Four Years Of Parenting

June 26, 2015


Four years ago today, I pushed my very first baby into this world after 24 blissful hours of labor (no). When the nurse came to check on us a few hours later, I cried so hard that I scared everyone in the room. As it turns out, it’s not really possible to be awake for three days without a little hysteria. The same goes with parenting.

01Just like last year, I am left without much to say beyond “Here we are” and “We’re doing the best we can.” Year three was good but hard. I expect nothing else for the coming year.

Waylon is a sensitive kid. If you google a checklist for what qualifies a Highly Sensitive Person, his face appears, crying over bees and the sound of a flushing toilet. He’s also an intense kid. So far this summer he’s used his time off to swim, pretend to be a space ranger, and play a little game called 900 Questions. Have you ever met a four-year-old? They are kind of like three-year-olds but louder. His redeeming qualities include impressive comedic timing and actually being great at Costco.

If I have any advice for new parents, it’s this: Expect nothing, assume nothing, and try not to drink too much in the evenings. Honestly sometimes the best thing to do for your child is take a deep breath and lie down in a dark room.

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I will never forget that night in June; just past midnight, Austin at my side, our midwife whispering he’s almost here. It was the start of one of my greatest love stories. No matter how hard it is to have a one, two, three, four-year-old–I love Waylon in the most desperate kind of way. He is my heart, the best part of this wild and precious life.

Happy Birthday to my first, sweet, impossible boy. You are a treasure.


More birthday fun here.

20 Tips On Writing From Smart Women

June 25, 2015

Barbara-Kingsolver-001Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
Barbara Kingsolver

MAThe only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
Margaret Atwood

CSBuried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there… You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by the grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done. We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce.
Cheryl Strayed

ADDo not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.
Annie Dillard

Toni MorrisonIf there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
Toni Morrison

ALYou own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
Anne Lamott

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Sylvia Plath

JoyceCarolOatesBe daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.
Joyce Carol Oates

zadie-smithProtect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
Zadie Smith

APEveryone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea…. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.
Amy Poehler

Madeleine-LEngleI have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.
Madeleine L’Engle

TFIt’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.
Tina Fey

Doris LessingAdvice to young writers? Always the same advice: learn to trust our own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad – including your own bad. 
Doris Lessing

JKYou have to resign yourself to wasting lots of trees before you write anything really good. That’s just how it is. It’s like learning an instrument. You’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That’s just part of the learning process. And read a lot. Reading a lot really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.
JK Rowling

ALIf something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.
Anne Lamott

MAYou can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.
Maya Angelou

AEImagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
Anne Enright

On writing, my advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. — Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless. —- Go where the pleasure is in your writing. Go where the pain is. Write the book you would like to read. Write the book you have been trying to find but have not found. But write. And remember, there are no rules for our profession. Ignore rules. Ignore what I say here if it doesn’t help you. Do it your own way. — Every writer knows fear and discouragement. Just write. — The world is crying for new writing. It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any. Good luck.
Anne Rice

cherylI’d stopped being grandiose. I’d lowered myself to the notion that the absolute only thing that mattered was getting that extra beating heart out of my chest. Which meant I had to write my book. My very possibly mediocre book. My very possibly never-going-to-be-published book. My absolutely nowhere-in-league-with-the-writers-I’d-admired-so-much-that-I-practically-memorized-their-sentences book. It was only then, when I humbly surrendered, that I was able to do the work I needed to do.
Cheryl Strayed

ALPerfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
Anne Lamott


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Five Ways To Find Friends, Create A Village, And Possibly Creep Out Your Neighbors

June 24, 2015

I don't need another friend

We’ve been talking a lot about the village lately. I know it can been annoying, especially if you’re a cranky introvert with an aversion to small talk. But sometimes you have to suck it up for the sake of your fragile sanity that has been teetering on the edge of spilled cereal and long Wednesday evenings alone. Also, have you ever tried on skinny jeans in poorly lit dressing rooms? The older I get, the more I realize how much we need each other.

Some signs you might need a village:

1) You recently had a baby.
2) You have multiple babies/children/people asking for sandwiches.
3) You often find yourself hiding in the bathroom because it’s quieter there.
4) Your best friend is a fictional character who lives in Netflix.
5) Your spouse works long hours.
6) Your spouse works fine hours but is not willing to discuss the psychotic undertones of Gillian Flynn novels.
7) You are a human.

Here’s the thing, I’m not very good at making friends. But I have learned a few things as a husband in medical school, the realities of adulthood, and children have forced my hand.  Five ways to find friends, create a village, and possibly creep out your neighbors listed below. May our conversations move past our insecurities and right onto childhood terrors and the joys of night snacking. We are in this together.


1) Research it.

What’s the worst part about making friends? Actually meeting them! Believe me, no one wants to do this part. First friend dates are just as uncomfortable as romantic ones. What do I wear? What do I say? What do I do with my hands? Just as difficult: actually finding friends to date. You will never know if Karen is your new Chipotle champion if you never actually meet her. Ideas: Facebook groups, book clubs, mutual friends, church things, school parking lot, special interest clubs, the park, Zumba class, the mall bathroom. I’ve even met people on Instagram (hello Frances). It’s never easy, but when you find someone else who also loves HBO and hates off-brand cream cheese, it’s all been worth it.


2) Create it.


