Monday, May 25, 2015

& She Fits Like She Was Always Meant to Be {Elyse's Newborn Photos}

I am absolutely in love with every single one of these photos. It is so hard to choose just a few to share, but I am going to try and narrow and down to my favorites. Hope you love them just as much as I do. All photography credit goes to Shannon Bulla Photography. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

5 Ways Not to Drown In Household Responsibilities

As a mom of a toddler, the household chores can sometimes feel endless. Some days I really feel like all I am doing is picking up toys and crumbs and messes. I've learned when I try to do it all, all in one day, it really makes me feel like I am drowning. So I decided to remind myself, and maybe leave you with some tips, on how not to drown in all the household responsibilities.

1. Wake up before the kids. If you're anything like me, this is probably the HARDEST one of all. I am not a morning person, and I like getting every ounce of sleep I can possibly get. My husband is the same way, so we decided from the beginning that later bed times and later mornings was the best direction for our family in sleep training. For awhile, my little man was getting up at 7am and that was a hard time for me to get up before him, I told you I love my sleep! So I didn't get up before him at that time, but once he was sleeping through the night I resisted the urge to take a nap with him at 8am and give myself some alone time. He eventually stretched to sleeping until 8am, so I started to get up at 7am. This gave me the chance to wake up, do a little devotion, watch some of the Today show, anything to just give me a little chance to breathe before having to rush into the day. It really makes a difference throughout the day.

2. Split chores up and assign them different days. Am I the only person that used to clean the house top to bottom in one day? I don't know why I ever did that. But there is no way I can accomplish that now.

So each day has an assigned chore:

Monday: Kitchen (Deep Clean) & Laundry (as needed)
Tuesday: Dusting/Floors in Living Room & Playroom
Wednesday: Dusting/Floors Hall & Bedrooms
Thursday: Bathroom
Friday: Laundry
Saturday/Sunday: Off

Daily: Kitchen Surfaces, Dishes, and toys picked up at nap time and the end of the night. There are obviously things that I need to keep up with on a daily basis, like the dishes and the toys. I try to make sure to get the dishes in the dishwasher and the counters and table wiped after every meal and run the broom over the floor when needed on a daily basis. When I lay Jase down for a nap, I put all the toys away before sitting down to work, blog, or have some time to myself. It sometimes seems pointless when I know he is going to wake up and tornado through the playroom again, but it makes the job easier at the end of the day, and it helps me to relax during naptime. When I get Jase in bed at night the last thing I usually want to do is pick up the toys, but it is so much easier to relax once I have, and it's beautiful to wake up to a clean house in the morning. I promise, it makes a difference. Also, can I just say, there is something about making your bed. Honestly, if you have a newborn and you can't fathom doing anything else, make your bed and you will feel that much better. It just makes things feel neater, and it makes you feel like you at least did something that day. It's almost therapeutic.

3. Share the Load. I think the biggest lie we make ourselves believe is that we have to do it all. We in no way have to. If you're married, you're not alone. Talk to your husband and see what he can take off your hands. Chad is in charge of unloading the dishwasher and taking out the trash. He currently helps a lot with the laundry because he doesn't like me carrying the baskets up and down our not so stable basement stairs. Since getting pregnant with Elyse, being further into the pregnancy, he has also taken over giving Jase a bath. I figured it would be good to hand that over to him, as I am sure I will be nursing a lot or tied up in other ways. Chad is incredible and helps out so much. He loves to cook, so he does a lot of the cooking, and I clean it up. I am home a lot more than he is, so I know the house is my responsibility and the kids are too, so I do everything I can to keep on top of it. But this isn't a "you do this and I do this" type thing. We are a team - in everything, so we share the load.

4. Turn off the TV, and Turn up the Music! I don't know about you, but something about turning up the music really helps me be productive. Even Jase loves when the music is on. Turning off the TV helps the temptation to sit down in front of it all morning to disappear. Turning on the music motivates you and gives you something to dance to as you get things done. Before you know it, hours can pass when you get caught up watching something, use those valuable hours to stay on top of things before they get away from you.

5. Make time to Rest! Some days the chores just really get to me. Wiping the counters...because they are dirty....for the third time today....why can't they stay clean....I have to do this today....and tomorrow....and the next day....and a month from never ends....why does it never end! Ever feel like that? I have had my days where just realizing this is what I do every day can really get to me. It's exhausting sometimes. That my friends is why I give myself Saturday and Sunday. You need to give yourself a break. Give yourself time during the week to catch your breath, but even better, give yourself a day off from chores! It's okay if the house gets a little messy that day, take a break. It gives you this fresh motivation to pick back up where you left off the next day.

