Monday, January 30, 2017

The Season of Colic

I sat in my hospital bed, sore and lonely. I was nursing my beautiful new baby, yet again, through the pain. I have been here before, I shouldn't have been surprised by the pain. She was crying and inconsolable and I was overwhelmed. My eyes were puffy from crying, I could feel it.


Maternity leave is a blur for the most part. There are things that stick out such as some sort of white noise in every room because that is the only sound that would quiet her cries. Bouncing, lots of bouncing, bouncing in the bathroom because the fan was running, bouncing in the kitchen in front of the running stove vent, bouncing outside to keep her from waking the toddler. Walks in the stroller with people looking as I tried so hard to find the perfect white noise for her on my cell phone. Google at 5pm and 7pm and 3am. Venting to my mom friends and the godsend that is Amazon Prime. Receiving shipments daily that contained colic calm, gas drops, gripe water, baby heating pads, probiotic drops, and even the Windi (just google it, it's not a moment I am proud of). Desperation, that is a clear feeling I remember along with helplessness. My baby was miserable, if she was awake and not crying it was a good day. I had no answers but I tried everything I possibly could to figure it out. I never stopped trying. I blamed my diet, my oversupply, I thought she had reflux, I think somewhere between the oversupply and reflux I landed on "it's just colic".

"Just colic" are two words that should not ever be said together. Colic is life changing. Colic feels defeating. Colic makes you feel like a failure. Colic makes you doubt every decision you make, from your breakfast choices to how you hold you child. Colic is maddening. Colic makes you angry and then guilty for being angry at this little helpless child and then sad for this child, she must be in so much pain. I clearly remember crying right along with her many nights. She would be crying, I would be bouncing her and crying myself.

There was one night I remember in particular, seven weeks into this new life of ours. I walked out of her room, tears in my eyes. I needed to step away and tag in my husband. He looked at me and said "Well that's not too bad, it took seven weeks for you to get to this point". I looked at him and said "Not quite, I cry almost every night". He's not at all to blame for not being as involved in this process as I was. He was taking care of our oldest and since I was nursing and not pumping, he couldn't really take over the feedings. During those nights I felt very alone. I felt alone even though I read post after post about other moms experiencing this same thing and despite everyone giving me a time frame where it would likely get better, it felt like I'd never get there.

Most people said by twelve weeks, all of this would go away. This felt like unattainable. I wasn't sure how much more I could take. It made me extremely sad to know that the only twelve weeks I would get alone with her would be spent in this state. It felt impossible.

Despite all of my doubt and dread, she did get better. Around ten weeks she stopped crying as much and we even had a nice ending to my maternity leave. Those ten weeks were some of the hardest times in my life. I felt like a bad mother for not being able to fix her, not even mentioning the lack of time I was spending with my oldest.

In the end this is all a distant memory. I now have a spunky almost two year old that is still a lot of work but it's a much easier type of work in comparison. Our nights are now spent reading her favorite books, which lately has been "all of them", instead of bouncing and crying together. Our days together are full of painting and bubbles and dress-up. It gets better.

If you are in this season of life, I see you. I see your tears and I see your frustration. Focus on the end, have hope for the end. It will end. Your little baby will get bigger and grow out of this phase. You will become a normal, functioning member of your community again. You are doing everything right. You are a great mom even though I know at time it doesn't feel like it. Pretty soon you will be worrying about teething and crawling and introducing new foods. Motherhood is never void of opportunities for worry but this specific season of worry will end, I promise.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

All In A Touch

When my husband and I were engaged to be married, a family friend who would be our wedding officiant recommended a book for us to read titled "The 5 Love Languages". This book started out by explaining how everyone gives and receives love in different ways such as personal touch or quality time. The author then described the different love languages and there was a quiz in the back to see which love language we each had.

We've referred to the book many times, seeing how not only our love language affected our relationship but how our own love languages changed over time as our priorities changed. We came quite versed in these, taking the quiz a few times throughout our marriage. We also began recognizing and understanding others love languages through everyday interactions. When Henley was born she always needed us close by, even just to touch us with one hand. I knew from the start her love language was personal touch.

There were many, many hours spent driving around with my arm stretched into the backseat to hold her hand as she was rear-facing, even as young as two months old. Up until about a year ago, she would always have her fingers in her mouth and would pinch our hands or elbows with her other hand, sometimes causing pain with those tiny little nails. Hanging out before bed on the couch is typically spent touching side-by-side.  Even now, when I lay with her to go to sleep she is rubbing my arm or pinching my elbow.

