Tag Archives: Friends

The End Of Preschool

May 20, 2015

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When Waylon started preschool last year, I pretended to be confident in our decision when really I was just another sociopath mom suppressing nervous gas and ugly crying in the school parking lot. It was so hard to send my first baby off into the world. It didn’t help that the first few weeks we had to go through the Orphan Annie routine at drop off. You know, the PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME sobs followed by murder screams and sad, Disney eyes. It was a whole thing.

Then one day, a miracle happened. He stopped crying! They tell you it will happen, but like so many “it gets better” promises in parenthood, it’s hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. A year later, and I saw the whole thing. I watched him want to get dressed in the morning and ask to stay for lunch. I watched him get braver, grow taller, and be a friend to everyone. A few months in and he even stopped looking over his shoulder to say goodbye. It broke my heart in all the best ways.

We know teachers are sent from baby Jesus, but there is a special VIP spot in heaven for preschool teachers who send you texts saying “He is having fun” and “Thank you for trusting us with him.” I will cry about it until the day I die. Women helping women.

I know I’m not the first overly sentimental mom to send my first, precious, newborn spawn to preschool, but I will never forget this first year of school. The feelings in my gut and the tears on my face. It was the start of something. The beginning of the very long process of letting go.

It’s a funny thing, to be in charge of a life. We hold it like a robin’s egg even though it’s more like the bird itself; wild, independent, slowly slipping away.

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Waylon is saying goodbye to his best friend Ginger next week. A look back on their four years together. There’s just something about that first best friend.

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Happy Galentine’s Day!

February 13, 2015

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Hello! Happy Galentine’s Day!

What’s Galentine’s Day you ask?

Only the greatest day of the year.

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Every year on February 13th, Leslie Knope fans gather together with their girlfriends to celebrate friendship and eat all of the things. Even if you don’t watch Parks & Rec, it’s a great holiday to adopt just for the sake of chocolate covered fruit and margaritas.

This year I threw myself head first into the festivities because celebrating women is one of my very favorite things to do. Gift bag goodies included nail polish, candles, hand towels, magnets, pins, Galentine’s Day cards, and even a Galentine’s Day shirt.IMG_2002

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I read once that building a community around you is the best thing you can do for your health. I didn’t know how much this would be true until I had kids.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to raise a mother. Today I celebrate the women who have helped me be a better woman and mama. To the family and friends close and far away, and also to many of you. Your comments, emails, and hand-written letters have inspired me to be a more kind and thoughtful person.

From the bottom of my very happy, weepy heart– thank you.

Happy Galentine’s Day, friends. There is no better thing than women helping women.IMG_2737

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Celebrate women by supporting shops run by strong, creative female business leaders.

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Shirt –> Fourth Wave Apparel Twitter, Facebook, & Shop
Each of Fourth Wave’s designs are based on vignettes from women’s history and pay homage to courageous women who refused to know their place. Shop owners Noelle and Anna believe in honoring the legacy of women who insisted on their right to vote, own property, access education, ride a bicycle, wear pants, etc. by inspiring today’s generation of women to speak up, stand up, and shine. Everything they make is screenprinted by hand in Boise, Idaho and 5% of all profits are used to give back to other women through Women for Women International, an organization that supports women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities.

Towels –> Viva Sweet Love Facebook, Twitter, & Shop
After being a mosaic artist for nearly two decades, Amy Fancher longed to do something different. So in 2006, she started exploring screen printing and acrylic painting, beginning the journey to starting her own business. In her shop you’ll find a magical assortment of original illustrations that have been screen printed onto soft tee shirts, flour sack tea towels and napkins, messenger bags, his and hers pillow cases, cushion covers constructed from natural hemp and organic cotton, and more. And the arrow onesie? Yes please. Make sure to use coupon code “KATEJBAER” for 10% off the shop!

Cards –> Carly Reed Designs Instagram, Facebook, & Shop
Print designer Carly Reed is inspired by simple and beautiful things. From wedding invitations to everyday cards and stationery, she has everything you need to keep your paper needs classy and unique. In addition to the collections and custom options, her designs are also for sale at Minted and carlyreeddesigns.com. Make sure to also check out her stamps and t-shirts. One of everything, please!

Magnets –> Turtle’s Soup Instagram, Twitter, & Shop
Shop owner Melanie (and Christopher!)’s goal was to make eco friendly and totally awesome pop culture and original art products for all to enjoy. Lucky for them, they are succeeding while also going to school full time! I don’t think I’ve ever ordered something off off Etsy that has made me laugh harder. Uteruses before Duderuses forever. Check out their other magnets/pins for more happy mail ideas. 

 Candles –> HollyBeeez Instagram & Shop
Holly from HollyBeeez loves yoga, coffee, and creating. She especially loves making candles and specializes in bridal and baby shower candle gifts. She currently lives in a small town north of Pittsburgh with her husband, three teenagers, cats and dog. Use coupon code “love10″ for 10% off the shop, and make sure to also check out her garlands!

