The Trenches

“You’re in the trenches.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in the last year, and I’ve not really known what to make of it until recently. It is typically used to refer to parents who have multiples under the age … Continue reading

Dear Second Child

My mom didn’t make my baby book until I asked for one for my 12th birthday. I always thought, “how could she not make me a baby book?” Not to mention there was this cross stitch picture she made for my sister, amongst other things.

Mom, I get it now. And thank you for making me one for my 12th birthday.

Dear Second Child,

I love you just as much as your older sibling. I promise I do. Yes, I did a baby book for your brother’s first year of life, carefully and joyfully documenting each month and putting it together in a beautiful album. Yes, you are five months old now, and no, I have not purchased your album yet. But rest assured, I’ve got all your important moments documented in my Instagram account. Yep…

Yes, we have video footage of your brother’s developmental milestones. And, to be fair, we do have attempts at yours…they are just marred by a certain three year old waving his hands in front of the camera or crazily chatting over your precious cooing sounds.

No, I did not have your crib bedding specially made. I got you a blanket at Babies R Us and used the rest of your brother’s old hand me down bedding.

Yes, most of your clothes (okay, all of your clothes) are freebies because I realize now that babies grow so fast and I’m not wasting my money on brand new outfits that you will wear for approximately five minutes. Don’t worry, if you’re anything like me, we will make up for lost new outfits later in life.

Yes, I cloth diapered your brother’s little baby bottom, but honey–ain’t nobody got time for that amount of laundry these days. Disposable diapers have served you well and will continue to do so.

I often let your brother nap in my arms as much as possible. I’m afraid I don’t have that luxury with you. You see, the longer I hold you, the more I risk you being woken up by a certain three almost four year old who is bashing his cars and Hulk smashing everything. I save a little extra snuggle time for you every night before I put you to bed for two reasons. One, because I love to have that time just you and I (and daddy is home to help keep child number one under control ;)) and two, because I often fall asleep right along with you out of sheer exhaustion.

We have made it a point to write letters to both you and your brother to give to you when you’re older. You do have some…just not as many. We will catch up, I promise.

Oh second child, my love for you is not any less than it is for your brother. It’s just that your brother doesn’t nap, and you don’t sleep at night, so it’s all I can do to make sure everyone is clothed, fed, and safe. This too shall pass, and hopefully by the time you are 12, I will have purchased your baby album.

Don’t take it personally. Someday if you have babies of your own, you will understand, much like I am now understanding. I love you deeply, and you have completed our family in the best way possible. And I promise you, I will print photos of you soon. At least by the time you’re old enough to know whether or not there are pictures of you on the wall. IMG_0778

 

 

 

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Brotherly Love.

Every parent wants their children to get along, or better yet, to actually love each other. This afternoon, I got to witness it on a new level and trust me, when you see it–magic.

Lennon had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon to get some vaccinations.* I have never cried when either of my kids have gotten a shot until today. I feel they are a necessary evil, and both Judah and Lennon have already experienced other situations that have been much more difficult to observe than a quick shot.

However, today’s event was different. Lennon flexed her leg muscle during the injection, which caused it to be much more painful and traumatizing than normal. A bit of blood was shed and many, many baby tears and screams followed. Of course, the nurse felt horrible, but these things sometimes occur. So there we both were trying to comfort this poor little baby to no avail. When our nurse finished up and left the room, I turned to Judah to make sure he was ready to get going. I will never forget this moment.

Instead of finding him occupying himself spinning around on the doctor’s stool, which he typically does during these visits, he was standing, shell-shocked, tears streaming down his face. He looked at me with such an intensely worried expression and whispered softly, “Mommy, is Lennon going to be okay?”

Bam. My tear ducts started flowing uncontrollably. I know in that moment I should have tried to hold them in and put on a brave face for my kiddo, but when you experience the love that your firstborn has for his sibling, it’s game over. I mean, I know Judah loves his sister, but this was more than a happy greeting in the morning, or a kiss goodnight kind of love. Here was my little boy, visibly distraught over the state of his sister, wanting nothing more than to make sure she was okay and comforted.

I reassured him that she was going to be fine and that sometimes these things hurt, but we always get better. I told him that Lennon needed us to be brave for her, and that we would just spend the afternoon snuggling her up and making sure she knew everything was okay. I hugged him tight and said, “It’s hard to watch someone you love experience hurt isn’t it?” He gave several vigorous nods. As I wiped his tears and saw the genuine affection he had for his baby sister, my heart felt like it was going to explode.

