mother Goose Club on the iPad.

Last, my daughter needs her routine. She needs her friends and her teachers. She needs to play and paint and count and sing. She needs all of those things she would not be getting at home with me right now. She doesn’t need to hear, “Mommy’s hands are busy” more times than she already does.

 

After 7 weeks, Ryan and I are slowly settling into a routine. He is beginning to sleep longer stretches at night (wahoo). He has periods of quiet alertness during the day where he enjoys just watching me and looking around. He rarely fusses (fingers crossed). He is a great eater, and is up to 11 lbs! He smiles a lot at us, especially his big sister, which she loves.

And I’m beginning to feel more like myself…slowly. I’ve finally begun working out again and eating clean (more on that later). I’ve started to lose some of the baby weight. I’ve been wearing something other than my same gray sweatshirt, although I’m still only wearing yoga pants. I’ve put on makeup a few times.

Chloe is happy and excited to go to school each day which makes mornings so much more enjoyable. She is also showing signs of wanting to potty train (yikes). She helps bathe Ryan at night and sings to him. She gives him kisses whenever she can.

My two babies, I hope you know how much you are loved. You are so loved.

photo-9

Squishy man and Chloe Bear, first day home as brother and sister.

Goodbye, My Friend

Yesterday, I said goodbye to a very dear friend, my dog Cody. I decided that, although totally off topic, to dedicate this blog to him, to share some of his story with you, in hopes that he will live on in cyberspace; that you will scratch your pet a little bit more tonight, take the “long” walk, give that extra treat.

I first found out Cody was sick about 2 months ago. He started limping on his front “driver’s side” leg, as my dad would call it. The vet said it was bone cancer, and I think the word he used was “devastating”. Devastating. I hate that word. I said it over and over in my head until it made me sick to my stomach. Which is not totally unusual, as I am always sick to my stomach. There was nothing we could do. It was just a matter of months, and we would lose our happy, slobbery, best dog in the world. To say that I haven’t cried everyday since I found out would be a lie. I was devastated, to say the least.

I contemplated tattooing his name on my wrist. That way it would be the first thing I saw, and thought about each morning. A little drastic, right? I mean, he is just a dog. But all you dog lovers know exactly what I’m talking about. That “need” for them to live on in your thoughts forever. Those of you who aren’t, well, probably think I’m nuts. If you’ve ever had a dog that’s been a member of the family, and hopefully you have, then you know just how hard it is to lose them. Dog’s are more than just pets – they are companions, best friends, therapists, and teachers. Although my dad always claimed that dogs don’t really love, I never believed him. After all, isn’t it from dogs that we learn to love someone completely, flaws and all? Cody taught me what it meant to be brave. Not once during those last two months did he whimper or whine. He sure did beg, but he never whined. Even down to his last hours, when he could barely walk, he still managed to greet us at the door, tail wagging, with his favorite stuffed duck.

Cody hated celery. He craved chocolate like a diabetic. He hated the ground. He preferred to sit in chairs and be with his humans. The “No dogs on the couch rule” my dad had instated upon adopting Cody lasted maybe 3 minutes. He wanted to be up off that floor, as close to us as he could be. Who could resist those baby paws, that puppy whimper? The answer to that was none of us; not myself, my mom, my brother, especially not my dad could resist those bright puppy eyes.

Cody lived an amazing 8 years; an ideal dog’s life. He had a family who loved him, and treated him as such. He was more than a dog – he was just as much a member of the family as anyone else. His happiness was shown through his smiles and laughter (yes, dogs do both, but their laughter sounds more like a “pant’), his slobbery kisses, and the frequent toys that he brought you each day. He was awarded for being the best dog in the world with furniture privileges and treats; sleeping in between my parents each night, and frequently getting the last of any meal. Some of his favorites were Starbucks and french fries.

All of the neighbors knew Cody, as he tended to wander down the block into their yards whenever he felt like it. The electric fence we had installed never seemed to faze him much. He loved car rides almost as much as he loved chocolate. At times, I could swear he literally asked to go with for a car ride. I would frequently hear this conversation between my mom and Cody, all the while watching Cody give mom his sad puppy eyes.

