Summer Adventures

The summer is finally winding down and I’m hoping *fingers crossed* that we’ve had our last week of 90-plus degree weather. We managed to skip out on the last scorcher by going to our favorite beach with some friends, which ended up being a pretty fabulous day.

I thought I’d share some of our recent adventures with you via some slightly terrible iPhone photos. We’ve been lucky to have had some visits from family over the summer, so it’s given us a great excuse to continue exploring our new state and showing off the sites. Despite the drought we’ve been having, I gotta say, Oregon is beautiful in the summer.

We went to the beach and Silver Falls with Kyle’s parents, and as part of our anniversary, Kyle and I decided to do five little things to celebrate five years. Honestly, most of them are favored around Judah, but Kyle and I will getaway someday ūüôā One of our five things for five years included a family trip to Newport beach where we stayed overnight at a resort to swim, be lazy, and visit the aquarium. Judah had a BLAST. ¬†And…photos:

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR. My mother-in-law is braving the massive sand dune. She was the only one willing to climb it that day. Her reward was $1.50 and a high five ūüėČ

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR

Pacific City, OR. This is one of my favorite photos. One, my husband looks gooood. Two, he looks extra handsome whenever he’s exploring the great outdoors. Three, there is little better than a daddy carrying his child…hello! Four, Judah looks tiny in this photo, almost like a baby ūüôā

Silver Falls, OR. Shoulder rides with Grandpa.

Silver Falls, OR. Shoulder rides with Grandpa.

Silver Falls, OR

Silver Falls, OR

Silver Falls, OR. Strawberry face.

Silver Falls, OR. Strawberry face.

Silver Falls, OR. He's always such a great helper.

Silver Falls, OR. He’s always such a great helper.

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Silver Falls, OR. Hiking buddies for life.

Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium.

Newport Aquarium. Looking at the seals.

Newport Aquarium. Looking at the seals.

Newport Aquarium. Surrounded by fish.

Newport Aquarium. Surrounded by fish.

Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium. He loves his sea lion.

Newport Aquarium. He loves his sea lion.

Tomorrow my Oregon adventures continue on a hike with some amazing women. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those days that completely refreshes my soul. Hope you all have a fantastic Labor Day weekend!

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Live simply, mama.

Man, I’m on a blogging roll. What is this, like my third for the month? What is happening to me?

Who’s ready for Fall?? I definitely am. It’s been super hot and dry here in Oregon, and though I love me some sunshine, I’m ready to wrap up in a nice cozy sweater and wear something other than flip-flops on my feet. Also, the post-shower sweat is getting old…and gross.

I’ve been aching for some sort of change recently, and a change in season will be most welcome.

Summer has been busy to say the least, and not just busy for me. It has been busy for friends and family as well. It’s a good kind of busy–mostly–but it seems our schedules never mesh, and I miss those people I spent a lot of time with in the winter months. I think that’s why I’m craving a change of season, because I’m craving a more regular pace. A little backwards considering summer is typically our “slow down” time, right?

splash pad

My yoga practice has dwindled due to schedules and not desiring to shower six times every day. There are seven splash pads in the city of Salem, and Judah and I have been to six of them…at least twice a piece. This week I’m sure I’ve been pretty annoying to Kyle. I’m constantly asking, “What should we do today?” (meaning Judah and I). Sitting in the hot sun when it’s 95 degrees out while your child gets burned on the hot slides at the park only goes so far. Yes, the beach is just a short hour and a half away, but when gas is almost $4 a gallon, making those trips every day just isn’t practical. (Thanks Obama…I’m totally kidding.)

So when I asked Kyle that question for probably the sixth time, I finally had a moment of clarity. That day alone, Judah and I had baked zucchini bread, drawn pictures, played with cars, gone to the store, went to the library, read books, and went to the splash pad. And this is a pretty typical day for us. What the heck else does the kid need to do in a day? What the heck else do I need to do in a day?

When we moved to Salem, I had more confidence in myself than I had possessed in a long time. It was a fresh start for me. I was free of being defined based on who my friends were, what church I attended, where I worked, what college I went to, etc, etc. I didn’t have anyone to impress or keep up with, and I figured, I am who I am–take it or leave it. I was so excited to escape the stigmas and just be more¬†carefree and comfortable in my own skin.

But slowly, that old comparison game came back. Ooh, she’s a nasty one too.

We live 45 minutes from Portland, aka “hipster” capital of the world. No, I am not a hipster, but I do like their sense of style. I’ve come to find that although many of my friends and peers here in Salem have impeccable style, they are never¬†dressed down. Never. And that is just not me. What happened to jeans and a t-shirt? And not some thrifted band¬†groupie shirt you styled perfectly with your distressed denim and ankle boots. Like jeans and a t-shirt. Like, I work out in this t-shirt, t-shirt. And I have yet to see anyone in sweatpants or hoodies. Ever. (Except for the Geers, and this is why my love for this family¬†is on an entirely different level.) I don’t like to dress like a bum all the time, but sometimes it’s necessary.