Do you have any tips for keeping up with your household chores? How do you keep from feeling overwhelmed?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Mom with Three Under Three

Hi! I'm Sarah, mama to three, and thrilled to be helping Alessandra out while she's loving on that sweet little one! I think motherhood is beautiful AND messy, we should spend more time focusing on what we DID instead of what we didn't do, and that my three babies are the best things that have ever happened to me! Day-in-the-life's have always fascinated me, so I thought I'd share mine with you. 

This was our Monday: 

7:30am ish 
Wake up! 6 month old David is stirring, and my almost-four-year-old son, "L," is bouncing through the house, waking everyone up. Husband is getting ready for work, and I sit in bed with David, trying to nurse him. His brother is very distracting, though :).

L pushes the unused bassinet up to his almost-two-year-old sister's crib, and helps her climb out. She bursts into our room, all two feet tall, crazy curls, and SO proud of herself.

I get bananas and some Cheerios for the kids, and husband leaves for work. We all kiss him goodbye. I pop David into the jumpy and do a little picking up. 

I did half of my She Reads Truth devotional while nursing (I am hopelessly behind on my Lent study), and I hide in the bathroom for ten minutes while I finish it. I start breakfast--eggs + toast. I feed the kids, and make myself a plate. I feed David again (he's a little more hungry this time), and tell the kids 85,948,420 times to SIT AT THE TABLE. DON'T GET UP UNLESS YOU'VE FINISHED YOUR BREAKFAST. TAKE THE BANANA BACK TO THE KITCHEN. I also take a minute to pray for patience. I probably should've taken five minutes...

Put David down for a nap. Change a round of diapers, wash my face and brush all of our teeth. I put out art supplies, and open my computer to work--I work part time from home. In between answering emails, and scheduling Facebook posts, I referee a few rounds of screeching (Eliannah), and big brother bossiness (L), and finally remove all art supplies when the chalk is dumped into the bathroom sink (which is full of water). They move on to other toys, and I try to just ignore the bickering. They're both a little tired. And bored. I guess? How can you be so bored with so many toys? #questionfortheages

I remember my breakfast and eat it cold. I pass out handfuls of cashews to everyone, because they're all starting to get hangry. Hangry is a thing, here at our house. 
David stirs. 
The UPS man drops off a package--I ordered a bunch of shorts and t's for Eliannah. We try them on, but almost nothing fits. Argh. 
I make lunch for the kids (L eats, E doesn't), collect David and feed him, and chase everyone around changing diapers, packing sippy cups, putting clothes and shoes on people, fielding whiny questions from my preschooler (the whining! Lord help me, the whining!), and getting myself dressed. No makeup, hair all pinned back/up, whatevs...

After a brief incident with Eliannah's door (I couldn't unlock it), we are off! I stop by a local fast food place and even though I order and pay for two extra chicken strips in my chicken strip combo, I don't get them. After each of the kids has gotten a strip, I'm left with one. Sad trombone. We stop by a friend's house to drop off a book, and then it's the park! 

Play, walk, play, whining about being thirsty, going home, and getting in the car. Drive home with three crying children. Vow to never go to the park again.

Get home, feed David and put him down for a nap. Put Eliannah down for a nap. I can tell they're going to sleep nice and hard for hours, and I vow to go to the park again tomorrow.

L kind of bounces through the rest of the house, bored, while I work for a few hours. We are house hunting, and I'm really looking forward to being in a house with an extra bedroom, so I'll be able to reinstate quiet time with him--he really, really needs it.

4:30 everyone is waking up. E gets hangry, so more Cheerios for everyone. David awake. He nurses, and he's a happy clam in his jumpy while I get dinner warmed up (leftovers). Husband isn't home yet, and the kids and I go on a 30-minute walk after dinner (BTW, my new City Select Double Jogger has CHANGED MY LIFE). My friend tells me her mom, who grew up in Singapore, believes taking a walk every day immediately after dinner keeps your metabolism active. I'd be THRILLED to get rid of the baby weight, so...

6:30 we get home. Baths. Daddy gets home. I put David down for the night in our room, and we put the kids down about 8. I prefer putting them down at 7, but it's kind of hard if they haven't seen my husband at all that day...

8pm PARTY! Just kidding. I work a little, do a little cleaning up (pfffttt), often run an errand to my favorite place in tha whole wide world (the grocery store) (jk) (jk about my favorite place being the grocery store; I really did go, though), and hang out with the hubs a little. We watch Blue Bloods on Netflix (slooowwwlllyy making our way through Season 3), vow to go to bed early, but am still up at 11. Oh well.
Aren't we a wildly exciting bunch? If you're still here and want more (you glutton for punishment, you!), you can follow along on Instagram or via the blog. And introduce yourself, either way, pretty please :). 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lonely Days

To the mama sitting at home rocking her freshly new baby in the rocking chair.