We gathered up our things and headed for the car, all three of us covered in tears. It was the worst and best vaccination day ever.

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*This post is not about opinions on vaccinating your kids. Everyone has them, including myself, but I don’t really want to hear them. At the end of the day, the decision is yours as a parent on what you want to do, and you are the one who knows best for your particular child. Let’s leave it there. 

So…what do you do all day?

This is a question that I, as a stay at home parent have been asked before. Seriously. And yes, the person who asked it did leave my presence with their head attached to their body by the grace of God. … Continue reading

1-7-2016::Lennon Ruth

I’ve had two amazing births. Neither one happened naturally, but I’ve loved them both just the same. And though both of my babies do things on their own time and in their own way, each one made it easy on me when it came to their delivery.

In July, 2012, Kyle and I became parents when Judah was born. And, as many of you know, between July 2013 to May 2014, we experienced three miscarriages. (You can read their stories here, here, and here). After going through so much heartache, we came to the decision that we would try one last time for another baby. Thank goodness we did, and thank God that His timing is perfect.

In early May, Judah and I surprised Kyle with the news that I was expecting again. With the history we had, going to her initial ultrasound appointment was quite the roller coaster of emotion. Thankfully, we heard a strong little heartbeat and saw our girl for the first time.

I did not enjoy being pregnant this time around. Though I didn’t experience morning sickness, it was physically very different than my previous pregnancies. My hips were in so much pain that it was hard for me to walk some days. I couldn’t sit on the floor and play with my son, which was devastating. I couldn’t sleep a majority of nights, and I was constantly exhausted. Not to mention the “what ifs” that come from experiencing three failed pregnancies. Thankfully being pregnant is temporary and the reward is so much greater than the short time of discomfort.

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Lennon’s due date was January 7. She was positioned very low in my pelvis, and I had been experiencing early labor for weeks. This, among other factors led to an induction. I remember my doctor scheduling it and feeling like I had failed. I wanted to know what it was like to go into labor naturally, be able to work through it at home for a majority of the time, and then rush to the hospital while yelling at my husband to drive more carefully, yet with lightning speed in the car 😉  But honestly, feeling guilty about it was so stupid. She was full term, and for some reason, my body requires a little jump start to get the party started. Besides, I was already at 4 cm, almost completely effaced, and I have gone from five to 10 cm in the snap of a  finger and I’m pretty sure Kyle didn’t want to deliver this baby in our living room.  It turned out that my induction was necessary anyway, because my doctor tried to break my water only to find out it had been leaking for an unknown amount of time.

On January 7, we headed to the hospital early in the morning to have our baby. I was hooked up to all my machines and my drip started at 8 AM. About an hour into it, I was asked if I wanted an epidural. I said no because though my contractions were progressing quickly, again, I felt that guilt of not “really” experiencing those intensely painful moments, almost as if it’s a right of passage to getting your baby. However, my husband, nurse, and anesthesiologist looked at my contraction patterns and told me if I didn’t want to feel the “ring of fire,” now was the time. They also told me, no one gets an extra prize for not getting one. I agreed and was thankful I did.

At 11 AM, my nurse informed us she was heading out to her lunch break. She checked me and I was still around 6 cm, so we all figured in her half hour break, not much would happen and we’d see her when she got back. A few minutes later, I felt a lot of pressure and pretty “pushy” as they would call it. I held off for a couple more minutes, certain that it was not yet time because I was just checked moments ago and still so far away from pushing time. However, it was getting more intense feeling, so I called a nurse. She checked me and sure enough, within ten minutes I had gone from a 6 to a 10 and it was time to have our baby. I pushed three times, and our girl was born at 11:31 AM. (I told you my kids make it easy on me!) She was eight pounds, three ounces, and 19 inches long.

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I remember so vividly seeing her little purple body, all scrunched up, being lifted into the air and placed in my arms. Her first cries were amazing. She was the spitting image of her brother, and Kyle and I were instantly so in love with this beautiful little girl.

We “oohed” and “ahhed” over her for several hours. Those first moments with your baby are pure magic–examining every inch of their little bodies, snuggling them close, and whispering “happy birthday, little love” over and over.

Then it was time for Judah to meet his sister. He fell in love with her instantly and has been the best, most gentle, and loving big brother from that moment on. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition. Our little guy loves his baby sister something fierce. And it’s totally true, all those moments I spent worrying about how I could love another being as much as my first baby were instantly gone the moment I laid eyes on her. And just when you think you can’t love your kids more than you do, you see your son holding his new sister and your heart beats so fast, you feel like you could burst.