This is just one example of an area where¬†I have so foolishly compared myself to others. So come fall and winter, from time to time I’m going to wear my yoga pants, my old college t-shirts, and my hoodies, and I don’t care, Portland area hipsters. I don’t care.

Not only have I been slowly putting my own personal style into¬†the comparison game, but I’ve been placing parts of¬†my parenting under the lights¬†as well. This is why I have felt it necessary to fill our day with activity after activity, never being still.

We all know that I love Pinterest. Love it. Mostly for clothes and recipes, but it’s pretty great for many things. However, don’t you just feel so inadequate when you get on the “kids” page? All these crafty things to do with your kiddos, all these adorable and educational activities just thrown in your face saying, “Have you done this one yet, supermom? What about this? You mean your kid’s room doesn’t look like it’s straight out of The Land Of Nod’s recent catalog? You mean you haven’t whipped up a batch of edible, gluten-free, organic playdough dyed with berry juice?”

It’s a dangerous time to be a mom these days.¬†Thanks to the advances of technology, there are so many ways that we can compare ourselves to one another every minute of the day, without even being in the same room.

Judah

So here is my challenge to myself: Stop. Stop running around. Stop comparing. Recognize that the quiet times at home are some of the best. I’m not here to entertain my¬†child, I’m here to parent. So parent. Teach him to use his imagination. Teach him to be self-sufficient and creative on his own. Teach him to slow down and live simply. Teach him to linger. Teach him to enjoy making messes in his room, and then find the reward in cleaning it up. Show him how to be confident by exuding it.¬†Live in the¬†moments instead of thinking about what to do next. Stop “doing” and slow down. And wear sweatpants once in a while, dammit!

As we approach the change of season, this is going to be something I really try and commit to, anyone else with me?

 

 

 

My Postpartum List

*Warning: This post is about giving birth, I use the word vagina,¬†and I talk about boobs. If you can’t handle it, don’t read it.*

No, I’m not having a baby any time soon, BUT…I have several friends who have recently had one or who are going to have one in the next few months and I have been asked many a time, “tell me about what happens.” So, I’m now writing it down formally.

I had some helpful hints when I was getting ready for that big delivery day, but no one really ever broke it down for me until after I asked questions postpartum. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one who felt like my va-jay-jay was going to bottom out and fall down after giving birth, but it would have been nice to know beforehand so I didn’t think I was totally destroyed. TMI, told you this post wasn’t for the faint of heart!

First things first: Every birth is different. Every baby is different. Every recovery is different. I’m simply telling the things that I felt or what helped me, but as I always say, you have to do what’s best for you, your new family, and most importantly, that new babe.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way…labor…if it’s your first time, you won’t know what to expect, no one can describe it correctly, but you’ll know when it’s time. Trust me. And, do whatever the heck birth you are excited about. If you want to go au natural, do it. Know you can, because you’re strong, and that intense pain is fleeting. If you want an epidural, do it. Yes, people are “no, it’s bad for the baby…” or “you’re a wuss,” but if you don’t think you can go without it and enjoy the experience, get one. Enjoy the experience. If you have to be induced (I did!) don’t worry about it. You’re not a failure because of it. And if you’re like me and have to be induced and then get an epidural, know you’re just as strong. Fist bump to myself, I lasted six hours on pitocin…six hours. SIX HOURS. My¬†contractions for that whole time were the same level as the transition phase of labor. So yeah, I got an epidural. And yes, I’m still quite proud of my strength in spite of it. And, if you need a c-section, who cares. You’re having a baby for crying out loud, who cares how you get to meet it!

Let’s move on to breastfeeding. Can we talk about how difficult it is to dress as a nursing mom? Holy cow. I have no idea how you’re supposed to remain clothed while whipping your boob out and holding a flailing baby. Nursing clothes are ugly, but non-nursing clothes are just inconvenient. However, I did find some luck at Target and H&M, but keep in mind, my girls are little, so if you’re a bit more blessed in the chest, you may want to consider spending some more money for a better nursing bra. Also, DO NOT wear underwire for the first few weeks. Your boobs will be doing crazy things and that darn wire will just get in the way of their ebb and flow. Also, I didn’t get any stretch marks with Judah, but my boobs, definitely. Watch out for that when your milk arrives.

If you’re breastfeeding, it hurts. It hurts terribly for quite a while. But stick it out, you can do it. And, if you decide formula is your way to go, there is nothing wrong with that, and don’t let people tell you otherwise. Your child won’t be any less because of it. Yes, I loved breastfeeding (most of the time) and I think it’s great for the kiddos, but sometimes, it’s not practical, you don’t have milk, etc., etc. The most important thing is to feed that baby.

Okay, lets talk postpartum care for moms. If you don’t take anything else away from this blog post, please heed this warning: WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LOOK AT YOUR VAG. Just don’t do it. Spare yourself. You just had a tiny human come out of there, it’s not going to look normal.

Take it all from the hospital. Stuff the diapers, wipes, A&D ointment, booger suckers in that diaper bag and take it all. If you don’t end up using it, donate it to someone who will.

Get a sitz bath. They can be found at any drug store (CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc.) and are tiny toilet-shaped miracle workers.