Fell asleep at 17 months holding my hand through the crib

In the moment this can get tiring. My arm would ache on long drives being stretched towards the back of the car. After a long day of work I just wanted to be left alone, not constantly touching or being pinched. I may have snapped a time or two that I just need space, immediately feeling bad. Thinking back now, this little person was comforted just by touching our hand, all fears and concerns melted away. Her pinching your elbow became a great compliment, if she felt comfortable and trusted you, she would melt into you and would start pinching. 

Now that Macie is getting older we are already starting to see what we think her love language is, Word of Affirmation. Macie loves hearing she's done a good job. When she goes on the potty she pops up (before even wiping at times) and runs into the other room to tell Daddy "pee pee!!!" with so much excitement. She loves getting a rise and making people laugh, sometimes being a little mischievous but even then it's pretty cute. 

I'm not sure if these perceived love languages will continue as they get older but I love feeling like I have a one-up on them, knowing how they feel love and being conscious to let them be loved that way. If you haven't read the book I highly recommend it. It's interesting to see things you never really put into words describing exactly how you feel. 

Hope you guys are having a good weekend. I am glad for the weekend to be here, this Tuesday alone felt like two days long. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Finds

Friday! I had a decent week although long. We are at the end of our fiscal year so for an accountant, this is where all of the fun begins---closing out the year and being audited. It will be a busy few weeks but shouldn't be too bad overall.

I have stumbled across some really great things lately so I thought I'd share.

First is this bag. I want this bag reeeeeaallly bad. The grey is a perfect color for me, the size, the inside, the slouchiness (probably not an actual word) is so perfect. We started 2017 with Mint budgets to keep us on track for our savings and debt paying goals so I will need to save my budget for two months in order to afford it, I think it will be worth it. I actually have a tab of this purse up on my work computer right next to my inbox so I see it and don't forget to not spend on other things.

I'm not a huge Valentine's Day fan, I think it's a cute holiday but we usually just exchange candy and cards---no real gifts or expensive dates. With this said, I think the idea of "Galentine's Day" for your girlfriends is so cute. Elisabeth Ashlie has a Galentine's box you can send your bestie to show some love. I just love this idea and the goods are adorable and practical! I saw this referral on one of my favorite blogs---The Small Things.

The book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner. She speaks in this book of just having and needing and chasing less. She doesn't have any unheard of ideas but just hearing her approach and how she got there is very easy to relate to. I also love that she isn't perfect. Since Christmas I've really been struggling with how much "stuff" we have. This was a refreshing read.

I've been working out on lunch the last few weeks here and there which seems to be the best option for my work schedule. My biggest complaint is the hair situation. If my hair is flat ironed I get an indention for the hair tie that I need to iron out. I saw these online at Sephora and they have pretty good reviews. They are hair ties that resemble the curly shoelaces from the 80's with the promise to not leave an indention. For $8 I think I am going to have to try it out---a small investment if it ends up working.  [side note for the hair situation: Dry Bar Detox is THE BEST dry shampoo I have found and I've tried probably close to twenty different ones].

This song from the Moana soundtrack. I'm not sure if it's the tune or the words that sit with me but it is so beautiful and I love the meaning.

Lastly, I just read an article that Amazon is offering a monthly subscription for $19.99 for STEM toys called STEM Club. Parents select an appropriate age group and Amazon will ship an age-appropriate new or Amazon exclusive toy that focuses on the areas of science, technology, engineering, or math. I think this is awesome. I love that more and more companies and individuals are focusing on the importance of STEM, especially for little girls!

I am heading off to get Henley asleep after a 30 minutes crying battle with Macie then it's Grey's catch up from last night. Happy Friday friends!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Maintaining the Balance

I am currently reading a series of essays posted by the Atlantic about women’s ambition, specifically what happens to it after we leave college. The essays are enlightening and I see hints of myself peppered all throughout. The basis of the series focuses on a group of 37 women that went to college together and graduated in 1993. Two of the women have interviewed the others to see where they are in life and in their careers over twenty years later, how did they get there, and what drove their decisions. The entire time I’m reading this I am thinking of my own journey. Here I am, over ten years post-college, how did I get here? How much of my decisions were need-based versus what I truly wanted.

Recently I’ve been working to be more tuned into my life, both professionally and personally, trying to be very cognizant of all of my roles and operating at levels in these roles that I am proud of while making decisions that are best for me and my family.