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Lennon, we dreamt of this day for so long. I hope you know how deeply loved you are, and how highly anticipated your life has been. You were born at the perfect time for our family. You are treasured, you are precious, you are prized, and you are adored. I cannot wait to watch you grow and marvel at the person  you become. Happy birthday, beautiful girl, I love you.

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Life With Two

So…I can’t really stay away from my blog. It’s just so therapeutic for me. There has been SO much change in our lives since my last post, but I will catch you up on that another day. Shortly stated, life is good right now. SO good.

Many people have asked how things are going with two. So far so good. We love our Lennon girl something fierce. But, in an effort to remain “real” here’s a story for you about our morning so far which pretty much sums up what our days with two are really like. Let me preface this story first by saying that yes, our days are crazier now, but our family is more complete than it has ever been. I wouldn’t trade these days for anything…most of the time…or if margaritas are involve. I also fully acknowledge that I am a complete spaz. Moving on.

Lennon dislikes the car/ carseat a lot, so most of our drives are accompanied with screaming. We’ve all learned to tolerate this and she usually wears herself out into a sleep at some point. Today, on our way home from our mom’s group we had a few errands to run, and Lennon was semi holding it together so we pushed forward and spent more time in the car.

As we continued on in our journey home, Lennon began to lose it pretty badly. Lennon, much like her brother and much against the continued efforts of her parents, is not a napper. In her first weeks of life when typical newborns sleep a majority of the day, our lovely daughter would remain awake for 10 hour stretches at a time, with a short five or ten minute snooze every few hours. No, this is not an exaggeration. But, she sleeps like a champ at night, so we deal. Anyway, I knew her urgency in crying was due to needing a nap, along with her general hatred of the car.

We arrived home and all bets were off. Lennon was sweating and red as a beet. I not only had to get her out of the car, but also the bulky diaper bag (and honestly, I never use that thing, why I bring it along is beyond my comprehension) our coats, so many tiny crafts my son had made in his class that he for some reason cannot carry, and I also needed to unbuckle his carseat, which is freaking impossible to do with one hand…thank you Britax. Phew.

I loaded up as much as I could then got us to the front door, screaming baby in tow. Currently, our garage door isn’t working, so I had to drop everything and find my keys that I hastily threw in some random pocket of the diaper bag when I got out of the car.  Thankfully, it was not rainy today.

After I managed to dig out the keys, our 60 pound dog comes barreling out to greet us, slamming the carseat into my knees and almost knocking over poor Judah. Lennon is just totally gone at this point. I hurriedly drop everything to save her from her carseat. While I’m trying desperately to unbuckle her as quickly as I can, Judah tells me the dog has thrown up all over the rug in the living room. Fantastic. However, the screaming baby wins every time, so the puke will have to wait.

I go to nurse her and lay her down for a nap. Again, the baby does not sleep, as per usual. Instead, she lays in her crib for a bit while I run to make lunch for Judah who is getting close to a meltdown of his own (“my tummy is rumbling forever!”) from having to wait so long on his sister. And by so long I mean five minutes. I finally appease his appetite with a yogurt and PB&J. By this time, an overtired Lennon is totally gone and screaming in her crib. I run to console her. Giving in to the fact that she just won’t nap, I bring her out into the kitchen and encourage Judah to finish his sandwich that he so desperately needed, of which he has taken two bites…of course.

Time passes and I’m flipping from consoling the tired baby to convincing the preschooler that quiet time is a requirement every day for mommy’s sanity. Finally the stars align and Judah agrees he can build some legos in his room and Lennon is finally content. I set her in her bouncer and make lunch for myself. After this, just when I’m about to take that first bite (isn’t it always at that time parents?) she loses it again because at this point, she’s beyond overtired. I nurse her, she spits up everywhere, we both change clothes.

I finally rock Lennon into a stupor, but, every time her eyes close, Judah comes out of his room to ask me to separate legos that he is working on and we have to start the rocking and bouncing all over again. At this point, I’m about 30 seconds from banning all legos forever.

Lennon finally calms down again, enough for me to put her down and try to tidy up the disaster that is surrounding our front door from when we got home. Upon doing so, I walk into the living room and see the dog’s puke everywhere that I had forgotten about. At this point, it’s been two hours since Judah first told me about it.