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PS: Treat yo self to a free wardrobe for a year. 1,200 dollars worth of White Plum clothing, for free, in your closet. It’s a no brainer. All you have to do is join their mailing list. Easy peasy. Giveaway runs from February 11th to the 22nd.

WP Free Wardobe Giveaway

Top Ten Gifts For New Moms

January 30, 2014

Top Ten Gifts For New Moms

When a baby is born, it is only natural to want to help. You want to do something, anything, because either you’ve experienced it firsthand or you’ve heard about the physical and emotional toll that comes along with bringing home a lumpy, needy meatball.

It is a beautiful thing, women helping women, but sometimes it’s hard to think of a way to help. What does she need? What will make a difference?

Here is a list of ten great ways to show mama some love. If you’re here for ideas, thank you for helping. You are a blessing. You are a saint. You will make her day.

A special thank you to those who have sent care packages, brought bags full of Trader Joe’s groceries, picked up my toddler to play for the morning, and other wonderful things since the baby’s been born. It is not polite to brag about your friends, but it’s worth mentioning that all that help and love makes a big difference in a person’s morale when you find yourself scooping poop out of the tub after a long day of crying.

As an aside, often when bloggers make gift guides they make them very beautiful and link to 65 dollar wooden rattles. I think this is wonderful (I like beautiful things), but realistically your new mom friend does not need a 65 dollar wooden rattle. Babies don’t need much of anything, which is why most of these gifts go to mama.

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Spa Gift Certificate

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Giving a new mom money for a manicure or pedicure is like giving her an open mouth kiss with Ryan Gosling. So fresh. So nice. My college friends rallied together to give me a whopping 100 dollars to spend on myself during pregnancy and after the baby was born and I have stretched that into three pedicures and one, wonderful eyebrow wax. Last week I left a 10 dollar tip on a 25 dollar pedicure because my feet were like dinosaurs and now they are like J-Lo’s bottom. Really, truly wonderful. A massage is also a great choice.  What better way to say “Congratulations for pushing a 9 pound child out of your vagina” than an hour alone, in the dark, having your shoulders rubbed.

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Food

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Dropping off a meal for a new family is a really nice thing to do. Dropping off a bag of groceries is even nicer. Suggested drop off items: Fruit, bread, cheese, nuts, trailmix, homemade jam, white cheese popcorn, chocolate truffles, frozen pizza, chips, salsa, fresh vegetables, cranberry juice, soap, toothbrushes. This is, hands down, one of the best new mom gifts.

Out of town? Don’t live close by? Order a pizza at your new mama’s local pizza shop and have it delivered. Add garlic knots. Instant win.

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Water Bottle

000See it on Amazon.

Breastfeeding makes me very, very thirsty. The second the baby latches, my mouth turns to cotton and all I can think about is carnival lemonade. A fresh, new water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated on the go, but also at home when your toddler is jumping on the couch like a drunk midget and knocking down all your glasses.

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Service

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One of the best gifts for a new mom is acts of service; gentle, no nonsense, quiet service. But there are rules. For example, don’t give a printed out coupon that says  “This coupon equals one dish washing experience!” or make statements such as, “Let me know when you’d like a load of laundry done!” Instead just do the dishesDo the laundry. Make sure it’s a good time, yes. But don’t make a new mom ask for help, just help. Don’t bring your kids.

For moms having second babies, one of the greatest gifts is spending time with the older sibling(s). Pick them up! Give mom the morning off! It is a rare treat, that quiet. A treasure.

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Netflix or Hulu Plus Gift Card

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Feeding a baby takes time. Boost morale with some feeding entertainment, like the ability to watch favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix. Suggested TV binges: Mad Men, Parks & Rec, The Office, Downton Abbey, The New Girl, Parenthood, Modern Family.

Or drop off a few of your favorite chick flicks. The act (and the movies) will make her cry.

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Extra iPhone Charger

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See it on Etsy.

When you are stuck on the couch feeding a baby and trying to survive toddler armageddon all day, that cell phone dies fast. Give mama some love with the convenience of an extra cell phone charger. It may seem like an odd gift, but not having to move that charger from room to room is one less thing to think about during the day. Bonus: find one that glows in the dark.

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Nursing Tank Top

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See them at Target.

Newsflash: Most nursing bras are uncomfortable. Before I had a baby, I spent much time and money trying to find the perfect nursing bra, unaware that I would never wear one. Luckily the nursing tank top was invented. I live in these. I wear one to bed and change into another to wear all day long. Not only are they more comfortable, they are easier to maneuver and allow you to shed layers  of clothes to feed without flashing your ta-tas. I have eleven. Mama can never have enough. 