I graduated college in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Accounting degree. I was hired by Deloitte and Touche right out of college. I wasn’t fully sure what I was getting into but I knew this was a highly coveted career path so I jumped in with all that I could give. I started working in September and got married in November. I was working 40-50 miles from my home and putting in at least 60-70 hours a week, weekends included often. I started my Master’s and was studying for the CPA exam. I was doing well, I understood the work and I was good at it but once 6pm rolled around, I was miserable. I liked the work, just not enough to miss out on everything else I really loved. I was a newlywed in a new stage of life---adulthood---working and only working. After about a year, my husband and I decided this lifestyle was not a fit for us. At this point we had been together ten years but for the first time ever, we were living in our own place and entering this new season together. My career was not jiving with my personal life.

We moved from Miami and I got a job with a smaller CPA firm doing the same thing but on a much smaller scale, working between 50-60 hours a week, home most nights by six, but with the added complication of more travel. This job worked out for us better. I was able to graduate from my Master’s program and obtain my CPA License. I had more free time and I was still doing something I liked and was good at, we managed the travel time well. However around the four year mark, I was tired. I was tired of not being able to make plans between January and April. I was tired of traveling over 60% of the time. My last straw was walking into my hotel room in a very small town after a long day with takeout, greeted by flowers for my anniversary. I wasn’t even present to celebrate my anniversary with my husband, my number one. This was no longer what I wanted.

I started looking for jobs the next week. I interviewed for a large public company right before Thanksgiving and luckily was hired mid-December, starting January 4th----no more busy season for me. I was elated. This was a perfect fit for me and I knew this would be somewhere I would be challenged but yet could maintain a work/life balance. I have been here six years now.

Throughout my time here I have openly put my family first. Most nights I am out of the office by 5:15 but willing to work late when needed. I spend my lunch break at the gym or running errands. My boss is aware that for me, my family is number one. All of this works, my boss has three girls and even though they are now grown, he gets it and hasn’t put me in a position that I will be unhappy.

Even though this is what I want for myself, I at times feel the struggle with it, maybe it's a fear of failure, fear of being looked at differently from my peers. With this article, I now see I’m what the essay refers to as the “Scale Backers”. This group wants to still have a career while being present at home. I relate to this. This struggle I had been having at work, wondering if I should have more responsibility even though deep down I knew I didn’t want it. I love being able to be home and cook dinner. I love having the weekends to go to gymnastics or swim lessons but in the bustle of it all, I wasn’t seeing it. Luckily I have an amazing husband that not only helps a ton around the house but is also amazing at talking me off of the ledge. I’ve started seeing my career in a different light.

Every person is different and everyone finds rewards in different ways. For me personally, I am rewarded by both my professional and personal life. I look forward to this newfound internal freedom, to love the days I’m mentally challenged at work and also to love when I am home at 5:30 chasing toddlers outside. Not every day is perfect, sure there are days I cry dropping the girls off at daycare or days when I have to leave work despite being in the middle of something big but that’s life. We can’t have it all and I will work to keep reminding myself of that. I am enough and I am doing enough.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

First Snow

I've mentioned that we are in Virginia this weekend visiting family. We really hoped we would get to see snow since the girls have never seen it being from Florida and all. It doesn't look like we are going to see snow falling but we were able to go to a mountain and play in it. We went to Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, PA, about an hour from my in-laws and the girls did some tubing. 

She kept eating the snow, I normally wouldn't have cared but it was dirty!

The snow pants were almost too much for me to bear, almost feel the need to plan something else cold so the girls have an opportunity to wear it again. 

Hope you are having a nice, relaxing Sunday. We definitely are.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happenings Right Now

Happenings in my life...

  • I've just started this book recently, I'm not too far into it just yet but I've already highlighted some great passages. This is the line of the summary of the book that really hit home:
    • In Chasing Slow, Erin turns away from fast and fame and frenzy. Follow along as she blazes the trail toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—one that will refresh your perspective, renew your priorities, and shift your focus to the journey that matters most.

  • I have been obsessed with all thing Coffee + Crumbs lately--the blog, the Year of Creativity course, and the podcasts. Their podcasts are very relevant to the season I am in, touching on topics such as parenting, being a working moms, and life in general. The guests on the podcasts have all been great, the recommendations have all been things I have loved so far. My reading list is growing and growing, mostly from their recommendations. 

  • This spray promises to help with prep and prime and is an overall complexion spray. I love the way this makes my skin feel and I can actually see complexion improvement. Honestly I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that my skin has been great lately but either way I love the way this makes my face feel. I spray it on my face morning and night. 

Planning Macie's 2nd Birthday Party (Seriously?!)
  • I cannot fathom that Macie is almost two. I started planning her birthday party last week. I am a little "partied out" from the holidays and was considering not hosting a party for her but I know I will regret it if I decide to forego a party. We are planning a farm theme since she is obsessed with all sorts of animals.