Mom: “You don’t really want to go for a car ride, it’s too hot, Code.” Then there would be a stare off between my mom and Cody. “Do you really want to come with, Code? It’s so hot.” One last stare down. “OK. Lets go for a car ride.” Then Cody would get very excited – whining, jumping, wagging his tail. Cody was a very smart dog.

Inevitably, in your lifetime, whether you are a parent or a teacher, you will experience the death of a pet, or have a child who has experienced the death of a pet. I have found a few great children’s books that may help explain to your child what happened to your beloved pet, or provide some sense of why it happened.

Everyone who has ever lost a pet needs to pick up Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant because of the simple quote:  “When dogs go to heaven, they don’t need wings because God knows that dogs love running best.” It is a great way to remember, and say goodbye, to your faithful friend.

Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker is a sweet story of a family’s love and respect for a dog they certainly viewed as a member of the family.

Last, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst is an excellent springboard for families of every religious persuasion to discuss what they feel happens after we die. The book helps children put into words many questions that they might be too young to articulate, and helps parents answer them for him as best you can. The writing is excellent, and perfectly captures the voice of a young boy.

Today, the house feels quiet and empty. Tears stream down my face as I write this story. At least I know he will always live on in my memory, and now this blog. They say that blood is thicker than water. Well in this case, I believe it’s slobber that’s thicker than water.

Until we meet again, Cody. Rest in peace…

Classroom Banter

Kids say the darndest things…

Here is a list of my top ten funniest quotes from my Kindergarteners. Sometimes it is hard to keep myself from laughing out loud.

  1. “Ms. S, Robert told me that he likes Jakyiah, and that he cheated on her.
  2. After school, one of my kids, Damonte, held up a Valentine with an owl on it.
    Me: “Damonte, can you tell me what that animal is?”
    Damonte: “It’s a hoot. Hoots come out at night.”
  3. “Ms. S, turkeys don’t have eyes. That’s make-believe.”
  4. “When I grow up, I want to be a vampire.”
  5. Today I showed my kids a picture of a man fishing by a pond in the woods. I asked them to look closely at the picture, and share what they saw. My favorite response, and most relevant: “My Mom got me a Snuggie for Christmas.”
  6. On Tuesday…
    Me: “girls stand up”
    Davion: (pointing at Chazz who is, in fact, a boy) “that girl is not standing!”
  7. And then on Wednesday…
    Me: “ok kindergarten, Chazz is picking up his book. Let’s watch as he walks to his table.”
    Gabari: “that’s not a boy!”
    Jekayla: “that is a boy!”
  8. Chazz: “But I am a boy!”
  9. Me: “Leroy, how old are you?”
    Christian: “Leroy is 3.”
    Amari: “No, Leroy is 2.”
    Me: “Actually, Leroy is 5.”
    The whole class: “Whhhaaat?”

And the top 10 funniest quote from kindergarten is…

  • Anthony: “Derek just peed on me!”
    Derek: “Anthony peed on me first!”

Needless to say, there is never a dull moment. But It does appear that we have a little gender confusion…and we need to have a conversation about proper hygiene.

Hello world!

It is the summer before my third year of teaching. The summer has just begun but I am already planning for the upcoming year.

I think back to my past 2 years of teaching. I spent my first year of teaching just getting my bearings, and to be honest, it was a mess….I was teaching Kindergarten at the time, 31 to be exact. 31 Kindergarteners in one of the worst neighborhoods I had ever seen. “I can do this!” was my motto. That motto sooned changed to “I can survive this!” I had no supplies or resources, and my students showed up on that first day, unregistered, and with no supplies. I spent hundreds of dollars on things such as paper or crayons – items that you would think a school would provide.

Well as you can see, I survived that first year. People ask me about it now, and I honestly don’t remember much. I think that I blocked the whole experience from my mind. Altough I do have a very strong memory of one of my 5 year-olds telling me to “suck his d*ck.” Lovely.

So that’s why I’m writing this blog! I spent that next summer preparing for my second year of teaching kindergarten, and it was 500 times better than that first year. I have all my lifesaving resources that I used to plan, and helpful hints I learned that first year. In the fall, I will be teaching 1st grade (looping, for all you educators out there), and I hope you follow me as I set up my classroom and begin the Daily Five for the very first time! Follow me in my journey!