Cue crying baby and another few lego pieces that are impossibly fastened together. “These are the days of our lives.”

 

The Red House

So, a few weeks ago, we bought ourselves a house. Judah calls it “the red house.” It’s a bit of a project, but it’s in a great neighborhood where quite frankly, we couldn’t afford anything but a little project. And, our family is a little quirky, so it suits us well.

After seven moves in five years, a house is oh so welcome. We haven’t gotten everything finished…obviously…but we were able to make a few updates to the house prior to moving in, thanks to a connection to the seller. (You rock, Charles!)

But before we get to the photos, I have some people to thank for our first huge adult purchase. It’s never easy to move, but it’s especially hard when you don’t have family close by to help out. Thank goodness for great friends, right? So, thank you to Kyle’s parents for making it even possible, to the Geer family for never hesitating to watch Judah, help us paint, assist with moving, and clearing out all our boxes, to Alex and Harvey for always letting Judah come over to play while we were taking care of the house, and to Charles for thinking of us for our home and answering all of our questions no matter what day of the week.

Okay, here’s the first set of pictures. And my apologies, you have to deal with really crappy iphone pictures. We still have some work to go, but this is the first room in our house that is almost near completion.

This is our living room/ dining room before:

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Photo Sep 25 copy

It was a hard call, but we decided to purchase the house minus those creepy dolls by the door. I know…I’m already experiencing some buyers remorse about it.

Charming huh? Here’s what we did:

Replaced the carpet with a laminent floor, removed the wood stove, painted the room a light blue/grey.

Here’s the after:

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Sorry, my panorama skills are clearly not up to par.

 

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Still to go in this room are a wall decor like a photo wall (behind the Christmas tree), painted dining room chairs, and curtains. I think it’s a pretty good transformation so far though.

Stay tuned for more renovations to come…although they will be much later…our budget is pretty tapped for the time being, if you know what I mean.

Oh, and we also added this gem. Meet Lucy. She’s a German Shepherd/Lab mix, and Judah is (mostly) over the moon about her. However, she just pooped all over the bathroom floor, so she’s lucky we haven’t renovated that space yet 😉

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I’m Back!!

After a semi-intentional hiatus from blogging…I’m baaaaccck!

So basically I took a break because life got hectic, then I decided to make it purposeful. My company recently rebranded, and it’s freaking amazing. You can check it out here. Dealing with that, plus a two-year-old who went through a spurt of the classic, “terrible two’s” made blogging seem a little more tedious than enjoyable for me, so I decided to take another little stretch of time off and just not worry about it. It’s been good–really good. But I’m excited to be back and to provide some updates.

Some exciting things have been happening around the Alcock household. We are about to celebrate our one year anniversary of living in Oregon. I cannot believe it, the time has flown, and we have been loving it! And, as we traditionally do, we’re making no exceptions now–we’re moving…again!

But it’s not what you’re thinking. This time, we’re buying a house. Planting roots and settling in. Phew. I for one am SO excited to not have to pack and unpack after this haul for quite a long time. I will have more updates on the house in a future post. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, so until we have some “after” photos, I’m not sharing any of the “befores.”

Short recap of life here:

I went on an amazing hike with three incredible women (and one in spirit) and cannot wait for our next adventure together. It was one of those “girl power,” “secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood” type deals that just does your soul some good. And let me tell ya, I am so grateful to have met these ladies and be able to hang with them from time to time. You guys don’t even know. We hiked Henline mountain up in Opal Creek and it was gorgeous. Here’s a view of the summit and yours truly.

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We have also done some festive Fall things like apple picking with friends (twice), journeyed to a pumpkin patch/petting zoo, and last night of course was Judah’s first time trick-or-treating. This little monkey had a ball and was just so stinking adorable. And, my mama heart was so proud every time I heard an un-prompted “thank you!” from his little mouth as he received some sugary treats.

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I was Darla from “Finding Nemo” for Halloween.

 

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I have also undergone a few personal adjustments and some healing that has been oh so wonderful. That will also be saved for another post later on. Life’s been good and a break was refreshing.

Speaking of breaks…because I’ve taken a stretch of time away, I need to ask a favor of you readers. If you could, give  a click to the “top mommy blog” and “top baby blog” icons to your right to show The Ramblings some love.

Happy Fall ladies and gents, it’s good to be back!

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 🙂 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 😉

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 🙂

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!

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?

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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?