Watching This is Us
  • When the trailer for This is Us was circulating around the internet I was very interested, I had high expectations for this show, expecting something comparable to Parenthood.The first few episodes were great but not quite the emotional, gut-wrenching show I was hoping for. I do still like it, I just wish is was one step further, one more level of emotionally raw. Despite this, I am still enjoying it and I'm glad it's back from holiday break. 

Wearing my Mama Bear Shirts
  • The buffalo plaid one is my current favorite but these shirts are so cute and comfy. Perfect for a casual day with some distressed jeans and Toms. 

We are hanging out in Virigina, trying to stay warm. Tonight we attempted to go see Sing with the family. The girls did pretty well for a little over an hour but the night ended with tears and meltdowns. I think Henley might be getting a cold, she's pretty congested and was very emotional leaving the theater. 

Still trying to decide what to do tomorrow but for now I'll leave you with this, hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Our Little Gymnast

Last August we started Henley in gymnastics classes. About a year earlier, when Henley was 2.5, we tried ballet classes and she hated it. It was a fight each week to get her to go into the class. She cried and fought until we finally decided it was not something she was interested in, or simply she was too young. A year later we did a free gymnastics class and she has loved it ever since. She runs right to the class each week without even looking back. She really enjoys the movements and activities they do and I have already noticed improvement in her flipping and balance beams. Last week she even did the high balance beam with some assistance.

My mom joined us last week for her class and I tried out the 25mm lens with my camera. I recently got an adapter for my Olympus to be able to use my husband's lenses on my camera and I'm having a blast so far.

It's so fun watching her get into something she likes. I'm torn between hoping she wants to develop her skill and praying we aren't spending every weekend in ten years traveling for gymnastic competitions. 

We are in Virginia this weekend for five days visiting my husband's mom and family. It's nice and cool here so we are going to enjoy some snow play today. My Florida girls have never seen snow so I am pretty excited to see them playing in it. Hope you are enjoying your Friday.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Me Time

Do you ever feel like your mind is in a thousand different places? I usually enjoy multitasking. I love being busy and I love having a lot going on around me. On the flip side though I've learn that I need time to myself to unwind, to feel human.

Lately I have made an effort to be more conscious of setting aside time for me, whether that time is spent relaxing or working on something creative. Often times these things are opposites and I feel the pull when it comes time to me to decide how to spend my free time.

During the day my mind is mostly busy with work. Of course there are times when I will get an email or hear a song that will remind me of something I want to do or something I need jot down but overall, I am set with my tasks at hand until I leave there for the day. From the time I get home until Macie's bedtime around 7:30, we are busy with dinner, baths, playtime, reading books, and bedtime. Once Macie is in bed sleeping, I am available for a little me time, sometimes however this is where the struggle begins.

Something along these lines is a familiar internal battle I have....

Should I take a relaxing bath and read?

Should I work on my Year of Creativity, I want to blog, improve my writing, and connect with the awesome group of women on this journey with me.

I could always grab my markers and spend some time lettering, or coloring and wind down for a bit with a glass of wine.

Do I go sit with Henley for an hour of snuggles, playtime, or TV with just her?

Should I start a movie with my husband to spend some time with him?

And as always, I could work on something around the house --- laundry, bathroom cleaning, picking up, etc.

It never ends. I want to do it all---I want to read all 27 notifications on Facebook and I want to read all of the unread blogs in my feed. I want to take a long, hot bath while reading a few chapters of my book. I want to close out the night with an awesome blog post that you all will love to read but realistically, that can't happen.

My mind is this open browser with a million tabs open and sometimes I feel like a toddler haphazardly clicking the mouse, opening and closing them all at random. Most nights I can successfully choose one of these options but sometimes I can't decide and end up being sucked into my phone by default and waste the whole night away, leaving me frustrated with myself.

I am glad I took the time to decide what I want to work on for me for this year because I feel now at least I am aware of the struggle. Before I wasn't even aware of these internal struggles I was having. I would just end up in bed dissatisfied at the end of the night because I didn't actually do anything, even becoming bitter at times.

I'm not perfect and I am still working to find the right balance for me but I'm getting there. I've had some great nights lately, even if it's just two hours of doing something that I want to do. I feel like acknowledging things I want to work on or things I want to do helps me to focus and not feel overwhelmed, therefore making me a happier, more relaxed, wife and mother.

Tonight was spent working on some watercolor hand lettering and finishing this blog along with some tickle time with Henley. I am not one to believe it's possible to have it all but sometimes it can feel pretty damn close.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Where the Comfort Zone Ends...