To the mama at home wrestling the toddler on their fourth tantrum in the last hour.

To the mama at home battling through the desire to get their child to nap, yet not wanting to hear them scream in their crib.

To the mama at home who doesn't know the last time she showered or brushed her teeth or put on makeup.

To the mama at home who has no idea if it's raining or the sun is shining because she hasn't stepped outside her house in who knows how long.

Mama, I know these days are lonely.

It is a constant battle to decide if leaving the house today is worth it when the number of tantrums had before even making it out the door have left you too exhausted to even face what's out there. When trying to figure out if you will even get everything that needs to be done finished before the baby screams to be fed again. When you know you're just an hour away from nap time, and oh dear Lord you do not want to be late for nap time. When your sanity rests on getting out of the house to feel like there is something more than those four walls you find yourself standing in, even if all you do is find yourself sitting at the mall play area trying to catch a breath.

I know it gets really hard not to feel like you're the only one. It is almost impossible not to feel the weight of loneliness start to wear you down because your heart longs for there to be so much more than the world within your home.

Mama, I just want you to hear that gentle whisper that says "this won't last forever."

There will be a day when your heart longs for the lonely days like it longed for them to end. You will miss rocking that fresh baby to sleep. You will miss the constant learning and discovery of that toddler. You will miss when staying at home with your family wasn't overtaken by running to school, and sports practices, and school clubs.

You're in a season, a season that often makes the loneliness seem like it will last forever. A season where it's so easy to forget the magnitude of the difference you are making in the little lives before you. When you think about how much longer you have to go it seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. But when you look back and see how much time is gone, you wonder how it all left so quick.

I know it can be lonely, mama. I'm not going to tell you it isn't. I am not going to tell you to get over it. It's a part of this whole thing we call motherhood. It's not easy bringing up little ones. So know mama, you're not alone. We are traveling through these lonely days together. I know you'll make it through, you're strong mama, and you're not alone.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

This Motherhood Adventure

There is this unexplainable feeling that comes over you the moment you hold your child in your arms for the first time. Tears well up in your eyes as you look at this precious tiny being before you and suddenly you experience an array of emotions you have never felt before. Suddenly you are completely filled to overflowing with a love that has no words. This is the moment your heart ceases to exist inside your body and now forever dwells outside of your being. Is it possible a love this strong can even exist?

Shortly after you hold this tiny baby in your hands for the first time you realize there are even more emotions to follow. You find yourself holding back the tears as you look at this child in your arms amazed that this precious life is what you carried inside of you for the last ten months. You’re scared. You’re overwhelmed. You’re happy. You’re worried. Every emotion you could possibly experience you are experiencing all at one time.

This is what it’s like to be a mother.

You feel like you’ve never felt before. You love like you’ve never loved before. You worry like you’ve never worried before. You are harder on yourself than you’ve ever been before. Being a mom is the hardest most wonderful thing you will ever experience in life and it all starts with that first moment.

I never really knew what it meant to be a mother until I became one myself. I never experienced what truly was one of the hardest jobs out there until I experienced being a mother. The immense pressure to hold yourself to an unattainable position that comes with being a mom, I never knew what that was like. I never truly understood what it was like to hurt so much for someone who wasn’t myself. I never experienced what it was like to have true joy from something that brought another life joy. It is an incredibly overwhelming feeling and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I know I am not always going to get it right. I know I am going to fail a thousand and one times. I know some days I’ll come out on top of the world and I know other days I’ll be counting down the minutes before bed time. But one thing I know for sure is this immense love is like no other. When I held that little boy who made me a mom in my arms for the first time everything within me melted. Was it possible to love someone this much? How could I ever love anyone like I do this little boy? And then I held my daughter in my arms for the first time and that love multiplied. The love that I didn’t know could grow any more, that heart of mine that I thought was impossible to hold any more love was filled to overflowing once again.

This motherhood thing, it’s tough. The last year plus of my life has been taken over by sleepless nights, nursing sessions, dirty diapers, spit up, and clothes that just don’t fit like they used to. But it doesn’t end there. It has also been taken over by snuggles, tickles, playtime, belly laughs, soft baby skin, coos & smiles, and “I wuh yous.” Motherhood is the hardest most wonderful thing I will ever experience. It’s my heart filled to overflowing. It’s made in me an entirely new person. I have grown so much in this calling of being a mother and I couldn’t imagine my life without these precious blessings. This calling into motherhood is an incredible adventure. An adventure that unfolds more and more every day.