Use tux pads. Don’t use regular TP for a while. Tux pads are the way to go. Take tons from the hospital and then buy yourself some more at the store. They can be found by the hemorrhoid cream–and you might want to pick up some of that while you’re at it.

Wear loose pants. I don’t care what celebrity mom you saw last week who was running around in skinny jeans two days after having a baby. Guaranteed she paid a pretty penny to have someone design sweatpants to look like denim replicas for her public appearance. And don’t you feel bad if you need to wear yoga pants, leggings, or your husbands basketball shorts for several weeks postpartum. There is no pressure to return to “your old body” in a matter of days. And anyone who thinks so has clearly never had a baby.

Give yourself time. You carried a baby for nine months. For nine months your body grew. You’re not going to bounce back the next day. It took me a good two weeks to feel decently normal and not wince every time I walked somewhere. And, to not feel like my vagina was going to fall to the floor. Some people bounce back faster, others it takes months. Don’t get down on yourself. You will get there.

Your belly is crazy. Your stomach is pretty nuts feeling after you have a baby. It’s like loose jello. It’s a strange feeling. Kinda grossed me out, but was also really funny, especially when something made you belly laugh, or cry. I wore my belly band around mine to help it contract, and I also needed to wear the belly band to fit into pants that weren’t sweats once I was okay enough to put those on.

It’s complicated. So most people say you’re supposed to have this euphoric connection with your little baby as soon as they are laid on your chest. It happens for lots of moms, but for others, it takes a while. Yes, they love their child, but it takes a few days or even weeks for that indescribable connection to occur. That’s okay. If you begin to have ill feelings about your child, talk to your doctor. And, if you do, you’re not a monster. Child birth is a hard thing and it does all kinds of weirdness to your body. This too shall pass.

On that same note, sometimes it takes the dads a bit of time to bond too. Don’t get down on him for it, just remember you’ve had nine months to physically connect with your little bean, he’s just now getting that.

Hormones are nuts. I cried once peeling potatoes in my kitchen. Balled my eyes out. I cannot tell you why, but boy did I weep. And then I started laughing like a crazy person because I was crying about potatoes. Poor Kyle. If this happens to you, don’t worry, you will get back to normal.

Think for your family. Everyone is going to come at you and say, “oh do this.” Or, “they need to eat.” Or, “she’s been sleeping too long.” YOU know whats best for your baby. Ask for suggestions if you need them, but at the end of the day, trust that parental instinct.

Don’t compare. Everyone is different, and every baby is different. I think the worst thing Kyle and I did when we had Judah was to compare him and ourselves to other babies and parents in similar stages. Just don’t do it. It’s a nasty game, and it doesn’t bring any good.

It’s okay to not know what’s going on. Sometimes you just have to take it moment by moment, and that’s perfectly fine.

Happy birthing, friends! Can’t wait to meet your little babies ūüėČ

 

5 Years

This past Friday, Kyle and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Holy crap. Are we really at five years already? Our wedding day literally seems like it was yesterday…yet also such a long time ago. Over the last five years, we have grown so much both individually, and as a couple.

The night before our anniversary came, I looked over at Kyle and said, “This year’s been a doosey hasn’t it?” We laughed about it, but really, it has. This year alone, we have been stretched in more ways than I think each of us have experienced in one short time span ever in our lives. Roughly in the last year, we have and continue to grieve¬†three miscarriages, we moved across the country leaving our family and friends behind, faced job uncertainty, and lost significant friendships. ¬†Honestly, I think we’ve had more arguments this year alone than our previous four years combined.

However, these trials we have faced are also some of the best things that have happened to us. Experiencing the loss of our unborn babies has opened up new conversations for us about our family structure and what we really want that to look like. It has also, in a strange way, given us a renewed love and appreciation for the beautiful son we have. Our time with job uncertainty has helped me to learn the value in the way my husband relentlessly pursues his passions. He does not give up. And he ALWAYS wants the best for me and for Judah. Leaving our friends and family has caused us to rely on one another in ways we haven’t always needed to. Yes, it’s caused some strain for obvious reasons, but it’s also pushed us to finally consider what is best for our core family unit, not everyone else’s. It has allowed us to step back and begin weeding through what we want and don’t want as parents, as a couple, and as a family.

This year reminded us that marriage is tough. It’s not all happiness and fun times. Marriage takes hard work, and it takes commitment. Though this year has been both amazing and difficult, I wouldn’t trade it in. This year has opened up our eyes to new ways in which to communicate to each other, to encourage one another, pray for each other, and love each other. For me personally, this year has shown me the amazing patience Kyle has for me and my shortcomings. It has also revealed to me the length that he would go to help me become the best person I can be.

Looking back five years ago, I didn’t think this is where we would be now. Sure, some things have lined up, but others haven’t. And you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Doing life with this man has been an incredible ride that always keeps me on my toes, and I cannot wait to look back another five years from now.

Thanks for asking me to be your wife, Kyle. I’m one lucky lady.

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography

Photo Booth pictures courtesy of Roth Photography