I started my first blog in 2009, Idle Banter (it's still out there, check it out if you dare!). At the time I was a part of an online community of mostly newlyweds, all embarking on a similar journey, an exciting time in our lives, in love and relatively unencumbered. I was working as an auditor, typically between 40 and 60 hours a week and traveling for work often. I have always been a creative person, my mother is very creative and her influence has had a great impact of my own creative nature. My career at that time did not provide me much opportunity for the creative outlets I had come to love: sewing, scrapbooking and baking. Many of the women in my online community were bloggers or had recently become bloggers and it seemed like a great way to do something outside of my everyday work. I had never been a writer, I still don't consider myself a writer, so I wasn't sure if this is something I was capable of but I was intrigued, could this be the creative outlet I was so badly missing? I really felt out of my league at the time, but thought 'why not'. I focused on things I could blog about while traveling or working long hours like fashion, makeup, trends, foods, etc. My blog did pretty well considering it really had no vision and I essentially just flew by the seat of my pants.

In 2012, my husband and I decided to start trying for a family. My blog was tired and I felt I had outgrown it. I decided to start a new blog that would mostly be all of the things I loved (and would soon come to love) like traveling, running, and eventually babies, Our Own Kind of Paradise was born. I did weekly pregnancy updates that in the end were probably mostly viewed by family, I'm sure of it. I have posted things we've done, places we've traveled, recipes, and a DIY craft here and there. During this time I also started an Etsy shop creating clothing and accessories for kids. I was busy, working every night from Henley's bedtime to 10pm making headbands and leggings or embroidering shirts. My blog accumulated dust and eventually went months without posts. I ran my shop for about two years before life just got larger than the amount of free time I had.

Fast forward to 2017. I have two girls and work a full-time job as an Accounting Director. I have learned so much about myself in the last four years. I have learned that I am an introvert in almost every sense of the word. I have learned that I love my family more than life and would give anything for them. I have learned that giving myself time alone helps me be a better wife and mother. I have learned that I need to be creative to be me, to be happy.

I resurrected the blog about two months ago and it finally clicked that this is a perfect creative outlet for me at the moment. I can put all of the words and thoughts rushing around inside me into print (type?) and hopefully share it with you all. I've been enjoying it more than I really ever have before but I want more. I want to be better.

I came across the Year of Creativity from Coffee + Crumbs which is a year long online course of monthly lessons themed and designed to inspire your creative side. From their site:

The Year of Creativity is for the woman who is uninspired, disconnected from her creative self, longing for something more. This program is for the woman who wants to dedicate this year to rediscovering inspiration in order to make beautiful things.

When I initially read about it, I was interested but I wasn't sure it would be a good fit for me. I was intrigued and kept coming back to the website. I was reading more and more about it and before I could talk myself out of it I signed up. I've been a fan of C+C for a while, their essays are so inspiring and real. I immediately thought how much I would love to be able to create like that.

The first lesson started January 1 and I am so excited to get started working with all of these amazing women but mostly, in this moment, I am scared. I am a CPA, I am not a writer. These people are real writers and bloggers. I am majorly out of my comfort zone and while I'm mostly excited about it, I am still nervous and feeling vulnerable. I'm confident I will embrace this journey and get the most out of it that I can and this is the last moment that I am going to let myself feel undeserving to be included. Tomorrow I will log in to my lesson and write as if I have been writing my whole life, because in my heart, I believe I have been. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

One Little Word: Intention

Yesterday, New Year's Day, I started looking around Facebook, Instagram, and the Blog World at various posts and hashtags and ended up down quite an enlightening rabbit hole. I came across the hashtag #onelittleword and fell completely in love. I have heard of people picking a "word" for their year but when I sat down to think through what I wanted for 2017, I couldn't really choose a word that I thought fit me so I didn't.

Well a few weeks and tons of great posts later, I have chosen my word. I was in the shower and it clicked. Everything on my list really comes down to one word. Intention. I want to be intentional this year. I don't want to be that person that just rides through and ends up four months down the road off track from where I want to be. I've been excited about my lists of goals and to-do's but this clarity has me so pumped! Intention!! So easy but it just took me some time to get there. 

As with everything in my life, to the planner I went. I setup a #onelittleword page in my notes section and went to town with some lettering, definition, and quotes that really capture what I want to see for myself this year. 

Today is my last day of my twelve day streak so I am going to go soak up every minute of it. 

Have a good day!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year's

We spent the night evening with the girls and my mom. A little Target decor and brownies made for a great little night. The girls loved sparklers and throwing confetti.


I hope you had a great 2016 and if you didn't, good news---it's over!! Cheers to 2017, may your year be filled with hope, love, and anything else you desire.