Parents aren’t the only ones who need a village, but they do fall under a specific category of needs. For example, the need to get away from their kids. Paying for a babysitter is always worth it, but if you’re like me and can’t afford all the help you need, babysitting swaps are a mother’s best friend. Some areas even have whole babysitting co-ops that use things like playing cards instead of money to keep track of hours. My friend Mo and I are starting one in our small town to provide free childcare for things like writing, self improvement, date nights, and solo grocery trips. Some ideas on how to start one here and here. Women helping women. There’s no better thing.

3) Theme it.

tina fey

Sometimes it’s easier to plan things with new friends if there’s a theme involved. Things on our rotation: Game nights, trivia nights, book club, movie club, and pool night. Totally nerdy but who doesn’t like creating complex trivia games with corresponding snacks? Book club is an especially great starting point because it gives you A) a reason to get together with B) something to talk about besides the weather and potty training. Ours is an open invite every month. We rotate houses, book genres, and welcome nursing babies with open arms. You don’t even have to read the book. Movie club is new and similar except we meet weekly instead of monthly as part of a 10 Step Program to surviving residency. We rotate houses, meet after our kids are in bed, and wear our pajamas. The host picks a surprise movie and sends out a snack hint the week before. So far we’ve watched Wild, Still Alice, and The Theory Of Everything.


4) Schedule it. the-secretary-cant-book-a-flight-for-tomorrows-business-meeting-89585

Pro tip: “Let’s do lunch sometime” is not an acceptable way schedule a lunch unless you plan on never actually having the lunch. My college friends and I have been getting together twice a year for almost a decade because from the very first gathering, we’ve always picked the next reunion’s date before we leave. It will always be hard to coordinate seven family’s schedules, but it’s impossible without planning ahead. The same goes with local friends. If no weekly or monthly plans are set in place, it is much easier to hibernate in my house like a reluctant sloth. Putting things on the calendar is the only way busy adults see each other on a regular basis.


5) Show up.


Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the most awkward of them all? It’s me. I’m the most awkward. Over the past 30 years, I have come up with a gamut of excuses for getting out of interactions with people I don’t know. New co-workers in the lunchroom? I’ve got to get to an important financial meeting! Baby shower brunch for a long lost cousin? Sorry, sore throat and a touch of vertigo! But just like Reverend Carrie Bradshaw would probably say in one of her earth shattering monologues, “I’ve come to learn that showing up is half the battle.” If I wouldn’t have studied Spanish with Jen or started a book club with Mo, I wouldn’t have two of the most important circles of women to help raise my kids and give me advice on sports bras. We can do this.


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Friday Snacks {6.19.15}

June 19, 2015


IMG_9623 Five Links To Read

The Pressure To Look Good + I Tried Living My Life Like A Fashion Blogger On Instagram + 11 More Things You Didn’t Know About Friends Even If You’re A Superfan + All The Regular Things + Change The Story


One Thing To Love

This Etsy Shop.


Laurel Opal from Commonly Paper Goods has a degree in theology and lives just north of Chicago with her husband and sweet toddler daughter. Laurel makes things like these beautiful custom feather illustrations for your home or nursery and these gorgeous first year calendars for mamas and babies. Laurel opened her shop simply because she enjoys making things that other people might also enjoy. Her shop is affordable, classy, and well made. I can’t wait to hang our feather design on the gallery wall that is about four years in the making (I’m looking at you, Austin). Use coupon code KBAER for 10% off through 6/22/15.

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Shop // Instagramfeather


One Truth For The Week



Happy Friday


Thank you to everyone who shared Internet gems. You make Fridays better.

PS: I just ordered three more pairs of leggings because they suck that mama belly right in.

12 Truths On Being True To Yourself From Smart Women

June 17, 2015

CherylYou don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history of economics or science or the arts.
Cheryl Strayed

QuindlenBut you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.
Anna Quindlen

dollyFind out who you are and do it on purpose.
Dolly Parton

amyI have realized that mystery is what keeps people away, and I’ve grown tired of smoke and mirrors. I yearn for the clean, well-lighted place. So let’s peek behind the curtain and hail the others like us. The open-faced sandwiches who take risks and live big and smile with all of their teeth. These are the people I want to be around. This is the honest way I want to live and love and write.
Amy Poehler

Shirley MacLaineI think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I’ve written for myself, and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part.
Shirley MacLaine

judyAlways be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.
Judy Garland

oprahWhat I know for sure is that if you want success, you can’t make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant, and the success will naturally follow. You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.
Oprah Winfrey

Dr. Mae JemisonNever limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination. 
Mae Jemison

lizThere is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
Elizabeth Gilbert

barbaraThe very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.
Barbara Kingsolver

tina feyAmy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers’ room, waiting for the Wednesday night read-through to start. […] Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except it was dirty and loud and “unladylike.” Jimmy Fallon […] turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it.” Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit. With that exchange, a cosmic shift took place. Amy made it clear that she wasn’t there to be cute. She wasn’t there to play wives and girlfriends in the boys’ scenes. She was there to do what she wanted to do and she did not fucking care if you like it.
Tina Fey

amy2I will say it again. Ambivalence is key. You have to care about your work but not the result.You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look. I realize this is extremely difficult. I am not saying I am particularly good at it. I’m like you. Or maybe you’re better at this and I am. You will never climb Career Mountain and get to the top and shout, ‘I made it!’ You will rarely feel done or complete or even successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other. Our ego is a monster that loves to sit at the head of the table, and I have learned that my ego is just as rude and loud and hungry as everyone else’s. It doesn’t matter how much you get; you are left wanting more. Success is filled with MSG.
Amy Poehler


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