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Burp Cloths

000See it on Amazon.

Every two hours I am looking for a burp cloth. I turn over all the pillows, look under all the toys. I send my toddler on a personal walkabout to find one and yet they disappear faster than you can say “old cheese smell.”

There are never, ever enough burp cloths.

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Diapers

000See it on Amazon.

Does this seem boring? It’s not boring. Diapers are expensive and always dangerously low for those of us who can’t stay on top of things and hate leaving the house. Order in bulk on Amazon and ship it right to mama. Easy, affordable, a God-send.

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Mail

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Getting a care package in the mail when you’re hibernating with needy spawn is a beautiful thing.

Suggested care package contents: Personalized onesies, cute sleepers, sea salt infused chocolate, lip balm, notepads, an Etsy gift card, handmade stationery, notes of encouragement.

Magic.

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Thank you for loving on a new mama. It will come back to you in a good way.

You are loved.

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On giving parenting advice.

January 22, 2014

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Things I feel comfortable giving advice on: sitcoms, iced tea, how to convince your spouse you need take-out.

Things I do not feel comfortable giving advice on: plumbing, lawn care, how to prepare eggs, parenting.

Here’s the thing, I’m a giant screw up who says a lot of terrible things I shouldn’t say, but giving unsolicited parenting advice is such a black sin that I really try to keep my hands off of it. I believe it’s important for the morale of women. It is especially important to avoid if you don’t have children. If only I could go back and scold my former childless self for ever uttering the words, “Well when I have children!”

No. Shame on you.

Admittedly it is part apathy. I don’t care if you homeschool/co-sleep/let your children watch Spongebob.

But mostly it is a matter of ethics and the fear that people who spew parenting advice are the same people who yell at their kids at soccer games.

Of course there are times to give what I call non-advice, times when parents needs a little help or would benefit from hearing about your personal experience. If you are having trouble knowing when this time is, listen for the following words: “I need your advice.”

It’s pretty simple.

As my peers begin and continue to procreate, I notice an influx of advice seekers and advice givers. Every day there is a new plea on Facebook asking HOW DO I GET MY SON TO NAP or an article posted about how we should definitely not/definitely be vaccinating our children.

Here is the truth: we’re all trying to do what’s best for our kids. It’s why I will never be a co-sleeping or breastfeeding or organic milk crusader. Even though I believe in all those things, isn’t it better to be a mom crusader? An advocate for trying our best? A champion for parents keeping their kids alive and happy on a regular basis?

Every single time I’ve asked another mom for parenting advice, the best responses have always been the same: Parenting is hard. Give yourself grace. You’re doing a great job.

It’s foolproof.

We are, after all, in this together.

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On helping.

January 16, 2014

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When you have a baby, a strange thing happens. All of a sudden people help you. Long lost relatives, old friends, new neighbors, people you’ve never met on the Internet–they throw together some of their best lasagnas and care packages full of chocolate and just give it to you.

When I had Waylon I was surprised by how much those gestures mattered; how a spare casserole or an encouraging note made all the difference in a day. I was even more surprised by my feelings of helplessness. I wanted my mom. I wanted Austin. I wanted someone with me so I wasn’t alone to handle a new baby, fragile nerves, and anxious bowels by myself.

I was surprised by my weakness. I was surprised by how much I needed help.

Of course there is good help and then the other kind of help who just wants to hold the baby for five hours and ask if you just love being a mommy. But mostly help is wonderful.

Whenever I talk to other mamas about all that help, we always have the same frustration. After you’ve been helped, you just want to help back, pay it forward. You want to find all the new moms you know and bring them magazines and dark chocolate truffles and clean their fridge. You want to share the love.

The problem is when you have a needy infant or an energetic toddler, your help becomes less helpful and more of a hazard. You want to hold the new baby, but your own baby is crying. You want to let your sister take a nap, but it’s your own kid’s naptime. You want to do the dishes, but oops–your toddler is unplanting all the houseplants.

Take it from me, it is impossible to vacuum your new mom friend’s house with a two year old because he will undo all your help faster than you can say “Sorry there is now poop on your carpet.”

Of course there are smaller gestures, and the truth is that most of the time it’s easier for everyone if you just mail a box of diapers and keep your encouragements virtual. But when it’s your sister, your dear friend, or someone who could really, really use an extra real-life hand–not being able to show up is heartbreaking.

My hope is that those of us who don’t have extra hands right now will remember this time later. That when our kids are grown, we will seek out the young and the weary and show up. Because if I’ve learned anything from parenthood it’s that it truly takes a village of humans to raise another human. 

May we remember our villages, our helpers, our love and hope spreaders. May we remember the ones who quietly drop off Miralax and extra binkies and play with our toddlers so we can finally breathe. 

May we accept help with quiet thank yous and the promise to remember the sweet burden of a new mom heart.

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